Monday, December 19, 2011

Book buying tips from Publishers Lunch

I enjoy Publishers Lunch daily coverage and am sharing the Publishers Lunch compiled list of Top 10 books from 2011.  If you use these sort of lists for buying tips, this compiles from a number great sources.  I know these list work on me (for music too).  I will added comments where I could.
With more lists rolling in--the WSJ, People and Entertainment Weekly among them--the consensus best of the best of 2011 list is acquiring real shape and clarity. As always happens, both the fiction and nonfiction lists have neatly produced two clear groups of top 10 picks.
Continuing the pattern from the beginning of this year's voting, the top novels are acquiring far more votes, with fiction claiming 7 of the top 8 slots overall. Tea Obreht's THE TIGER'S WIFE remains the runaway pick for book of the year.
We're still waiting on lists from a few major sources, including USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, so as usual, we won't declare our final list--with a complete list of sources, editors and agents, and other observations of interest--for another week or two. But to help with holiday sales and promotion, here's how the lists stand, based on 35 sources so far:
Top 10 Fiction
1. The Tiger's Wife, Tea Obreht (16)
2. 1Q84, Haruki Murakami (11)
    The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides - Brien McDonald LOVED this book. 
4. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett (10)
    The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach - It was on my previous list of recommended titles.
6. The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt (8)
    The Tragedy of Arthur, Arthur Phillips
8. The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes (7)
    Open City, Teju Cole
    The Stranger's Child, Alan Hollinghurst
The Next Contenders
    The Cat's Table, Michael Ondaatje
    The Submission, Amy Waldman - this is on my list for 2012
    The Pale King, David Foster Wallace
    The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
Top 10 Nonfiction
1. In The Garden Of Beasts, Erik Larson (9)
2. Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton (7)
    Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson - another on my list for 2012, but it is a tome (which slows me down)
4. Blue Nights, Joan Didion (6)
    The Swerve, Stephen Greenblatt
    Bossypants, Tina Fey - my wife loved this book and tore through it pretty quick
7. Townie, Andre Dubus III (5) - I love anything Andre Dubus writes
     Karl Marlantes, What It Is Like to Go to War
     Boomerang, Michael Lewis
     Lost in Shangri-La, Mitchell Zuckoff - this was great, but after Unbroken - seemed light.
The Next Contenders
Destiny of the Republic, Candice Millard
Catherine the Great, Robert K. Massie
The Greater Journey, David McCullough
Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer
Malcolm X, Manning Marable

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Help Wanted on BEA

I was extremely hesitant to blog a job posting here on the BEAN, then I thought about it and said - what the heck, why not - it is probably the best place to find the right person.  BEA is looking for a Community & Conference Coordinator - it is a part time position based in our Norwalk, CT offices - 20 hours/week.  This position will oversee BEA's social media presence and direct the strategy for each platform  BEA has a presence on.  This position will also program the conference sessions for the Book Bloggers Convention.   The expectation for the person coming into this position is you will know more about social media than we currently do on BEA.  We are okay, but I feel we leave a lot of opportunities on the table because we don't have a dedicated focus.  We want this person to develop the strategy for how BEA engages and intergrates all the various platforms we use and identify the ones we should be using.

You can e-mail me a cover letter and a resume which I will forward to my Human Resources dept.  We prefer to have a phone interview first to make sure we are as much a fit for your goals as you are a fit for the position.  It is a test to see if you can find my e-mail on the BEA site, the odds are if that is too much of a challenge - then this might not be the right job for you.

BEA's Miss Julie Book Buying Guide

I have a link below to BEA's Official Librarian Blogger, Miss Julie - she did an awesome job with some book suggestions for the Holiday's.  I thought I would add a few of my own while I am covering the subject:

Unbroken By Laura Hillenbrand - A true and breathtaking story of survival of a WWII Army Lieutenant Louis Zamperini.  The pages will fly as you live through this unimaginable tale of survival.
Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - This told through the eyes of Enzo, a dog who lives and loves the way we all should, this was a wonderful, wonderful book.

The Art of Fielding by, Chad Harbach - If you have anyone that enjoys Franzen (The Corrections or Freedom) - this would be something they will love.  It was just a bit long, but had such a great finish that I didn't mind as much as when I was slogging through some of the middle part of the book.  

I know I am not exactly breaking any new literary ground, but I did love all these books and would highly recommend them as wonderful gifts. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Be Santa in April

World Book Night is such a cool concept.  You get the chance to Santa Claus in real life!  I attached the copy of the entire press release if you are not familiar World Book Night.  I am applying today to be a volunteer today! - Here is the link: Volunteer Application!  


New York City, December 14, 2011 – World Book Night U.S. has announced the selection of its honorary national chairperson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Anna Quindlen, and revealed the WBN 2012 U.S. book picks. In addition, World Book Night U.S. has opened the registration process for those wishing to become volunteer book givers.
World Book Night is an ambitious campaign to give away a million free books across America all on one day — April 23, 2012 — by enlisting 50,000 volunteer book lovers to help promote reading by going into their communities and distributing free copies of a book they especially enjoy. World Book Night was successfully launched in the UK earlier this year, and now the U.S. is joining the effort, which is supported by American publishers, bookstores and libraries nationwide.
Anna Quindlen has enthusiastically agreed to be the campaign’s Honorary National Chairperson. Quindlen said: “What’s better than a good book?  A whole box of them, and the opportunity to share them with new readers. The idea behind World Book Night is inspired, and as a writer and a reader I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
World Book Night U.S. board chairman Morgan Entrekin added: “We are thrilled and flattered that Anna has agreed to join our cause. Her energy has already been a great asset to the campaign, and we look forward to her being a leading voice among the many for this ambitious effort to promote reading and a love of books across America.”
Volunteer book givers are welcome to apply now. They can go to and register through February 1, 2012, by providing answers to several questions and picking a book to give out from the World Book Night U.S. 2012 list.
World Book Night U.S. Executive Director Carl Lennertz said: “We want the book givers to reach out to new or light readers, especially in underserved places like nursing homes, schools, hospitals and poor neighborhoods, but also in public gathering places like coffee shops and malls. And by offering a range of fiction, non-fiction and books for teens, we believe we have great books that the givers will be passionate about handing out, and will appeal to a wide audience of potential new readers.”
Sherman Alexie, author of the World Book Night U.S. 2012 pick The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, said: “This is a celebration of the individual book and the individual reader. I am honored to take part.”
Also a World Book Night U.S. author, for her book Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo added: “It makes perfect sense to me that World Book Night will take place in spring. Extending your hand to give someone a book, a story, is a gesture of hope and joy. It is a chance for all of us, givers and receivers, to break into blossom.”
The book picks have been finalized and there will be 30 picks printed, rather than 25. Lennertz said: “We decided to expand several categories, notably from three to five YA/middle reader books, due to popular demand from booksellers and librarians, as well as adding a sci-fi novel, an additional mystery, and a surprise classic from an indie press. I am thrilled about this, as it broadens the appeal of the list to our two audiences: the 50,000 book givers and the million new readers we want to reach.”
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
  • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Blood Work by Michael Connelly
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz; a Spanish-language edition, La breve y maravillosa vida de Óscar Wao, will also be made available.
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  • Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview with China Book Business Report

I am posting my recent interview with China Book Business Report

  1. What were the most important things happened in American/global book market in 2011? Give a summary of 2011 American/global book market or a summary of your book exhibition’s performance in this year?[Rosato, Steven (RX)]  The US book market change has been more dramatic than the global book market as whole in 2011, but dramatic change is the new normal for the whole global book market as technology and business models are changing more rapidly than the industry can keep pace with.  It is difficult to compare the US market vs. global publishing.  That is like comparing diving from 50 feet or 100 feet, it is scary and the water comes at you fast no matter what.  The 2 most significant developments in the US were the bankruptcy of Borders, the second largest bookselling chain and the advent of the Agency Model for e-book pricing.  The Borders situation is very complicated and their demise had little to do with the predicted decline of brick & mortar stores.  The good news came out of their bankruptcy was that publishing survived without a more devastating impact considering that Borders accounted for 15% of the total market. That also bodes well for the near future and for creating opportunities for independent stores and other retailers in those markets.  The Agency Model is an extremely complex issue that I could not properly explain here.  Also there is pending litigation that continues change what the total impact will be for publishing.  In the short term the Agency Model reduced the ability that Amazon would have had to dictate e-book pricing terms and made Apple and other e-reading options viable, which was critical for publishers.  Those very were  big issues that impacted the US and the global publishing community.  This past year has seen BookExpo become more relevant due to the turbulent changes in publishing – people need information on the market, technology and are looking more aggressively for new opportunities.  BEA has been able to keep pace with the changes and is moving quickly to stay ahead of where the market is going. Examples include BEA has begun developing opportunities to engage consumers directly with our video program and the launch of New York Book & Media Week that takes place throughout New York City at the same time that BEA is happening.  Now that we have established these platforms, publishers are increasingly looking to engage consumers directly to promote new titles while retailers can use BEA resources year round to discover and source titles.

  1. How do you predict the book market and international book fair business in 2012?  What kinds of trends will there be? What kind of changes will there be for the whole market?[Rosato, Steven (RX)]  For the short term, Book Fairs will be more important as publishers struggle to find sustainable models for a digital world.  Book Fairs provide many potential partners, market insights and education in a really efficient format.  There is a proliferation of Digital Conferences that has not yet peaked, but is not sustainable long term.  The trends are hard to determine as things are changing more rapidly – a lot depends on the answer to the question: Will e-readers be like TVs or music players where many manufacturers can participate in the market or will it be a closed market where the content and the devices are controlled by a few players?  Self publishing will continue to gain market share as traditional publishers continue to roll out programs to attract self published authors aside from all the new and existing platforms.  There will be more convergence of media, making content from books a valuable resource for other industries like gaming and film and TV.  In the US, the digital market share will approach 25% if not more by the end of 2012 which is more than double 2010 figures. 

  1. What are the opportunities and challenges that book fairs will face in 2012? [Rosato, Steven (RX)] Book Fairs will have to pull in new constituents that were previously not critical to the publishing industry or had a limited role.  Bringing in segments from licensing companies, educators and the entertainment industry are examples that will be critical to sustain the relevance of book fairs because those industries are all going to be much more closely linked to publishing and become influential players as well.  The challenge is to engage the key players and provide a platform for them to leverage at book fairs because increasingly this is where these types of transactions will take place.  For a fair like BEA, we see a big opportunity to engage consumers who will have more ways to consume published content than at any time in history from e-readers, smart phones, computers, traditional print and the flexibility that on-demand printing offers as well.

  1. Regarding the emerging digital publishing market, what kind of transition were publishers experience in 2011 and what will they do to adapt to the changes in 2012?  What are the prospects for e-books and digital publishing in 2012?   How will your book show exhibit such a trend?[Rosato, Steven (RX)]  Changes continue to accelerate more quickly every year.  The challenge is to transition to new revenue models while existing ones get displaced.  Publishers are moving toward being content curators as are booksellers – providing value for discovering, shaping and packaging content that will inform, educated and entertain people.  The platform will eventually be irrelevant, whether it is print or digital.  That is more the long term prospect for publishing in a digital environment, not just being a digital publisher.  The process that has begun in 2011 is how publishers are organized – you see number of sales reps in the field goes down as the resources are moved to discovery – that includes leveraging social media, metadata tagging, digital distribution are all small examples of where changes are happening now for publishers..   BEA will continue to be a platform for the leading companies and players from all sides of this expanding market which includes having on-line players, booksellers, retailers, librarians, publishers and device companies that will use BEA as marketplace and source for market intelligence as well as to see the latest in technology.   

  1. What will your company focus on in 2012? Are there any changes in your company’s  strategy? [Rosato, Steven (RX)] While BEA will continue to invest and support booksellers, librarians and traditional constituents that have made BEA one of the most important book fairs in the world, our current focus does represent a change in BEA’s strategy, which is to be the leading marketplace and resource for all things digital in the world of publishing.  We are doing this through conference content and content on the show floor which is represented by the companies that participate in BEA as exhibitors or attendees.  BEA will engage consumers through our New York Book & Media Week initiative and by utilizing video and streaming of events at BEA to make what happens at the trade event accessible for consumers. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

I am not alone

Pasted below is from an article that was in today's Independent (a UK daily paper), covering Waterstone's new boss James Daunt.   Mr. Daunt ran a small and very successful chain of independents before being named the Managing Director by Waterstone's new owner, Russian billionaire, Alexander Mamut.    The portion of the article pasted rang such a similar note to my post from Friday, it made me feel like I am not alone being an optimist or at the very least, I am not a fool.  

I didn't arrive at my optimistic disposition due to anything I drank, it is born out of facts that get parsed out of stats that calculate the end of publishing.  One fact is that publishing in the US grew by 5.6% in the last 3 years.  Publishing is a $27.9 BILLION dollar business in the US and while print is declining, digital revenue growth is outpacing the decline in print.  In fact while digital sales = 5.5% of the sales in 2010, digital sales will finish 2011 well over 10% of the total market, if not start to approach 20%.   While publishing's future is uncertain, the wise and the adaptable will be secure and prosper. 

I don't subscribe to Mr. Daunt's opinion of Amazon - if anything they are the wise who have adapted.  Begrudging a competitor's success does not change the playing field, it only skews your vision of it.  The link to the whole story is below and it is a good little read.
James Daunt is alive to the threat bookshops face from the digital revolution, but his attitude is, broadly, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. "You'll walk into a Waterstone's and there'll be a bit of the shop where you can look at e-readers, play with them. We're inventing one of our own – perhaps we'll call it the Windle – and we're working on the Barnes & Noble approach. They've embedded their own e-book, called the Nook, within their bookshops and have succeeded in taking market share from the Kindle."

He adds: "If the bookshop lets you have both and has a product every bit as good as the Amazon one, why wouldn't you do it with a bookshop?"  Daunt makes no bones about his dislike of Amazon. "They never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer's interest. They're a ruthless, money-making devil." He dreads the physical bookshop disappearing altogether in the digital tsunami.  "The computer screen is a terrible environment in which to select books. All that 'If you read this, you'll like that' – it's a dismal way to recommend books. A physical bookshop in which you browse, see, hold, touch and feel books is the environment you want."

As to the books-industry Cassandras who predict that publishers, agents and booksellers may all disappear in the next five years, "I wouldn't bet against publishers," he said. "The editorial process and the marketing – someone has to do it. I don't think agents are the best people to do it. Authors certainly aren't – they need editing. I think either all three will survive or they'll all disappear, swept away, replaced by one big fat Amazon, getting his way. And if the bookshops go, they will never come back." His combative eyes glitter.

James Daunt: 'Amazon are a ruthless, money-making devil, the consumer's enemy'

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pressure Delivers Change

I am an optimist by nature - enough so that my wife would call it one of my most annoying traits, although she would also be forced to admit we do balance each other nicely.   While I happily have an optimistic outlook and tend to believe things will work out as long as you are honest and willing to work, I am challenged to be optimistic from what I am reading these days about the publishing industry.  Not only is the sky falling, but the earth is also crumbling beneath its feet.  I shared a few links at the bottom of this post that led me here today:
  • Mike Shatzkin's blog post on trying to time the end of publishing as we know it
  • The negative news about B&N 
  • PW's reporting on the reality of where all those e-book sales are coming from besides people filling up their news e-reader gadgets -  current year on year sales stats low-lighting that mass market sales are down 54%.
I balanced this with the quotes that Shelf Awareness ran from booksellers experience with the shop local Small Business Saturday.  We know that pressure over time turn a lump of coal into a diamond. There is no denying that publishing is undergoing a seismic and unprecedented change.  The challenge is to find business models that support authors and publishers in a way that is sustainable.  The other challenge on the retail front is where do booksellers fit in an ever competitive environment.

Change is also opportunity.  Books are not going to go away like 8 tracks or VCRs nor do I think bookstores are going to vanish like record stores or the local butcher.  Those that innovate and adapt are surviving and even thriving right now.  There are more people reading in more formats and in greater overall numbers.  The opportunity generated by the fans that Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, the Twilight series, Lemony Snicket and sooo many more created as people who are inspired by and love reading are not going away.  I read the new Wimpy Kid book is outselling the last one by 25+%.  I don't know where things are going or exactly what this industry will look like in the next 3 or 4 years, but I know it not going the way of the dinosaur.  Hopefully as the pressure mounts and time marches on - I expect the industry comes out a lot like a diamond.

--Jeremy Kaplan, co-owner of READ Books, Los Angeles, Calif.

"As soon as I opened up the door at 10 o'clock this morning I had a large amount of people. It helps the local economy. It keeps the money in Morgantown, you know most of the profit made in a local business is spent locally and it's just a snowball effect."
--Jeanne Hagan, owner of Pinocchio's Books and Toys, Morgantown, W.Va.

"It's been unreal today.... I said we need to be part of this. We need to be part of anything that bonds and brings together small business."
--Gay Kolodzik, owner of Frugal Frigate children's bookstore, Redlands, Calif.

"We're up 40% from last year, which is huge for us."
--Liz Barden, owner of Big Hat Books & Arts, Indianapolis, Ind.

"It really makes a difference. More than half of the customers I've had today mentioned Small Business Saturday to me."
--Christine Myskowski, owner of Salt & Pepper Books, Occoqu
Mike Shatzkin Blog - How many Christmases until we see a whole new industry? 
Bad News for B&N
Mass-market Paperback Sales down 54%

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Confluence Counts

I don't if people realize it yet - but guess what? BEA happens to overlap with Internet Week for 2012.  The confluence of activity that week will be highly interesting and create unforeseen opportunities through one of BEA's key raw ingredients: planned serendipity.  

Aside from BEA and all the events that are part of Internet Week, under the auspices of BEA the week's activity will include:

  • The ABA's Education Program
  • The IDPF Digital Book 2012 Event
  • Publishers Launch
  • BlogWord & New Media Expo
  • The Audio Publishers Association Conference
  • The Book Bloggers Convention
  • New York Book & Media Week
  • BEA's Global Market Forum (GMF) program featuring Russia.
There will be a lot happening at BEA plus all over New York City and I do mean the whole city.  Russia's GMF program is the most ambitious ever done at BEA and will be bringing over 50 authors + librarians, booksellers and dozens of publishers on top of a whole host of cultural programs.  The New York Book & Media Week will see events in libraries, independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble and the Apple stores + more.  Blog World is going to more than double in size from 2011.  The IDPF Digital Book 2012 will likely get close to 1,000 people in their 3rd year of being co-located at BEA.  This is the second year of Publishers Launch which will run an outstanding in-depth program. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What do you want from BEA???

We are in the midst of shaping our plans to make more of the BEA experience available via video, starting with the 2012 show.   Our initial plan is to stream our marquee events live along with some action from the show floor.   The marquee events are the Book & Author Breakfasts along with the various Buzz Panels - which is Adult Trade, Middle Grade & YA each have their own Buzz Panels.  

What we want to know is: 
If you that have been to BEA, what are the most compelling events?
For those that never have been to BEA, but wished to from a far - what do you want to see?  
Would you like to see what is happening in the exhibitor booths?
Is autographing more exciting? 
We do audio podcasts for almost all of the conference sessions - is there a need to offer video?  

We have to make decisions as to what we can include on video because covering it all is not a viable option, at least for 2012.  Please let me know what you want to see or who - should we interview people from the show floor - do you want to hear from publishers or booksellers?  Would you like to have pre-show video promoting authors so you can plan your time better at BEA?

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving - truly my favorite Holiday on the calendar.  Special thanks to anyone that takes the time to offer their opinions - they  will be most appreciated.

Monday, November 21, 2011

At what temperature do e-books burn?

Is there irony in Fahrenheit 451 being released as an e-book?  I think it is exciting that such an iconic piece of literature can be given new life as it is delivered in a new format.  But the essence of the format goes against spirit  of the book.  I cribbed this passage from Wikipedia (I know - not the land of true facts), because it brings me back the lectures from high school about the meaning of the book and what I thought about when I saw the news today.

Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship, but a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of factoids, partial information devoid of context. 

I strikes me that e-reading devices are exactly what Bradbury portended is being destroyed, what was television in the 1950's are now iPads, smart phones and every other device that competes for our attention and eyeballs.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book stats confuse me

Reading Shelf Awareness yesterday - the lead from Mr. Mutter:

September bookstore sales jumped 7%, to $1.55 billion, compared to September 2010, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales have risen 2.8%, to $12.024 billion.

So far this year, bookstore sales have been erratic, falling in January, but then rising from February through May, and falling in June and July before rebounding in August and September.  
Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.

It is a given that book sales statistics are notoriously unreliable and often misleading.  Still - considering the continued explosion of digital book sales are not included in these figures nor does it seem to include sales from the likes of Amazon or B&N on-line, it is encouraging.  I have had the pleasure of getting to know ABA President and owner of the well know Austin, TX store - Book People over this past fall.  Seeing him while he was in NYC last Monday he shared a copy of their new catalogue - My Favorite Book 2011, which is really terrific (you have to check it out - I challenge you not to find something you want to buy) - he shared that his store has done extremely well over the last 2 years.  How many retail businesses are thriving these days??  That explains the optimism I see heading into BEA for 2012.  I don't have a real point in here other than the book sales numbers aside from digital are consistently inconsistent.  I have come to the conclusion that there is one fact to hang onto - digital or paper - there are more people reading these days. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back at my desk with random thoughts.

It has been a busy, busy fall season going to the Moscow Book Fair, Frankfurt, a trip to Beijing and then hitting BlogWorld and New Media Expo in Los Angeles having been on the road for 28 of the last 70 days.  This is my excuse why I have not been posting regularly.  I also managed to figure out why my posts where not getting posted from my Blackberry - they needed to be sent as SMS messages.  I used to be able to send a regular e-mail from my old Blackberry.  I am sure it is my lack of technical expertise - plus having a new phone is why none of my road posts made here. 

Sharing some random thoughts BEA related and otherwise:
  • I was just noticing Amazon's foray into Groupon territory with Amazon Local - nothing for Connecticut (which is local for moi).  I guess it was just a matter of time.  Interesting....
  • While at BlogWorld last week, there were loads of awesome panels - the one I took the most interest in was Guy Kawasaki and Chris Brogan talking about Google+.  I wished it was a bit more of a 'how to' - but the bottom line is they LOVE Google+, saying it is now what Twitter was 4 yrs ago.  Guy used a better analogy: Google+ is to Facebook as Apple is to Microsoft (talking operating systems).  They also said Facebook is for the people you already know and Google+ is for who you want to know.
  • I mentioned my new phone - the Blackberry Torch - it is called a Torch because you want to set on fire - it sucks.  The screen is glitchy and super sensitive, it gets 'stuck' thinking constantly and the 4G is slow as can be because of the operating system - my wife runs circles around me on her iPhone.
  •  BEA is plugging away at increasing the New York Book and Media Week scope and number of events - this includes looking at a Business to Consumer element at BEA - B2C as we like to say.  Nothing is likely to happen for 2012 - but once we have all the author submissions we are looking to see if we can program something at Javits that opens the event (and not the show floor) to consumers.
  • BlogWorld in LA was an awesome event - it is such a perfect fit to have co-located at BEA, we expect that it will double in size for NYC compared to 2011.
  • It is another busy week as we go head on into the Holiday Season, but I will be forcing myself to post, as long as I can share info that is useful.  Is it me or is the creeping window of the Holidays pushing the envelope?  I was in Washington, DC with the family this weekend and heard Xmas music all over the place.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Author Stephen Stark posits the future

Shelf Media Group is publishing their first e-book, Margaret Brown gave me a quote from author Stephen Stark that I thought would be interesting reading. 
Shelf Unbound: The Final Appearance of America's Favorite Girl Next Door is available only as an e-book. Is this the future of book publishing?
Stephen Stark: No. It's not the future of publishing, it's the present. And it's an unnerving and uncertain present for a lot of people in the book publishing industry. It's a moment of great tectonic movement and, for me, tremendously exciting. I think that what we're doing with Final Appearance is, if not unique, then completely cutting edge, all of the benefits of an indie publisher lashed up with the technology of self-publishing. There will come a time, in the not-too-distant future, when all of this is figured out. But right now, there's a wave that's swelling, but not cresting. I think that we, Shelf Media and I, are on the top of that swell with Final Appearance. I have no idea whether Final Appearance, or any other of my subsequent novels, will be riding that wave when it breaks. But I really think it's important to be a part of the gaggle of surfers who are out there, slightly ahead of the swell, betting on when it's going to break. Not just for the success of the novel itself, but to shape the industry in some small way -- get out there and paddle like crazy. I think Shelf is out there, its board waxed, its toes curled right 
 alongside of me.

Below is an excerpt from the book along with the full interview

Girl meets boy meets shark meets multi-verse in this sexy, deeply romantic, literary page-turner
from New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year author Stephen Stark. Read the following excerpt and you’ll see why we jumped sky-high at the chance to publish Final  Appearance as our first e-book.

“Ellen Gregory in Love”

The water was warmish (at least for North Carolina in June) and you could feel the warmth of the water at the surface, and an icy bite from the depths, almost as though the water were swimming within itself. You could see the beach. The taste of saltwater was in her mouth and she looked at Michael, his curly, dark hair matted from the wet, his face full of joy. He was just beyond her and he was laughing, rising and falling in the swells—he had that Midwesterner’s delight in the ocean. Now he was floating on his back and pointing at the gulls, which were
Every where now. The water caught a thousand mirrors of sunlight, and for a moment, she lost sight of Michael. The gulls were everywhere, wheeling in the sky, dipping into the water, floating. There was a strange moment of panic as she scanned the water for him—and suddenly he was next to her, his mouth right next to her ear. Hi, he said. Hi, yourself, she said. You’re beautiful, he said and kissed her. Are you cold?, he said.  No, she said, It’s wonderful.  He kissed her again, and when he moved away, she went to him and kissed him again. This is what it could be like, she thought, as he dove under again and resurfaced a few yards from her. He splashed at her and she ducked, and then he went underwater again. And then she was floating in the swells, watching the gulls and other sea birds dipping into the water, watching the man she loved, his dark hair gleaming wet.

Michael had completely flunked whatever litmus tests she’d had. He was a nerd, a geek—good-looking—but still. A scientist. A video-game-playing, ABD Ph.D. professor-to-be, with geeky friends, who argued passionately about things she’d never heard of. And who had never heard of her because while he did own a TV, it was kept safely in a closet, just in case something important actually happened.
Love: Well, here it was, the strangled breath when she was near him, this waking up in the morning next to him feeling like every day was Christmas.

They were not terribly far out—ten or fifteen yards from shore. Not far from here the bottom would fall off and sweep deeper and deeper into the cold darkness of the Atlantic, where it would give way to shipping lanes and container ships and vast unseen storms and would not rise again except to the sweet calls of some child across the world, the endless thunder of surf.  She floated on her back, looked at the blue, blue sky. Here she could watch the irregular vortices of gull-flight, the perpetual motion of the waves. Here she could see her friends—blurs on the sand, stripes of color. She thought of Michael and wondered at the bizarre way that life happens. You get to a place and look at what surrounds you—sun, water, sky—and marvel at the circumstances that brought you here. But where was she? On the precipice between today and tomorrow, between with him and without. She thought she felt a cold current come up from the deep and a chill of fear rode through her.  Michael was beyond her, his skin darker than she had ever seen it, his hair catching sunlight, blackly metallic. He had been next to her a moment ago, the warmth of him, the brush of his legs, the cup of his hand on the back of her head, treading water and kissing her, and then he had drifted away, and she knew he would swim back to her, and that was the way she was thinking of it, the future, or near-future. They would drift away and come together. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Until it was nauseating to think of it.  When the fish bashed scraping against her leg, almost dragging her under with its mass and speed, she thought for a moment it was Michael, being uncharacteristically rough. This pissed her off—the scrape burned in the saltwater and she could feel herself going hot with anger she had never felt with him. She shouted, but he could not hear, and then suddenly that thought dissolved into confusion. Just a few yards away from her, he burst through the surface, way too high speed, jetting like a water skier almost, sideways, his head rising up out of the water and leaving a gorgeous arc of shimmering water droplets, one arm flailing down towards his hips, his legs, the other grappling somehow to right himself. His face had a broken, aghast look. Inhaled water gagged his scream of Get out now. And in that hill of water, that wake-like wave that thrust him sideways, she could see the fish, could see how enormous it was, bigger around than a barrel and long enough that she couldn’t even see where it ended. Just the fin itself was enormous. At least as tall as her arm. And she felt the way she felt when Wayne Townsend had kidnapped her, with absolutely no control over anything.  The fish thrust him out of the water as high as his waist and drove him toward shore, then sideways, and she froze utterly, the reality of it just too bizarre and monstrous to believe. And then the adrenaline came and she willed herself to swim.

From The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door by Stephen
Stark, Shelf Media Group 2011,
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Pushcart Prize winner Laura Kasischke calls The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door “entertaining, thought-provoking, and beautiful—like no novel you’ve read.” We talked to Stark about the novel, the future of book publishing, and his reputation for writing exceedingly hot sex scenes.

Shelf Unbound: Your previous novel, Second Son, got great reviews but would not have been described as a “page-turner.” What prompted your change in style?

Stephen Stark: In a very basic sense, I just wanted to tell a good story. It’s been a long time since Second Son, nearly 20 years, and the world has gotten weirder and weirder since then. It’s no by any means an original statement, but it seems to me that the kind of realism that I was working in then just isn’t up to the task of reflecting the world I see around me. Still, I don’t know that I’d say it was a change in style so much as a change in approach. From the start, with Final Appearance, everything was on the table. I made the conscious decision to use every tool I possibly could to open the story up and give depth to the narrative. The main character, Ellen Gregory, is a public figure, a very public figure, and so you’ve got parts that are newspaper stories, parts that are TV news reports, a magazine-style interview with Ellen, and then there’s some “genre” stuff mixed in. Above all, I wanted to entertain myself. Which isn’t to say that the earlier novels didn’t entertain me, only that I was going through some very difficult life transitions during the time I was writing Final Appearance and I wanted to laugh, but I also wanted to say something worth saying.
Shelf: How’d you come up with your the character of Ellen, a, stand-up comic turned sitcom star?
Stark: To the best of my recollection, she just kind of came out of nowhere—this
killer comic from the Midwest with the black thong tutu, fishnet stockings, and
shit kicker Timberland® boots. This sort of thing happens all the time—I was
actually working on another novel entirely, and at some point, I began a chapter
that had Ellen in it and, bang, suddenly that other novel was history. Like a lot of people who chase particular dreams, Ellen does a lot of self invention to get where she’s going. On one hand, she’s Ellen, the fresh-faced, corn-fed blonde, girl next door from the Midwest, but on the other, she’s ELLEN!, the take-no-prisoners comic, that crazy chick in the tutu. I’m totally fascinated by this whole idea of being two people at once. To me, a significant part of the novel is her terror at reconciling the two, the struggle she has with those two identities.

Shelf: Final Appearance is a deeply romantic, character-driven novel, with
some very hot sex scenes. Which is more of a challenge to write: intimate,
authentic dialog or intimate, authentic sex?
Stark: I’d say that intimate, authentic dialogue and intimate, authentic sex are
simply two facets of the same thing. I’ve gotten a certain amount of attention for
my sex scenes over the years, particularly regarding their alleged hotness, but it
almost makes me feel as though people are missing the point. So much of what we do and how we think is suffused with sex that leaving it out of a novel (or my novels) would be a disservice to my characters. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be explicit, although sometimes it does, which can be tremendously revealing of character. When I approach a sex scene, I write it as authentically as I can. What would Michael do and how would Ellen react? Or the obverse. The same is true of intimate dialogue. What would Michael say and how would Ellen respond? Sometimes the circumstance calls only for something like, “later, after they’d made love,” but sometimes the motion of the story calls for the whole business of two adult human beings being naked together. And it’s almost exactly the way I approach intimate dialogue, which is often, at least figuratively, two people being naked together. It’s been said that character derives from action, and of course that’s true, but I think that the right kind of dialogue—the confusions, the caesurae, the misunderstandings, the nakedness or the guardedness—is also hugely revelatory of character.
Shelf: Final Appearance is available only as an e-book. Is this the future of
book publishing?
Stark: No. It’s not the future of publishing, it’s the present. And it’s an unnerving and uncertain present for a lot of people in the book publishing industry. It’s a moment of great tectonic movement and, for me, tremendously exciting. I think that what we’re doing with Final Appearance is, if not unique, then completely cutting edge, all of the benefits of an indie publisher lashed up with the technology of self-publishing. There will come a time, in the not-too-distant future, when all of this is figured out. But right now, there’s a wave that’s swelling, but not cresting. I think we—Shelf and I—are on the top of that swell with Final Appearance. I have no idea whether Final Appearance, or other of my subsequent novels, will be riding that wave when it breaks. But I really think it’s important to be a part of the gaggle of surfers who are out there, slightly ahead of the swell, betting on when it’s going to break. Not just for the success of the novel itself, but to shape the industry in some small way—get out there and paddle like crazy. I think Shelf is out there, its board waxed, its toes curled right alongside of me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

BEA Peaks Forward

A significant challenge for BookExpo has been delivering information on what is happening at BEA for the audience that it is intended or to the people that would be interested in the information.  Being candid, BEA has done a poor job of executing this historically.  There a lot of reasons, many of which were out of BEA's control - but that is not relevant going forward.  It is one thing to admit you have a problem - which BEA has had in terms of this issue - it is another thing to step up and fix what is wrong.  I promise you now - BEA will make this light years better.

BEA will do a number of new things for 2012 so the programming is more accessible, making  BEA more valuable for everyone that participates - both exhibitors & attendees.  

Here are a few of the planned changes:
  • The majority of BEA's programs will be completed and posted 60 days earlier.
  • BEA will have a new schedule making tool that will allow for a personal agenda of events to make your planning simple.
  • BEA will segment programs from the start so you can search in the areas that interest you and your business needs.
  • BEA sessions will identify what job titles or roles programs are intended to allow people to select session to learn new skills or to develop advanced skills.
  • The BEA website will be easier to navigate.
  • Most sessions will run 50 minutes to allow you to get to another session easier.
  • BEA will review the whole programs schedule to reduce and eliminate conflicts for similar programs.
 We won't be perfect, but we will strive for perfection.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


From a BEA Press Release that just went out this morning:
Over 40 Russian Authors and Translators to Travel to New York City;
An Institute and Awards for Translation to be Part of Ambitious New Program

Norwalk, CT, October 20, 2011: Russia will be the country of focus and attention at BEA’s Global Market Forum 2012, June 5 – 7 and BEA will figure prominently into Read Russia 2012, the largest Russian initiative ever to promote Russian literature and Russian book culture in the United States. The Read Russia 2012 program, sponsored by the Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication and Media under the direction of Vladimir Grigoriev, will feature translation grants for the publication of contemporary and classical Russian literature in English, author tours for leading Russian writers and their publishers, a major exhibition on children’s book art, and a traveling film series and a new documentary television project about Russian literature. Over 40 Russian authors and translators are expected to travel to New York for various activities associated with Read Russia 2012 and BEA’s Global Market Forum.

The creation of a Russian institute of translation as well as awards to popularize and foster translations for both Russian contemporary and classic prose and poetry will be among the highlights of the cultural and professional programming for the Global Market Forum 2012 which will take place in New York during BEA, June 5 – 7 at the Javits Center. Negotiations are underway with several major cultural institutions in New York for ancillary events directly tied to the Global Market Forum and Read Russia 2012. As noted by Vladimir Grigoriev at a recent press conference at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the principle focus of BEA’s Global Market Forum will be to broaden the presence of Russian literature in America. Grigoriev noted that while in the past Russian literature has had a prominent role internationally, “today very few Russian writers find the reading audience they deserve, which is what we want to start changing through our efforts at and around BookExpo America in 2012.” Peter B. Kaufman, President and Executive Producer of Intelligent Television and Program Director for Read Russia 2012 in the United States, added, “We have a great opportunity to use all kinds of media – online, TV, radio, film – to bring Russian literature to new audiences stateside.”

While making this announcement, Vladimir Grigoriev was accompanied by Mikhail Shishkin, one of the most gifted new Russian authors, who has recently been awarded the prestigious Haus der Kulturen der Welt international award, for the best of the younger generation. Shishkin added how excited he was at the prospect of being part of the upcoming program at BEA. Steven Rosato, Show Manager for BEA, notes: “The Global Market Forum and Read Russia 2012 are combining this year to make a major presentation at BEA. This is the most ambitious undertaking that we have had so far from any of our international guest countries. We look forward to substantially increasing awareness for Russian authors and literature not just at BEA but through various cultural programs that will reach the public during the week of BEA.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 Sets Traffic Record in September with Over 10 Million Unique Visitors

I saw this in the Mediabistro website FishBowlNY and thought it was interesting.  10 million unique visitors - that is boatload of web traffic!  I love NY Magazine - I subscribe to the hard copy and their online pop culture page Vulture.  It is always interesting and relevant.   

September was a historical month for New York, as its website topped 10 million unique visits for the first time. While that’s great news, the best part about it might be that about 90% of the users during that time were enjoying web-only content. That is because the digital verticals that make up have all become brands on their own.

Vulture has become a force in the pop culture world, Daily Intel is a great source for breaking news and politics (especially now that they have Jonathan Chait contributing), and The Cut has become a must read for commentary on the fashion industry. Not only are these blogs delivering quality, they don’t skimp on quantity either: Adam Moss recently said that publishes new content every six minutes during the week. Every six minutes!

With over 10 million visits it’s inevitable that some of those people end up becoming print subscribers, so beyond increasing digital ad revenue, those hits help the magazine’s numbers as well. New York appears to have found a winning strategy. Don’t be shocked if other titles follow its lead.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Poached Post from today's GalleyCat

I am posting this article about Spain's Planeta Prize for two reasons - one being that the US reads so few books in translation (3%) which is an absurdly low number - maybe knowing that a book was so good that it was awarded $833k might get someone's attention.  The second reason I am stunned by the amount - WOW that is a lot of Euros and even more Dollars!. 

Last weekend Javier Moro won Spain’s 601,000 euro ($833,800) Planeta Prize for the novel El Imperio Eres Tú, a book about a 19th Century Brazilian emperor.Direct Link to GalleyCat

Literary blogger M.A.Orthofer noted that the English-speaking press has given the award “very, very little” coverage. He also linked to a list of the world’s richest literary prizes. Why do you think the mainstream press ignores many prizes on this long list of major awards?

Here’s more from The Literary Saloon: “money might not be everything, but in that respect this prize is in a whole different league than the Man Booker (hell, at €150,000 the runner-up — apparently Tiempo de arena, by Inma Chacón this time around — gets more than double the Man Booker winner’s take) — and the ‘major’ American prizes (Pulitzer, National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle) are strictly minor league by comparison.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Missing Frankfurt Posts & Miss Julie's Librarian Blog

I am somwhere between furious & grateful for the Blackberry issues last week.   I posted several times from Frankfurt that were duly sent off into the electronic atmosphere from my Blackberry and never made to my blog for consumption.  Still can't figured out what happened.  I am furious because I spent 3-4 hours pecking out several posts using up the precious little spare time I had of last week.  I should be grateful because what I was sharing was forced at the end of some long days and probably not that interesting. 

I can share one thing - people commenting on whether Frankfurt was slow or busy (I heard both)- does that really matter?  Frankfurt is so appointment driven - I had packed schedule and saw the people I needed to meet with and that is what matters.  There are pleasant surprises and you do make connections at parties and receptions, but I know before I get on the plane leaving JFK if Frankfurt is going to be slow or busy.  I was swamped and will be busy for the next six weeks just following up on everything. 

Below is a link to Miss Julie's current post The Cybil Awards; or,"if you liked it then you should have put a medal on it." It is a great explanation on The Cybils, which are the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ book awards.

BEA's Official Librarian Blog

Friday, October 7, 2011

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words

Debbie McManus - the wonderful rep on the BEA team sent the photo below to me which I thought was awesome.  It is fascinating to see without an identifiable message or goal, people are just fed up to the point that they are gathering to protest en masse all over the country - I guess they are protesting that things suck for everyone.  That is what happens when the Top 1% of the population controls more than 43% of the US's total wealth.  Look at the pie chart below the photo - as sobering as pie chart gets.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Interview with the son of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from Shelf Unbound

The following is an interview with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from Shelf Unbound about the soon to be released APRICOT JAM and other stories by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  With Russia being featured country in BEA's 2012 Global Market Forum program - I thought it would be most appropriate to bring some attention to landmark Russian literature - both old and new.

october/30 november 2011 unbound 31

Counterpoint Press  translations: Solzhenitsyn

You cansign up for your free copy of Shelf Unbound magazine at:

In his novels such as The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn recounted and renounced Soviet oppression, earning him imprisonment, exile, a Nobel Prize, and an acknowledged role in the defeat of communism. Some of his final published works are available in English for the first time in the collection Apricot Jam and Other Stories; on the occasion of the publication of ApricotvJam we are quite honored to present this interview with the author’s son Ignat Solzhenitsyn, well known in his own right as the principal guest conductor of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and the conductor laureate of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.
Shelf Unbound: In the recent The Solzhenitsyn Reader, editors Edward E. Erickson Jr. and Daniel J. Mahoney write, “Today most informed observers appreciate the central role that Solzhenitsyn played in the defeat of communism. More than any other figure in the twentieth century, he exposed the ideological ‘lie’ at the heart of Communist totalitarianism.” How do you describe your father’s legacy and relevance today?
Ignat Solzhenitsyn: My father’s legacy lies first and foremost in his extraordinary contribution to Russian literature at a time when many doubted its very viability. His novels and stories have left an indelible impact on the world. As for the role that his writings and his personal courage played in bringing down the Soviet dragon, he is routinely listed alongside John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan amongst the prime movers of that historic victory.
Shelf: Published in 1973, The Gulag Archipelago was banned in Russia until 1989. Two years ago Russia’s education ministry made the book required reading in Russian high schools. What does this turn of affairs indicate for the state of Russian culture today, and what, if anything, does it mean to you personally?
Solzhenitsyn: That The Gulag Archipelago has become required reading in Russian high schools is not only a testament to its enduring relevance and power, but also one of the most positive and hopeful signs that today’s Russia is beginning, at long last, to face her frightful past. It is very, very good news.
Shelf: The works in Apricot Jam and Other Stories have until now not been available in English. Tell us about the title story and about what meanings your father was intent on conveying at this time of his life.
Solzhenitsyn: The title story is an eloquent indictment of the hypocrisy and callousness of the Soviet ruling class—not only its apparatchiks and henchmen, but its lackeys in the cultural sphere. Here is a premier Soviet writer (widely recognized as Aleksei Tolstoy) turning a willfully blind eye to the very social injustices that his Communist ideology was supposedly trying to correct. Ego returns to the heroic, though bitter, theme of the Tambov peasant uprising in 1920-21, and its brutal suppression. Adlig Schvenkitten is a gripping autobiographical tale of twenty-four harrowing hours on the Prussian Front in January 1945. The stories are amazingly diverse in setting, plot, and style. If there is a common theme, it might be the pervasive effect of time in the shaping of individual character.
Shelf: What personal characteristics do you most remember about your father?
Solzhenitsyn: Well, I most remember him as a loving, supportive father. But, speaking more objectively, he had a seriousness of purpose in his everyday life and work that was deeply inspiring. He had a great respect for knowledge, for scientific achievement, for language, but also a healthy skepticism of human nature.
Shelf: Your father died in 2008. At the end of his life, had he written everything that he wanted to, or was there still more that he wanted to say?
Solzhenitsyn: One of the great blessings of his life is that, after decades of racing against the clock to complete the enormous tasks he had set for himself (most especially The Red Wheel), he not only succeeded in completing them, but had ample time left over to tie up loose ends and to delve into unexpected, unplanned projects, such as these binary tales.