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Archives: August 2009

Tweets, They Are A-Changin’

sharepage.jpgLike Bob Dylan cutting a Christmas album, we’ve made a few changes here at GalleyCat central. The mediabistro.com tech crew has simplified the page design and added a host of social bookmarking buttons to make it easier to join the GalleyCat conversation.

Just click the red “Share” button at the bottom of the post to circulate a story the social network of choice, including: Digg, Facebook, Google Reader, Delicious, StumbleUpon, or MySpace. If you feel more inclined to tweet about the story, just click the green “Tweet” button. Along with the extra tools, bylines are now clearly delineated so you can send fan mail and angry letters straight to the correct GalleyCat editor.

Finally, senior editor Ron Hogan and editor Jason Boog have teamed up to curate the brand-new GalleyCat Twitter feed, bringing the publishing blog into the Twitter-sphere. Stop by and say hello, and pass along any comments about the design.

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The Eye in the Pyramid Has Us Seeing Double

Earlier this month, we looked at some upcoming books where the authors and publishers are clearly hoping to get caught in Dan Brown‘s wake, as they explore themes of Freemasonry and American history that are generally assumed to be important thematic elements in The Lost Symbol. So when a new Tarcher/Penguin edition of Manly P. Hall‘s The Secret Destiny of America (combining two texts from 1944 and 1951), we couldn’t shake a weird feeling of déjâ vu, but we figured it was purely thematic—until we got home and took another look at the cover to Mitch Horowitz‘s all-new Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation, one of the books in our initial item. Both covers prominently feature, against a vellum-like background, the image from the Great Seal of the United States popularly known as “the eye in the pyramid,” which has the more esoteric name of “the all-seeing eye” or “the Eye of Providence.”

eye-in-pyramid.jpg

As it happens, Horowitz is also the editor in chief at Tarcher, so we asked him about the situation, and he emailed back to remind us that, while the house may be selling Manly P. Hall a bit more overtly than usual as Dan Brown’s publication date nears, this particular cover design for The Secret Destiny of America has actually been in use for some time, and he assured us that no similarity was intended between the cover of that book and his own. “I encouraged using the eye-and-pyramid on the jacket to Occult America since that image is so perfectly suited to the subject and is discussed in the book,” he explained. “It’s one of the most alluring images in American history.”

(And it’s true: If you’re going to write about occult-tinged versions of American history, you’re going to wind up talking about the Great Seal of the United States at some point.)

Horowitz added that the two covers used different versions of the Great Seal’s eye-in-pyramid imagery (we’ve blown the two elements up so you can see for yourself, and “beyond that,” he said, “I felt that other elements were significantly divergent.” Given all the additional imagery on the Occult America jacket, that sounds reasonable to us… but we can’t help wondering if we’re going to be seeing the Eye of Providence again before this bookselling season is over?

Author Jenna Bush Joins Today Show

jennabush.jpgConsidering Megan McCain‘s “high six figure” book deal and Liz Cheney‘s recent co-author role in her father’s memoir, the daughters of conservative politicians should form their own publishing imprint.

If such an imprint existed, it would be helmed by Jenna Bush Hager–two time author and now television news reporter. On today’s Morning Media Menu, we discussed the news that Jenna Bush (pictured, via), the daughter of President George W. Bush, will be joining The Today Show as a monthly contributor.

Here’s more from Politico: “[T]he show decided to give Hager a spin after she’d come off as a ‘natural presence’ in two previous appearances on Today to promote her book for young adults, ‘Ana’s Story,’ about a young woman born with HIV/AIDS.”

Lindsay Patterson, 1934-2009

lindsay-patterson-headshot.jpgWe were saddened to hear last week of the death of Lindsay Patterson, a retired professor from Queens College who also taught Afro-American and Carribbean literature at Hunter College. He wrote and edited several books, including Introduction to Black Literature in America, Black Theater, A 20th Century Collection of the Works of Its Best Playwrights, and A Rock against the Wind; African-American Poems and Letters of Love and Passion; excerpts from an unpublished novel, T-Baby, appeared in Essence (which was also one of the many magazines and newspapers to which he contributed journalism and criticism). He was also a regular presence on New York radio and television, conducting interviews with leading theatrical and cultural figures.

Patterson’s friends and colleagues are encouraged to contact his neighbor, Ellen Levene, at [ellenl2 AT nyc DOT rr DOT com] for information on a possible memorial service at a future date.

David Cross Gets Literary Support from Keith Olbermann

9780446579483_154X233.jpgEarlier this year, it seemed like publishers inked book deals with comedians on a daily basis. David Cross, the star of Mr. Show and Arrested Development will lead the pack, publishing his new book today: “I Drink For a Reason.”

Cross’ book will join a crowded field soon, as comedians like Sarah Silverman and Jerry Seinfeld have set off bidding wars between houses. Time Magazine caught up with the deadpan comedian in an interview this week, getting his thoughts on the Arrested Development film, his upcoming stand-up tour, and the book.

Here’s more about Cross’ blurb from news anchor and author Keith Olbermann: “That was my idea. I’m friends with Keith, I like him quite a bit. And as he says in the blurb, we disagree about things, but we have very interesting, good, educated conversations about stuff. And we’re in a fantasy baseball league together.”

Random House Revenue Drops for First Half of 2009

rh23.jpgIn a new earnings report, Random House reported that worldwide revenues were down by 32 million euros for the first half of 2009 compared to the same period last year. Overall, the publisher’s corporate parent, Bertelsmann, posted some tough numbers as well, reporting a 333 million euro net loss for the first half of 2009.

The conglomerate publisher counted 140 titles on the New York Times bestseller lists during the first half of 2009, but the release said the U.S. arm of the company suffered from “continued distressed economic environment and the reduction in inventory levels by major bookstores.” Nevertheless, the company expressed faith that the massive restructuring last year will “offset” these loses.

Here’s more from Random House CEO Markus Dohle‘s open letter to worldwide staff: “Our customers implemented tighter inventory controls, resulting in significantly higher returns and fewer copies ordered, on both initials and reorders, which hurt frontlist as well as backlist sales … But our fiscal year is not all gloom and doom. Our six-month results only partially reflect the current big turn in the right direction for our business–our strong sales performance overall during June, July, and August in our territories. Our monthly numbers are rising, thanks to some of our biggest-selling titles of 2009.”

Storm Large IS Gretchen Lowell

Last week, we wrote about Minotaur‘s promotional campaign for Evil at Heart, which involved sending mobile phones with text messages from Gretchen Lowell, the female serial killer who stars in Chelsea Cain‘s novels. A reader in Portland, Oregon, informed us that the model in the wanted poster that came with the cell phone was local musician Storm Large, and we decided to find out more.

gretchen-lowell-closeup.jpg“Storm and I were sitting across from one another at a charity event,” Cain emailed in response to our questions, “and she mentioned that she was a fan of Heartsick [the first book in the series] and in that moment I looked at her and was like, oh my God, she looks just like Gretchen. I’d seen her around—on TV and in photographs—but I’d never really looked at Storm up close until that moment. It was bizarre… I get asked all the time who I would cast as Gretchen, and I’m always at a loss. You have a character in your head, and no one really fits exactly, and at the same time everyone sort of fits. Then I saw Storm and she was Gretchen.” The author ended up arranging the entire photo shoot, hiring a photographer and stylist and picking out Large’s wardrobe herself. In addition to the wanted poster (which will be wheat pasted on the streets of Seattle and Portland), Large and Cain devised several poses for the official “I Heart Gretchen Lowell” website, which is mentioned throughout the novel.

“I had just finished Heartsick and was secretly fantasizing about playing Gretchen in whatever film, television or internet incarnation the story would become in its next life…so I was really excited when Chelsea said that,” Large concurred. “I love that Gretchen is so zen about murder. How the victim makes him or herself known to her, then a kind of seduction or dance begins with the inevitable gory terrible ending…she is a lovely and twisted woman.”

Cain also helped clear up our confusion about Gretchen Lowell’s age; as we noted in our original item, we’d always mentally pictured the character as at least five years older than she appeared to be in the poster. “Gretchen is 34 in the books, but they’ve never seen her birth certificate,” Cain explained, “so no one knows for sure, and I’ve always imagined that she is like Storm—forty maybe, but just really fucking hot.” And, she predicts, the creative partnership will continue: “I’d love to do more with Storm. She has a great idea for a Valentine’s Day card. It involves nudity and a whole lot of blood.”

Publishing Job Board: HarperCollins Hiring

hclogod.gifAs August winds down, the job boards are heating up with new opportunities. In an effort to keep the GalleyCat community up-to-date, we are tracking new jobs fresh off the mediabistro.com job boards.

For your resume-making pleasure, here are a couple new postings. This morning, Scholastic posted a job for a Desktop Support Technician. In addition, Cambridge University Press has an opening in ESL/ELT Editorial Opportunities.

BlackBook Media is looking for an Assistant Designer. Finally, HarperCollins Publishers is looking for an Advertising & Promotions Assistant Manager, who will, among other things: “assist marketing with the creation of promotional materials such as seasonal catalogs, sales material and displays. Oversee projects from concept and copywriting through design and printing. Includes routing and follow up to ensure deadlines are met. To create cover copy (blurbs) for mass market and trade paperback releases.”

Disney to Acquire Marvel Entertainment in $4 Billion Deal

disneylogo.jpgIn a deal that will rattle the very foundations of the comic book industry, the Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has struck a deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:MVL).

The company press release valued the cash and stock transaction at $4 billion, based on stock prices on Friday. Disney now owns the rights to more than 5,000 Marvel characters, an nearly endless supply of spin-off possibilities. Hardboiled author and Marvel writer Duane Swierczynski proved this point on Twitter: “I want to write a Punisher/Jiminy Cricket team-up.”

Disney CEO Robert A. Iger had this statement, laying out the huge swath of imaginary territory now controlled by Disney: “This transaction combines Marvel’s strong global brand and world-renowned library of characters including Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor with Disney’s creative skills, unparalleled global portfolio of entertainment properties, and a business structure that maximizes the value of creative properties across multiple platforms and territories.”

Smashwords Inks Distribution Deal with Barnes & Noble

swlogo.jpgLate on Friday, the digital self-publishing company Smashwords announced a new distribution agreement with Barnes & Noble, as the bookselling giant agreed to sell e-book titles produced by the online digital book publisher.

Smashwords helps publishers and authors create, market, and sell e-books online, giving back all authors 85 percent the net proceeds from book sales. The company’s current collection contains 2,600 titles, and Smashword titles should be listed on the Barnes & Noble site in the next thirty days.

Smashword’s distribution model also includes this new “premium feed” feature, aimed at widening distribution channels for their authors: “This new catalog is distributed to major online retailers and other distribution outlets that have higher mechanical standards such as requiring quality book cover images, books with copyright pages, and other requirements outlined below.”

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