Big Read Awards $2.8 Million

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded another $2.8 million in grants for its Big Read initiative, which is aimed at promoting reading in communities. The new funding will go to 208 libraries and other organizations that organize Big Read activities in their regions. Each organization will receive between $2,500 and $20,000 to promote and execute Big Read programs, to be held between September and next June.

Holton Has New Venture, Teams with HC

Lisa Holton, the former president of Scholastic Trade Publishing, has launched Fourth Story Media, a “studio” that integrates books and the Internet to develop children’s properties. Its first series is the Amanda Project, an interactive mystery series for girls age 12—14, told across a variety of different media. The project’s Web site will be up by the end of this year, and the first book will be published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in fall 2009. Seven more will follow.

Haber Exits Rodale; Imprint Closed

Leigh Haber has resigned as v-p/editorial director at Rodale/Modern Times. With her departure, Rodale will close the Modern Times imprint established by Haber last fall once it has published all the books under contract. Prior to starting Modern Times, Haber was the editor for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

S&S Starts Speakers Unit

Simon & Schuster has launched the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau. The unit will be co-run by Greater Talent Network. Authors already signed up to hit the talk circuit include Philippa Gregory, Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz, Jennifer Weiner and Chuck Klosterman.

Thomas, Creamer Up at Doubleday

Bill Thomas, editor-in-chief of Doubleday since 1998, has been named senior v-p, editor-in-chief and publisher, general adult books, for the Doubleday Publishing Group. While continuing to report to Doubleday Publishing president and publisher Steve Rubin, Thomas will become more involved with the overall direction of Doubleday’s adult publishing program. He will turn over most of the day-to-day responsibilities for Doubleday’s Broadway imprint to Stacy Creamer, who has been promoted to editor-in-chief of the unit. Charles Conrad, editorial director for Broadway paperbacks, has been promoted to deputy editorial director.

S&S Gets Macomber Nonfiction

Romance writer Debbie Macomber, who has more than 100 million copies of her novels in print, has signed with Touchstone/Fireside’s Christian publishing imprint, Howard Books, for two nonfiction inspirational titles. Howard senior editor Cindy Lambert won world rights. The first of the two, Fishes and Loaves: Living in a Spirit of Generosity, is planned for a 2009 publication. Macomber will stay with Harlequin for fiction.

Amazon Coop to Stay Open

Amazon Bookstore Coop, the Minneapolis feminist bookstore that was scheduled to close June 29, has received an 11th-hour reprieve. Editorial consultant Ruta Skujins, with the help of her partner, Joann Bell, will assume ownership of the 2,800 sq. ft. store by the end of June.