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Archives: March 2009

The Art of Handmade Book Promotion


The Chronicle Books Blog is featuring some of the artsy-craftsy mailings they’ve received over the last year–the publisher of singular books highlighted some singular book promotional tools.

Above is a “pribery” kit created by illustrator Michael Slack to show off the different styles and formats of his work to the publisher. Other beautiful mailings included a charming origami packet and monochrome embossed envelopes from unconventional PR firms.

Here’s more from the post: “We also get a lot of promotional material that’s as diverse as the books we publish. For example, below (from left to right): letterpress “matchsticks” from Swink, a wooden postcard from Deep Craft, a multimedia card from Laura Tarrish, and a tiny letter from Sally Faulkner.”

Anthony Hopkins May Play Ernest Hemingway

200px-Oldmansea.jpgAnthony Hopkins and Annette Bening are on the shortlist to star in a film about the last years of novelist Ernest Hemingway and his relationship with his fishing boat captain.

Andy Garcia will direct, and he is co-writing the script with the writer’s niece, Hilary Hemingway, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film will be set primarily in Cuba and Idaho, where the author lived while writing the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Old Man and the Sea.”

Here’s more from the article: “Garcia said he hopes to explore the psyche of Hemingway, the dynamic with [his captain] and the relationship both had with fishing. ‘I’m a Hemingway nut and also an avid fisherman, and the reality of the relationship between Hemingway and his captain is compelling to me.’” (Via Book Bench)

NY Times Lost Early Amazon Opportunity

nytimes_logo.gifFormer NY Times CFO Diane Baker dished about a failed partnership between her paper and during the rise of Internet bookselling giant–a lost opportunity to earn money off the thousands of books sales generated by the Sunday Book Review section.

The revelation came in Vanity Fair‘s recent profile of Arthur Sulzberger Jr., where Baker talked about the paper’s slow move towards digital accounting in the mid-1990′s.

Here’s an excerpt from the long profile: “Not only would the [Amazon] deal have produced revenue from book sales, it would also have cemented a partnership with a tremendous future. [Baker] envisioned the newspaper as a virtual merchandising machine. Instead of the old carpet-bombing model of advertising, it would in effect target ads to readers of specific stories. ‘You know what they said?,’ Baker recalls. ‘They said, We can’t do it, because Barnes & Noble is a big advertiser.’”

Foundry Sells Three Books in Three Days

lg_foundry1.gifLast week agents at the growing Foundry Literary + Media agency sold three books in three days, bucking the odds during an industry slow-down.

According to Publishers Weekly, McGuigan sold North American rights for Economist journalist Robert Lane Greene‘s “Talk This Way: The Politics of Language” to Bantam, Stephanie Abou sold North American rights for Jamal Joseph‘s “Panther Baby” to Algonquin, and Mollie Glick sold Jim Roberts’s “Shiny Objects: How We Lost Our Way on the Road to the American Dream” to HarperOne.

Here’s more about “Panther Baby” from the article: “Academy Award-nominee Joseph (for best original song: ‘Raise It Up’ from the film August Rush), the youngest Black Panther to be sent to jail in the ‘Panther 21′ case, will describe how he went on to co-found a creative arts program in Harlem aimed at bringing young people off the streets. Joseph is the first African-American to head the graduate film program at Columbia.”

Authors Lead NYC Indie Bookstore Tour

millions.jpgAs independent bookstores struggle through the toughest retail market in years, one literary blog has organized a walking tour of New York City’s indie bookstore scene–The First Annual Millions Walking Tour of NYC Indie Book Stores.

Planned for Saturday, May 2nd at 11 am (with a rain date on May 3rd), the whole tour will crisscross Manhattan and Brooklyn, visiting six stores for a half-hour each. The tour will visit Three Lives, Housing Works Used Book Cafe, McNally Jackson, and Bluestockings in Manhattan; and then, BookCourt and Freebird Books & Goods in Brooklyn.

Here’s more from the post: “[Garth Risk Hallberg] and [C. Max Magee] will be leading the jaunt and we’ll likely be joined by one or two other Millions regulars. Please join us! If all goes well, perhaps we’ll reassemble in 2010 for another tour, focusing on the uptown venues we’ll be neglecting this time around.”

High Profile Authors Find Piracy on Scribd

logoscribd2.gifYesterday a British newspaper discovered pirated copies of J. K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Ken Follett‘s World without End on the popular file-sharing site, Scribd, stoking fears of digital piracy.

As GalleyCat reported months ago, Scribd has a takedown notice procedure in accordance with the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act and budding partnerships with a number of publishers. Still, policing the site’s 55 million readers is a never-ending task.

The article concluded with comments Penguin CEO John Makinson, who said his company does not use Scribd: “We do have a concern about the amount of free content on the web, and the impact that will have on the consumer’s perception of the value of books.”

Barron’s Declares Amazon “The World’s Best Retailer”

Despite a difficult environment for booksellers and recent closures at three distribution centers, the financial reporters at Barron’s have dubbed Amazon “The World’s Best Retailer” in a subscription-only cover story.

The glowing review urges readers to buy Amazon stock now, praising the bookseller’s efficient delivery system and Wal-Mart-esque pricing. But Barron’s wasn’t always so happy with Amazon.

As ZDNet points out, in the financial magazine bashed the fledgling bookseller with a series of untimely predictions in 1999: “[Jeff Bezos] will likely be outflanked by companies that sell their wares directly to consumers. To begin with, publishing houses themselves could sell their books online. And new technologies promise to cut costs even further by allowing consumers to download books via the Internet.”

Dear Author Giving Preference to DigiARCs

Remember a few weeks back when we agitated for more digital ARCs for book reviewers? Jane Litte of Dear Author emailed us recently to discuss her blog’s new policy: “In an effort to encourage publishers to make cost efficient advance copies available to bloggers, Dear Author will be giving review priority to any review copy sent in digital form in advance of publication,” Little says. “Any finished print copies provided to Dear Author will not likely be read/reviewed until 1-2 months after publication date.”

“We encourage bloggers and authors to push for digital arcs in this time of declining ARC production,” Litte adds—referring to reports circulating earlier this month that several publishers are reducing the number of books for which they will print ARCs and/or reduce the number of bloggers to whom they will send those galleys.

But fair warning, publishers: If you do take the digital route, don’t go about it the way one unnamed company did with bestselling novelist Tess Gerritsen, who told another author who was looking for a blurb she”d see what she could do if he had a galley sent to her… and then found herself on the receiving end of some massive condescension. “We find that we receive zero responses to printed galleys, so instead we will email a PDF to interested reviewers,” a representative from the publisher told her—which would’ve been fine, except that the person didn’t stop there. “We also understand that people such as yourself write blurbs and then sell the galleys afterwards, as a form of compensation,” the email to Gerristen continued. “If I send you the PDF and you provide a cover blurb, I can send you a finished, sellable copy of the book… But I won’t send you the PDF until you let me know one way or the other if you’d have time to look at it.”

Yeah, that sounds like an effective way to cultivate a readership in the digital age.

Tina Pohlman Creates Her Own New Publishing Gig


Tina Pohlman was one of the editors who lost her position in Doubleday‘s pre-re-organization layoffs last fall, but she’s bounced back—teaming up with a friend who develops games for mobile phones to launch Moulinarn Mobile Books. The company’s first release is an iPhone/iPod Touch reissue of Great First Lines, “an irresistible collection of literature’s great opening sentences, cleverly arranged so that each line builds upon the one before it to create a unique story” which was originally published in 1992 by Celina Spiegel and Peter Kupfer. (Spiegel, more commonly known as “Cindy,” was Pohlman’s boss at Spiegel & Grau.)

“It’s an ideal collaboration for a game developer and a book editor,” Pohlman emailed us, “as it works as both a game and a book.” She also said that five more titles are already in the pipeline, including John Sutherland‘s Curiosities of Literature and short story collections by Rudyard Kipling and Anton Chekhov. And Moulinarn plans to expand to other mobile platforms: “We are particularly interested in Nokia’s Ovi application store right now.” In the meantime, you can buy Great First Lines from the iTunes store.

Featured Book of Color


Sujata Massey’s mystery Shimura Trouble (Severn House) is my Featured “Book of Color” Pick of the Day. This tenth book in Massey’s Rei Shimura series gives you a glimpse into Japanese culture, keeping you intrigued as the story unfolds.

Antiques dealer and undercover spy Rei Shimura is expecting some peace and quiet when she goes to Hawaii with her ailing father for a family reunion. She is quickly drawn into a web of chaos and mayhem involving some distant relatives, who enlist Rei’s help in resolving a property dispute dating back to World War II.

I chose this book because of its excellent reviews and intriguing plot. We need more voices that give us entry into worlds we otherwise would have no knowledge of.

Jeff Rivera is the author of Forever My Lady and founder of