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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Thompson’

Eggers Youngest to Win Heinz Foundation Award

Dave Eggers has become the youngest person ever to win one of the annual $250,000 awards from the Heinz Family Foundation, reports the Washington Post’s Bob Thompson. Eggers won for his work with 826Valencia, the nonprofit writing and tutoring center he founded in 2000 for literary issues pertaining to children ages six to eighteen. There are now seven centers around the US, and Eggers said the money would be split evenly among them.

“I think of it as a validation of the work that 826 does,” a grateful Eggers said in an interview. “Dave Eggers is not only an accomplished and versatile man of letters but the protagonist of a real-life story of generosity and inspiration,” said Heinz Family Foundation Chairman Teresa Heinz in a statement announcing the award. Interestingly, the news seems to have been sent around to most major media outlets (not to me, though) in advance with an embargo in effect – a stipulation that got the Literary Saloon’s M.A. Orthofer annoyed. “An embargo requires a contract, a mutual agreement, a quid pro quo — there has to be, to use the technical term, consideration, as the lawyers would have it. In the case of the e-mail we received, there was none. Just a hell of a lot of presumption.”

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HP-10: Profiling Harry’s US Editor

The Washington Post’s Bob Thompson tracks down Arthur Levine, who is always more than happy to talk about when he scooped up the rights to HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE (later retitled SORCERER’S STONE) for low six figures after an auction. But the Scholastic editor, who has his own imprint at the company, tries not to let the Potter-as-cultural phenomenon affect his own life. As an editor, he defines his job as finding writers whose work he loves, helping them write the best books they can and publishing them well. “At some point I needed to pay a little bit less attention to the phenomenon,” he says. “I’m not responsible for the phenomenon. I’m responsible for the books.”

But back to that early auction. Levine was at the Bologna Book Fair and a Bloomsbury rep gave him an early galley of Rowling’s first book – not that they had to, because they didn’t own the rights, but the match was made. Levine read them on the plane home. When the book came up for auction, he kept bidding until, at $105,000, his last competitor dropped out. “I would have been willing to go further than that if I had to,” he says. “I remember loving the humor, thinking she is so funny,” Levine continues, “and thinking that here’s a rare range of talents in a writer: somebody who can engage me emotionally and yet who can make me laugh. And whose plot is really driving me forward.”

So what’s it like to be Arthur Levine at this climactic Harry moment, with the last book in the series so close to publication and his job finally done, wonders Thompson? “I feel very, very proud of J.K. Rowling and what she’s accomplished,” Levine says. “I feel really proud to be associated with a group of such strong books that have brought so many people pleasure.” He hopes and expects to edit Rowling again.

BEA: Reactions in Print

  • The Washington Post’s Bob Thompson covers the convention for the paper, also got an advance look at Jenna Bush‘s manuscript.
  • Otto Penzler writes what’s assumed to be a somewhat tongue-in-cheek take of how BEA’s gigantism can make one despair.
  • Also in the Sun, Kate Taylor weighs the pros and cons of the Espresso Book Machine.
  • Read more

    One of the Easiest Answers Ever Published

    • “Why, why, why would a company publish a book this good and then practically demand that people not read it?” he asks. “Why not put the heroine on the jacket… [and] “sell this baby a little?” – Stephen King on FIELDWORK by Mischa Berlinski, Entertainment Weekly
    • “[H]ow do you sell someone as strange, original and indisputably non-American as Roberto Bolano in a U.S. market surrounded, as [Susan] Sontag once wrote, by a “wall of indifference to foreign literature” — a market in which…less than .5 percent of the books published are fiction in translation?” – Bob Thompson on THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES by Roberto Bolano, The Washington Post

    The answer: You’re FSG! Your name does all the work! Media comes to you, not the other way around! You don’t have to worry about selling oodles and oodles of copies because your name is your brand (something that HarperCollins and Random House would probably kill for, by the way.) You sit in your ivory towers and ruminate on why the general population can’t possibly understand the virtues of poetry and highbrow intelligentsia and make very, very sure to state over and over that, no we couldn’t possibly publish chick lit in any way, shape or form. Can’t anyone understand? Won’t those mainstream media nincompoops get with the program?! You’re FSG! You rule the literary Britannia!

    Booksellers Roll With the Caravan

    The Washington Post’s Bob Thompson has a lengthy feature on the Caravan Project, a print-on-demand tool created by Peter Osnos and supplied to select bookstores by Ingram which enables customers to order digital version of select titles, including academic treatises, audiobooks, large-print formats and regular hardcovers. “The trick for you,” Kent Freeman, who works with the Caravan Project, told booksellers, “is to answer a simple question: “How does the physical bookstore provide digital content to the consumer?”

    At the moment, Caravan’s reach is tiny: only 23 books are on offer. But most who have seen it in action have high hopes. “[Osnos] trying to do nothing short of change the way the entire industry publishes their books,” says Mark LaFramboise, the head book buyer at Politics and Prose. If it works, “it would be huge.” “This could be a pilot for what all publishers end up doing eventually,” agrees Tom Dwyer, director of merchandising at Borders. Right now, Dwyer adds, bigger publishers are mainly focused on “digitizing all their content.” But when it comes to distribution, he says, he’s sure they’re “planning something in this direction.”

    Other publishing types aren’t as sure of Caravan’s importance in publishing. “Peter is a trusted figure in the community,” says another big-company executive, declining to be quoted by name. But “my two cents is that this is not likely to be at all significant.” And Osnos himself hopes the Caravan Project will be irrelevant in a few years’ time. Why? Because at that point, “we’re going to say: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, now you know how to do it.’ Publishers should know how to do the books in all the formats. Booksellers should know how to sell them. And we go away.”

    Roth Wins PEN/Faulkner Again

    The Washington Post’s Bob Thompson reports that The PEN/Faulkner Foundation will announce today that Philip Roth has won its 2007 award for fiction for his novel EVERYMAN — making Roth the first writer to receive the award three times. He won in 1994 for OPERATION SHYLOCK and in 2001 for THE HUMAN STAIN. “I’m delighted,” he said in a telephone interview with Thompson. The PEN/Faulkner is a gratifying award, he said, because over the years “there just seems to be a consistency to the quality of the winners.” Other finalists for the award included Amy Hempel, Edward P. Jones, Charles D’Ambrosio and Deborah Eisenberg – all for short story collections.