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Archives: July 2006

Javits Center expansion approved

Now, you might ask, why is the news that NY state officials approved a $1.7 billion expansion of the Javits Center – the convention center located way on the West Side of Manhattan – of importance to the publishing industry? Book Expo America, of course, which is held every other year at Javits (including next year’s event at the end of May and beginning of June.) So the fact that the expansion plan calls for Javits to have, as the New York Times reported earlier today, “the city’s largest ballroom, for the exhibition space to increase to 1.1 million square feet by 2010, from 760,000 square feet today, and for a sevenfold increase in the square footage used for meeting rooms,” likely bodes well for future hosting of BEA. Not to mention that a new, 1,500 room hotel will be part of the complex.

Now, if only the city and state would get in gear and actually extend the 7 subway line all the way to 34th and 11th avenue, as promised for, oh, decades? Then things would be all the better. Still, this sure sounds like good news – as long as the money’s put where officials’ mouths are…

Online Anti-DRM Parable Makes Leap to Print

pig-duck.jpgRemember a few weeks back I told you about the kids’ book that skewered digital rights management? It seems that reader interest has been so high Canadian writer/artist MCM is putting the story between actual covers instead of just offering it up for download. The Pig and the Box will retail for $12.99, with half the profits being donated to Oxfam.

By Tomorrow, He’ll Have Averted WWIII

When I woke up this morning, I noted with mild interest an article from Reuters correspondent Mike Collett-White about the new Frederick Forsyth novel and terrorism as the new thriller-driving engine of the post-Cold War era. The point seemed fairly obvious, after all, the sort of thing other thriller writers had figured out by early 2002 if not sooner. But then Collett-White realized he had an even better story: Forsyth once stumbled onto plans for a real-life coup while researching his 1974 thriller The Dogs of War. Or, even better, may have helped set plans to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea in motion while posing as an arms dealer so he could chat up mercenaries about their profession. “I was thinking of that — would it be feasible … to take out an entire government,” he recalled. “The answer was, if it’s small enough, fragile and chaotic enough and badly run enough, 40 armed men should do it.” According to the article, they were pretty into it by the time he went back home to England, until somebody else in the group ratted out the scheme. Now if it had been Graham Greene, I suppose he would’ve been nice enough to ring up MI5 as soon as he got home and filled them in himself…

Da Vinci Spinning Wheel, Spinning ‘Round

According to Hillel Italie, AP’s publishing industry observer, this Da Vinci Code thing may finally be played out. The book itself is “still a best seller,” he notes, “but no longer can a book simply be compared to Brown’s and expect to catch on.” Cited as evidence: Brad Meltzer’s upcoming The Book of Fate, which Sessalee Hensley of Barnes & Noble says was originally hyped to her for its Brownian elements but is now being sold as, well, the next bestseller from Brad Meltzer. (I can lend some perspective here, as I was at the Warner party with Meltzer; yes, he did animatedly explain some of the Masonic symbology that’s going to wind up in the story—we were in D.C., after all—but it seemed pretty clear that he didn’t see himself as following in anybody’s footsteps, not even Dan Brown’s. Then again, I was frankly more interested in trying to get him to say anything about his new Justice League of America comic, which finally debuted last week with a special “zero issue” exploring the friendship of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.)

According to Italie’s piece, one signifcant test for the Code market will be The Expected One, the novel from Kathleen McGowan, the self-styled descendant of Jesus. I’m more curious, though, about books which don’t quite so self-consciously ape Brown’s Holy Blood, Holy Grail thesis, like Three Days to Never, the Tim Powers novel that comes out next month. It’s not exactly a fair comparison, since Powers has been writing history-laced fantasy for three decades; if anything, Brown should be considered a Powers knockoff who got lucky (well, really he’s a Robert Anton Wilson knockoff, but let’s not go there again today). But with the backing of mainstream publishers William Morrow behind him, Powers seems poised to capture a larger audience—will a novel about a father and daughter caught in a power struggle between a Gnostic sect and the Mossad’s kabbalistic division be the book that wins it for him? As I say, I’m curious to find out…

Scene at Maura Moynihan’s Book Party

moynihan-regan.jpgMaura Moynihan greets her publisher, Judith Regan, at the launch party for her new novel, Covergirl, Wednesday night. The party, held at the apartment of political journalist Nomi Prins, drew an eclectic crowd, from House of Bush, House of Saud author Craig Unger to comedy writer Andy Borowitz (who’s got The Republican Playbook later this year). Also spotted in the room: novelists Tracy Quan and Katherine Mosby, self-help author Leah Furman, writer/agent Emma Sweeney, and Marie Claire astrologer Judi Vitale.

Waging war on the BRICK LANE movie

Originally, it seemed like a good idea to shoot the movie version of Monica Ali‘s bestselling debut novel where the book’s actually set – the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community. But continued protests, criticisms and outrages from businessmen and traders opposed to the film have scuttled such plans, as the Guardian reports, so the production company will be moving elsewhere.

Following talks with Ruby Films production company, a spokesman for Film Four, which is co-financing the film said: “As we would with any film, we have taken advice from police and have decided to film the remaining Brick Lane scenes at other locations.”

But the lead convener of the Campaign Against Monica Ali’s Film Brick Lane, officially launched yesterday, vowed to continue with the protest irrespective of where the movie is filmed. Abdus Salique threatened to burn Ali’s book at a rally on Sunday which is expected to be attended by hundreds of protesters. “It is not just filming [in Brick Lane] which is the problem,” Salique said. “We don’t want a film which degrades our community.”

Amazon continues to baffle, drive people crazy

So in an earlier post I mentioned that Amazon‘s profits keep falling, falling, falling. Which might explain why some of their newest projects have a ring of, I don’t know, semi-desperation about them? Or at least some head-scratching. There’s this new treasure hunt contest they’ve launched, and now they’re getting into the movie producing business by optioning Keith Donohue‘s THE STOLEN CHILD (which if you’ll remember, got farmed out to Amazon’s top 100 reviewers for glowing raves, even as mainstream media “ignored” the book – which wasn’t even true!)

So no wonder, as AP’s Allison Linn reports, investors are getting antsy about Amazon’s practices and Jeff Bezos‘s ideas. “I think a lot of the frustration today is because this company perpetually seems to be in a heavy investment mode,” said Philip Remek, an analyst with Guzman & Co. A

nd in an environment with much heavier competition than Amazon faced when it launched nine years ago, having some sort of long-term plan is a good thing – one that investors aren’t really sure exists, especially since the company remains so tight-lipped about what it’s doing with the money. Analyst Dan Geiman with McAdams Wright Ragen said that makes it difficult to predict when, how or if’s spending will pay off. “It’s gotten to the point where you just don’t know what those returns are going to be,” he said. “It’s just hard to measure.”

Lincoln Center & Wiley get together

What an interesting combination – take one of the largest performing arts centers in the world and add a highly regarded non-fiction publisher and what do you get? A new multi-year partnership to publish a co-branded series of books, that will carry the names of both Wiley and Lincoln Center.

As reported in a press release issued earlier today
, Lincoln Center and Wiley will collaborate to publish a minimum of 15 books. These books will draw on Lincoln Center’s community of performing artists, global presentations, and Lincoln Center Institute’s educational expertise, as well as Lincoln Center’s archives. The range of works is targeted to families, general interest consumers, educators, and performing arts professionals. The first book under this new partnership will be a history of Lincoln Center from 1979-2006 and published in October, 2006. Other books in the planning stages include one on the acclaimed List Poster and Print Program and a series of family focused concert going companion books.

Stephen Kippur, EVP Wiley and President of Wiley’s professional and trade publishing division states, “We’re excited about the Lincoln Center partnership because it gives us immediate strength in the performing arts arena including music, opera, dance, and film, among others. Wiley’s strength in managing well-known brands and global distribution, makes this a win-win for both sides.”

Profits up, profits down: this week in actual business stuff

Since so many companies are reporting on their quarterly earnings – successful or not – it seemed a good idea to combine them all in one handy-to-use post. So in short order:

Scholastic adjusts its share count, which lowers a per-share price by 3 cents for the previous fiscal year.

Reed Elsevier is thrilled about a 14 percent rise in pre-tax profit, and commends Harcourt Education for boosting US-side sales.

Amazon is still hurting, badly
, but that won’t stop it from trying new things…

And Barnes & Noble is trying to stay out of trouble with the SEC thanks to a quickly-spreading scandal over stock options that has grown to over 80 companies.

Just Can’t Wait to Get on the Road Again?

The traditional author book tour is dead,” declares Book Standard columnist Jessa Crispin, suggesting that today’s audiences are getting hip to literature at readings set anywhere but a bookstore. As Bella Stander points out, however, Crispin’s methodology may be flawed. Sure, any number of writers can come up with a horror story about a bad reading at Barnes & Noble or Borders, but there are still plenty of non-conglomerate stores left where authors are holding successful readings. “It’s time to stop laying all the blame on the bookstores,” Stander says, “and for authors to take some responsibility for themselves.” Her advice? “Authors should go to places where they know they’ll have an audience:

  • through personal connections (family, friends, alma mater),

  • a receptive community (say, Milwaukee for a book on beer),
  • business/professional connections (e.g., Seattle for a history of Boeing).”

“And those local connections must be primed,” she adds, “which is why authors must build up their mailing lists.”

(Full disclosure: I’ve taken Stander’s seminar on book promotion, and when my book came out late last year, I had several fairly successful events, including a signing at Borders—for which I sent an invite out to everyone in my address book who lived in the New York area.)