Another of my columns is available today at The American Spectator Online.
A publishing CEO decides to play the game, “Let’s See How You Like It,” with Google. He takes a couple laptops from the Google Booth at BookExpo and when discovered says he was doing to Google what Google Books is doing to publishing companies.
A CEO did this. Who says you have to grow up to be a success? (via Digg.com)
Here’s a bit of what’s going on at BookExpo. Promotional snacks for a book on Proust?
There appears to be a slump in conservative political books. “The conservative market is not unified, there are many fractures,” says the president of Regnery Publishing. “The ongoing war in Iraq and his positions on immigration and education has made it harder to get anyone to write books that rally behind [Mr. Bush].”
Also from the BookExpo, Hillel Italie reports, “New releases topped 290,000 in 2006, according to statisticians R.R. Bowker, which, thanks to revised methodology, added a bountiful 100,000 titles to its previous estimates. . . .
BookExpo reminds you of how the new becomes old, like watching Pete Hamill promote his new book, The Gift, while a few aisles away, at the “Remainders” section of the convention, a previous Hamill book, Downtown, was being sold for $3.”
BookDaddy points out some odd book titles. The winning title for this year is The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification. On Amazon.com, reviewer Robin Benson, whom I hope received a free review copy of this, says, “Flick through this book and many of you might think [author] Julian Montague needs to get a life, roaming round the North Eastern states snapping the death throes of shopping carts, indeed. The book is a bit of fun though and quite cleverly thought out, but maybe the joke wears a bit thin by page 176.”
Oddly enough, Shopping Carts beat out How Green Were the Nazis? for oddest title.
It’s hard to be a first-time novelists these days. “Once upon a time, a first novel could afford to be a dress rehearsal, a proving ground. That is no longer true.”
Here’s a report on books, libraries, and the Interweb from Bryan Appleyard (by way of Frank Wilson): The final chapter in the life of the book? He makes a good point about teacher, which Frank quotes, but let me point out something else. Mr. Appleyard writes:
Intellectual property is the big difference between the developing and developed worlds. But intellectual property rights and the internet are uneasy bedfellows. Google’s stated mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. The words “universally accessible” carry the implicit threat that nobody can actually own or earn revenue from any information since it will all be just out there.
This is one reason an Interweb library search, like Google Book, won’t take over the literary world. Publishers and writers, who can’t afford to work for free, won’t allow it. At the same time, I won’t be surprised if users won’t allow it either when they realize the Interweb can’t offer everything for free (it doesn’t even today) and what they want to read or know won’t be online.
In case you don’t see this in the lists of last year’s news, here’s a reminder of the good ol’ days.
Some writers spend decades trying to break into the biz, and even then, they often can’t make ends meet. For legitimate writers, an unproven teenager landing a $500,000 deal to write two books adds insult to the obvious injury of plagiarism.
This comes from industry news that young writer Kaavya Viswanathan received a $500,000 two-book deal from Little, Brown. Still just as heart-warming now as it was then. The writer asks, “Given how the Internet and digital content have highlighted the limitations of old-school media, stories like this one suggest that the publishing industry should take a long, hard look at where it’s directing its financial resources, and why.”
Maybe we should let illegal immigrants do the work in publishing houses that otherwise decent citizens don’t want to do–fact-checking, editing, maybe marketing.
From our Shameless Profit Desk comes this report that some publishers are looking into fan fiction. “A librarian in Idaho recently received a $150,000 advance from Simon & Schuster to publish a three-novel trilogy about a character from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In Brooklyn, a fan fiction writer known for turning out Lord of the Rings imitations landed the same fee for a similarly inclined fantasy series.”
Can’t see it happening. Fan blogging on the otherhand . . .
Faith*in*fiction notes that Westbow will be history in its parent company’s reorganization. Thomas Nelson has 18 imprints and plans to consolidate all of them under one name over several months. President and CEO of Thomas Nelson, Michael Hyatt, said imprints are “an inside-out way of looking at the market, self-focused rather than customer-focused. The only ones who care about imprints are publishers, and they are expensive to maintain.” No jobs will be cut and some added, according to the report.
Here’s an old post from Sarah Weinman about statements by Thriller Author Greg Iles on writing a book in a year’s time. He said, “So many thrillers today are formulaic and one-dimensional. I feel like there used to be a higher standard. . . . if I’m completely honest, three of my first four books are the best I ever wrote because I spent two years apiece on them.”
As a bit of balance, here’s a writing technique article by Sci-fi Author William Dietz, called “How To Write A Book A Year While Holding Down A Full-time Job, Maintaining Key Relationships, Staying In Shape, And Maintaining Your Sanity.“
The rumor was true. Random House announced it has purchased Multnomah Publishers and will merge it with WaterBrook Press in Colorado Springs, CO. WaterBrook and Multnomah with remain separate imprints of Doubleday Broadway, a division of Random House, and in control of their respective editorial destinies though the WaterBrook president with preside over Multnomah. Random House is the world’s largest English-language trade book publisher.