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Archives: August 2005

Penguin Introduces “Hot Shots”

hotshots.jpgThe Book Standard reports on Penguin’s new “Hot Shots” “sampling program” — a series of six titles, each “a very manageable 92 to 128 pages,” set to debut in stores Sep. 27.

Ken Kaye, VP and director of distribution sales at Penguin, gets paraphrased as saying something like, “It’s less of a commitment because the shopper pays less, and then reads what is essentially a short story, versus a full-length novel.” In other words: readers have never bought short stories, but maybe they’ll start if they’re tricked into thinking stories are just mini-novels. Either that or “limited-edition collector’s editions”:

“Some of these books are being pre-sold on the Amazon website,” Kaye says. “They are calling them limited-edition collector’s editions. I don’t know how they got that, but I am liking it.”

Last but not least, Penguin’s also mining the portable aspects of “Hot Shots”: ” The inspiration for the new offering? Apple’s ubiquitous iPod.” (The inspiration for this post? Let’s just say thermonuclear fusion technology. What, you got some problem with that?)

Incredibly Loud … on Stage

fopera.jpgI’m not sure I could imagine any combination I’d dislike more than Jonathan Safran Foer and opera, but there you have it. Foer’s libretto, Seven Attempted Escapes from Silence, is getting its debut next month at Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden.

(Incidentally, I just noticed that Houghton Mifflin, appropriately enough, labels its pictures of Foer “foer$jonathan$safran.gif.”)

Quills Nominees Announced

Nominees for the Quills have been announced and, according to PW, include Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Home. We assume Hornby could only be disappointed by the committee’s decision to overlook his non-imaginary novel, A Long Way Down.

Other nominees in the general fiction category include Gilead by Marilynne Robinson; The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd; The Plot Against America by Philip Roth; and Zorro by Isabel Allende. Biography/memoir nominees include Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan; The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls; His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph Ellis; Thinking: True Stories by Augusten Burroughs; and Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt.

New Deals

  • “Ex-New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey‘s embarrassing downfall has driven the disgraced politico into the arms of publisher Judith Regan.” [Radar]

  • Little, Brown acquires Arianna Huffington’s next book, “a straight-to-the-point manifesto for women on how to be bold [and] how to make yourself bulletproof.” Tracy Behar will edit. [Press Release]

“Posthumous Book Unlikely for Journalist Murdered in Iraq”

As if murder doesn’t take enough from us, PW titles its piece on Steven Vincent, “Posthumous Book Unlikely for Journalist Murdered in Iraq.”

But Spence editor-in-chief Mitchell Muncy said in an interview yesterday that Vincent was still in the research stages when he was killed and likely wouldn’t have committed enough to paper. “I’m not optimistic we’ll have a book out of this,” Muncy said. The only hope is that the author may have had some notes–and that they were well stashed away.

Further down, Muncy also contributes this piece of muddled logic:

The first reporter to die in a targeted killing in Iraq, Vincent generally didn’t travel with a bodyguard. … “His background was as an art critic, so very few media organizations were going to pay for a bodyguard,” Muncy says.

Um, is that because art critics are renowned for their impressive musculature, or because so few media organizations care what happens to their art critics?

Zeitchik to Variety

Steve Zeitchik is leaving PW for a post at Variety. Memo below:

—–Original Message—–
From: Nelson, Sara (RBI-US)
Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2005 4:57 PM
To: Zeitchik, Steve (RBI-US)
Subject: Good News/Bad News

It is with tremendously mixed feelings that I am writing to announce that Steve Zeitchik will be leaving PW after nearly seven years as a writer and editor. Apparently, some little magazine called Variety has lured him with the promise of covering media companies, Hollywood and (just a little bit about) the book business.

The good news (for him) is that this is a great offer, richly deserved. The bad news (for us) is: he’s really taking it.

While at PW, Steve helped launch, develop and write for first PW Daily, then PW NewsLine (then PW Daily again). For both the magazine and online, he’s reported on the personalities, controversies, deals and dramas of the U.S. and international book scene. He has done this with a passion and perseverance unusual enough to be called — rightly, for once — awesome.

Steve will be here through the middle of September, and he’ll rejoin PW for a reunion tour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, where he’ll help us cover deals and the fair. And when he starts at Variety, he won’t be going very far –he’ll be working in the publication’s New York office just one floor up.

I have only worked with Steve here for six months, but for six years before that, he made my life a living hell — and I mean that in a good way. A fearsome competitor, he has also been a delightful colleague. I know that you will all join me in congratulating — and missing — him heartily.

Running with Lawsuits

burroughs.jpg A lawsuit filed by the family of Dr. Rodolph H. Turcotte demands a retraction of Augusten Burroughs’ Running With Scissors and a statement that the book is fiction, not memoir. Burroughs wrote about a family called the “Finches,” with whom he lived in the late 1970s. The Turcottes were poorly disguised, the lawsuit says, and were portrayed as “an unhygienic, foul, and mentally unstable cult engaged in bizarre and at times criminal activity.”

Burroughs isn’t saying a word, and neither is St. Martin’s Press. But at least the lawsuit won’t stop the movie&#151due out next year with Gwyneth Paltrow, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin, Vanessa Redgrave, and directed by Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy.

The White Pages

katew.jpgFrom the NY Times profile of “fashion murder mystery” writer Kate White:

The problem with revenge, of course, is that it is hard to throw your pie and have it, too. Will anyone care, for instance, when the author of “The Devil Wears Prada,” the tell-all roman à clef patterned on Anna Wintour of Vogue, publishes a fully fictional novel, “Everyone Worth Knowing,” this fall?

Not so Kate White, who has been clever enough to have it both ways. As the editor of Cosmopolitan, which now has more than 50 editions (Cosmo Serbia, Cosmo Estonia and Cosmo Kenya are the latest), Ms. White might be described as a leader of the free world.

That’s a mighty big might.

(Picture, left: Kate White wears her dog, Skyler, as slippers.)