What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
There will be more high-profile self-published books with writers coming out of the woodwork—and that’s a great thing. Think of it as a readers’ version of the People’s Choice Awards, since electronic and Internet publishing have opened up new opportunities for new authors and for readers and reviewers. One of my favorite examples is the Wool Omnibus sci-fi collection by Hugh Howey. Howey published Wool in 2011 through Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing system, and it proved so popular, it was picked up by Simon & Schuster in the U.S. and Random House in the U.K. And it’s not the only self-published book to follow this path. I have also seen more graphic novels for broader age ranges in more genres: memoir, historical fiction, and even hybrid genres. We’ll also see award-winning authors collaborating with well-known artists, giving readers a whole new reading experience. Some of my recent favorites include: Drawn & Quarterly,The Sculptor, Snowden, and [2014 Kirkus Prize winner]Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Literature has always been a means for learning about the lives of others and helping us see the human sides of war and social conflict. There have been some especially great novels recently published by Nigerian writers on identity, homeland, and the immigrant experience in the U.S., such as Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndibe and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The escalation in racial conflict in America and the plight of the immigrants from the Middle East will also have writers over the next few years writing on both topics. If anything, their stories have only begun to be told.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
No more vampire romance novels or reworkings of Jane Austen, please.
What is unique about libraries in the context of the publishing industry?
Public libraries have expanded their missions in recent years. They serve not only as libraries, but as community centers, educational centers, technology hubs, and meeting spaces for all ages. The diversity of our customer base is what makes our job as librarians most interesting! I learn about new authors, books, and films from my customers every day—and not just from professional journals (much as I love Kirkus Reviews and others)! As public librarians, we need to stay current on reading trends, popular culture, politics, education, and other hot-button issues. Libraries need to have the ability and budget to buy a bit of everything, across genres, and sometimes even books that might not carry any professional reviews. All of this is part of knowing what our customers want and helping them find it.
Sharon Lovett-Graff is a public librarian who manages the Mitchell Branch of the New Haven Free Public Library in New Haven, Connecticut.