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2020: A Weird/Interesting Year for Books and Publishing.

January 1, 2021
(image via wikimedia)

People might think book and publishing news is boring, but they just don’t know where to look. As bad as 2020 might have been for a lot of people, it was a great year for weird news about books and publishing. Even before the pandemic hit the publishing industry, weird/interesting stuff was going on.


1. In January, Romance Writers of America cancelled its 2020 writing contest because of a giant argument over sexual harassment charges. When every other writers conference/convention had to later cancel because of COVID-19, RWA activists bragged that they didn’t need a pandemic ; they were perfectly capable of cancelling themselves without it.

2. In February, indie author and former Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh got sentenced to three years in prison for using her position to sell her Healthy Holly children’s books to the city. Despite this, desperate Indie authors throughout the country are still planning to run for local office to boost their own book sales.

3. George R.R. Martin once again postponed The Winds of Winter but also released a bunch of spoilers, strengthening readers’ beliefs that Martin will never actually finish writing the series A Song of Ice and Fire. After years of waiting, Game of Thrones fans finally admitted that winter is never coming and George R.R. Martin knows nothing… about how to finish his series.

4. Jeffrey Toobin, a famous journalist/author and CNN political analyst, exposed himself (and maybe did some other stuff) during a Zoom conference call. Toobin, in his defense, claimed that he thought the other Zoom participants couldn’t see him, but he was soon fired anyway. That feeling of not being watched while on camera, according to psychologists, comes from being a political analyst on CNN.

5. The Atlantic, a reputable magazine known for longwinded, disorganized, over-written articles that leave readers dazed and confused, hired a known plagiarist who then shocked The Atlantic, not by plagiarizing, but by completely making up stuff. The Atlantic is leaving the article up on its website for public record, but the longwinded, disorganized, overwritten explanation of why they kept it up left many readers dazed and confused.

6. Author Ernest Cline wrote a sequel to Ready Player One, and almost everybody hated it. Because it felt rushed with plot holes and bad writing, many readers felt the book should have been called Not Quite Ready Player Two.

7. The novel The Nickel Boys won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, making author Colson Whitehead only the fourth author (along with William Faulkner, JohnUpdike, and Booth Tarkington) to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice. Even more impressive, he is the first African American author to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice.

Wait a minute! Who the heck is Booth Tarkington?

8. Former President Obama wrote a 700+ page memoir, and it’s only part one, with part two allegedly coming out soon. Unfortunately for former President Obama, Colson Whitehead has already become the first African American author to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice.

9. The family/estate of famous dead author Roald Dahl apologized for controversial statements that the author made back in the 1970s. Fans of the author said they weren’t wild about the controversy but it wasn’t really a BFD.

10. New York Mayor Andrew Cuomo wrote a book called American Crisis: (with a nonsense subtitle). Protestors dumped a casket filled with book covers in front of a nursing home in response to Cuomo’s policies that (might have) led to deaths of thousands of elderly New Yorkers. The stunt went over general public’s heads, so the protesters resorted to leaving one-star reviews for the book on Amazon, just like everybody else.

I kind of feel sorry for 2020. Yeah, it was a bad year for a lot of people, but it wasn’t 2020’s fault. Most of the bad stuff that happened in 2020 was building up before 2020 even started. Even though 2020 is over, I’m not worried. There will always be weird/interesting book and publishing news if you look hard enough.


Enough about me! What do you think? What were other weird things that happened with books and publishing in 2020?

  1. Marilyn Kriete permalink

    “That feeling of not being watched while on camera, according to psychologists, comes from being a political analyst on CNN.” Love this post! Your wit is on full display. A wild year in the literary world, for sure!

  2. No more Book Expo or BookCon — at least for now. 😦

    • Maybe this year, if everybody can agree to the same standards for social distancing/face coverings and then find a decent venue in a city that’s willing to host it. The Zoom cons don’t seem to be doing all that great.

  3. Interesting post! Where do you go for your book/publishing news?

    • I get a lot of stuff from Publishers Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, or NPR, but you have to sift through tons of author interviews to find interesting information. If there’s a celebrity writer involved, mainstream will usually cover it.

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