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Archives: May 2009

GalleyCat Versus BEA

bealogo.jpgAs BookExpo America hits New York City today, GalleyCat is bravely reporting from the endless corridors of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

You can follow the action on this site for the next few days, or follow the micro-blogging action on our Twitter feeds: @ronhogan and @jasonboog. If you have any suggestions for events you’d like to see covered, to email GalleyCat.

Finally, come say hello to both GalleyCat editors on Friday, as we join than 40 bloggers registered for the first ever blogger signing session at BookExpo America–we will be signing at the Firebrand Publishing booth from 12 pm until 2 pm on May 29th.

Toilet Paper Horror Novel

ring_logo.jpgForget fancy digital readers and electronic paper, the future of reading is written on a different medium. Japanese horror writer Koji Suzuki just published a nine-chapter novella on a roll of toilet paper.

The “Drop” novella is set in a public bathroom, and can be read in a few minutes–taking up three feet of toilet paper. According to the AP, it retails for about $2.20 a roll. Suzuki wrote the “The Ring,” a scary story adapted into popular Japanese and American movies.

Here’s the spooky rationale behind the story: “Toilets in Japan were traditionally tucked away in a dark corner of the house due to religious beliefs. Parents would tease children that a hairy hand might pull them down into the dark pool below.” (Via Ron Charles)

Non-Reader Kanye West Publishes

KY_TYYWv2917.jpgHip-hop star Kanye West has just published a book of “Kanye-isms” with co-author J. Sakiya Sandifer. Entitled “Thank You And You’re Welcome,” the slim book contains 52-pages of West wisdom.

In a blog-baiting Reuters feature, West bragged about being a “proud non-reader,” and said he hoped to avoid the “wordy and so self-absorbed” style of novels. His mini-book collects aphorisms and brief stories from the artist.

Here’s a philosophical sample from the book: “When walking down the street, you can walk in one line perfectly without ever falling over. Now take that same city block, make it a foot wider and then put it a hundred stories high. You’re going to be so focused on the fact that you don’t have a banister, that you’re more likely to fall because of it. When you’re so focused on what you don’t have…you won’t have!”

Lit Mags Unite for NYC Extravaganza

elliott.jpgAs BookExpo America consumes New York City this weekend, three literary journals–The Rumpus, McSweeney’s, and Smith Mag–teamed up for an epic literary event at Highline Ballroom on May 30th. The line-up includes: comedians Todd Barry and Eugene Mirman, Nada Surf musician Matthew Caws; authors Anthony Swofford, Jessica Anthony, James Hannaham, and Amy Tan.

To find out more about the event, GalleyCat caught up with Stephen Elliott, the founder of the online literary site, The Rumpus. “Sometimes, especially in recent times, I’ll be hanging out with a bunch of writers or publishing people, and they’re so sad. For writers that not unusual. As a group we’re generally dissatisfied and the failing bookstores and magazines is just one more peg to hang that coat on. That has nothing to do with the state of the economy or how many books we’ve sold. It’s just part of our makeup and it’s probably one of the things that drives many of us to write,” Elliott explained.

“We think we’ll publish a book and it will make us happy. We’ve always thought that and it’s never been true … From the beginning The Rumpus has been a boost for everyone that cares about good books. One of our mottos is ‘Three celebrations for every complaint … We wanted to have a really positive event, do something fun, cheer everybody up if they’re feeling down, and celebrate celebrating if they’re not.”

Read more

James King Wins Breakthrough Novel Award

King_120._V226059187_.jpgJames King‘s novel, “Bill Warrington’s Last Chance,” has won Amazon and Penguin Group USA’s Breakthrough Novel Award.

The novel was picked out of thousands of entries filed by writers from 50 U.S. states and 21 countries around the world. It tells the story of a man diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease who kidnaps his 15-year-old granddaughter in an attempt to force reconciliation with his family.

Here’s more from the release: “[King] has been a corporate communications specialist for the past 20 years, but dreamt of becoming a fiction writer since the age of six. In 2006, with the support and encouragement of his wife and two children, King decided to pursue his dream. He entered the Master of Arts program in creative writing at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., and when he completed his degree in May 2008, he had written most of what would become the novel Bill Warrington’s Last Chance.”

Comparing Apples and Kindles

fortunecover.jpgFortune magazine gave Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com, Inc. front-cover treatment this week–comparing Amazon’s Kindle aspirations to Apple’s iPod revolution.

While citing a Citigroup report that estimated Kindle sales had neared 500,000 units, the article notes that Apple “shipped more than 200 million iPods.” Nevertheless, many experts thought the bookseller could make a mint with the digital reader. Reading the same article, e-book champion Mike Cane wondered what kind of e-reader Hewlett-Packard is developing.

Here are more details from the Fortune article: “[M]ost company watchers think that Bezos is positioned to make a fortune on the device. Barclays Capital predicts Kindle devices will produce $840 million in profit on $3.7 billion in sales in 2012. That’s roughly 20% of Amazon’s total sales and profit today.”

1Q Sales Fall 12 Percent at Borders Group, Inc.

308.jpegBorders Group, Inc. announced first quarter results yesterday, noting that total consolidated Q1 sales had dropped to $641.5 million–a 12.1 percent decrease compared to last year.

At the same time, the company reduced its debt by nearly 45 percent at the end of the quarter, leaving the bookseller’s total debt at $325.9 million. Comparable store sales at Borders superstores sales dropped 13.5 percent and 5.5 percent at Waldenbooks Specialty Retail stores.

Ron Marshall, the Borders Group CEO, had this statement: “We continued to strengthen the financial structure of the company by making further improvements to cash flow, debt and adjusted EBITDA … Make no mistake about it, we have much more work to do and will continue to maintain our financial discipline. At the same time, we know that we cannot save our way to prosperity. Our long-term success will come from doing a much better job of driving sales and that’s where our focus is right now.”

Let Two Debut Novelists Sing & Read Their Way Into Your Heart

may27-beatrice.jpg

Two summers ago, we told you about HarperCollins editor Rakesh Satyal and his occasional moonlighting as a cabaret singer; it turns out that he was also working on a novel, Blue Boy, based ever so loosely on his own childhood as an Indian-American coming to terms with his sexual identity in Ohio. That novel’s out now, and he’s been doing a series of readings and musical performances—which leads us to tonight’s event at The Slipper Room. (Full disclosure: This event was put together by senior editor Ron Hogan in his other capacity, as the curator of the literary website Beatrice and a reading series with the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction.)

Satyal will be reading from Blue Boy, and he’ll be joined by his longtime friend and editorial colleague Sarah Rainone, who’s also just published a debut novel, Love Will Tear Us Apart, about a group of high school “friends” reuniting years later when two of them get married. But that’s just half the evening’s entertainment: Several singer/songwriters from the Bushwick Book Club will be on hand to perform original songs based on the two novels—and there are plans in the works for both Satyal and Rainone to show off their musical chops as well. (The words “Disney” and “showtunes” have been mentioned.)

As pre-BookExpo America parties go, and we admit to a total lack of objectivity here, this is going to be one fabulous event, so come by the Slipper Room (167 Orchard St) tonight starting at 6 p.m. It’s a cash bar, but there’s no cover, and the entertainment begins at approximately 7 p.m.

Alice Munro Wins £60,000 Man Booker International Prize

alicemunroe.jpgAuthor Alice Munro (pictured, via) has won the third Man Booker International Prize, picked for the £60,000 (roughly $83,700) award out of a longlist that included 14 writers from 12 different countries.

The prize was judged by Andrey Kurkov, chair Jane Smiley, and Amit Chaudhuri.

The judges had this statement: “Alice Munro is mostly known as a short story writer and yet she brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels. To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before.”

They’re Going to Party Like It’s 1969

hal-leonard-woodstock.jpgIf you’re wandering the aisles at BookExpo America this weekend, you might notice a bit of a theme to the Hal Leonard, where they’ll be promoting two books aimed at the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Woodstock Vision features a bunch of pictures from the music festival’s official photographer, Elliott Landy; Bruce Pollock‘s By the Time We Got to Woodstock actually encompasses the wider pop music scene of 1969, which the author believes was the most significant year in rock music’s history. Both Pollock and Landy will be appearing at the booth, and Hal Leonard will be holding a drawing for a gift package that includes both books, DVDs of Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy, a CD of the year’s top songs, and a bunch of other stuff.

You notice how nobody’s putting out a commemorative book for the tenth anniversary of Woodstock ’99? Or even the 20th anniversary of the impromptu Woodstock ’89? Heck, we would’ve settled for some 25th anniversary celebrations of the US Festival last year…

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