Bookseller Briefing 33/19 – week ending 16 August

Orion launches digital imprint Dash

Orion is launching a new digital-first commercial fiction imprint called Dash this autumn, led by commissioning editor Victoria Oundjian.

The venture, which aims to “connect readers with stories, fast” will publish across all fiction genres including romance, comedy, suspense, historical tales and thought-provoking novels about the modern world.

Oundjian will draw on her background as head of HQ Digital where she published titles like Between You and Me by Lisa Hall and Rebecca Raisin’s Gingerbread Café series, alongside her work overseeing Avon’s open submission drive and digital list.

The first title New Beginnings at the Birdie and Bramble by debut author Alison Craig will be published in September. It is the first in a “laugh-out-loud” St Andrews-set trilogy. World English rights were secured from Jenny Brown, at Jenny Brown Associates.

In October, Dash will put out “heart-breaking emotional novel” When We say Goodbye by New Zealand-based writer Michelle Vernal. World all language rights came from Vicki Marsdon at High Spot Literary Agency.

In the same month, Nina Kaye’s debut The Gin Lovers Guide to Dating will be released. Described as “a laugh-out-loud story full of romance, friendship and the search for the best G&T”, world all language rights were bagged from Kate Nash.

Dash is looking for more authors from across the storytelling world, including UK and Ireland, India, South Africa, Australia and the US.

Submissions are now open to both represented and independent writers, who can send a synopsis, one-line pitch and complete manuscript to

The news follows an announcement in June that Oundjian’s former colleagues at HarperCollins were also launching a digital-first division called One More Chapter. Like Dash, the team also called on authors to make contact directly.

Penguin to publish Salinger works as e-books for first time

Penguin Books UK is publishing all four of J D Salinger’s works as e-books for the first time, as part of celebrations marking the centenary of his birth.

The Catcher in the Rye, Franny and Zooey, For Esmé – With Love And Squalor and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour—An Introduction will be published digitally on 13th August, with Little, Brown releasing the e-books in the US.

Matt Salinger, the author’s son and co-trustee of the J D Salinger Literary Trust, said the release was in keeping with his father’s hope to make books accessible. He said he had been particularly inspired by a letter from a woman with a right hand disability who described her Kindle as a “godsend” [pictured below].


He explained: “My father always did what he could to keep his books affordable and accessible to as many readers as possible, especially students, and he consistently refused to give up the cheaper paperback editions for more profitable trade paperbacks, even when Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Faulkner had done so, and when Little Brown was urging him to.

“This was all about accessibility, so making his books accessible to a new generation, many of whom seem to prefer reading on their electronic devices, and – specifically – people with health conditions or impairments that mean they’re unable to read physical books, is a very exciting development, and totally in keeping with his wishes even if he greatly preferred the full tactile experience of a physical book.  Would he prefer and encourage readers to stick with the printed books?  Absolutely.  But not exclusively if it means some not being able to read him at all.”

Simon Prosser, publishing director at Hamish Hamilton, added: “I am delighted that all four of J D Salinger’s exceptional and much-loved books will now be available in e-book format for the first time, as part of our year-long celebration of the centenary of his birth. This follows the reissue of all four of his books first in collectors’ hardback editions and then, this summer, in freshly-designed paperback editions. May the celebrations continue!”

‘Landmark’ BBC series on the novel kicks off year-long celebration of literature

The BBC is to host a year-long celebration of literature with new programming across BBC TV, Radio and online, including a “landmark” BBC2 series “The Novels That Shaped Our World”, to be broadcast this autumn.

The three-part series “will examine the novel from three perspectives: empire and slavery, women’s voices, and working class experiences”, arguing that the novel has always been “a revolutionary agent of social change”. Episode one will examine responses to race and empire, from Robinson Crusoe and Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Things Fall Apartand Wide Sargasso Sea. Episode two explores women and the novel, from Richardson’s Pamela and the work of Jane Austen to Mary Shelley and Virginia Woolf, and on to Zadie Smith and Arundhati Roy. The final episode will look at the class struggle explored in novels, from Dickens, Gaskell and Hardy to Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, and on to the group of working class writers that began to write their own stories in post-war Britain. Broadcast dates are yet to be unveiled.

There will also be a The Novels That Shaped Our World Festival, a collaboration between the BBC, libraries and reading groups, covering a list of 100 novels which have had an impact over the last three centuries, chosen by broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, authors Juno Dawson, Kit de Waal and Alexander McCall Smith, Bradford Festival Literary Director Syima Aslam and TLS editor Stig Abell. The panel will appear on BBC Radio 2’s Book Club with Jo Whiley, and the 100 English-language novels will be discussed at an event hosted by Whiley at the British Library on 8th November.

Other highlights of the year will include, on BBC2, Helen Fielding looking back at the origins of her fictional heroine Bridget Jones, the story of Michael Bond and his creation Paddington Bear, and an exploration of the life and work of Hilary Mantel. On BBC4, David Olusoga will travelling to the US, Uganda and Nigeria, to meet the writers who helped make African novels a global phenomenon, while Richard E Grant travels to France, Italy and Spain to visit places that have inspired writers across the centuries. There will also be coverage of Toni Morrison, building on the BBC’s archives of the author, and Morrison’s Beloved has already been confirmed as one on the list of 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.

Meanwhile BBC Radio 4 will see a 12-part serialisation of Middlemarch on Radio 4, and a five-part series in which five writers paint a portrait of George Eliot through introductions to her female characters. Other highlights will include programmes about James Ellroy and Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad. Achebe’s Things Fall Apart will be dramatised on Radio 4, as part of a season of Nigerian literature. New recordings of 20 classic novels will all be released in full on BBC Sounds, with the first set of 10 appearing at the end of August and including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and H G Wells’ The War of the Worlds.   

Lamia Dabboussy, acting director at BBC Arts, said: “BBC Arts is committed to exploring novels that have had a huge impact on our lives, from the classics to contemporary fiction. We’re hoping to get the nation reading, re-reading and debating novels through this year-long focus on literature across the BBC. Whilst not exhaustive, our programming aims to generate debate and to shed a light on the role of literature to entertain, challenge and spreahead social change since the birth of the English language novel 300 years ago.”

Foyles to launch libraries in retirement homes

Foyles is entering the housing sector by partnering with property developer Elysian Residences for specially curated libraries in their retirement homes.

The new collaboration will provide residents with book collections alongside an ordering service with access to foreign language books, classical or jazz music recordings and DVDs.

Residents will be able to place requests with their concierge for the latest books or purchase publications from Foyles and have them delivered to their home.

There are also plans to offer on-site book talks by authors including Nigella Lawson, Andrew Marr and Kate Adie.

Residents in the six-storey, 101-apartment Landsby development in Stanmore, north London will be the first to take advantage of the library. The scheme is scheduled to open in late 2019.

Foyles is now seeking similar partnerships with other housebuilders. Foyles general manager Stephen Clarke said: “We’re pleased to announce this new partnership with Elysian Residences, in which we can draw on our collective bookselling expertise and the depth of our range to curate a library offer to inspire, inform and delight, situated in a stunning surround. This is a new and exciting venture for us, and we look forward to offering Elysian residents a service of the same high standard to which we hold each of our bookshops.”

Elysian Residences c.e.o, Gavin Stein added: “Libraries are an important cornerstone of a vibrant community, offering visitors a place of relaxation, learning and discovery. We wanted to provide our residents with a relaxing reading environment curated with the latest high-quality books and other publications, and this is why Elysian Residences chose to partner with renowned bookseller Foyles to ensure our libraries provide a unique and valuable resource.”

Bibles exempt from Trump China tariffs as charges on children’s books delayed

New US tariffs on books imported from China will not include Bibles and other religious titles, while charges on children’s publications will be delayed, it has been announced.

US President Donald Trump is imposing a 10% tariff on almost all goods coming into the US from China in his escalating trade war with Beijing.

A list of products subject to the additional tariffs, which kick in for many products from 1st September, was released yesterday (Tuesday 13th August) by the Office of the US Trade Representative.

Bibles and religious books were not included on the list while a number of other items, including children’s books, will not see the tariff imposed until 15th December. Mr Trump said the delays, which also apply to items including mobile phones and laptops, were implemented to avoid hitting Christmas shoppers.

However, other types of books, such as American fiction and non-fiction, will still be subject to the charge, a decision that was criticised by Association of American Publishers president and c.e.o. Maria Pallante.

She said: “We remain deeply concerned that a wide range of other books remain on the list, including American fiction and non-fiction books; art books; textbooks; dictionaries and encyclopedias; and technical, scientific and professional books.

“A tariff on books is a tax on information, and at odds with longstanding US policy of not imposing tariffs on educational, scientific and cultural materials. Just as importantly these books are part of a vital economic engine that makes significant contributions to the US economy, and supports American publishers, authors, illustrators, editors, and designers, as well as distributors and booksellers.”