UNESCO Announces 2024 World Book Capital



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Welcome to Today in Books, where we report on literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

UNESCO Names Strasbourg the 2024 World Book Capital

Each year since 2001, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has chosen a different city to be celebrated as a World Book Capital. Did you know this? I’ve been working in books for 15 years, and it’s news to me! This year, the honor goes to Strasbourg, France, once the home to Johannes Gutenberg.

UNESCO and the World Book Capital Advisory Committee were impressed by Strasbourg’s strong focus on books to meet the challenges of social tensions and climate change, with programs like ‘Reading for the Planet’. The city emphasizes books’ ability to encourage debate and discussion of environmental concerns and scientific knowledge, focusing on young people as agents of change.

UNESCO

See the full list of World Book Capitals and check out the calendar of more than 200 literary events taking place between now and next April. I tend to be uninterested in literary tourism—let’s be honest, most bookstores are generally pretty similar—and this is a compelling pitch, even to me.

Do you enjoy literary tourism? Share your favorite destinations in the comments.

Great Graphic Novels for Pool/Beach/Couch-Side Summer Reading

Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to find a round-up of graphic novels in the pages of a major newspaper’s book section, and I continue to find it surprising and delightful. Over at The Washington Post, Michael Cavna recommends five of the year’s best graphic novels to add to your summer TBR. They all look terrific, and there’s a nice variety of genre, subject matter, and artistic style to help you find a rec that fits your reading flavor. I’ll be picking up I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together with a quickness.

Publishing Startups Take AI From Theory to Practice

Most industry coverage of AI these last few years has been of the “What about the books?!” variety, and I get it. Copyright concerns are real, and you can’t swing a cat without running into a headline about how AI is coming for art/jobs/everything. There’s a lot of fear and worry, and there is also a lot of possibility. At Publishers Weekly, Ed Nawotka is doing a nice job exploring all sides of the issue, and his ongoing series about book-related AI startups is especially interesting. The latest installment highlights an AI-powered self-publishing platform and a tool to help literary agents manage manuscript submissions, and past features include a book advertising service, a book recommendation app, and a book trailer/video generator. AI technology isn’t going anywhere—indeed, it will only get faster, better, and more widely applicable—and folks in the industry would be wise to pay attention to practical applications.

The Season of “Best Books of the Year So Far” is in Full Swing

If you like this newsletter, you’d probably like The Book Riot Podcast, where we discuss news from the world of books and reading. On today’s episode, Jeff O’Neal and I dive into some of the lists of 2024’s best books so far, Costco’s decision to scale back book sales, and more.


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