Friday, April 11, 2008

Books on the Nightstand

Michael Kindess and Ann Kingman, two of our favorite sales reps (Random House), have a new blog called Books on the Nightstand. Now the whole world, not just New England booksellers, has the opportunity to partake of their special blend of passion, insight, and sheer enthusiasm for books! Listening to their podcasts made me want to take the day off and read for the next 10 hours straight. They are that persuasive when talking about books and authors that they love. Check out their blog & podcasts the next time you crave a good book. (Two books I'm adding to my must read list based on their suggestions are: Any Human Heart by William Boyd and Peace by Richard Bausch.)

Book News, In Brief

The GuardianUK responds to HarperCollins' recent announcement regarding their new "no-advance" imprint, and asks would-be/wanna-be authors: Is writing really worth it any more?

Life isn't fair. While your self-published memoir has been removed from Amazon, nine year old Alec Greven's ten page book, How to Talk to Girls, is getting published by HarperCollins. Go tie the noose. Rocky Mountain News has the details.

Entertainment Weekly has posted a brief piece titled Comic Books: The One That Hooked Me! In it, fifteen comics luminaries (including Jaime Hernandez, Jessica Abel, Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, and Chris Ware) name the comic books that first drew them to the art form. Slide show included!

Penguin has revealed their secrets to making ho-hum hardback sellers into paperback bestsellers. Here's a taste, via the AP: Relying on luck, instinct and determination, Penguin has mastered the paperback blockbuster, taking a book already out in hardcover and giving it the kind of promotion once reserved for a new release: prominent store placement, author tours, online marketing, appeals to book clubs and community reading organizations. The key, says Penguin paperback sales head Norman Lidofsky, is identifying a book that could become a "word-of-mouth" seller, a conversation starter (and) a reading group favorite.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Book News, In Brief

A recent poll finds that America's favorite book is the Bible. I guess these folks never read that part about lying being a sin.

After critics kicked the cutie-patootie out of her last book, Rosie O'Donnell is back with another. The new book, Crafty U, is a critic-proof collection of family friendly crafts and projects.

Winston of Churchill: One Bear's Battle Against Global Warming may have won the 2008 Green Earth Book Award, but if you think that means that your kids are gonna like it, you've been smoking too much green earth.

In an effort to distract newspapers from printing any more negative notices regarding their attempted monopoly on print on demand services, has announced a writing contest for Harry Potter fans. If you're bored enough to write a 100 word essay that answers the probing questions
1. What songs do wizards use to celebrate birthdays?
2. What sports do wizards play besides Quidditch?<
3. What have you learned from the Harry Potter series that you use in everyday life?
you might be eligible to win a trip for two to London, England to touch's $4 million copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard -- one of seven, handwritten and illustrated copies J.K. Rowling produced as a complement to the Harry Potter series.
For contest details, click here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Book News, In Brief

According to The Washington Post, the Clintons have earned $109 million since leaving the White House. While half of that is Bill's cash for whoring himself out at various speaking engagements, over $30 million is from the couple's bestselling, quickly forgotten books.

Not content with crushing bookstores (new and used) and print on demand companies (large and small), is now aiming their death rays at the British book publishers. Via Times Online: An online price war for books has broken out, pitching Amazon against some of Britain’s biggest publishers. Amazon is angry that Penguin, Bloomsbury and others are discounting titles on their websites, encouraging customers to buy direct instead of using the online retailer.

A Combination Unsolicited Editorial & Unedited Solicitation

You want to know why folks like James Frey, J.T. Leroy and (my personal favorite) Margaret Seltzer all lie about their lives in an effort to get published? Because books these days are being hyped less for their stories than they are for the stories behind the stories. Case in point: When Reuters announced the winner of Penguin's American Breakthrough Novel writing contest yesterday, they opened the article with this: A New Orleans bartender who survived Hurricane Katrina won an "American Idol"-style competition on Monday after the public voted online for his book to be published by Penguin Group. -- a.k.a. the backstory of the dude that won. Only after this unnecessary pulling of the heart strings did they get around to this: Bill Loehfelm, who won a $25,000 contract, wrote "Fresh Kills" during the day while bartending at night. It is about the murder of a man on a New York City street corner that reunites his estranged and abused children. -- a.k.a. the actual plot of the book itself. Sorta makes you wonder what the point of this article actually was, don't it? If you think that I'm exaggerating (and that the whole thing is nothing more than a case of poorly placed paragraphs), here's how the article ends: The other finalists included a North Carolina woman who completed her novel while commuting to and from her job at Macy's department store, a Connecticut pediatrician who wrote her book after hours and a Kansas computer programmer who has been writing on the side for the past 20 years. No, it doesn't conclude with the winning author's future plans or the submissions deadline for the next A.B.N. contest or even the date when the winning book is going to be published. It ends with three more woe-is-me, look-at-me, save-it-for-Oprah bio blurbs.

Call me, Margaret Seltzer. All is forgiven.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Book News, In Brief

Illustrator Andy Bigwood won the Best Artwork accolade at this year's British Science Fiction Association Awards ceremony. It was for the cover of disLocations - a collection of nine stories written by some of the UK's best new and established science fiction authors - and depicts a "curved landscape, distorting energies and a damaged planet." Personally, I think it looks like a cheap, print on demand design.
Speaking of which...

The Authors Guild is looking into's new print on demand policy, as they are concerned over its many anti-trust and monopolizing aspects. From their press release: Once Amazon owns the supply chain, it has effective control of much of the "long tail" of publishing. Since Amazon has a firm grip on the retailing of these books (it's uneconomic for physical book stores to stock many of these titles), owning the supply chain would allow it to easily increase its profit margins on these books: it need only insist on buying at a deeper discount -- or it can choose to charge more for its printing of the books -- to increase its profits. Most publishers could do little but grumble and comply.
For more info, hit up the good folk at Publishers Weekly.