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Posts Tagged ‘Random House’

Blair Picks Barnett to Broker Book Deal

Yesterday afternoon the Bookseller broke the story that literary lawyer to the stars Bob Barnett would be representing Tony Blair – and shopping around the former UK prime minister’s interests to America first. So of course, people are wondering a) who will get the book and b) how much they will have to pay for it. Bill Clinton money? Alan Greenspan money? Something even greater?

The advance will be inflated by Blair’s perceived value in the US, said one leading publisher of political books. “The Americans love him. They see him as an articulate George W. Bush. He’ll get a good whack out of a US publisher.” And the direct approach to the US is seen to thwart UK agents who were vying for a slice of the action. “It will be a shoot out between HarperCollins and Random House, but I think HarperCollins will prevail despite the much trumped link with Gail Rebuck‘s husband. [Rupert] Murdoch‘s keen and he’s got deep pockets,” said a major non-fiction publisher. “They’ve been political bedfellows for a very long time, and [News Corp] is a multimedia company,” a leading UK literary agent added. Shootout royale? Major league auction? Stay tuned, as the drill goes..

Egmont Guns for US Kids’ Market

Egmont is planning to launch a U.S. business next year following a move into third place in the UK children’s publisher league table, ahead of rivals Random House and HarperCollins, reports the Bookseller’s Katherine Rushton. “We are looking to develop a U.S. business, and we will look to establish a U.S. office early next year,” said group managing director Rob McMenemy. “That’s a big move for us.”

McMenemy highlighted the Lemony Snicket series and Nestle Prize-winning author Julia Golding as “significant contributors” to the company’s performance. The growth at Egmont Publishing was led by classic brands including the Thomas Story Library and Mr Men, and the acquisition of new licences for Bob the Builder and Lazy Town. Egmont recently launched a new research-based series fiction list, 2Heads.

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.”

Cannon Named Editor-at-Large at Ballantine

Pamela Cannon will join the Random House Publishing Group as Editor at Large, Ballantine Books, specializing in acquiring and editing lifestyle books. Cannon’s hire is effective September 10 and she will report to Libby McGuire, Senior Vice President and Publisher, working from her office in Weston, Connecticut. Previously, Cannon ran her own literary services outpost and worked for Artisan, Pocket and Random House in a variety of publicity and editorial positions.

Bestselling Kids’ Books Spark Language Debate

It figures that the NYT would wake up to the Junie B. Jones “controversy” ages after everyone else did (remember, Sarah: NYT is for mass audience. GalleyCat is for informed smart publishing people. Gotcha) but Anna Jane Grossman has a pretty good rundown as to why the series, which has 43 million copies in print, continues to provoke such strong feelings in parents: the more-than-loose grammar in Junie B’s speech.

The disagreement is a pint-size version of the lingering education battle between advocates of phonics, who believe children should be taught proper spelling and grammar from the outset, and those who favor whole language, a literacy method that accepts misspellings and other errors as long as children are engaged in reading and writing. But the series has been banned in Lewis and Susan Bartell‘s home in Old Westbury, N.Y. “My dad doesn’t like the grammar,” said the Bartells’s youngest, Mollie, 9. “And I guess that’s important, because maybe when you grow up and you’re at work and you say, ‘I runned,’ people will get annoyed at you.”

The author, Barbara Park, takes the negative letters in stride, but she had good reason for creating Junie’s grammatical oopses. “I didn’t know if my humor could really go down to the 5- or 6-year-old reading level,” said Park, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz, after Random House approached her to do a chapter book series that would be easy to read. “But I said I’d try, and the way I decided to go about that was to write in first person as a 5-year-old. That’s the way I best like to write, putting myself in the head of a character.”

Borders Gets In On the Mobile Game

Borders is set to work with top book publishers including Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins and Bloomsbury to deliver the first chapters of forthcoming books from authors on mobile, according to NMA. The plan is to offer consumers the opportunity to read up to 30 samplers for free every month. The chapters will be available for downloaded using technology from application provider ICUE and are sent with a coupon attached allowing consumers to redeem 20% off the physical book.

NYPL Installs First Espresso Book Machine

Yesterday morning, the first Espresso Book Machine was installed and demonstrated at the New York Public Library‘s Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL), located on 188 Madison Avenue. The EBM will be available to the public at SIBL through August, and will operate Monday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m through Friday, September 7. This fall, the New Orleans Public Library, the University of Alberta, the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont, and the Open Content Alliance in San Francisco will all get their own EBMs, reports EndGadget.

One who is especially pleased to be involved is Jason Epstein, co-founder of On Demand Books and a former publishing bigwig at Random House. “Printed books are one of history’s greatest and most enduring inventions, and after centuries, their form needs no improvement,” said Epstein in a statement about EBM’s launch. “What does need to change is the outdated way that books reach readers.” Kristin McDonough, Robert and Joyce Menschel Director of SIBL added: “The Science, Industry and Business Library is delighted to showcase the Espresso Book Machine. The Espresso provides a convenient new approach to book publishing and information dissemination and we are pleased to provide our users with the first opportunity to see this new technology demonstrated at a library whose mission is to support innovation and new business ventures.”

Bertelsmann Expands Further Into China

China Daily reports that Berteslmann, parent company of Random House, sees huge potential in China’s media and publishing markets and hopes to generate about 10 percent of its global sales revenue in China in the next few years. Gunter Thielen, board chairman of German Bertelsmann AG, introduced the group’s China development strategy in Beijing June 21. Bertelsmann expects to establish 10-15 joint ventures in China in the next few years through cooperation with local partners to increase the company’s global sales revenue in China from the current 1 percent. Thielen also added that Random House is considering expansion into China but hasn’t made any firm plans yet.

Random House Revolving Door Widens Editorial and Marketing/Distribution Dichotomy

Last week’s post about Daniel Menaker‘s exit and the larger implications for Random House served as unwitting inspiration for Sara Nelson‘s column in this week’s issue of Publishers Weekly. After recapping what she terms (and I concur is) a “stunning” number of job switcheroos at Random House, Nelson wonders if all the gossip and chatter misses the overall point: that none of the departing RH executives, going back to Don Weisberg, the COO of RH North America who left in February, were replaced with external hires:

That…suggests that Random is indeed shifting focus, but not necessarily in fiction. At worst, the piling on of new jobs to longtime staffers with already full plates is a form of downsizing; at best, it might be that Random, like most publishers, will soon move its emphasis from the acquiring/editing side of the business to the less sexy but increasingly important distribution and marketing side. Editors and authors will always matter-somebody, after all, has to create all that “content” that will be disseminated in forms perhaps not yet invented—but the focus these days is more on selling direct, on digital “product” and on POD.

Nelson’s larger point is a good one, but I suspect that emphasis already began quite a number of years ago, and not just at Random House. Most of those at the executive level – and by that I mean Publisher, CEO or something in between – tend to come up from the marketing, distribution and publicity sides, and yet if a new imprint is formed, it’s usually named after its founding editor (most recent examples: Spiegel & Grau at Doubleday/Broadway; Amy Einhorn Books at Putnam. At least Twelve, Jonathan Karp‘s imprint at Grand Central Publishing, was never going to be named after him.) Eponymous editorial imprints seem to follow a common trajectory: a big announcement spurring a flurry of news, commentary and speculation; an 18 month or so gestation marked by sprees of acquiring not out of place at 5th Avenue department stores; and after a few years – best personified by the fate of Rob Weisbach‘s imprint at William Morrow in the late 1990s – a near-permanent place in the loss-leading category for the publisher. Never mind the irony that the most successful eponymous imprint, ReganBooks, is no more, shuttered in favor of the more anonymous (and temporary) “HC” logo.

So if, as Nelson concludes, publishing houses’ energies are moving even more strongly towards the “less sexy” side of publishing, perhaps it may make sense to question the wisdom of imprints named after editors – especially when in the end – with the exception of one Ms. Judith Regan – they are just as anonymous to readers as are the marketing & distribution people. In other words (and keeping the elemental theme going) maybe it’s not a question of air or water but earth and fire.

Bertelsmann Launches Dutch Chain

The Bookseller reports that Bertelsmann, Random House‘s parent company, is expanding its Direct Group with the launch of a new bookselling chain in the Netherlands. The first branch in the Cosmox chain, which combines traditional bookshops with book clubs and online activities, will launch in Alkmaar this autumn. At least two more stores will launch later in the year. The name Cosmox is taken from the online bookshop launched by Bertelsmann’s Dutch book club operation ECI in early 2006.

The combination of book club business, book trade and online activities is already well-established in France, where Direct Group has become the country’s second largest bookseller through its France Loisirs book club, its online bookseller www.chapitre.com, and its booksellers Librairies Privat and Alsatia.

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