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Archives: September 2009

Scene @ AgencySpy’s Adland Party

james-othmer-party.jpg’s events team and AgencySpy got together last week to throw a party for James P. Othmer (center) last week celebrating the publication of Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet. Among those joining Othmer at Stone Creek Bar & Lounge for complimentary Hendrick’s Gin cocktails and free copies of the book: Barbarian Group CEO Benjamin Palmer and director of communications Eva McClosky. For more of John Kealy‘s photos from the evening, visit’s Flickr set.

Celebrating William Safire’s Precision

MateaGold.jpgAs the literary world reflects on the legacy of William Safire, one LA Times reporter measured his work against the writing style of a 21st Century conservative icon–Glenn Beck.

Today’s guest on the Morning Media Menu was Matea Gold, the television media reporter for the LA Times. She discussed how Beck’s work lacked the same commitment to precision that made Safire’s work great.

Here’s an excerpt: “Safire had this obsession with the precision of language that I think was very admirable. I think Beck uses language more loosely. You see him throwing around a lot of words like ‘Communism’ and ‘radicalism,’ it creates a lot of fear around a subject without a precise connection to that subject.”

Kate Duffy Has Died

Kate Duffy, the beloved Kensington Books editorial director, passed away today.

Last year, Publishers Weekly recorded that video interview with the editor, a touching tribute to a life lived with books. Barnes & Noble Book Clubs credits the editor to rescuing Judith McNaught‘s novel, “Whitney, My Love” from the slush pile.

Here’s a memorial post from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: “When I tried to explain to my husband why I was so blown away by meeting Kate and talking with her at RWA, I couldn’t figure out how to explain who she was in romance. She wasn’t just an editor or a fan of the genre. ‘She’s the Julia Child of romance,’ I said.”

Annette Gordon-Reed Wins $25,000 History Prize

Author Annette Gordon-Reed has won the $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize for 2009, an annual prize awarded by Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition for “the best book written in English on slavery or abolition.

She received the award for her history book, “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” which won the National Book Award for nonfiction last year–where GalleyCat had that video interview with the author. The award was sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Here’s more from the release: “In addition to Gordon-Reed, the other finalists for the prize were Thavolia Glymph for ‘Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household’ (Cambridge University Press) and Jacqueline Jones for ‘Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War” (Alfred A. Knopf Publishers).’ The winner was selected by a review committee of representatives from the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Yale University.”

Mary C. Hickey to Edit Book Coverage at Ladies’ Home Journal

lhj.jpgAuthor and journalist Mary C. Hickey is returning to Ladies’ Home Journal, filling a new editorial spot that includes curating book features at the magazine.

Besides writing for a number of magazines, including People, More, Life, The Washington Post, USA Today, BusinessWeek, and Working Mother, Hickey is a published author. In 1992 she co-authored the Penguin title, The Working Mother’s Guilt Guide.

Here’s more from the release: “she will be overseeing the magazine’s books coverage, along with relationships, news stories and general features. Hickey was most recently Deputy Editor at Parents magazine, where she worked for nine years…Hickey has more than 20 years of experience in magazine, newspaper and academic journalism, and worked for Ladies’ Home Journal from 1994-1996.”

French Publisher Sues Google Books for $22 Million

googlebks23.jpgFrench publisher La Martiniere has joined the French Publishers’ Association and a French authors’ group in a 15 million euros ($22.09 million) lawsuit against Google for scanning books into the Google Books database.

According to Reuters, the suit alleges that Google Books’ French arm has digitized thousands of texts and violated the publisher’s copyright. The company also hopes the court will fine Google 100,000 euros for every day that the scanned texts are still available. A French tribunal should rule on the case by mid-December.

The publisher’s lawyer Yann Colin had this statement: “It’s an anarchic way of brutally stockpiling French heritage … Digitizing is reproduction … Once it is digitized, you can’t undo it.” (Via Bookseller)

Barnes & Noble: We Don’t Extort Referral Links


After last Friday’s item about allegations that Barnes & Noble was telling publishers to make sure authors’ websites link to (when they link to any online retailers) or risk not getting their books ordered for the chain, we received some more comments reinforcing the story—as well as some responses indicating that there was nothing wrong with the policy if it turned out to be real: “Why do authors think B&N should support them if they won’t support it, anyway?” asked Andrew Wheeler.

According to B&N, however, that’s not what’s going on. In addition to a brief response to the original GalleyCat tweet, the company’s vice president for trade merchandising, Joe Gonnella, went to the original Smart Bitches, Trashy Books post and forcefully denied the allegations:

“Barnes & Noble does not have a policy to boycott books because authors don’t link to us.

Everything is bought in anticipation of in store or online customer orders.

We do encourage authors and publishers to link to our website as part of a comprehensive marketing approach to drive sales in all channels.”

William Safire Has Died

438-1.jpgProlific author, columnist, and speechwriter William Safire passed away yesterday after a battle with cancer.

His career began as a speechwriter for Richard Nixon, and he earned a Pulitzer Prize for his political commentary. During his long career, Safire (pictured via Fred R. Conrad) wrote both fiction and nonfiction, including the novel “Full Disclosure” and the Nixon-era memoir, “Before the Fall.” In addition to these books, he wrote political columns and the popular “On Language” column for the NY Times–a handy guide for writers over the years.

Here’s a passage from his September 11th “On Language” column, a look at writerly abuse of the phrase, ‘bend the curve‘: “the meaning of the phrase bending the curve is switching from ‘bend that awful, upward-curving line down before we can’t afford an aspirin’ to ‘bend that line up down quick, before we all head for the bread line!’ This leads to metaphoric confusion. It’s what happens when you fall in love with full-color graphs to explain to the screen-entranced set what’s happening and scorn plain words.”

The Book Deal That Began Halfway Around the World

jerusalem-book-fair.jpgTwo weeks ago, Henry Holt announced that it had acquired the North American rights to The Good Psychologist, a debut novel by Ohio-based psychology professor Noam Shpancer (1), described as a literary version of the HBO series In Treatment, focused on “a psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders[,] treats a dancer for stage fright, teaches a night course in psychotherapy at a local college, and revisits an unresolved situation from his own past.”

The backstory behind the deal, though, is a classic example of the role book festivals can play in the literary community. You see, although Shpancer lives in Columbus, the Israeli native wrote his novel in Hebrew and sold it to Rana Werbin (2), an editor Yedioth Aharonot, where it was first published this spring. Werbin was an Editorial Fellow at this year’s Jerusalem Book Fair, where she ran into ICM‘s Jennifer Joel (3), who was at the fair as an Agent Fellow. Joel was intrigued enough by the novel to see if she could interest an American publisher—and eventually placed it with Holt’s Helen Atsma (4), who (as it turns out) had also just been to Jerusalem as a guest of the book fair, where she had met Werbin.

(photos courtesy of Holt except [3] from

Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo


My Featured Book of Color, Pick of the Day book is Tell Me Something True (Grand Central Publishing) by Leila Cobo. The tale is divided between two voices: classical pianist Gabriella, the daughter, deals with the past, in the form of her mother, Helena’s personal diary. After discovering that Helena had never loved gardening, living in the Hollywood Hills, had never wanted to marry her successful movie producer husband, and perhaps had never wanted Gabriella, she is forced to come to terms with the reality that maybe, just maybe, her childhood wasn’t the perfect fairytale she had always thought. Meanwhile, Gabriella unexpectedly finds herself drawn to Angel, a music producer and son of the head of Colombia’s main drug cartel. Suddenly, she is thrown into an illicit love affair where she risks losing her own husband and child. Reflecting on her present and future, she begins to question if perhaps she had misjudged the choices her mother had made.

Leila Cobo is a Colombian native from Cali and a renowned journalist and former concert pianist, herself. Cobo is Executive Director of Latin Content & Programming for Billboard and is also a contributor to NPR. She currently resides in Key Biscanye, Fl. With her husband and children.

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