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Posts Tagged ‘Random House’

This Week on the mediabistro.com Job Board: Macmillian, Random House, Perseus

We have several great opportunities for you this week. Macmillan is on the hunt for a director to run its digital media and branded publishing project, Quick and Dirty Tips, a job that we think is worth jumping on now. Random House is hiring in several divisions — the company needs a senior editor at Watson-Guptill and an editorial director at Crown Archetype. Check out these publishing jobs and more below, as well as on mediabistro.com.

For more job listings, go to the Mediabistro job board, and to post a job, visit our employer page. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

Random House Adopts Agency Pricing Model; ABA Applauds

Random House announced yesterday afternoon that they will follow the agency pricing model for digital books–a model that allows publishers to set the price of a book and keep pricing even across booksellers.

The American Booksellers Association immediately issued a statement supporting the move. The new price model for Random House books will also  help 200 ABA booksellers sell Google eBooks through their websites.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher had this statement: “We have believed from the beginning that the agency model is in the best interest of not only the book industry, but the consuming public as well … We appreciate the careful and thoughtful deliberation Random House has brought to this issue, and applaud their decision to adopt agency pricing.”

Penguin Partners with NetGalley

Starting this winter, Penguin Group (USA) will distribute review copies through NetGalley–a digital option for book reviewers.

Penguin can now invite reviewers, media contacts, and other professional readers to access digital galleys (some in full color) and promotional materials. NetGalley works on both computers and eReading devices (including Nook, Kobo, Sony eReader, and iPad).

According to the release, 85 publishers currently use NetGalley and its services. Some of those publishers include Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hachette Book Group, and HarperCollins Publishers.

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Would You Run Away with J.D. Salinger?

33-year-old J.D. Salinger tried to run away with a married woman at a Harper’s Magazine party in 1952, one writer explained in a new essay. According to a Paris Review essay by Blair Fuller, Salinger privately proposed to her sister, Jill Fox, asking her to leave everything behind and start a new life in New Hampshire.

Fox refused, but confessed after the party: “I was smitten with Jerry [Salinger] that evening, but I wondered what he and I would be saying to one another around Hartford.” Hartford is the halfway point between Cornish and New York City.

Jill’s husband Joe Fox would become a Random House editor, working with authors like Truman Capote and Philip Roth. If given the chance, what author would you run away with?

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John McCain’s Little Golden Book

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Eat the Press correspondent Rachel Sklar didn’t just go to Meghan McCain‘s book party Monday night, she took pictures of just about every page of My Dad, John McCain, the twentysomething blogger’s new children’s book. “What I find interesting about this book is the timing of its publication and how closely it resembles campaign literature,” Sklar writes—something of an understatement, when you see the full through-line. If the Republican National Convention isn’t sticking these pages up on the jumbotron in the main auditorium between acts, they’re missing a perfect opportunity…

(And, yes, you’re right: “Little Golden Book” is currently a Random House brand. But it was launched at Simon & Schuster, Meghan McCain’s publisher, back in 1942.)

So, Did Random House Censor Sherry Jones?

jewel-medina-cover.jpgStanley Fish caught up with the controversy surrounding Sherry Jones‘s still-unpublished The Jewel of Medina, and wanted to remind NY Times readers that, whatever else you might say about Random House‘s decision to avoid riling Muslim fanatics by publishing a novel about Muhammad’s wife, they never actually censored Jones. “Random House is free to publish or decline to publish whatever it likes, and its decision to do either has nothing whatsoever to do with the Western tradition of free speech or any other high-sounding abstraction,” Fish wrote—and, remember, this is a philosopher who will famously tell you that there’s no such thing as free speech. Anybody who thinks this was censorship, he adds—like, say, Salman Rushdie—doesn’t understand the precise philosophical and legal meaning of the term.

This is exactly right. The difference between true censorship and Random House’s decision to place a higher value on the safety of its proven corporate assets than on a commercially unproven work of artistic expression is, simply, the difference between “you can’t do that” and “I don’t want any part of that.” Random House did not join forces with Islamic leaders to explicitly condemn the book, nor is it sitting on the manuscript to prevent readers from ever seeing it; they have given the rights back to Jones, who is even now working with her agent to secure another American publisher for the novel and its sequel. As Fish concludes, Random’s decision “may have been cowardly or alarmist, or it may have been good business, or it may have been an attempt to avoid trouble that ended up buying trouble,” but declining to publish a book that one has come to view as a potential liability is not an act of censorship—and for anyone who thinks it is, here’s a question: Where were your cries of protest when the hint of a lawsuit was enough to make Random House’s Crown division drop its plans to publish the memoirs of Madonna’s nanny? Don’t you think she was entitled to freedom of expression in the face of outside intimidation, too?

One of the few admirable aspects of this situation is the clearheadedness Jones herself has shown throughout; in an early interview with GalleyCat, she said, “I was never angry about their decision… [and] they’re a private corporation; they can do whatever they want.” Contacted last night via email and asked if she felt censored, she wrote back, “In terms of censorship, I would say that Random House censored itself. This is a classic case of self-censorship based on fear.” Considering Fish’s notion that the cancellation of The Jewel of Medina should be viewed as a corporate decision, she added, “When you pull a book because you think you’ll lose money, that’s a corporate decision. When you pull a book because you fear terrorist attack, that’s self-censorship. Until [Random House] execs heard warnings of possible violence over my book, the company had my book on the fast track to best-sellerdom. So they clearly had expected to make money from its publication.”

(Of course, it’s still entirely possible to weigh the threat of violence in stark economic terms, weighing the potential revenues from the book against the heretofore unseen potential costs of repairing physical damage to 1745 Broadway and replacing dead personnel—just like Madonna’s nanny’s memoir turned out to have potential costs in the form of prolonged legal difficulties—and weighing those against any theoretical losses in revenue sparked by all the hoopla over the cancellation—which, let’s face it, probably aren’t that significant.)

But what Jones would call self-censorship, and Rushdie would call censorship by fear, Fish would describe an exercise of Random’s judgment—poor and short-sighted, perhaps, and almost certainly worrisome to any other author dealing with similarly controversial themes, but judgment nonetheless. What’s at risk here isn’t “free speech,” but Random House’s reputation as a publishing company that values unfettered intellectual and artistic discourse.

Literary Prize Blacklists Random Over Medina

Here’s an interesting sidenote to the Sherry Jones situation: The Langam Charitable Trust has issued a statement deploring Random House‘s cancellation of Jones’s novel so strongly that “until The Jewel of Medina is actually published, [we] will not consider submissions of any books, for any of our prizes, from Random House or any of its affiliates.”

So that’s the $1,000 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction and the $1,000 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History or Biography off the table for Random-affiliated authors until 2009 at the earliest—bad news for, at the very least, David Ebershoff (The 19th Wife), David Liss (the forthcoming The Whiskey Rebels), and Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore (the also-forthcoming Blindspot), all of whom would appear, based on an admittedly incomplete reading, to have otherwise had as strong a chance of winning the fiction prize as Random House author/editor Kurt Andersen, who won last year’s award for Heyday. (The legal history prize has never gone to a press not affiliated with an American university in the seven-year history of the award.) “Serious ideas, even if offensive to some, flourish in books,” representatives for the Langum Trust wrote. “Random House has exhibited a degree of cowardly self-censorship that seriously threatens the American public’s access to the free marketplace of ideas… We do this reluctantly, since our most recent prize in American historical fiction went to a Random House title. Nevertheless, this issue must be confronted.”

Is this, however, the right way to confront it? Should these (and other) authors suffer a literary penalty for a corporate decision involving another author, one in which they had no hand whatsoever? What do you think?

Another Look at that YA Morality Clause

Remember last week’s item about Random House‘s YA morality clause? That clause, which Random’s UK division was inserting into contracts in order to give itself leverage over authors who “act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children,” wasn’t showing up here in the States, according to one agent specializing in young people’s literature. This morning, another agent with a similar focus confirmed that initial impression, observing such a clause would be like Random refusing to publish Norman Mailer because he’d stabbed one of his wives.

“I can’t imagine anything to do with behavior that I would let get through a contract here, and I can’t believe too many UK agents are letting that get through,” this agent said, adding that in his experience publishers are usually as wary of anything that smacks of censorship as agents and authors. “Something must have happened to spark that,” he said. “I would imagine that Random House had been burned somehow, with something coming out about an author that left them stuck with thousands of copies of the book.” Though he had no direct knowledge of any such incident, he continued, it could have been anything from inappropriate behavior at a signing to “getting caught in bed with a fifteen-year-old and having it splashed all over the Sun.”

How about it, UK readers: Anything like that happen in recent memory?

It Seems Some Woman Wrote a Novel About Muhammad’s Wife

sherry-jones-medina.jpgSince Michelle Boorstein is the religion correspondent for the Washington Post, and doesn’t usually cover the book beat, it’s understandable that today’s recap of the Jewel of Medina controversy doesn’t reference any of GalleyCat‘s extensive commentary from the last two weeks on Random House‘s decision to not publish the novel Sherry Jones wrote because they didn’t want to risk the possibility of terrorist reprisals, even when it attempts to describe the sentiments of “publishing insiders” by only quoting one person who doesn’t work for Random: Sara Nelson.

But identifying Nelson as “a blogger for Publishers Weekly“? That’s not good. So not good.

Are You Pure Enough to Write YA?

A few weeks back, Guardian blogger Sian Pettenden called attention to a morality clause in Random House‘s contracts for children’s book authors: According to an alert distributed by a UK-based support group for writers and illustrators of literature for young people, the publishing conglomerate is now attempting to tell authors

“If you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished, and [sic] we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement.”

It is unclear based on Pettenden’s reporting, however, whether this clause is appearing in contracts offered by the American division of Random House as well. Picking up the story for BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow notes that “Random House Audio published my young adult novel Little Brother and did not request this clause.” An agent at a New York-based literary agency that specializes in representing authors of young people’s literature said that, although it had been a while, the most recent contracts he’d seen from Random House hadn’t included any such clause, either. But, he observed in passing, “there’s a lot of strange language that goes into UK contracts that has little bearing on the American market.”

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