Used Blues

Used Books Become Newer Every Day,
To Many Publishers’ Dismay

Days before Bill Clinton’s My Life went on sale last month, a handful of shrewd and Internet-savvy book buyers were auctioning off their copies of this “rare” edition on eBay – and promising to ship the book the day it hit store shelves. That number jumped to over a hundred in the early hours of the release date, many of whom guaranteed autographed copies, though the book signing event was later that day or week. The “Buy It Now” prices for these signed copies ranged from $150 to $450 — an exorbitant increase from the $35 list price, or Amazon’s $21. A mere week after the autobiography was released, about 300 used copies (including audio versions) were up for sale on Abebooks, Amazon and Alibris — the top three used-book-selling sites. (Note: It’s hard to know exactly how many because the online listing categories “New” and “Like New” are rather subjective.) These sites, along with a horde of smaller online used book vendors, make up a sales channel that not only denies publishers profit and authors royalties, but wreaks havoc on publishers’ attempts to track titles’ popularity.

Welcome to the new used-book market: It’s now more of a science than a leisure time activity — both for the buyer as well as the seller. Gone are the days of squeezing through a maze of dusty used books and happening upon a 1926 first edition of Pheasants: Their Lives and Homes for the birdwatcher in your family; now you’re practically guaranteed a copy of the hottest new beach-appropriate paperback for a fraction of the list price, and you’ll find it in less than a minute with the help of your favorite shopbot. For those on the other end of the transaction, the Internet can provide hefty profits without the overhead of a traditional store.

The number of US readers who feel comfortable buying used books is surging, thanks in large part to Amazon, and its handy listing of used copies when a shopper searches for a title. Americans bought 150 million used books in 2003, or 14 % of the general trade books purchased between April and December 2003, according to Ipsos BookTrends. Online used book sales could double and reach $2 billion by 2007, Forrester Research predicts. Current studies indicate that about 5% of US household dollars spent on books goes toward used copies, but a spokesperson for Abebooks says the company, which as one of the leading online used bookseller may be in the best position to track such numbers, thinks this estimate is low. Although publishers have long been aware that used book sales over the Internet are skyrocketing and, many believe, infringing on their new book sales, they have had no concrete way to measure this, let alone combat it; so many have just brushed it off as an insurmountable problem. For example, even though the AAP has taken a very definite stance against used text book sales, there has been no visible effort to counter used trade book sales. “We have more information on used book sales affecting the new textbook market, and we don’t have any information for the trade market,” explains VP Katie Blough. “We have to convince booksellers to give us their data. The more information publishers have … the better off they are.” Given the Book Industry Study Group’s recent formation of a research committee with used book tracking high on its agenda, publishers may have some legitimate statistics in the near future. Having said that, the industry studies that have emerged in recent months show many contradictions, and emphasize how difficult this task will be.

One recent report, “A Portrait of the US Used Book Market,” published earlier this year by Book Hunter Press (www.bookhunterpress.com), deduces sales trends based on the survey responses from 827 used book dealers. It describes 2002 as the year that the Internet took charge of the used book market, surpassing book stores as the buying channel of choice. The report illustrates — perhaps unintentionally — who the publishers’ biggest online foes are in this battle for consumers’ dollars. In 2003, Abebooks easily topped the list of Internet sites purveying used books (39.2%); Amazon followed (17.3%); Alibris placed third (12.7%); eBay was fourth (9.0%); and independent dealer sites ranked fifth (8.6%). A similar hierarchy existed for the number of dealers who post their wares on the various sites: Abebooks (78.8% of dealers); Amazon (58.1%); B&N (50.7%); Alibris (44.4%); and individual dealer websites (39.8%). Many survey respondents said they post books on a number of websites for maximum visibility, according to report co-author Susan Siegel. (Note: One obvious flaw with this survey is that it doesn’t include the great number of individuals who decide to post books for sale on Amazon, or those amateur eBayers in their livingrooms.)

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

Abebooks, which boasts an average of 20,000 book sales each day on its site, has evolved from the place only rare book collectors went to the largest used book portal on the Internet. Depending on the time of year, it’s the place people go for used textbooks (fall), classic children’s lit (winter), and light beach reading (summer). After an announcement at BEA last month, Abebooks now offers new books alongside the old, and about 10% of its daily sales are new copies, spokesperson Marci Crossan said. This move could eventually make the company a contender in the arena currently dominated by Amazon and B&N. But, more importantly, Crossan said that since the company started offering space for new books alongside the old, a few (“under 10”) U.S. publishers have shown interest in selling directly to the consumer through the site, à la Penguin. Publishers are seeing it as a way to sell backlist titles and remainders, as well as newly released books, she said. Just like Abebooks’ other 12,000-plus booksellers (spanning 48 countries), publishers are subject to a modest monthly subscription charge against an 8% commission. If you can’t beat the used book seller, then join ‘em.

Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, thinks the biggest problem with used sales are their encroachment on a book’s launch. Publishers need to track down the source of galleys that make it onto the Internet right around launches, she says. But, ultimately, she’d like booksellers to be a bit more cooperative. “Authors are really being ripped off. What I’d really like to see is a moratorium on the part of booksellers for six weeks from the publication date. I’d like to see booksellers give authors a chance.”

Hope on the Horizon?

In the past year and a half, BISG members’ grumbling over used books sales has reached such a din that BISG president Jeff Abraham said its board couldn’t ignore the subject any longer. Though neither Abraham nor the committee chairperson Kelly Gallagher, of Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, could hazard a guess on how long the study would take or what methodology would be used, Abraham said, “We believe we have the right participants to brainstorm the problem and come up with a good project. Everybody has anecdotal evidence to show used books’ cannibalization of new books, but we don’t have any accurate numbers.” The research committee includes members from the publishing segment (Random House, S&S), manufacturing (Banta, RR Donnelly), the retail segment (Abebooks, B&N, Powell’s, NACS), as well as market research firms Ipsos and Bookscan. What numbers would most help publishers counter the so-called cannibalization? According to Abraham, “The big question is what is the year-on-year trend? Is this growing, and if so, how quickly? And is it growing at the expense of other channels or in addition to other channels?”

Barrie Rappaport, chief analyst at Ipsos who has been tracking the book market for many years, thinks publishers should be most concerned with knowing “who the consumer is and what he’s looking for.” Why so many readers choose used copies over new is, of course, the obvious question. “There’s a variety of reasons,” Rappaport suggests. “Some of it’s price. … Particularly for those online. If you can go online and see a new book that’s selling for $30, and then right below it, you can see the same book in nearly new condition for significantly less — yes, that is very attractive to some.” But, there is some salve for publishers’ worries. Rappaport’s survey indicates that most used book buyers are committed readers who also buy new books. In April 2002, she started asking her 16,000 household survey participants — who fill out purchasing diaries for a variety of product categories — if the books they purchased were new or used. “Am I going to be matching Amazon’s numbers? Probably not.” (One concern with Ipsos’ methodology is that it may not represent the entire US book-buying population. The company’s caveat in its “2002 Consumer Research Study on Book Purchasing”: “… because of circumstances beyond our control … [there is] an under representation of the African-American and Hispanic populations.”)

Others are not so optimistic about the viability of tracking used book sales. Al Greco, professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Business Administration, likens tracking used trade books in any meaningful way to “statistical work that rivals rocket science.” He jokes that at an accurate study would “cost as much as the GNP of Bolivia.” Having studied the used textbook business in depth, Greco says the “average textbook is flipped five times.” Assessing used trade sales involves modeling similar to that used in population studies, Greco explains, adding that you would want to separate out rare and out-of-print books, since they aren’t taking sales away from publishers. He lists a number of reasons for the recent climb in used book sales: the rise of e-tailers, such as Amazon, which solicits people to resell the products they have recently purchased from the site, shopbots, and auction sites like eBay, which taught people how to bargain hunt online; the economic downswing of the last three years, which has hindered discretionary spending; and the increase in book prices, which some believe is in response to warehouse clubs discounting higher priced books.

Despite recently publishing a tome of stats, Book Hunter Press’ Siegel also thinks some numbers are impossible to get. “There is absolutely no way to compute the number of times a used book was resold,” she says, listing unknown factors like dealer-to-dealer sales and bulk library purchases. “Also, I don’t think it’s possible to determine with any degree of accuracy what percentage … is for books still in print or out of print,” the latter of which is not taking sales away from new books. A proponent of the used bookseller, Siegel can get a little defensive about booksellers’ rights, as well as the consumers’. “It’s not for me to tell them how to market books, but … it’s a fact of life that as [new] books get more expensive, people look for an alternative. It’s a changing world … Publishers are clever, and I have faith in them that they can figure out how to adapt. Anything that encourages people to read and buy books is good.”

Michael Powell of Powell’s Books, which sells new and used books, says the Internet has made used book sales more visible, but they’ve always been a part of the book marketplace. Powell’s sales are split, half used, half new; however, its inventory is two-thirds used and one-third new. In recent years, Powell’s has increasingly sold more books online (some books are listed online and stored in warehouses, not even shelved in store). “I haven’t heard publishers complain very much — and I’ve never had any direct complaints. I have heard authors complain about royalties. In fact, when publishers have visited, they’ve admired the breadth of selection we have.” In general, he has little sympathy for publishers who lament the growing sales of used books. On the other hand, he said he would cooperate if publishers were interested in tracking used sales. “It would be possible to give them an aggregate number in dollars, but not possible to do on a title-by-title or publisher basis.”

New York’s The Strand is another example of a bookstore — and some would call it a literary institution — that has benefited from online sales. Owner Nancy Bass reported the store’s used book sales grew by 5% from June 2003 to June 2004 to reach 42% of its total sales. This increase would have been greater, but the store has been under construction, deterring some sales, she says. The Strand’s expansion will require a change to its longstanding catchphrase: “8 miles of books” is now “18 miles of books.” “Having our books online has been helping us tremendously, and it didn’t involve much of an investment,” she says.

What’s a publisher to do? Textbook publishers’ response to what is now an institutionalized used book market has been to increasingly move their content online. Ebooks, anyone?

I Did It Because I Could

Plagiarist Wallops Germany, Big Brother Is Watching in Italy, Dutch Golden Noose Nominee Smothers the Competition

Hold on to your Warranties and Indemnities clause and prepare for a ride through the fraudulent world of a young waiter who feigns authorship to impress one of his regular customers, in Swiss author Martin Suter’s latest book, Lila, Lila, which continues to rack up sales in Germany. David spends his days slaving away in a swanky bar and listening with envy to the literary banter of the eloquent Ralph and his girlfriend Marie. In the drawer of an old bedside cabinet, he discovers the one thing that just might persuade Marie to give him a second look — the handwritten text of an unpublished novel entitled Sophie, Sophie, penned in the 1950s by an author named Alfred Duster. After scanning it into his computer and making a single alteration (to the by-line, of course), he gives it to Marie, who immediately tells Ralph to hit the road and then submits the manuscript to a small Frankfurt publisher without David’s knowledge. Retitled Lila, Lila, the book becomes a roaring success, but as David and Marie grow closer, he becomes more and more fearful that his lie will be exposed. Enter Jacky Stocker, an elderly alcoholic from a nearby nursing home, who pulls David aside at the end of a reading and announces that he is the real author. Stocker threatens David with blackmail and takes him for everything he’s worth, but a serious accident ensues and, as he lies dying, Stocker confesses something that may keep David’s secret safe forever. In a final twist, the wily waiter learns his lesson by coming to the realization that “the literary life is not just a bed of canapés, especially when you haven’t earned them.” Suter’s books have been translated into 12 languages, including French (Christian Bourgois), Italian (Feltrinelli), Spanish (Anagrama), and Dutch (Signature).

Another Swiss author who is scoring big in Germany is Urs Widmer, who “moves between humour, irony and melancholy with the instinctive balance of a sleepwalker” in a pair of novels loosely based on the lives of his parents. Mother’s Lover is the tale of a woman whose life is dominated by her passionate but unrequited love for a famous conductor who has his own heart set on founding an orchestra to play Bartók, Krenek and Prokofiev. At the end of his life, he is the richest man in the country (so much for starving artists) and she is destitute, but still driven by her obsessive love for him. Her husband is strikingly absent throughout the book but this gap is filled by a second complementary novel, My Father’s Book, in which twelve-year-old Karl receives a blank diary for his birthday and proceeds to fill the book every day for the rest of his life. The book disappears after his death and before his son, as tradition dictates, has a chance to read it. Karl’s son retells his father’s story as he imagines it, recalling the man’s deep passion for literature, politics, and his wife. As the father inwardly rambles through the world of Villon, Diderot and Stendhal, he grows close to a group of young artists united in their antifascist beliefs, but his life ultimately becomes a model for the disillusionment of the 20th century. Called “the most light-footed and yet perhaps the most serious of Swiss writers,” Widmer has been translated into 18 languages, including French (Gallimard), Spanish (Siruela), Italian (Bompiani), and Dutch (Byblos). Contact Bettina Haydon at Diogenes for rights to Widmer’s and Suter’s books.

Revealing some not-so-encouraging news from the 22nd century, Italian songwriter Luciano Ligabue has composed his contribution to a tradition of grim dystopian writing of the Orwellian variety with Snow Couldn’t Care Less. The governing Vidor Plan has perfected a model for the happiness and well-being of its adherents. Simply stated, citizens are granted eleven rights, including the right to a partner for life as well as access to a program of adulterous affairs (granted on a case-by-case basis), and, in turn, they must promise to keep themselves in perfect psychological and physical health. Monitored by a carefully rigged system of micro-cameras and satellites, citizens are brought into the world at an advanced age and progress backwards toward a moment of non-existence that precedes birth, all the while knowing how much time they have left. Although all references to maternity have been stricken from historical record, one citizen, aptly named Nature, begins experiencing what the bureaucracy assures her is a “hormonal dysfunction,” but what turns out to be the first recorded pregnancy in nearly a century. A covert visit from a prisoner of the regime gives Nature and her partner the knowledge they need to carry out the unthinkable. Rights to this critique of the contemporary world are being offered by Francesca Dal Negro at Feltrinelli.

Fans of Nicci French and Karin Fossum are feasting their eyes on The Dinner Club, the latest from the best-selling female Dutch crime writer of all time, Saskia Noort (she’s also a freelance columnist for Marie Claire, among other magazines). A grand villa goes up in flames on a cold winter’s night and Evert Struyck, a successful businessman and happily married father of two, dies while his wife and children escape to safety. His wife’s friend Karen steps in to console the family, but soon discovers that the relationships within the dinner club are not as unconditional as they seem and that some people may even have profited from Evert’s death. Recently nominated for Holland’s most prestigious crime prize, The Golden Noose, this “suspenseful thriller about a group of people…who will defend success and happiness at any price” has sold more than 100,000 copies thus far. Her first book, Return to the Coast (a psychological thriller about a young woman who terminates a relationship and her pregnancy, and who must confront memories of her past while a mystery attacker advances), was also nominated for the prize. Rights to both books have been sold to Rowohlt/Wunderlich (Germany) and a Dutch film deal is in the works.

And this just in: Freelance journalist and long-time New Yorker Elvin Post has just been awarded the 2004 Golden Noose for his debut novel, Green Friday. Winston Malone, who lives with his wife in a seedy apartment on Staten Island, is fed up with his job and becomes involved with a shady crowd that includes an ice cream man who also deals firearms, a dwarf with an all-star wrestling past, and an enormously wealthy fan of Jerry Springer who possesses a deep reverence for dating services — all of whom are ready to duke it out for an unclaimed two million dollars. Only on Staten Island. Requests are flying in for reading copies and Chris Herschdorfer at Ambo/Anthos (Holland) expects the book to hit the bestseller list next week. Contact him for rights to all three titles.

Book View, July 2004

People

June was a relatively quiet month, though that doesn’t guarantee a quiet summer, judging from the increase of job listings on industry job boards and murmurings around town:

Harold Augenbraum is leaving The Mercantile Library to become Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, effective July 12. A search committee has been formed to find a new Director for the Library.

Fred Ciporen has confirmed the rumor that Reed Business Information has pulled the plug on his Reed Business Press imprint after less than 18 months. Seven people are being laid off, including Editorial Director, Beau Friedlander. Ciporen expects the 20 plus titles to find homes elsewhere.

Jay Cosgrove has gone to Yale U. Press as Sales Director. He was Wholesale Trade Sales Director of Random Adult Trade.

Rick Horgan, most recently VP, Executive Editor, at Warner Books, is moving to Crown, with the same title. Doug Pepper left recently to return to Canada, but this is not a direct replacement. Becky Cabaza, Editorial Director of Three Rivers Press, has hired Katie McHugh as Associate Editor. She worked most recently at Perigee Books. More hires to come, we hear.

Don Laventhall has joined Harold Ober Associates Inc. as a literary agent and the Director of Film Rights. Laventhall was a producer on “The Pelican Brief” and “The Devil’s Own.”

Lisa Benenson has joined Rebus, the medical packager and publisher, as VP Editorial Director. She was formerly the Editor-in-Chief for both Working Mother and Working Woman magazines, and served as Editorial Director and VP for the magazines’ parent company, Working Woman Network.

Liza Baker has gone to Little, Brown for Young Readers as Executive Editor and Director of Special Projects. This is a new position. And speaking of Time Warner’s Book Group, Andrew Malkin, has become VP International at Ingram, reporting to Peter Clifton. He was most recently Brand Manager at TWBG.

At S&S, Scribner Director of Publicity Pat Eisemann is leaving the company. Eisemann has worked for the imprint for 10 years and on and off for S&S since 1984.

S&S Children’s Publishing has hired Suzanne Harper as Senior VP Publisher for hardcover. Harper, who was Editor-in-Chief of Disney Adventures magazine since 1997, succeeds Brenda Bowen, who left S&S earlier this year to join Hyperion Books for Children.

Ariane Fink is leaving Sanford Greenberger to set up her own scouting agency. And May Wuthrich has announced that, as of July 31st, Gotham Scouting Partners will be closing its doors. Wuthrich may be reached at 646-734-8200. Her associate, DW Gibson may be reached at 917-319-6452 or [email protected] Clients Piper, Bzztôh and Owl’s Agency in Japan will announce their respective plans shortly.

Webster Younce will join Houghton Mifflin as a Senior Editor, as of July 12. He was at Random House. Meanwhile, four years out of college, Hyperion’s Ben Loehnen has moved to Little Random to oversee what the house calls “a new business program.”

Carie Freimuth and John Hughes announced they’re leaving their respective jobs at HarperCollins and Perseus, and New York. Hughes explains: “This has been a tough choice for me, as it means turning away from my loved and respected colleagues (including Matty Goldberg, Liz Maguire, and Jamie Brickhouse) and the uniquely worthy lists we’ve published, at just the time when Perseus is emerging as an even better place to work. Carie says: “There’s much I’m excited about in relocating to Denver — it’s my hometown, and much of my family lives there. … And it’s a big adventure at the beginning of our married lives. I’ve loved the 19 years I’ve worked in publishing here. I’ve been blessed to work with many outstanding books, remarkable authors and wonderful colleagues over that time. Here’s hoping our friends and colleagues who might be visiting in the West will look us up!”

In another re-org at what used to be Grolier, 31 positions have been eliminated in the continuity division of Scholastic’s Danbury, Conn., office, representing 20% of the work force. Earlier in June, Greg Worrell was named President of the Scholastic Library Publishing division, also in Danbury. Worrell was recently SVP of Sales and Marketing for Scholastic Education. He reports to Margery Mayer, EVP, Scholastic and President of Scholastic Education.

Promotions

Brian Murray — in his first official announcement as Group President of HarperCollins — announced that Dan Halpern has been named Publisher of the Ecco imprint. He had been SVP, Co-Publisher of Fourth Estate and Editorial Director of Ecco.

Duly Noted

Random threw a party to launch its new distributed line, Real U, which publishes magazine-like books to help recent graduates of high school and college handle money, buy a car, find a job etc. (Real U CEO Steve Schultz astonished the audience by claiming to have only read “four or five” books over the years, but perhaps that was exhibiting solidarity with his prospective customers.) At the moment the books are selling only in Wal-Mart, but that will change, John Groton, Director of Distributed Client Services, tells PT, and by August the books will be available at bookstores and other outlets. Priced at $6.95, the books are written by experts such as Peter Greenberg (Travel Editor for The Today Show) and Frank Abagnale, of Catch Me If You Can fame.

• Ebooks Corp. announced the launch of its ebook-lending platform, EBL at the ALA. According to the company, the platform is targeted at academic and research libraries and aims to help them better meet fluctuations in full-text demand. Academic publishers that have signed on include Taylor & Francis, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Kluwer. EBL allows publishers to provide their content through a number of lending models, including multiple concurrent use, unlimited access and short-term circulation, as well as allowing individual ebook chapters to be set aside for reserve lending or inclusion within course packs.

Parties

Overlook’s publication party for Charles McCarry’s Old Boys — the 10th novel by a master of the suspense genre, continues Peter Mayer’s resuscitation of almost forgotten talent — Robert Littell was the last writer to see a career resurgence at his hands. Guests included Carole Baron, Bruce Harris, Alan Kahn and Bob Wietrak, who happily whispered B&N’s first two weeks sales figures to a smiling author and also commented that never in his career had he seen a publisher do as good a job as Knopf/RH was doing with Bill Clinton’s tome…praise indeed.

• Dell alum got together on June 29 at Ruby Foo’s on the UWS for an irregularly scheduled (last time was fifteen years ago) reunion. Included in the group — who all remember the pre-BDD days (forget pre-Bertelsmann) with fondness — were Random’s Reed Boyd, Reader’s Digest’s Harold Clarke, Holtzbrinck’s Alison Lazarus, agent George Nicholson, Barbara Parrott, a sales veep at Essence, and Ava Seave, a principal with Quantum Media, a consulting group. Others have left the hothouse of New York publishing for serener pastures. Sue Bynum is now VP of Episcopal Church Pension Fund (though it does have the Church Publishing Group) and Lorraine Perrin Clarke once in sales, is now an elementary school teacher.

Mazel Tov

To Ballantine’s Charlotte Herscher, and Joshua Rappaport, proud parents of Benjamin, born on June 8, 2004.

In Memoriam

Elizabeth Cater, who died May 28 at the age of 70. Her career included positions at Bobbs Merrill, the Paul Reynolds Agency, Praeger, Putnam, and the Macmillan Book Clubs. Her last position was as SVP and Publisher of Newbridge Educational Publishing.

On the Stationery Front

The old timers at the 59th Annual National Stationery
Show
, which took place May 15-18 at the Javits Center, grouse that the show ain’t what it used to be, and that traffic wasn’t great even on the “busy” days. Stationery’s role in our high-speed, email-driven world has undoubtedly dwindled, and on top of that, the numerous gift shows around the country have stolen Stationery’s thunder. As it was, the array of “stationery” on exhibit included lots of gift wrap, refrigerator magnets, candles, and tchotchkes – not to mention edible pet greeting cards.

On the other hand, Abrams/STC’s Bill Wolfsthal claims the company wrote three times the orders on the first day as they did in all of 2003’s show. And Andrews McMeel’s Lynn McAdoo says her reps report an overall increase in calendar orders across the board. The show attracted 13,550 attendees, including 491 new companies and 1,474 total exhibitors, representing 24 countries.

Books were on display here and there, but if you were willing to be a book publisher with a selection of titles that are hardly books at all, success was assured. Workman was madly taking orders for Boys Are Stupid, Throw Rocks At Them, billed as a “South Park for girls,” which started life on a T-shirt and launched a multimillion dollar business, David & Goliath. Over at Klutz, a how-to knitting kit (yes, knitting is now “cool”) was wowing them, along with more irresistible teen stuff to decorate your locker and your T-shirts. Meanwhile, licensed properties were found in unexpected places, such as Snapple on a Peter Pauper mini book (Charming PetitesTM). The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, which is repped by Parson Weems, showed amusing products, such as Nietzsche’s Will to Power Bar and a little tin box adorned with the president’s picture and the product description, National Embarrassmints. Kits were everywhere: The “author” of Andrews McMeel’s Tooth Fairy Kit was gamely autographing the tiny box, while unsuspecting passersby were set upon by reps urging them to get their own signed edition.

Although it is said that the baby boomers out-populate the other demographics, it would be hard to tell by the plethora of miniature titles — with their miniature typefaces. Running Press (the granddaddy of the format), Peter Pauper Press (complete with gold- or silver-plated charms at the end of ribbon bookmarks — readers are encouraged to “wear it on a bracelet”), and Chronicle each had their share. The latter’s stand, which was handsomely designed and larger than the other publishers’, was also perennially packed.

All in all, the show had its share of fun new products. University Games was launching three puzzles based on locations cited in Workman’s phenomenal bestseller 1,000 Places To See Before You Die with photo montages making the 1000-piece puzzles hugely difficult to do. Our personal favorite last fall was Bloomsbury’s Bitter With Baggage Seeks Same, and it will appear as a luscious wall calendar next year, distributed by Andrews McMeel.

Move It

Move It

By its most elemental definition, “distribution” means “to move,” so perhaps it’s no surprise that this arm of the book publishing business is doing laps that even the Queen Mary 2 can’t keep up with. It seems everyone is re-evaluating the most efficient ways to get their books to market. Constant attention to new competition, paired with always-evolving technologies, creates a high-stakes environment in which distributors are expected to move even faster.

Even distribution mammoth PGW is jostling for a competitive advantage. Coming on the heels of its PG Worldwide announcement last fall, PGW is launching PG Kids, a sales and marketing division that will support “the needs of independent children’s book publishers,” says President Rich Freese. Having grown by 15 new publishers — some with children’s titles — in the past 12 months, the company “thought [it] had met a critical mass in this area and we wanted to continue to leverage the quality of publishing we had, so we thought it was important to have a group focused on just that part of the market,” Freese explains. PG Kids is headed by longtime children’s veteran Patricia Kelly. Overall, PGW is expecting 7% sales growth for fiscal 2004, Freese says.

Though many full-service distributors offer sales reps with specialties in the gift or gourmet markets, honing in on the children’s sector is a new strategy. Formed in 2002, when Germany’s Coppenrath Verlag was looking for a US distributor for its beloved Felix the Bunny series, Parklane Publishing touts itself as the only children’s-only distributor. “Nobody that I know out there just distributes children’s books,” says Tammy Johnston, who does just about everything for the burgeoning company (no official titles, according to company policy). It’s now ready to pound the pavement for new clients at this year’s BEA, with success stories like its Rip Squeak titles — now at all the major booksellers and being tested at Wal-mart and Toys ‘R’ Us. (Although it’s a subsidiary of Book Club of America, Parklane does not deal with remainders.)

Banta’s Dave Schanke, market segment VP, general publishing, said more and more publishers are re-evaluating having their own distribution facilities, and many are deciding that the costs outweigh the benefits. “With larger retailers becoming very dominant … you have to have the systems and relationships established with them. It’s becoming a much more capital-intensive business, as retailers’ requirements for shipping become more rigorous,” he says. Still, he said he thought few publishers knew about all of their options for fulfillment and distribution. Primarily known as a printer, Banta is looking to increase its distribution clients.

A flurry of activity is brightening SCB’s 15th anniversary year and Lance Tilford’s (formerly of PGW) first with the company. The Gardena, Calif.-based distributor announced 13 new publishers signing on, bringing its total client count to about 90. Among the new clients are Vox Pop, Dunhill Publishing, the UK’s FAB Press, and a number of Canadian houses. This growth spurt will result in a 200-title fall catalog, compared to 120 in the spring.

Some in the industry, such as Eric Kampmann, President of Midpoint Trade Books and himself a veteran of the industry’s rough waters, see distribution “in a period of remarkable stability” since the early 1990s, when “the democratization of the trade universe made it possible for somebody to really compete with Simon & Schuster.” A major ownership shift in January (the book division split from the distribution center, Midpoint National) has freed the company for some major changes in the near future. The company anticipates $12 million gross sales in 2004, a 20 percent increase over last year. In recent weeks, Midpoint executives met to discuss how they can “open our doors to independent booksellers … Many of them carry our books, but don’t know who Midpoint is,” Kampmann says, adding that this is at the top of their agenda at BEA.

Furthering the trend of U.K. publishers seeking to enter the U.S. market via sales rather than licensing, Octopus Publishing Group’s VP and managing director Neil Levin said it will offer 32 titles (including four of its imprints) in its fall catalog. “Business is growing dramatically across all accounts,” he touts, adding that as a natural part of this growth, the company will be transitioning from Weatherhill to CDS for all shipping and fulfillment, effective July 1.

Many smaller companies are focusing on distribution into niche markets on behalf of large and small publishers. One such, BookWorld (working in Christian, New Age, and Spanish markets), recently gained eight clients from the now dissolved Words Distributing, following parent company Bookpeople’s bankruptcy.

Staying Alive

Iraqi Exile in Denmark, Czech Band Beats Persecution,
Chinese Memoir Smuggled to France

Defining the immigrant experience is about as easy as finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, yet a former Iraqi citizen now living in Denmark has penned her contribution to this genre with a “quiet, sad and nevertheless unsentimental portrayal of [her] new life,” in Late Discoveries, Small Victories. Duna Ghali moved from Basra to Denmark more than 10 years ago, and her former life in Iraq provides the backdrop against which she describes the almost imperceptible changes in her daily life, along with her overwhelming sense of isolation and anxiety. Praised for her avoidance of cliché, Ghali organizes her book into 22 compact scenes that, though often tense, contain “brief moments of happiness that burst like soap bubbles.” She brings scrutiny to the wrenching experience of relocation and exile, and reimagines the influence that new surroundings can have on one’s world view. Ghali has written two other novels in Arabic, published in Syria (Al-Mada), and this latest novel will be published in a bilingual edition, which can be read from the front in Danish and from the back in Arabic. Contact Ingelise Korsholm at The Gyldendal Group Agency (Denmark).

Harboring a peculiar aversion to verbs, a French author writing under the pseudonym Michel Thaler has set out to do what no author has done before: write an entire book with no verbs. The 233-page novel, entitled The Train From Nowhere, incorporates lengthy passages “filled with florid adjectives in a series of vitriolic portraits of dislikeable passengers on a train.” Thaler, who stifles grammar and characterizes the verb as the “invader, dictator, usurper of our literature,” boldly declares that he is doing for literature what the Dada movement and Surrealism did for art. Some wisecracking critics have made tongue-in-cheek comments about the lack of action in Thaler’s novel, yet it remains to be seen whether the book will be as admired as La Disparition, which Georges Perec wrote in 1969 without using the letter e (its sequel contained no vowel except e), and which was valiantly translated into English as A Void by Gilbert Adair and published in the US by HarperCollins in 1995. Contact Chrystel Manfredi-Matringe of Adcan (France).

Also in France, a rare testimony on life in China from the beginning of the 20th century until the end of the Cultural Revolution has finally made its way into the public sphere, thanks to the efforts of a French translator who studied in China more than 15 years ago. Storm Clouds Gathering is the autobiography of Chen Ming and is just as much a metaphor for the history of 20th century China. Born in 1908, Chen Ming spent his childhood in the poor northeast province of Shanxi, yet after years of tireless study, he went on to become a well-respected professor. A series of regime changes drastically altered the course of his life, and in 1937, after returning from two years in England, Chen Ming returned to find his country at war with Japan. Following the rise of the Communist Party, he was sent to laogai, the Chinese gulag, where the horrifying conditions led to the death of some inmates and the suicides of others. Forbidden to teach, he took up work as a street sweeper and was monitored daily by parole officers and forced to make public confessions. French student and translator Camille Loivier arrived on the scene in 1988 and a chance encounter with Chen Ming resulted in his decision to compile his memoirs. Though his writings were (and still are) banned in China, he met with her on a regular basis and entrusted her to translate the book and get it published in France, which involved smuggling the manuscript out of the country. Still, the author, who died in 1996, never renounced his country and reserved his criticism for the communist regime alone. Rights have been sold to Marsilio (Italy) and US rights are being offered by Alice Tassel at the French Publishers’ Agency.

Thirteen-year-old Fania Schiefer carries quite a burden growing up in a household full of Holocaust survivors in 1960s Hamburg in Viola Roggenkamp’s debut novel Family Life. Her mother’s and grandmother’s lives are shaped by a world that has “more death than life in it,” and her family’s tragic past is hardly a distant memory. Fania and her sister Vera rush home after school every day, well aware that their mother will be inconsolably anxious if they are late. At the same time, their overprotective parents are rarely critical of the girls and their father even sneaks out in the middle of the night to buy chocolate to satisfy Fania’s craving for a late-night snack. Drawing from a Jewish storytelling tradition, as well as her own experiences growing up half-Jewish in post-war Germany, Roggenkamp (who was publisher of Die Zeit for three decades and is still one of the most-respected journalists in Germany) has been praised for her ability to evoke simultaneous laughter and tears. In fact, German television personality and book guru Elke Heidenreich recently featured the book on her show Lesen! (Read!), raving, “What is so wonderful is that she has so much humor.” Rights are available from Elisabeth Raabe at Arche Verlag (Germany) and have been sold to Mondadori (Italy). Interest is brewing in the Netherlands, France, Spain and elsewhere.

A self-proclaimed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde whose interests run the gamut from books to rock-and-roll, Jaroslav Císar (who translates the Czech list for PT) was recently awarded the 4th Annual Miroslav Ivanov Non-fiction Literature Award for his latest book Framus Five: Swallowed Words Blues. Named for the famed Czech author of 29 books that have been translated into nine different languages, the award is presented by the Non-fiction Literature Authors’ Club committee for outstanding original Czech non-fiction literature published within the past three years. Císar’s latest book tells the history of one of the most popular Czech rhythm-and-blues bands, called Framus Five, which formed back in the 1960s and was plagued by persecution after the Russian-led invasion of 1968. Lead singer Michal Prokop and the band were heroes to a generation and developed quite a following in Poland, too. Inspired by American rhythm-and-blues, the group sang only in English until they were prohibited from doing so after 1968. An avid collector of records, Císar’s specialty is American, British and Canadian rock from the 1950s through the ’70s. He has also published an encyclopedia Years of Rock, featuring listings for “golden oldies” Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Tommy James & The Shondells, Roy Orbison and Steppenwolf. For rights queries, contact the author at [email protected]

Book View, June 2004

Book View

People

May was another busy month for publishers’ human resource directors: Michael Jacobs has gone to Abrams as CEO. He was most recently SVP of Scholastic’s trade division. In addition, Ron Longe has been named Director of Publicity for STC, also part of the Martinière Group. He was most recently at Routledge.

Michael Kazan, who recently left Spier NY, has joined Bennett Book Advertising as Managing Director. . . . Dave Nelson has gone to Zagat as General Manager, Trade Sales. He was most recently at Harcourt. … Lynn Grady has been named Director of Marketing at ReganBooks, replacing Carl Raymond, who went to DK. She was most recently at Kensington. . . . Dan Verdick has become Trade Sales Director at Motorbooks. He was previously Sales & Marketing Director at ABDO. . . . Marian Lizzi is leaving St. Martin’s after 14 years, to go to Perigee as Senior Editor. She replaces Sheila Curry Oakes, who recently left for — St. Martin’s.

As widely noted, Brian Murray is returning from Australia to become Group President of HarperCollins. He will officially begin on July 6. And US General Books President and Publisher, Cathy Hemming, has left the company.

In a move that had been anticipated, EVP Mark Ouimet has left PGW and his position is being filled by his long-time associate, Karen Cross. Also leaving is Phyllis Henrici, who worked for PGW’s parent company, AMS, as Director of Bargain Sales & Purchasing. Tracy Fortini has been hired as Senior Marketing Director. She was most recently at Discovery Channel Stores.

Carol Roeder, who left Intervisual earlier this year, has been named Director of Licensing for ShoPro Entertainment, a division of Japan’s Shogakukan Publishers. She and her husband Dudley Jahnke, who has resigned as Director of Sales for M.E. Sharpe, have relocated to the West Coast.

Larry Stone, Founder and Publisher of Rutledge Hill Press, which he sold to Thomas Nelson in 1999, is retiring. Pamela Clements, VP Publicity, has immediately been named Associate Publisher, and will be named Publisher at a future date.

John Griffin has been named to succeed Stephen Lacy (who will become President and COO of Meredith Corp. on July 1) as head of the publishing group, which includes the company’s book unit and the magazine division, which he has run since June 2003.

Elke Villa has joined S&S as Director of Children’s Marketing. Ryan Harbage has joined Simon Spotlight as Editor. Nancy Hancock is joining Touchstone Fireside as Senior Editor. She was previously an Executive Editor at McGraw-Hill. S&S Director of Publicity Aileen Boyle and National Accounts Director Deb Darrock will both be promoted to Associate Publisher following the departure of Associate Publisher Melissa Possick, who has left for Taunton Press. Also joining Taunton is Pam Hoenig, who will be starting a cookbook program. She left Harvard Common Press, where she was Executive Editor.

Vivian Antonangeli has been named COO of Brighter Child Interactive in Columbus, Ohio, where she will launch a publishing venture. . . . Formerly at Wiley, Jeff Golick has joined BBC Audiobooks America as Acquisitions Editor. Wendy Strothman, who was EVP of Houghton Mifflin’s trade and reference group until June 2002 and now runs a literary agency, has brought in Dan O’Connell as Senior Publicity Director, working with clients on the early positioning of their books. He worked with Strothman at HM and Beacon. Former Yale University Press Director John Ryden is an affiliate agent in the agency.

Promotions

Scholastic’s Ellie Berger is being promoted to the position of SVP, Trade, where she will be coordinating the daily activities of the Trade Division. Berger will also be responsible for demand planning and operations and will continue in her role as Publisher of Licensed Properties. She reports to Barbara Marcus. . . . Dan Menaker, SVP of Random House Group, was appointed to the newly created position of Executive Editor-in-Chief, reporting to President and Publisher Gina Centrello. Menaker will now oversee the editorial activities of the Group’s Ballantine imprints as well. Jon Karp, has been promoted to SVP, Editor-in-Chief, reporting to Menaker. He will now oversee the editorial departments of Random House, Villard, Modern Library, and Random House Trade Paperbacks.

Nancy Miller continues as SVP, Editor-in-Chief of the Ballantine imprints, and adds the title of Executive Editor, Random House Publishing Group, also reporting to Menaker. . . . At HarperCollins Deputy Publisher of Avon/Harper Torch Darlene Delillo has been promoted to SVP. . . . S&S’s Robb Pearlman has been promoted to Associate Director, Licensing & Brand Management. Tricia Boczkowski has been promoted to Executive Editor of Simon Spotlight. . . . Kathleen Keene, CFO and Acting Director of Johns Hopkins U. Press since December, when Jim Jordan left for Columbia U. Press, has been named Director.

Duly Noted

The May/June issue of Booktech Magazine lists the top-30 book manufacturers. Quebecor, for whom book manufacturing is 11% of its total revenue, comes in first, followed by Donnelley (14%), Von Hoffman (100%), Banta (20%) and Arvato/Bertelsmann ( 91%). Only four on the list have revenues in excess of a billion dollars, and another six have revenues exceeding one hundred million dollars. Although not up at press time, the list will be posted on www.booktechmag.com.

• R.R. Bowker released its analysis of books in print, based on its database of titles and publishers. There were 175,000 new titles and editions published in 2003, which includes 3,773 titles reported to Books In Print by the three “subsidy publishers,” including Xlibris, iUniverse and AuthorHouse, according to Andrew Grabois, Senior Director of publisher relations and content development. The number of new titles released by the 12 largest trade houses increased 2.4%, to 22,914, while total output for the top-55 university presses declined 2.2%, to 12,003. Since 1994, new titles have increased 50.8% for all U.S. publishers, 24.4% for the largest trade houses, and 14.4% for university presses. General adult fiction was one of only three categories to show a decline in 2003, dipping 1.6% to 17,021 new titles and editions. This was the first year since 1991 that fiction did not register an increase, declining 1.6% to 17,021. Output of new juvenile titles continued its upward trend, increasing 45.3% to 16,283. Biography, history and religion also recorded double-digit increases.

Parties

Elaine’s was the venue both for Carroll & Graf and Grove Press, where the exceedingly charming ambassador Joe Wilson and veteran writer Jim Harrison were feted by their publishers. Wilson’s turnout included Dan Rather, Lewis Lapham, and WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. Morgan Entrekin’s party for Harrison drew authors Tony Bourdain, Phil Caputo, Joe Kanon, and Jay McInerney, among others, and their newsguy was Tom Brokaw. Also present, former Mass guv Bill Weld gave 3-to-2 odds that Bush would win.

• HarperCollins, in conjunction with The New School, held a party for the publication of Truth and Beauty, Ann Patchett’s tribute to Lucy Grealy. Nestled among the HC crew were Knopf’s Vicky Wilson, agents Fred Hill and Ira Silverberg, the NY Post’s Sara Nelson, Penguin’s Rick Kot, and Dial Publisher Susan Kamil. CEO Jane Friedman and the New School’s Robert Polito delivered touching tributes to both Patchett and Grealy.

In Memoriam

Roger W. Straus Jr. died on May 25 at the age of 87. The Farrar, Straus & Giroux founder is survived by his wife and son, Roger Straus III, a photographer and erstwhile publisher at HC and FSG.

Binding Contracts

Binding Contracts

Robert Allen and Kathleen Spinelli recently established Brands-to-Books as a literary agency specializing in representing brands seeking publishing deals. Among their services is navigating brand marketers through the publishing jungle. They can be reached at [email protected]

A multitude of new partnerships will be forged between varying licensors and manufacturers next week, when the Javits Center hosts Licensing 2004 International, the largest annual gathering of licensing professionals in the world. The contracts signed between them will clearly state that the licensors, commonly referred to as “brand owners,” will have approval over every detail of the manufacturers’ (or licensees’) products — down to the packing and bubble-wrap that’s used. When accustomed to this level of control, it’s no surprise that brands cringe at publishers’ favorite word: “Consultation.”

There’s a reason that licensors are referred to as “brand owners.” As the responsible party for building up the equity in the brand, the owner must maintain the consistency that will distinguish and strengthen the brand. And that requires approvals. Does that make them savvy marketers or control freaks? “There has to be a unifying message, an übervision of the brand,” according to Robin Sayetta, Co-President of Ripe Ideas, a brand development and licensing firm that represents designers such as Jonathan Adler and Nate Berkus. “The consumer should feel a seamless presentation of the brand, no matter the product or the retail environment. The approval process that a brand demands ensures that consistency.” For this reason, publishers should be wary of brand owners whose approval requests are lax or undemanding. Licensors have moved far beyond coffee mugs and beach towels, into much more sophisticated fare. “The days of logo-slapping are over,” warns Sayetta. And we have seen the effect in the publishing arena as well. Gone (or at least fading) are the logo-slapped books, whose content has no connection to the brand; now, lifestyle books can truly translate a brand’s promise into every detail. A consumer should instantly know the brand behind the book by merely looking at an interior spread. When working with a brand, publishers need to consider the carefully honed message the brand is communicating to their consumers. The brand has a built-in audience, but is the book delivering something fresh to them? Is the message consistent with the brand’s other products? And publishers can’t rely entirely on the brand’s efforts to sell the book. “The brand can use their marketing muscle to drive consumers to the book, but publishers have to do their part, too,” according to Michael Palgon, EVP and Deputy Publisher of Doubleday Broadway. When it comes to approvals, Palgon notes “both parties have an interest in the brand being represented consistently to the consumer, and the brand owner is usually in the best position to determine that.”

Eric Rayman, President and COO of Budget Living Media, knew that a book program would be an important element in the marketing mix of his brand: “You have arrived when you publish a book.” The core of their business is Budget Living magazine, recent winner of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence, whose tagline reads “Spend Smart. Live Rich.” The first book, Home Cheap Home (published by Perigee), is fresh to stores, in budget-friendly trade paperback and brightly colored interiors that reflect the magazine’s distinctive look.

Control, yes. But if you respect the brand, then respect the brand owner and their expertise. Just as they are tapping into your publishing savvy, tap into their firsthand knowledge of the consumer. Insist on their involvement. As a famed brand’s motto goes, “It’s a good thing.”

Criminal Streaks

Road Rage Hits Spain, the Devil Deals in Sweden, and a Burglary Stumps Denmark

A minor fender bender on a Monday morning leads a frazzled female executive named Sonsoles to hop out of her convertible and let loose with a string of insults and profanities that would make even the most grizzled truck driver blush in Lorenzo Silva’s 14th novel, The Weakness of the Bolshevik, which has taken up residence on the paperback bestseller list in Spain. Though the narrator is mostly to blame, Sonsoles was most certainly not an innocent bystander and, angered by her outrageous reaction, the narrator reads through the insurance papers to obtain her phone number. He makes casual phone calls and begins to spy on her, cozying up to her 15-year-old sister Rosana in the process. Though he’s no Humbert Humbert, one of his most prized possessions is a portrait of Czar Nicholas II’s daughters. He is particularly smitten with Olga and wonders how the Bolshevik who ordered her death must have felt. Part “comedy, thriller, and melodrama,” Silva’s latest depicts the nymph-like Rosana in a way that makes “the most cynical reader weaken and lose his balance.” Recipient of the Nadal Prize for The Impatient Alchemist (the story of a middle-aged family man who dies in a motel room from a heart attack brought on by a cocktail of cocaine, bromazepam, alcohol, and sexual ecstasy) and, most recently, the Espasa Calpe Spring Prize, Silva has become one of Spain’s most translated writers. Rights to his books have been sold in Germany (Goldmann), France (J.C. Lattes and France Loisirs), Italy (Passigli), and Russia (Symposium). Contact Sophie Legrand at ACER (Spain).

Also in Spain, a remote villa in an unnamed capital city is home to brothers Ismaíl and Víktor Radjik and their father — an ex-Communist boss — in The Albanian Lover by Susana Fortes. Their silent existence is broken one day by the sound of a gunshot. Tension builds as Helen, a young and impressionable woman, arrives at the house, bringing with her a suitcase full of specters of the family’s past. A “blind storm of obsession” ensues, thanks to the stunning confessions of a Hungarian maid. She warns that secrets will ultimately be revealed, including those of a strangely seductive woman who provokes an illicit love affair in which passion becomes a weapon of choice in avenging the wrongs of the past. With a plot driven by intense emotions, Fortes sets out to prove that “no one is capable of renouncing love completely without destroying a small part of themselves.” Fortes has recently been living in the US, giving Spanish classes at the University of Louisiana and lecturing at San Francisco Interstate University. Rights to her latest have been sold to Muza (Poland), Neri Pozza (Italy), and Gyldendal (Norway). All other rights are available from Cristina Mora at Planeta (Spain).

Norwegian musician, songwriter, economist, and author Jo Nesbø is hitting all the right notes in Sweden with his spine-tingling crime novel, Without a Care. In the course of robbing an Oslo bank, a robber puts a gun to the head of a female clerk and gives the manager 25 seconds to open the cash dispenser. He takes 31, at which point the gunman holds six fingers up to the surveillance camera and pulls the trigger. Police Inspector Harry Hole, a regular in Nesbø’s novels, is assigned to the case. While dining with an old flame, Hole passes out and, when he comes to, learns that the killer has struck again. Convinced that he has no choice but to make a deal with the devil, Hole turns to Raskol, also a bank robber, who is currently serving a prison sentence. His newest book, The Devil’s Star — in which Hole is paired up with a colleague he suspects of murder and gang ties to investigate, ironically, the murder of a woman in Oslo — is sure to catapult him to international stardom. Harvill/Secker has bought two of his novels, including The Devil’s Star, and his books have been sold to Ullstein (Germany), Signature (Netherlands), Forum (Sweden), Modtryk (Denmark), and Gaïa (France). There is also interest brewing worldwide, from Brazil to Italy, Russia to Iceland. Contact Gina Winje at Aschehoug (Norway).

Sweden’s A-Team of crime inspectors, led by Paul Hjelm, is on the case again in Many Waters, Arne Dahl’s fifth novel in the series, which sprinted to the top of the Danish list last month. (Incidentally, his real name is Jan Arnald and he plans to publish his next five books under that name). Five Africans in Stockholm have just received deportation orders and are sitting in a kitchen in a suburban apartment built during the construction boom of the ’60s. Seconds later they vanish and, simultaneously, a burglar breaks into an apartment on the south side of town. The team is forced to confront a sour smell from the past in this “thriller of international proportions” that “cuts into universal problems with the sharpness of a knife.” Rights to Dahl’s oeuvre (also including The European Blues, in which a girl gets shot on her way home from a birthday party, and eight eastern European women disappear without a trace while a 90-year-old professor rides around the subway system, accompanied by Death) have been sold to Piper (Germany), Marsilio (Italy), Otava (Finland), Damm (Norway), Modtryk (Denmark), and De Geus (Holland). Contact Bengt Nordin.

Ten years ago, a few thousand copies of Three Feet Above Heaven, Federico Moccia’s novel of adolescent star-crossed lovers, were published by a small Italian house. The book emerged as a modern day Romeo and Juliet or Love Story through word of mouth, and photocopies of the book set off a flurry of curiosity in Italian schools and teenage hangouts. In this tale of teenage angst, 15-year-old Babi is a model student from an upstanding family in a posh Roman neighborhood who falls for the 18-year-old Step, a smart-alecky tough guy from the wrong side of the tracks. Babi’s parents are horrified by her transformation and by the secrets harbored by Step. Moccia enhances a classic story with “subtle shades” of Rome’s atmosphere. Feltrinelli has republished it to coincide with the recent release of a film adaptation, which is furthering the novel’s cult status among teens and “offering their shocked parents a series of snapshots of what their children do when the final [school] bell rings.” Interest is stirring throughout Europe, and rights are available from Francesca Dal Negro at Feltrinelli (Italy).

Italian rights for French book Afterwards… by Guillaume Musso have been sold to Sonzogno, not Rizzoli, as reported in April’s PT.

Book View, May 2004

People
April is the cruelest month for some; but for others, it’s been a banner one. And for the industry as a whole, there’s been a whirlwind of activity, with enough moves, consolidations, entries and exits to rival a Feydeau or Frayn farce.

Sara Nelson, Glamour’s Senior Contributing Editor, Books, and columnist for The New York Observer, is moving to the NY Post as the books columnist, starting May 18. She continues her Monday morning stint on Air America, the new liberal radio network.

Steve Parr, CEO and President of Harry Abrams, is leaving to become President of Primedia’s Performance Automotive Group. His new employer knew of him from his previous stint as President of EMAP USA, which was acquired by Primedia.

Mel Parker has announced the formation of Mel Parker Books, LLC, “an innovative book packaging firm.” He was most recently in SVP Editorial Director at Bookspan, and before that at Warner Books. Parker may be reached at [email protected], or by cell, (917) 696-6105.

Walter L. Weintz has started his new job as Chief Operating Officer at Workman Publishing. He was VP Deputy Publisher at S&S. In other S&S news Claire Israel moved to S&S as Director of Electronic Publishing, reporting to Kate Tentler. She was most recently at Nuvomedia/Gemstar. Rosemary Ahern, who left Washington Square Press in 2002, has joined Other Press, to run its fiction imprint, Handsel Books.

Karen Kreiger has become COO of Amber-Allen Publishing in Marin County. She was previously VP Custom Publishing at Creative Publishing in Minneapolis.

Chris Murphy has left Scholastic to go to Little Brown as VP, Director, Juvenile Sales. And coincidentally, Mary Gruetzke has moved from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers to Cartwheel Books at Scholastic, as a Senior Editor. Erin McHugh, Creative Director for Scholastic trade, has left the company and may be reached at [email protected]

Katy Barrett, who was VP Publicity at Vintage and is currently Executive Publicist at Large for Knopf is leaving after 15 years, but will maintain a consulting relationship with the company. She may be reached through RH or at [email protected]Leslie Sepuka is coming to Vintage and Anchor as Publicity Manager. She was at WGBH-TV. Meanwhile Vintage has hired a new Associate Editor, Lexy Bloom, who was most recently at Viking and Granta. … In other Random Inc. news, Tim Jarrell has been named VP Publisher of Fodor’s. He was previously at Sports Illustrated for Kids and Sesame Street. … Doug Pepper has resigned as Editor in Chief of Crown, to return to Canada as President and Publishers of McClelland & Stewart. … And, as reported earlier, Amy Hertz is going to her own imprint at Doubleday from Riverhead West Coast.

Viz, the West Coast publisher of Japanese anime and manga, has just hired a new VP of Sales, Joe Morici. He was previously the SVP Sales of Metro3D, a video game developer and publisher. Viz recently announced it would move distribution to S&S from PGW.

Ingram Book Group has hired Phil Ollila as VP, Publisher Services. Ollila was previously at Borders. … John Phillips has left Baker & Taylor, where its Distribution Solutions Group is on hold. Phillips had come to B&T from PubEasy/Vista.

Nancy Grubb, Publisher and Group Manager, Art Books at Princeton University Press will be leaving in June. She may be reached at [email protected]

Greg Brandenburgh has left ThorsonsElement U.S. and may be reached at [email protected] Steve Fischer has been promoted to VP in the US office, reporting to Belinda Budge in the UK, and continues to oversee sales. Chris Ahern, who worked with Fischer at Tuttle, becomes Director of Marketing and Publicity, a new position.

As previously reported, Perseus’ reorganization includes the departures of Holly Hodder, VP Publisher of Westview, and Counterpoint’s Dawn Sefarian … In an unrelated announcement, Amanda Cook has moved from Basic Books to Houghton Mifflin as a Senior Editor in the Boston office of the adult trade department.

Following the resignation of Neil Ortenberg, Avalon announced the acquisition of FourWalls Eight Windows and the ascension of its Publisher John Oakes as VP of the Avalon Group and Publisher of Thunder’s Mouth, and Nation Books. … With the sale of 4 Walls 8 Windows to Avalon, longtime Senior Editor Kathryn Belden is leaving the company. She may be reached at [email protected]

Sheila Oakes, Executive Editor at Perigee/Putnam, is leaving to join St. Martin’s with the same title, while Sally Kim of Thomas Dunne and Julia Pastore of St. Martin’s Press have moved to Shaye Areheart’s imprint at Harmony/Crown. Airie Stuart has been named Editorial Director and head of trade in the scholarly and reference division at Palgrave Macmillan. She will be based in St. Martin’s offices. She was previously at Wiley.

Distributor CDS has added a few employees to its new CDS Books publishing line. Meg Parsont has been named Director of Marketing and Publicity, while Donna Ellis has been appointed Managing Editor. Parsont had been Publicity Director at Mitchell Beazley. Ellis was most recently Senior Production Editor at Hyperion.

DK US announced that Chuck Lang, SVP Publishing, has left the company.

May Events
May is gala month in publishing, with two of the industry’s biggest charity events: On May 3, Literacy Partners hosts its annual Gala at Lincoln Center. As usual, it features Liz Smith as MC, joined by Hillary Clinton, Simon Winchester, and Tom Wolfe, and honoring Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw. On May 11, the UJA honors Jack Romanos. Al Roker is the host (NBC has obviously cornered the May gala sweeps), and Frank McCourt will present the award.

The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) is celebrating it’s 37th birthday with a “Big Party for Small Publishers” on May 10 at the Mercantile Library. For information, to RSVP, or to make a tax-deductible contribution, contact [email protected]

The 16th Annual Triangle Awards, honoring the best lesbian and gay fiction,
non-fiction, and poetry published in 2003, will be presented on May 12 at
the Tishman Auditorium of the New School for Social Research (66 West 12th
Street) at 7 p.m. Sponsored by HX Magazine & HarperCollins, it is free and open to the public, with a reception following.

• Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of The New York Times talks with Arthur Gelb, former Managing Editor of The New York Times and author of City Room (Marian Wood/Putnam). The interview will be at 6 p.m. on May 20 at the Small Press Center, 20 West 44th.

Duly Noted

Atria’s Judith Curr, Morrow’s Lisa Gallagher and St Martin’s John Cunningham made for a tremendous marketing force at PAMA’s monthly luncheon where they laid out 3 cardinal rules for big book (or any book) marketing:
1. The book’s “gotta deliver” and word of mouth reigns supreme. (Curr’s dictum: “If it’s difficult to get the packaging right then the book’s message is obviously not clear.”)
2. Timing is everything — and “when the momentum is going, drop everything and get out of the way.” (Cunningham)
3. Do nothing in a vacuum — particularly spend money on ads. Successful marketing depends on the successful interaction of all component parts of the plan. (Gallagher)
P.S. Use the Web every chance you get …

Mazel Tov

Congratulations to Otto Penzler and Lisa Atkinson on their nuptials. The wedding party includes groomsmen of high media merit — Larry Kirshbaum, Sir Howard Stringer, Anthony Cheetham, and Nat Sobel, with Thomas Cook as the best man and Michael Malone as an usher.