Andrew AlbanesePresented with a plaque for “lifetime achievement” in writing at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, Ursula LeGuin replied with a jeremiad on the state of publishing. The audience applauded – “bravely,” she noted. Clearly, the 85-year-old novelist of science fiction and fantasy relished the chance to see that more than cocktails were shaken at the annual gala.

LeGuin’s address invoked an alternative world – in which books are written for their own reward, and are penned by writers who treasure art and push for change.

“Her brief speech really hit home,” says Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. “She excoriated publishers for putting sales departments over editorial. She alluded to the recent Amazon-Hachette fray, saying that we just saw, ‘a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience.’ Unlike the binary publisher- good/Amazon-bad meme we saw throughout their recent e-book pricing struggle, Le Guin called out both sides for their complicity.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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