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Archives: September 2009

Disney’s Digital Book Push

disneybk23.jpgThe Walt Disney Company (DIS) pushed into the digital book market today, hoping to corner the first generation of digital book-savvy kids with a new distribution model: selling $79.95 annual subscriptions to readers, providing online access to 500 Disney storybook titles in digital form.

According to the NY Times, the project will target children aged three to twelve. Onscreen, the digital pages turn like pages in a print book. The site will provide online pronunciation advice, quizzes, games, and a number of the books will have actors read the story out-loud, complete with music.

Digital publishing expert Mike Cane had these thoughts about the new release: “What I love about this is that Disney is emphasizing these are digital books–not eBooks. They’ve positioned themselves for the future, not settling for the inferior offerings of today. A questioner asked what number of subscribers they would consider a success. Disney’s not thinking that way. This is a long-term investment for them.”

Talking About Things Women Don’t Talk About

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An author will take center stage at the 11th Annual Fordham Women in Business Conference on Friday, October 2. The evening’s keynote speaker is Mary Lou Quinlan founder of Just Ask a Woman and author of the upcoming book “What She’s Not Telling You, Why Women Hide the Whole Truth and What Marketers Can Do About It.”

Entitled “Power Players: Women Who Mean Business,” the one-night business conference is scheduled from 6:00pm until 10:00pm at The New York Academy of Sciences in New York City.

Here’s more about the evening: “This year’s theme will focus on the actions women have taken to achieve their professional goals. The conference will feature a keynote speaker, a panel discussion and multiple networking sessions. Our guest list will include business school students, alumni and professionals who support the heritage of saluting and mentoring outstanding women.

GalleyCat Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

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In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, GalleyCat will profile significant and emerging Hispanics in book publishing until October 15th. We will be raising important questions about the Hispanic market, some which even push the envelope and beg to be answered.

More importantly, we will shed light on some of the amazing people in publishing who have been quietly making powerful strides and opening doors for other Hispanics. By paving the way, they are increasing Hispanic cultural awareness, pride, and literacy.

Why is this issue so important to the book publishing industry? From a business stand point, the Hispanic population represents 15% of Americans which is certainly worthy of exploring.

Sarah Palin Finishes Her Memoir in Four Months

images.jpegThe industrious author Sarah Palin has written her memoir in four months flat, and readers can look for the hardcover in mid-November.

According to the AP, the book is entitled “Going Rogue: An American Life,” and the HarperCollins’ Harper imprint plans to print 1.5 million copies. Harper publisher Jonathan Burnham had this statement: “Governor Palin has been unbelievably conscientious and hands-on at every stage, investing herself deeply and passionately in this project.”

Today’s edition of the Morning Media Menu podcast pondered this upcoming publishing event. In addition to the memoir, the show also explored Tina Brown‘s new publishing imprint and boozy days at the NY Times.

Sony and Smashwords Form Distribution Partnership

swlogo.jpgThe self-publishing eBook website Smashwords inked a distribution deal with Sony Electronics, allowing readers to sell books in the Sony eBook Store days after uploading a Microsoft Word copy of their manuscript.

Here’s more about joining the Sony Publisher Portal, from the release: “[On the site,] click on Smashwords to sign up for a free Smashwords publishing account. Authors simply upload their Microsoft Word file, per the Smashwords Style Guide formatting requirements, choose their distribution and then their book will be made available for immediate online sale at Smashwords.com. Authors opting in to Sony will have their ebook appear at The eBook Store from Sony within days of uploading to Smashwords.”

The publisher’s digital list has grown over the last year. When GalleyCat first wrote about the publishing company last December, they had counted 120 books from 90 authors on the website. Last night, Smashwords founder Mark Coker counted 3,075 books on the site, titles received from 1,396 authors and about 40 small independent publishers.

2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Winners Honored

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Last week, at a private reception in New York City, the Rona Jaffe Foundation honored six emerging women authors in the fifteenth annual presentation of its Writers’ Awards. Some of this year’s winners have been published already—Vievee Francis and Janice N. Harrington each have a collection of poetry out, and Lori Ostlund‘s short story collection, The Bigness of the World, also won last year’s Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. All of the writers, however, will be using the $25,000 prizes to free up the time to focus on their next projects, whether it’s a matter of not having to teach or being able to travel for research. The foundation, dedicated exclusively to championing women writers at the beginning of their literary careers, has disbursed more than $1,000,000 in these prizes since it was founded by Jaffe in 1995.

Guest speaker Elizabeth Alexander (front row, center), the poet for President Barack Obama‘s inauguration, joined Krista Bremer and Heidy Steidlmayer, along with (back row, l-r) Harrington, Helen Phillips, Francis, and Ostlund for a photo after the reception. (credit: Star Black)

Mapping Banned Books in the U.S.

censormap.jpgThis week is Banned Books Week, an annual reminder of the hundreds of books that face censorship every year. As that interactive map shows, book banning is a problem all over the United States.

If you want to find out which books were banned recently, check out a PDF copy of Books Challenged or Banned in 2007-2008 list and Time Magazine‘s top ten list of banned books. In addition, here’s a long list of sponsors of this important week: American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores.

Here’s more from the website: “There are hundreds of challenges to books in schools and libraries in the United States every year. According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were at least 513 in 2008. But the total is far larger. 70 to 80 percent are never reported. This map is drawn from cases documented by ALA and the Kids’ Right to Read Project, a collaboration of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

The Daily Beast to Publish Rapid-Fire eBooks

dblogo23.jpgThe Daily Beast announced a partnership with Perseus Books Group yesterday, a new Beast Books imprint that will quickly produce digital books by the website’s authors–followed by equally rapid paperback editions.

The NY Times explains that authors would have a few months to turn around these timely titles. The article also takes a frank look at print sales for books that started as eBooks. According to BookScan figures, Daniel Gross‘ “Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation” sold 4,000 print copies, while George Soros‘ “The New Paradigm for Financial Markets” sold 50,000 print copies.

Here’s an excerpt from the article: “[Beast founder Tina Brown] envisioned most of the Beast Books titles as being 40,000 words, or about 150 pages…Perseus is paying The Daily Beast a five-figure management advance to cover the costs of editing and designing the books, and Perseus will distribute the titles through its existing sales force. The writers will receive low five-figure advances from Perseus, then split profits from the sale of both the e-books and paperbacks with Perseus and The Daily Beast.”

Charles Dickens Fights for Copyright in the Wild West

Yesterday, at The eBook Test, Mike Cane reminded us that Charles Dickens was an outspoken advocate for writers’ intellectual property rights, and that he took his crusade to the United States, where pirated editions of his novels once flowed freely. This put us in mind of a great episode of Bonanza we stumbled onto one lazy Sunday afternoon years ago, in which Dickens—played by Jonathan Harris of Lost in Space fame—arrives in Virginia City to read from Oliver Twist and is angered to discover that they are already familiar with the scene…

So, what happens is that the local newspaper is serializing Dickens without his permission, and when the publisher’s office is destroyed… oh, heck, the whole episode is on YouTube if you want to take a look. We’ll just point out one more scene where Dickens has a poignant conversation with Hoss Cartwright in which he compares his literary output to the Ponderosa by way of explaining why he’s willing to defend his work against unauthorized publication…

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Southern Bookselling’s Jewell, Back in Place

wanda-jewell-siba2009.jpgWanda Jewell (center) caught up with her brothers, Steve and Wayne, at last weekend’s annual trade show for the Southeast Independent Booksellers Alliance in Greenville, South Carolina. According to Julie Schoerke, an independent publicist and occasional GalleyCat correspondent, attendance was up at this year’s event, and the attendees were thrilled to see Jewell, SIBA’s executive director, in such good health after undergoing breast cancer surgery earlier this summer. One of the highlights of the weekend, Schoerke adds, was a charity auction in which bookstore owners bid for dinners with guest authors at Greenville’s best restaurants: “Unfortunately, one of the buses carrying the authors and winning book sellers to the downtown restaurants hit a car which delayed the party for a while,” she tells us. (Nobody in the bus was hurt, though). “The trolley, carrying the rest of the group, got side tracked and some of the riders decided to take their chances, walking the rest of the way in the rain, which just added to the stories the next day on the tradeshow floor.”

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