The Warehouse Boogie Woogie

Distributors Reshuffle the Deck – Signing Up Clients As Publishers Proliferate, Ingram Jumps In As Baker & Taylor Gets Out

Bowker reports that 2004 saw the birth of 11,000 new ISBNs in the US, bringing the grand total to a whopping 81,000 publishers. From the largest to the smallest, everyone’s looking to get to market, and (as always in the distribution biz) the only constant here is change.

As margins continue to shrink, distributors and publishers alike are looking to extract whatever they can wherever they can – witness the re-entry of publishers into distribution to fill capacity in their warehouses (and add to the bottom line). With the invariable push and pull of every loss creating a void that needs to be filled, distributors faced another year of musical chairs – The Perseus purchase of CDS earlier this spring shook things up; Random House charged back into the game with very generous terms, picking up clients right and left, and the see-saw dance between wholesaler giants Baker & Taylor and Ingram continued with Ingram’s re-entry as the new-and-improved Ingram Publisher Services following B&T’s hasty entrance and exit.

As distributors step in and out of the ring, and client-publishers shuffle and shuttle between, others are cobbling together unorthodox options – like veteran Neil Levin who is selling the UK Octopus Group in the US, with back office functions at CDS.

Publishers often retain a greater credibility with accounts, so distributors are meeting their competition by offering expanded services (e.g. international options, entrance into non-traditional markets). This bustling competition includes printers as well. Banta, who has been in the business forever, with Workman as their first client, is actively promoting back office services and hawking their systemic advantages, as president Dave Shanke put it, of getting the book to market faster and cheaper by streamlining procedures.

However, even with the rising competition between distributors, there remains a chasm between the traditional publisher/distributors who only represent a select number of larger publishers, and the growing number of distributors (both large and small) who have hundreds (and sometimes hundreds upon hundreds) of clients.

Notwithstanding today’s declining book industry stats, Ingram Publisher Services’ VP Phil Ollila said, “It’s a good time for distribution. I’m an optimist.”

International Bestsellers: The Iran-Coelho Affair

Book-Banning Scare in Iran, Expats Unite in Turkey

Despite having completed all of the normal and rigorous procedures required to get permission from the government, Arash Hejaz, the Iranian publisher of Paulo Coelho‘s latest international sensation, THE ZAHIR, was threatened and terrified last month by the authorities. The novel was the first foreign title to be protected by copyright in Iran since 1979, and Iran was in fact the first country in which the book was published (24 hours before it was released in Coelho’s native Brazil), a condition imposed in order to obtain this copyright protection. Last month, however, it was banned by the powers that be in dramatic fashion “because the main character has a behavior that is not proper,” according to Hejaz, of Caravan Books.

What followed was a series of dramatic emails from Hejaz to Coelho, in which he detailed concerns about his own safety and the safety of his family.

“I have not slept during the last 48 hours, trying to contact people in charge, no answer. But today, someone from the ministry of culture came to me and told me that they have become extremely afraid of the increased popularity of Paulo Coelho after the release of THE ZAHIR.” Coelho’s book drew particular attention as thousands of people gathered around the Caravan stand at the Tehran Book Fair in early May, to buy the book, watch an interview of Coelho with Persian subtitles, along with a documentary on his visit to Iran in 2000.

Hejaz also distributed tie-in posters featuring Coelho with the heading “Freedom is not being uncommitted; it is to choose, and then commit to that choice,” and the words “Man, Knowledge, Freedom” along the bottom. The Government Intelligence Service soon sniffed out the stand and confiscated remaining copies of the book, threatening to burn down Hejaz’s office if he refused to stop selling books and distributing posters. Hejaz’s fear was evident in further emails: “The presidential election is near. They are doing everything to keep things under control. People are disappearing; it is exactly like year 1976 in Argentina…They can do anything.”

At the same time, another title attributed to Coelho was also released in Iran, with the title ON THE WINGS OF LOVE. “It seems there’s a conspiracy going on,” Hejaz wrote to Coelho, “as this book has not been written by you.”

In a sudden and unexpected change of events, (and presumably a result of pressure from the international press), representatives from the Ministry of Culture returned the confiscated books, explaining the threats away as a simple misunderstanding on the part of the police.
Meanwhile, despite these trials and tribulations, Coelho has already beaten his own sales records in each and every one of the 30-plus countries where THE ZAHIR has been published to date.

On a recent sojourn through the bustling bazaars of Istanbul, our very own Constance Sayre had a fortuitous encounter with the husband of US expat, author Catherine Bayar, who recently contributed two stories to an impressive anthology featuring 33 international women and their stories of Turkey, its people and its culture.

TALES FROM THE EXPAT HAREM: FOREIGN WOMEN IN MODERN TURKEY T is the brainchild of two editors, Anastasia Ashman and Jennifer Gokmen, who sailed off on the internet searching for women with stories to share. The two wanted to bring together “a modern view of how women live in this much misunderstood place… “how [they] each react and adapt to [their] adventures in Turkey.” Like a modern day metamorphosis of the writings of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, these “reflections of foreign women on their Turkish lives bridge the gap of understanding that seems to exist between the Western world and continent-straddling, paradoxical Turkey.”

The wheels were set in motion in an Istanbul writing workshop, attended by American women who realized that they were all writing about their Turkish experiences. Soon afterward, a small Turkish-American press bought their proposal for an anthology and over the course of a year Ashman and Gokmen called for submissions through expatriate, writing, and women’s groups.

“We heard from more than 100 storytellers from the worldwide diaspora of foreign women whose lives have been touched by Turkey and worked with many, most not professional writers, to fashion a personal tale that revealed as much about the woman and her own culture as the country she uncovered,” said Ashman. This spring they delivered a manuscript with settings “as diverse as the country itself, through the voices of artists and scientists and Peace Corps volunteers, among many others.”

As the project continued to grow, the small press allowed the editors to move the anthology to a larger publisher, Dogan Kitap, which would be better equipped to promote the book through its media conglomerate of television and radio stations, magazines and newspapers as well as sell the volume in its nationwide chain of bookstores.

Advance reviews have been pouring in from prominent voices in Turkish culture and politics, along with experts in expatriatism and acculturation, and so far everyone likes what they see. Ashman reports that the latest praise comes from Elif Shafak, the award-winning Turkish novelist (THE SAINT OF INCIPIENT INSANITIES, FSG 2004), and a feminism and Near Eastern studies scholar at the University of Arizona (whom Orhan Pamuk called the best author coming out of Turkey in the past decade). Shafak praised the book for “successfully transcend[ing] the cultural stereotypes so deeply-embedded in perceptions of the Eastern harem…”

The manuscript is now being submitted in Europe by Jonathan Lyons at Curtis Brown (NY) and the book has found a home with Seal Press (the feminist imprint of Avalon Publishing Group) which will publish the book in the USA and Canada in March 2006.

Hoping to build upon the success of their first major writing endeavor together, both Ashman and Gokman are preparing proposals for their own memoirs, and are also hard at work planning a second volume of EXPAT HAREM. In their spare time, they are working to expand the Expat Harem brand to other countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Visit www.expatharem.com for more information about the editors and contributors.

As Turkey continues to knock on the door of the EU, a contentious issue for EU member nations (see France’s recent “Non!”), they lead the way in reconciling the many conflicts and misunderstandings between east and west. We hoped to bring you a Turkish bestseller list, but our moles tell us that current lists bear a striking resemblance to product placement.

Hold Onto Your Freedom Fries, Paris Fait Son Retour

The 60th Annual Stationery Show

At this year’s 60th annual Stationery Show, held at the Javit’s Center from May 15-18, it seemed as if style was returning to its source, with retro-chic 1940’s and 50’s designs – and an emphasis on vintage Paris – flooding the floor. An especially slow year, Sunday kicked off to a crawling start that gave way to a hopeful pick-up on Monday, only to fall again Tuesday. Even with the less than impressive turn-out, (estimated buyer attendance was down to 14,000) exhibitors and attendees alike seemed blithely entertained as they wandered through the tchotchke laden aisles (disregarding the one small, suited man at the entrance who was screaming into his cell phone: “What do you mean the pencils are too soft?!”).

Chronicle, a perennial Stationery Show king, was packed – the epitome of the 50’s chic retro fad, where vintage Marvel Comics‘ superheroes were big. Some displayed titles included: ROMANCE PULP POSTCARDS, THE STRIPTEASE KIT:EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO TAKE IT ALL OFF, and NEW PARENT APLOGY CARDS: 30 WAYS TO APOLOGIZE TO YOUR CHILD ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. The spread also included Yoshitomo Nara journals, along with a variety of products from Anne Taintor who is known for her re-use of 1950’s Polaroid shots with added, cynical captions, like the 1950’s smiling, tiara-wearing debutant that reads “Domestically disabled,” and the inquisitive blonde in a pill box hat that asks, “Has anyone seen my hormones?”

S&S, HarperCollins, Abrams, Sourcebooks and Random House booths, on the other hand, were all next to empty. Random, like Chronicle, went retro with their vintage Wizard of OZ notecards, A Woman of Affairs journal – embossed with the original Gilbert/Garbo MGM cover, and HOW TO EAT LIKE A REPUBLICAN – OR, HOLD THE MAYO, MUFFY, I’M FEELING MIRACLE WHIPPED TONIGHT. Even Andrews McMeel, who had an enormous corner-wrapping spread near the front entrance, couldn’t draw in buyers, and stood similarly sparse. Susan Gaffney, Manager Special Sales, says TWBG returned to the fair after an extended absence, but will not return next year. “It’s a lot of work, very expensive and there is no way to track if we’re getting any new buisness,” she said, citing that sales were down across the board – not just within the book business.
As for the non-book booths, a steady stream of traffic flowed into Dave and Kelly Sopp’s Wry Baby – a chic all-white booth (replete with shag rug) displaying the company’s hilarious infant and toddler wear. White onesies and t-shirts displayed slogans like: “Not an elf,” “I can’t read,” “Ate my dreidel,” and “I’m not a boy,” along with their #1 bestseller: “I might barf.” In addition, the company also has a Safe Baby Handling Tips line that features instructional line drawings that explain how to do things like “Calming Baby” (mother patting baby’s back: “Good,” baby drinking bootlegged liquor “Bad”). Wry Baby is collaborating with Running Press (who was notably absent from this year’s show) to publish a Safe Baby Handling Tips board book due to appear this summer.
On a more serious note, Amazon Paper, a first-time exhibitor, displayed their handcrafted, natural, tree-free stationary and gifts. The beautifully delicate products are made by rural farmers, craftsman and urban workers as part of a “social sustainable-development project” in Brazil, generating jobs, and creating income, for families throughout the Amazon. For more information, visit their website at www.amazonpaper.com.br

Bookview, June 2005

PEOPLE
As we move into summer, some job changes include geographic movement, along with the usual hopping across town:

Close to home Laurie Rippon, Publisher of CollinsDesign, is leaving HarperCollins effective July 31. She may be contacted through the company until then. Meanwhile, Steve Wasserman, fresh from his LA Times gig, is once again a New Yorker, running the Manhattan office of Boston-based agency Kneerim & Williams, alongside agents Brettne Bloom and Elisabeth Weed. (The industry awaits word of which literary agency will be lucky enough to snag Time Warner‘s Larry Kirshbaum when he retires from the company.)

Further afield, Will Kiester, Publisher of Eye Quarto is relocating to Australia where he has been named Publisher of Murdoch Books. And John Kelly, ex-B&N but most recently head of Book Creation, will consolidate his operations in New Zealand (where he has spent much of the last two years) by the end of 2005. His email address, [email protected], works in both locations.

Meanwhile Y.S. Chi, worn out by endless traveling, is leaving RH Asia, but will remain on several Random House boards. His replacement as President and CEO is Eric Yang, who will sell his interest in the Eric Yang Agency.
In more travel-heavy switches…Chronicle publicist Debbie Matsumoto is leaving the job after nearly twenty years, for North Atlantic Books, where she’ll serve as Publicity Manager of North Atlantic and Frog Ltd, ex-PGWer Mark Ouimet‘s new haunt.

And speaking of former Chronicle people, Jason Mitchell, who worked at the publisher before moving East as Quirk‘s first publicity and marketing director, is heading back west. He’ll be going to Taschen in L.A, taking the Publicity Director spot vacated by Laura Howard.

Maureen O’Neal has joined ReganMedia as a Senior Editor. She was most recently at Ballantine. . . . Allison McCabe has left Berkley for Crown, where she will be Senior Editor. . . . Philip Revzin has joined St. Martin‘s as Senior Editor. He had been at Dow Jones for most of his career, including positions as VP International and Business Development for the WSJ, and Editor and Publisher of WSJ Europe.

Bill Corsa has severed his relationship with Osprey UK and is relaunching his special sales business, Specialty Book Marketing. He may be reached at 718 849 5131.

Peter Molinari joins the National Book Network as Director of Mass Markets. He will report directly to Patricia Kelly, Senior Sales Director, who joined NBN from PGW in April. He was Mass Merchandising Sales Manager at PGW.

Following Anne Larsen‘s departure Elaine Szewczyk has been named Editor, Kirkus Reviews. She may be reached at [email protected] or 646-654-5720. She previously oversaw the website. Eric Liebetrau has been named Associate Editor, Kirkus Special Projects, including Kirkus special sections, the Virginia Kirkus Awards, etc.

In ongoing after-effects of the Bloomsbury acquisition of Walker, Stephen Morrison (who went to Penguin last month) has been replaced by Eileen Pagan, who had been Rights Director for Walker. And Bloomsbury’s Director of Publicity Marian Brown is now Marketing and Editorial Director, paperbacks. Others promoted and/or reassigned to positions at Bloomsbury include Director of Marketing Maya Baran now Director of Publicity, and Sales Director Josh Wood, who is now Director of Sales Planning and Inventory. However, Art Director Krystyna Skalski has left and may be reached at 212 260 9182. Other cutbacks include Walker’s CFO, Director of Production and Design, and Production Manager as well as a number of customer service employees. Walker has relinquished its relationships with its commission sales reps.

Christina Noriega has been named Manager, Special Markets at Scholastic reporting to John Illingworth. She was at DK.

Kate Travers is moving over from Harper Perennial to be Director of the Houghton‘s paperback program including Mariner and HM paperbacks. Susan Canavan steps down as Managing Director of trade paperbacks to focus on editing.

The Ingram Book Group has formed a new proprietary and bargain merchandise operation and appointed Tom Jourdane to direct the unit. Jourdane moves to Ingram from Overstock.com and before that the AMS imprint Thunder Bay.

PROMOTIONS

David Goddy moves from VP of Scholastic Education to VP for Strategic Development at E-Scholastic, reporting to Division President Seth Radwell

In the wake of Pete McCarthy‘s departure, Jason Kincade has been promoted to Online Editor for the Penguin Group, reporting to Sandy McCarron, Content Director.

Goldberg McDuffie Communications announces that Angela Baggetta Hayes has been promoted to Deputy Director of Publicity. Hayes has been a Publicity Manager at the firm for two years, and previously at Basic.
Michelle Howry has been promoted to Senior Editor Perigee Books, which she joined in 2002.

Harper Perennial associate publisher Jennifer Hart will add the title of Associate Publisher for Ecco, as Amy Baker is promoted to Associate Director of Marketing for Ecco and Perennial. Hope Innelli is moving from Executive Editor at Harper Entertainment to Associate Publisher for the Harper trade paperback line, and now runs the Simpsons book line.
Kris Puopolo has moved from Broadway to assume the new position of Senior Editor for Doubleday Broadway, reporting to Bill Thomas with the responsibility for acquiring “serious nonfiction” for the Doubleday list.

JUNE EVENTS

MPI‘s own Constance Sayre moderates a mock negotiation of a publishing contract, at 4:30 pm on June 4th at Javits (Room 1E 03), and featuring agent Michael Carlisle, S&S Publisher David Rosenthal and Steve Sheppard and Ellis Levine, well known publishing lawyers.

National Book Foundation will be holding a raffle throughout BookExpo‘s four days at booth # 1425. Visitors to the booth who wish to enter will be asked to leave their business cards or give their email address for the drawing that will take place the following week. First place winners will receive two free tickets to this year’s National Book Awards Dinner and Ceremony and will have the opportunity to meet the 2005 Finalists. The second place winner will receive a bomber jacket brief bag, courtesy of Levenger. Winners will be announced on the National Book Foundation’s web site, www.national book.org the week of June 6.

DULY NOTED

Joyce Stein tells PT that Raab Associates Inc. is launching of Reviewers Checklist.com, an online search database for media and others looking for new books for children, teens and families. This one-stop resource provides reviewers, editors and producers a quick and easy way to locate and request new and forthcoming titles by topic, author, illustrator, publisher and seasonal interest, and it provides publishers with new ways to get the word out on their books. The site, which currently houses more than 5,000 titles from more than 40 publishers, includes Random House, Simon & Schuster, National Geographic, Scholastic and Harcourt. It is also a public resource for booksellers, educators, librarians and others interested in new children’s books.

The Academy of American Poets has unveiled a completely revamped, redesigned, and expanded version of its award-winning website, www.poets.org. Tree Swenson, the Academy’s Executive Director, said, “More poems, more articles, more links, more ways to immerse yourself in poetry-welcome to the brand new Poets.org.” In April 2005, Poets.org received 1.15 million visits, 570,000 unique visitors, and 7.8 million hits, with an average visit length of over 13 minutes.

IN MEMORIAM

Cliff Becker, Director of Literature at the National Endowment for the Arts, died on May 17, 2005, of a heart attack. Becker began his career at the NEA in 1992.

Arnold Robert Bolka
, founding publisher of The Licensing Letter, a business periodical that serves the worldwide licensed merchandising community, died at his home in Scottsdale, AZ Tuesday May 31 after a short illness. He was 81 years old.

Book View, May 2005

PEOPLE

April began with the front page NYT story about Judith Regan’s move to LA – a story whose significance is still somewhat unclear. Then real news came of Scholastic‘s Barbara Marcus leaving in June and being succeeded by Disney‘s Lisa Holton.

Changes at Rodale include the just announced resignation of Amy Rhodes, Publisher of Trade Books, and the earlier resignation of Executive Editor Jeremy Katz (see below). Louise Rice has been named as Rodale’s International Managing Director, based in the UK office. and Jennifer DeFilippi has been hired as an editor, acquiring general lifestyle books and reporting to Margot Schupf. She was at Clarkson Potter.

Mary Ellen Curley has left HarperCollins, where she was Associate Publisher for Resource and Business. She may be reached at [email protected] . . . Sally Wood has left her position as President of Pearson‘s Family Education Network and may be reached at [email protected]. . . . Peter McCarthy, VP Executive Director of Penguin (US) online has resigned.

Workman has hired Steven Pace, formerly VP of retail sales at Baker & Taylor, as its trade Sales Director. And Chris Pavone is leaving Clarkson Potter to join Artisan as Associate Publisher.

In the literary agency maelstrom, Laura Nolan who left B&N Publishing has joined Creative Culture, the literary agency run by Mary Ann Naples and Debra Goldstein. . . . Curtis Brown agent Ellen Geiger has joined the Frances Goldin Literary Agency. . . . Jeremy Katz, has left his job as Executive Editor of Men’s Health and Sports books at Rodale to join Greenburger as an agent, dividing his time between Pennsylvania and New York. He can be reached at [email protected] or 212 206 5621. . . . Gail Fortune has left Berkley after 15 years there as an editor to join John Talbot in a new venture, The Talbot Fortune Agency.

Kathy Schneider, Associate Publisher at Miramax, is following her boss Jonathan Burnham, to HarperCollins. Emily Takoudes, formerly an associate editor at S&S, is joining HarperCollins’ Ecco imprint as an Editor on May 5. Lee Boudreaux joined in February. And at Regan Books, Chris Min Park has joined the imprint as a senior editor, effective immediately. She was at Rugged Land.

Stephen Morrison returns to Penguin as Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher, reporting to Kathryn Court, President and Publisher of Penguin and Plume. Morrison will be responsible for Penguin Trade Paperbacks and the execution of the Penguin Publishing Program. He was most recently at Bloomsbury USA.

Patricia Kelly has become senior Director of Sales as well as Director of NBNKids. Kelly, who was Director of Sales for children’s and special-markets at PGW, will remain based in the Bay Area and will report to VP of Sales, Michael Sullivan.

Larry D. Chilnick has been appointed Editorial Director of the Cleveland Clinic Press, a new commercial publishing arm of The Cleveland Clinic. Chilnick has most recently been a book packager and agent.

Elisabeth Dyssegaard joins Smithsonian Books, as Executive Editor. She was most recently at Ballantine and before that, at FSG. She may be reached at [email protected] Also joining the editorial department is T.J. Kellerher, most recently senior editor at Natural History magazine.

Louisa Ermelino has joined PW as Reviews Editor, a new position. Ermelino, most recently chief of reporters at InStyle magazine, has been a reviewer for both trade and consumer magazines. She is also the author of three novels, and teaches creative writing at Columbia.

David Brown joins Atria and Washington Square Press as Publicity Manager. He was at Morrow/Avon.

In children’s books: Jeanne Mosure moves into Lisa Holton’s place at Disney. Brenda Bowen has been promoted to VP, Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, and Lynn Waggoner was promoted to VP, Global Books & U.S. Associate Publisher. Mark Maxwell has been promoted to Director of Sales for Disney Children’s Book Group and Jim Conlin comes over from Scholastic and Borders as Senior Account Executive. Meanwhile, Catherine Daly has left Disney for the position of VP Editorial Director of S&S’s Simon Spotlight. . . .

Ellen Stamper has joined HarperFestival as Editorial Director, reporting to VP Publishing Director Emily Brenner. Stamper was Publisher of Paint Chip Productions, a packaging division of Walter Foster Publishing. . . . Harcourt announced a restructuring of their children’s editorial department: Allyn Johnston has been promoted to the newly created position of Editor in Chief, while Elizabeth Van Doren takes an “enhanced” Editorial Director position. And Kathy Dawson has joined as Associate Editorial Director. She was at Putnam. Jeannette Lawson has been promoted to Executive Editor. . . .

Jennifer Gonzalez has been hired by Candlewick as National Account Manager – she was formerly at Levy Home Entertainment where she was a Senior Account Executive on the Target Account.

Running Press Publisher John Whalen has left and Jon Anderson, who had come into the company late last year, will take over the position. He had succeeded Carlo DeVito, who went to Penguin.

PROMOTIONS

Suzanne Herz, VP Associate Publisher and Executive Director of Publicity for Doubleday Broadway, has been named Publisher of the new imprint she has formed, Flying Point Press. Her publicity responsibilities will be assumed by Alison Rich and David Drake, who will head respectively, publicity at Doubleday and Broadway.

Kate Medina, Executive Vice President and Executive Editor of the Random House editorial imprints, has been named Executive Editorial Director.

Hyperion’s Director of Marketing Jane Comins has been given the additional title of Associate Publisher, while Director of Publicity Katie Wainwright adds responsibility as Associate Publisher for trade paperbacks. National Accounts Manager Sarah Schaffer has been promoted to Director of Sales.

David Roth-Ey has been named VP, Editorial Director of Harper Perennial and Harper trade paperbacks.

Following Emi Battaglia‘s promotion to Associate Publisher, Warner has named Jennifer Romanello as Director of Publicity.

At Rodale, Cathy Lee Gruhn has been promoted to Executive Director of Publicity, and Louise Braverman steps up to Associate Director. Mariska Van Aalst and Susan Berg have both been promoted to Senior Editor

MAY EVENTS

Women’s National Book Association presents a May 10th panel on Young Literary Agents on Publishing: Changing the Industry One Book at a Time. Panelists include Andrea Barzvi (ICM), David Black (David Black Agency), Jay Mandel (William Morris Agency) Jim Rutman (Sterling Lord Literistic). The panel takes place from 6 – 8 p.m. at Small Press Center, 20 West 44th Street. Meanwhile, as of May, all NY Chapter panel events will be available to members as streaming audio and PDFs. For info: www.wnba-nyc.org

The Publishing Triangle‘s 17th Annual Triangle Awards, honoring the best lesbian and gay fiction, nonfiction, and poetry published in 2004, will be presented on May 10 at the Tishman Auditorium of the New School for Social Research (66 West 12th Street) from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Avalon Publishing Group, the ceremony is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow.

• FSG’s John Glusman will appear at 192 Books (192 Tenth Avenue at 21st Street) on May 12 at 7 pm. He will talk about his book Conduct Under Fire: Four American Doctors and Their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, which Viking is publishing. Call 212.255.4022 to reserve a seat.

DULY NOTED

Marsha Melnick reports a change of address for the offices of Roundtable Press, Inc: 102 Blooms Corners Road, Warwick, New York 10990. Roundtable’s telephone number remains the same, 212-691-0500. The company will continue to handle reprints, revisions, and royalties of its backlist titles. In a related note, Marsha Melnick and Susan E. Meyer announce the formation of Melnick & Meyer Books, a book packaging company to develop new projects. The new company will be located at the same address in Warwick, New York. Melnick and Meyer can be reached at 845-986-1811.

MAZEL TOV

Carie Freimuth and John Hughes announce the arrival of Joseph Freimuth Hughes on March 19th in Denver.

More BC at BEA

BEA‘s back and Blackberrys are buzzing as everyone gears up for yet another three-day extravaganza chock full of authors, agents, air kisses and an international invasion. To help you get quadruple booked in all the right ways, Publishing Trends checked in with a number of show veterans and got the low down on this year’s book fair behemoth.

The new BEA show manager Chris McCabe reports that there are “no major changes” to this year’s event, (except for him, of course), but he’s very excited. “Not brand-spanking new, we’re building on things that have been successful in the past,” he said, noting a focus on librarians and increased international activity.

The Rights Center will be back on the show floor this year after its successful debut in Chicago in 2004 – with over 200 tables up from last year’s 140. “It speaks to increased international activity,” McCabe said. “We’re seeing more selling in both directions.”

Jürgen Boos, the new director of the Frankfurt Book Fair will be hanging out at booth #2225 – the German collective stand – with 31 other exhibitors. “I am really looking forward to my first BEA in my new role. I am very excited to meet our clients and to get their feedback so that we can further improve our services at the Frankfurt Book Fair.” The annual reception of the Frankfurt Book Fair in cooperation with Le Bureau International de l’Édition Française will take place on Friday, June 3rd at 5 p.m. Boos will be there.

Ornella Robbiati, Editor-In-Chief of Sonzogno said, “BEA is not a rights fair, it has been more and more taken over by LBF.” (But PT notes she couldn’t stay away!)

In another exciting staying-the-same-only-better development, McCabe also notes that the successful editorial Buzz Forum will be back again this year. There will also be a panel, designed to highlight two or three hot-button contractual issues – libel, decency (could be smut, homosexuality, gay marriage), payout schedules, and the like – lawyers Ellis Levine and J. Stephen Sheppard, of the firm of Cowan DeBaets Abrahams and Sheppard, will join with literary agent Michael Carlisle of InkWell Management and S&S Publisher David Rosenthal in inventing a non-fiction book and conducting a mock-negotiation.

As usual a 1000 plus authors will be in attendance, with 700 signing copies of their latest works.

In addition, “We have another BC as our opening night act,” says McCabe, “last year it was Bill Clinton, of course, and this year it’s Billy Crystal.” And the Saturday night benefit adds yet another Bill to the mix with Bill Maher hosting Real Time at the Town Hall.

The one addition that is “spanking new” this year is The New Title Showcase which will allow everyone from existing exhibitors to small independent publishers the chance to buy shelf space to display their newest releases at the entrance. Space is limited, but McCabe adds that they can always squeeze in more, so if you haven’t signed up yet, do so immediately.

But enough about Javits happenings, where are the parties? On Thursday, S&S is throwing a party for Gigi Levangie Grazer, author of The Starter Wife at Soho House, but Friday, June 3 seems to be party day, with Broadway throwing a party for Mark Bittmar, Houghton’s children’s paperback imprint Graphia is hosting a party at Amuse to celebrate its books, and a 1745 Broadway shindig for Random authors is in the works. Henry Holt will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Metropolitan Books sometime during the weekend, and Harcourt is hosting a luncheon for Umberto Eco.

Only in New York, kids. Only in New York.

The Other Book Club

A gaggle of writers and publishers gathered at the Small Press Center in mid-April to witness a lively panel discussion on the growing phenomenon of Reading Groups, aka the Other Book Clubs. PT attended the panel and then did follow up interviews with some of the panelists.

Organized by Mark Kaufman, Donna Paz Kaufman who run Reading Group Choices (www.readinggroupchoices.com), and Jill Tardiff, National President of Women’s National Book Association, the panel steered a course between talking about what makes a good book club, and defining just what a book club is. Some of the stats that were bandied about were pretty impressive: An estimated 20-25% of some bestselling titles (viz. Kite Runner, Secret Life of Bees) are bought by reading group members; More than 400 titles were mentioned by respondents to the Reading Group Choices annual survey and in 2004, 14 of the top 20 books are repeats from earlier years. The average book club member reads 36 books a year.

Carol Fitzgerald, President of The Book Report Network, which includes ReadingGroup Guides.com, says she has 2200 book clubs registered on her site and offers publishers the opportunity to pitch book club members on author telephone or online interviews, as well as offering ARCs for certain higher profile authors. When the chance to win ARCs is presented, as many as 350 groups will sign up. Among the trends Fitzgerald has seen is an increase in the number of book club members who choose audiobooks as their preferred method of reading. She also noted that in a recent survey, 48% of respondents say they choose their books 2-3 months ahead, while 16% plan up to 6 months ahead. Therefore, publishers need to alert book groups about new books sooner than they are currently doing.

Everyone noticed that hardcovers are increasingly popular with reading groups, though Barbara Hoffert, Editor of of Library Journal‘s book review, mentioned that libraries are as likely to buy trade paperbacks, for budgetary reasons. Libraries keep extensive lists of reading club books, which they recommend to their patrons. The Seattle Public Library keeps 24 copies of each of 400 titles that they consider premier club books. It hosts 30 of its own reading groups, with another 300 on file.

Adriana Trigiani, author of Lucia, Lucia, and the poster child for how authors can relate to reading groups, speaks to many of her groups by phone – though Donna Paz Kaufman claims only a fraction — about 1% — of the groups take advantage of telephone interviews. She also talked of the impact of appearing on B&N University which, she claims, resulted in 4000 emails from readers and fans.

Everyone had suggestions for publishers: Fitzgerald thinks reading group guides should be published before the trade paperbacks come out (not surprisingly, she suggests they be posted on ReadingGroupGuides.com), and that there should be more material in them, such as author interviews. Everyone – including HarperPerennial‘s David Roth-Ey — agreed that guides are often patronizing, or as Mark Kaufman explained, “like final exams in a graduate English course.” And Roth-Ey talked about Harper Perrenial’s PS Program, which he described as, “a reading group guide on steroids.” Again, everyone agreed that there is too little marketing clout behind the paperback publication of a likely reading group title, and in fact, too little marketing of backlist titles in general.

“Publishers need a marketing slush fund for backlist titles,” Fitzgerald said, “they’re so forward thinking, they’re missing the mark on these titles.”

As for the future of reading groups, look to October, which is National Reading Group Month. Oh, and Listen To Your Inner Critic Month. Really.

*Politics & Prose estimates that at any one time 10% of its 90 groups are currently reading The Kite Runner.

RBTE: The Traditionalists

RBTE: The Traditionalists

FROM PUBLISHING TRENDS (MAY 2005)

New York isn’t the only city getting a little expo action this June. In Chicago, the Religious Book Trade Exhibit (RBTE) is hitting the floor the same weekend as BEA, running from May 31 to June 3. Bob Byrns, who coordinates the event (which has sold out every year for the past 13), expects nearly 1,000 to attend, with 927 exhibitors and buyers – a “steady, mild increase” from years past. “We reach out mainly to Catholic, Episcopal, and liturgical shops,” Byrnes said. “We do not promote any membership of CBA – although we do have evangelical stores attending, usually chains.”

Religion buyers at Barnes & Noble, Borders and Amazon are (and have been) on the RBTE’s key lists, highlighting the importance such outlets play in selling traditional religious products – although it is less likely that they will attend due to the BEA/RBTE scheduling conflict.

Trace Murphy, Executive Editor Religious Publishing Doubleday (who will be attending both BEA and RBTE) noted that even though there has been a surge in “crossover” exposure to religious books (particularly CBA affiliated) over the past five years due to increased distribution at WalMart and the price clubs, “The Catholic market seems always to be steady.”

“It’s not as meaningful to speak of crossover within the Catholic market,” Murphy explained, “because [the Catholic market] wasn’t so thoroughly a world into itself as the CBA was…and there has always been a fairly good representation in general stores.” He continued, that since the CBA didn’t have such similar representation before, “the issue of crossover now, is dramatic.”

Byrns mentioned the trend, especially in Catholic Publishing, toward a merging of genres like Psychology and Religion as people take a more secular approach to religious and spiritual exploration. He also noted that the tendency toward alternative spiritual trends has gone away.

The traditional religious market does see “the occasional flourish” and spike, however, following events like the recent death of Pope John Paul II which has catapulted books by the former Pope and his successor to the forefront.

“In the aftermath of world-wide, wall-to-wall coverage of John Paul II and his successor, many of us are pooped – but not poped – out,” said Greg Tobin, author of Holy Father:Benedict XVI, Pontiff for a New Era (B&N Books), which will be the first instant book into the market in early May, “There seems to be a nearly bottomless public interest in this subject.”

In other growth, the “market overseas is strong” according to Murphy, and there is a “steady interest” abroad for religious books, although Doubleday’s relationship with foreign publishers has “long been healthy.”

In relation to RBTE, Byrns said, “Certainly we’ve seen an increased interest from a variety of international publishers,” especially in terms of Spanish language publishing, along with English language in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand.

As to what one can expect on the RBTE floor – although there will be some “holy hardware” (with an emphasis on John Paul II and Benedict XVI extras and the ever ubiquitous cross) in the gift and religious articles aisles at RBTE, sources tell us that if you want scripture candy or Jesus mints, you’re coming to the wrong place.

Looking Out for the Little Guy

NYU’s Center for Publishing hosted its third Management Forum for Small and Independent Publishers April 15-16, and got an impressive turnout from around the country. Director Robert Baensch hosted the event.

Friday morning was devoted to the Big Picture, and Bruce Harris, who headed sales at Random before going to Workman and now, consulting, gave an overview of where the industry is going. Think religion! Print on Demand! Self publishing! Non-bookstore! And finally, Harris extoled the advantages of outsourcing as many publishing functions as is practical, and used his experience from Joy At Work to illustrate. Jeff Abraham followed with BISG stats, a Bookscan rep presented its new website, and B&T‘s Jean Srnecz did her usual combo of lively and practical advice for using a wholesaler effectively.

Despite the inviting sunny skies on Saturday, attendees managed to fight the temptation to spend the day in Bryant Park clutching their Jamba Juices, and were rewarded with a series of practical talks that has become the Forum’s trademark. J. McCrary of the Perseus Books Group opined about the potential of profitable non-retail special sales and those magic little words: nonreturnable sales. Ann Heron of the California-based Nolo Press, followed with her take on choosing the proper technology for one’s business. With a graphic that read, “Intel Inside. Idiot Outside,” she warned against upgrading systems without aforethought, but also celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit that allowed a company like Nolo to adapt to changing technologies by migrating much of its material online. Judy Hottensen of Grove Atlantic spoke about the role of publicity in generating revenue growth, complete with graphs highlighting spikes in sales for books appearing on NPR, The Today Show, Don Imus and others. Dan Reynolds of Storey Publishing then took the podium to talk about getting books ranging from Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs to At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much, into the non-book retail market. He pointed at the growing importance of blogs like yarnharlot.com in increasing awareness of niche titles.

The Summer Publishing Institute runs from June 5 – July 15.

Voices from the Edge

PEN Draws Droves, Caruso in Siberia, Sie ist ein Berliner

Who says Americans don’t love literature in translation? The jam-packed events surrounding the PEN World Voices Festival last month suggest that editors will be scrambling to find the next José Manuel Prieto or Adam Zagajewski faster than one can say cross-cultural-post-national-poly-lingual-extravaganza. Billed as “a confluence of remarkable writers from more than 45 countries,” the campaign was created as part of an effort to raise American awareness of the “breadth of literary talent available beyond our national and linguistic borders.” According to PEN, translations account for less than three percent of all literary books published annually in the United States. Depressed yet? The week’s events addressed the “combination of historical circumstances and market forces that keep most of the world’s literatures from being published in English,” despite the fact that an estimated 80% of the world’s population does not speak English.

One of the many highlights of the festival was a literary “variety show” presented by the monthly books and culture magazine The Believer, which kicked off with Jonathan Ames’ (Wake Up, Sir!) madcap demonstration of a Chewbacca-like language he and his friends invented in their youth. Not to be outdone, Salvador Plascencia, a budding author from Guadalajara, Mexico, sent the crowd into snickers with a presentation of a series of illustrations depicting “endangered L.A. gang signs” with deadpan explanations of the origins of each hand gesture. A host of authors hailing from Nigeria to Japan to Germany took part in a discussion on the rules of “cross-cultural appropriation,” moderated by Rick Moody. While Chimamanda Adichie (Purple Hibiscus) and Tsitsi Dangarembga (Nervous Conditions) – from Nigeria and Zimbabwe respectively – cautioned about the need for sensitivity when adopting the voice of another nation or gender in one’s writing, Minae Mizumura (A Real Novel) addressed the practical matter of considering whether or not one’s work will be accepted at home and abroad while engaging in the creative process. There are choices to be made, Salman Rushdie pointed out. Is it “ghee” or “clarified butter?” German author Katja Lange-Müller, who has not yet been published in English (see below), concluded that, at a table with so many intelligent people, everyone is right on some level.

Call Him “The Postman”

So joked Rushdie when he addressed his categorization as a post-national and, basically, post-everything-under-the-sun author at another reading dedicated to writers who “test the limits of nationalist definitions of literature.” Rushdie shared the stage with seven other authors, including Yoko Tawada (The Bridegroom was a Dog) – born and raised in Tokyo and educated at the University of Hamburg – who switched between Japanese and German with the speed and finesse of a bullet train. Mouths watered as Viennese writer Lilian Faschinger read an ode to Austrian pastries as a metaphor for national sentimentality. Francisco Goldman, who drew much applause for his reading from his latest novel, The Divine Husband, written in English, (Atlantic Monthly Press), threw an extra wrench into the issue of identity and nationalism when he introduced himself as having been born in Miami International Airport. Siberian author Yuri Rytkheu shared his writing about the Chukotka of Siberia from his recently-translated-into-English novel A Dream in Polar Fog (Archipelago) and stole the show with the following (paraphrased) joke about the problem of translation:

Two Jews are standing on a corner and the first one says, “You know, I don’t know what’s so great about that Caruso guy. I’ve heard him sing and, to be honest, I wasn’t that impressed.” The second one says, “But he’s Caruso, world-renowned tenor, how could you not like him? Did you hear him in a concert?” To which the first guy replies, “No, but my friend Shapiro did and he sang the whole thing back to me.”

Still Lost In Translation?

Throughout the week, Words Without Borders hosted live on-line discussions focusing on translation matters. Though it’s difficult to deny that the dearth of good translators is a major hindrance to the acquisition of foreign titles, Esther Allen, chair of the PEN Translation Committee and co-director of the festival, asked rhetorically, “How many multimillion dollar advances are paid out each year for a book that exists only as a two-page proposal or a paragraph scribbled on the back of a napkin?” She added, “Publishers are constantly paying money for books they haven’t read, so to claim that this is a major obstacle to publishing translations strikes me as somewhat disingenuous.” Alane Mason, Norton Senior Editor and founding editor of WWB, has a fine solution to the problem: “What we need is for every author who gets a big advance to make a big donation to WWB, to support translation and promotion of wonderful foreign writers!”

From the “banned voices” celebrated at KGB Bar to Eliot Weinberger’s riveting sociopolitical commentary to Hanif Kureishi’s comments on eroticism and organized religion to German author Uwe Timm’s revealing words about his brother – who served and died as a member of the feared SS Death’s Head group during World War II in his latest book, In My Brother’s Shadow (FSG) – the inaugural festival encompased the serious to the sublime and will surely be back in some reincarnation or another next year.

While many of the authors in attendance are already published in English or at least well-known in the US, East Berlin-born Katja Lange-Müller, praised for her “extraordinary precision of language and wild sense of humor,” has yet to make the leap across the Atlantic. Her latest collection of short stories, The Ducks, The Women, and The Truth, “takes the reader into the excitement and flamboyance of the details of our lives” running the gamut from zoo animals to baseball, and from South American beaches to the streets of Berlin. But in all of her stories, the people who live in these places play the leading role. Lange-Müller worked as a typesetter and as a nurse’s aid in psychiatric institutions before 1984, when she escaped to West Berlin where she was able to pursue her writing. Winner of the Ingeborg Bachmann Award, and the Alfred Döblin Award among other prizes, she is also known for her earlier novel, The Last Ones, which is the story of a woman and three men on the fringes of society in 1970s East Berlin. The quartet works for a private printer, and, through them, she tells the story of endings: the end of a professional group, of an old technology, and of a social class against the backdrop of a “fantastic subversive operation” in this “masterpiece of laconic humor and linguistic precision.” Rights to her books have been sold to Wereldbibliotheek (Holland) and to Amphora (Russia). Contact Iris Brandt at Kiepenheuer & Witsch (Germany).