InsideMobileApps InsideSocialGames 10,000 Words FishbowlNY FishbowlDC LostRemote TVNewser TVSpy AgencySpy PRNewser MediaJobsDaily UnBeige

Archives: April 2007

Woolworths Appeals to the Smaller Stores

The Guardian reports that Trevor Bish-Jones, the Woolworths chief executive, has accused the publishing industry of waging a campaign to block its planned acquisition of the book wholesaler Bertram, one of the largest suppliers to independent bookshops in Britain, by pressing the Competition Commission to its current plans to investigate the proposed merger. He said publishers had “whipped independent bookshops into a frenzy” and encouraged them to complain against the proposed £29m deal. In doing so, the retailers had unwittingly acted against their own interests.

“I was somewhat surprised by the scale of the opposition to the deal. The logic is flawed. Having a couple of strong wholesalers is of benefit to independent booksellers. It is then that you have a reasonable chance of a sensible dialogue with the publishers and getting access to the prices available to the supermarkets. At the moment there is dual pricing – the terms available to the supermarkets are preferential to those available to the independent booksellers,” he said. Referring the deal to the commission, Office of Fair Trading director Vincent Smith said there had been a “large body of retailer concern”. Nic Bottomley, who runs Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, a bookshop in Bath, said he was “keeping a watchful eye” on the situation. “More competition is obviously better,” he said.

London Arts Funding Takes Hit By Olympics

The Bookseller reports that as a result of the UK’s need for additional funds in order to keep pace with its 2012 Olympics plans, arts funding will take a serious hit. Last week, culture secretary Tessa Jowell confirmed that Arts Council England (ACE) will lose 112.5m pounds in forecasted Lottery money, which will now go towards the building of Olympic infrastructure.

ACE, faced with helping to fund a “Cultural Olympiad” planned to run concurrently with the Games, is pushing the government to restore, and increase, funding. But director of media relations Louise Wylie said: “We must face up to the fact that there is a smaller pot of money to go around, and literature will certainly suffer as well as the rest of the arts.” The loss of funds, which begins in 2009, will affect project-to-project grants. ACE’s “regular” funding – three-year block grants given mainly to larger arts organizations – is currently not affected.

Scene @ How Sassy Changed My Life Party

sassy-book-party.jpg

Marisa Meltzer and Kara Jesella (top) welcomed partygoers in out of the rain at last night’s reception celebrating the release of How Sassy Changed My Life, a history of the influential ’90s teen magazine and its impact on a generation of American girls, including Doree and Emily from Gawker. On my way out, I recognized Tali and Ophi Edut, the AstroTwins, whom I’d met a few weeks ago at Brenda Janowitz‘s mediabistro.com book party (they were Janowitz’s web designers). It turned out the sisters were both interns at Sassy when they were seventeen, and then Tali worked on one of the reader-produced issues.

Read more

Valenti Memoir Still on Schedule for June Publication

After former Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti died yesterday at the age of 86, we wondered what would be the fate of his memoir, THIS TIME, THIS PLACE, MY LIFE: My Life in War, the White House and Hollywood, which Harmony Books scheduled for publication this June. According to spokesperson Annsley Rosner, the memoir will be published as planned. “There are no words that fully capture the essence of Jack Valenti,” his publisher, Shaye Areheart said in a statement. “He was the life of the party and a man who accomplished so many great things over the span of his varied careers. I feel so privileged to have known and worked with him over the years and am deeply saddened that he will not be able to enjoy the publication of his memoir. He poured his heart into the writing of the book and was so proud of the finished product. Nobody could tell a story better than Jack and he had so many incredible stories to tell. The book is a beautiful tribute to a life well lived and a testament to his rightful place in the history of our country and the film industry. We will miss him.”

At Least One Publication is Expading its Book Coverage

As the National Book Critics Circle continues its campaign to save book reviewing, better news comes from England, where the Bookseller reports the Financial Times is set to expand its books section from eight to thirteen pages.

According to books editor Rosie Blau, the expanded section will introduced new elements, including “How to Judge a Book by its Cover”, where a designer explains a book cover each week; “Small Talk”, a weekly Q&A with an author; “Book Doctor”, in which Blau replies to readers’ problems with references from literature; “Once Upon a Time”, where an author reminisces about a favourite children’s book; “What They’re Reading In . . .”, a weekly list of bestselling books from different categories; and a weekly poem. The section will also include more author profiles and reviews, including début fiction, audiobooks, children’s books, paperbacks and coffee-table books. The “Books Essay” feature will continue as before.

Would that other publications follow suit, but it must be noted that the FT likely has more leeway by being a financially-minded publication – one where advertisers still like to appear…

Chabon Gets Rewrites

At the Wall Street Journal, Michael Chabon goes into extensive detail about the long gestation time of THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN’S UNION – and how the book, originally slated for publication in 2006, had to be rewritten pretty much from the ground up in about eight months. “I shudder now when I think that I would have published the old draft,” Chabon told the WSJ’s Sam Schechner. Instead, he got back to work on what became a hybrid alternate history/crime novel, added a flashback structure and pared down the language into a hard-boiled, Yiddish-inflected patois. “I felt like I had to invent a whole new dialect of English to finish it,” Chabon said.

The article reveals just how high the stakes are: HarperCollins won the book in an auction 5 years ago based off a 1 and a half page proposal (when it was still called HOTZEPLOTZ) and to get the book to where it is now, Chabon’s editor, Courtney Hodell (now at FSG) would mail extensive manuscript notes and go through it line by line on trips to his Berkeley home. And while Chabon said he sometimes had a “defensive reaction” to edits, he is thankful in retrospect that Hodell challenged him throughout the process, calling her the “redeemer of this novel” in his acknowledgments. “I do overwrite,” he says. “And this book needed a lot of chopping.”

World Voices: Norway’s Per Petterson Relaxes

per-petterson.jpg

Norwegian novelist Per Petterson poses with his two American publishers, Frances Coady of Picador, which is about to release a paperback edition of In the Wake, and Fiona McCrae of Graywolf, which published the IMPAC-nominated Out Stealing Horses in hardcover earlier this month. The trio had just entertained a small group of literary magazine (and web!) editors over lunch at Gramercy Tavern, with Petterson regaling the guests with stories of his experiences working at a bookstore in Oslo. He’s in town this week for PEN World Voices, and you might even be able to still get tickets for his afternoon conversation with Marilynne Robinson. It’s one of the World Voices events that almost make me wish I wasn’t leaving town for another book festival this weekend…

At the Edgar Awards

edgars.jpg

If there was a theme to last night’s packed Edgar Awards ceremony, it would have to be the element of surprise. Like Jason Goodwin‘s Best Novel win, so surprising editor Sarah Crichton that in her acceptance speech, she admitted she discouraged Goodwin from coming over from England to attend (though she did attempt to reach him immediately afterwards by cell phone.) Alex Berenson‘s first novel win was deemed so unexpected that the book’s editor, Mark Tavani, expressed some degree of surprise afterwards. Stephen King’s speech was sharp and eloquent and almost happened prematurely, when, after a funny intro by fellow Rock Bottom Remainders Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry, King got up to speak (with standing ovation to boot) and was recalled – because Donald Westlake was supposed to speak first. Still, I rather doubt anyone in the room really minded the accidental standing O to one of the genre’s greats.

More scattershot highlights here, and Al Roker generally did a good job as emcee – and kept the ceremony moving so swiftly its 9:45 end time was likely a modern-day record…

Jesus: A Mensch and an Inspiration

As if I didn’t feel guilty enough about flying out to Los Angeles and missing the tail end of PEN World Voices, Nextbook has scheduled an afternoon-long cultural summit at the Center for Jewish History (just off Union Square) to answer the question, “What’s He Doing Here?” Which is to say, they’ve lined up a couple dozen folks to talk about Jesus in Jewish culture. Each of the eight panels has an $8 ticket charge, or you can get an all-day pass for $20.

“We had been talking about doing events in New York for some time,” explained Nextbook program director Matthew Brogan. One big event was determined to be more appealing that a string of events spread out over months, but they didn’t want to do “one of those festivals where they book all the authors and then they make up some vague, generic name that can encompass everyone.” Conversations sparked by Jonathan Wilson‘s book on Marc Chagall, published by Nextbook earlier this year, and Chagall’s personal fascination with Jesus led the organizers to consider the other ways Jesus has influenced Jewish culture. “And the more I looked the more I found,” Brogan adds, which is why the festival will include discussions of film and music as well as literature. He says he didn’t have trouble finding Jewish speakers willing to tackle the subject of Jesus, either: “I felt like they were just waiting for someone to ask them to talk about it.”

robert-pinsky.jpgOne of those guest speakers will be former poet laureate Robert Pinsky (left). “There are a few great facts that remain perpetually astonishing—none more so than Jesus is a Jew,” Pinsky replied when I emailed him yesterday asking about his expectations for the conference. “In jokes and in great works of art, an inexhaustible richness. I am looking forward to talking with Steve Greenblatt and Eddie Hirsch about the central figure in Judaism’s great offshoot.”

World Voices: A Litblog Quorum

Wednesday afternoon, I went to hear Laila Lalami, creator of MoorishGirl.com and author of the short story collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, speak at a PEN World Voices panel on “history and the truth of fiction,” and when the discussion was over, I ran into Mark Sarvas, who flew in from Los Angeles to cover the festival for his blog, The Elegant Variation. (I wish we’d known that Victoria Redel was in the audience; as she writes, the themes of the discussion were quite relevant to her most recent novel, The Border of Truth.)

hogan-lalami-sarvas.jpg

<< PREVIOUS PAGENEXT PAGE >>