Alive and Kicking Aussie Government Breathes Life into Book Biz

Back by popular demand, Australia’s second annual Books Alive promotion — a two-week, federally-funded, book-buying bonanza — kicked off last month as Australian Minister for the Arts and Sport Rod Kemp officially pronounced the campaign’s motto: “lose yourself in a book and find yourself in a bookstore.” During the two week period ending August 15, Aussie bibliophiles lined up to bring home one of six bestselling books (chosen by a panel of retailers, publishers, and government officials) for just A$5, with the purchase of any book from a participating bookstore. For the indecisive at heart, Books Alive issued a keepsake booklet listing 50 Books You Must Own. “We want to make sure that everyone buys a book during Books Alive and this booklet provides great ideas to help readers take advantage” of the offer, said Books Alive chair Sandra Yates. As an added bonus this year, Kmart and Target stores doled out copies of Gabrielle Lord’s classic Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing for free to customers who purchased her latest psychological thriller Spiking the Girl. In a move to reach new readers, 50 cents from every Books Alive book sold was donated to the Smith Family literacy programs, student2student (which helps to develop the literacy skills of disadvantaged children by providing them with books and learning support) and Books For Christmas (an initiative that provides books to disadvantaged children at Christmas time). With more than 90% of all book retailers participating (that’s approximately 800) and more than 7,000 people in attendance at 90-plus Books Alive-related public events, Project Director Brett Osmond is pleased with how the campaign went overall. Still, he admitted that there is room for improvement. “The impact on sales is not as evident as we would have liked. This may be a factor of the range of books on offer. It also may be an indication that the offer itself is not compelling enough to motivate customers to enter the category.” He added that the amount of high-profile publicity in the press could be improved. “Advertising alone is not usually enough to motivate consumers to buy a book; they need that third-party recommendation that positive publicity provides.”

Moving on, in the mythical yet vividly real Tuscan village of Colle (reminiscent of Gabriel García Marquez’s iconic locale Macondo), the stories of two very different families unfold and eventually intertwine against a backdrop of violence and oppression in Ugo Riccarelli’s 2004 Premio Strega-winning novel The Perfect Sorrow. First he follows the anarchist actions of the Maestro, who arrived from Sapri in the late nineteenth century, and of his children and grandchildren who have names evocative of the revolutionary milieu in which the book is set, like Liberty, Ideal, and Mikhail. The accompanying story is that of the Bertarellis, a family of animal traders who, for generations, have borne the names of Homeric heroes and whose favorite pastime is reading The Iliad and The Odyssey by the fireside. Caught up in a frantic quest for wealth and power (with the exception of the narrator, Annina), the Bertarellis fall victim to the tragedy of epidemic, and the brutality of WWI as well as the eventual Nazi occupation. This “fascinating blend of chronicle and fairytale” forms a “great fresco which tells the story of life,” a life which Annina characterizes as filled with nothing but “perfect sorrow.” Rights have been sold to Hanser (Germany), Plon (France), Maeva (Spain), De Arbeiderspers (Holland), Kastaniotis (Greece), and Hakibbutz (Israel). Contact Emanuela Canali at Mondadori.

Budding Czech author Petra Hulová explores a family tree with more than a few knots in the bark in her first novel Memory of My Grandmother. A family saga told by various female narrators in the first person, the book depicts the trials and tribulations of members of a family of herdsmen in Mongolia (a locale of personal significance to Hulová, who traveled there several years ago). At the heart of the story is Dzaja, who describes a childhood spent in the Gobi desert doing odd jobs, taking care of her younger sister, and riding on horseback with her sisters and father Tüleg. When their grandmother dies, Tüleg tells his daughters about her pure Mongolian roots and formally asks his eldest daughter Magi to name her first-born daughter Dolgorma, after her grandmother. Dzaja and her other sister Nara look on as their father grows closer to Magi, and it is only a matter of time before they discover that they are not his biological daughters. Born from passionate affairs between their mother and a Chinese man, followed by a Russian door-to-door sardine salesman, Dzaja and Nara are soon condemned as mongrels by the pure Mongols who bully them at school and in their community. Following a fatal horseriding accident involving Magi, the two girls are shipped off to relatives and eventually find themselves laboring in a family-run house of ill repute. Dzaja finds herself pregnant and the story resumes when her daughter, Dolgorma, describes her own account of alienation from her family. “An impressive novel” with a “strong element of surprise,” Hulová’s debut has been sold to Europakiado (Hungary), Editions d’Olivier-Seuil (France), and Prometheus (Holland). Contact Edgar de Bruin at Pluh.

Dubbed “the next queen of crime” in Sweden, Camilla Läckberg has created a gem of a mystery “on par with Liza Marklund” with her second book The Preacher. Early one summer morning, a young boy sets off to play at King’s Crevice in Fjällbacka. The fun doesn’t last long as he happens upon the body of a naked lady staring up at him. The real mystery begins after the police rule the death a homicide, when they find beneath the body the skeletons of two women who had disappeared in the 1970s. Packed with “great psychological insight,” the book has been sold to People’s Press (Denmark) and Gyldendal Norsk (Norway).

Also in Sweden, Anna Jansson, a nurse with a knack for composition (her accomplishments include setting the poems of Nils Ferlin to music) examines the dangers of online chatting in her latest book, Dreams from Snow. A 14-year-old girl disappears on her way home from a late night at school and her body is found in the forest the next day. Detective Maria Wern is assigned the unpleasant task of informing her father, who is a priest in Kronviken. When another girl disappears, panic spreads and the town begins to look for scapegoats, setting their sights on a suspicious young man who had visited the vicarage and who has been seen following the girls when he’s not cruising cyberspace. Jansson has been published in Denmark (Fremad), Finland (Gummerus), Germany (Rowohlt), Holland (Van Buuren), and film rights are being negotiated. Contact Bengt Nordin.

Team Work

Facing ‘Oblivion,’ University Presses
Rally ‘Round New Distribution Models

Deep in a dark closet in the bowels of the University of Chicago Press’ main building resides whatmay be the answer to all university presses’ distribution woes. On a computer server, dubbed the BiblioVault, sit 5,000 books in digital format from close to 30 university presses. Assuming everything goes as planned, BiblioVault will hold 12,000 titles from about 40 presses by June 2005, and continue to grow. Any scholar with a Web connection can search entire texts on BiblioVault (, and then link to a publisher’s website to buy a book; at the other end, the publisher electronically manages its list, requesting from 5 to 300 copies from the on-site Edwards Brothers short-run printing facility when a book is purchased (in the future, they may be able to send their electronic files to any vendor). Not just another digital pipe dream, BiblioVault is one example of how budget-strapped university presses are banding together to cut distribution costs and fend off obsolescence. And, more often than not, this means turning to digitizing content for short-run offset printing, digital print on demand, and in some cases, electronic distribution to keep themselves and their backlists afloat.

Nearly universal among university presses is a lament for the decreasing sales of scholarly titles. With fewer independent booksellers to peddle academic material and college library purses pinched during the past few years, there’s just no shelf awaiting the scholarly monograph. Those presses that mingle academic lists with trade-bound books tend to fair a bit better, with the latter supplementing the poor sales of the former. Even technology is proving a Catch-22: as more and more scholarly monographs and journals are available in electronic formats, libraries and scholars are buying fewer hard copies, which in turn forces small presses to re-evaluate their print run sizes and warehousing. However, according to American Association of University Presses’ (AAUP) executive director Peter Givler, there is some hope. Estimated book sales for its 125 members were $455 million in fiscal 2003, up from $444 million in 2002. Most of the presses reported being in the black in fiscal 2004. “And returns were down. It wasn’t a terrific year, but at least people are on budget,” he says. Consolidation is the new name of the game, he added. “There is a gradual trend for the smaller press to get a larger press to distribute for them. Warehousing is one of those functions where economies of scale really do come into effect.” Another cost-saving measure is Internet-based distribution, which he says is “a lot further along in the university presses than in the commercial realm.”

Doug Armatto, director of the University of Minnesota Press and the new president of AAUP, is one of the biggest fans of BiblioVault. With 250 titles in the repository, nearly 20 of which have already been reprinted, UMP has incorporated it into its regular distribution work flow, even adding front-list titles. UMP is also working with IBT to do 10 first print runs digitally. “The real advantage [to BiblioVault and other digital databases] is that it makes for one seamless process. We don’t have to set up a whole new distribution chain each time, but can make a decision through our main distribution warehouse. Same with out customers — they can go to one place,” he enthused. In addition to BiblioVault’s print-on-demand capabilities, the CDDC also makes it possible for client presses to order short runs. “The beauty of marrying the short-run printing facility with the warehouse is that marketing people no longer have to do research to look at sales patterns every time a book goes out of print. Now they can do that once, and then instruct the computer to print when inventory is low,” adds Paula Duffy, director of the University of Chicago Press. Like many university press executives, Duffy migrated from trade (S&S’s Free Press). She touts two basic differences between the two marketplaces. First, “commercial presses would never keep a book in print if it wasn’t performing, and university presses are obliged to,” says Duffy. Second, due to the less competitive non-profit environment, university presses openly share industry information. “They realize the future will need to be a joint venture. No one body can do it on its own,” she added. Though they operate under the same antitrust laws prohibiting pricing discussions, university presses will share just about any other tips with each other. It’s a learning environment, so to speak.

Several university presses trumpet this spirit of free flowing dissemination of information: MIT Press has contributed to an institution-wide initiative, the Web-based OpenCourseWare (free notes, texts, tests — including the answers — and sometimes even streaming video footage of lectures), which MIT administration calls “intellectual philanthropy.” Though not yet on the bandwagon, Anna Bullard, director of sales and new business development at the University of California Press, admitted open courseware is all the buzz and may be the way of the future. Meanwhile, National Academies Press (NAP) publishes more than 170 books a year, simultaneously in print and PDF formats (the latter is available for free on its website, though the one-page-at-a-time viewing format makes for a frustrating read, and studies show, ultimately contribute to NAP’s annual sales of 400,000 print books, said director Barbara Kline-Pope).

Giving it away for free may seem extreme, but one thing is certain: the familiar distribution model used by university presses for years is currently being challenged. Richard Abel, director of the University Presses of New England (UPNE), a consortium of five university presses that share an editorial office and warehouse, said the changes are mostly results of the Internet. “We’re in a transitional stage right now, where the traditional distribution models are still around — by that I mean, we’re still selling to bookstores and libraries. But many of our buyers are individuals now. The end product hasn’t changed very much, but the electronic means has — it has changed a lot,” he explains. “We are broadening our marketing efforts, and increasingly looking to ways to find special interest groups (such as listservs and websites). We’re trying to be much more inventive to let the end user know that a book exists. Distribution and marketing are very closely related.” UPNE, which saw sales increase by 22% from fiscal year 2003 to 2004, is in discussions with Northeastern University Press to “see whether them joining would be a good fit for both.”

Johns Hopkins University Press is doctoring up the distribution of another core university press property: the scholarly journal. Project MUSE is an online subscription-based database that contains the full text to about 250 scholarly journals from 40 different publishers. Yet another collaborative is the investigative stages at Oxford University Press, where Project TORCH, or The Online Resource Center in Humanities, plans to revolutionize distribution of the scholarly manuscript. Initially funded by the Mellon Foundation, the project pays for the digitization of clients’ content, which is between $50-$200 per title. To ensure TORCH remains a beacon, executive director Phil Friedman said, “We’re taking a lot of advice from presses, libraries and scholars. There’s real value to be gained from digitizing scholarly content,” such as linking to other sources and searching across a database of books. “Given the state of the scholarly manuscript in print … this may be a way to reinvigorate the monograph as a way of scholarly communication, despite the decline in sales.”

Even when their Ivy League parent institutions scrimmage for the best reputation and top students, the presses are more often joining hands in peaceful accord. Four years ago, Yale University Press, MIT and Harvard University Press built a joint warehouse in Rhode Island, which is now up and running. Tina Weiner, publishing director at Yale, said it is in the position to take on new client publishers, if it finds the right match. “We’ve been expanding over the past five years. We built with an eye to the future. There’s even room to build more, if we need to,” she says.

Using a more traditional mode of distribution, the University of Toronto Press offers a simple solution for crossing into the frozen north to Canada. All a publisher has to do is get its books to the warehouse in Buffalo, N.Y., where the press makes daily pickups and takes care of all the border-crossing paperwork. Though it doesn’t offer sales and marketing, it takes care of everything else, with state-of-the-art online information and is EDI compliant.

The university press used to be a bit more carefree, and less concerned with the bottom line. But, let’s face the facts, the non-profit world is under pressure to at least break even these days. According to Columbia University Press CFO Rebecca Schrader, one of the main financial hurdles pushing more presses to rely on the big players for distribution is that they can’t afford the five-digit investment in software upgrades that are becoming essential in the evolving marketplace. Columbia is currently considering taking on some domestic publishing clients, despite a history of serving only foreign houses. “We’re seeing more demand in the marketplace, and we think we have an asset. We’re looking at several prospects, and they’ve all come to us,” Schrader said. “As a result of the severe crisis we’ve been through, university presses have had to become more aware and alert about business than they used to. There’s so little insulation between the small university press and oblivion.”

Teachers’ Pet

Teachers’ Pet

This year’s 100 latte-lapping Columbia Publishing Course graduates have bedazzled us once again with their chronicles of caffeine-fueled overachievement. As in years past, we offer you a sneak peek at publishing’s next generation in the composite biographical sketch below (all content has been taken from actual student biographies). Columbia’s New York Career Day when the nouveaux literati will be unleashed on Manhattan publishers is set for Monday, Aug. 2, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Time-Warner Building. For more information, call (212) 854-1898 or email [email protected]

A descendant of bootleggers and sheep thieves and the youngest of eight children, Ms. Student once told her father that she wanted to be a backhoe operator. However, wishing to emulate the polymaths who taught her, she eventually sought diversity in her education, studying philosophy, poetry, neurobiology, game theory, semantic logic, and French (she also speaks fluent Spanish and broken Portuguese). After a youth misspent writing dissatisfied letters to teen magazines, she learned to intelligently critique the media and the zeitgeist behind it, earning the title “most likely to discover the meaning of life” in her high school newspaper. Though her roots go back to a commune in rural New Hampshire, where she and her family resided as practicing Buddhists, she spent summers interning at a major public relations firm, where she was ostracized as “nerdy” for reading books during her lunch break.

An independent woman with a passion for print — whether it is milk cartons or manuscripts — she has written a gothic novel about a traveling circus (while her friends watched the circus, she interviewed the elephant handler backstage), as well as articles on organic beef and dietary fiber for EatingWell magazine. After studying the Divina Commedia, this former nursery-school talent show coordinator and vitamin salesperson realized that she hated heaven and adored hell. She learned the delicate art of interpersonal relations through dealing with countless diva drag queens as co-organizer of Drag Ball, Oberlin College’s largest student event.

Before graduating, she celebrated her appreciation of Nietzsche’s philosophy and her love of hip-hop in an essay recognized for academic excellence. In her free time, she researched dolphins in New Zealand as well as the history of the fish stick for her advisor. She backpacked the Andes Mountains from Argentine Patagonia to the Colombian Caribbean and rode horses through the Inner Mongolian steppe, before setting off to work in a converted chicken coop on a Tuscan hillside. Ms. Student spent last summer interning at the Wylie Agency, where, in the midst of a love-hate relationship with the copy machine, she kept her cool with a little help from Julia Child, who once said: “Learn to handle hot things, keep your knives sharp and, above all, have fun.”

Mad at the NEA?

Chart-topping Bill Clinton and David Sedaris are probably too busy counting royalty checks to be upset with the NEA for its recent dismissal of literary nonfiction. But there are plenty of others in the literati who think the “Reading at Risk” survey made a big mistake to “only cover poetry, fiction, and drama at a time when the whole country was completely ga-ga for nonfiction of all kinds — memoir, history, travel, and so on,” says Ted Genoways, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Unintentionally hammering home the idea repeatedly expressed in the survey — that more people are turning to the Internet during what could be a reading hour devoted to the classics — Genoways made that observation on the CLMP literary magazine listserv. Astutely taking issue with the NEA’s methodology, the obviously well-read editor listed the books he and his family read in 2002 that would not have been counted in the part of the survey devoted to “literature.” His list included Crossroads to Freedom, Masters of the Senate and Evolution’s Workshop — clearly, all titles that would lead to an active mind and a better engagement in our democratic process.

When PT questioned Chairman Dana Gioia on the NEA’s chosen methodology, he apologized to anyone in the publishing industry he may have offended. “We meant no disrespect to John McPhee or Andrew Solomon. And if we had to do it again, we would add literary nonfiction.” However, he doubted that would add much of a positive spin to the survey results. “If you added the literary nonfiction, it is my opinion that it would add 5% or 7% to the numbers,” he said. Gioia refered to the part of the survey that asked the 17,000 participants if they had read any book at all. Only 56.6% said yes. “The total number of books being read is going down among every region, every race, and both genders. And that includes the Bible and diet books,” he said. “I wish I were wrong, but I believe that most of the people reading literary nonfiction are also reading other types of literature.”

Finally, he said, even though the biggest drop in reading is among young people, it is falling in every age group, and he thinks adults need to look inward, not point fingers. “If people want to know how to solve the problem, they should look in the mirror.”

Get Out the Vote

German Media Guru Kicks Off Literacy
Campaign With a Little Help From Friends

With many of our overseas contacts on summer holiday, we thought we’d bring you a special report from Germany, where the Oprah-esque German media guru Elke Heidenreich is pulling out all the stops in her latest and most far-reaching attempt to get more of her compatriots to read more often, kicking off a nationwide literacy campaign inspired by, but also quite different from, the BBC’s The Big Read.

Conceived by the television station ZDF, the campaign was launched on the July 6th episode of Heidenreich’s immensely popular Lesen (Read), in which she and Michael Naumann, the current publisher of Die Zeit and, of course, a familiar name in the New York publishing world as erstwhile CEO of Henry Holt, presented 38 book recommendations, along with clips of German celebrities recommending their favorite titles. The audience was challenged to spend this summer reading the books so they could vote for their favorite title online or on special postcards only available in bookstores. More than 1.57 million viewers tuned in to the inaugural show (that’s 8.4% of the market share) so it is no surprise that ZDF received a whopping 7,000 email votes and 3,000 postcards the day after the broadcast. Ten days before the deadline, more than 90,000 people had voted for a favorite book and the website had registered more than 3 million hits. Many bookstores — which are plastered with large posters encouraging customers to vote — have already run out of voting postcards, and more than one German bookseller noted that suddenly there is a demand for titles that had only recently been available on special order.

Though the campaign is entitled Our Best: The Big Read, many books on the list are translations and quite a few are translations from English, running the gamut from Mark Twain to Siri Hustvedt. As Riky Stock of the German Book Office rightly points out, “It is a fact that in Germany most of the books on the bestseller lists are translations,” yet there is certainly no shortage of German greats on the list, including Hermann Hesse, Max Frisch, and Bertolt Brecht.

While it is too early to speculate about the show’s long-term effect on book sales, there is little doubt that the promotion is already a huge success in its attempt to electrify the reading public, as the list of favorite books is growing by the hour. Diana Gabaldon, Dan Brown, Frank Schätzing, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón are among the leaders of the pack, and three of John Irving’s books inhabit the top ranks. Thomas Mann’s tome The Magic Mountain has received its fair share of votes and juvenile books are also well-represented by Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart, the Harry Potter series, and classics by Astrid Lindgren and Erich Kaestner. German schools are jumping on board, thanks to the organizers of Stiftung Lesen (a nationwide initiative similar to One City, One Book) who sent out 11,000 letters to teachers and librarians to inform them of the campaign. The project has also won tremendous support from the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (the German Booksellers’ and Publishers’ Association).

Along with the books recommended on the show, ZDF drew up its own list of 200 titles for readers to choose from, and readers do have the option of writing in titles (fiction or nonfiction) when they vote. The initiative will culminate on October 1st with the TV special Best Read, featuring a presentation of the 50 most popular titles, hosted by one of Germany’s most popular anchormen Johannes Kerner, who counts Bill Clinton among his recent interviewees. As an added incentive, a lucky voter will be chosen at random to attend the show (others will be entered into a drawing for gift certificates to the department store Kaufhof.) Newpapers are rife with reminders about the vote and, prior to the October show, ZDF will broadcast several trailers with more celebrities presenting their favorite books.

Heidenreich’s reputation does precede her, and her recent recommendation of Hector’s Journey by François Lelord catapulted the book from 27th on Der Spiegel’s list to fifth place. Italian author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa fared even better as his novel The Leopard shot from 23rd place to number one after it was featured on her show.

It is this successful track record that leads Jutta Willand, Director of Foreign and Domestic Rights at Eichborn to believe that the campaign will have “extremely positive effects for books in general.” She noted that the final vote tally will determine which publishers will most immediately benefit, and added that it is “likely that the print runs of the first ten to twenty rankings will rise significantly.” Several original German titles on the big list have already seen a significant increase in sales, including Robert Musil’s classic The Man Without Qualities and C.W. Ceram’s landmark survey of ancient culture, Gods, Graves, and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology, which has sold more than 1.8 million copies since its initial publication in 1949 and has been translated into 25 languages (both have been published in the US by Knopf, and Vintage has published a paperback edition of Ceram’s book). Marianne Sparr, who handles foreign rights for Rowohlt, the German publisher of both books, said that July sales of the titles have already reached numbers “corresponding with figures we usually have for half a year.”

At least two German audiobooks made the list and German author Rolf Vollmann also made the cut with his “novel on novels” Wonderful Counterfeiters. At 1080 pages, the book includes a “subjective and brilliant” ode to more than a thousand European and American novels written by more than 300 novelists, both famous and little known, between the years 1800 and 1930, the period which he values as the height of this genre. All rights to Vollmann’s book are still available from Jutta Willand.

The mission of choosing the best book of all time — and not just the most popular book of the moment — is no small task, and it is unlikely that this campaign will be repeated in the exact same format next year, but given the overwhelming response to Heidenreich and the program in general, it is hard to imagine that something similar won’t spring up in its place.

PT thanks Riky Stock, with Sybille Fuhrmann from Börsenblatt, Christoph Schaefer from Stiftung Lesen and Werner von Bergen from ZDF, for contributing to this article. See, for the complete list.Get G

Queuing Up in Hong Kong

Droves of wide-eyed children queued up outside the Hong Kong Convention Center on the eve of the July 21st opening of the Hong Kong Book Fair in the hopes of having first dibs in the fair’s famed comic book section. The grown-ups weren’t far behind, as this year’s fair drew a record crowd of 503,396 people — 70,000 more than the previous record set in 2002. The Trade Development Council, which organizes the six-day book event, attributes the boost in attendance to the improving economy, the introduction of a discount for mainland visitors, and an extension of evening sessions.

A new exhibit called the “International Cultural Village” featured books from far and wide, notably Poland, Egypt, Canada, Malaysia, and Singapore. Though France was the only country in the village to bring out authors (including Jean-Michel Sourd), they drew little attention from the local population. The convention organizers said the performance of the Village exhibit would be reviewed, and there is a strong possibility it will be back again next year.

Some topics cross East-West cultural boundaries: Attendees couldn’t get enough of the latest celebrity autobiographies and books detailing diet secrets. Parenting books also flew off the tables, as did books printed on the mainland with simplified Chinese characters. Low prices, an improvement in print quality, and a wider selection of titles all contributed to the rise in sales at this year’s fair.

Over the past four years, the festival has expanded to include seminars by writers and intellectuals from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Chinese mainland — many of whom see the fair as an opportunity to discuss Chinese culture and issues that can’t be aired as openly in other regions. Local poets were invited to recite their work at the fair for the first time. The readings included performances in Arabic, Cantonese, English, French, Mandarin and Portuguese, with the US represented by Madeleine Marie Slavick and Stephen Richards. “The fair can create a platform for creative Chinese people to share their vision and share their views about the publishing industry, cultural issues and Greater China,” said Lorna Lai, webmaster of Hong Kong-based Joint Publishing.

Another massive noteworthy change this year was the establishment of a web-based copyright exchange, which allows publishers who want to buy the copyright for a book to translate it into English or Chinese to send their contact information to another publisher anytime or anywhere. The online copyright exchange can be found at chi/book_enquiry/copyright/book_search.asp.

Though the festival draws quite a local crowd, representatives of the Shanghai-based Big Apple Tuttle-Mori agency haven’t attended for a number of years. As executive director Luc Kwanten points out, “By and large, it’s a fair during which publishers, especially the Taiwanese, liquidate their warehouses. It is also a sales fair and attendance is massive.”

But, for most of those who were present, it was worth the wait in line, and you better expect there will be droves next year.

PT thanks Lorna Lai for contributing to this report.

Book View, August 2004


Publishers haven’t gotten the memo about summer doldrums, apparently, because this has been a record month for job changes:

Phaidon Press announced that Chris North has become MD, working out of its London headquarters. North was most recently at HarperCollins, first in New York and later in Toronto as COO of HarperCollins Canada.

Janet Harris has left Storey Books (part of Workman), where she was Publisher. She may be reached at [email protected] . . . Michelle Lewy has been named Director of Client Services for Spier Inc. succeeding Michael Kazan, who went to Bennett Book Advertising earlier this year. She was mostly recently with Scholastic. . . . As noted elsewhere, Michele Martin has gone to Avalon as Publishing Director.

Diana Blough has left Random House Children’s, where she was Director of Marketing, for the same position at Bloomsbury. And Anne Merrow is leaving Broadway to go to Thomas Dunne Books as an editor.

Luke Dempsey has joined Crown working for Editor in Chief Kristin Kiser. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Atria Books. Last month Rick Horgan went from Warner to Crown as Executive Editor. Meanwhile, John Ahern has moved from Warner to McGraw-Hill, as Senior Editor reporting to Judith McCarthy. . . . STC has hired Debbie Yost as Senior Editor. She was most recently at Rodale and Prentice-Hall.

Wendy Broad Lazear has left the agency business and joined Houghton Mifflin as Executive Editor. Jennifer Haller has left HM for Harcourt, in the newly created position of VP of Sales, Children’s Books. She will begin there in September.

Cynthia Good, most recently President and Publisher of Penguin Canada, has been named Director of the Creative Publishing Program School for Creative and Performing Art at Humber College in Toronto.

Justin Schwartz has joined Wiley as Senior Editor. He just published his first book, Veg Out Vegetarian Guide to New York City (Gibbs-Smith) in June. Pamela Adler has left Wiley for Rodale, where she is an editor.

Publishers Group West announced that Kevin Votel, who was previously National Accounts Director for BGI, has been named VP Marketing. And Charles Roberts, who was let go from S&S after 40 years, the last 20 as VP Field Sales, will sell to accounts across the Southeast, Midwest and Southwest. Michelle Fischer has joined PGW as Mass Merchandise Sales Representative. Meanwhile Maureen Phelan, formerly Special Markets Manager, left PGW on July 9 to pursue other interests, and Peg O’ Donnell, PGW’s New England sales representative, is leaving to join NBN as a marketing manager in September. Chitra Bopardikar has been named VP International Sales — a new position —reporting to Rich Freese. She was with McGraw-Hill.

Susanna Phillips has joined Sesame Workshop as Director, International Publishing. Phillips’ focus will be on increasing the Workshop’s publishing activity outside of the U.S. Most recently, Phillips was Director, International and Domestic Special Sales at Reader’s Digest Children’s Books.

Following the closing of Thomson’s NY Business & Professional Publishing office, Myles Thompson, founder and publisher of Thomson-Texere, has left the company. He may be reached at (917) 969-2024, [email protected] Lee Thompson will continue her consulting for Thomson and may be reached at [email protected], (212) 988-2580.

In Publicity: Everyone changed jobs this month. At Ballantine, Director of Publicity Kim Hovey was named to the new position of Director of Marketing. Sanyu Dillon joins the group Director of Marketing at Little Random. She was Assistant Director of Marketing at S&S. Both report to Associate Publisher Libby McGuire. Little Random Publicity Director Tom Perry is being promoted to Publicity Director for the entire RH Publishing Group, also reporting to McGuire. Sally Marvin has been promoted to Deputy Publicity Director for the Random imprint. Meanwhile, Seale Ballenger has left Atria and may be reached at [email protected] Justin Loeber is Atria’s new Director of Publicity. Loeber has held the same title at the HarperCollins imprint. Jennifer Swihart has been promoted to Director of Publicity at HarperCollins.

Linda B. Keene will become EVP, Marketing at Scholastic, stepping down from the company’s board of directors in order to take the position. She succeeds Dick Spaulding, who remains as a consultant.

Bethany Patten has joined the Perseus Books Group as International Sales Manager. She was previously a manager of special markets at the Time Warner Book Group. Amie Munro joins the company in the “newly
defined position” of Domestic Rights Manager. She was most recently a Marketing Manager at Bulfinch. They report to Carolyn Savarese. . . .

John Loudon has resigned as executive editor at Harper SanFrancisco after 27 years at the company and will continue to work independently for the imprint as an Editor at Large, along with acquiring for other publishers and serving as a consultant.

Ron Davis has joined Sterling Publishing as VP, Special Sales. He was previously at S&S. Davis takes over from Martin Schamus, who has been named SVP, New Business Development. Chris Grimm has left S&S after four years, most recently as Director of Planning and Distribution in the Distributor Sales and Retail Marketing Division. Prior to moving to S&S, he spent 10 years in the BDD sales organization. He can be reached at [email protected] and at (203) 829-2727.


Roger Freet has been named a Senior Editor for Harper San Francisco. Kate Travers has been promoted to Editor of Harper Perennial.

At Simon & Schuster, Jen Bergstrom has been promoted to Publisher of the Simon Spotlight Entertainment and Simon Spotlight imprints, still reporting to Robin Corey for Spotlight and to Rick Richter for the entertainment line.

Duly Noted

Bowker-owned market research firm Simba held a webinar on July 15 to discuss its recent report on the book market, “Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2004” (available at Among the trends discussed at the webinar were the increasing popularity of graphic novels. Included in this year’s report are four new categories: contemporary literary fiction; classic literary fiction; graphic novels; and politics/current events.

• PEN announces State of Emergency: Unconventional Readings, with Laurie Anderson, Paul Auster, Russell Banks, Michael Cunningham, Don DeLillo, Joan Didion, Ariel Dorfman, Jonathan Safran Foer, Barbara Goldsmith, A. M. Homes, A. E. Hotchner, Margo Jefferson, Edward P. Jones, Walter Dean Myers, Salman Rushdie, Monique Truong, Kurt Vonnegut, & Eve Ensler. It will be held Wednesday, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m., at The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street at Third Avenue. Admission is free. For more information, call (212) 334-1660 x107 or see

The Rona Jaffe Foundation will host its 10th Annual Writers’ Awards Sept. 30, at 6-8 p.m. at the Lotos Club.


The Overlook Press presented a Slide show and lecture at The Museum of Natural History to announce the publication of Christopher Ondaatje’s Hemingway in Africa: The Last Safari. It was followed on July 28 by a publication party hosted by Peter Mayer at his home. The guest list included Explorers Club members Jeff Stolzer and Nicci Young, HC’s Jane Friedman, Putnam’s Carole Baron, and super lawyer Martin Garbus.

Mazel Tov

Welcome to June Barrett Cook-Selman, the child that literary agent Ira Silverberg helped create, who was born on June 11, weighing in at 8 lbs. 5 ozs.

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 (, 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


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.


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.


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.