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Jay-Z’s Imprint, Obama’s Book Picks, and a Look Back at 2020: This Week in Book News

Photo by Mattias Diesel on Unsplash

I can’t believe it’s here: the final round up of 2020! To say this year has been a roller coaster would be a wild understatement, but we made it! The holidays are almost here and 2021 is upon us. Speaking of the holidays, the Kobo office will be closed from December 24 – January 4. You can read more about what that means for content processing here.

Despite the year winding down it was still a busy week here at KWL! We had an amazing live Q&A with our Europe team which you can watch here. And the third week of our cover contest is underway! Be sure to vote for your favourite Science Fiction & Fantasy cover before the 21st to send them through to the finals!


In case you wanted to relive any part of 2020, AP takes a look back on the year in publishing.

Publishing saw upheaval in 2020, but ‘books are resilient’

NEW YORK (AP) – Book publishing in 2020 was a story of how much an industry can change and how much it can, or wants to, remain the same. “A lot of what has happened this year – if it were…


After their imprint at Penguin Random House was closed last year, Cindy Spiegel and Julie Grau are starting their own publishing company.

Spiegel and Grau Launch Indie House

Cindy Spiegel and Julie Grau are starting their own publishing company, after seeing their eponymous imprint shuttered by Penguin Random House in a reorganization at the company late last year. The new venture, under the same name of Spiegel and Grau, will, the company said in a release, be an “innovative business” with books at the center of it.

Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, is bringing their own imprint to Random House.

Jay-Z Brings Roc 101 Imprint to Random House

Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, has created an imprint at Random House called Roc Lit 101. The new imprint will be overseen by Chris Jackson, publisher and editor-in-chief of One World, and Roc Nation’s executive v-p Jana Fleishman. In a release, RH said the imprint will be “devoted to publishing books at the dynamic intersection of entertainment and genre-defying literature.”


Data is showing that Italians are reading more under lockdown.

Italians Read More During the Pandemic

The results of a new survey by the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) and the Center for Books and Reading revealed that Italians are reading more during the pandemic. Some 61% of respondents said they had read a book in the past 12 months, compared with 58% in 2019.


Angie Thomas is planning a star-studded virtual tour for the release of her newest novel, Concrete Rose.

Angie Thomas to Embark on Star-Studded Tour, Virtually

Angie Thomas, whose bestselling debut YA novel, The Hate U Give, was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, has written another novel that is highly anticipated due to its timeliness.


John le Carré , the legendary author of spy novels, has passed away at the age of 89.

John le Carré, Best-Selling Author of Cold War Thrillers, Dies at 89

Breaking from the James Bond mold, he turned the spy novel into high art as he explored the moral compromises of agents on both sides of the Iron curtain.

Anthony Veasna So, the author of the highly anticipated short story collection Afterparties, has died at 28.

Anthony Veasna So, acclaimed fiction writer, dead at age 28

NEW YORK (AP) – The author of a highly anticipated debut story collection has died. Anthony Veasna So was 28. His death was announced Thursday by his publisher, Ecco, which did not immediately provide additional details.

Literary Hub looks back at the literary voices we lost in 2020.

Notable Literary Deaths in 2020

The year is at an end, and I think I speak for pretty much everyone when I say: good riddance. (While we don’t have any guarantee that 2021 will be an improvement, it seems like it would have to be.)


If you’re a fan of reading award winning novels, this is the list for you.

The Award-Winning Novels of 2020

Spare a thought for the class of 2020. With most of the year’s awards ceremonies being cancelled or moving online, there were very few red carpets, banquet rooms, or podiums for 2020’s prize-winning authors. Trophies, statuettes, plaques and medals were boxed up and mailed across the country. Speeches were made over zoom.


If anything had a great year in 2020 it’s the puzzle industry, and this piece looks at the history of everyone’s favourite quarantine pastime.

What’s Behind the Pandemic Puzzle Craze? | JSTOR Daily

Jigsaw puzzles have made a major comeback in 2020. In the spring, when the first shelter-in-place orders were issued in many regions of the country due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, there was a surge in demand for puzzles.

‘Tis the season for festive novels to be released, which means that they needed to be written when things were less festive and more “middle of a summer heatwave”. So how do authors stay in the spirit of the season year-round?

‘I’ve never felt less festive’: the art of writing Christmas novels, 365 days a year

hristmas novels are not a new phenomenon. Charles Dickens sold out of his first print run of A Christmas Carol in days in December 1843, while Agatha Christie played on seasonal stresses with titles including The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding in 1923 and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas in 1938.


Is anything not going to get a reboot? Paramount TV Studios is developing a reboot of Little House on the Prairie.

‘Little House on the Prairie’ reboot in the works at Paramount

EW has learned exclusively that Paramount TV Studios and Anonymous Content is developing a one-hour dramatic series adaptation of the beloved franchise. What took you so long, Half Pint? EW has learned exclusively that Paramount TV Studios and Anonymous Content ( Homecoming, Dickinson, 13 Reasons Why) is developing a long-awaited reboot of Little House on the Prairie as a one-hour dramatic series adaptation.


On of my favourite articles of the week looks at the intersection of politics and romance.

I’m a Romance Novelist Who Writes About Politics-And I Won’t “Stay In My Lane”

In my latest romance novel, , my heroine finally achieves her lifelong dream of becoming a queen following an arranged marriage-only to find herself in a country where the voices of women aren’t respected, and queens are powerless.

And of course, more best of 2020 lists:
The best of the best of 2020 book lists from Lit Hub
The best true crime books of 2020
The best crime lit debuts

And last but certainly not least, one of the more hotly anticipated end of the year lists: what books did Barack Obama enjoy in 2020?

Barack Obama names Canadian novel The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel one of his favourite books of 2020 | CBC Books

Books Other books on the list include Jack by Marilynne Robinson, Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, Deacon King Kong by James McBride, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and Memorial Drive by Natasha Tretheway. Former U.S. president Barack Obama unveiled his list of favourite books of 2020.

Have a great weekend and happy holidays!


Staff Pick
Rachel, Author Engagement Intern

“From her performance at the 2019 World Cup to her incredible activism, it’s hard to be a sports fan and not know about Megan Rapinoe, even if you don’t follow soccer. And after listening to the audiobook of her memoir, I definitely count myself as a Megan Rapinoe fan. While the book never gets super personal, it does touch on pivotal moments in her life both on and off the soccer pitch: from becoming the first openly gay women’s soccer player to fighting for equal pay, from being the first athlete after Colin Kaepernick to kneel during the anthem to the consequences of that decision. If you’re a sports fan at all, or just love a good memoir, I highly recommend.”

One Life audiobook by Megan Rapinoe – Rakuten Kobo

Listen to “One Life” by Megan Rapinoe available from Rakuten Kobo. Narrated by Megan Rapinoe. Start a free 30-day trial today and get your first audiobook free. **An instant New York Times bestseller! “Rapinoe’s ‘signature pose’ from the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is synonymous to the feeling we go

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