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NYT Discovers Water For Elephants After Everybody Else

Like Publishers Marketplace, I have to wonder: what took so long for Motoko Rich‘s profile of Sara Gruen to run when WATER FOR ELEPHANTS stormed the bestseller lists last summer? I’m guessing it’s the news that Andrew R. Tennenbaum, a co-producer of the Bourne spy movies, optioned the rights to the novel in a deal worth more than $1 million to Gruen if the movie is made. Or that by hitting #1 on the NYT paperback bestseller list, the book has a new life in paperback.

But really, the focus of the piece is on Gruen’s next book, THE APE HOUSE – and especially the eye-popping $5 million-plus advance from Spiegel & Grau for the book and its followup. Cindy Spiegel said she was sure that Gruen could write another hit. “I feel very confident that she can continue writing books that have that same appeal because she has a connection with animals that is rare.” Emma Sweeney, Gruen’s agent, said that given how well WATER FOR ELEPHANTS is selling, “I really felt that the books deserved these numbers.”

More interesting is the reaction from Algonquin, where they are happy for Gruen’s success but perhaps a bit miffed she left. “All publishers think that they can make a best seller happen, but we don’t hear about the ones that don’t work,” said Elisabeth Scharlatt, Gruen’s publisher at Algonquin. “WATER FOR ELEPHANTS could end up being Sara Gruen’s best book.”

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