Yes, Another Crisis
— in Publishing
By Brian Lampkin
Perhaps by now word has filtered out to the general reading public, but book lovers (and bookstores) may have trouble getting the books they want this holiday season — at least not in a timely fashion that makes for a joyous Christmas morning. The arrival of the pandemic last spring caused most publishers to push back the publication dates of many books and most publishers determined at that time that the fall would be a safe time to get those delayed books out into the world. So now we’re seeing a huge volume of new books landing at the printers at the same time, which is overwhelming the industry. In short, they can’t keep up, and many books will fall temporarily out-of-print while printers try to catch up.
Much like the toilet paper industry, book printers were pretty much operating at capacity before the pandemic, so there’s not much room for the sudden growth. What strategies can book buyers use to increase their chances of getting the novel they need? Some suggest doing your holiday shopping now, in October, to guarantee a December delivery. That should work, but it’s hard to think about anything joyous in the anxious times before this election. Some bookstores are stocking up on extra copies now in an effort to anticipate demand, but it’s not always easy to know what the public will demand.
For now, let’s look at some of the major releases set for this month to get you thinking about Christmas in October, which has been the dream of retailers for decades.
OCTOBER 6: Magic Lessons: The Prequel to Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman (Simon & Schuster, $27.99). In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem — matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.
OCTOBER 13: Ottolenghi Flavor: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage (Ten Speed Press, $35). This is another large and colorful book that breaks down the fundamentals of cooking into three key elements: process, pairing, and produce. For process, Yotam and Ixta show how easy techniques such as charring and infusing can change the way you think about cooking. Discover how to unlock new depths of flavor by pairing vegetables with elements of sweetness, fat, acidity or chile heat, and learn to identify the produce that has the innate ability to make dishes shine.
OCTOBER 13: Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel, by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum, $19.99). Jason Reynolds is always held close to Scuppernong’s heart (we were one of two bookstores in the country to earn a visit from him last year), and this graphic adaption will be a middle-school staple for years to come. Reynolds is a former Newbery Honor, Printz Award and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author.
OCTOBER 13: How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back, by Jeff Tweedy (Dutton, $23). There are few creative acts more mysterious and magical than writing a song. But what if the goal was actually achievable for anyone who wants to experience more magic and creativity in their life? That’s something that anyone will be inspired to do after reading Jeff Tweedy’s How to Write One Song. Why one song? Because the difference between one song and many songs isn’t a cute semantic trick — it’s an important distinction that can simplify a notoriously confusing art form.
OCTOBER 20: This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking, by Vivian Howard (Voracious, $35). Another Scuppernong favorite (Howard’s food truck tour stop for “Deep Run Roots” is legendary), This Will Make It Taste Good provides simple but powerful recipes like her briny green sauce, spiced nuts, fruit preserves, deeply caramelized onions and spicy pickled tomatoes. Many of these recipes are kitchen crutches, dead-easy, super-quick meals to lean on when you’re limping toward dinner. Vivian’s mission is not to protect you from time in your kitchen, but to help you make the most of the time you’ve got. The Greensboro Bound Literary Festival Virtual Series brings an exclusive Zoom event with Vivian and chef Asha Gomez on October 22 at 7 p.m. Go to greensborobound.com for details.
OCTOBER 27: The Cold Millions, by Jess Walter (Harper, $28). This long-awaited novel from the author of Beautiful Ruins is an intimate story of brotherhood, love, sacrifice and betrayal set against the panoramic backdrop of an early 20th-century America that eerily echoes our own time. The Cold Millions offers a portrait of a nation grappling with the chasm between rich and poor, between harsh realities and simple dreams. Featuring an unforgettable cast of cops and tramps, suffragists and socialists, madams and murderers, it is a tour de force. OH
Brian Lampkin is one of the proprietors of Scuppernong Books