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Posts Tagged ‘Grove/Atlantic’

Indie Booksellers Choice Awards Winners Unveiled

The winners of the first annual Indie Booksellers Choice Awards have been announced.

The following five books were selected by independent booksellers: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade Books), The Instructions by Adam Levin (McSweeney’s), The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel (Unbridled), Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (Grove/Atlantic), and Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr (Akashic).

The five winning titles will be displayed in participating independent bookstores throughout the country. Comedian David Rees hosted the awards ceremony at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City.

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The Perils of the Misblurb

Though we at GalleyCat have taken issue from time to time – okay, often – with Henry Alford‘s contributions at the New York Times Book Review, I must say up front that I quite enjoyed his recent piece on how publishers take a perfectly neutral or negative review and mine it for any and all positive words in order to fashion a blurb out of it. Take what happened to Time Magazine book critic Lev Grossman, who was “quite taken aback” when he saw a full-page newspaper advertisement for Charles Frazier‘s novel THIRTEEN MOONS that included a one-word quotation – “Genius” – attributed to Time. Grossman was confused, Alford reports, because his review “certainly didn’t have that word.” Eventually, he found it in a preview item he had written a few months earlier, which included the sentence “Frazier works on an epic scale, but his genius is in the details.” As Grossman put it, “They plucked out the G-word.”

Alford continues with many more examples (including one from his own reviewing past, when Little, Brown transformed his “tour-de-farce” about David Sedaris‘s NAKED into “tour-de-force) and explanations from the publishing world. “We get tempted and we get desperate,” Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove/Atlantic, said. “We publish over 100 books a year. I know we make mistakes. But we try to obey the rules.” To him, that means not changing the wording or the meaning of reviews. Paul Slovak, the publisher of Viking, says part of what keeps the house honest is the desire to maintain “good relationships” with book reviewers. “Michiko Kakutani wouldn’t be happy if we pulled two words of praise out of a negative review,” he said, referring to the chief book critic of The New York Times.

And as for what happened to Grossman, I am sooooo not buying Random House associate publisher Tom Perry‘s denial of any misblurbing. “We were being very short and punchy,” he said. “We have limited space.” Sure, see that pig overhead? Its flight patterns don’t like misappropriated blurbs, either…

This Week in AMS: More Time Requested, Victory for Nonconsentings

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported at the end of last week that Advanced Marketing Services is asking the Delaware bankruptcy court to have until August 10 to file for Chapter 11, an extension from the current April 28 deadline. Bankruptcy law gives companies a limited amount of time to propose a Chapter 11 plan to pay creditors without competition from rival plans. As has been widely reported, AMS sold Publishers Group West to Perseus and its wholesaling operations to Baker & Taylor .

Meanwhile, as more former PGW clients sign on with different distributors (including National Book Network, which was in the running to buy PGW outright) one non-consenting publisher was victorious in court at the end of March. Goofy Foot Press, a single-title publisher run by Paul Joannides, was awarded all of the post-petition sales that it requested–a payment that other PGW publishers received. PW Daily further reported that Judge Christopher Sontchi issued a stern rebuke to AMS’s attorneys, calling their treatment of Goofy Foot and other small presses, from whom he had received numerous letters, “outrageous” and threatened to withdraw the executive compensation order for bonuses. According to the hearing transcript released this week, the judge said their actions were “inconsistent with the representations that were made to the Court for the basis to approve the PGW sale to begin with,” and added that if the sale hadn’t already gone through, he would have stopped it. Harsh words, if a bit on the 20-20 hindsight front.

As for Goofy Foot, PW Daily adds that the press is close to signing on with NBN, which illustrates a point made here in the midst of the AMS fray: even losing the bid for PGW made NBN a winner because they could cherry pick among the non-consenting publishers and take on a smaller, more cost-effective load and thus remain able to break even or at least turn a profit. Perseus, of course, got to acquire the publishers it truly wanted (like Avalon and Grove/Atlantic) and integrate dozens more for its own devices. There’s much dust to settle, especially with a court hearing still slated for April 20 for releasing books still held by PGW.

Haskell Smith on Publishing’s “Broken Telephone”

mark-haskell-smith.jpgWhen we ran an item on product placement in fiction focusing on Mark Haskell Smith‘s Lexus-sponsored short story last week, the reaction was instantaneous – and often erroneous, as Haskell Smith found out. Watching the news spread “has been like watching a game of telephone in action,” the author told us by email. “Amusing, to be sure. But kinda alarming too.” That’s because various blogs have since reported that Lexus paid him an “undisclosed amount” (aka a lot of money) and gave me a free car. “They let me drive one of their cars for a day or two, it’s true. But my trusty Subaru Forester has not been displaced from my driveway by some sleek lux-mobile.”

Haskell Smith freely embraces his so-called “whoring credentials” (he lives in LA, after all) “the fact is that my actual novels do not feature product placement and the only corporate entity that asks me to make changes is my editor at Grove/Atlantic.”

Today in AMS: More on Perseus’s ‘White Knight’ Status

If our coverage of the AMS bankruptcy of late borders on the skeptical, it may be because we can’t help but be reminded of one scenario in particular: if Perseus does indeed end up the sole distributor of all 150-odd clients of the entity now called Publishers Group West, then Perseus would become the distributor for nearly 300 publishers. “Independent distribution is a tremendously competitive field, with many well-funded conglomerates,” David Steinberger, the company’s CEO, told the Associated Press yesterday. “Our mission is to be the preferred platform.”

Preferred is one thing, but at what price? And is being the only distribution game in town for hundreds of independent publishers a good way to do business, or will the anti-trust dogs have to be called in? Then again, let’s also remember that any deal, no matter how enticing it may seem on the surface, still has to be approved by the Delaware bankruptcy court overseeing the AMS case. And if Christopher Sontchi decides not to give his okay, then it’s back to square one for a great many publishers. Point being, no matter what happens, the news will never be entirely good – it’s really a choice between the lesser of several unsatisfactory options.

But until the deal is approved – or not – we’re left with a lot of tentative possibilities. Avalon is definitely going to Perseus, and Grove/Atlantic is pretty well on its way, too. PW Daily reported yesterday that if the court approves the proposal, PGW will continue to provide distribution services for publishers before ultimately transferring their books and operations to Perseus’s distribution facility in Jackson, Tenn. It is unclear what the long-term role for PGW staff will be in the Perseus operation. And sources also told both PW Daily and Shelf Awareness that Levy Home Entertainment, whose main business is supplying mass market outlets with books, is still working on a bid to acquire AMS’s warehouse club business. That’s because they have opened an office in San Diego and hired on several former AMS staffers, though neither AMS nor Levy confirmed the reports directly to either publication.

Today in AMS: Major Shareholder Resigns from Board, PMA Plans PGW Help

What’s a stockholder to do when he’s lost a boatload of money, tried to turn a company around from the inside and received little support? Robert Robotti‘s answer, announced this morning, was to resign from Advanced Marketing Services’ board of directors. Robotti, appointed a director last November, stated that he disagreed with the Board’s decision to proceed with the annual meeting of stockholders on January 24, 2007, as previously scheduled, even though AMS is facing more court battles in the wake of its Chapter 11 filing and its litany of problems going back several years.

Meanwhile, PW has more on Avalon‘s sale to Perseus, confirming that the deal was a long time in coming. “Moving distributors is at least a three-year commitment and I’m not sure I wanted to stay through 2010,” said Avalon president Charlie Winton. As discussions with Perseus progressed, Winton became convinced that the company, with its decentralized structure and satellite offices, would be a good fit for Avalon. Radio Free PGW’s perspective is that the selloff won’t make that much of a financial difference to the fortunes of Publishers Group West, but “the death knell for PGW would be if Grove/Atlantic, Berrett-Koehler and perhaps New World cut and run.”

And what of those other PGW clients whose distribution fate hasn’t been decided? PW Daily reports that PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, has put together a plan it hopes will help out with some of the “extremely challenging issues” for PGW clients. According to PMA director Terry Nathan, the association plans to act in three areas: establish a network of printers that will do short runs of books, to get inventory back in the control of the affected publishers; contact financial institutions to provide short-term business interruption loans; and look for other distributors to step in and help with interim distribution and/or cash flow.