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Book Fairs

George W. Bush to Open Miami Book Fair; Tickets Cost $40

bushbook.jpgAccording to Book Signing Central, former President George W. Bush will make an appearance on November 11th at the National Museum of the US Air Force. Next, Bush will open the Miami Book Fair on November 14th.

The Washington Post reports: “Bush is scheduled to speak at the 27th annual Miami Book Fair International, which runs from Nov. 14-21. The former president will present his memoir ‘Decision Points,’ on Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. Book fair organizers told The Associated Press that tickets to Bush’s presentation are $40. That includes a presigned copy of the book.”

The Drudge Report revealed a few passages from the Bush memoir last week. Matt Lauer will be airing an interview with Bush on November 8th and Oprah Winfrey will interview the former President the next day. (Via Huffington Post)

Sonny Mehta to Receive AAWW Lifetime Achievement Award

aaww-reception-invite.jpgThe Asian American Writers’ Workshop is hosting “Page Turner,” its first all-day literary festival, this Saturday at Brooklyn’s powerHouse Arena—and on Friday night, the Workshop will present Sonny Mehta with its Lifetime Achievement Award in a ceremony that features an appearance by one of Knopf‘s literary stars, Michael Ondaatje. There are two levels of access to the Friday night event: $50 lets you in on a cocktail reception at 7 p.m., but for $500 you can stick around for the gala dinner afterwards. (Both tickets include full access to Saturday’s events, which are also priced separately or on a day-pass.)

Full disclosure: GalleyCat senor editor Ron Hogan is one of many guest speakers Saturday; he’ll be moderating a discussion about “Queering the Asian-American Coming of Age Story” with novelists Alexander Chee, Abha-Dawesar, and Rakesh Satyal that afternoon.

UnBeige: Ai Weiwei Won’t Be at Frankfurt

Our friends at mediabistro.com’s design blog, UnBeige, told us late last week that Ai Weiwei, who was one of several dissident Chinese artists and writers invited to participate in Frankfurt Book Fair programming—which as you can imagine was not received well by the official delegation from the People’s Republic, which is the “guest of honor” at this year’s event—is now unable to attend due to health complications. Weiwei is still recovering from surgery on a cerebral hemmorhage which more than a few people suspect was caused by being beaten by Chinese authorities earlier this year. According to an Art Info article quoted by UnBeige, Weiwei’s position is that ever were he able to travel, he has “no real desire for empty and pointless political debate.”

Southern Bookselling’s Jewell, Back in Place

wanda-jewell-siba2009.jpgWanda Jewell (center) caught up with her brothers, Steve and Wayne, at last weekend’s annual trade show for the Southeast Independent Booksellers Alliance in Greenville, South Carolina. According to Julie Schoerke, an independent publicist and occasional GalleyCat correspondent, attendance was up at this year’s event, and the attendees were thrilled to see Jewell, SIBA’s executive director, in such good health after undergoing breast cancer surgery earlier this summer. One of the highlights of the weekend, Schoerke adds, was a charity auction in which bookstore owners bid for dinners with guest authors at Greenville’s best restaurants: “Unfortunately, one of the buses carrying the authors and winning book sellers to the downtown restaurants hit a car which delayed the party for a while,” she tells us. (Nobody in the bus was hurt, though). “The trolley, carrying the rest of the group, got side tracked and some of the riders decided to take their chances, walking the rest of the way in the rain, which just added to the stories the next day on the tradeshow floor.”

Gothenburg Book Fair Continues

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The editors of GalleyCat couldn’t attend the 25th Annual Gothenburg (Göteborg) Book Fair, but author and GalleyCat correspondent Scott Andrew Selby is filing dispatches from the four-day book fair.

Today, he saw four crime writers speak. Selby writes: “British crime writer Simon Kernick spoke about getting published, hanging out with criminals, and being selected by the Richard & Judy Book Club. Kernick (pictured) pointed out that ‘in the UK we have festivals for the trade or the public, here there are both. It’s amazing to see so many readers in one place.’

“When he sent out the first three chapters of his first book, Kernick said ‘every last publisher/agent’ in England rejected him. So he wrote another novel and ‘the exact same thing happened. It had one good chapter out of 500 pages.’ Taking that one chapter that he felt good about, Kernick came up with the basis of a third book. He sent one chapter and the first person asked to see the whole book. He then spent the ‘next three months sending in parts, when I sent in the last bit, I got a letter saying he was not interested. I tided it up and got a deal. The moral of the story is you have to be patient if you want to write.’”

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The Golden Handcuffs of Bestsellerdom

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Although the ostensible topic of the first Brooklyn Book Festival panel we sat in on yesterday was real-life people showing up in fictional narratives, we were interested in the turn the conversation took when somebody suggested, in reference to Amy Sohn‘s new novel, Prospect Park West, that when male authors populate their fiction with real people, reviewers say they’re tapping into the zeitgeist, but women novelists who do the same thing are name-dropping. (This is not a universal law, of course; witness the critical response to Bret Easton Ellis‘s Glamorama back in the day.) That comment, and some observations about persona and masks by Laura Albert, eventually led panel moderator Alisa-Valdes-Rodriguez to discuss how she takes on a persona every time she appears in public to promote an “Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez” book—it’s just that this persona has the same name as her private identity. However, she continued, as her public image in the book world has been calibrated by her publishers to be a literary spokeswoman for Latinas across America, Valdes-Rodriguez also finds herself painted into a literary corner.

She’d written a novel about an Irish-American jazz saxophonist, for example, which she says was rejected by publishers because nobody would ever believe she could write about authentically, even though her mother was Irish-American and she studied saxophone at Berklee. “Once you’re published & somewhat successful as an author,” she observed, “you become branded like a cow.” There were five other novels she’d written but didn’t expect to sell anytime soon, she added, just because they weren’t what other people had decided an “Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez” novel should be.

Not that toeing the line will do you any better: We remember last year, when Jennifer Weiner published Certain Girls, the sequel to her debut novel Good in Bed, how Jane Smiley criticized her for spending too much time with “her nice Jewish characters.” (Not that the pan did anything to undermine Weiner’s popularity or sales.)

Do other authors—or agents trying to present their fiction to publishers—experience frustrations similar to Valdes-Rodriguez’s in trying to branch out artistically? We welcome your comments…

(Disclosure: Valdes-Rodriguez and senior editor Ron Hogan share a literary agent.)

Scene @ Decatur Book Festival

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Tom Bell, program director of the Decatur Book Festival, met “backstage” with former Denver Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenburg (there to promote his inspirational memoir, Heart of a Student Athlete and bestselling author Joshylin Jackson (The Girl Who Stopped Swimming). Independent publicist Julie Schoerke, who snapped the photo, tells us: “Lots of men, who seemed to be attending the Festival to support their wives, asked lively questions during Mecklenburg’s Q&A and were first in line to have the former football player sign their books.”

“Despite ominous gray skies and an huge football game in the Georgia Dome,” Schoerke adds, “thousands of fans of the books were on hand Saturday standing in long lines to get copies of their books signed by their favorite authors.” Charlaine Harris was another of the authors featured on the main stage for the festival, which has managed to become the nation’s fourth-largest in just four years. (And it was a doubly literary weekend in the Atlanta area, as even more authors and fans showed up for the annual Dragon*Con convention, which also brought a lot of stars from the film, television, and comic book worlds. Anybody got any pictures from that to share?)

Making the Future Up As We Go Along

michael-murphy-headshot.jpgThis weekend, the Writers’ League of Texas is holding its annual agents conference in Austin—we spoke there last year, and it’s good stuff. (Frankly, we wish we were going back!) This year’s keynote speaker is former William Morrow publisher Michael Murphy, who’s been running a literary agency called Max & Co. for the last two years. When we heard that the title of his talk would be “Sitting in a Cardboard Box, Saying Voom Vroom and Pretending It’s a Car,” we wondered if it meant Murphy believed that some folks were playing at being publishing companies, but his take on the phrase was much more benevolent: “It was really meant to covey that we are all pretty much making-it-up as we go through this period of fundamental change in the book business,” Murphy emailed us. “There are many rather smart people issuing completely divergent opinions about The Future of Publishing.”

Those perspectives run from Barry Eisler‘s assertion that “the only thing keeping paper books going… is inertia,” which was itself a response to a claim from NY Times tech columnist David Pogue that “in Technoland, nothing ever replaces anything,” to Columbia University Press CFO David Hetherington‘s counterargument that “there’s a fine line between vision and hallucination” when it comes to the digital publishing movement.

“[It's] sounding like The X Files: The Truth is Out There,” Murphy continued. “But what that truth is is anyone’s guess. I am very interested to watch experiments like Richard Nash‘s new venture, The Round Table. I am equally excited, but yet reserved, by all the enthusiasm being expressed by excellent small & mid-sized publishers like Counterpoint and b>MacAdam/Cage. It’s clear they are beginning to feel in the new model, where as HarperCollinsMichael Morrison said ‘$35,000 is the new $75,000,’ they have a chance to compete for the very best projects with the large trade houses.”

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The War-Torn World of Academic Publishing

We’re catching up with some of the footage we shot at BookExpo America last weekend (although editor Jason Boog has a pretty good head start!), and we thought we’d share this light-hearted moment from Sunday afternoon, when staff from the Chicago Review Press and University of Penn Press staved off boredom by launching candy over the wall separating their booths.

The catapult design comes from John Austin‘s Mini-Weapons of Mass Destruction, coming from the Chicago Review Press later this year.

GalleyCat Reports: Thursday at BEA

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A surprisingly large amount of attendees roamed the BEA halls and conference rooms today. One of the big hits of today’s events was the Tina Brown moderated, “CEO Roundtable” which featured some of book publishing’s top CEOs.

They discussed the future of book publishing, the fear’s of DRM, how ebooks and ebook readers are effecting the publishing landscape despite its less than 5% market share. They also shared how their focus is split 50/50 between not only on maintaining the existing business operations but on what is happening in the near future digitally.

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