November 5, 2009
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

NPR BOOKS OFFERS CANDID TAKES FROM REPORTERS AND HOSTS
ON BOOKS WITH BUZZ IN WEEKLY “WHAT WE’RE READING” SERIES

NPR BESTSELLER LISTS LAUNCH FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AMERICAN BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION

November 5, 2009; Washington, D.C. – NPR Books covers dozens of titles and authors every week through numerous interviews, reviews and special book commentaries. This week and next, NPR Books is adding two features to help the audience sort through the clutter of new releases: “What We’re Reading,” a weekly shortlist of outstanding new works and books with buzz, with personal takes from our reporters, hosts and staff; and the NPR Bestseller Lists, four weekly lists of top-sellers, published in partnership with the American Booksellers Association and based on a survey of almost 500 independent bookstores.

“What We’re Reading” was announced at the Association of American Publishers Introduction to Publishing Conference on Tuesday in New York City; the first week’s picks are available now. The series puts a spotlight on the NPR Books editors’ selections of the most interesting new fiction and nonfiction releases, along with candid reactions from NPR staff. Five books are reviewed this week by NPR correspondents, including:

· Lynn Neary, books and publishing correspondent, on The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver: “The Lacuna opens with a bang, quickly drawing the reader into Shepherd’s complicated but compelling early years in Mexico. Later, the historical figures who enter his life…dominate the narrative, and Shepherd’s story gets a bit lost.”

· Guy Raz, weekend host of All Things Considered, on Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer: “Foer studied philosophy, so there's a philosophical tone — a kind of conversation with himself in which the reader is a fly on the wall. But it's not preachy. It didn't turn me into a vegetarian, but it certainly made me think about it.”

· Laura Sydell, digital culture correspondent, on Googled, by Ken Auletta: “I've met some of these people, and Auletta really does nail something about them — a peculiar mix of goofiness, arrogance and brilliance… For someone who wants to understand what is without a doubt one of the most important companies in history, this is a very readable way to get a grasp of the players, the technology and its implications.”

Next Friday, November 13, NPR Books will begin to publish the NPR Bestseller Lists: four weekly compilations of top-selling titles, based on sales reporting to the American Booksellers Association. The lists – Hardcover Fiction, Hardcover Nonfiction, Paperback Fiction and Paperback Nonfiction – are in a league of their own among national bestseller lists, since they reflect sales only at independent bookstores. These lists also provide the most current picture of book sales, coming out less than a week after the data-collection periods.

“We think this list is the perfect one for the NPR audience,” says Joe Matazzoni, who heads up the Books section on NPR.org. “The ABA surveys are weighted to give smaller stores an equal voice with big ones – and they don’t include the supermarkets, big box stores or online retailers. Bottom line, it's less liable to feature mass-market bestsellers and more likely to be slanted towards literary fiction and thoughtful nonfiction.”

NPR Books – www.NPR.org/books – generates nearly 500,000 page views per month and is specifically designed to help a busy audience find great reads. NPR Books combines the best of NPR's radio interviews and news with original Web reviews and commentaries, and includes popular recurring series such as “You Must Read This,” in which well-known authors share passionate recommendations; “Three Books,” offering three good reads centered on a common theme; and “Books We Like,” spotlighting exceptional new books that might otherwise go overlooked.