It was the year that J.K. Rowling offered readers a surprise, e-book sales leveled off, and independent bookstores enjoyed a resurgence.
From Alice Munro's Nobel Prize to Oprah Winfrey's lone book club pick, here's a quick review of 2013 in the world of books:
Rowling's secret: The Cuckoo's Calling, a debut crime novel credited to Robert Galbraith, a former British Army officer, got good reviews when it was published in April. But it didn't become a best seller until July, when a British newspaper revealed it was written by Rowling. (It was No. 1 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list for three weeks.) "I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer," Rowling said. "Being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience."
Less time for reading? Oprah Winfrey has been busy, starring in a movie (Lee Daniels' The Butler) and running her own cable TV network. Perhaps that explains why she chose only one book in 2013 for the book club she revived last year. The third selection of Oprah's Book Club 2.0, Sue Monk Kidd's novel The Invention of Wings, about a 19th-century slave in Charleston, was announced Dec.10, but the book won't be released until Jan. 7. In 1997, during her book club's heyday, Winfrey chose 10 titles.
Nobel sells books: After winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Canadian short-story master Alice Munro moved up the best-seller list. Dear Life, her last collection - Munro, 82, says she's retiring - reached No. 57 on USA TODAY's list, after the Nobel was announced in October. That's her highest rank.
Legal thrillers: The plots are not as dramatic as John Grisham's, but publishers spent a lot of time with lawyers this year. In a victory for Amazon, a federal judge ruled in July that Apple conspired with publishers to fix the prices of e-books. Five major publishers settled before the trial. Citing that and other court cases, Publishers Lunch, a digital newsletter, dubbed 2013 "the year of the gavel."
Print (and bookstores) survive: After several years of explosive growth, e-book sales are flattening out, dampening speculation that print books are dying. At Barnes & Noble, physical bookstores did better than the chain's e-reader, Nook. Publishers Weekly saluted the "resurgence of independent bookstores" by giving its Person of the Year award to American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher and his board.
Gone but not forgotten: Richard Matheson, 87, who died June 23, wrote the 1954 horror novel I Am Legend, adapted as a film four times, and some of the most memorable episodes of The Twilight Zone. Elmore Leonard, 87, who died Aug. 20, influenced a generation of younger writers with gritty crime novels including Get Shorty. Irish Poet Seamus Heaney, 74, who died Aug. 30, won the Nobel Prize in 1995. Tom Clancy, 66, who died Oct.1, was a master of the military techno-thriller starring weapons that were nearly as important as the characters. Nobel laureate Doris Lessing, 94, who died Nov.17, was best known for her 1962 novel The Golden Notebook, which became required reading in women's studies courses.