By Elizabeth York. Odessa American
With a new year beginning, bookshelves of area bookstores and libraries will soon be featuring new titles. Randy Ham, regional book buyer for Hastings Books Music & Videos, said there are several new trends around the bend for the book industry. Publishers are blending hard copy with paperless by trying to find ways to incorporate Internet blogging, he said. “Books with collections of blog writings are being planned, similar to books with collections of essays,” Ham said.

Ham said that perennially best-selling dramatic fiction authors like John Grisham and Danielle Steele are seeing a downturn in sales. “Those authors are still titans in the publishing world, but cracks are appearing in their armor,” Ham said. The publishing trend is moving toward a wider variety of authors and titles, he said. The genre of literary fiction is taking off with historical fiction books like “The Secret Life of Bees” and “Memoirs of a Geisha” doing well in paperback. Ham said he expects 2006 will be a high year for political books. “With 2006 being an off-year election, be prepared to see the fall inundated with political titles from both sides of the spectrum,” Ham said “Many congressional races will be tight and well-selling books could turn the tide in one or more races.” Angie Gaule, manager of Waldenbooks in Music City Mall, has worked at the bookstore for more than 20 years. Gaule said that no matter what their angle, books on government and politics appeal to West Texans. “Political books always sell well in this area,” Gaule said. “People are very politically interested down here.” Gaule said regional books such as “Neil Sperry’s Complete Guide to Texas Gardening” are also popular. “All the regional titles do really well,” Gaule said. Ethnic books became increasingly popular after books like Amy Tan’s “The Joy Luck Club” enjoyed enormous popularity for more than a decade. Gaule said she expects more ethnic books to be released in 2006. Gaule said African-American and Hispanic authors and story characters will be especially prominent.“I think that trend is going to continue,” Gaule said. “I think there’s going to be more in the ethnic genres. ”Gaule also said the Christian fiction market is burgeoning.“Christian fiction is up and coming,” Gaule said. “It’s been growing steadily since the ‘Left Behind’ series.” Rebbecca Taylor, adult services librarian for the Ector County Library, said Christian fiction is appealing to those who are uncomfortable with the content in some of the secular novels.“ You might say it’s a developing genre,” Taylor said. Several nonfiction books are highly anticipated in 2006, Ham said. One of these is “The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia” by 10-year-old whiz kid Noah McCullough. The Katy, Texas, native has written a good book for anyone wanting to brush up on U.S. history, Ham said. Taylor said that the last book in the “Harry Potter” series will be a work in progress in 2006.“ I know J.K. Rowling is working on it,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if it’ll be released in ’06.” Several well-known names will make a showing on the book scene, Taylor said. A biography of media home mogul Martha Stewart will be released in January. “Being Martha: The Inside Story of Martha Stewart and Her Amazing Life,” by Lloyd Allen details the personal story of the decoration diva’s trip from daytime TV to prison.“ Terri: The Truth,” by Michael Schiavo is set to be released in March. The memoir written by the husband of Terri Schiavo will offer a singular perspective surrounding her controversial death.“ Dave Barry’s Money Secrets: Like: Why Is There a Giant Eyeball on the Dollar?” will be released in January, Taylor said. In the book, Barry takes a humorous look at finances. Despite the popularity of nonfiction, fiction books such as “The Hostage” by W.E.B. Griffin and “Cell: A Novel” by Stephen King will hold their own this year. Thrillers like those King is known for are usually a sure thing for readers, Taylor said. “Perpetually speaking, the most popular (genre) all the time is mystery,” Taylor said.