BTW News Briefs

Poet to Read at Obama's Inauguration

Graywolf Press has announced that poet Elizabeth Alexander will read an original poem at the January 20 inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the U.S.

Graywolf noted that Alexander will be the fourth poet in U.S. history to read at a presidential inauguration. Robert Frost read at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy, and Maya Angelou and Miller Williams at the inaugurations of Bill Clinton. Graywolf Press will publish a chapbook featuring Alexander's original poem to commemorate the historic event.

Twitter Message Launches in Kids ♥ Authors Day

It began last week with a 140-character Twitter message from author Mitali Perkins. "IDEA," she tweeted. "Indies partner with authors for a 'give a signed book' day, all Kid/YA authors in area show up at stores to sign one afternoon."

Strong response from Perkins' Twitter followers gave way to discussions with New England Independent Booksellers Association and the New England Children's Bookselling Advisory Council, and Kids ♥ Authors Day was born. On Valentine's Day, Saturday, February 14, 2009, from 10:00 a.m. to noon, independent booksellers throughout New England will host local authors and illustrators, kicking off a new tradition of signed literary Valentines for children, teens, and their families.

To be matched with a local store and included on the website and promotional materials, authors and illustrators with a book in print that can be ordered via Baker & Taylor or Ingram may send an e-mail to with their name, e-mail address, website URL, a book title and publisher, a photo of the book cover, and a brief quote about independent booksellers.

Roy Blount Jr. Shop Local Message on the New York Times Blog

Roy Blount Jr.'s holiday message about the importance of buying books at local bookstores is now featured on the New York Times Freakanomics Blog of Stephen Dubner. Blount, who is the president of the Author's Guild, wrote: "I've been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren't known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating.... We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party."

Blount also sent a widely distributed e-mail that encouraged others to send the message to their e-mail subscription lists and to post it on websites and blogs.

Holiday Shoppers Procrastinate

The National Retail Federation's 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, estimates that the average person had completed 47.1 percent of their holiday shopping by the second week of December, about 10 percent less than the 52.6 percent average completed by the same time last year.

The survey also found that over 41 million people have not started holiday shopping, with the biggest procrastinators being men (20.7 percent haven't started) and 35 - 44 year-olds (20.9 percent). Only eight percent of shoppers say they have completely finished their shopping.

Google Seeks a Fast Lane for Its Internet Content

Network Neutrality, where all Internet traffic is treated the same, could be in jeopardy according the Wall Street Journal. Apparently, Google has approached major cable and phone companies that provide Internet service "with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content." The news comes as a bit of a surprise, since in the past Google has been a vocal proponent for equal network access for all content providers, WSJ noted.

Internet carriers argue that to keep up with growing Internet traffic, they need to do something to increase revenue to upgrade their networks. Charging companies for "fast lanes" is one way to do that, the article noted. However, "one major cable operator in talks with Google says it has been reluctant so far to strike a deal because of concern it might violate Federal Communications Commission guidelines on network neutrality," WSJ Reported. President-elect Obama is a proponent of network neutrality.

Macmillan Announces Restructuring and Layoffs

On Monday, December 15, Macmillan, which includes FSG, St. Martin's Press, and Henry Holt, laid off about four percent of its staff and restructured its children's division, according to the New York Times.

On December 16, John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, announced the creation of the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, bringing together the company's seven children's book companies under a single management structure. Dan Farley was named president of the new group. Jean Feiwel and Simon Boughton were each named senior vice president & publishing directors, Macmillan's Children's Publishing, reporting to Farley. The new structure goes into effect January 1.