Sara Nelson is now working as the Editorial Director of Books and Kindle at Amazon.com.
WASHINGTON (WUSA) - Two weeks ago, Amazon launched its annual Big Fall Books Preview featuring a selection of books that Amazon believes to be the season's "most anticipated releases" in fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, biographies, mysteries, and for kids and teens.
In addition, book editors of Amazon.com have made their selections for fall's ten most intriguing releases, including J.K. Rowling's highly anticipated comic tale The Casual Vacancy, and hit nonfiction works like America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't by Stephen Colbert.
"Fall tends to bring readers some of the best, most-sure-to-be-talked-about books, and this year's lineup looks especially impressive," said Sara Nelson, Editorial Director of Books and Kindle, Amazon.com. "In fact, our editors were so excited about the upcoming books that, in addition to the Top 10 list, each of them picked three more upcoming books they already love, or can't wait to get their hands on, and included these suggestions as another feature in our Big Fall Books Preview. Whether customers are looking for a book for their teenager, or the delicious novels they'll soon devour in front of a fire, there's plenty of great reading to go around."
Sara Nelson told WUSA that these picks are "purely editorial". As the Editorial Director, she also recommended three of her favorite books in the Big Fall Books Preview, one of which was Jami Attenberg's novel The Middlesteins, a story of a young Jewish woman with a weight problem. "This book just cried out to me from the pile," she said, "Without getting too much into my personal pathology, you could say that I related."
Sara Nelson explained that the editorial team read a ton of books to find out their favorites. Her team discover books in a variety of ways - publishers and agents often share their favorites with the editors, or the editors get to request books that they think they might want to recommend to Amazon's readers.
Once a few editors read the books, the team meet and make their cases for their favorites and start to narrow down the list. Once the editors get closer to a list of what they think will be a Top 10, the majority-if not all-of the team reads those books to make sure those are the books they want to recommend to the customers.
However, there are some cases where the editors are not able to read the book. "That's why we called it our 'Top 10 Most Intriguing' - because what we have been able to read from or about it makes uswish we could have!" said Sara, "One example of this is J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, which is embargoed until it goes on sale."
As a well-known book reviewer and the former Book Editor at Oprah's O Magazine, Sara Nelson joined Amazon.com in May where she leads the company's editorial vision for books in the print and Kindle bookstores. As one of the earliest e-book readers and supporters in the industry, she said she would still be reading her original Kindle from 2007, except that she left it on a plane very early on.
But, she also said that she still reads in the "traditional" way - "We're platform agnostic around here. We love books, no matter the format and are happy to recommend great books to our customers in features like the Big Fall Books Preview and also our regular feature, Best Books of the Month."
Below are the Amazon Books Editors' picks for the 10 most intriguing books of Fall, listed alphabetically by author:
- "Telegraph Avenue" by Michael Chabon: The beloved author of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" returns with a knowing story of life in politically correct northern California.
- "America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't" by Stephen Colbert: According to the author and TV phenomenon, this one might "singlebookedly pull this country back from the brink."
- "The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy)" by Justin Cronin: In a world ravaged by the vampire apocalypse that spread in "The Passage," survivors band together to eradicate the origins of the virus.
- "Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy" by Ken Follett: The follow-up to "Fall of Giants" is a doorstop of a tale of World War II and the nuclear age.
- "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver: Global warming has never been so fascinating-or beautiful-as in this novel by the renowned author of "The Poisonwood Bible."
- "The Casual Vacancy" by J.K. Rowling: The very definition of "highly anticipated," this blackly comic tale of a town in trouble is the Harry Potter creator's first book expressly for adults.
- "Joseph Anton: A Memoir" by Salman Rushdie: From the celebrated novelist, the true-life tale of hiding for his life.
- "NW" by Zadie Smith: A characteristically brilliant comic novel about four young people making their way in complicated London.
- "The Oath: The Obama White House v. the Supreme Court" by Jeffrey Toobin: A surprising look at how two branches of government do-and don't-get along.
- "Back to Blood" by Tom Wolfe: Think "Bonfire of the Vanities" goes to Miami. Class, race, politics. It's all there-in Wolfe's typically audacious style.