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Archives: November 2005

It’s a train wreck, but I can’t stop watching it

Who would have thought that my item Monday on Ballantine exec editor Joe Blades would have spun so wildly out of control? For those keeping score at home, noted mystery and YA fiction writer Sandra Scoppettone blogged about the news late Sunday and after the post here, the comment pileup began. After an anonymous publishing insider worried that her blog posts might make her out to be a “nightmare author” Scoppettone went on the attack, accusing this particular anon — and others to follow — of being “gutless” in not signing their names. Then Miss Snark followed up with a more declarative statement, and the back-and-forth continued on that particular blog.

Unfortunately, it illustrates that even someone who’s been in the business as long as Scoppettone has (and whose influence on two different genres continues to be felt) can sometimes let things go all too haywire. And it further illustrates the power of blogging in the publishing world — because you never know who’ll be out there reading, passing judgment, and jumping to conclusions.

But for the anonymous commenter who claimed that while “not being a novice,” he or she had “no idea who Scoppettone was,” I suggest you brush up a bit on your history.

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Did Paul Crichton have his hand in the cookie jar?

Because that sure seems to be what Page Six is implying this morning:

Tongues wagged when Paul Crichton, public relations director of publishing powerhouse Judith Regan, suddenly quit his job two weeks ago without explanation. But now Paula Conway, Regan Media’s interim p.r. director, says Crichton left the day Regan questioned him about unauthorized spending in his department. “Judith was contacted by HarperCollins about Paul’s department being overbudget,” Conway said. “Judith asked Paul to document everything and later that night, at like midnight, he cleaned out his desk and we haven’t heard from him since. He is under investigation by HarperCollins.”

Well now that “bearing no ill will” quote seems even more ominous, doesn’t it? Of course, it’s nice to see that the Sixers did some digging, considering NY media hardly covered the exit when it actually happened….

Will He Settle for a Lexus and an Olive Tree?

flatworlds.jpgLast week, Thomas Friedman won the first-ever Financial Times/Goldman Sachs business book of the year award for The World Is Flat. Apparently, artist Ed Miracle wants a piece of that £30,000 cash prize, because he’s suing Friedman and Farrar Straus Giroux over the original dust jacket, which featured his 1976 painting “I Told You So” (the leftmost of the two images). Basically, the story boils down to this: Friedman had the poster for years, thought it was funny, wanted it for a cover, and FSG thought it had obtained permission from the right party. Miracle begged to differ and FSG yanked the cover soon after the book hit stores in April, but that wasn’t enough to make Miracle happy. Negotiations snagged back in August, then Fortune got wind of the story in October, and now Miracle’s filing a copyright-infringement suit. Over the summer, his agent was telling reporters, “We can’t afford to enforce our rights in civil court. It could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Sounds like they’ve managed to clear that hurdle…

And here’s a funny angle from across the pond: In late October, a British solicitor mentioned the controversy on his blog after reading the Fortune article. Two weeks later, the guy became Miracle’s UK/Commonwealth counsel. He’s got a picture of the original painting illustrating the announcement—and, frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Miracle’s just suing because he’s steamed about how badly his work got butchered.

Happy Small Press Center Day!

The Small Press Center celebrates its 20th anniversary tonight, and as part of the festivities, they’ll be bestowing their annual Ben Award (named after founding father and independent publisher Ben Franklin) upon Workman Publishing founder Peter Workman. It’s the kickoff event for this year’s Independent & Small Press Book Fair; among the many free events taking place this weekend is a panel called “Is Blogging Dead?” Both of your Galleycats, Ron Hogan and Sarah Weinman, will be weighing in on the subject, along with Maud Newton and Dennis Loy Johnson. (It’d better not be, otherwise the recently launched Metaxu Café, which collects headlines from an assortment of bookblogs, is going to have a short half-life…)

Anyway, in recognition of the Center’s longevity and the upcoming festivities, Mayor Bloomberg has declared that today is Small Press Center Day here in New York. So, I dunno, go to a bookstore on your lunch break and buy a book published by a small press!

Actually, the tagline could include a few more comparisons

There are books that get published on literary merit. There are books that get published on name branding alone. And then there are the ones in between, like this one posted yesterday to Publishers Marketplace:

LA ICM talent agent Margaret Marr’s HOLLYWOOD GIRLS CLUB, the story of the intertwined adventures of four women in the stiletto-wearing, black-card carrying upper echelons of the entertainment industry, “Entourage for women meets Candace Bushnell,” to Shana Drehs at Crown, in a significant deal, for two books, by Andrea Barzvi at ICM (NA).

Sooo, let’s do the tally: we have a fairly freshly minted talent agent working for a major agency who uses someone else in the same agency to sell a book about Hollywood types to the publishing house that will publish a book about fame and fortune in the big city.

I can totally feel my brain cells dying…

A-List: A for Alms & for Amazon has already helped raise more than $12.5 million in charitable donations from customers in the months since Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi, and now they’re embarking on another major fundraising effort for organizations like Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Save The Children, UNICEF, Sidewalk Angels, and the Bush Clinton Katrina Fund. Starting today, and running every weekday until Dec. 20th, the site will feature “exclusive content” from the “ A-List For Hurricane Relief,” a batch of celebrities ranging from Tim McGraw (who launches the event by visiting the St. Bernard Parish City Hall near New Orleans) and Trisha Yearwood to Elton John, Paul McCartney, and Bill Clinton—anyone want to take odds on whether he’ll be laying down some saxophone tracks for his special presentation?

Borders Singles Out Original Voices

Borders has announced its slate of nominees for the 2005 Original Voices Awards. “Nominees were selected by Borders store employees and employees from the company’s headquarters,” explains the official press release, voting on their favorite fiction, nonfiction, children’s picture books, and YA fiction (plus, this year, music). This results in an eclectic mix where Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love rubs shoulders with Kung Fu High School by Ryan Gattis. It’s worth noting that the award is designated for “innovative and ambitious works from new and emerging talents, as well as titles that represent a new direction for established authors and artists;” that latter part helps explain how Alan Zweibel got on the kid’s list and Michael Gruber is getting recognized for his YA tale The Witch’s Boy. The winners will be announced in January, but their official recognition doesn’t come until next May’s BookExpo America.

UPDATE: A publishing insider slips us word suggesting that the nominees were drawn strictly from the broader Borders Original Voices program, which provides highlighted displays for “new and emerging talents” after their publishers have paid a hefty co-op fee; said insider also remarks, “At least with B&N’s Discover you don’t have to pay to play…”

On the Personnel front

So Paul Crichton’s exit from ReganMedia may have been underreported, but the news of his replacement hit both Publishers Weekly and Marketplace. Justin Loeber will take over effective January 3, stepping down from his post as publicity director for Atria on December 16, saying that while Atria “has been an oasis,” he wasn’t about to pass up this opportunity — which will see him move to LA when ReganMedia officially pulls up stakes from New York (and here I thought it had happened already…)

Meanwhile, PM reports on changes at Loeber’s soon-to-be-former employer, Simon & Schuster. At S&S Children’s, Karen Sargent joins as executive editor for Simon Spotlight on December 1 (coming over from Sesame Workshop) while Orly Sigal switches from Atria to Simon Spotlight Entertainment and Teen Paperbacks to serve as marketing manager for both imprints. Also, Michelle Montague has been promoted to executive director of advertising, promotion and marketing, a newly formed department. (She was director of trade marketing), Sonali Fry has been promoted to editorial director for Little Simon and Little Simon Inspirations; Julia Richardson has been promoted to editorial director, Paperbacks; Jen Klonsky has been promoted to executive editor, Paperbacks; Emily Fischer has been promoted to senior editor at Simon Spotlight; Jeanie Lee has been promoted to assistant editor.

That’s quite a lot of ch-ch-ch-changes…

Lewis Condemns Film from Beyond the Grave?

I’ve devoted so much attention to the upcoming The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe film that I feel compelled to note that C.S. Lewis didn’t want any live-action Narnia films. At least not in 1959, when he wrote to a BBC radio producer that “anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare. At least, with photography…” An animated film would’ve been alright, “if only Disney did not combine so much vulgarity with his genius.” As to what he’d make of the fact that Walt Disney Pictures is co-producing a live-action version of his novel, well, God only knows. But then again, there’s so much CGI that it might as well be half-animated…

Literacy is in the eye of the beholder

It’s that time of year again, when we all wait with excessive anticipation to find out which cities have more avid readers than anywhere else. And the winner is…Seattle, likely because there are more Internet resources available there than anywhere else. Although really it’s not that much different from Minneapolis (last year’s winner) and as such, hardly a surprise.

New York doesn’t appear anywhere in the top 10 — in fact, it comes in at 32 and a half. Yup, it tied with Philly.

Looking at some of the other statistics, San Francisco is the top city for bookstores, St. Louis leaps from 15th to 1st for libraries, Newark is the place where people are most likely to read a newspaper (jumping from 37 the year before — WTF?)and Colorado has the highest proportion of overeducated folk than anyone else.