This April, Scholastic plans to reissue the first two volumes of its once-ubiquitous tween fiction series, The Baby-Sitters Club, according to the New York Times. The publisher is repackaging and updating the books (e.g., a “cassette player” will become “headphones”), and also releasing a prequel, The Summer Before, written by the series’ original author, Ann M. Martin. The original Baby-Sitters Club books, published from 1986-2000, grew to 217 titles and became a huge tween phenom, with 176 million copies in print. Now, Scholastic hopes to reignite fervor for 12- to 13-year-old heroines Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey — while pitching the books to a slightly younger audience than it did originally. (As the Times notes, the publisher has had significant success with its 2008 relaunch of another dormant franchise for young readers, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series.)
Tag: Publishing Biz (81-90 of 111)
Amazon reports that on Christmas Day, for the first time in the site’s history, Kindle books outsold physical books. (No doubt all of those new Kindle recipients were loading up their just-unwrapped gadgets with some fresh titles to read.) The company also reported that its Kindle electronic reader became the most “gifted” item in Amazon history. Are bound books soon to be the eight-track tapes of the reading world?
In another alarming sign for traditional publishers, it seems that Amazon’s already cheaper-than-a-physical-book price point of roughly $9.99 is still too expensive for many consumers. An analysis by the lit bloggers at Galley Cat found that 64 of the 100 e-books topping the Kindle best-seller list yesterday were priced at $0.00. Yes, that’s right: free. The list of free Kindle best-sellers includes some classics that are in the public domain (e.g., Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Jane Austen’s zombie-free Pride and Prejudice). But it also features recent titles from mostly smaller publishers, like the current No. 1, Noel Hynd’s Midnight in Madrid, about a U.S. Treasury agent investigating the theft a mysterious relic from a Madrid museum.
I was watching The Proposal the other day and noticed something interesting. In one scene, Sandra Bullock’s book editor character, Margaret Tate, is talking about how she desperately needs to save the Don DeLillo account, a surprisingly high-brow reference amidst the usual rom-com white noise. Of course, Ms. Bullock pronounces the author’s name “duh-LEE-low” instead of the correct “duh-LIL-low,” instantly deflating the credit I had just given the movie and making me feel like Smartypants McGee for catching the mistake. (Don’t believe me? The FAQ of the Don DeLillo Society points to a radio interview the author gave in 1997 to confirm the pronunciation.)
Which got me thinking, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on the movie. Haven’t we all had a name or a word that we’ve seen many times in print, but never heard in conversation? We know what it means, how to use it, how it’s spelled; everything but how to pronounce it.
For the majority of my life, I was convinced that awry was pronounced similarly to the word orrery. To this day “uh-RYE” still rings false in my ear. I also admit to pronouncing posthumous as if it meant “following a savory Middle Eastern spread.” And I, like many others, have Googled the phrase “Goethe, how to pronounce.” (Don’t get me started on South African-born Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee.) I just wonder why there’s such a stigma attached to those of us (like poor Margaret Tate) who seem to know certain words only in writing. Surely, there is quite a large vocabulary that doesn’t appear that often in everyday conversation, so why should one feel ashamed to get it wrong now and again? In the end, it’s more important to know what it means than how it sounds. I say go forth and mispronounce because how will you ever get it right if you’re never corrected? Duh-LEE-low, Duh-LIL-low, let’s call the whole thing off.
What say you? Any particularly embarrassing mispronunciation stories you’d like to recount?
Publishers Weekly reported today that Nielsen Business Media has decided to close Kirkus Reviews, its book review publication. Nielsen also plans on shutting down the trade journal Editor & Publisher. Nielsen is in the midst of selling some of its publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, which is going to e5 Global Media Holdings.
If you were waiting until after Thanksgiving to start shopping for the holidays (silly you) and were hoping to pick up Barnes & Noble’s new e-reader, the Nook, for the technophilic book-lover in your family, you may be out of luck. According to the B&N website, “the hottest holiday gift is out of stock.”
The devices have been disappearing like $259 hotcakes, selling out well before Black Friday and the device’s predicted release date, Nov. 30. Those who order the color-screen reader after last Friday will not receive theirs until the New Year, with the site currently predicting a ship date of Jan. 4.
This initial sales success positions the Nook as a top alternative to Amazon’s Kindle, especially since Sony recently announced possible delays for its own e-reader, the Daily Edition. The Kindle experienced similar stock depletions during last year’s holiday season.
With all these units being sold, it’s clear that e-readership is up and the phenomenon is more than just a passing literary fad. Even with hardcovers selling at $9 a pop, consumers are still flocking to get their hands on these portable libraries, and, I’ll admit, even a Luddite like myself has entertained jumping on board the biblio-file bandwagon.
How about you guys? Will e-readers be the new iPhones, ascending rapidly from luxury techno-gadget to completely ubiquitous companion? Or will you give up your glue-and-paper copies only when the librarians pry them from your cold, dead hands?
Hyperion has signed Melissa de la Cruz — whose Blue Bloods vampire books have all been huge YA hits —to a two-book deal for an adult paranormal series. The first, The Witches of East End, will go on sale in May 2011. “It’s about a mother and two daughters who move to town and shake things up,” says de la Cruz. “There’s already a family of warlocks living there who aren’t too happy with their arrival…It’s based on old Norse mythology.” She notes that characters from Blue Bloods will show up in the books — “some in essential roles; others more tangential” and says, of her switch to adult fiction, “I’ve been writing YA books for more than a decade. Many of my fans have grown up. Now I can have more grown-up themes: One character works in a bar; another gets involved with the mayor. There are romantic entanglements that are not so innocent!”
If you only know him as the old duffer in his pyjamas on The Girls Next Door, get a copy of the pop-culture journal Royal Flush, which contains a fascinating, surprising interview with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner about his love of comics and cartoonists.
I always knew that from the start of Playboy, Hefner personally chose the cartoons the magazine ran, and developed a stable of great artists such as Harvey Kurtzman (one of the key instigators of MAD Magazine) and Jack Cole (the creator of Plastic Man), paying top fees that could compete with publications like The New Yorker and Esquire. I also knew that, flush with the success of Playboy in the late 1950s, he bankrolled a gloriously doomed project, Trump, the first full-color comics magazine. (It lasted only two issues.)
But the Royal Flush interview is a small treasure-trove of information. Hefner tells interviewer (and Flush publisher) Josh Bernstein that by the time he was 16, he was drawing himself in autobiographical comics (reproduced here), using the character-name “Goo Heffer.” (It was also at this age, he says, that he started calling himself “Hef.” I’d daresay no one before the advent of hiphop had the wit and cajones to give himself a cool nickname that would be picked up and used by everyone who wrote about him.)
The Royal Flush interview glows with Hefner’s enthusiasm for comic art, and, clearly recognizing that Bernstein is a sympathetic interviewer, Hefner allowed him to reprint the suicide note that Jack Cole wrote him shortly before killing himself in 1958. (For a portrait of the great, tortured Cole, try finding a copy of Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd’s Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stressed To Their Limits.)
These days, if anyone thinks about Playboy cartoons, they might recall the slinky, gauzy drawings of Vargas or the madcap adventures of Kurtzman and Will Elder’s wiggly Little Annie Fanny (right).
But as Royal Flush makes clear, Hefner was both an important patron of comic artists and a fan with an expert eye. I wish that, instead of wasting more videotape on The Girls Next Door, someone would make a documentary about Hefner’s place in the history of cartooning.
In the meantime, this Royal Flush interview will have to do, and does so handsomely.
When the Random House empire consolidated several imprints last December, one of the casualties was revered Doubleday publisher Stephen Rubin, who helmed the company during the successes of Dan Brown, John Grisham, Ian McEwan, and Pat Conroy, to name just a handful. Though Rubin wasn’t fired in the Random House upheaval — he was made a publisher-at-large for Random House, Inc. — he was reportedly bored in his new assignment. So I can’t say I was surprised today when I heard he had been tapped as publisher of Henry Holt, which is now part of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. When I talked to him this afternoon, Rubin said, “It’s a venerable old house. It has the current Nobel and Booker Prize winners. But,” he added, “It isn’t the house it used to be. There was a time when Holt published everyone from Philip Roth to Sue Grafton. I want to bring it back to that, to have it be a seriously competitive house.” To shake Holt out of its mid-list doldrums, he said, “We’re going to have to lure more high-revenue, big-ticket writers.” When asked if he would be a part of that — if he himself would be luring authors to the company from their current publishers — he replied, “You bet your ass I will!” Working with writers, he says, is one of the things he’s most excited about. “Holt’s not a big company. It’s small, so I’ll be able to really get my hands dirty.”
Rubin starts next Monday.
As giant retailers continue their price war over books (Target just joined Walmart and Amazon in offering pre-sales of top November titles for $9 or less), there’s one new book that seems to take the trend to its logical extreme. The Next Queen of Heaven, a new novel by Wicked author Gregory Maguire, is available starting today for the low, low price of $0.00. That’s not a typo. Queen is the third title from the year-old Concord Free Press, which is giving away 2,500 copies of the book (half through its website and half through select independent bookstores) to readers who agree to make a donation “to a local charity, someone who needs it, or a stranger on the street.” (Distribution of the book is strictly first come, first served.) As a box on the paperback’s back cover explains: “When you’re done, pass this novel on to someone else (for free, of course) so they can give. It adds up.” The press claims that its first two releases have generated more than $85,000 in charitable donations to various causes.
The Next Queen of Heaven is a farcical holiday yarn set in 1999 in a fictional upstate New York town where strange events occur after Leontina Scales gets clocked by a Catholic statuette and begins speaking in tongues. Why in the world would an author as prominent as Maguire publish for free? READ FULL STORY
We know that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin can hunt, and even field-dress a moose, but how will she take to poachers on her book sales? Start-up publisher OR Books has announced plans to publish Going Rouge: Sarah Palin An American Nightmare, a collection of essays about the maverick Republican with a title — and cover design — remarkably similar to Palin’s upcoming memoir. What’s more, OR’s paperback tome will be released on Nov. 17, the same day that Palin’s own Going Rogue: An American Life hits shelves — and one day after Palin’s just-announced, first-ever appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show. (A shout-out to Ron Hogan at GalleyCat for the tip.)
Going Rouge is compiled by Richard Kim and Betsy Reed, two top editors of the left-leaning weekly The Nation, and includes essays by Nation regulars like Katrina vanden Heuvel, Naomi Klein, and Katha Pollitt. It’s the first release from OR Books, a fledgling outfit founded earlier this year by publishing veterans John Oakes and Colin Robinson that “embraces progressive change in politics, culture and the way we do business,” according to its website.
I realize that this anti-Palin book is a paperback and probably won’t be stocked anywhere near Palin’s hardcover memoir in bookstores, but do these jackets look too similar to be, well, fully kosher? At the very least, might some hockey-mom-loving conservatives be confused enough to pick up the wrong book? You betcha!
UPDATE: It seems that OR Books isn’t unique in its attempt to capitalize on Sarah Palin’s upcoming memoir, Going Rogue — nor in rearranging the letters of the title for its own effort. Cartoonist Julie Sigwart and political satirist Micheal Stinson are self-publishing Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring & Activity Book, a 48-page paperback that will be released Nov. 17 (the same day as the G.O.P. firebrand’s autobiography as well as OR Books’ anti-Palin essay collection, also titled Going Rouge). The sample pages on the book’s promotional website fall clearly into the realm of political satire, including a coloring page with lipsticks and pigs (naturally) and a caricature of Palin in fishing overalls and possible “fishing gear”: a gun, a saw, an ax, and a bomb.
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