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Posts Tagged ‘Hillel Italie’

Friends Will Tour for Halberstam’s Final Opus

And speaking of Hillel Italie, he also reports on what friends of the late journalist and historian David Halberstam are planning for THE COLDEST WINTER, Halberstam’s final published work that will be released by Hyperion this October. Joan Didion, Seymour Hersh, Doris Kearns Goodwin and others will read coast to coast to spread the word about Halberstam’s account of the Korean War.

“He thought that it was the best work he had done since The Best and the Brightest,” says Halberstam’s widow, Jean Halberstam, referring to her husband’s book on Vietnam. “He had been thinking about doing this book since he was in Vietnam. It was always in the back of his mind.” Highlights of the promotional tour will include Didion reading in New York City; former basketball great Bill Walton in La Jolla, Calif.; Hersh in Washington, D.C.; Anna Quindlen in Milwaukee, and Goodwin and fellow author Samantha Power in Cambridge, Mass.

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Grace Paley Dies at the Age of 84

Unconfirmed reports that noted poet, short story writer and “combative pacifist” Grace Paley had been circulating for the last day, but now AP’s Hillel Italie comes through with the official obit for Paley, a longtime New Yorker who died Wednesday at her home in Thetford Hill, Vt., according to her husband, playwright Robert Nichols.

A published writer since the 1950s, Paley released only a handful of books over the next half century, mostly short stories and poems. Writing was a passion, but not a compulsion: She never felt the need to put every experience into words. Her fiction, although highly praised, competed for time with work, activism, family and friends. “None of it happened, and yet every word of it is true,” she once said of her fiction. “It’s truth embedded in the lie.” Paley was named state poet laureate for Vermont in early 2003. “Artists are known for challenging convention,” said Gov. Jim Douglas at the time. “Great artists like Grace Paley do that and more.” Elaine Woo at the LA Times also has a lengthy obit highlighting Paley’s writing and activism.

Yes, Virginia, Harry Potter Changed the Publishing Industry

As sales of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS climb enough to sell out its first printing – prompting Scholastic to up the number of copies in print to 14 million – AP’s Hillel Italie asks a slew of publishing movers and shakers how Harry Potter has changed the industry. First, no book could have possibly sold this quickly. “With Potter, you have almost a perfect storm of events,” said Steve Ross, president and publisher of Collins, a division of HarperCollins. “You have changes in technology and capacity, the synergy that worked so effectively between the books and the movies, and, most importantly…they were books of startling quality.”

Doubleday Broadway president and publisher Steve Rubin credits Potter for changing the way the imprint will market the next book by Dan Brown. “I surely would hesitate before trying to do something like 12 million copies…but thanks largely to Potter, we can think about numbers we wouldn’t have imagined before.” Other ways Harry Potter changed and was changed: fewer distribution hubs causing more efficient delivery patterns; better technology enabling email use for manuscript delivery, supply and demand updates and communication; and a blockbuster mentality helped by the movies. “It wasn’t conceivable for a hardcover book to have that kind of sales, even for a book as sought after as Jaws,” said Random House spokesperson Stuart Appelbaum. “At that time, the mass market paperback was the format for multimillion sellers. But mass merchandisers weren’t selling as many books, and at the same velocity, as they do today.”

Carter to Pen Bio On Mother

AP’s Hillel Italie reports that former President Jimmy Carter, who already has a book coming out this fall about his post-White House years, is working on a memoir about his mother, Lillian, to be published next spring by Simon & Schuster. “Jimmy Carter has inspired millions. Its a great opportunity to meet the woman who inspired him,” David Rosenthal, executive vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster, said Thursday in a statement. “Jimmy Carter’s mother emerges from this portrait as redoubtable, generous, and forward-looking. He ascribes to her the inspiration for his own lifes work of commitment and faith.”

HP-19: The Cultural Phenomenon

Predictions of Harry’s Fate. Record pre-orders. Upcoming bookstore bonanza release parties. And to think, just 10 years ago, HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE was released in the UK with a tiny print run (based off a tinier advance) little fanfare and a warning to J.K. Rowling not to expect to get rich from writing children’s books. And as AP’s Hillel Italie carefully points out, the exact opposite happened because Harry Potter jumped from being merely a publishing phenomenon – catering to hundreds of thousands of readers – to a cultural phenomenon, reaching millions of fans. Like “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” it is the story of how a work of popular art becomes a world of its own – imitated, merchandised and analyzed, immortalized not by the marketers, but by the fans. And like those two works, Harry Potter is a true phenomenon because it wasn’t manufactured, but organic and grassroots that has changed the state of teen fiction, fandom and other related activity.

“I think the reason that authors write books about J.K. Rowling’s works and readers buy them is because being a fan of Harry Potter is about much more than just reading and enjoying Rowling’s book series,” said Jennifer Heddle, an editor at Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. The company, not only responsible for more than 100 “Star Trek” related titles, but will publish a Potter history by Leaky Cauldron proprietor Melissa Anelli. “I think it is similar to ‘Star Trek’ in that it takes place in a richly imagined world that invites fans to immerse themselves in every aspect. I think it’s even closer to ‘Star Wars’ because it’s also a very mythic story that appeals to a broad audience that crosses all age and gender lines.”

Simon & Schuster Rolls Out their Book Video Channel

Today, Simon & Schuster launches Bookvideos.tv, a dedicated website featuring interviews and features of over 40 authors. One of them, Marianne Wiggins, told AP’s Hillel Italie why even a Luddite like her needed little persuasion to get on board the video bandwagon. “I’m a professor … I’m plugged into what individuals in their early 20s are thinking about, people who live on the Internet. I’m not writing in a vacuum.”

Now that book videos, once a novelty, are just about commonplace in the marketplace, it remains to be seen what impact a new one will have. “I don’t know if we’re reaching people we wouldn’t otherwise be reaching, but we are reaching people who are not necessarily reading book review sections, or always watching a TV show,” says Sue Fleming, Simon & Schuster’s vice president and executive director for online and consumer marketing. But for someone like Wiggins, it’s all part of the publishing game. “I don’t know any writers these days who would say that it is beneath their dignity to make a video. Sales have been flat for publishers and I want to find readers. If my publisher suggests something like this to me, I’m certainly going to go hand-in-hand with that endeavor.”

Ebook Experiment for Scholastic and Disney

AP’s Hillel Italie reports that Scholastic and Disney, two leading children’s publishers, are entering the ebook world. Scholastic has just launched BookFlix, an educational Web site pairing short films based on popular picture books along with nonfiction e-books that allow early readers to follow the text online. “We’re so lucky to live in an era when kids can have books in multiple formats. Each format offers something that the other doesn’t,” said Francie Alexander, Scholastic’s chief academic officer. “The e-book offers a wonderful ability for helping children learn to read — what academics call building `mental models.’”

Meanwhile, Disney plans a similar project later this year, making favorites such as “The Jungle Book” and “Cinderella” available online. While Scholastic, for now, is sticking to the school and library market, Disney will offer books to general consumers, charging a fee, still to be determined, for downloads. “We saw a void in the marketplace and decided to act upon it,” said Jon Yaged, U.S. publisher of the Disney Book Group.

Cormac McCarthy Opens Up to Oprah

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Yesterday Cormac McCarthy made his debut television appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show and AP’s Hillel Italie has the details. The 73-year-old McCarthy has spoken with the press just twice before – both times for print publications – in the past 40 years, but he opened up for Winfrey. The author said he has nothing against the media; he just doesn’t like talking about what he does – a trait Winfrey illustrated with a story about how McCarthy, when he had no money years ago, refused a speaking engagement that would have paid him $2,000. “You work your side of the street, I’ll work mine,” he said in the interview, taped at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico.

Ed Park liveblogged McCarthy’s appearance, taking down many memorable quotes such as this exchange:

O: Are you just not interested in material [things]?

C: They take a distant second place to living your life and doing what you want to do… I always knew I didn’t want to work….It was my number one priority.
O: So you have worked at…not working.
C: Absolutely.

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

    Turow to Pen Sequel to Presumed Innocent

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    The AP’s Hillel Italie reports that Scott Turow‘s next project is a sequel to his bestselling debut thriller PRESUMED INNOCENT. Turow, speaking to AP on Saturday at BookExpo America, said he has written about one-quarter of a novel featuring the famed chief deputy prosecutor who investigated, and was eventually accused of, the murder of his colleague and former mistress, Carolyn Polhemus. “I got the idea a couple of years ago when I was working on a serialized book for The New York Times,” explained Turow. “I had this image of a man sitting on a bed, near the body of a dead woman. And then I realized, ‘Wait a minute, that guy on the bed is Rusty Sabich!’ And that’s how I began the new book.” The new novel, currently untitled, would probably not come out before the summer of 2009.

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