• Isabelle Osborne

Publishing Industry Spotlight: July 2022

Welcome to ‘Publishing Industry Spotlight’, a monthly series which looks into the major happenings and news from the month in the publishing and literary industry!

Read on for the inaugural spotlight, which includes news from Waterstones, the Royal Society of Literature, Penguin Random House and more...

Waterstones Children’s Laureate Announced

The Waterstones Children’s Laureate is a biennial award bestowed upon ‘an outstanding children’s author or illustrator with a passion for fostering a new generation of writers, artists and readers’. Since 1999, it has marked the ‘significant and lasting contribution’ its winners have made ‘to the world of children’s books’.

The award was set up by poet Ted Hughes and children’s author Michael Morpurgo, and in past years has been awarded to Quentin Blake, Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson and Malorie Blackman, to name but a few esteemed authors and illustrators.

With the subtitle ‘Inspiring and Empowering Through Books’, the accolade celebrates the spirit and energy of the people who encourage and nurture the creativity and imagination of the young generation of today through their work. It also ‘a vital spearhead’ in the advocation of a child’s ‘fundamental rights to read, write and access books through bookshops and libraries’.

This month, Joseph Coelho was awarded the accolade. Coelho is a British poet, children's author and playwright, and his works include Werewolf Club Rules, Overheard in a Tower Block, A Year of Nature Poems and Frankenstiltskin.

Florentyna Martin, Waterstones’ Head of Children’s, commented on Coelho’s ‘passion for stories and poetry’, which ‘brings a hefty dose of sunshine to readers, inspiring all those who experience his work’.

Inspiring is a word one would use to describe his Laureateship Goals, particularly his promise to showcase ‘a diversity of new talent within the book industry so that every child can see themselves as a bookmaker’. After reading his blogfollowing the announcement of his success, this goal appears even more poignant when one understands the view Coelho himself had of the publishing world as a child: ‘I'm just trying to connect with and heal my younger self - a self unable to imagine a future writing and publishing books. Through this work, through the young people and families I am lucky enough to interact with, I'm trying to reach down through time and tell little Joe “You can write, you can be a writer, your voice is valid your words are waiting to be heard.”’

Coelho said ‘[storytelling], in every shape and form, belongs to everyone. I will be a Laureate who celebrates the transformative power of poetry and creativity, and the ability of books and reading to broaden horizons.’ Let’s watch this space to see what further wonderful contributions Coelho will make to the world of children’s literature during his tenure!

Blue Peter Book Awards Terminated

As one organisation celebrated children’s literature, another announced the end of a prize that has recognised ‘the best authors, the most creative illustrators and the greatest reads for children’ for over two decades.

Managed by BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, the Blue Peter Book Awards began in 2000. It rewards a ‘book with facts’ (non-fiction) and a ‘story book’ (fiction) each year; Matt Haig, Michael Morpurgo and Cressida Cowellare amongst the winners of the prize.

In a statement announcing the close of the prize, BookTrust’s said their ‘ambition is to bring the benefits of reading to children in the greatest need and to achieve long-lasting impact by establishing reading habits and behaviours. At this time, our limited resources are better focused giving disadvantaged families the opportunity to reap the life-changing benefits of reading’.

New fellows at the Royal Society of Literature

The Royal Society of Literature was founded in 1820, and is a UK-based charity that promotes the advancement of literature. Acting as ‘a voice for the value of literature’, the Society organise events, supports authors new and old, and host an outreach programme that encourages and inspires young people to love and enjoy reading and books. Booker Prize-winning author Bernadine Evaristo is the President of the Society, and Dame Hilary Mantel, Elif Shafak and Kamila Shamsie are amongst the Vice-Presidents.

This month, Lemn Sissay, Meena Kandasamy and Russell T Davies became Fellows of the Society, alongside many more creatives who ‘have published or produced two works of outstanding literary merit’ and have been nominated ‘by two Fellows or Honorary Fellows’. Find out more about who was awarded the accolade this year.

Author Mark Haddon to donate US royalties to the National Network of Abortion Funds

In June, the US Supreme Court have overturned ‘Roe v Wade’, the 1973 landmark ruling that permitted an individual in the United States of America the right to an abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. This means it is now possible for a state to ban abortion earlier than twelve weeks.

Mark Haddon is the author of the award-winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Social Distance and A Spot of Bother. This month, Haddon has made a remarkable commitment to donating all future royalties from US sales of The Curious Incident to the National Network of Abortion Funds until the decision is reversed. The Network ‘builds power with members to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access’, and member organisations support individuals in their journey to receiving an abortion.

Haddon also said he ‘may redirect some of the royalties to help people affected’ if ‘the Supreme Court turns its fire on the precedents of Griswold (contraception), Lawrence (same-sex sexual activity), and Obergefell (equal marriage rights for same-sex couples)’, following Clarence Thomas’ statement that '[in] future cases, we should reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell'.

Penguin Random House celebrates 120 of Peter Rabbit with Grow2Know CIC

In 1902, The Tale of Peter Rabbit first commercially published. Since then, 250 million copies have sold globally and it has been published in 48 languages. Beatrix Potter's creation has become a beloved character of children's literature.

120 years on, Penguin Random House are celebrating the legacy Potter left through her literature. Through their a three-year partnership with Grow2Know, a grassroots non-profit organisation that works to connect people with nature and advocate for biodiversity and sustainable systems, they have launched 'Grow with Peter Rabbit'. The project aims to 'bring the benefits of gardening and spending time in nature to as many families as possible', and marks the beauty that occurs when literature intersects with nurturing and supporting important initiatives for the good of all.

This month, they opened their first Peter Rabbit Garden in North Kensington, the borough in which Grow2Know was founded and Beatrix Potter’s birth place, and Jennifer Cooper promises 'will offer children a space to read, grow, learn and play in nature'.