When I passed by Vanguard Press‘s booth at BEA and chatted briefly with its publisher, Roger Cooper, he mentioned that one of its fall titles would be a book by John Grogan. Interesting, I thought, that the author of MARLEY AND ME would take his next project to Perseus’s high-royalty, low-advance imprint, but then a close look at the fine print revealed that the book is culled from Grogan’s Philadelphia Inquirer columns and licensed directly from the newspaper (which owns the copyright) and not Grogan.
That has him upset, as a statement released to bookstore accounts by his agent, Laurie Abkemeier, attests. “John has not been an employee at the Philadelphia Inquirer for several months. It was after his departure that the Inquirer and Vanguard struck a deal without Grogan’s knowledge and, in fact, the Inquirer purposely waited until after a contract was signed before informing John of their intentions. Further, Vanguard Press negotiated and signed the deal knowing that Grogan had not yet been made aware of the publication.” Former Chicago Sun-Times books editor Henry Kisor not only calls the Inquirer’s action “exceedingly cheesy” but points out that “old miscellaneous journalism doesn’t sell, unless it’s by an immortal like Mike Royko or Jimmy Breslin, and even then sales tend to be modest.”
In other words, this is not “a new book by John Grogan,” and he won’t be promoting or endorsing the new collection at all. Instead, Grogan will devote his attention to the children’s books about Marley that HarperCollins has already published or will be publishing in the future.