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Archives: September 2006

Make way for the Sony Reader

Yes, the rumors are true: Sony is making available its Sony® Reader Portable Reader System as of next month at area Borders bookstores and SonyStyle stores in high-end malls (or right now at sonystyle.com, for those who just can’t wait.) It will retail for $350, according to a press release issued this morning, and through its CONNECT ebook store, agreements with a number of major publishing companies have made more than 10,000 eBook titles available to download to the Reader via the companion PC software.

“Today, we’re writing a new chapter in digital technology for reading,” said Ron Hawkins, Sony Electronics’ vice president of Portable Reader Systems marketing. “Easy and enjoyable to use, the Reader fulfills the promise of electronic reading in a way that no other device has been able to do. Not intended to replace traditional books, but to supplement them, the Sony Reader allows people to take a library of books and other reading material with them wherever they go.”

So what’s the big deal about the Reader? It’s that the screen of the
Sony Reader is not backlit, allowing the company to make the ironic
pitch that its e-book reader closely resembles paper. Yeah, that’s definitely irony….

Settling the Blogger/Book Deal Confusion

Pursuant to Tucker Max’s self-aggrandizing claim to be the first blogger to score a second book deal, Sarah has already corrected the record by mentioning Ana Marie Cox, and John Scalzi shared his own experiences. We’ve also gotten confirmation that Wendy McClure signed separate contracts for her two books, I’m Not the New Me and The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan. McClure reminds us of this fact via email from the writer’s colony at Ragdale where, she beams, “nobody here has any idea I’m not a real writer, just a blogger with a book deal!” While she’s at it, McClure reminds us that Jen Lancaster of Bitter Is the New Black fame signed a second contract in April of this year for Bright Lights, Big Ass, which Publishers Marketplace calls “a humorous collection of essays in which the author explores the often less-than-fabulous realities of Chicago-style urban existence.” She also cites the example of Pamela Ribon for good measure.

So if there’s any blogger overhyped in the publishing arena, it might possibly be Max. As it turns out, he might not even hold the record for the highest advance for a blog-turned-book, since Julie Powell made six figures on Julie & Julia…and, of course, Sarah’s already mentioned Dana Vachon.

London’s Sunday Times Is a Man’s World

The UK bookblog Trashionista takes a look at what the Sunday Times of London thinks will be hot this holiday season, and they’ve got a serious objection. The Times sees this Christmas shopping cycle as a multifaceted battle between “Michael Crichton, Charles Frazier, John Grisham, Robert Harris, Stephen King, John le Carré and Thomas Pynchon,” prompting Trashionista Diane Shipley to muse, “I can’t work out if the blokes at The Times are sexist or just a bunch of old fogies, but I don’t for one minute believe that literary quirk Thomas Pynchon or Charles Frazier will outsell Marian Keyes or Lauren Weisberger this Christmas!” We could quibble with her examples—neither Keyes nor Weisberger has a new book out for the season—but she’s got a point: Surely some woman is getting a novel published in the United Kingdom in the next three months that might reasonably be expected to do well!

Scene @ Edward Kosner’s Book Party

I forgot to take my digital camera with me to the Adam Baumgold Gallery last night for the party celebrating the publication of Edward Kosner’s memoir, It’s News to Me, which covers his career as an editor at Newsweek, New York, Esquire, and the Daily News. But when I saw legendary film critic Rex Reed (below, right) mingling with the other guests, I just had to snap a quick picture with my cell phone and send it to the Significant Other (who challenged me to ask him if he knew that if we cut it off, it wouldn’t grow back, but I chickened out; instead I hoped out loud that he might enjoy my book.). Then I spotted Parade columnist Edward Klein chatting with adman Jerry Della Femina, so I got off another shot. Never did get a clear view of Morley Safer and James Brady, but I did run into Avalon Publishing Group VP Philip Turner, who told me that he’d settled on the first title for his eponymous book line, and that it would appear in November. Just what that book is, however, will have to wait…

kosner-bookparty.jpg

UPDATE: Matthew Krautheim of Jossip took pictures with a real camera.

Re-Ups from Hot Young Authors

julie-buxbaum.jpgJulie Buxbaum (right), Miss Hot Young Author Chick 2007, is back in the news, as Above the Law passes the word from Publishers Marketplace that the two books she sold here in the States for $500K+ just went to UK publisher Transworld for a similar amount.

kilmerpurcell-asaqua.jpgMeanwhile, hottie literati Josh Kilmer-Purcell did so well for Harper Perennial with his memoir, I Am Not Myself These Days, that they’ve signed him back up for his first novel (working title: Candy Everybody Wants) and a second book of nonfiction which “promises to be as powerful and as insightful” as his debut, according to the press release. “It is a rare breed of people that can look past the obvious marketing challenges of a drag queen/crackhead male escort love story*, and can succeed in turning it into a national bestseller,” says Kilmer-Purcell of his publishing team. “To be able to work with them again is an exciting honor.”

*For the uninitiated, as the photographic record shows, Kilmer-Purcell’s the drag queen half of that equation, but based on the ending of his memoir, he won’t be repeating that act. Well, maybe in the novel, who knows?

John Scalzi Begs to Differ

Tucker Max may brag about his latest book deal, but when he says he’s the first blogger who’s been able to go back to the publishing well a second time, science fiction author John Scalzi can hold his peace no longer. “I’ve signed *six* different book deals with three publishers since selling Old Man’s War to Tor from my Web site, Whatever,” Scalzi emailed us this morning. “Tucker Max is a piker compared to my unstoppable contractual onslaught!” (Not to mention that Old Man’s War was recently up for the Hugo Award for best novel, and though he didn’t win that prize, Scalzi did pick up a John W. Campbell Award for best new writer.)

This follows Scalzi’s reactions to the blogger book deal woes on his site yesterday, where he says that “the issue is not the quality of the writing or even the sales, but that someone on the publishing end started shoveling money before engaging his or her brain.” So how did authors like Stephanie Klein and Ana Marie Cox get such huge advances? “A publisher could have this excuse: ‘We thought being blog famous was the same as actually being famous,’” Scalzi muses. “This is understandable, I suppose. If bloggers are good at anything, it’s self-promotion and self-aggrandizement, and giving the impression that we’re fighting above our weight class.”

“But, look,” he adds. “Being a blogger is a bit like being that lady in the supermarket who hands out free samples. You see her, you stop and have the tiny piece of sausage she’s got speared on a toothpick, you might chat for a second, and then you move on. You like the sample lady—she’s giving you free sausage!—and you may even seek her out (“I could use some free tiny sausage right about now”). But no matter how much you or anyone else likes the sample lady and are glad to see her and her tiny sausage chunks, the number of people who actually reach behind the sample lady to buy the product she’s offering you a taste of is a pretty low percentage.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a metaphor!

The best answer yet to the chick lit divide


Patricia Storms has been penning the “Art Imitating Lit” series for quite a while, but it’s also been a while since the last one. But thanks to a throwaway comment on Edward Champion‘s blog with regards to the never-ending chick lit discussion that “there is, as of yet, no estrogen answer to the Jonathans,” inspiration struck, and the result is The Stepford Jonathans.

There may not be a more apt title

Late last night we got an email from a tipster wondering how we could mention Tucker Max in one post and “forget this gem.” Which is to say that after the success of his first book, I HOPE THEY SERVE BEER IN HELL,Max has signed another book deal for A**HOLES FINISH FIRST. It’s the same editor as before – Jeremie Ruby-Strauss – but different publisher (since Ruby-Strauss left Kensington for greener pastures at Simon Spotlight Entertainment.)

Though the book is slated for publication in January 2008, Max promises his fans that he is “going to try to get it done and out before then.” He also claims that the book deal – for $300,000 – is the largest given to a blogger for a single book (not quite – how soon people forget about Dana Vachon!) and that he’s the first to sign a second deal (which isn’t strictly true, as Ana Marie Cox signed a separate book deal with Riverhead for her non-fiction book about next generation politicos.)

Ron adds: Oh, and pace Tucker Max, we do so know the difference between a one-book and a two-book deal here… and we’ve gotten pretty good at sorting them out.

The Next Jack Reacher?

That’s how Transworld – who happens to be Lee Child‘s longtime UK publisher – is promoting the new deal made for a new thriller series by Tom Cain. The Bookseller reports that THE ACCIDENT MAN, due in July 2007, introduces Daniel Carver, “a good guy, who makes bad things happen to bad people.”

Transworld’s Simon Thorogood bought the book and a followup from Cain’s agent Julian Alexander of Lucas Alexander Whitley. US rights went to Josh Kendall at Viking, which has slated US publication of THE ACCIDENT MAN for winter 2008 (and which is slowly expanding its mystery/thriller base thanks to Kendall – earlier he acquired a new series from Gregg Hurwitz.)

Perhaps the most interesting part of the deal is this nugget gleaned from Publishers Weekly’s writeup, which indicates that Cain is actually “a pseudonym for a journalist living in England.” My best guess is that Cain is actually Tom Bradby, political editor for ITV News and the author of two contemporary thrillers and three historical thrillers (most recently, 2004′s THE GOD OF CHAOS, which was only published in the UK.) Why? All his books were published by Transworld, and he’s always been repped by the very agency that did the deal for Tom Cain. So far, neither Bradby nor Julian Alexander have responded to requests for comment, but that may change soon…

UPDATE: Alexander has replied to confirm that “it’s not Tom Bradby.” Let the guessing game begin then!

Murakami wins short story prize

Haruki Murakami has won the second Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award – the richest short story prize, at 35,000 Euros – for BLIND WILLOW, SLEEPING WOMAN, his third collection of short stories to be published in English, the Guardian reports. The prize will be shared between Murakami and his translators, Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin. “If you have read Frank O’Connor’s Guests of the Nation you’ll be familiar with his theme that people need to recognise each other’s common humanity,” said Rubin, accepting the prize Sunday night at Millenium Cork Hall. “Haruki’s stories are similarly powerful. As a translator, I am overwhelmed and honoured and I am sure Haruki will be too.”

The jury, chaired by Tom McCarthy, was made up of Irish writer Claire Keegan, English author Toby Litt, German poet Silke Scheuermann, and American literature scholar Dr Maurice A Lee. They hailed the winning entry as a “truly wonderful collection” from a “master of prose fiction”. In a statement, they said: “Murakami writes with great integrity, unafraid of dealing with tough and difficult situations between people who constantly misunderstand each other.”

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