Rose FoxAndrew AlbaneseA publishing giant finds one solution to the business challenge of self-publishing authors. Meanwhile, just in time for Olympics gymnastics, an industry tally of book sales in 2011 shows a business in the middle of a back-flip. In reviews, we learn about another difficult trick – how to turn Bluebeard, the notorious wife-murderer, into a romantic hero.

The numbers are in for publishers and their sales in 2011, Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly features editor, tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally, with good news and bad news to find. “Total book sales fell 2.5% in 2011, to $27.2 billion. However, unit sales actually rose by a healthy 3.4% to 2.77 billion. The takeaway for me is that people are reading more. For all the difficulty we’re facing in the current market transition, there is greater demand for the product of reading.”

On Thursday, Pearson, parent company of Penguin, announced it had acquired self-publishing venture Author Solutions for $116 million. “The deal marks the ‘mainstreaming of self-publishing,’ according to Penguin CEO John Makinson and Author Solutions CEO Kevin Weiss,” Albanese reports.

In her review of the week’s reviews, Rose Fox, who blogs at PW‘s Genreville, has some colorful news about a colorful character. In Charming Blue, author “Kristine Grayson pulls off the difficult trick of turning legendary wife-murderer Bluebeard into a romantic hero,” says Fox. “The surprising premise leads to a great blend of mystery and romantic tension.”

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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