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Archives: March 2007

Scene @ Scot on the Rocks Party

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Warner Books Grand Central (or are we jumping the gun? ah well, might as well be early) editor Selina McLemore (left) poses with Brenda Janowitz at the party mediabistro.com hosted at Bar Martignetti Tuesday night to celebrate the publication of Janowitz’s debut novel, Scot on the Rocks, which was one of McLemore’s acquisitions back when she was an editor at Red Dress Ink. And while Janowitz works on the followup novel, she’ll be stepping away from the keyboard to teach mediabistro.com seminars and workshops on writing chick lit novels.

Agassi Serves Up Memoir to Knopf

Last week, the bidding on Andre Agassi‘s memoir was already reported as passing $4 million. Late yesterday afternoon, Hillel Italie filed an AP story putting the final price tag for Sonny Mehta and Alfred A. Knopf at $5 million or, as the out-bid David Hirshey put it, “White House money.” (To clarify the comparison to advances awarded memoirs from ex-presidents, Hirshey added, “I can’t remember the last time a sports figure got more than two million.”)

“[The] book is not yet titled and no release date has been set,” Italie observes; personally, I’m hoping it winds up being called Advantage Agassi. Just don’t tell him his backhand needs work!

Winners of the British Book Awards

The Galaxy British Book Awards were handed out at a gala ceremony last night, and the Independent‘s Louise Jury reports on the speeches, the winners and the surprises of the evening (which will be televised at the end of the week.) Highlights included Richard & Judy‘s Best Read of the Year going to Jed Rubenfeld for THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER, while Ricky Gervais beat established writers including Geraldine McCaughrean and Terry Pratchett to take the children’s book of the year honour with Flanimals of the Deep, the third in the series he has produced with the illustrator Rob Steen. Gervais accepted his award live on stage in Ipswich. “That’s fantastic … it’s the first one for my literary outputs,” he said, admitting his work had been described as “books about bollocks with eyes drawn on them”. Other winners in various categories included Richard Dawkins, Ian Rankin, Peter Kay, Conn & Hal Iggulden and Victoria Hislop.

Marshall Rogers, 1950-2007

marshall-rogers.jpgComic book penciller Marshall Rogers died last weekend, as Newsarama and other sites have reported. Rogers was widely regarded as being the artist who co-envisioned the definitive caped crusader for DC Comics in the late 1970s; as the writer of those stories, Steve Englehart, said in a LA Times obituary, “He drew a total fantasy world, but he wanted it to be a very real fantasy world. It was very striking, it jumped off the page…another artist could have worked on pages every month for 30 years and not made the impact Marshall did.” (The pair would revive the Silver Surfer for Marvel in the late 1980s, and eventually reteamed with the inker on the Batman stories, Terry Austin, two years ago for a mini-series called Dark Detective, to the delight of fans.)

The blog Photon Torpedoes has an overview of Rogers’ comics work, while Chris Sims reflected on the sources of his appeal: “He’s not just a good draftsman or a great penciller; he was a great comics artist and a true master of the sequential format of the page… Reading through these issues when I was a teenager blew my mind, and made me realize how much you could actually cram onto the page.”

Not Exactly an Average American Marketing Plan

Yesterday the WSJ’s Jeff Trachtenberg featured HarperCollins‘ efforts to reach the widest possible target audience for Chad Kultgen‘s hot-potato debut novel THE AVERAGE AMERICAN MALE, highlighting the still-unusual (though not for much longer) tactic of marketing a novel almost exclusively online. Originally, the publishing house thought to market the book cheaply with lots of stories in the press but that proved a no-go when the ribald novel purporting to show, in crudest possible fashion, how men really think proved to be too steamy for most newspaper and magazine editors to touch. Even with the more permissive atmosphere we enjoy online, Ron hesitated to embed the following clip without warning readers that while it’s not quite NSFW, it’s not exactly appropriate for work, either…

This and two similar videos were uploaded to YouTube and have since spread elsewhere on the Internet, including MySpace. Now THE AVERAGE AMERICAN MALE has gone back for a third printing and the videos have become a Web sensation, with more than one million verified views in the past two weeks. “We needed to go where the average American male readership would be: online, passing around funny quirky videos,” said David Roth-Ey, editorial director of HarperPerennial, adding that he is talking about men under the age of 40. “If we were going to find them, it wouldn’t be by advertising in the New Yorker.” Still, the limits of the strategy are clear. Only a fraction of the million views has so far turned into sales, likely because the people watching the videos aren’t frequent book buyers. As Kultgen said, “Now we’ll see if the views translate into book sales.”

Spanish-Language Edition of THE AUDACITY OF HOPE

Vintage announced in a press release this morning that Barack Obama‘s bestseller THE AUDACITY OF HOPE (published by Crown) will be translated into Spanish and published by Vintage Espanol on June 19. On matters relating to Latinos, he recalls how the black and Latino communities were intertwined in his early political career: “As a young organizer, I often worked with Latino leaders on issues that affected both black and brown residents, from failing schools to illegal dumping to unimmunized children. I made lifelong friends and allies in those neighborhoods; in my mind, at least, the fates of black and brown were to be perpetually intertwined, the cornerstone of a coalition that could help America live up to its promise.”

The translation will be handled by veteran non-fiction translators Claudia Casanova and Juan Elroy Roca of Spain.

Abate v. ICM: Judge Denies Preliminary Injunction Request

Josh Getlin at the LA Times reports that Judge Peter Leisure has ruled against ICM in their quest to block Richard Abate from working as an agent with Endeavor. The 18-page ruling issued earlier this afternoon stated that ICM had not proven that Abate’s decision to join Endeavor, before his contract expired, posed an imminent threat to the agency.

Variety’s Michael Fleming has more, including how Abate’s status at ICM – where his current contract runs until December 31 – will now be handed over to an arbitrator, who will decide what commissions are owed to ICM.

When reached for comment, Abate’s lead attorney, Brian Kaplan of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, LLP stated that “My client is extremely pleased with the Court’s decision, and looks forward to continuing to work on behalf of his clients.” In response to queries made to ICM, Richard Levy, the company’s general counsel, issued this statement: “We are disappointed with the Court’s decision. However, on behalf of our clients who rely on our efforts to protect their privacy and enforce the integrity of their contracts, Richard’s blatant misconduct compelled us to act. The final outcome now will be determined by an arbitrator. ICM has the preeminent publishing division in the industry and as always, our clients and continued outstanding service to them, comes first.”

Scene @ Clive James’ Book Party

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Slate editor Jacob Weisberg (left) introduces his website’s new multimedia star, author and TV presenter Clive James, to the guests at his downtown loft, celebrating the publication of James’ new book, Cultural Amnesia. (I couldn’t fit him in the shot, but W.W. Norton editor Robert Weil was just the other side of Weisberg.) I was fortunate enough to get a one-on-one conversation with James earlier in the week, where we discussed how his front-page NYTBR article on Leni Riefenstahl bios perfectly encapsulated many of the themes of his book, from the moral responsibility of the artist to the surface allure of totalitarianism. It’s a highly digressive book, in which a chapter on Terry Gilliam quickly morphs into a discussion of political torture, for example, but it hangs together quite effectively, with early critical reactions favorable. Some of what James deems worth remembering about the modern world isn’t what we must celebrate, but what we must never forget, especially concerning the great tyrants of the 20th century and those who supported (and opposed) them. “You’ve got to find a way of defending liberal democracy with a whole heart,” he reflected. “It’s bound to be unsatisfactory in a million ways, but the alternative is much worse.”

On the multimedia front, he’s glad to have Slate handle the hosting duties for his webcasts. “You can die of success real quick on the Internet,” he says regarding the cost of bandwidth; he’s also got a European cable company called SkyArts paying for broadcast rights to help defray the costs further. But the idea of an online talk show is something he’s had in mind ever since seeing his first grainy, stuttering MPEG a decade ago. Now that he’s essentially vlogging from his living room, he says he can’t imagine working any other way. “I won’t come into a TV studio anymore,” he insists. “I’m retired.” Thankfully, though, that doesn’t extend to his literary career: His next volume of memoirs is slated for UK publication soon, there’s probably a collection of critical essays on poetry down the line, and maybe even a long novel about the Pacific theater of the Second World War if he finds enough time.

Oprah Sets Out on The Road

Once again proving that I have no business making predictions about top-secret book projects, Oprah Winfrey has tapped Cormac McCarthy for the book club, in the form of a brand-new paperback edition of his post-apocalyptic (none dare call it science fiction) novel, The Road. “A paperback was not planned until September,” notes the Associated Press, “but Vintage Books, understandably, is publishing one now.” The first printing of the paperback will be 950,000 copies.

Oprah will also coax the notoriously reclusive author out of hiding. “He is an intensely private author, who doesn’t do tours or give blurbs, and doesn’t usually do things like go on Oprah, but he will be doing his first-ever TV interview with me,” she told her audience.

First Glimpse of the Harry Potter 7 Cover

The Guardian‘s Michelle Pauli has the inside scoop on what HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS will look like from a cover standpoint:

The children’s cover for Bloomsbury in Britain is by Jason Cockroft, who illustrated the previous two books, and features Harry, Ron and Hermione leaping out of a circle of gold, surrounded by treasure. Harry himself looks almost unrecognisably grown-up – although the trademark specs remain – and all the intrepid cloak-clad trio look shocked and have cuts and bruises on their arms. The inside front cover features a stag, while the inside back cover has an illustration of a snake inside a silver orb. The adult edition cover pictures a locket, believed to belong to Slytherin.

Mary Grandpre will once again illustrate the US edition for Scholastic, where the jacket cover “shows Harry, arm outstretched, against a background of red and gold. The cover is a wraparound and, when opened, features an image of Voldemort’s glowing red eyes peering out from beneath his hood.”

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