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Archives: June 2006

Marketing Never Rests,Not Even @ 7th-Inning Stretch

brad-thor.jpgWe hear that thriller writer (and hottie literati) Brad Thor was out at the ballpark last week, and had mentioned his career as a bestselling author to a new acquaintance sitting nearby. Meanwhile, a gaggle of teenage boys in the row behind him were acting like, well, unchaperoned teenage boys, and finally after getting some soda spilled on him, Thor turned around and told the kids to chill. So a few days ago, he gets a letter in his inbox: “I could not help but over hear your conversation at the White Sox game on June 21 that you were a New York Times bestselling author. I was the kid sitting behind you yelling at the top of my lungs. So, I googled you and found out your books and genre of writing. I actually am looking for some good reads this summer so I may just pick up one of your books.” The moral of the story? As Thor confided to his publicist, “Since I can’t keep my big yap shut about what I do, I’d better really watch how I react to other people, even at the ballpark!”

Microtrends – the new Freakonomics?

Hachette Book Group sent around a press release yesterday trumpeting Jonathan Karp‘s newest acquisition for his new imprint – which, oddly enough, is still called Warner Twelve (shouldn’t the name change be made public already??) Anyway, said acquisition is political consultant to the stars – including Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and billionaire Bill GatesMichael Penn‘s MICROTRENDS, which will “explain how it is the small trends that are making a big difference in the world, and how understanding those trends is crucial to innovation, effective communication, and success.” The book is slated for publication in fall 2007, but no financial details were disclosed.

“World leaders and business executives listen carefully to Mark Penn’s advice because he sees patterns the rest of us overlook,” said Karp. “He does this through sophisticated polling and his remarkable power of observation. MICROTRENDS will convey the essence of Penn’s groundbreaking vision and work.”

Said Penn: “If you want to understand what’s going on in the world today, you need to study not just the one or two big trends, but rather what’s going on underneath. I’ve wanted to write this book for a long time, and I’m looking forward to this new challenge.”

Freestone joins Quercus

After announcing her resignation from Hutchinson as its publishing director, Sue Freestone has decided her next move is to stay in the business – by joining Quercus as publisher of its independent trade division.

The Bookseller’s Alison Bone reports that the move, effective September 2006, will allow Freestone to develop her own list at the publisher (which was founded by former Orion and Century boss Anthony Cheetham and launched last October), and will also be a director on the company’s board.

David Race Bannon, This Summer’s Fake Writer

race-bannon.jpgSunday’s Charlotte Observer presented the story of David Race Bannon (left), who claimed in his memoir, Race Against Evil, that he’d been killing international child pornographers for Interpol…whereas in real life he was a community college computer instructor in North Carolina. Now he’s about to be sentenced after pleading guilty to criminal impersonation after he was arrested in January in a sting operation where he was expecting to get paid $3,000 to lecture Colorado’s anti-human trafficking task force about his “expertise.”

As it happens, Interpol’s been telling people for years that he’s a phony; he in turn would tell people who called him on it that it was just a standard denial. Surprisingly, it took people years to realize he had the same name as the silver-haired bodyguard on Johnny Quest—especially when you realize his story, as published by true-cime specialty house New Horizons Press, sounds like James Frey meets John Perkins (although the latter has never really been pushed hard on the frankly implausible conspiracy theory he spins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man).

Back when Bannon was arrested, Dan Radosh took Boulder Weekly to task for having taken the fake executioner at his word in a 2004 profile. Oops! The other significant reporting on Bannon’s Fake Writerdom comes from a massive article on, a site that specializes in exposing fake martial arts experts; Bannon claimed he was a 3rd degree black belt.

Thriller writer turns sleuth – but letters still lost

Joan Brady turned to writing thrillers after winning the Whitbread for her first novel because of a real-life incident. But as the Oxford Times reports, now she has yet more criminally minded fodder after burglars made off with hundreds of pounds worth of electrical goods and personal items – including rare 80-year-old letters sent to her father-in-law, the American poet Edgar Lee Masters, concerning H.L. Mencken – and she managed to use actual sleuthing skills to track them down.

How so? Thank some seeds, and a mystery man who knocked on Brady’s door to return a handbag after he had found it in bushes. Using seed pods caught in the purse, the mother-of-one tracked down where the handbag had been dumped and, with the aid of her son Alexander Masters (author of STUART: A LIFE BACKWARDS), discovered some of the stolen property dumped by the canal. The pods, believed to be from willow trees, pointed to bushes near Port Meadow where addressed envelopes and a magazine stolen from her house were discovered.

But the letters are still missing, and Brady’s arranged a failsafe drop to allow whoever has the letters to return them safely for a £1,000 reward.

Bertlesmann buys Portugal bookstore chain

Forbes reports that Bertelsmann – the parent company of Random House – announced that its book club division, Direct Group is buying Portugal’s largest book store chain Bertrand Livreiros (which employs 400 people working in 48 outlets) for a reported 20-30 million Euros. Bertelsmann’s book club has annual sales of 2.4 billion euros and employs around 13,000 people.

Chief executive Gunter Thielen said of the troubled Direct Group that he expects it to leave the ‘loss-zone’ this year, in both Germany and Great Britain.

If We Could Go Out Tonight…

…we’d probably be dropping in on the reading our former “literati hottieLaura Dave is giving tonight at, of all places, the Bliss spa on 49th and Lex, where guests will be able to receive mini-treatments and complimentary tea as Dave shares excerpts from London Is the Best City in America. Then we’d strongly consider heading down to the 11th Street Bar, where Julian Rubinstein will be informally celebrating the completion of his Ballad of the Whiskey Robber CD; he may even be bringing his guitar. As it is, I’ve got too many deadlines to meet, so you all will have to go out and have fun without me.

What’s next, a convening of Idiots?

Publishers Marketplace links to what, on the surface, seems like a rather hilarious idea: take all the people who have worked on those “X FOR DUMMIES” (where X = topic of your choice) and bring them together in one big, shiny new conference. And so, according to this press release, 150 authors of Dummies titles will be meeting in San Francisco from November 3 through November 5 at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel. Most of the conference – or “unconference,” as it’s being billed – will be closed off, but some sessions will be open to the public.

According to Alan Rubin, organizer of the event, “There are nearly two thousand For Dummies titles available to the public written by thousands of authors. It seemed only logical that an event of this sort would be beneficial not only for the authors but for the general public as well.”

So why only 150 authors? “When I sent out the initial information to the authors the response was overwhelming,” Rubin continued. “We currently have authors representing everything from acne and computer viruses to poker, gambling and money management!”

Quick hits on bookstores

Gannett News Service reports on how bookstores in what’s essentially the middle of nowhere – like Soldier, Iowa, population 207 – are thriving thanks to a worldwide, Internet-based market.

Verbatim Bookstores in Vail, CO is still struggling – and has mounted a campaign to get local customers to help them out.

Yesterday saw the opening of Tattered Cover’s new location in Denver, and USA TODAY provided a final glimpse of what the old store in Cherry Creek was like.

In better news, Brazos Bookstore in Houston will live on as fourteen city dwellers have banded together to buy the store outright.

Why Reality TV is a boon to UK publishers

Many of us knew that Britain was celebrity obsessed. But it seems to be careening out of control based on the money thrown at instant Reality TV stars. Or is it? Reuters checks in on the growth of the celebrity corner of publishing, which has extended the stardom life of people like Jordan, Jodie Marsh, Jade Goody & Chantelle.

“At the moment British culture is incredibly celebrity-driven,” said Joel Rickett, deputy editor of the industry’s weekly trade magazine The Bookseller. “I wouldn’t be surprised if publishers aren’t sniffing around the current series of Big Brother. The winner could walk out into a book deal.”

John Blake, who publishes Jordan’s books, has no qualms about taking her on. “She was turned down by almost every publisher. I took a gamble, paid her a 10,000 pound advance and by goodness it paid off. In hardback the book sold about 650,000 copies and in paperback has sold 450,000,” he told Reuters. “Then she got pinched from me. Random House, the biggest publishers in Europe, paid her more than 300,000 pounds for the second volume of her autobiography.”

And even if you think Chantelle is an annoying brat who doesn’t deserve her fame, at least her reaction to being published is, ah, somewhat genuine. “Oh My God, I never thought I’d have my own book. But as I’ve learnt, if you want something bad enough and you believe in it, it really is possible to live the dream.”