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Authors United to Ask Justice Department for Amazon Inquiry

Authors United, the group of more than 1,000 writers that is currently protesting Amazon’s actions against Hachette Book Group and its authors, is planning to ask the Justice Department to look into Amazon’s business practices, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The request will be written by Barry Lynn from the New American Foundation and will be sent to the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, William Baer. Lynn said the letter will note the excessive power that Amazon has gained in book sales and that it is abusing it at the expense of its partners. Author Douglas Preston, founder of Authors United, plans to send the letter as soon as next week.

In May, Amazon began delaying shipments of Hachette titles, removing the preorder button for upcoming popular books, and reducing discounts while the two companies engage in negotiations over e-book prices. Authors United has rallied authors from a variety of publishers, including Stephen King, Donna Tartt, and James Patterson, to protest Amazon’s actions.

Women’s National Book Association Selects Great Group Reads

October marks National Reading Group Month and to that end the Women’s National Book Association has announced its 2014 Great Group Reads selections. Promotional materials for National Reading Group Month and Great Group Reads, including fliers, stickers, and bookmarks, were included in the September Red Box mailing to ABA member stores. A National Reading Group Month toolkit with materials for shelf-talkers and table-top posters is also available online.

Twenty titles were chosen for the 2014 Great Group Reads list, including All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner), Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Back Bay Books), Cataract City by Craig Davidson (Graywolf Press), and Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani (Atria Books).

See the full list of Great Group Reads selections here.

NCAC Announces Winners of Cameron Post Essay Contest

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) announced the winners of the Cameron Post Essay Contest this week. The contest was created in response to the removal of The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth from Delaware’s Cape Henlopen School District’s summer reading list for incoming high school freshmen.

The essay contest, launched in August, called on teens to detail in 250 – 500 words what they felt the school board members should know about the book before removing it from the reading list. The first place winner, Hannah Lowe, received $250 for her essay, which noted, “The Cameron Post controversy became the biggest debate topic of Delaware over the summer, and the lack of teenage voices began to frustrate me. Our opinions were not being solicited! That’s why I was determined to enter this contest; to give teens a louder voice.” Second place, a $150 prize, went to Katie Redefer and third, $100, to Rachel Wagner.

“We were overwhelmed and inspired by the submissions we received,” said NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin. “The essays showed that teenagers can be mature and thoughtful in their approach to books that some adults consider controversial and inappropriate. They also suggest that these students have a greater appreciation and respect for the value of literature and intellectual freedom than some members of the school board, who voted to remove the book as a summer reading option without having read it.”

Penguin Random House in Partnership with Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures has signed a two-year first-look production agreement with Penguin Random House. The relationship will be overseen by Random House Studio President Peter Gethers.

Titles with available motion picture rights, which can be acquired in cooperation with authors’ agents, will be developed under the partnership, including recently published, upcoming, and backlist titles from any of PRH’s imprints in North America or abroad. Random House Studio has partnered with Focus Features, a division of Universal, for the past nine years, an arrangement that will continue under Gethers.

Some of the projects in progress include Unbroken, based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book; Fifty Shades of Grey, from E.L. James’ series; and an adaptation of Shooting Stars by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger.