Today, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin announced "One Book, One New York," an exciting citywide initiative that will bring book-loving New Yorkers together to read the same book at the same time. With quintessential New York flair, the program will feature five celebrity advocates – Bebe Neuwirth (Madame Secretary), William H. Macy (Shameless), Giancarlo Esposito (The Get Down), Larry Wilmore (Comedian), and Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black) – each urging New Yorkers to vote for their choice. This evening, BuzzFeed and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment will host a book party for the launch of One Book, One New York in celebration of the five finalists and New York City’s hometown book publishing industry. A city-wide public awareness campaign on subways, buses and LinkNYC also launches today advising New Yorkers of the program’s launch and encouraging them to vote on the final selection. Videos produced in partnership with BuzzFeed featuring testimonials by the One Book celebrity advocates will be posted online and disseminated widely during the voting process.
"New York City is proud to be the creative capital of the world," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "The One Book, One New York initiative provides the perfect opportunity to bring City residents from all five boroughs together through reading. This initiative will inspire New Yorkers to unify in their appreciation of the written word and to share in the support of the city’s important publishing industry."
"The publishing industry is a vital element of the city's creative economy. We're thrilled to celebrate our enduring literary capital with the One Book, One New York program," said Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. "One Book, One New York will help readers connect with one another while rediscovering their local libraries and their independent neighborhood bookstores. One Book, One New York will reignite conversations about reading throughout the City, from our libraries to our subway platforms, from our local bookstores to the coffee shop."
The nominated books, each of which has a connection to the New York City area, are:
Voting will take place throughout the month of February online and at interactive digital kiosks on subway platforms throughout New York City. Announcement of the final book selection will take place in early March. Following that announcement, there will be One Book, One New York events taking place throughout the City with a culminating event in early June.
"When the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment told us that they were planning on launching the One Book One New York program, we at BuzzFeed were excited to partner with them to make this dream a reality. New York City has one of the most vibrant and flourishing literary cultures in the world—we are honored for the chance to spread the book love and get the word out through all five boroughs, so that everyone can partake and participate," said Isaac Fitzgerald, BuzzFeed Books Editor. "One Book One New York has been an incredible team effort and throughout it all partnering with Commissioner Julie Menin and her team has been an absolute delight. Along with the publishers, bookstores, and libraries of New York, we are proud and thrilled to support reading here in this great city."
To select the book finalists, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment convened an advisory council of representatives from each of New York City’s three public library systems, as well as leading academics from the City’s universities and representatives of the book publishing community. Their book recommendations were compiled into a list from which the five finalists were chosen. Each of the five books deals with the author or main character attempting to make sense of the world around them. Many of the timely themes include race in America, immigration, and overcoming obstacles. The publishers of the five nominated books have provided copies of those books to each of NYC’s more than 200 library branches (over 4,000 copies in all); the books will also be available for sale at bookstores throughout the City.
"The power of reading is on display every day at The New York Public Library: the power to inform and to unite people, communities, and indeed whole cities," said NYPL President Tony Marx. "The One City, One Book initiative is an innovative and fun way for all New Yorkers to join together, learn, be inspired, and find common ground through books. NYPL is proud to partner with the Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment and make the books widely available in our branches."
"We are excited to host One Book, One New York discussion groups and ready to watch these books fly off our shelves as Brooklynites begin reading and considering which of the five they would most like to discuss—and better still, debate—with friends, strangers and fellow library patrons throughout the year," said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson.
"As an institution that serves the most diverse population in the world, Queens Library is proud to join a campaign to encourage New Yorkers to collectively develop a stronger understanding of the immigrant experience," said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. "It’s also an excellent opportunity to introduce our collection and services to first-timers, and give our regulars another reason to keep coming."
In launching One Book, One New York, the City aims to not only encourage a sense of community among New Yorkers, but also to support the City’s robust book publishing and bookselling communities. New York City is the country’s book publishing capital – home to the “Big Five” publishing companies—Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan—along with many of the most prominent independent and academic publishing houses in the country. It is the birthplace of Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest retail bookstore chain, and literary havens like the Strand and the Astoria Bookshop. And yet, in recent years both industries have faced significant challenges: a number of the City’s bookstores have closed, Staten Island has only a single independent bookstore, and the Bronx has no bookstores at all.
The city will unveil an unprecedented One Book, One New York public awareness campaign that will blanket New York City beginning February 1st. The campaign will be featured on NYC subways, bus shelters, LinkNYC kiosks on street corners, custom-designed subway platform kiosks all across the city, and on Taxi TV.
Also, on February 1, between 12 noon and 12:30 p.m., the five books will be officially unveiled on two Jumbotrons in Times Square: one at 1540 Broadway, and the other directly across the street at 1535 Broadway on the Marriott Marquis hotel – the second-largest Jumbotron in the country – courtesy of Clear Channel, Vornado Realty Trust and Silvercast Media.
"I'm a big believer in these One City/One Book campaigns - as they inevitably generate excitement and interest in reading and books well beyond the individual titles selected," said Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association. "New York City is to be congratulated for launching such a program; and all of us at ABA look forward to its success."
"The One Book, One New York program is an incredibly exciting development in the cultural life of the city, said Stephen Morrison, VP, Picador, Publisher of The Sellout by Paul Beatty. "Reading is both an individual experience and a collective one; this program will inspire New Yorkers and engage them to share and discuss the incredible range of experiences captured in these diverse book selections. The program is one in which all New Yorkers can take part - whether as readers, librarians, booksellers, or publishers - and we are proud to be working with the Mayor's Office in the inauguration of it."
"We are so proud to have published this powerfully written, incisive, and urgent book about who we are as Americans. Its selection as a finalist in the One Book, One New York initiative assures that it will invite even more readers to join in this very necessary national conversation," said Julie Grau, Spiegel & Grau at Random House, SVP & Publisher of Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
"Not only is Junot Díaz one of America's most vital chroniclers of the immigrant experience - one Riverhead is proud to have published for two decades - but he has also put in extensive time as a New York City community organizer and activist. Oscar Wao is a perfect book for this diverse city to read together," said Geoff Kloske, VP & Publisher of Riverhead Books.
"We are delighted to collaborate with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment & Buzzfeed to bring Americanah to the One Book, One New York program. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s brilliant novel about Ifemelu, a young woman from Nigeria who comes to America, will surely resonate with a great many New Yorkers," said Robin Desser, VP, Editorial Director, Alfred A. Knopf, The Knopf Doubleday Group, Penguin Random House.
"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was a runaway bestseller when it was published in 1943, and continues to inspire readers to this day," said Amy Baker, VP & Associate Publisher, Harper Perennial. "We are honored to have it considered alongside these great contemporary books, and hope that New Yorkers will vote for this timeless and enduring novel for the One Book, One New York pick."