Sarah told you earlier this morning that Lyons Press acquired Peter Golenbock‘s 7, the novel in which Mickey Mantle’s ghost recounts his sex-filled exploits. Now, the Associated Press reports that Lyons is preparing a 250,000-copy first printing, the largest in the company’s history (topping the 100,000-copy run for last year’s From Baghdad, With Love). And, for those of you keeping score, that’s more than four times the size of the print run ReganBooks had planned to give Golenbock back when they had the novel on their frontlist.
Archives: February 2007
At the beginning of the month, we told you about the shortlist for Barnes & Noble‘s Discover Great New Writers award, where four of the six slots (three each for fiction and nonfiction) were held by HarperCollins books. Well, the results are in, with Ben Fountain‘s short story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (published under the literary Ecco) imprint and Eric Blehm‘s real-life thriller The Last Season (from Harper proper) each earning $10,000…and, perhaps more importantly in the long run, a full year of B&N’s marketing muscle behind their continued promotion. The push starts tonight with a reading at the superstore across the street from Lincoln Center, where Fountain and Blehm will be joined by other finalists.
Comics Reporter correspondent Tom Spurgeon notes the hospitalization of Arnold Drake, one of the standout writers from the Golden and Silver Ages of superhero comic books. Drake, seen at left in a picture I took during Comic-Con last weekend, is the co-creator of Doom Patrol, a series about a team of super-powered misfits, and Deadman, the ghost on a quest to find his killer who remains one of DC Comics‘ most popular characters four decades after his first appearance and is quite possibly the subject of the next movie from Guillermo del Toro after he completes Hellboy 2. Drake was found collapsed in his home earlier this week and is recuperating at Cabrini Medical Center.
When Mark Sarvas began blogging about literary matters in late 2003 at The Elegant Variation, he never shied away from mentioning there was a novel in the works, but was understandably discreet about giving out details. Now he’s far more forthcoming after announcing on his acclaimed litblog (which started around the time both Ron and I got into the blogging game, me from scratch, Ron relaunching his longstanding website, and we’re both pals of his) that the novel in question, HARRY, REVISED, was bought by Bloomsbury‘s Colin Dickerman, which will plans publication in Winter 2008.
No doubt many are asking whether having a blog helped Sarvas secure a book deal. “It’s undeniable that the blog helped but only in getting me over the threshold and perhaps moving me into a higher place on the list,” Sarvas explains. But he also adds that both agent Simon Lipskar‘s decision to represent the work and Bloomsbury‘s decision to publish the book “really appear to have been based purely on the merits of the work.” And as for whether Sarvas is going to stop being critical now that he’s “part of the establishment?” There’s only one emphatic answer for that: “Fuck, no.”
The Shelfari content model is pretty simple: Users of the “interactive social media site for book lovers” set up a homepage listing their favorite titles, with links to their reviews, and then they can browse around and see who else loves those stories, what other books those people recommend, what their friends are reading, stuff like that. This morning, the company announced that the completion of its Series A financing with significant investment from Amazon.com, among other investors. “In a short period of time, Shelfari has succeeded in building a vibrant community around the experience of reading, and we are pleased to support them in their efforts,” said Amazon books VP Greg Greeley. The online retailer has also put the director of its books and magazine store, Stefan Pepe, on the Shelfari board of directors. Where they’re headed with this seems pretty straightforward; the only question is how long it’ll take to establish feasibility and incorporate the features into Amazon’s site…
Monday evening at the Yale Club, former Eli drama school classmates (and, more to the point, current husband and wife) Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance were feted with a party celebrating the publication of their joint memoir, Friends: A Love Story. For a reading, the two actors offered a whirlwind tour of their courtship (after years of knowing each other through school and work) in the style of Love Letters, starting with their first serious date, at a Los Angeles driving range (Bassett, coyly: “I ain’t never hit no golf ball before”; Vance, on getting up close to show her the proper swing: “I wasn’t trying to do nothing fresh”). Before the performance, Vance joked that they had originally conceived of the project, written in collaboration with Hilary Beard, as “a little celebrity book” of maybe 100 pages, but that plan fell by the wayside. “The queen doesn’t like to speak,” he said, referring affectionately to his wife, “but she likes to talk.” 400 pages of transcripts later…anyway, if you can sneak out for a long lunch tomorrow, they’ll be at the Columbus Circle Borders, where they might put on some of the same routine. (They really should flesh it out to about 90 minutes and take it on the road; it’s that good.)
Today is a special day in the annals of publishing, as it is technically the last day of Publishers Group West‘s existence. Tomorrow the company will be known as Transition Vendor, and the switch of many publishers to distribution by Perseus formally begins, reports Shelf Awareness. It’s the most obvious sign of the “second phase” of bankruptcy discussed in this week’s Publishers Weekly, and how the weekly checks from Perseus will stop as the 70 cents on the dollar plan goes into effect – and publishers must get used to waiting up to 3 months for future payment.
Soft Skull‘s Richard Nash was the only publisher contacted by PW who said that the bankruptcy will definitely force him to delay some titles, although some others were not yet sure about what they will do for the rest of the year. “We’ll be doing triage on what books need to be published and which can wait,” Nash said.
The Hollywood Reporter reveals that GreeneStreet Films, the production company behind “A Prairie Home Companion” is bringing Cosmopolitan magazine deputy editor John Searles‘ offbeat mystery novel STRANGE BUT TRUE to the big screen. The production company bought Searles’ screenplay and film rights to the book, published in 2004, partnering on the project with producer Ross Katz – repeating a collaboration first struck for the 2001 movie “In the Bedroom” by Todd Field.
Remember 7, by Peter Golenblock? The book that was the alleged last straw breaking Judith Regan’s career at HarperCollins? Well, the New York Times’ sports section reports the book has found a new home with the Lyons Press*. “It’s one of those books that a lot of people will love, but some won’t,” Golenbock said to the paper yesterday. He said that Lyons did not edit the book or alter the sex scenes in it, one of which involves Mantle and Marilyn Monroe. “The only change was from ‘Regan’ to ‘Lyons,’” he said.
Gene Brissie, associate publisher of Lyons, said he and other editors read ’7′ soon after HarperCollins canceled it. “Making the decision to publish it and let readers make up their own mind was easy,” said Brissie, whose uncle is the former major league pitcher Lou Brissie. “I think all the negative publicity came from people who haven’t read it.” Well, um, yeah…
*Oddly, the Regan listing is still up on Amazon.
Publishers Marketplace broke the story yesterday (and featured the player on its home page all day, too) but the official word is out about Insight, Random House‘s own online book content search and browsing service. The company said in a statement issued late yesterday that it will make the text searchable for more than 5,000 of its new and backlist titles from across the company’s U.S. publishing divisions. Random House expects to add several thousand more of its books to Insight this spring.
As for the “widget” (a word that stays ugly with every usage) each one offers the sample material from one of the titles and easily allows anyone to add this material to a blog, personal or retail website, or social network profile by using basic copy and paste functionality. The opportunity to pass along widgets, increasingly known as will significantly increase awareness and potential readership for these books. “Our goal with Insight is to create a compelling new tool for anyone to have a sampling experience previously unavailable online for these Random House titles,” explained Andrew Weber, Senior Vice President, Operations and Technology. “We believe Insight will be an invaluable marketing tool for our publishers, our authors, and particularly our booksellers, as book content sampling frequently is followed by consumer purchase.”
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