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Sarah

Well, I See By the Clock on the Wall…

Routine is a funny thing, especially on a professional level. It forces you to get up early every morning, perform a specific set of work-related tricks until the day is done, and then it’s time to get up early the next day and repeat the same process. For two years, routine has been my fall-back as I scoured for the best, relevant and occasionally bizarre bits of publishing-related news and commentary to share with GalleyCat readers.

After today, that routine will no longer exist. This is my last day here, after which Ron will take the site over as a solo act for the foreseeable future. Instead I’m creating a new routine, or perhaps an anti-routine: one with more freelance opportunities and larger projects to work on. One where I can spend more time on neglected matters: fiction-writing, my own crime fiction-centric site, or making some use of that forensic science degree after all. One with equal parts possibility and uncertainty. As to why now, the Jewish New Year – which begins tonight – probably has a lot to do with it. New Year, new beginnings, that sort of thing.

In other words: after two years, thousands of posts, scores of parties and readership that’s more than quadrupled since Ron and I took over GalleyCat in October 2005, it’s time to see what’s out there beyond the publishing industry’s idiosyncratic, mercurial and fascinating borders. I’m thrilled and scared, but risk has that effect on a person. And sad, too, because I’m going to miss so much here. When I first started, I had an amateur’s fascination with publishing. Now there’s more, but also so much I’ve still yet to learn. So most of all, thank you for being here as I tried to understand the way things work, from mergers & acquisitions (HM/Harcourt, Wottakar’s and Hachette/Time Warner Books, here’s looking at you) and bankruptcies (AMS/PGW) to more scandal-ridden fare (really, if not for James Frey, J.T. Leroy, Kaavya Viswanathan, and especially OJ and Judith Regan, there would be no GalleyCat in its current format.)

Thanks also to Elizabeth Spiers for the initial chance; Aileen Gallagher, Dorian Benkoil and Dylan Stableford for editorial support in the early innings and Rebecca Fox, Noah Davis and Chris Ariens for the same, late-in-the-game; Laurel Touby for continuing to push for breaking news and original content; my fellow bloggers-in-arms, departed and still current; and Ron, for being Adolph Green to my Betty Comden (even if I’m breaking up the act a lot sooner than they did.)

And while we’re on the team theme, had I been more tech-savvy there would have been a YouTube clip of my favorite childhood comedy duo delivering the goodbye song I reference in the subject header to open this post. But I’m not, so instead I’ll quote from the last lines:

Adieu, mon vieux, a la prochaine, goodbye till when we meet again!

Some sunny day, I suspect.

New Literary Editor for The Nation

PW Daily’s Rachel Deahl reports that The Nation‘s current books editor Adam Shatz is making way for John Palatella, who arrives by way of the Columbia Journalism Review. Shatz is moving on to the London Review of Books. According to Nation editor-in-chief Katrina vanden Heuvel, Palatella will uphold the magazine’s commitment to serious book coverage. Speaking to the fact that most publications are cutting back on the pages they devote to books, vanden Heuvel said The Nation “believes in [books coverage] more than ever.” There will, however be some changes: Palatella plans look to bring more essays about literature and pop culture into the section and also beef up online coverage of books and the arts.

Scott Moyers Won’t Be A Junior Jackal

The Observer’s Leon Nayfakh catches up with former book editor Scott Moyers, now comfortably ensconced within the Wylie Agency as a literary agent. In the last month alone, Moyers has sold books to Doubleday, Scribner, Random House and the Penguin Press. Not a bad opening month, Neyfakh comments, though having worked as an editor at all four of those houses may have come in handy – as does working with the man famously known for poaching clients that his nickname, “The Jackal,” pretty much says it all.

Many of Moyers’ colleagues in the industry say they’re pleased for him about his new gig. But a few fear that between the personal loyalty that Moyers commands from many of the writers he’s edited, and Wylie’s formidable existing stable of talent (Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis are but a few of the 600-plus author on the overall client list) and no-holds-barred recruiting tactics, the pair could create a juggernaut with the ability to raid the rosters of smaller competitors. Or, as one competitor puts it: “The question for Scott is, if you swim with the sharks, are you going to become one of the sharks?”

Not surprisingly, Moyers disagrees with any such notions. “I am not making it my business to think in those terms or be predatory,” he told Neyfakh. “There is so much good work to do. I think, like all agents, if something happens organically-if one is approached, if something makes sense, then so be it. I’m not going to be morbidly squeamish in a kind of way that doesn’t make sense. But I am going to be straightforward and open.” And he’s generally amused by any speculation about potential poaching and shark-swimming. “I thank them for their concern, for their solicitude. I’m moved by their empathy,” he said. “I ask them to give me a soul X-ray a year from now, and if I have black spots on the lungs of my soul, then, you know, they can just rush me to the infirmary and fill me up with drugs. But I somehow think it’s going to be okay.”

Michel Leaves William Morris UK for PFD

The Bookseller’s Joel Rickett reports that Caroline Michel, the former managing director of HarperPress, has left her current post as m.d. of William Morris UK for a chief executive position with rival literary agency PFD. Michel has been brought in over the heads of the PFD management team, who have been attempting to negotiate a 4m pound buyout from parent CSS Stellar.

Michel’s appointment was made by David Buchler, the new executive chairman of CSS, who has promised to reshape PFD. It is likely to scotch any possibility of a management buyout at the literary and talent agency, as well as the 8m pound offer from Chorion. The reaction of the 14 lead PFD agents to the news is not known (though the internal rumor mill must be humming bigtime.) Michel is meeting her new team this afternoon.

The Corporate Side of Booksigning

When Kim Ricketts launched her Book Events company more than three years ago in Seattle, no one else was connecting authors with corporations like Starbucks, Microsoft and Real Networks in a formal way. Now these things are much more commonplace, but that isn’t keeping Ricketts from a hectic schedule that ends “by 11 PM or midnight,” as she tells the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s John Marshall in a brief Q&A.

Her biggest success? “When those inside companies write to me and say things like ‘I used to think of myself as a reader and went to author events, but then I got too busy with my career or having kids, but now with authors at my workplace, it reminds me how much I love to read,” she says. “I like that conversionary experience. I am evangelistic on this point. That’s when I feel like I have won.” And as for what’s next, expanding what we do to other companies in other regions,” namely in Minneapolis, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Boston. In other words, expect a lot more author/corporation matchups to come…

Eggers Youngest to Win Heinz Foundation Award

Dave Eggers has become the youngest person ever to win one of the annual $250,000 awards from the Heinz Family Foundation, reports the Washington Post’s Bob Thompson. Eggers won for his work with 826Valencia, the nonprofit writing and tutoring center he founded in 2000 for literary issues pertaining to children ages six to eighteen. There are now seven centers around the US, and Eggers said the money would be split evenly among them.

“I think of it as a validation of the work that 826 does,” a grateful Eggers said in an interview. “Dave Eggers is not only an accomplished and versatile man of letters but the protagonist of a real-life story of generosity and inspiration,” said Heinz Family Foundation Chairman Teresa Heinz in a statement announcing the award. Interestingly, the news seems to have been sent around to most major media outlets (not to me, though) in advance with an embargo in effect – a stipulation that got the Literary Saloon’s M.A. Orthofer annoyed. “An embargo requires a contract, a mutual agreement, a quid pro quo — there has to be, to use the technical term, consideration, as the lawyers would have it. In the case of the e-mail we received, there was none. Just a hell of a lot of presumption.”

UMich Press Halts, Then Okays Distribution of Anti-Israel Book

Many university presses in the United States distribute books for publishers from other countries – and vice versa. But as Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik reported yesterday, the University of Michigan has recently discovered that such an arrangement can land a university in the middle of a controversy over a book neither written by one of its professors nor published by its press.

Last month, the press halted publication of Joel Kovel‘s OVERCOMING ZIONISM, which argues that the creation of Israel was a mistake and urges adoption of the “one state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which Israelis and Palestinians would form a new country, without a Jewish character. The publisher is Pluto Press, a British outfit that describes itself as having a left-wing focus and that publishes books by and for scholars in the social sciences. The University of Michigan Press is the American distributor for Pluto. After the book’s halted distribution, Anne Beech, managing director of Pluto Press, defended the book and its publication, saying “[Kovel is] a scholar of standing – not a ranting madman.”

Today, however, Jaschik follows up with a report that UMich has had a change of heart. In a statement released by the university, the press Executive Board (a faculty body) said that while it “has deep reservations about Overcoming Zionism, it would be a blow against free speech to remove the book from distribution on that basis. We conclude that we should not fail to honor our distribution agreement based on our reservations about the content of a single book.” At the same time, the board tried to distance itself from the book and its publisher. “Had the manuscript gone through the standard review process used by the University of Michigan Press, the board would not have recommended publication. But the arrangement with Pluto Press is for distribution only; the UM Press never intended to review individually every title published by Pluto (or any other press for which it holds distribution rights). By resuming distribution, the board in no way endorses the content of the book.”

AAP Criticized by Open Access Advocates

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Jennifer Howard reports that the Association of American Publishers has landed in hot water with university presses and research librarians, as well as open-access advocates, thanks to a new undertaking that is billed as an attempt to “safeguard the scientific and medical peer-review process and educate the public about the risks of proposed government interference with the scholarly communication process.” That effort, known as the Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine (PRISM) is seen by open-access advocates within the scientific and library communities as just another bid by the AAP to clamp down on such efforts and infringe on the ability of scientists to conduct free and open research.

Brian D. Crawford, chairman of the executive council of the AAP’s professional and scholarly publishing division, acknowledged that the strength of the negative reaction had taken his group by surprise. “We did not expect to have encountered the sort of criticism that we have seen thus far,” Crawford told The Chronicle. “We were truly hoping to establish this as a way to have a very productive dialogue on what are important and nuanced issues.”

B&N To Release Exclusive Music CDs

Barnes & Noble, in conjunction with bigHelium Records, announced the launch of its exclusive new CD collection, SundayMusic (R), “designed to introduce sophisticated adults to sophisticated music from unique artists that might otherwise go undiscovered.” The first two albums of the series features artists including Norah Jones, Jeff Buckley, Sara Tavares and Jacob Golden. Steve Riggio, chief executive officer of Barnes & Noble, said, “Though embracing many genres and styles, the SundayMusic (R) compilations have one consistent voice, carried by some of the best singers and writers in the world, comprising the perfect soundtrack for a quiet day.”

Bertram/THE Merger May Mean More Jobs

EDP24′s Adam Aiken reports that Woolworths/EUK, the new owner of books wholesaler Bertram Group last night confirmed that jobs would be created in Norwich following the decision to merge two parts of the enlarged business. Yesterday’s announcement will not have been so welcome for workers at THE’s operations in Stoke, with the company confirming that 150 staff would be affected by the decision to close that site. But Stoke’s loss looks set to be Norwich’s gain, with a Woolworths spokesman last night confirming that more jobs would be on their way to Norfolk. “Jobs will be created in Norwich although it’s too early to be specific on how many will be created,” she said.

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