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Posts Tagged ‘Richard & Judy’

Rubenfeld Stays with Headline, Moves to Riverhead

One would think that a Richard & Judy pick would have a bit more fanfare when his next book deal is picked up. And in the UK, that is indeed the case for Jed Rubenfeld, as the Bookseller reports that Headline Review associate publisher Mary-Anne Harrington bought British Commonwealth rights from Cathryn Summerhayes at William Morris UK for Rubenfeld’s next novel, THE DEATH INSTINCT. The new novel is set roughly ten years after THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER, opening with the Wall Street terrorist attack on September 1920, in which the heroes of the first book, police detectives Stratham Younger and James Littlemore, are caught up.

“THE DEATH INSTINCT promises to be the most brilliant companion piece to THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER,” Harrington said in the announcement. “I’ve never read such a strong proposal: it has all the verve and drama of the first book, with the same electric sense of excitement about the murder mystery and about a completely different, darker side to Freud. Although the novel works absolutely as a stand-alone thriller, fans of the first book will be in for a huge treat: we encounter many of our favourite characters from Interpretation, but there are plenty of surprises, too.”

All the breathlessness is well and good, but what about the US rights? Turns out that Rubenfeld’s agent, Suzanne Gluck of William Morris, has moved her author from Henry Holt to Riverhead, where Geoff Kloske and Jake Morrissey bought North American rights. It’s not surprising, considering INTERPRETATION didn’t end up performing to the original advance and hype’s expectations , which would make the follow-up less of a sure bet for Holt (even if the paperback, published by Picador, seems to be doing a lot better.) Morrissey, who will have primary editing duties on the manuscript, hadn’t returned queries by email and telephone at the time of this writing, and no word yet – if ever – what sort of advance Riverhead paid out, though the easy conjecture would be on considerably less money than $800K…

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Are Book Clubs Ruining the Reading Experience?

It’s a controversial (albeit familiar) stance that any type of book club from Oprah to Richard & Judy encourages homogeneity, which is why the Sunday Herald’s doom and gloom article about whether book clubs are, in fact, “ruining” reading and publishing leaves me feeling more than a little skeptical, even if there are many good points made. “People were initially very sniffy when Richard and Judy announced plans for the book club. They thought it would be about promoting trash fiction,” said publishing commentator Danuta Kean. “But Amanda Ross recognised that people were interested in literary books as well as more commercial ones and the list is a great mix. That can only be a good thing.”

The problem is, Kean explains, “as soon as they saw its effect, publishers started looking for books that would be selected for the Richard and Judy list. They are also looking for a recommendation from Waterstone’s and to be the hot pick on Amazon.” And now that Tesco is teaming up with Random House for its own book club, the cries of commercialization are growing louder.

Even R&J-picked author James Robertson, author of THE TESTAMENT OF GIDEON MACK, has doubts. “The downside is that if someone goes into a book shop and buys the books that Richard and Judy have recommended, perhaps they won’t buy other titles,” he says. “There is no doubt that there are winners and losers in this. That’s something I feel slightly disturbed by. There is a sense that it is very much about corporate dealing.” Cathy Kinnear, manager of an independent bookshop in Glasgow’s west end, concurs. “The book clubs are not about giving people choice,” she says. “They are actually narrowing it. We can offer recommendations that are targeted at our customers, bearing in mind local preferences rather than picking out a few books for the whole nation.”

Design for Publishing

The Bookseller’s Joel Rickett offers the scoop on what it’s like to sit in on a jacket cover meeting at a publishing house. In these notoriously fraught affairs, Rickett writes, editors, marketeers, publicists and sales staff plough through piles of cover mock-ups fresh from the art department. Dozens of jackets may be quickly approved, but sooner or later there’s a stumbling block: the editorial director loves a cover, but the sales director hates it. The designer is sent back to their Mac with a brief to incorporate 17 new elements from previous bestsellers, while simultaneously trying to make it look “more original”. Most of the decision-making is internal unless someone like Amanda Ross, producer of the Richard & Judy book club show or B&N’s Sessalee Hensley objects, and then they go back to the drawing board.

But now there are more options, especially with regards to backlist titles. “Research can be useful to take an author up a level,” says Ed Christie, sales and marketing director of Transworld and RH Children’s Books. “Sometimes publishers can get stuck in a loop, and research breaks the cycle. You’ve still got to be bold, not slavish, but you can learn from a particular market.” The new-look Vintage Classics, launching in the UK this August, also benefited from outside market research. Vintage publishing director Rachel Cugnoni said the groups “wanted something they could trust, that wasn’t too overstated, with a sense of aesthetic style. Books that would feel as happy in Heal’s as in bookshops.”

But as Egmont publisher Helen Stables pointed out, no matter how solid the research is, it cannot supplant good design skills. “Any data you get needs to be translated by an excellent art director into a bestselling cover. It is a guide to target audience preference, not a substitute for creative excellence.”

The End of Richard & Judy?

Since this is News of the World, take such reports with several grains of salt, but if their account of why Richard & Judy, the chatshow hosts who have became arguably the UK’s best book promotion marchine, will go off the air before the year is out turns out to be true, then publishers will be crying into their collective beers.

A source told NOTW: “Judy simply doesn’t want to be on TV any more. She loves spending time at home and wants to be a housewife for a bit. It has been hard for her to keep up with Richard for a while. He is so vibrant and ambitious.” She may also be looking to concentrate on book projects while Richard may go out on his own as a solo presenter. Sources at Channel 4 confirmed the pair – who have just enjoyed their best ever ratings with the channel – are yet to take up the option of extending their contract until the end of 2008.

Richard & Judy Agency Launches Literary Arm

Publishing News reports that PR agency Taylor Herring Herring, has launched a new literary arm to develop its work in the book world. The agency, which promotes the Channel 4 coverage of the Galaxy British Book Awards and other Richard & Judy book initiatives, has appointed Ben Tisdall, formerly of Midas, as its Head of Arts and Literature. Taylor Herring Joint MD, James Herring, commented, “We have had a unique insight into the literary world in the past few years and believe that we can offer dynamic, imaginative and exciting campaigns that will propel authors and publishing clients into areas of the media that others can’t reach.”

Winners of the British Book Awards

The Galaxy British Book Awards were handed out at a gala ceremony last night, and the Independent‘s Louise Jury reports on the speeches, the winners and the surprises of the evening (which will be televised at the end of the week.) Highlights included Richard & Judy‘s Best Read of the Year going to Jed Rubenfeld for THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER, while Ricky Gervais beat established writers including Geraldine McCaughrean and Terry Pratchett to take the children’s book of the year honour with Flanimals of the Deep, the third in the series he has produced with the illustrator Rob Steen. Gervais accepted his award live on stage in Ipswich. “That’s fantastic … it’s the first one for my literary outputs,” he said, admitting his work had been described as “books about bollocks with eyes drawn on them”. Other winners in various categories included Richard Dawkins, Ian Rankin, Peter Kay, Conn & Hal Iggulden and Victoria Hislop.