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Archives: August 2007

Hamill Finds Disturbing Similarities Between His Book and Fox TV Show

When Pete Hamill heard about the premise for the new Fox TV show NEW AMSTERDAM, he sat up and took serious notes. The show’s main character was killed centuries ago before being brought back to life with immortality – and now lives in Manhattan. Sounds familiar? That’s the general premise of Hamill’s novel FOREVER, centering around the immortal adventures of Cormac O’Connor, and the AP’s Larry McShane investigates the similarities.

Although the show’s executive producer, David Manson, insists that John Amsterdam was created independent of Cormac O’Connor, Hamill and his fans aren’t quite convinced – although the author’s attitude leans more to resignation than litigation. “To try and prove anything about this would take thousands and thousands of dollars, which I’d rather spend on my grandson,” Hamill said. “You’ve gotta laugh.” Which he does, especially about some of the show’s plot ideas: “Here’s some guy who took 300 years to pass the cop’s test.”

Greenspan’s Buzz Kicks In 60 Minutes Before Today

416VTwRkwWL._SL150_.jpgOur pals over at TVNewser were flipping through BusinessWeek, and they found out that Alan Greenspan is finally ready for the cameras. The former Federal Reserve chairman, whose publisher demanded a broadcast media blackout when he showed up at BookExpo America to promote he Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World earlier this year, is lined up for 60 Minutes on September 16, followed by the Today show the following morning. Then he’s off to the Union Square Barnes & Noble that night, where he’ll presumably sign a couple hundred units from the reported 1,000,000-copy first printing. At least he won’t have to compete for shelf space with If I Did It, right?

Maybe We Should Watch Slunch More Closely

Here’s an interesting coincidence: Over last weekend, though for some reason my RSS reader didn’t get it until late Wednesday, the new publishing industry gossip blog Slunch openly speculated about the rapidly revolving door at Dutton and Gotham, two imprints at the Penguin Group. “An insider over at Penguin reports to us that the turnover is something like a person a month,” says one of the pseudonymous bloggers. And, lo and behold, the job board added a listing for a new opening in their shared publicity department yesterday afternoon. Hmmmm.

Publishing in China, Part I: Penguin Launches Bilingual Website & Blog

As publishing houses realize what a fertile ground China is for expansion, new ventures keep popping up. The Book Standard reports that Penguin China launched a bilingual website, available in Chinese and English, which will give readers information about new and bestselling titles and will host The Penguin China blog, another new venture. “Penguin has been doing business in China since 2005 and we are very excited about these online ventures,” said John Makinson, chairman and CEO of Penguin Group. “Penguin China’s website and blog are the newest examples of our commitment to growth in this important market and the expansion of our global digital strategy.”

Publishing in China, Part II: HarperCollins Acquires Bestselling Series

This piece of news also comes via the Book Standard: HarperCollins Children’s Books has acquired the world rights to eight books from the NAUGHTY MA XIAOTAO series by Yang Hongying, China’s bestselling children’s author, scheduled for publication beginning in Sprin 2008. The series, about a mischievous boy named Chen and his father, has sold more than 10 million copies in China.

“We are thrilled and delighted to be publishing this series and bringing the work of Yang Hongying to the global stage,” said Amanda Ridout, the general books managing director. “These engaging and amusing books will offer our children a window on contemporary Chinese society at a time when the world’s attention will be focused on Beijing as we celebrate the 2008 Olympics. This exciting venture further represents HarperCollins’ strategic commitment to expanding our business with China.”

Blackwell Sale Means Profits for Informa

The Bookseller reports that Informa, parent of Taylor & Francis, made 33.4m poiunds from the sale of Blackwell Publishing to John Wiley. The figure is revealed in Informa’s interim results, which showed that the business improved its adjusted profit by 14% to 95.6m pounds despite flat sales of 532.5m pounds. Informa’s total publishing sales, at 205.5m pounds accounted for 39% of the first half year revenues. On a pro forma basis this represented an increase of 6%. Informa said that more than half of the revenue, 62%, was subscription based.

David Gilbertson, chief executive, said that all three divisions (Academic & Scientific, Professional and Commercial) translated good pro forma revenue growth into even greater adjusted operating profit increases. The Academic & Scientific division had resilient pro forma revenue growth of 7%, translating into pro forma adjusted operating profit growth of 27%.

Another Drib from the Clapton Memoir

clapton-book-jacket.jpgForgive me for being coy earlier this week by hinting at a revelation from the embargoed Eric Clapton memoir. Although I find such book embargos useless and aggravating, my only access to the book was through someone who had already signed off on the confidentially agreement, so I respected the code of silence, even if I thought it was stupid. But now that I’ve discovered PW‘s review of Clapton ran Monday, referencing that “surprising” detail, I can spill the beans: Eric Clapton’s love of hunting, and eating what he kills, rivals Ted Nugent’s, and he even defends “other countryside pursuits” against criticism from people “who have watched too many Disney movies,” which pretty much establishes where he stands on the British controversy over fox hunting.

I admit, it’s not really all that exciting, is it? Especially contrasted to all the stories of junkie excess which, let’s face it, are going to be luring in a good chunk of the readership.

Book Culture Walks Out of the Labyrinth

Last night, Chris Doeblin sent out an email announcing that the bookstore he co-founded on the outskirts of Columbia University in 1996 is changing its name from Labyrinth Books to Book Culture. This isn’t the end of Labyrinth, however—Doeblin is just breaking away from the rest of the company, which will maintain branches near Yale, and, if the plans still hold, Princeton. “Our commitment to being a great academic bookstore is still paramount to our mission,” Doeblin reassures friends of the original store. “I and all the staff here are extremely proud and happy to be 100% local and 100% independent.”

NBCC: “No Blogger-Critics Chosen?”

clipart-thumbs-down.jpgYesterday’s item about the National Book Critics Circle‘s latest self-promotional flourish raised questions about a detail I hadn’t given much thought when I was writing: Where the litbloggers at? The absence of anybody currently writing for any of the independent blogs covering books and other literary matters, particularly on the panel ostensibly discussing “the future of book coverage,” is simply flabbergasting when you stop to think about it. Sure, there’s Steve Wasserman, who’s about to start a new gig as the literary editor for Truthdig, but it’s almost a sure bet that he, like NYTBR senior editor Dwight Garner, was invited on the strength of his old media connections rather than his late arrival to the blogosphere.

(But, and let me stress this, neither of them is any less welcome for that lateness. Remember, I cheered Garner as one of us months before he actually started blogging, and I’m definitely curious to see whether Wasserman’s editorial sensibilities, and his powerful Rolodex, can be successfully deployed for an online publisher.)

It’s no secret that Maud Newton wasn’t entirely thrilled with the panel she did for the NBCC at BookExpo, which might have dissuaded organizers from asking her back for more of the same—but, come on,she’s still not the only respectable book blogger based out of New York City. Are Bud Parr, Lizzie Skurnick, Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, and Michael Orthofer all going to Terre Haute that weekend? Seriously: To schedule a panel called “Grub Street 2.0″ without inviting any currently active independent bookbloggers to offer their perspective? Or a panel asking about the delicate balance between criticism and promotion without inviting any members of the Litblog Co-op? What’s up with that?

B&N Still Sees Little Interest in OJ Tell-All

clipart-dollars-computer.jpgAP book-man Hillel Italie checked in with Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating to see if the high sales rankings for the Goldman-approved edition of If I Did It on and had caused the chain to revisit its decision not to stock the book. “We have only had a handful of pre-orders in our stores,” was Keating’s official reply. “We are monitoring interest in the title, as we do with all recently published books. At this point, our decision remains.”

Time to break out the semantics parsing tools: How can a book get to #1 on the company’s website based on “a handful of pre-orders”? Could it be that B&N’s sales rankings are even more qualitatively meaningless than Amazon’s, so that “a handful of pre-orders” makes a book seem disproportionately popular? That’s certainly possible, but it’s more likely that the key phrase there is “in our stores”—in other words, yes, plenty of people might be ordering the book online, but hardly anybody’s going down to their local B&N, walking up to the information desk, and saying, “Hey, I want a copy of that OJ book when it comes out.” Which is perfectly obvious, but still all the wiggle room B&N needs.