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Archives: January 2009

Twitter Tributes To John Updike

200px-John_Updike_with_Bushes_new.jpgWhen news broke yesterday that the 76-year-old novelist John Updike had died, Twitter overflowed with hundreds of tributes to the author.

Designer Tim Shey had this to memory: “Oh no, John Updike died! I’m glad I got to meet him once in college, even though he told me to ‘stop drawing and keep writing.’ Rabbit, RIP.”

Many Twitter writers linked to Fresh Air’s Updike interviews, like Kari Peterson: “john updike interview on fresh air. mesmerizing use of language.”

Finally, John Nelson Corcoran wrote these lines: “Thinking of small PA towns, Rabbit Angstom, HS basketball and John Updike. Spending today writing in his shadow.”

Movable Type Literary Group Closes Two Deals

The fledgling agency, Movable Type Literary Group, just scored two book deals this week. GalleyCat caught up with founder Jason Allen Ashlock for an exclusive video interview about his work.

The first deal was for screenwriter Stephen J. Rivele. This 20-year Hollywood veteran worked on scripts for the films Ali and Nixon. His work of narrative nonfiction will be published by St. Martin’s Press.

The agency also secured a deal with HarperCollins to republish the out-of-print The Making of the President series by the late political journalist Theodore White. That four-volume series followed presidential elections from 1960 until 1972, revolutionizing political reporting with novelistic flourishes.

Earlier this month, the NY Observer had a long profile of this brand-new agency.

Book World To Cease Stand-Alone Publication

28119_logo.jpgWhile the news has not been officially confirmed, the National Book Critics Circle reports that Book World, the Washington Post‘s stand-alone book supplement, will cease publication after February 15. Daily book reviews will still be published in the Style section.

Update: The rumors have been confirimed. According to the report, the section’s essays will now be divided between the Outlook section and the Sunday Style & Arts section of the newspaper. The Book World section will still exist online.

Last week rumors flew (and were denied) that the Washington Post could close the section, and the National Book Critics Circle has created an online petition to support the publication.

Here’s more from the NBCC report: “The promise is that there will be four additional broadsheet pages in Outlook for book coverage and one additional page in Style & Arts. That’s an equivalent of 12 tabloid pages. (Book World is 16 pages.) Jonathan Yardley‘s reviews will appear in Outlook. Michael Dirda‘s will appear in Style. The staff of Book World will be kept together under the editorship of Rachel Shea.” (Via LitKicks)

HaperCollins Introduces Voluntary Retirement Program

hclogo.gifYesterday HarperCollins revealed they are extending voluntary retirement packages to any interested employee over 55-years-old with more than 5-years working at the publisher.

With these looming cost-cutting measures, Publishers Weekly reported that spokesperson Erin Crum “wouldn’t rule out the possibility of layoffs down the line.”

The offer was extended to workers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Scranton offices. Employees must decide by February 3, and the company has prepared a number of packages.

86 Percent of Japanese High Schoolers Read Cell Phone Novels

773e273d749a60_large.jpgAs American publishing companies grapple with the recession, some encouraging reading statistics have emerged in Japan. According to a recent report, ten of Japan’s print bestsellers in 2007 were based on cell phone novels–successfully selling about 400,000 copies apiece.

The cell phone novel was born in 2002, when the author Yoshi wrote Deep Love: Ayu’s Story for the cell phone. The book exploded in popularity, spawning print books, cartoons, and a film. The genre evolved, as authors published short novels in 70-word installments for the cell phone.

Here’s more from Japan Today: “[One company] has released 40 titles that have sold 10 million copies … cell phone novels proved that there was a market for females between the ages of 10 and 20, a demographic thought to be apathetic toward reading. According to a recent Mainichi Shinbum newspaper survey, 86% of high school, 75% of middle school and 23% of grade school girls read cell phone novels.” (Via TeleRead.)

Agent Auctions His College Classmate’s Novel

foundry2.gifStephen Barbara scored his first deal at Foundry Literary + Media, connecting a college friend with Gerry Howard at Doubleday after an auction.

Barbara secured the deal for debut novelist Sam Munson and his book, The November Criminals. According to Publishers Marketplace, Munson wrote the book as a response to an admissions application question from the University of Chicago. As GalleyCat reported, Barbara was the former contracts director at Donald Maass Literary Agency before moving to Foundry.

From the report: “[It is] a novel composed for the University of Chicago’s board of admissions, answering the application essay question: “What are your best and worst qualities?”, using the story of the protagonist’s dramatic senior year in high school to reveal that he has no good qualities at all.” UPDATE: The NY Observer reports the book sold for “a sum close to $100,000.”

Molly Ringwald’s Book Reviewing Career

Earlier today GalleyCat reported that 1980s movie star Molly Ringwald had scored a book deal with HarperCollins–noting that the Pretty in Pink actress had also written book reviews.

This afternoon we caught up with Ringwald’s old editor, David Daley, who now helms the serial reading project, Five Chapters. Daley recalled the star of The Breakfast Club fondly:

“Molly’s as talented a writer and thinker as anyone I’ve ever worked with. She’s incredibly well read, has very demanding standards, but is also a very intuitive and sensitive observer of character. That really came through in the criticism and profiles she did, but more importantly, they’re exactly the traits that lead to great writing of her own. She did these pieces for me at the Hartford Courant and at The Journal News in Westchester County. In addition to the reviews, she did interviews with Stephin Merritt, Kiki & Herb and Raul Esparza.”

Expert Predicts February Release of Amazon Kindle 2


Amazon has scheduled a press conference for February 9th at the Morgan Library in midtown Manhattan. While they won’t disclose the reason, one expert believes it could mark the release of the new Kindle digital reader.

Journalist Peter Kafka stirred the rumors: “the company hasn’t provided any other details. But I’ll note that the last time Amazon (AMZN) held a New York press conference, in November 2007, it was to unveil Kindle 1.0.”

Digital book devotees have speculated about the new machine for months, ever since Boy Genius Report leaked that photo of the new reader. According to experts, Kindle 2 will be charged with a USB cable, rather than the current generation’s special charger–speculating that the new Kindles would be available early this year. (Link via.)

Novelist John Updike Has Died

200px-John_Updike_with_Bushes_new.jpgThe NY Times is reporting that novelist John Updike died today.

The 76-year-old novelist wrote more than 50 books, including his Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990). In addition, he won the American Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for his work. The author’s photo comes from his extensive Wikipedia page.

His most recent novel was The Widows of Eastwick. From the Times: “Updike, a resident of Beverly Farms, Mass., died of lung cancer, according to a statement from his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.”

How President Barack Obama’s Book Was Rejected

51ZNJAN94RL.jpgIn news that will cheer aspiring authors around the country, Barack Obama survived a missed deadline and rejection with his memoir, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.

The Daily Beast interviewed editor Henry Ferris about his work with Obama, exploring how the President’s critically-acclaimed memoir was written in 1995. The then-publisher of Times Books recounted how he received a call from Obama’s agent, Jane Dystel, after Simon and Schuster turned down the manuscript. Here’s an excerpt:

“The book missed its deadline, and when the first two parts did arrive, according to Ferris, the manuscript was rejected as too long and too late. Ferris says that Dystel called him and said, jokingly, ‘I am bringing you a book by the man who will be the first black president of the United States.’”