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California Booksellers Oppose New Law for Signed Books and Art

California booksellers Eureka Books in Eureka and Book Passage in Corte Madera are opposing a new law in the state that requires sellers of signed books and artwork to provide the buyer with a certificate of authenticity (COA) for any item sold for $5 or more. In letters to their state legislators, the stores’ owners argued that the legislation will have a negative financial impact on bookstores and collectors.

In a post on the Eureka Books blog, co-owner Scott Brown wrote that, under this new law, his store, which has a couple of thousand signed books in stock, would be required to complete detailed paperwork with information about the provenance of each autographed book sold and to keep thousands of COAs on file. COAs would even be required for the greeting cards with original artwork that the store sells.

Brown also noted that those who have sold books to the store could have their names and address end up online if the books are resold with the required COA on eBay or elsewhere on the Internet. If any of the information on the COA is wrong, the bookstore could be saddled with financial liability and be subject to frivolous lawsuits.

Brown’s post included the text of the letter he sent to his state legislator, as well as another letter from Bill Petrocelli, the co-owner of Book Passage.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt CEO Linda Zecher Resigns

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt President and Chief Executive Officer Linda K. Zecher has resigned after five years in the position, Street Insider reported.

While the search for a new CEO is underway, the company’s board of directors has appointed board member L. Gordon Crovitz, former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, as interim CEO.

In a statement, board chairman Lawrence K. Fish recognized Zecher for her contributions to the company, including the HMH initial public offering, the migration of a significant part of the business to digital, and launching a new consumer-focused effort.

Grant From Stephen King Benefits Students and Local Bookstore

Middle school students from Regional School Unit-25 in Bucksport, Maine, are the beneficiaries of a $25,000 grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation to buy books, WABI-TV reported.   

King, a Maine resident, has earmarked $20,000 through his and his wife’s foundation to be spent at Bookstacks on Main Street in Bucksport, which is owned by Andy Lacher. The remaining $5,000 will go towards bringing in authors in to give live talks to students.

“It’s obviously a benefit to the kids because they get books. Some of them might not be readers. But the hope is they will be once they have something in their own library that they can call their own,” said Lacher. “It’s also nice that part of the grant was it would be spent locally.”

MacArthur “Genius” Grants Awarded to Authors

The 23 recipients of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grants include authors Maggie Nelson, Claudia Rankine, Gene Luen Yang, Kellie Jones, Josh Kun, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Lauren Redniss, and Sarah Stillman. The grant consists of $625,000 to be paid out over five years to recipients who “show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future.”

“While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope,” said MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch. “They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all.”

T.C. Boyle Wins Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award

T.C. Boyle has won the inaugural Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award for his novel The Harder They Come (Ecco/HarperCollins).

The Mark Twain House & Museum presented Boyle with the $25,000 award at a ceremony at New York City’s Lincoln Center on September 26. The prize money was donated by David Baldacci, a trustee at the museum.

Boyle is the author of 24 books of fiction. His latest novel, The Terranauts, comes out in October from Ecco/HarperCollins. As runners-up, T. Geronimo Johnson, for his novel Welcome to Braggsville (William Morrow), and Miranda July, for her novel The First Bad Man (Scribner), each received $1,000.

Harrison Scott Key Wins Thurber Prize for American Humor

Harrison Scott Key is the winner of the 2016 Thurber Prize for American Humor for his memoir, The World’s Largest Man (Harper).

Thurber House called Key’s memoir “both a grand comic satire on the contemporary American South and the tender story of a boy and his Bunyanesque father, told with the comic punch of David Sedaris and the wild, burlesque charm of Mark Twain.”

Key, who received the award on September 26 at Carolines comedy club in New York City, teaches humor and memoir writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, and is also a contributing editor for Oxford American magazine.

The runners-up for the prize were Jason Gay, for his set of essays Little Victories: Perfect Rules for Imperfect Living (Anchor), and Mary Norris, for her memoir Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (W.W. Norton & Company).