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Archives: May 2007

We’re Headed to BookExpo America

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Granted, Sarah and I have to rely on the New York subway system instead of the Book TV bus, but we have the photo, and they’ve got the live and taped coverage of some of the weekend’s top events, like the Saturday morning breakfast where Stephen Colbert will grill Ken Burns about his World War II documentary, and the NBCC-sponsored panel on the ethics of book reviewing.* So if you can’t get into the Javits, you have that option, or you could listen to the assorted pre-show interviews that BEA has been podcasting, including an interview with show-skipping Paolo Coelho.

So Sarah and I are off to pick up our press passes and sit in on some pre-show educational panels—and get ready for the GalleyCat party tonight—and that pretty much means that while we will do our best to post something Friday morning, in all honesty we’re going to have to work on the really juicy bits for Monday morning. But if you see us on the floor, say hi!

*According to this morning’s WaPo, though, they’re not allowed to cover the Alan Greenspan keynote, nor are any other broadcast journalists.The article notes the explanation Penguin Press publicity director Tracy Locke gave for the blackout: “We felt it’s premature for the media to cover a book that’s not finished.” But apparently not for him to talk about it with his wife while several hundred strangers look on.

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Now Even Amazon Reviewers Got Worry

Gather.com mentions changes in Amazon.com‘s customer review presentation that seem to have upset some customers. The basic gist: “Amazon is cutting the number of book reviews displayed on its book product pages by half,” says Steve Weber, the author of an online marketing guide called Plug Your Book! “Now just three reviews will be displayed in their entirety, followed by a link to other reviews.”

DISCUSS: I have to confess, I’m not terribly choked up about this. What do you think?

Ami Greko Jumps to Folio Lit

ami-greko.jpgWe’ve had our eye on Ami Greko (left) ever since we spotted her in the publicity department in Viking about two years ago, followed by a move to FSG. So when she left the world of publishing houses to take a job as marketing director for Folio Literary Management, we made her promise to give us the scoop, and she obliged over happy hour Monday night. “I spend my time now thinking about music bloggers and Civil War re-enactors,” she joked, talking about her two current campaigns for Widow of the South and Petal Pusher, the memoir from former Zuzu’s Petals member Laurie Lindeen. She emphasizes that her function is not to replace the publicity efforts by Folio’s clients’ publishers, but to supplement them. “I’ve never run into a publicist who’s been ruining her project,” she says. “But the author always wants to be in the New York Times, always wants to be on the Today show—which ist totally understandable—and the higher up you get in publishing, the bigger the authors you work on, the more that’s what you end up focusing on. My job here is to focus on the niche markets that build up the audience bases.”

Greko says such promotional efforts will become increasingly common among literary agencies in the near future, and in addition to working closely with publishers, she also intends to build Folio’s relationships with outside PR firms. “Once I heard them talk about their vision for the marketing department during our interview,” she recalls, “I knew this was a place where I wanted to be.” The strategy makes sense: When you consider authors as intellectual capital for a literary agency, a proactive stance towards building up those assets is simply good business, and we predict you’ll be hearing about a lot more similar positions opening up in the months ahead.

Homecoming for Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Reuters reports that Colombian novelist and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez returned to his hometown of Aracataca, Columbia for the first time in more than 20 years on Wednesday. Thousands packed the town’s streets to greet the 80-year-old patron of Latin America’s magic-realism style, with cheers, shouts and applause for the man known fondly as Gabo on a visit 40 years after his most famous novel, ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, was published.

Like a politician on the campaign trail, he signed autographs, posed for photographs and clasped hands with his admirers, who had waited outside for his arrival undeterred by the blazing sun and dripping humidity. “It wasn’t as good as I expected but it was OK,” Garcia Marquez told Reuters ironically about his homecoming after a train ride through the steamy banana-growing region. “We love him, we want to touch him. Garcia Marquez is ours,” said one man in the crowd as the writer climbed into a horse-drawn vehicle guarded by armed police and soldiers. But the visit was also tinged with sadness. The town of about 53,000 inhabitants, like many in Colombia, has a poor water distribution system and only basic services at its only hospital. “Every day it’s worse,” he said.

Scene @ Cosmo‘s Fun & Fearless Fiction Party

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From left: Jodi Picoult, Jane Smiley, Sara Gruen, the barest glimpse of Candace Bushnell, Carlos Watson, a tiny glimpse of Cecilia Ahern, Amy Sedaris, and Jane Green

Last night’s reception for Cosmopolitan‘s first “Fun & Fearless Fiction” awards created an environment where “chick lit” and “literary” authors stood comfortably side by side, where Jane Smiley‘s daughter was thrilled to be introduced to Jane Green and everybody was as eager to meet Alice Sebold as Amy Sedaris. Since HuffPo had seen fit yesterday morning to reprint Erica Jong‘s slam at the chick lit ghetto, which sharply criticizes women writer who accept market-driven categorization “as the price of being published,” I asked some of the most commercially successful writers what they thought about their placement on bookstore shelves. “I think anything that gets people reading is a good thing,” said Jodi Picoult. “When I reach for a book, I reach for a good story, and I don’t care if it’s a National Book Award winner or chick lit.” Green emphasized that this was all very much an issue of marketing. “I’m proud to have been part of the chick lit movement from the very beginning,” she said, “but I understand the frustration over the derviatvie writing that followed. Chick lit has been around for about a dozen years, and people have been saying that it’s dying for 11 of them. But if there wasn’t a market for the better writers, they wouldn’t have the longevity they do.” (For more photos from the evening, visit my Flickr set.)

bridget-kinsella.jpgAs the party wound down, I spotted West Coast PW correspondent Bridget Kinsella across the room, and we wound up walking down the block to celebrate the publication of her first book, Visiting Life: Women Doing Time on the Outside, over cocktails at the Carnegie Club. Because I’d only just gotten my review copy and hadn’t had a chance to crack it open, I didn’t realize that the book is largely a memoir. But as she told me about the relationship with the Pelican Bay inmate that grounds the book’s narrative, along with the stories of other women she met visiting their loved ones at the prison, I could tell it had the potential to be one of this summer’s big nonfiction titles. She’ll be back in town in mid-June for a Leonard Lopate interview and an appearance at the UWS Barnes & Noble; you should go.

It’s Official: There Will Be a Harry Potter Theme Park

As first confirmed last month by Deadline Hollywood Daily’s Nikki Finke (who today offers a slew of first-look pictures) Warner Bros. and Universal Studios have announced are teaming up to create “The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter”, a theme park coming to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in late 2009. The fully immersive, themed land will enable guests to visit some of the most iconic locations found in the books and the films including the village of Hogsmeade, the mysterious Forbidden Forest, and even Hogwarts castle itself. “The plans I’ve seen look incredibly exciting, and I don’t think fans of the books or films will be disappointed,” said J.K. Rowling.

The new park – or “environment”, as the release refers to it – will feature rides and interactive attractions, as well as experiential shops and restaurants that will enable guests to sample fare from the wizarding world’s best known establishments. The fully immersive, themed land will enable guests to visit some of the most iconic locations found in the books and the films including the village of Hogsmeade, the mysterious Forbidden Forest, and even Hogwarts castle itself.

Publishers Enlarge Print For Boomers’ Needs

The Hartford Courant’s Korky Vann looks at the ever-growing need on the part of baby boomers and older for larger print type – and how publishers like Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group, Harlequin Enterprises, Random House and HarperCollins have launched or are about to launch programs that will cater to this squinting market. “More and more middle-aged consumers are looking for large-print books but don’t want to admit that they need large-print books” says Marion Haugh, owner of the Large Print Bookstore in Englewood, Colo., told the Courant. “So they preface their order by saying bigger print is easier to read in bed or on the treadmill or on the beach. Which it is. But the truth is boomers just can’t make out the type they used to be able to read. Publishers have realized that there is a whole new market for this format.”

The piece spotlights Harlequin’s NEXT and HarperLuxe but also clearly delineates exactly why these new large-print programs are necessary: in 2010, all boomers – a group of about 20 million – will be age 45 or older and most will be feeling the effects of presbyopia, the inability to focus on objects close up. Those numbers add up to an expanding market for easier-to-read books, a category in the past limited mostly to seniors and individuals with serious visual impairments. Of course, if these new large-print lines don’t sell to expectations, maybe the magnifying glass will make a comeback…

Random House Films Goes for Infested

PW Daily reports that Scott Sigler‘s INFESTED, just signed to Crown as part of a major three-book deal, has been selected as the next book-to-film project for Random House Films. The book will be brought to the screen in partnership with Rogue Pictures (a sister company to the studio aligned with RH Films, Focus Features). The deal was arranged by RH Films president Peter Gethers and the co-presidents of Rogue, Andrew Karpen and Andrew Rona. Random House Films will also get filmmaking rights to the unpublished second novel in Sigler’s series.

We’re Doing More Puzzles: USA Today Scores Branding Deals with Multiple Publishers

Has it really been 25 years since those blue-and-white newspaper vending machines started showing up on street corners? I feel old…but as least I’ll have plenty of USA Today-themed puzzle books to occupy me in my dotage, thanks to a new six-publisher branding project put together by the licensing firm Nancy Bailey & Associates. Andrews McMeel is just about ready to start publishing its puzzle books, with Sterling Publishing contributing crossword collections and a sudoku-a-day calendar in 2008. There’s also going to be a monthly sudoku magazine from MultiMedia Publishing, and a puzzle-a-day calendar from Mead Westvaco. The licensing venture isn’t just limited to puzzles, either: Nolo is putting together a series of legal and business guides, and Sports Publishing has plans for a 25th anniversary volume and a sports almanac.

Scene @ The Floating Island Cruise

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When the folks at Starscape, the YA division of Tor/Forge, told us a few weeks back about a pleasure cruise on Lake Michigan in conjunction with the contest they’d been running to promote The Floating Island, a debut novel from Elizabeth Haydon, I wrote back that I wanted to see some pictures—and they were happy to oblige. Haydon (blue shirt, sunglasses) is joined by members of the crew from the Tall Ship Windy as she signs a book for Ashely Garrett (wearing the white barettes), one of the winners of a concurrent contest organized by Levy Home Entertainment for Chicago elementary school students. In the other shot, you can see many of the other winners in that contest gathered with Haydon and the Windy crew on the deck, and maybe 11-year-old Lydia Kathleen Crouse, who won Starscape’s contest—run in collaboration with Dwayne Johnson‘s The Rock Foundation—with an essay about snow crystals.

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