BOOK BRIEFS

The Washington Post Sunday - - BOOK WORLD - BY RON CHARLES ron.charles@wash­post.com

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.

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