Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Penguin Train Brings Finest News

• There was a major shakeup at Penguin's adult imprints Tuesday, which feature some of my favorites like Viking and Riverhead. Nearly every Penguin imprint was affected, from the aforementioned divisions to Dutton and Putnam, all of which make regular appearances on the bestseller lists. Even smaller ones like Avery, which focuses on health-related books, were impacted. There were three key headliner changes, but arguably the one most visible to the average reader is the late-summer closure of Gotham Books and Hudson Street Press.

Any change at the behemoth known as Penguin Random House impacts bookstores by virtue of that company being the biggest publisher by far with dozens of divisions, or imprints. The problem with having this many imprints is that eventually, there will be overlap and that's what led to the closure of Gotham and Hudson Street. For example, I've always found Viking to have a wide variety of titles. It manages to publish nonfiction history like The Boys in the Boat to fiction like Mo Yan's controversial Frog and throws in some critical thinking books from the likes of Sir Ken Robinson along the way. With that wide of range, there's bound to be some overlap with other Penguin imprints.

• On Friday, I wrote about three trends for 2015 films based on books. Naturally, dates and movies were shuffled after that post's publication. Instead of The Jungle Book coming Oct. 9, Disney has opted to delay that to April 2016 and bump up its adaptation of the Michael J. Tougias book The Finest Hours, the true story of the Coast Guard's rescue of two oil tankers during a 1952 Nor'easter storm. The film stars Chris Pine (Star Trek, Into the Woods), Casey Affleck (Interstellar, Oceans trilogy) and Eric Bana (Lone Survivor, Hulk). So essentially, they swapped one trend of public domain stories for another in survival stories. Frankly, I don't think it's a bad trade. I had already planned to cover The Finest Hours when it was set for release. When the book was published by Scribner in 2009, it received generally favorable reviews and it currently has a 3.91 on Goodreads.

• In other book film news, the adaptation of Paula Hawkins' debut novel The Girl on the Train is gaining more traction at DreamWorks. Erin Cressida Wilson is set to turn in a script soon. The story is about a train commuter with an unreliable memory becoming entangled in a murder investigation. Hawkins' novel is taking the literary world by storm and has been flagged as a major bestseller of 2015. This one, along with Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, which is set for publication next month, have been heavily hyped for months. Hawkins' novel was published this week by Riverhead. I'm about three hours into the audiobook and the novel is definitely dark and twisty while the comparisons to Hitchcock are accurate.

• Speaking of Hitchcock and trains, Gone Girl writer and screenwriter Gillian Flynn is re-teaming with star Ben Affleck and director David Fincher for a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Strangers on a Train. No word yet on a release date.

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