For the second year in a row, Politics & Prose has been chosen as the official bookstore for the National Book Festival. The Washington-based independent bookstore replaced Barnes & Noble last year when the festival moved to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the first time.
Bradley Graham, who co-owns the store with his wife, Lissa Muscatine, said, “We’re honored to have been invited back and look forward to what promises to be another terrific gathering in D.C. of authors and readers. Like last year, P&P will be partnering with Ingram, which will be helping with logistics.” The American Booksellers Association will provide promotional assistance.
Last year, P&P’s pop-up store in the convention center carried 250 titles by authors appearing at the festival. This year, Graham says the store will offer more than 300 titles.
It’s an immense operation to set up and carry off for one explosive 12-hour session of bookselling. In 2014, P&P had more than 80 people working the floor and ringing up costumers at 18 cash registers. “This year we’re planning to marshal an even larger staff,” Graham said.
The Library of Congress National Book Festival, featuring more than 150 authors, will be held on Sept. 5. It is free and open to the public.
Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation,
will step down at the end of March 2016, according to a statement released this week.
The nonprofit organization based in New York is best known for sponsoring the annual National Book Awards, among the most prestigious literary prizes in the country. During Augenbraum’s decade as director, the foundation launched several new prizes and programs to promote writers and literacy.
David Steinberger, chief executive of the Perseus Books Group and chairman of the NBF, praised Augenbraum for dramatically increasing the prominence of the awards during his tenure. “Harold has really brought tremendous energy and integrity to the whole effort,” he said. Among the improvements he cited was the decision to announce a “longlist” of 40 titles several weeks before the 20 finalists are revealed. “That increased the number of books being talked about and broadened the conversation,” Steinberger said. “And we expanded the criteria for a judge, so now we have a bookseller, an academic, a critic, a librarian. The judging panels are more diverse than ever— all with the goal of broadening the impact.”
Morgan Entrekin, publisher of Grove/ Atlantic and a member of the NBF board, characterized Augenbraum’s tenure as one of significant improvements. “At every board meeting we’ve tried to convince him to stay,” he said. Entrekin pointed to the BookUp initiative, an after-school reading program for middle schoolers, as an example of the creative contribution Augenbraum has made to the organization and to literary culture. “BookUp is one of the best programs that the National Book Foundation has ever done,” Entrekin said. He also praised the NBF’s 5 Under 35 awards, calling it “a great way to recognize younger writers.”
Augenbraum, who will turn 63 on his last day at the foundation, said that expanding awareness of the National Book Awards has been his biggest accomplishment. But he’s equally proud of the organization’s efforts to promote literacy among young people. BookUp has given away more than 25,000 books to students since it began in 2007. The NBA on Campus program sponsors appearances by past National Book Award winners at colleges across the country. And the Innovations in Reading Prize, also started under Augenbraum’s leadership, gives cash awards to individuals and organizations making significant efforts to encourage reading.
The majority of the foundation’s income stems from its annual awards ceremony in November, the closest thing the publishing world has to the Oscars. According to public records, the NBF’s 2013 income was $1.3 million, a thin budget for six full-time and one part-time employees with a national mission. “Finances are always very difficult when you deal with books,” Augenbraum said. “Half ofmy tenure here was during a downturn in the economy and a consolidation in the book industry— everything from printing to bookselling. There’s never been a shortage of ideas of what we can do, but supporting them financially had been the hardest part.”
Harold Augenbraum steered significant improvements in his tenure at the National Book Federation.