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Archives: October 2008

Literary Mixology

home_bg.jpgAs news of publishing and media cuts mount, GalleyCat readers have prescribed different kinds of alcoholic solace. Following Bookninja’s lead, readers submitted their favorite author and drink pairings–popping the cork during these dark days.

Abbeville Manual of Style recommended: “Read Hart Crane’s collected poems the way he liked to write them: on a full bottle of wine while listening to the Bolero on loop at top volume.”

Another reader advised to drink “Winner’s circle champagne” with Dick Francis’ horse race mysteries and to research the recipes in J.A. Konrath’s Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels detective series.

Finally, one alert reader reminded us of Mark Bailey’s Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers, a boozy guide to some boozy writers. Drink up!

OK, But Good Luck Finding Yourself a Ringo

karen-zacharias-harrison.jpgKaren Spears Zacharias sent us a note from the road, where she’s out promoting her new book, Where’s Your Jesus Now?—she was at City Books in Fayetteville, North Carolina, last week when she met George Harrison—a professor of marketing at UNC-Pembroke, she quickly pointed out. “He said when he first moved to town, he met a man named John Lennon,” she added. “They kept running into each other at their sons’ ballgames.”

She also told us a story about Harold Grace, a loyal City Books customer who had never read a book until the store’s owner gave him a recommendation five years ago: “Since then he’s come to every book event and bought every book and read every one.” Now that’s customer retention…

(BTW, we are just obsessive enough that we ran searches and did find Paul McCartney and Richard Starkey living just about a hundred miles away in Wilmington.)

A Bit of “Black Tuesday” Humor: No Pressure, Dan!

dan-brown-headshot.jpgFrom the NY Times coverage of the 16-employee layoff at Doubleday:

“[David Drake] said the decision was not related to the delay in the delivery of the next novel by Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, the blockbuster best seller published in 2003.”

Yes, we’re so sure Doubleday has been making ongoing financial projections for the last three years based on the possibility that Brown might finally turn in the manuscript of The Solomon Key.

(photo: Stableford)

Author Sues Her Sister

gilding_lily_cover.gifTatiana Boncompagni, the first-time author of Gilding Lily (a HarperCollins book), just sued her sister in federal court for allegedly stealing her next manuscript.

The book at issue is Hedge Fund Wives, a novel that harks back to a happier time in the American economy. The case will be handled by Federal Judge Laura Taylor Swain, according to filings at the federal court website.

According to a New York Post article, the lawsuit reads like a hardboiled novel of its own: “[Tatiana Boncompagni] Hoover — whose hubby, Maximillian, is an heir to the Hoover vacuum-cleaner fortune — alleges her 33-year-old sister downloaded drafts of the new novel off her laptop every night while Hoover spent a week at her family’s Milwaukee home in August.”

Her sister emailed the Observer yesterday, describing her side of the story: “From the very beginning, Tatiana and I were a ‘writing team’: my decade long Wall Street career experience and insider’s knowledge of the social workings of the Hedge Fund community, coupled with Tatiana’s writing experience and requisite knowledge of the mechanics of constructing a novel.”

Exclusive Video: Cintra Wilson Crowns Caligula

Arrrrrrr! In the final days of the emotional presidential race, journalist Cintra Wilson partied like the power-mad Roman emperor, Caligula.

At the Bellwether Gallery in New York City, Wilson was joined by a crack team of writers and performers to launch her third book, Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny. Actors Bradford Louryk, Shelly Mars, Peter Frechette and author Mike Albo all dressed like psychedelic Roman emperors, reading totalitarian speeches penned by Wilson–a postmodern fable for 21st Century American power.

In this short video, Wilson discusses her book, the election, and how too much executive power could corrupt any candidate.

Returned Inventory Fees Shutter Impetus Press

impetus-press-logo.jpgWe received an email yesterday from Impetus Press co-publishers Jennifer Banash and Willy Blackmore, announcing their decision to shut down their independent publishing venture after two years. “We have been hit with a procession of distribution-related problems which have put us into a financial situation that is forcing us to close our doors,” they explain. “For the better part of the year, we have been paying very high return fees to our distributor—many generated by books being sent back by the currently less-than-stable Borders—fees which have slowly been bleeding us dry… Try as we might, we have been unable to figure a way out of this situation as we have never been long on capital and with the economy being in such a disastrous state, there is no hope of finding any money from an outside source.”

Banash and Blackmore prided themselves on working closely with the authors they published, and say they will make an effort to place the books they were unable to bring to market with other houses.

This is the latest in a series of blows to independent publishers that includes staff cutbacks at MacAdam/Cage and the postponement of an entire Atlas Books frontlist for early 2009… and, as we know, the majors are not immune to the financial pressures.

Barbara Walters, Sen. Clinton Headline Feminist Press Gala


It was just about a year ago that we sent Amanda ReCupido to an anniversary party for the Feminist Press, and we were glad to hear from her Monday night after she came back from this year’s celebration at the Grand Hyatt, where Barbara Walters introduced Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton so she could introduce Iris Weinshall, the winner of this year’s Sue Rosenberg Zalk Award, presented annually by the press to a member of the CUNY community, where the 38-year-old press is based. (Weinshall’s husband—and New York’s other senator—Charles Schumer also spoke at the event.)

In her opening remarks, Walters recalled an interview with Clinton in her hometown, where they went to the movie theater where the former First Lady had her first date, followed by olive burgers at the café next door. Walters stated she was an admirer of Clinton and that the senator was “caring, touching, and real.” After a standing ovation, Clinton joked that it was nice not to be sitting across from and being grilled by the famous interviewer, but then quickly turned to the focus of the evening: :It is important that anything with the word ‘feminist’ be celebrated,” she said, to much applause. (She also made sure to offer ringing support for her former competitor for the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, in next week’s election.

Other award recipients for the evening were Jennifer Allyn, PricewaterhouseCooper‘s managing director of gender retention and advancement, and actress Kathleen Chalfant; a live auction followed, including a lunch date with Katie Couric where bidding quickly went head-to-head and finally settled at a whopping $2500. And Feminist Press executive director Gloria Jacobs spotlighted some of the publishing house’s major projects, from the restoration of feminist classics from the 1960s to the ’80s back into print to a new line of translations of books by women from the Middle East. She also firmly debunked a metaphor that compared the press to a rose: “I’m more interested in the thorns,” she stated. “The press is proudly provocative.”

Reed Elsevier’s Ex-CEO: RBI Price Must Drop

jim-casella-headshot.jpgWhen we brought up the problems with the Reed Business Information sale yesterday, we mentioned that it was bound to be a topic of discussion at the “Future of Business Media” conference later in the day—and tells us what Reed Elsevier‘s former CEO had to say about the deal: “The price expectation has to come down,” warned Jim Casella. “It’s going to have to be adjusted.” He also suggested that “a new owner is going to want to follow a more focused strategy” with RBI’s assets, which could include both jettisoning some parts of the portfolio and acquiring other assets (specifically exhibition events) to complement whatever assets remain.

In terms of how that could affect the book publishing industry, that suggests any number of possibilities for Publishers Weekly or Library Journal-themed events that might or might not compete with current Reed Exhibitions offerings like BookExpo America. Or smaller events like “Book Publishing 101,” the one-day writer’s conference PW sponsored last month. Or maybe something else entirely—what sort of events would you build around those brands?

(That’s assuming, of course, that it’s the publishing-related magazine brands a future owner would want to hang onto rather than, say, all the magazines about the construction industry or interior decorating.)

Drinking and Reading and Drinking

home_bg.jpgWhat do you drink with your favorite book? Over at Bookninja, readers are comparing drink recipes to accompany their favorite books. The blog includes Sex on the Beach for reading Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle and a $1,500 bottle of Chateau Petrus for reading Michael Ondaatje’s Divisadero.

After a long week of layoffs and cutbacks, GalleyCat pondered other whiskey-related recommendations: Wild Turkey with Hunter S. Thompson and Cutty Sark Scotch with Haruki Murakami.

Add your favorite author and drink pairings in the comments section. If you need a reference library, check out Book Examiner‘s boozy literary feature and Jeff VanderMeer’s on-going authorial mixology. Maybe we should all follow this Bookninja reader’s advice: “Forget how to write books. I want a how to drink like an author book. Maybe not as useful to one’s craft but, after enough research, who cares?”

Black Tuesday

DD-logo.gifIt’s Black Tuesday at Doubleday, a gloomy reminder of the tough times ahead.

The news broke today that there will be 16 layoffs throughout Random House’s Doubleday division–cuts ranging from publicity to editorial.

In his article, Leon Neyfakh called 2008 a “painful year” for the publisher of Dan Brown’s uber-bestseller, Da Vinci Code. The NY Observer confirmed four of the cuts this afternoon.

Earlier this year, GalleyCat covered Doubleday’s launch party for the Spiegel & Grau house, capturing memories of a happier time for everyone in the industry.