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Posts Tagged ‘Julie Bosman’

Publisher Profits from Anna Nicole’s Death

Now, let me say that the headline isn’t meant as condemnation, more as confirmation. In fact, when I saw Julie Bosman‘s New York Times piece about Barricade Books rushing a revamped version of the 1996 bio GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL DOLL by Eric and D’Eva Redding back into print, I wondered what took so long for them to do it, since And as it happens, the paperback reprint was in the works before Anna Nicole Smith‘s death last week, with updates just completed and the re-release slated for this spring.

Last fall, Carole Stuart, the publisher of Barricade Books, had observed Smith’s recent troubles, notably, the death of her 20-year-old son and the paternity dispute over her newborn daughter. “I just thought, so much has happened in the 10 years since the first book came out that it would make a good trade paperback,” Stuart said. “Then of course last week she dies. And so we suddenly got really, really attractive to the distributors and to the book buyers.” So attractive that booksellers and retailers have ordered thousands of copies of the book, sending it into an additional printing of 15,000 copies, a significant number for a publisher like Barricade, which puts out a modest 20 titles a year. And first editions of the book are retailing at used bookshops at $200 or higher.

No wonder Stuart had to add the caveat that “we didn’t kill her or anything” though she admits there’s lots of dough to be made. A French publisher called, wanting to buy the rights for a French version, and a Japanese agent wants to represent it in Asia, she said. An agent in Los Angeles and two in New York are competing to bid on the film rights to the book. “I think we’re probably going to make a quick deal for a TV movie,” she said. “Watch for it on Lifetime.”

Still Waiting for George Tenet’s Memoir

That’s the real gist of today’s New York Times piece by Mark Mazetti and Julie Bosman once you get past all this talk of the former CIA chief “breaking his two-year silence” and “getting ready to return fire.” But George Tenet can’t do that unless he actually finishes the book: it was supposed to hit shelves last week, but Tenet was still writing as late as last month. (The pub date has been pushed back to the sprint.) The book has also undergone a slow vetting process at the White House and the CIA, which reviewed it to ensure it did not contain classified information.

But once it’s done and in shelves, he’ll put the blame for various CIA screwups on other people’s shoulders – maybe. “George is a born politician and he wants everyone to love him, but in order to sell books he’s going to have to throw somebody out of the lifeboat,” said a former colleague who wished to remain anonymous. And no matter what, this will just be one account of many. “Because of the nature of intelligence work, you can never totally set the record straight,” said former Senator Bob Kerrey, a member of the Sept. 11 commission who has known Tenet since the two worked together on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The record is always going to be a little bit murky.”

Elif Shafak’s Endangered Status

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The New York Times’ Julie Bosman gets a hold of Turkish writer Elif Shafak on her one and only American stop – a tour curtailed from six cities to one as a result of the murder of Hrant Dink, a prominent Turkish newspaper editor of Armenian ancestry and a close friend of Shafak. It also didn’t help that Shafak herself was on trial for “insulting Turkishness,” a charge that’s nabbed Orhan Pamuk (though both he and she were acquitted.) “A writer is always more than a writer in Turkey, much more so than in America,” Shafak said. “We don’t discuss the writing, but we discuss the writer herself. Eventually, every writer has to face the question- are you ready to be a public intellectual?”

She’s also wondering if she’s ready to write again after the recent birth of her first child. “After giving birth, I couldn’t write for a while,” she said. “The novel is such a selfish genre, and novelists are self-centered people. You live with those characters you create. When you are raising a kid, you can’t be selfish anymore.” Which might explain her thoughts on a potential new novel. “I think it will be, in a way, about a withdrawal into a cocoon. That’s how I feel right now.”

Can There Be Life After Harry Potter?

Though Julie Bosman and Motoko Rich don’t flat-out ask this question in their New York Times piece about the Harry Potter VII publication date announcement, this paragraph mid-way expresses the sentiment just as clearly:

It is hard to imagine how the publishing industry will ever replace the sensation that spawned midnight parties and all-night lines to get the books the moment they went on sale. When HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, the sixth in the series, was published in July 2005, it sold 6.9 million copies in the first 24 hours.

Especially as the answer is plainly obvious: they can’t. And to its credit, Scholastic isn’t pretending they can, though they do hope future projects will compensate for the revenue lost by their being nothing quite like the Potter phenomenon in the pipeline.

Then again, there might be; who would have expected the series to hit as it did when the first volume was released ten years ago? But even if one can be supremely confident that lightning will strike the bottle again – and that it won’t be aping what made J.K. Rowling‘s series so mega-successful – actively looking for that future success is, and always will be, a crapshoot. And unlike what J.P. Morgan analyst Frederick Searby thinks, even if Rowling were to “come out of retirement and pull a Michael Jordan” there’s little likelihood she’ll ever be able to replicate the success of the Potter books. Then again, she doesn’t really need to.

Today in AMS: S&S Bid Rejected, Economies of Scale

Buried at the end of Julie Bosman‘s New York Times piece about Perseus‘s offer to acquire the distribution contracts of Publishers Group West clients is that the federal bankruptcy court in Delaware rejected a bid by Simon & Schuster to reclaim books in Advanced Marketing Services‘ inventory that could be valued at $5 million. “We made an aggressive move to reclaim the books that were in their possession during the 45-day period before they filed Chapter 11,” said Simon & Schuster VP of marketing Adam Rothberg.

And the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a Jan. 31 hearing has been scheduled on AMS proposal to establish procedures to sell all or part of the company or to find an investor willing to put up new capital or refinance its debt.

Read more

Reganbooks Dismantling: “From Day 1, we knew we could not be continuing with that name”

The NYT’s Julie Bosman follows up last night’s breaking story with more details on the impending shutdown of ReganBooks a little more than a month after its creator, Judith Regan, was fired. Aside from the five staffers named yesterday who will move back to HarperCollins‘ New York headquarters, the publisher also laid off 10 employees in ReganBooks’ LA offices. The 10 employees were notified yesterday that they would be laid off, said Michael Morrison, the president and group publisher of HarperMorrow, a division of HarperCollins, in a telephone interview with Bosman. “From Day 1, we knew we could not be continuing with that name. We didn’t want to, nor could we.” Morrison added that none of the ReganBooks authors had yet been notified of the imprint’s closing – but they sure know now.

Regan also issued a statement about her namesake imprint’s closing, saying she was “blessed to have the opportunity to work with hundreds of fascinating authors over the years and honored to have published them under my name.” Such magnanimous words were a far cry from comments made about Newsweek’s OJ Simpson article on her namesake Sirius satellite radio show, as Radar‘s Jeff Bercovici reported. When Regan’s producer, Howie Green, slipped up and said the chapter recounted “how [Simpson] would have committed the crime,” Regan snapped at him. “No, it was how he committed the crime. Even today the mistakes the media made have been repeated by you, my producer, because it is so inundated, so insidious.”

Touchstone Tries the Contest Thing Again With Gather.com

So the Sobol Awards are toast, and the winner of that “contest” won’t be published by Simon & Schuster‘s Touchstone/Fireside imprint. But that hasn’t stopped the imprint from trying again on the contest front, this time with Gather.com (which recently inked a deal with Borders), described in Julie Bosman‘s NYT piece as a “social networking site for grownups.” The idea for the contest was hatched on a Gather.com literary cruise in October, when S&S marketing executives casually brainstormed with Gather.com employees on how the companies might combine their efforts. The publisher was looking for new ways to recruit literary talent, and Gather.com executives were trying to supplement their popular short-story contests with a contest for a full-length work of fiction.

And so the contest, called First Chapters, was born. Unpublished writers can enter free by submitting a manuscript for a full-length work of fiction. Each entry’s first chapter will be posted on Gather.com and voted on by members of the site. In the next round, the second chapters of the top 20 manuscripts will be posted, followed by a vote; a subsequent round will post the third chapters of the top 10, followed by a vote. In the fourth and final round, the entire manuscripts of five finalists will go before a “Grand Prize Judging Panel,” to include Carolyn Reidy, the president of the adult publishing group at Simon & Schuster, and George Jones, the chief executive of Borders. The winner will receive a book contract from Touchstone and $5,000 from Gather.com. “It is akin to an ‘American Idol’ for thinking people,” snarked Tom Gerace, the chief executive of Gather.com. We’re thinking it’s rather akin to the UK’s Lit Idol which garnered headlines a couple of years back.

Further AMS Bankruptcy Updates

The New York Times finally picks up the Advanced Marketing Services bankruptcy story (what took so long?) and provides an overview of why this is big news in the publishing industry. “This is a huge disruption in this business,” said a publishing executive to Julie Bosman, who declined to be further identified because he was not authorized to speak for his company. “The publishers are going to end up taking a big loss.”

But Shelf Awareness reports some good news on the PGW front. Yesterday the distributor indicated that key accounts, including Amazon, Ingram, Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor , Bookazine, Books-A-Million, Borders, Costco and “myriad indies,” have expressed their support and will “treat their ordering and return patterns as business as usual.” In addition, PGW president Rich Freese wrote to publishers saying that the AMS bankruptcy court had approved payments to publishers for books that shipped or will ship on or after December 29. Checks for gross sales for the first week after December 29 should go out next Monday. PGW will send checks on a weekly basis for the time being.

The biggest irony of the AMS bankruptcy? PGW had a great 2006 as ynit sales rose 3% to 11.2 million, gross sales grew 2.2% to $187.3 million, net sales were up 5.5% to $138.6 million, and returns dropped 6.1% to slightly under 26%. “Last Thursday, PGW was having its best year ever. Now it’s teetering on the edge,” said one disbelieving publisher.

Tillie Olsen Dies at 94

Many literary and publishing types are paying their respects this week to Tillie Olsen, who died Monday at the age of 94. Julie Bosman‘s obituary of her in the New York Times points out that Olsen’s short stories, books and essays lent a heartfelt voice to the struggles of women and working-class people, while Hillel Italie‘s AP writeup sums up what made Olsen’s work tick: “for her characters, the open road did not lead to freedom, but only to the next job.”

In addition to writing, Olsen taught at various universities throughout the 1960s and 70s, including MIT, Stanford and the University of Massachusetts, and beginning in the early 1970s, she was an adviser to the Feminist Press. At her suggestion the press began reprinting feminist classics that had been lost, starting with Rebecca Harding Davis‘s LIFE IN THE IRON MILLS. Over the years, Olsen recommended many of the books the Feminist Press reprinted. She is survived by four daughters, a sister, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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