International Fiction Bestsellers

Ashcan Memories
Mauvignier Talks Trash in France, Celery Stalks Italy, and Holland Peeps at Lost Souls

The dustbin has popped open in France this month and rendered up Laurent Mauvignier’s elegiac second novel, Learning to Finish, which details the plight of a trash collector who announces he is leaving his wife — only to maim himself in a bad car wreck on the way out. As we learn from the heroine’s monologue, she takes her hubby back in hope that nursing him to health will repair the marriage as well. Psychic debris from the war in Algeria interferes, however, and then there’s that junk heap known as the Other Woman. Critics have invoked nothing less than Stephen King’s Misery, marveling at the book’s “hypnotic structure” as it lays bare “the silence of a defunct love.” As the 34-year-old Mauvignier explained, “I write like a brute, without limits.” In fact, an act of violence hobbled his writing ability when he was 16. But four years ago, he picked up the pen and out rushed his first book, Far from Them, to which Minuit’s Irène Lindon responded within 48 hours (it was published in 1999). Though it has slipped off the top ten list, the new novel won the Wepler Prize last fall and has sold over 80,000 copies in France. Rights have been picked up in Germany (Eichborn), Taiwan (Crown), and Israel (Kinneret), with negotiations continuing in Korea and China. US rights are available from agent Georges Borchardt.

Also of note in France, the beguilingly titled And Rising Slowly Into Immense Love by former journalist and feminist-provocateur Katherine Pancol rises right into the top ten. It’s a tale of love found in — where else? — the elevator, where a man (named Mann) and woman (Angelina) discover fleeting but all-out-dizzying passion on their brief ascent between floors. Alas, she’s due to be married the next day, and much amorous intrigue ensues, the upshot being a dramatic rescue from the altar that plays into Pancol’s pointedly thoughtful consideration of nonconformity and social mores. The title, incidentally, is a line from Rimbaud. Last we heard, all rights were available from Albin Michel.

The hugely popular comic actress Luciana Littizzetto puts Italy in stitches this month with Alone Like a Celery Stalk, her new volume of “high-pitch confessions” on the plentiful perils of womanhood. Every chapter takes up a different theme, probing it from both the male and female point of view and yielding a ribald collection that is said to be “caustic, irresistible, and without modesty.” As Littizzetto puts it: “Every woman, sooner or later, looks at herself in the mirror and would like to slice her face off with a machete.” While men gain points with age, she adds, “women are more like gorgonzola.” All rights are available; see Emanuela Canali at Mondadori.

Also on tap in Italy, the flabbergasting Luciano de Crescenzo has been giving readers some Of This and That in his latest volume of pop philosophy, Neapolitan style. The book ponders the oddness of time’s passage after the protagonist wanders into a secret room where time stands still, and includes a bonus trip to the underworld of Naples, all told with Crescenzo’s trademark nonchalance. (Who else could spin the pre-Socratics as “a most likeable parcel of rogues,” as the author did in his History of Greek Philosophy?) As all Italians know, the 73-year-old Crescenzo is a former engineer whose first book sold 600,000 copies and launched a career spanning 24 titles and 18 million copies worldwide. The new one had a first print run of 100,000 copies, and at press time, no rights had been sold, according to Chiara Ferrari at the Laura Grandi agency.

All of Holland has been “peeping at stranded lives” as a sequel of sorts to Vonne van der Meer’s bestselling 1999 novel The Silence of Small Things hits the lists. The new book, The Last Boat, extends the tales of the first novel, which offered a collection of seven portraits that read as short stories, each one tracking a different visitor to an island cottage that serves as a bed-and-breakfast for lost souls: a pregnant teenager, a woman dying of cancer, and a maritally challenged couple among them. The cottage’s “cleaning woman” tidies up their lives with her “special view about hospitality,” prompting one reviewer to dub the series a “modern Book of Hours.” Both titles have been sold to Germany (Kiepenheuer) and Serbia (Prometej), and US rights are still available from Contact.

India’s abuzz over Ladies Coupe, the second novel from Bangalore-based Anita Nair, which chronicles five women as they embark on a train ride in the “ladies coupe,” as the women’s segregated compartment was known in the dark ages of gender history. Things get chugging when the fortysomething Akhila suddenly decides to climb aboard and ride to Kanyakumari, the farthest point on the map of India. The women trade tales (and also trade scathing remarks about Margaret’s “drawer-of-genitalia-in-library-books husband”) until Akhila reaches her destination and flings off the shackles of her tradition-bound family. The new one is a gender-switched counterpart to Nair’s first novel, The Better Man, an “imposing debut” with an “impact that sneaks into one’s dreams.” Rights for the new one have been sold in Spain and Holland, and others are available from Penguin India.

Shackles are also flying off in Australia this month, where the biography Nancy Wake chronicles the exploits of the Australian war heroine who was one of the Gestapo’s most wanted people, and who survived in German-occupied France working as a secret agent with the French Resistance. The 90-year-old Wake is renowned for her “casual impudence” and “film-star glamour,” and given her youthful follies, a reviewer writes, “It’s hard to resist planning the film version that must surely follow.” Fortunately, Sydney journalist Peter FitzSimons captures all the right shots: “Ever conscious of the finer things in life,” says the promo copy, “[Wake] still managed to sleep in a silk nightgown, even when camping deep in the forest.” Almost 20,000 copies have been sold, and US and UK rights are available from Curtis Brown Australia’s Fiona Inglis.

Lastly in Australia, Cecilia Dart-Thornton’s first novel The Ill-Made Mute has received a big holler from the fantasy crowd, as it plunges into the history of Scotland and Ireland to spin a tale “drawn from obscure folklore and the more secret places of the human heart.” The book opens with a “horribly scarred, mute creature” that tumbles into a series of adventures on the path to an ancient treasure. Warner will publish this one and two sequels in the US, and a deal has been sealed in the UK. See agent Martha Millard.

Graduation Daze

As the flashbulb-packed parties hosted by Condé Nast’s Steve Florio wind down — and the well-burnished résumés mound up — you know the summer’s publishing courses are drawing to a close. Amid the ritual job fairs and commencement speeches, PT checked in with the summer courses to see how this year’s crop of candidates is faring as their mortarboards flip off into the global economic dust storm.

“I had fallen into the trap of generalizing about a whole generation, and this one was, to me, the Napster-stealin’-where’s-the-quick-moolah-Gimme Generation,” says Book Sense guru Carl Lennertz, who was on hand at the Columbia Publishing Course to expound upon Book Sense’s successes, shortcomings, and future plans. “What I got was a jolt of energy from and hope for the next generation.” The amps may be cranked up due to the program’s new quarters at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, where the course formerly known as Radcliffe moved from Harvard. “There’s a big difference being at Columbia,” explains Director Lindy Hess. “We’re at a place where they understand and like books and magazines.” Another bonus is that students can start hitting up brokers and doormen the moment they land in the city. “The transition from Cambridge to New York has been very difficult for students to make,” she says. “Now they can interview for jobs and look for apartments while they’re here.” The six-week course is at its 100-person capacity, Hess says, and has 19% persons of color this year. The Class of ’01 is also “a little more sophisticated” and “slightly more conservative” than in years past. Find out for yourself at the job fair (see below), but don’t be late, as over the last five years the program has averaged 93% job placement.

Meanwhile, the summer institute at NYU’s Center for Publishing unleashed 69 graduates from the six-week course last month, says Program Coordinator Megan Gleeson, adding that many students had landed jobs even before the program wrapped up on July 13. Agent Peter Rubie came on board this year as core faculty for the book program, and has been pleased with the results. “I’m happy to be a reference for any one of them,” Rubie says of the grads. “These kids are really sharp knives.” The most riveting issue for students this year? “It wasn’t technology,” says Rubie. “It was multiculturalism and diversity. They were looking for great foreign writers who should be translated, as well as books that spoke to a much broader audience than the publishing world commonly addresses.” Look out, New York. Call 212 790-3232 or email [email protected].

Beyond Manhattan, the University of Denver’s Publishing Institute boasts its largest class ever this year, with 99 students enrolled in the four-week session, which concludes on Aug. 3. Now in its 26th year, Denver focuses solely on book publishing, rather than splitting time between books and magazines, says institute Director Elizabeth Geiser. About 85% of graduates get jobs within the first post-grad months, and the institute maintains a database of all graduates for recruiting and networking (call 303 871-2570 or email [email protected]). The Denver climate doesn’t hurt, either. “People think it’s a great place to be in the summer,” Geiser says. “It sure beats being in Manhattan.”

Also getting high marks for low humidity are the two summer courses for mid-career professionals. The nine-day Stanford professional course wrapped up on July 28 with 170 students, according to Director Holly Brady, who notes that the number of international participants has “skyrocketed” to about 40%, and says the book-to-magazine ratio is about 50/50. With enrollment up, the cooling economy certainly hasn’t cut into those tuition checks. “We were worried about a slump in registrations this year, but we didn’t see it,” says Brady. “A lot of people are finding this a time to regroup, rethink, and retool their own career skills.” Nearby Silicon Valley also serves as the course’s high-tech talent pool. Call 650 725-5311 or email [email protected]. And the University of Virginia’s six-day summer course finished up on June 29, with about 30 senior-level publishing types enrolled, according to Director Beverly Jane Loo. Now in its third year, the course targeted a broad range of epublishing issues. “The biggest mistake a lot of trade houses made was to hire techies to run their new media divisions,” Loo says. Now’s your chance to repent. Call 804 982-5345 or email [email protected].

Caffeinated at Columbia

Clearly, the students at the Columbia Publishing Course this year have lost nothing on their ultra-achieving predecessors in the move from Harvard to NYC. As in years past, we have compiled a composite biography of the terminally caffeinated graduate (achievements are from actual student biographies). Publishers may catch the buzz at Columbia’s Publishing Course career day, Monday, August 6, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Time Life Building. To RSVP call (212) 854-0034.

With the ink still drying on the emergency education proposal Ms. Student wrote for victims of the armed conflict in Colombia, President Bush chose her as a White House Fellow in 1991. Bouncing back from a stint as a corporate paralegal, she was again lured to Washington when President Clinton tapped her to transform the Education Department into a high-performance organization. Delving into Ashtanga Yoga and Zen meditation, she utilized her superior powers of concentration to lead a successful turnaround of Herman Miller East Asia, where she was president. A Phi Beta Kappa inductee at Dartmouth, Ms. Student taught her journalism professor to run, in exchange for lessons in ornithology. Though she only picked up a little Japanese while working in Japan as a Fulbright Memorial Fund Fellow, Ms. Student had ample time to learn both Russian and Ukrainian while a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine. More than fluent in Samoan and literate in French as well, she listens rapturously to Urdu ghazals when not transfixed by the fortunes of the Indian cricket team. Moving on to develop branding campaigns for USA Today, Ms. Student has written five Chinese-language bestsellers and, concurrently, has summited mountains around the world, including the Grand Teton, Mont Blanc, and Mt. Fuji, while also earning her first-degree black belt in tae kwon do. Fascinated by the Gosain sanyasi sect in India, which was the subject of her dissertation in medieval Indian history, her less cerebral but equally challenging pastimes include wrestling a world champion Siberian on his own tundra. Due to inclement economic conditions, Ms. Student has been working as a bartender, wearing the world’s most hideous vest. Happily, many children also know her as Bow Tie because she is a professional clown at birthday parties and other celebrations.

Book View, August 2001

PEOPLE


HarperCollins
has announced the long-awaited restructuring of its sales department: Josh Marwell has been named SVP Sales, with specific responsibility for Harper Trade Adult and overall corporate responsibility for special sales and sales operations (Business Manager Jeff Meltzer will report to him). Andrea Pappenheimer, SVP Sales, Children’s Publishing, and George Bick, VP Sales Morrow/Avon, will assume overall responsibility for their lines. All three will report to COO Glenn D’Agnes with dotted line reporting to their respective divisional heads. In addition, Jeff Hobbs, recently named head of sales for Harper San Francisco, will report to Marwell. Bick will continue to sell all publishing lines into the mass merchandisers.

Paul Bresnick, most recently at LiveReads and Morrow, is joining Michael Carlisle as an affiliate agent. He will continue to do editorial work for other clients. In the last year Carlisle & Co. has had a number of agents who have worked on an affiliate basis. Two, Marly Rusoff and Larry Chilnick, have since left (Rusoff to start her own agency, Chilnick to focus on packaging), while two others — Don Lamm and Bob Bernstein — are still involved. Lamm helped bring in David Kennedy’s American Pageant series and Bob Sutton’s Weird Ideas that Work, which will be published by The Free Press.

More movement in the children’s book arena: Victoria Welles has been named Editorial Director of the new Bloomsbury USA juvenile book division. She comes from Viking Children’s books. . . . Bonnie Bader has been named Editor in Chief of Grosset. She was Editorial Director at Golden. . . . Kathy Dawson has been promoted to Executive Editor of GP Putnam’s Children’s Books. She was most recently Senior Editor. Meanwhile, David Ford, founding President/CEO of Candlewick Press, has sold his flourishing bookshop in Georgia and will be moving to NY, “eager for a new challenge.” He can be reached at [email protected].

Christina Harcar goes to St. Martin’s as Director of Subsidiary Rights. She was previously at Random House Audio. . . . Laura Matthews has been named Deputy Editor of Martha Stewart Living. She was previously Senior Editor at GP Putnam . . . . Jeannette Watson has returned to bookselling with her acquisition of the Lenox Hill Bookstore, where she has worked off and on since starting her own Books & Co. imprint at Turtle Point Press, following the closing of the eponymous bookstore in 1997. . . Yulia Borodyanskaya has been named Subsidiary Rights Manager at Newmarket Press. She was previously an account executive at rightscenter.com, and before that, Foreign Rights Associate for Doubleday. . . . Hugh Shiebler has been named Sales Manager for Barrons. He was most recently at Zagat, and Barefoot Books, and before that, at Globe Pequot . . . . Skip Fischer has been named CEO of DK U.S., following the departure of Danny Gurr last month. He reports primarily to David Shanks, with a secondary reporting line to Anthony Forbes Watson, CEO of The Penguin Group [UK]. Meanwhile, Shanks announced that Liz Perl has been promoted to the position of Vice President Director of Marketing, Trade Paperbacks for the Berkley Publishing Group and NAL. She had previously been named Director of Marketing for Riverhead Trade Paperbacks. . . . Heather Byer has left Contentville, where she was Executive Editor, and is doing freelance book editing for McGraw-Hill’s college division, script reading for USA Films, and freelance magazine writing. She is reachable at [email protected].

Gotham Scouting Partners, formed by May Wuthrich in 1998, has added Terry Guerin (ex-Tapestry Films) as a partner, and DW Gibson as a scouting associate. Recent acquisitions by clients include Martin Dugard’s Blood Brothers, Craig Holden’s Jazz Bird, and Hodding Carter’s Viking Voyage.

Victoria Barnsley, Chief Executive Officer and Publisher at HarperCollins UK, announced that it is restructuring its UK publishing divisions into two halves, each with its own managing director. Amanda Ridout, currently the Managing Director of Headline, will become MD of General Books, which will combine the Trade Division, Fourth Estate, Thorsons, and Children’s. Thomas Webster, currently Publishing Director of Oxford University Press, will become MD of Collins, comprising Cartographic, Dictionaries, Education, and Reference.

DEALS


Gerry Howard bought a “fun” book (what other kinds are there, on this subject?) about bartending, “a kind of Kitchen Confidential of the bar world,” we’re told by Toby Checchini from Bill Clegg at his newish agency (Burnes & Clegg).

DULY NOTED


The Rights Report, published by Whitaker (publishers of The Bookseller), has announced that it has ceased publication of the printed version. Launched at Frankfurt 1999 as a report on international rights transaction in books, film, and TV, it recently “has proved impossible to convert high acclamation to a level of sales revenue needed for us to continue our extensive network of international correspondents. . . .” However, a web-based service “offering a database of rights stories and information” is still available to the publication’s subscribers. In other Whitaker news, veteran Louis Baum has returned to the company, after a foray into the dotcom world.

• Marjorie Scardino’s latest letter to employees reviews the first-six-month results, which have disappointed investors. She writes: “Penguin’s core publishing in the US and the UK is in good shape, too — more bestsellers than ever, and more successful new authors. Australia, where we have a sizeable business, has instigated a new tax on books, so that’s hurting in the short run, but if I know our crowd there, they’ll work out a way to counteract the pain. Dorling Kindersley is turning out to be a great addition not only to Penguin, but also to Pearson Education, who can use the DK brilliance for creating books you just can’t resist reading to make textbooks just as compelling. DK has quickly combined some of its operations with Penguin while still keeping its own special personality. Just wait until you see the first in the newest DK line, Animal, a giant encyclopedia of wildlife — out in the autumn.”

Target Marketing’s Denny Hatch, writing of “The Rise and Fall of Time-Life Books,” in the June/July issue, wonders what went awry with a company started in 1960 whose “titanic successes” made the division the company’s most profitable for several years. When Time-Life Books closed its doors this past January, Hank Steuver of The Washington Post wrote that it was “an early triumph of direct marketing, selling 30 million books a year at its zenith. That’s a lot of Middle American coffee tables.” Hatch comes up with some hypotheses about what happened to the company, suggesting that aggressive offers to would-be subscribers ended up bringing in worse customers who dropped out without buying or paying. Then, as Time-Life Music became more profitable, all the development money went into that division, rather than book development. Finally, “All these books were sold by stroking the intellectual egos of consumers, but they were bought as furniture — something warm and impressive to fill empty bookshelves in order to achieve respect and affirmation.” But the allure of information on an installment basis palled as the web offered more opportunities to find the information fast, and for free. Belt tightening and layoffs didn’t help stem the flow of red ink, and the merger of AOL and Time Warner ensured the division’s demise.

• EPM Communications, publisher of The Licensing Letter, just released its annual Licensed Property Benchmarking Survey. The book covers all sorts of licensing, but it’s no surprise that Literary Properties, a catchall that includes books and their characters, tend to have a much longer licensing life than other properties. But this is an area driven by both smaller properties — 59% have generated sales of licensed merchandise that are less than $10 million over their lifetime — and some behemoths that have generated $100 million or more. Books (mostly children’s) account for roughly half of all properties, but each segment — books, comic books, and comic strips — has an unusually high 10% of properties that are over the $100 million mark. Contact EPM at [email protected] or call 212 941-0099.

MAZELTOV


Congratulations to Random’s Peter Olson and Candace Carpenter, Chair of iVillage, who will marry September 8.

Hello, Generation Ñ

Spanish-publishing leaders from the book, magazine, and online sectors gathered at New York University’s Center for Publishing on June 26 for a day of digesting demographics and peering at new strategies to reach the sorely untapped Hispanic market in both English and Spanish. Things got off on a suitably controversial note as Mindy Figueroa, VP of Santiago and Valdes Solutions, dismissed the official figure of 35.3 million Hispanics, claiming that undercounts, population growth, and the inclusion of Puerto Rico bump that figure to 40.5 million people, who will bear a glorious buying power of $630 billion by 2002. Glossing over the apparently negligible medley of variations between one version of Spanish and another, she focused on the more compelling marketing angle: the Hispanic middle class is burgeoning. Market niches of pinpointable lifestyles, defined by age and length of duration living in the US, await the marketer keen to surf the Latin wave. But beware “Los Babys,” “Generation Ñ,” and the “New Latina,” who comprise the 70% of the Hispanic population under 39 years of age.

The self-appointed Latina Linda Goodman, President of distributor The Bilingual Publications Co., jumped in to report a breakthrough in librarians’ attitudes toward Spanish books. Those librarians who formerly snickered, “We don’t have that [Spanish] problem yet,” are now desperately stocking their shelves with Spanish books. Of dire need are works on diseases, citizenship, real estate, and ESL, among other topics. “Publish these books and you will succeed,” she intoned.

Then Christy Haubegger, calling herself “the only childless Latina left in the country,” regaled the lunchtime crowd with tales of single-handedly launching Latina magazine. Now with a paid circulation of 203,000, Latina reaches an English-preference, Hispanic market of women who allegedly consume 17.5% of the nation’s lipstick. And Elizabeth Bradley, magazine and marketing consultant, described the transformation of People en Español (with a circulation of 317,000) from a translation of People to a unique product with 90% distinct editorial. The key lies in supplying Hispanic-oriented content, instead of simply translating existing material.

On that note, Lisa Alpert, Publishing Director of Random House Español, lamented the lack of marketing and PR funding allocated to Spanish books, despite the enthusiastic response of Spanish media book reviewers to jaded publicists. (They are reported to cry, “Publish more Spanish books! We’ll buy them!”) The future of Hispanic markets appears to lie simply in providing more “in-culture” books in Spanish and English backed by marketing. And for an ironic socio-cultural postscript: apart from a general market two-thirds underserved, jails and correctional services librarians are said to be clamoring for material too.

It’s Your Party

Pass the Chips and Dip, Y’all. Now Buy Some Southern Living Books.

You may not see any hot-rodding pink Cadillacs when more than 1,000 salespeople descend upon Birmingham this month to attend the first national convention for Southern Living at Home, the newly minted home sales division of the Southern Living publishing group. Those automotive trophies of the Mary Kay cosmetics empire, bestowed upon the firm’s top-selling sales associates and flaunted as emblems of persuasive prowess, are mere baubles to this fiercely partisan crowd. “Strange things happen when you say Southern Living,” explains Dianne Mooney, Southern Living at Home’s VP and Executive Director. “There’s a visceral reaction. This brand is magic. We have instant credibility.” Forget about Cadillacs. We’ve got chocolate-orange cream fingers — straight out of Southern Living Incredible Cookies. You can’t eat pink vinyl for dessert.

The evangelical zeal of this sales force is just one mind-bending aspect of the growing sales channel known as the “home party plan.” Think Tupperware, but think savvier. While the plastics giant synonymous with home party sales floundered in recent years, nimbler companies gamely charged ahead. More than 66,000 “kitchen consultants” from the Pampered Chef logged 1 million home parties last year. The basket-making giant Longaberger is a billion-dollar enterprise (not to mention the subject of a #1 New York Times bestseller of the same name). Even sex-toy parties have bloomed as the latest frisson in living-room demos. “We believe that direct sales is hotter now than it has been for many years,” Mooney says. “But it’s a word-of-mouth business. You don’t hear a lot about it.”

Singing to the Choir

What Southern Living at Home aims to do — and what very few companies have done profitably — is to sell books into the home. Though cookbooks, gardening titles, and decorating primers will account for only about 30% of the company’s home party product line (the remainder being decorative products such as pie plates, carving sets, and tabletop votive cup holders) books remain a core asset for Southern Living at Home. Mooney, who has worked in the direct mail industry for nearly three decades, built her career marketing books from sibling publisher Oxmoor House to Southern Living’s now 2.6 million subscribers, a process company executives describe as “singing to the choir.”

But taking those books into the home via thousands of “independent consultants” is more like sight-reading an aria. “We’ve been marketing books since 1974,” Mooney adds, “and we’ve never done anything as out-of-the-box as this.” Early on in the project, focus groups turned up two relevant facts: many southerners were already involved in other party plan organizations, and the party plan concept did not reflect poorly on the Southern Living brand. Several direct sales staffers were soon brought on board, and the home division opened its doors in January with the hope of attracting 1,000 independent consultants. Already 4,000 people have ponied up the $199 for a starter kit — representing all 50 states — and the response has been so overwhelming that kits for July have sold out. “It’s been an avalanche,” Mooney says. “But we have got to control our growth, because if we let it grow unchecked, the word ‘implode’ has been mentioned.” Consultants make profits on personal sales, plus a royalty on the sales of other consultants they recruit — hence the term “multilevel marketing.” Books sold at home are priced at roughly the suggested retail price.

To some, the response has been no surprise. “If you’re in one of those 17 states that are considered southern, Southern Living is your bible,” says Gary Wright, Director of Special Markets for Southern Progress, the corporate parent of Southern Living, Sunset, and Cooking Light, among other ventures. (Southern Progress is itself a unit of AOL Time Warner.) All of which has been great fodder for Oxmoor House, which publishes around 100 new titles per year, sells into the trade through its Leisure Arts subsidiary (last year book revenues were split about 60/40 between direct mail and retail), and publishes for Martha Stewart Living, Jenny Craig, and others. Among notable triumphs have been the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook, the Forrest Gump tie-in that sold on the order of 700,000 copies, and Southern Living Annual Recipes, with 11 million copies sold by mail and another million at retail.

Learning to Love the 1099

Call it the upside of the downsizing economy. “In the mid 1980s the prognosticators said this was a dead industry,” says Joe Mariano, Executive VP of the Direct Selling Association. “There were supposedly no women home to purchase the products. But instead of a demographic of women selling to women, we ended up with a dynamic of entrepreneurship and opportunity that appealed to people throughout the ’80s and ’90s. We’ve had 12 consecutive years of growth domestically and internationally.” Home parties accounted for at least $4 billion of the total $24.5 billion in direct sales in the US in 1999, according to the most recent data available. And though growth in the US slowed this year, international sales are booming. Direct sales in India are up 40% per year. In the UK, more than 500,000 people are in direct sales. And before a regulatory crackdown a few years ago, there were 500,000 Avon reps in one province in China.

Such freshened-up stats are no consolation to Dorling Kindersley Family Learning, the home sales unit that was axed last summer shortly after Pearson acquired DK and determined that DKFL and its nearly 30,000 independent distributors were gumming up the profit machine. Launched in 1991 and rolled out in the US two years later, Family Learning was built on high hopes. At one point DK planned to roll the program out in one country per year (at the time it was seen as a safety maneuver insulating DK from the savage CD-ROM market) and had established beachheads in Russia, Australia, South Africa, and India. But DKFL reportedly lost as much as $20 million globally in the year before it was shut down. Former DK executive Steve Cohen, now COO at St. Martin’s, points out that the launch of the Family Learning unit came at the expense of sales through mass merchandisers, as the company pulled out of those retailers to ensure that home buyers being pitched books at full price would not have just seen the same titles for 40% off at Costco. “Multilevel marketing requires big margins,” adds former DK President Danny Gurr, noting that the monster mark-ups for mascara are out of the question for the book business. Indeed, when every sales rep who refers a member gets a piece of the pie, margins on books look wafer-thin. “Tupperware can knock off new designs in seconds and for pennies,” Gurr says. “Books are expensive to develop and manufacture.”

The DK closure caused no heartache for Randall White, President of Educational Development Corporation, the exclusive US trade publisher of UK-based Usborne Publishing’s line of educational books. White signed on 1,000 former DK reps, who helped bump net sales for EDC’s home sales division up 15.2% during the last fiscal year, bringing net sales to $17.5 million. Almost 5,000 EDC “independent consultants” in 50 states sell more than 1,000 Usborne titles at home parties. The Tulsa-based company also markets books through trade channels, a strategy that at times irks its consultants. “Most home sales outfits are selling exclusive product,” White explains. “We’re on a tightrope, because we sell in both home and retail.” Sales are currently split about evenly between the two channels, although White says that the home segment is growing “much faster” than retail. “You walk into any major store and obviously there’s nobody demonstrating the books,” he notes. “In a home party you have a captive audience.” EDC’s party sales dipped in the ’90s when a commission structure change prompted a large number of associates to jump ship. According to White, the company is now on the rebound, with party sales up 30% in the first quarter. “Without question the home party is a viable method,” he says.

“You’re able to see how these books can benefit your child,” adds Cathy Adams, VP Marketing for home sales stalwart Discovery Toys. “It takes all the guesswork out of it.” Books account for 25% of the company’s business, with 50 books in the catalog that are mostly targeted for children age 6 and younger. The firm’s 25,000 educational consultants select titles depending on the party theme or age bracket. “Direct sales continue to be a growing opportunity for us,” Adams says. “Our sales are up.” Same goes for Susan Schilling, founder and CEO of home sales firm Books & Beyond. “I think there’s a huge need for families to be serviced with quality books,” says Schilling, who had been a national sales director with DK’s Family Learning unit before founding her company last September. Sales associates are now in 48 states, and new associates can join for $99. Books & Beyond carries titles from a number of publishers, including Barefoot, Kingfisher, and Tyndale House.

Some of these publishers can be circumspect when queried about home party sales. “We’re not ready to talk about that particular kind of distribution,” says a Tyndale House spokesperson. But back at Southern Living, where preparations are in full swing for this month’s power pep rally, there’s no time for circumspection. “We’re reinventing ourselves as we speak,” Mooney says, clearly relishing the thrill. “It’s a wild ride, but I’m enough of a cowgirl to enjoy it.”

Licensing on Mars

What to say? Eloise gets larger and larger, and the blimp in her likeness lofting about the foyer of the Javits Center will probably be trundled out at the next Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. As for the rest of the Licensing 2001 International show, except for the endless licensing and marketing of dead movie stars, the industry still seems dominated by books — and mostly kids at that. Arthur, Curious George, Rainbow Fish, Clifford, and Tolkien ruled the day, not to mention his highness himself, Harry Potter, who’s beginning to feel as if he’s been around forever and reigned supreme. Not much new there (but happy 100th, Peter Rabbit).

If one is compelled to browse the film- and TV-originated brands, however, one must concede that the star of the show was probably the Butt-Ugly Martians. These winsome creatures are sort of extraterrestrial ninja-turtle knock-offs coming to a TV screen near you this fall, via massive syndication through WB Kids and Fox in the US. Produced by the Just Group in the UK, where they have recently been released and greeted by pandemonium from local youth, the Martians have been snapped up by (who else?) Scholastic for their publishing incarnation. Actually, the Just Group’s recently acquired UK packager/ publisher Marshall Editions (where chairman Richard Harman has just resigned) will produce the books. Action figures and further licensing bounty are just around the corner. Incidentally, the Martian crew gave a fittingly outlandish party at Mars 2112 in Rockefeller Center, featuring gyrating Martians in their appropriate environment, accompanied by at least two Rockettes on loan from Radio City Music Hall across the street.

On the Harry Potter front, there was a curious booth of first-timers (Muggles Magical Toys, Inc.) staffed by Margaret Lynden and her family from St. Paul, Minnesota. Margaret was nicknamed “Muggles” as a child, and the family trademarked (in 1995) the name and was offering an eponymous doll with magical shoes along with ideas for licenses in the apparel and paper products market. They gamely extended the franchise to their own line of t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, school bags, and a book. Declaring themselves to be of honorable intention, they say they have teamed up with Scholastic to beat Nancy Stouffer (of the Larry Potter titles available from Thurman House publishers a/k/a Ottenheimer in Baltimore) at her own game.

Another author coveting a share of licensing manna is Susan Branch, whose hand-lettered and illustrated books are published by Little, Brown. Her licensing is handled by Art Impressions, and Jennifer Vincioni, their licensing manager, reported that after they paid for her book tour (NB!) for Girlfriends Forever — as they correctly surmised that the book’s success would have a direct impact on the sale of their licensed tie-in paper products — their sales catapulted from $80,000 to $300,000 in a year.

First-timers included Arthur Andersen (no cuddly investment-banker dolls are on the market yet; they were just on hand as accountants); attorneys Nixon Peabody (as “brand managers” representing Arthur the irrepressible Aardvark); and Chorion Intellectual Properties, who were there to license the next episodes of Noddy, which they had withdrawn from the BBC, licensors of the first series. And Dave Borgenicht’s packaging operation, Quirk Productions, took a modest booth for the Worst Case Scenario series with Chronicle — watch for the Worst Case Scenario board game coming this fall, among other iterations of this best-case-scenario line.

Another major presence at the show was Consor, which has represented the Vatican Library for some time. This year they’ve gone for broke, with an avalanche of refrigerator magnets, wallpapers, place mats, coasters, and trivets — all extremely tasteful, of course. (What the Vatican is selling is its art collection, so these items were adorned with Ghirlandaio, Carraci, and the like.) You can forget about books, though: there was only an old Turner (sic) Publishing on display.

International Fiction Bestsellers

Going Swimmingly
Dawn Dives In Down Under, Mathur Rollicks In India, and Enquist Writes Rx for Germany

Making a defiant splash in Australia this month is the bluntly subtitled Dawn: One Hell of a Life, the self-told tale of Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser, who was the first athlete in the world to win the same event at three successive Olympic Games — the 100-meter freestyle. Billed in the press as an “outlaw” and “party-girl,” the feisty Fraser was banned from competition for 10 years after she refused to wear the official swimsuit (“I was falling out at the bottom whenever I bent over,” she explained) and was arrested for stealing an Olympic flag, effectively retiring her after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. As she later groused, “If I were swimming today, I’d be pretty close to a billionaire.” After hanging up her swimsuit, however, the former freestyler dove into politics — the publicity folks called it a “remarkable comeback from publican to politician” — and was elected to the New South Wales parliament in 1988. Revered now more than ever in Australia, Fraser weathered a series of tabloid-style setbacks, including the death of her mother in a car accident while Dawn was at the wheel. A first print-run of 65,000 copies is vanishing from bookstores, with customers said to be lugging out five copies at a time. The publisher has gone back to press, and we’re told only New Zealand rights have been sold, leaving all other foreign rights, including the US, up for grabs from Hodder Headline in Australia.

Meanwhile, a film tie-in calls a smash hit back to center stage in India this month, where The Inscrutable Americans by Anurag Mathur won praise upon its initial publication in 1991 as a “two-way satire” skewering both American and Indian cultures. Now in its 19th printing, the “earthy, though ribald” story follows the awkward cultural immersion of protagonist Gopal, described as a “hick from an obscure Indian village called Jajau where his family runs a hair oil factory.” Gopal’s year-long visit to America as a chemical engineering student quickly turns riotous (he drinks 37 cans of Coca-Cola on the incoming flight alone), and the slapstick goes into overdrive as Gopal (no doubt a riff on Bhopal) tangles with “beef, beer, and racism” on his quest for that ultimate American commodity: sex. As one reviewer put it, the book “had me smiling on page one, giggling on page two, and laughing out loud by page three, and I didn’t stop there.” As for the film, directed by Chandra Siddartha, one reviewer lamented that “the camera-work is horrendous” but lauded the feature as a “marvelous attempt.” Mathur’s other novels include Making a Minister Smile and Scenes from an Executive’s Life, the latter said to be a study of the typical northern Indian male who finds fame and fortune at a tender age but has not a clue about life. A new novel is expected next year. Contact Renuka Chatterjee at Rupa (via HarperCollins India).

In Canada, poet Michael Redhill’s first novel Martin Sloane has hit pay dirt (though it’s no longer in the top ten), painting a portrait of a “ferociously intelligent” young woman who is inspired by the constructions of an artist named Martin Sloane (who himself is modeled on the reclusive American artist Joseph Cornell and his eccentric boxed assemblages). Praised as “exquisitely crafted” and “remarkably assured,” the book explores the metaphor of the box as it unravels protagonist Jolene’s obsession with the older artist — and her profound sense of loss after he gets up one night and disappears. The 34-year-old Redhill, who serves as managing editor of Brick magazine, is also seeing a book of poems published this year called Light-crossing (House of Anansi), along with a reprint of his 1993 collection Lake Nora Arms. US rights to the new novel have been sold to Little, Brown for publication in 2002, but foreign rights are available. See agent Ellen Levine.

Cartoonist Roberto Fontanarrosa hits Argentina this month with I’ll Tell You More. Translations are a bit dicey, we’re told, as the author pastiches everything from Reader’s Digest to Scientific American, with a bit of García Márquez thrown in for good measure. Fontanarrosa, who was born in 1944, has published more than 60 books since 1979, including three novels and 10 collections of short stories. His books of graphic humor have been translated in Italy and Brazil, and a whopper of an anthology is under discussion in China. I’ll Tell You More has sold 10,000 copies in two months (a feat for Argentina) and all foreign rights are open, as they are for the author’s Best Seller, The World Was in Error, and La Gansada, says Daniel Divinsky at Ediciones de la Flor.

Sweden’s powerhouse Per Olov Enquist has prescribed 50,000 copies of his latest novel The Royal Physician’s Visit to cure all ailments at bookstores throughout Germany, where the book hits the list this month. Enquist’s first novel since the blow-out Captain Nemo’s Library of 1991, the historical tale is set in Denmark in the 18th century and tells the story of the mad King Christian, his young queen, and the royal physician, one Dr. Struensee. Alas, the German doctor implicated himself in a love triangle with the queen and was hung, drawn, and quartered. The book moved one swooning critic to write that “the erotic scenes are among the most beautiful I have read in modern Swedish literature.” Originally published in 1999, the novel won Sweden’s prestigious August Prize, and translation rights have been sold to 19 countries, including the US, where Overlook will publish in November. But take note: Enquist also has a forthcoming novel, set to be published in Sweden this September. Over 75,000 copies of the new one have been sold in Enquist’s home country, and bidding in Spain was just concluding at press time. See Agneta Markås at Norstedts.

And while on the subject of Sweden’s heavy hitters, the artist formerly known as the “Maigret of the ’90s” is back in action. Håkan Nesser hits the lists with the tersely titled The Swallow, the Cat, the Rose, Death, which is the ninth volume in the Van Veeteren crime series. The book has sold nearly 53,000 copies, and deals with the exploits of police in Maardam, although, as one riled-up reviewer noted, “I shall not talk too much about the intrigues of the plot; you just have to read the book, by which I really mean have to!!”. We’re told Maria Rejt of Macmillan UK has recently acquired four of Nesser’s titles, which marks the author’s first publication in English. All together, the cunning crime maestro has sold 850,000 copies in Sweden — not counting the 100,000 copies per title that Bertelsmann unloads in Germany — and is translated in 13 languages. See agent Linda Michaels for rights.

The Writing on China’s Great Wall

The free market’s last great territorial conquest, China remains a daunting and volatile arena for many book publishers in the West. This month Toby Eady, of the eponymous London-based literary agency, looks back on some of his Asian adventures and shares a few words of wisdom for those seeking Chinese fortunes.

When I first visited the Beijing Book Fair four years ago, by the time I got into the halls there was hardly a book left on the stands. These volumes had all been sold, stolen, or seized by the censors the day before, deemed unsuitable for popular consumption. But for all that, compared to BEA in Chicago or even Frankfurt, there was action — and in cash. My client, a Chinese lawyer, had written a book roughly translated as “How far does contract law reach in China?”, and we sold it for cash handily withdrawn from a suitcase by the highest bidder. There was no question of royalties. But there were other sales to be had. We made separate deals with publishers in Beijing and Shanghai, and what I learned that day, later to be reinforced, is that there is no national distribution in China. Each major city has its own publishers who print and distribute locally. Printing is cheap, distribution is easy — and piracy is endemic.

There are no less than five different pirated editions of Wei Hui’s novel Shanghai Baby being sold in Shanghai, several in Chengdu, two in Beijing, and probably several Mongolian editions. The censors’ office reckons over a million copies have been bought of this banned novel, which so incensed the powers that be that the government burned 40,000 copies, shutting down the book’s original publisher last year. Wei Hui will not become rich on her Chinese sales. A bestseller, much borrowed, has a mere 7,000 copies printed throughout China.

Yet the story of Shanghai Baby’s circuitous route to success is instructive in its own way. If you really want a Chinese bestseller, here’s how: Get the list of banned books from a friendly policeman, download them off the Internet, get four chapters translated, and sell them. I was in China when the authorities moved in on Shanghai Baby, and believe me, you couldn’t ask for better publicity. Wei Hui was bought by Judith Curr at Pocket. Eight publishers turned her down in London, but watching her in BBC’s Breakfast Time this morning, she’s got it — she could damage Pfizer’s Viagra sales. She has been sold in France (Picquier), Italy (Rizzoli), and Japan (Bungei Shunju), where 200,000 copies were sold in two weeks after she toured. Robinson’s first printing in the UK will be 60,000 copies. Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia will take 100,000, the latter in connection with her tour there in July. In total 19 countries have bought her, and with film rights, book rights, and royalties, we’re talking $2 million easy. Yet would her novel have been noticed if it had not been burned?

In fact, though busts of Mao and copies of the Little Red Book have now flooded the junk shops in Xian, Chinese authors still know that the government publishing houses won’t publish a Shanghai Baby, Ma Jian’s Red Dust, or Jung Chang’s Wild Swans. In Ma Jian’s case, knowing his story from another expelled poet/painter, three years ago I gave him $10,000 to write Red Dust — a remarkable Chinese answer to On the Road. But at the same time I gave Flora Drew money to work on a simultaneous translation. At Frankfurt I sold it to Jan Mets, a Dutch publisher, and then to Rebecca Carter at Chatto & Windus and Dan Frank at Pantheon. Yet American publishers are parochial, and frightened of foreigners. Though it was well reviewed, Simon & Schuster couldn’t get Wild Swans on the bestseller list. The book has nonetheless sold over 9 million copies in 32 languages. It sells 400,000 copies every year, 10 years after publication. How did that one start, you ask? A young woman walks into your office in 1985 and says, Do you think a book telling the story of three women would work, and in the telling of which the book could show how China had changed in the last 60 years? Instinct immediately said yes, where others had said no. But beyond instinct, I also follow a simple rule: don’t represent authors mimicking Western writers, and don’t use academics as translators — they don’t have Chinese as a living language. (Check out the dead translation of Hong Ying’s Daughter of the River, or Gao’s Soul Mountain.)

Publishing in the Streets

Officially there are over 1,000 recognized publishers in China, with the major houses in Beijing and Shanghai. Each book is chosen by an editorial board on which there will be a party member, hence the cautious nature of what gets published. A sampling of major Chinese publishers would include Xinhua Publishing House, which has good relations with Germany, Russia, Japan, Singapore, and the US, and has over 5,000 titles in print that cover a range of fiction and nonfiction. Also players are the People’s Education Press (which is as it sounds) and the Foreign Language Press, which was founded in 1952 and has published over 20,000 titles emanating from 40 languages. Most foreign titles are bought through Taiwanese agents at present. Advances are not gargantuan — Bill Gates’ $50,000 being the highest advance paid. Most advances run between $500 and $2,000 per title, and be surprised if you get paid royalties: the sales force from my experience gets space by giving the kiosk or bookstore extra copies to sell without accounting for them.

Books not of the educational or how-to variety are a luxury, as evident in the past strength of the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Literary Guild. Now Bertelsmann’s book club in Shanghai is working on the basis of subscription and home delivery, much the same as in West Germany after 1945. On the other hand, China boasts very good art book publishers such as Art Books in Cianjing, whose work rivals Abrams. And in Nanjing, which has many mom-and-pop bookshops with the same feel as a good independent store in America, booksellers proffer two-volume works to foreigners for $30 (there is nothing comparable in the West!). With the main publishers in China firmly controlled, however, Chinese writers tend to publish their own books, and distribute them via their networks of friends on the streets. What they are writing today is exciting, real, and new, but you’ll find them not on the big lists of the Chinese publishers. Danielle Steel or John Grisham they are not. Chinese writers are distinctly wary of product writers, and they don’t come out of writing schools. John Steinbeck would have understood them, and so would have the original poets and authors published in the Evergreen Review in the fifties. Their enthusiasm and courage is that of first novelists everywhere.

Book View, July 2001

PEOPLE


There’s much happening at 375 Hudson Street: Danny Gurr has resigned as CEO of DK’s US operations, as a result of the following organizational changes effective immediately: The US editorial department will report primarily to DK UK Publisher Christopher Davis. Sales and Marketing will report through Dick Heffernan, President, Director of Sales, Adult Hardcover and Children’s Books, at Penguin Putnam Inc. Skip Fisher will continue as Chief Operating Officer of DK US, reporting primarily to David Shanks. His secondary reporting line is to Anthony Forbes Watson, CEO of The Penguin Group [UK].

As reported elsewhere, Louise Burke leaves NAL for Pocket as Mass Market Publisher (with Judith Curr moving within the Adult Trade Group to launch a hardcover line, PB Press), while HarperCollins Adrian Zackheim moves to Viking to launch a business book imprint. (He and Bill Shinker both start on Sept. 4th, as does Lauren Marino, who is leaving Broadway to follow Shinker as Executive Editor.) And Leslie Gelbman has been promoted to the newly created position of President of Mass Market Paperbacks, responsible for all aspects of the mass-market publishing programs for NAL and Berkley, including hardcover. She will report to David Shanks. Finally, Julie Shiroishi has been promoted to Director of Advertising and Promotion at Viking and Penguin, while Gretchen Koss has been promoted to Director of Publicity for Viking Studio. She will continue to work on Viking and Penguin titles in her new position.

Lisa Kitei has left Cahners, where she was SVP Communications. She is one of 200+ people who have been laid off from the company since the beginning of the year. She may be reached at [email protected]

Randy Kaye has been named VP Director of Sales for Exley Gift Books (USA). He was National Accounts Manager for Random House Value Publishing. . . . Ronni Stolzenberg has been named Associate Director of Marketing for the American Museum of Natural History. . . . Natalie Chapman has gone to Creative Homeowner to “expand and diversify” its list. She was most recently at Discovery Books. . . . Alice Baker, formerly of S&S and Rebus, has been named Director of Specialty Retail for the von Holtzbrinck group of companies, reporting to Judy Sisko. . . . Meanwhile, Manie Barron, Publishing Manager at HC’s Amistad imprint, has joined William Morris. . . . Paul Schnee has been named Senior Editor at ReganBooks/HarperCollins. He was formerly at Contentville.

As reported elsewhere, Julie Burns has been named President of Ingram Book Company. She had been President of Ingram Periodicals. She succeeds Jim Chandler, who continues as Chief Commercial Officer.

More movement in children’s books: Vivian Antonangeli resigned from Penguin Putnam, where she had been President and Publisher of Grosset. Deborah Dorfman from Scholastic is taking over the position. Margaret Anastas, Editorial Director, has also left Grosset (as have two others) and has gone to HarperCollins Children’s Books. And, Daisy Kline has been named Retail Marketing Director for HCCB. She hails from Random House. . . . Jeff Conrad has left Millbrook, where he was President and CEO. His position will not be filled; Jean Reynolds, SVP, Publisher, Dave Allen, COO and CFO, and Dick McCullough, VP of Sales and Marketing, will assume his responsibilities. Howard Graham continues as Chairman. . . . Angus Killick has been named Director, Global Marketing, for Disney Publishing, reporting to Jeanne Mosure. He was previously VP Director of Marketing at PP for Young Readers. . . . And Christine Longmuir is joining Harcourt Children’s Books as Director of Marketing. She was at Ten Speed Press’s Tricycle Line.

DEALS


Doubleday has signed a two-book deal with Pete Dexter. ICM’s Esther Newburg agented. . . . Robin Straus has sold Jim Villas’s memoir, an inside look at the food world, to Susan Wyler at Wiley. And Harvard Common Press has just signed up his new book, The Biscuit Bible (to follow Crazy for Casseroles, which he is completing now) to Pam Honig, his longtime editor. . . . At press time, word is that the auction has concluded on Bill McKibbin’s book on the perils of genetic engineering. Gloria Loomis is the agent and the price is in the mid six figs. No word yet as to the winner.

DULY NOTED


Changes in the generally stable von Holtzbrinck stable: WH Freeman has been closed, with all 7 editors terminated. The books will now be published by Holt, most in the Times Books imprint, under David Sobel. . . .

On a brighter note, Priddy & Biddle, St. Martin’s first serious, albeit quiet, foray into the world of children’s book publishing, will ship their first titles in July. The idea took serious form in the minds of two DK-trained executives, John Sargent, CEO von Holtzbrinck US, and Steve Cohen, newly promoted COO of SMP, and now President of this new imprint. When Pearson acquired Dorling Kindersley and began a series of UK layoffs (see “People” section), it hired six former DK staffers in the UK, headed by Richard Priddy, design, and Joanna Bicknell, sales and business management. The open design photographic baby board books and toddler activity titles (ranging from $4.95 to $9.95) will be recognizable to many, and the line is aimed initially at the merchandise corner of the market, with books being offered non-returnable but at a generous discount. Although the group is based in the UK, the primary market is — and the books must work in — the US. Co-editions with Macmillan UK and sister publishing arms including Australia and South Africa, as well as Holtzbrinck in Germany, will be offered and encouraged, but participation is apparently not mandatory. Rights will be available to all in the rest of the world, with P&B operating somewhat as an independent packager. Jeanette Mall, also a former DKer (US) is coordinating editorial efforts in the US. Each title on this list will have a first printing in the 100,000-copy range, with about nine series in the first catalog.

Comment made by Tuttle’s VP Sales and Marketing, on the industry’s current spate of high returns: “That’s what they’re using print-on-demand technology for: They’re printing returns.”

It’s hard to imagine you haven’t gotten an invitation to AAP’s “Introduction to Publishing” seminar on Oct. 1 & 2 in New York (we got 8 of them — two for each “department” in our corporate offices, including Finance) but if you haven’t and are interested, call Aimee Catalano at 212 255-0200 ext. 262.

EVENTS


Jacqueline Susann would have loved the party — but maybe not the music? In any event, the DKNY store on Madison and 60th was crammed full of beautiful people to celebrate the publication of Rae Lawrence’s sequel to Valley of the Dolls, based on a written draft worked on for many months by the diva herself (she died of cancer in 1974). Co-hosts Crown and Interview staff members were joined by the likes of celebs Rona Jaffe (who is the one who REALLY started it all), Sopranos’ star Jason Cerbone, veteran baseball player Keith Hernandez, as well as the book’s original editor Ann Patty.

Fledgling publisher Red Rock Press, owned and operated by Ilene and Richard Barth, celebrated the publication of the latest, Sloth (fourth in the “Sin Series”), with a party for author Dale (“On the seventh day God rested, he did not play squash” to NYT’s Clyde Haberman) Burg, featuring, natch, pigs in a blanket and sloe (get it?) Gin fizz. Following Gluttony, Lust, and Greed, the next title is Envy, Anger & Sweet Revenge: Hey, it Works in Hollywood by Stephen M. Silverman.

And Michael Cader’s take on the most recent publisherslunch.com Live Lunch, held on June 20 and devoted to the ineffables of the Random/Rosetta and Wind Done Gone court cases: “Everyone left the event more confused than when they came, and with a greater sense of the nuance and complexity of both of the cases at issue. Even the lawyers speaking both acknowledged the reasonableness and sound argument of the opposition. . . .”