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Posts Tagged ‘Knopf’

Quill Awards Announced

Changing things up this year, the Quills have announced their awards a solid month and a half before the actual ceremony, which will take place on October 22 at Jazz @ Lincoln Center and hosted by Ann Curry and Al Roker. For the first time in its three-year history, The Quills will make a limited number of tickets to the awards ceremony and gala reception available for purchase to the public. “We’re delighted with the outstanding works represented in the group of Quills 2007 winners. Now the reading public has an opportunity to vote and we look forward to announcing their selection for 2007 Quills Book of the year on October 22nd,” remarked Gerry Byrne, Chairman of The Quill Awards. Consumers can cast their votes via www.quillsvote.com for “The Book of the Year,” selecting from among the 19 Quill Award winners.

The Quill Debut Author of the Year Award will be presented to Diane Setterfield for THE THIRTEENTH TALE, published by Atria. In the General Fiction category, the Quill Award will be given to Cormac McCarthy for THE ROAD, published by Knopf. For the second year in a row, Al Gore will receive the History/Current Events/Politics Quill, this time for THE ASSAULT ON REASON, published by The Penguin Press. Quill Awards will also be given to Amy Sedaris, Nora Roberts, Laura Lippman, Robert I. Sutton, Jerome Groopman, Brian Selznick, and Walter Isaacson, among others.

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Robert Barnett’s Multimillion Dollar Advance Touch

Bloomberg’s Edward Nawotka finally uncovers some answers to questions I’ve wanted to ask for ages: how exactly does Robert Barnett earn his living from the megawatt authors, politicians and celebrities he represents? Not by standard agency commission, that’s for sure, because even though Barnett, a partner at the DC firm Williams & Connolly, functions on behalf of his book clients much as an agent does — negotiating contracts, assisting with the editing process, refereeing between writer and publisher — he firmly rejects the term.

“I’m a lawyer and proud of it,” he told Nawotka. “I bill my clients an hourly rate; I don’t agree with taking a percentage for someone’s creative output.” (An agent typically takes a 15% to 20% commission as payment.) At $900 an hour, Barnett’s attention doesn’t come cheap. But when it’s a question of a multimillion-dollar contract, Barnett’s hourly rate can offer a client a massive savings over an agent’s commission. In an example Barnett cited, he billed a client $150,000 for negotiating a $3-million book contract — a substantial discount from the $450,000 to $600,000 an agent would customarily charge. Discounts for authors – but not for publishers. Knopf Publisher and President Sonny Mehta said to Nawotka that the upside of working with Barnett “is that when he calls about a client, it’s always someone you will want to take a meeting with. The downside is that he’s an expert on valuation, and as such I can never quite negotiate the deal I’d like.” An understatement to say the least…

People Really Want to Buy Keith Richards’ Memoir

As promised, UK superagent Ed Victor held off until this month to shop around Rolling Stones guitarman Keith Richards‘ memoirs, and the gambit has paid off handsomely, according to Crain’s Matthew Flamm. Bidding for a book by the Rolling Stones’ famed founding member, co-song writer and rhythm guitarist has reached $7.1 million for world English rights, according to publishing industry sources. With just three houses vying for the book, now the battle rages between HarperCollins and Little, Brown.

“This is Bill Clinton money,” an executive not involved in the bidding told Flamm. Knopf paid $10 million to $12 million for former President Clinton’s autobiography in 2001, while we’re guessing the final bid will be somewhere in the vicinity of $8 million. Alan Greenspan money, perhaps?

Knopf Names Dobrowolski Assistant Manager, Domestic Rights

Knopf announced yesterday that Thomas Dombrowolski has been named Assistant Manager of its Domestic Rights Division. “Since his arrival two years ago, Thomas has become a key member of the department, demonstrating a keen awareness of the rights marketplace,” said Domestic Rights Director Sean Yule in the announcement. “He has a good sense of what can work as an excerpt and has arranged major serial placement for authors including Daniel Kehlmann, Olaf Olafsson, Marjane Satrapi and Neal Pollack.” Dombrowolski began his publishing career in 2002 as an assistant in the contracts department at Doubleday Broadway, and has also worked at Bantam Dell and HarperCollins.

Publishers Get Into the Speakers’ Bureau Game

At the New York Times, Celia McGee highlights the growing number of publishers who have set up separate speakers’ bureaus for select authors. In the last two years, several major publishing houses have set up speakers bureaus. HarperCollins was the first, in May 2005, followed by Random House (which outsourced its program to the American Program Bureau rather than build its own.) Knopf and Penguin established in-house speakers bureaus in 2006, and two other publishers, Holtzbrinck and the Hachette Book Group, may do the same.

A speakers bureau “goes beyond the traditional marketing opportunities,” said Jamie Brickhouse, who heads the HarperCollins enterprise. “It’s a way for authors to continue to raise their profiles and reach new audiences. It’s great for the frontlist and for the backlist, and has brought new life to authors who don’t have an ongoing book push.” The fees charged by such bureaus for authors (like James Swanson, left) can be steep – from $5000 to $35,000 an appearance depending on the author’s status. But some, like PW editor-in-chief Sara Nelson, expressed concern with the trend, worried that it put too much pressure on authors to hone their presentation skills, potentially at the expense of their literary development. “If whether you’re able to sell yourself as a speaker is part of finding a publisher or not concerns me,” she said.

Hillary Books: What’s the Rush?

For those keeping score, last month Knopf announced that it was publishing Carl Bernstein‘s 640-page book A WOMAN IN CHARGE: THE LIFE OF HILLARY CLINTON, originally planned for the fall, on June 19, surprising Little, Brown, which was scheduled to publish its own Hillary book by Jeff Nerth and Don Van Natta Jr., HER WAY: THE HOPES AND AMBITIONS OF HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, on Aug. 28. Then, this month, Little, Brown said it had also decided to move its publication date to June 19, making the rivalry abundantly clear.

Now the release date wars have really heated up, reports the New York Times’ Motoko Rich. Bernstein’s book will now publish on June 5, with Nerth and Van Natta’s to follow only three days later. Knopf spokesman Paul Bogaards said the push-up correlates to the Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire on June 3 which “presented a significant coverage event for our book.” Little, Brown publisher Michael Pietsch explained HER WAY would be excerpted in The New York Times Magazine on June 3, which prompted the move of its on-sale date to June 8. “It’s not Belmont, mind you,” Bogaards said, “but I like the fact that our horse is already saddled up and in the paddock, ready to run, shall we say.” Thankfully, Pietsch did not engage in any horse metaphors, and the books can’t be moved up any further lest booksellers’ headaches worsen..

Bookspan Bloodbath

bookspanlogo.gifPW Daily reports that a mere six weeks after it acquired complete ownership of Bookspan, Bertelsmann has initiated a major overhaul of the book club business, a process that will eliminate 280 positions, or about 15% of its workforce of 1,900. As part of integrating Bookspan into BMG Columbia House, an unspecified number of smaller clubs will be closed, including American Compass, InsightOut Book Club and Behavioral Science Book Service, as will Madison Park Press, the publishing program launched about 18 months ago. Madison Park’s staff, including editor Christine Zika, will be let go but the fate of its publisher, Carole Baron, remained unclear as of this time. However, since Baron is also acting in an at-large capacity with Knopf (most recently acquiring the debut novel from Poppy Adams) it’s possible her duties there may increase in the wake of Bookspan’s new plans.

“A number of small, specialized clubs will either be combined with another book club or phased out by the end of 2007,” says company spokeswoman Paula Batson. “This realignment will enable the company to focus its assets and efforts on its core book club brands such as Book-of-the-Month, Doubleday, Black Expressions, Crossings and The Literary Guild as well as its music and DVD club businesses.” The clubs will be phased out over the rest of the year and members will be given the chance to transfer to a different club. Books from some clubs will also be made available through the general interest and other specialized clubs.

A Dangerous Path to Bestseller Status

It’s a Jeff Trachtenberg double bill at the WSJ today, and in the second half of the double feature, he looks at why Conn and Hal Iggulden‘s THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS – first published in the UK and Australia – has not only transferred its success to America but is on track to sell millions of copies, if HarperCollins‘ projections and hopes are to be believed.

The purports to aim itself at a particularly inscrutable and un-book-friendly audience: boys around the age of 10. It tries to answer the question: What do boys need to know? The answer is that boys need a certain amount of danger and risk in their lives, and that there are certain lessons that need to be passed down from father to son, man to man. The implication is that in contemporary society basic rules of maleness aren’t being handed off as they used to be. The message is not only hitting boomer fathers but their young sons, as Knopf executive Paul Bogaards found out when he took the book home to his eight year old son, Michael. Bogaards says Michael took to it immediately, demanding that his dad test paper airplanes into the night, even missing “American Idol.” He adds: “That’s the good news. The bad news is that he now expects me to build him a treehouse.” He concludes: “Million-copy-plus seller easy, with the shelf life of Hormel Spam.”

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Miller Moves from Vintage to Knopf

PW Daily reports that Vintage/Anchor senior editor Andrew Miller is moving floors in the Random House building as a result of his new gig as a senior editor at Knopf. “Andrew is an exceptional editor who, in his tenure at Vintage/Anchor, has demonstrated a keen eye for topical nonfiction,” said Knopf chairman and editor-in-chief Sonny Mehta in yesterday’s announcement. Miller has edited books by Victor Davis Hanson, Tom Bissell, James Fallows and Neal Pollack, as well as worked with authors including Robert Caro, David Remnick, Lawrence Wright, Robert Kagan, Hampton Sides, and Chuck Palahniuk.

Pulitzer Prize Winners

The Pulitzer Prize has announced its winners in a variety of categories, and while our Fishbowl siblings will be dissecting the journalism winners, we’ll look at the book-related winners:

FICTION: Cormac McCarthy, THE ROAD (Knopf)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: AFTER THIS by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and THE ECHO MAKER by Richard Powers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • HISTORY: Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, THE RACE BEAT (Knopf)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005″ by James T. Campbell (The Penguin Press), and “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” by Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking).
  • BIOGRAPHY: Debby Applegate, THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN AMERICA (Doubleday)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty” by Arthur H. Cash (Yale University Press), and “Andrew Carnegie” by David Nasaw (The Penguin Press).
  • GENERAL NONFICTION: Lawrence Wright, THE LOOMING TOWER (Knopf)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness” by Pete Earley (Putnam), and “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq” by Thomas E. Ricks (The Penguin Press).
  • POETRY: Natasha Trethewey, NATIVE GUARD (Houghton Mifflin)

  • Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “The Republic of Poetry” by Martin Espada (W.W. Norton), and “Interrogation Palace: New & Selected Poems 1982-2004″ by David Wojahn (University of Pittsburgh Press).
  • The upshot is that some of the smaller university presses should be proud, the big winners were Knopf, FSG and the Penguin Press – and about the only prize Cormac McCarthy hasn’t earned is beatification, but who knows, that may follow in due course…

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