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Posts Tagged ‘Steve Wasserman’

Amazon Publishing Hysteria: Fact or Fiction?

Journalists love to write about how Amazon Publishing will destroy the book business, but a Nation story about “The Amazon Effect” offered a more measured perspective.

In the essay, Yale University Press executive editor-at-large Steve Wasserman looked at the ways Amazon has already succeeded, as well as the places where it has yet to prove itself. The essay noted some publishers “professed little anxiety” about the bookseller’s publishing arm, headed by Larry Kirshbaum. Check it out:

It remains to be seen, however, whether spending a reported $800,000 to acquire Penny Marshall’s Hollywood memoirs is ultimately profitable; a number of the publishers I spoke with thought not and professed little anxiety at Amazon’s big-foot approach. They are not inclined to join the hysteria that largely greeted Kirshbaum’s defection, feeling that a recent Bloomberg Businessweek cover story depicting a book enveloped by flames had exaggerated by several orders of magnitude the actual threat posed by Amazon’s new venture. If Amazon wants to burn the book business, as the magazine’s headline blared, publishing books the old-fashioned way struck them as a peculiar way of going about it. Was there really a “secret plot to destroy literature,” as the magazine alleged? It seemed far-fetched, to say the least.

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Linda Ronstadt Inks Book Deal for Memoir

Linda Ronstadt has landed a book deal with Simon & Schuster for her memoir, Heart Like a Wheel. In the video embedded above, Ronstadt sings the title song from her memoir.

Ronstadt will write the book herself, exploring a career that “bridged the worlds of rock, folk, country, jazz, Latin, and opera.” Steve Wasserman at Kneerim & Williams Agency represented the singer. Publication has been tentatively set for 2013.

Publisher Jonathan Karp had this statement: “Few singers have been as wide-ranging or as distinctive in their artistry … Linda Ronstadt has a singular voice, and that is true on the page as well.”

Steve Wasserman Named Executive Editor-at-Large for Yale University Press

Steve Wasserman has joined Yale University Press as executive editor-at-large for general interest books.

Wasserman (pictured, via) has served as op-ed page and opinion deptuty editor at the Los Angeles Times, New Republic Books EIC, Noonday Books publisher at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; and Times Books editorial director at Random House.

Here’s more from the release: “Wasserman [also managed] the Sunday Book Review and serv[ed] as a principal architect of the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, now an institution in publishing. He has also served on the Pulitzer Prize nominating committee for both fiction and nonfiction. Since 2005 Wasserman has been a partner at the literary agency of Kneerim and Williams, where he will continue his work as an agent representing such writers as Christopher Hitchens, Peter Brooks, Placido Domingo, Michael Gorra, and John Rockwell, among other fine authors.”

The Quotable Steve Wasserman

speaker_stevewasserman_100x100.jpg“The irony of our age that it is the smallest folk who have the most to lose, who take the most risks,” said Steve Wasserman, the managing director of the New York office of literary agency Kneerim & Williams–defending the small presses and indie booksellers who are pioneering in this digital world.

During a panel entitled “Writer, Agent, Publisher” (hosted by this GalleyCat editor at the eBook Summit), Wasserman stirred up Twitter with his sharp commentary about publishing. Read more about the panel at eBookNewser.

Wasserman was the editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and now serves as books editor of the award-winning online magazine Truthdig. He once worked as editorial director of Times Books and Hill & Wang. Here are a few of his greatest hits, curated from the busy feed. “Publishing was never a business based on Wharton standards. It was a rich boy’s hobby,” he said, talking about diminishing advances.

When agent Jason Allen Ashlock told him: “I think we fundamentally agree” about eBook delays, Wasserman replied: “Probably, but we’re on a panel. We need a little bit of faux drama.”

He also pondered the excessive pondering of the future of eBooks. “I suppose we could sum up this entire two-day conference under the headline ‘too early to tell.’”

Wasserman on Internet Book Coverage

wasserman_about.jpgThe Book Publicity Blog pointed me toward a great interview with former L.A. Times Book Review editor, Steve Wasserman on Monday’s NewsHour segment about the demise of print book reviews. Now that there are only four papers with separate book sections including the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, and the New York Times does online book coverage have the authority, nay, gravitas that book sections lend? According to Wasserman, they don’t:

I have no problem with the vast democracy wall that the Internet provides on which everyone, every crank and every sage can post his or her pronunciamento.

But what’s lost here is the discriminatory filter provided by people who have embraced journalism as a craft. What has been lost here is the authority, such as it ever was, of newspaper people trying to do a job well done.

I do not see foreign coverage being replaced by the activity of individuals on the Internet bloviating about this or that.

And despite the robust nature or at least the very excited nature of the conversation on the Internet, the best criticism still being written today is being published, say, in magazines, James Wood in the New Yorker, or Leon Wieseltier in the pages of the New Republic, or Christopher Hitchens in the pages of the Atlantic.

And it will be a long time before the Internet gives us a forum in which such people unsupported by institutions can deliver us that kind of literary criticism. At their best, the newspapers were an exercise in delivering to us that kind of informed criticism, which was the work of professionals who had devoted a lifetime to the consideration of literature.

Photo Credit: Zuade Kaufman