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Posts Tagged ‘Ishmael Beah’

Mary Pope Osborne, Armistead Maupin & Ishmael Beah Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

daysWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending January 19, 2014–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #2 in Children’s Fiction Series) Magic Tree House: High Time for Heroes by Mary Pope Osborne with illustrations by Sal Murdocca: “High Time for Heroes features Jack and Annie back in Egypt, still seeking the secrets of greatness for Merlin. This time they will meet the great nurse, Florence Nightingale, on her trip to Egypt that served as the inspiration for the choices that made her both famous and beloved.” (January 2014)

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Sharing Books with our Troops

troopebook.pngTo honor our veterans today, we’ve collected links to share books with our troops.

The nonprofit E-Books for Troops will help you share your used Kindle with our troops overseas.

Through Operation Warrior Library, writers share hundreds of books with military personnel overseas.

A Story Before Bed offered 100,000 free story recordings for our troops–military parents can produce videos of themselves reading a story to their children.

Finally, the Kindle community has setup a discussion thread entitled “Happy Veteran’s Day!!”

Starbucks to Sell Books in UK

The news that Starbucks plans to sell books in its 450 UK stores should be no surprise, considering the success the coffee retailer has had in the US with its two book selections to date, Mitch Albom‘s FOR ONE MORE DAY and Ishmael Beah‘s A LONG WAY GONE. The Bookseller reports that the UK stores will start selling Beah’s book – published by Fourth Estate – beginning on May 21. The chain is believed to be in discussions with Nielsen BookScan to see if the sales can be picked up for inclusion in UK bestseller charts.

“We’re thrilled that Starbucks have chosen to sell Ishmael’s book this spring,” said John Bond, m.d. of HarperCollins‘ literary division, Press Books. “We’re really excited about working closely with them to help spread the word; this will mean getting more copies of this important book into the hands of more people.” And it means that UK publishers can start pitching Starbucks in droves for its next book selection…

We’re Going To Need a New Name for This

USA Today’s Bob Minzesheimer looks at roman a clef novels that the authors swear are anything but. Meghan Daum wonders if memoirists should even bother documenting their self-absorbed lives when they can walk into Starbucks and see Ishmael Beah‘s book for instant, sobering perspective. And SF Chronicle Book Editor Oscar Villalon wishes publishers would stop blurring the lines between fact and fiction because, he says, “all this legerdemain over categorizing books implies that there’s something second-rate about writing and reading fiction.”

Or, recognizing that this may be a distinct market, we could just come up with a brand new name for a brand new category of books that straddle the line, that present facts in a blurry way, with clear narratives but enough deviation to satisfy novel and non-fiction junkies alike. Blurry Books seems a bit over-the-top, and Crossover has other connotations altogether. I like Not Quite True (or NQT for the acronym happy) but suggestions are always welcome

Katherine Taylor Falls Into Chick Lit Bait Trap

In reading debut novelist Katherine Taylor ‘s interview with the New York Observer’s Spencer Morgan, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the first time James Frey made headlines, long before any charges of fake writing and fabrication were levied his way. No, I’m talking about the interview where he railed against Dave Eggers‘s A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS in particularly profane terms, and then it turned out that Frey, like so many men of his generation, is a casual f-bomb dropper without any real malice attached to it. So where do you think that first interview, the one that got Frey in so much trouble, ran? The New York Observer, of course!

So what is up with the salmon tabloid charming opinionated (at best) or incendiary (at worst) from young, impressionable writers? In Taylor ‘s case, perhaps it’s the constant dangling of the chick lit carrot what with her novel – published by FSG this May (and an early theorized candidate for the Starbucks slot occupied by Ishmael Beah) – set amidst glamorous New York surroundings and adorned with the chicklit-standard cocktail glass, cigarettes and pink lettering. “But I love it,” she said. “It works, and I love that [the cover] looks like an old film still and that it’s an old-fashioned cocktail glass and that the woman is wearing dark nail polish, not something bright.” Besides, one has to cut Taylor slack if only for her closing comment: “Indecision [by Benjamin Kunkel] was ridiculously simple, I thought. And had it been a girl who’d written it, it would have had the pinkest cover in the world. It would have been the pinkest of all-time pink covers.” Can’t argue with that…

When Being Dooced Is Only One Side of the Story

Sometimes, even us freewheeling bloggers like to exercise a little restraint. Because reporting on publishing people getting fired for what’s clearly a case of going overboard on a small matter is, frankly, not the best use of our time and resources. But since Gawker‘s now gone ahead and presented their (extremely flawed) version of Jason Pinter‘s abrupt exit from Crown, it seems like a good idea to present a more well-rounded, if still somewhat unattributed account of what precipitated this event.

First, the obligatory disclosure: I count Pinter as a friend, someone who bought another friend’s book and has also written a seriously kickass debut thriller that is (deservedly) receiving a good deal of pre-publication buzz. So much for objectivity, but don’t take my word for it, see what agent Kristin Nelson said (albeit without mentioning Pinter specifically by name) late last week: “it’s so sad when I get the news of a departure. Someone I liked. Enjoyed working with. Knew their tastes and what would work for them. Now I’ll have to scout out whoever fills their shoes. See who gets added to the dance card.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. When reached for comment, Crown publicity director Tina Constable would only say that Pinter is no longer with the company and had no further comments, but Gawker is correct that Pinter’s termination resulted from the now-deleted blog post comparing and contrasting Chris Bohjalian‘s B&N-related success to Ishmael Beah‘s Starbucks-induced sales. Sources indicate that Crown publisher and senior vice president Steve Ross ordered Pinter to take the post down on February 23, which he did. A week later, without any warning or any indication that there would be further action taken, Pinter was informed he had violated Random House’s blog policy and had one day – last Friday, March 2 – to collect his things, inform his authors that he would no longer be working with Crown and absorb what had just happened.

Sources indicate that Pinter’s termination was not an easy decision, as a visibly upset Ross, as well as publisher Jenny Frost, were forced to do so at the behest of more senior Random House brass. Such sentiments are understandable considering the post in question never even made mention of Bookscan numbers – that was added in later, by me, after checking with additional sources. And from what I understand, access to Bookscan is hardly proprietary information – it’s not like actual Random House sales figures were being bandied about or, in the last publicized case of an employee fired for blogging, actual criticism of Random House employees was made public.

If anything, Pinter’s firing has less to do with him and more to do with his now-former company’s woes. Laying off the bulk of their sales force and then openly lying about it? Getting rid of an editor here, a small department there and scrambling to do something, anything to compensate for not just a bad year, but Bertelsmann‘s overall shortfall thanks to buying back the 25 percent stake that a minority shareholder wanted to take public? In short, this is a classic case of corporate publishing at its cowardly worst, taking a passive-aggressive action that may cover their ass in the short term, but adds yet more grist to the public relations disaster mill in the long term.

So yes, GalleyCat wishes Pinter well. He has a book to promote soon, another due out in February and a third to write under contract, with more in the future. There are job offers to consider and options to mull over. Indeed, rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated. And if anything, drinks are on us, not the other way around…

Yes, Starbucks Has Changed Ishmael Beah’s Life

Josh Getlin at the LA Times follows former child soldier Ishmael Beah around as he signs books in Manhattan, the author’s profile growing in leaps and bounds ever since Starbucks made his memoir A LONG WAY GONE its second book choice. “This all hit me out of the blue,” the modest, soft-spoken writer said to Getlin recently, riding a cab to his first appearance on the tour, in a New York cafe. “I didn’t even know Starbucks sold books. They chose mine, and it changed everything. I wasn’t really prepared.” So far, according to Starbucks, the book has sold 37,000 in its chain stores to date – which matches up with the Bookscan numbers published here last week.

There’s the usual surprise from publishing types like Ira Silverberg (Beah’s agent) and Sarah Crichton (his editor) and some further insight into how Crichton handled the memoir in the wake of the James Frey scandal. The publisher asked Beah to vouch for the accuracy of his book, with its sharp recall of details and conversations. Crichton was willing to take the leap after Beah assured her that he has a “photographic memory.” He reminded her that he had grown up in a culture with a long-standing oral tradition and had learned to tell stories from memory around a fire – and so editing continued. Beah’s book — and his message — are primed for huge national exposure. But will Americans really be able to grasp what he’s been through? “I’m like any other 26-year-old,” the author said with a laugh, minutes before his debut. “A 26-year-old with a Starbucks tour.”

Could Starbucks Trump B&N as Publishing Power Brokers?

So posits Crown editor & thriller writer Jason Pinter after comparing and contrasting the opening one-week sales of Chris Bohjalian‘s THE DOUBLE BIND – picked as Barnes & Noble‘s second store-wide pick – and Starbucks‘ sophomore choice, Ishmael Beah‘s A LONG WAY GONE. According to the March 4 edition of the New York Times bestseller list, Bohjalian’s THE DOUBLE BIND will debut at #3 on the hardcover fiction list, while Beah’s A LONG WAY GONE will come in at #2 on the hardcover non-fiction list, which is impressive enough.

Go a little deeper into the first-week Bookscan numbers (which account for anywhere from 50-70% of total sales) and things get really interesting. That’s because Bohjalian sold over 17,000 copies in his first week, while Beah’s book moved over 26,000 units – and of Beah’s total Bookscan-accounted sales, over 19,000 were from “other” stores. “I can only assume this means Starbucks,” said Pinter. “In fact, if this is correct, Beah sold more copies at Starbucks alone than Bohjalian sold in total.”

But before we anoint Starbucks as the true heir apparent to Oprah, Pinter cautions that “there’s a major difference between offering one book for sale and offering thousands.” (Ron would also point to Beah’s moving appearance on The Daily Show last week as another potential prime mover for sales, as Jon Stewart put the comedy on hold for five minutes and confessed the memoir “made my heart hurt.”) “At the same time,” Pinter concludes, “it’s very curious to see that Beah seems to be outpacing an author with a bestselling Oprah pedigree, primarily due to the efforts of one store. And that store being considerably more famous for their double venti half calf mocha lattechinos than their success pushing literature.”