In this article, we’ve prepared an overview of what was happening in the book industry in September—from Booker Prize and National Book Award shortlists to financial and legal news—as well as who won the Nobel Prize in literature.
- Norwegian Author Jon Fosse Wins 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature
- Hachette UK Up on TikTok Shop
- Authors Guild Survey: Writing Books Is Still a Tough Way to Make a Living
- Amazon Sued by US Government—Book Business Applauds
- 2023 Booker Prize Shortlist Announced
- 2023 National Book Award Shortlists Announced
Norwegian Author Jon Fosse Wins the 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature
The 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Jon Fosse, a 64-year-old Norwegian writer and playwright, for “his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.” He is the fourth Norwegian laureate to win the prize, following novelist Sigrid Undset in 1928.
Fosse was born in 1959 in Haugesund, a coastal town in Norway. He is well-known for his dramas, but he also writes poetry, essays, children’s books, and translations.
According to Anders Olsson, a member of the Swedish Academy, Fosse’s work “touches on the deepest feelings that you have, anxieties, insecurities, questions of life and death.“Fosse is one of the most-performed playwrights in Norway, and he became an internationally acclaimed dramatist when Claude Régy staged his play Nokon kjem til å komme (Someone Is Going to Come) in Paris in 1999.
Fosse has also gained recognition for his prose in recent years, especially after the publication of Septology, his monumental work of three books that he finished in 2021. His latest novel, A Shining, will be released in the U.S. on October 31, along with the paperback edition of Septology.
“I am overwhelmed, and somewhat frightened. I see this as an award to the literature that first and foremost aims to be literature, without other considerations,” Fosse said in his statement.
Hachette UK Joins TikTok Shop
Hachette UK has recently officially joined TikTok Shop. They will offer a selection of the most popular books the online community loves. Through this collaboration, users of the social media platform can easily purchase books directly from Hachette UK’s various divisions like Little Brown Book Group (@little.book.tok), Hodder & Stoughton Books (@hodderbooks), and Headline Books (@headlinebooks).
Hachette UK will feature a specially curated collection of highly-regarded books that have made waves on TikTok, including the winner of TikTok Book of the Year, “Honey & Spice” by Bolu Babalola.
TikTok Shop UK introduced its “books” category last November and has since partnered with publishers like HarperCollins UK, WH Smith, Bloomsbury, and Bookshop.org. Several other retailers and publishers, including online bookseller Books2Door, have followed suit.
Authors Guild Survey: Writing Books Is Still a Tough Way to Make a Living
A recent Athors Guild survey of 5,699 published authors in 2022 revealed some striking income statistics. The survey indicates that the median pre-tax income generated from their books during the year was just $2,000. When considering other income streams related to their writing endeavors, the total annual median income barely improved, reaching just $5,000. Here are the key survey findings:
- In comparison to data from 2018, when adjusted for inflation, the median book-related income saw a 9% increase in 2022. However, this referred mostly to full-time authors, who experienced a substantial 20% rise, while part-time authors faced a 4% decline.
- Traditionally published authors earned more from non-book writing-related income in 2022 ($7,400 vs. $5,000); self-published authors earned more from book sales.
- Among full-time authors, Kindle Unlimited users earned the same amount in book-related income as traditionally published authors. However, traditional authors had a 22% higher combined income due to non-book sources.
- Romance authors had the highest book income, followed by graphic novelists. Black authors’ book income lagged far behind white authors, who were also more likely to be traditionally published (38% vs. 28%).
- Audiobooks are a growth area, where many authors aren’t included: 55% of traditional and 64% of self-published authors don’t have published audiobooks.
Amazon Sued by US Government—Book Business Applauds
The Federal Trade Commission, supported by 17 state attorneys general, iled a long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the e-commerce giant of using “a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain its monopoly power.”
Various book industry members, such as publishers, booksellers, and authors, welcomed the lawsuit and hoped it would curb Amazon’s dominance and practices in the book market. The overall reaction can be summarized in one sentence, “What took so long?” Independent booksellers are especially happy with the government’s long-awaited move and see it as “good news for indie bookstores and good news for all small business,” according to ABA CEO Allison Hill.
Amazon has long been suspected and accused of anticompetitive behavior, such as removing “buy” buttons (from thousands of titles published by Macmillan in 2010), undercutting prices, overcharging sellers, and stifling innovation.
As Amazon denies any wrongdoing, the lawsuit is bound to face a few challenges, such as the government’s track record, Amazon’s powerful legal resources, and the potential impact on consumers. According to the statement of Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky, “If the FTC gets its way, the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses—the opposite of what antitrust law is designed to do.” So, let’s wait and see.
2023 Booker Prize Shortlist Announced
The shortlist of six books for this year’s Booker Prize for Fiction was recently announced. The winner of the prize, which comes with a purse of £50,000), will be announced on November 26 at an award ceremony held at Old Billingsgate in London, England.
None of the finalists had previously been shortlisted for the prize. They were selected from 163 novels published in the UK or Ireland between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023. Each shortlisted author will receive £2,500 as well as a bespoke bound copy of their book.
So here are the titles on this year’s Booker shortlist:
- Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein (Canadian)
- If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery (American)
- This Other Eden by Paul Harding (American)
- Prophet Song by Paul Lynch (Irish)
- Western Lane by Chetna Maroo (British)
- The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (Irish)
2023 National Book Award Shortlists Announced
The National Book Foundation has announced the 2023 National Book Awards shortlists. Winners in five categories—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature—will be revealed on November 15.
In total, 496 books were submitted for the 2023 National Book Award for fiction, 638 for nonfiction, 29 for translated literature, and 348 for young people’s literature.
- Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
- Temple Folk by Aaliyah Bilal
- This Other Eden by Paul Harding
- The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylväinen
- Blackouts by Justin Torres
- The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History by Ned Blackhawk
- Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice by Cristina Rivera Garza
- Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe
- We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I: A Palestinian Memoir by Raja Shehadeh
- Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World by John Vaillant
- How to Communicate by John Lee Clark
- from unincorporated territory [åmot] by Craig Santos Perez
- suddenly we by Evie Shockley
- Tripas by Brandon Som
- From From by Monica Youn
- Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung, translated from the Korean by Anton Hur
- Beyond the Door of No Return by David Diop, translated from the French by Sam Taylor
- The Words That Remain by Stênio Gardel, translated from the Portuguese by Bruna Dantas Lobato
- Abyss by Pilar Quintana, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman
- On a Woman’s Madness by Astrid Roemer, translated from the Dutch by Lucy Scott
Young People’s Literature
- Gather by Kenneth M. Cadow
- Huda F Cares? by Huda Fahmy
- Big by Vashti Harrison
- The Lost Year: A Survival Story of the Ukrainian Famine by Katherine Marsh
- A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat