Major Book Industry News

The early months of 2024 bring together a unique blend of old and new in the publishing and literary worlds. Emerging markets in Spanish-language publishing expand in ways supported by big print and audio publishers. Critics choose top lists across genres. A new subgenre – romantasy – takes center stage at Chicago’s Otherworld Theater while one of the biggest publishers ever celebrates 100 years of success.

Here’s the major book industry news for February and March 2024. If you missed January news, we suggest checking that out as well.

  1. Spanish-Language Books & Audio Take the Spotlight
  2. 2024 National Book Critics Circle Award Winners Announced
  3. The Romantasy Genre Celebrates a New Festival in March
  4. April Marks Simon & Schuster’s 100th Anniversary

Spanish-Language Books & Audio Take the Spotlight

With Pope Francis’s book Life: My Story Through History taking the spotlight as Harper Collins’s latest big release, the publisher recommits to Spanish language books in a big way. Although their HarperCollins Espanol and HarperEnfoque collections have existed for some time, the religious leader’s release represents a new focus on South and Central American markets.

Besides the apparent international draw of the Roman Catholic Church leader’s story, this represents an answer to increasing Spanish language markets worldwide.

The ever-growing market for audiobooks has seen amazing expansion in Spain and Mexico. Numbers coming out this month forecast a rise from the current 500k numbers to over 26 million in the next two years. The primary reasons for the delayed market rise involve Latin America’s hesitation to accept subscription programs commonly used in the United States.

With big publishers pushing new, high-interest books and audiobooks to these markets, listeners and revenues continue to trend upward rapidly. Most major audiobook platforms like Audible, Scribd, Nextory, and Bookbeat have expanded their reach into these new and hungry markets.

Life Vida (Spanish edition): Mi historia a través de la historia

2024 National Book Critics Circle Award Winners Announced

Since 1976, the National Book Critics Circle has handed out multiple literary awards to six categories of books published in the previous year. Unlike competitions focused on reader numbers, market popularity, or consumer reviews, working critics decide which books are worthy of recognition.

On March 21st at the New School in New York City, more than 600 critics narrowed the viable options to those with “imagination, fearlessness, and persistence”, stated Heather Scott Partington, NBCC president. Categories include fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, biography, criticism, and poetry. Besides book awards, the awards in March also acknowledge critic reviews, translations, and contributions to book culture.

Noted winners include:

Popular children’s and young adult writer Judy Blum won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and the American Library Association received the Toni Morrison Achievement Award.

The Romantasy Genre Celebrates a New Festival in March

In the publishing world full of hundreds of subgenres, Romantasy has made a considerable splash in the overall market in the past year. It was added to Goodreads Choice Awards, sales increased 42% the year before, and readers continue to clammer for more magic and romance blended together.

The surge in popularity has given rise to various events dedicated to the subgenre. On March 22 – 24th of this year, the Otherworld Theater in Chicago hosted the first annual Romantasy Literary Genre Festival. Although theater organizers and publicist Olivia McCoy organized the small festival in three months, it did not skimp on activities, engagement, participation, or magic.

Over 100 people attended to participate in various events held over the three days. Authors, including Tamara Jeree, Melanie K. Moschella, and Samara Breger, hosted an author discussion panel, signed their popular paperback novels, and answered fan questions. Live podcasts were recorded throughout. Guests could watch Twihard! Twilight musical parody or enjoy a drag competition, Drag’N Brunch.

The list of special appearances and unique entertainment filled every moment and inch of the unique theater space. More than anything else, the festival’s success demonstrated that the romantasy genre is here to stay as more than just a fleeting trend. Romantasy remains the biggest fiction genre of all time, and mixing fantasy with it only adds to its allure. As attendee Ivy Dally stated, “I think as humans, we can only handle so much bad news for our mental health. We need a place to go where we know it will be okay in the end—that’s what romantic promises”. The festival and the genre itself can enjoy its happily ever after.

April Marks Simon & Schuster’s 100th Anniversary

In April of 1924, two businessmen introduced The Crossword Puzzle Book (complete with pencil) to the world, and Simon & Schuster was born. The company’s dedication to both books and new ideas transformed them into one of the ‘Big Five’ of publishing. Their recognized name now releases approximately 2000 books every year in a wide variety of genres. Some notable examples include “All the President’s Men”, “Catch-22”, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, “Dr. Spock’s Common Sense Baby and Childcare Book”, and the above-mentioned memoir “How to Say Babylon”, by Safiya Sinclair, National Book Critics Award winner.

These titles are just a few from their list of top 100 books representing the scope of their publishing throughout the past century. They reflect CEO Jonathan Karp’s focus on the enduring mission: “commercial, successful, and culture defining” book publication.

While the publishing industry as a whole experiences upheaval, with Simon & Schuster avoiding a buyout from Penguin Random House in 2022, this 100-year-old brand remains an independent trade publishing company. It continues to invest in and profit from the world’s love of books in all their forms, and may continue to do so for the next century.