Publishing

Frankfurt Book Fair Opens Today With China as Major Focus

BERLIN — Organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair worked for 15 years to secure China as the guest of honor at their five-day showcase of global trends and best sellers that opens to industry delegates Wednesday. Organizers are steeling themselves for lively discussions and the possibility of protests at the fair, which boasts about 6,900 exhibitors from more than 100 countries.

In her speech inaugurating the 61-year-old event, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "There can be — and I am sure there will be — no taboos in discussions" at the fair. But the director of the German Book Sellers Industry, Gottfried Honnefelder, went one step further insisting that: "We view freedom of opinion as an inalienable right."

In September, members of the Chinese delegation walked out of a pre-book fair symposium after two authors they had insisted not attend showed up anyway. Yet China's appearance this year is expected to generate the most buzz, given censorship in China. The September spat erupted when dissident writers Dai Qing and Bei Ling attended the symposium, despite a Chinese attempt to block them.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping praised the fair for presenting a chance for an exchange in learning about each other's cultures. -- Read More

Closing the Book on Gourmet

It's the end of the road for Gourmet Magazine. Petit fours anyone?

But what does a world without Gourmet portend for an age when millions prefer to share recipes online, restaurant criticism is becoming crowd-sourced and newspaper food sections are thinner and thinner?

“It has a certain doomsday quality because it’s not just a food magazine. It represents so much more,” said James Oseland, editor in chief of Saveur, a smaller, younger food magazine. “It’s an American cultural icon.”

The magazine, founded in 1941, thrived on a rush of postwar aspiration and became a touchstone for readers who wanted lives filled with dinner parties, reservations at important restaurants and exotic but comfortable travel.

Issues remain about who will inherit the archives and enormous recipe database. There's also a new book edited by Ruth Reichl, Gourmet Today, which came out just last month.

Print Magazines Closing

Conde Nast will close four magazines -- Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Gourmet and Cookie -- following a review the publisher undertook to find ways to cut costs and staff in the face of the advertising recession.

Conde Nast, also the publisher of magazines like The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, previously closed its Portfolio business magazine and home decor magazine Domino. Reuters and Wall Street Journal report.

Will Books Be Napsterized?

YOU can buy “The Lost Symbol,” by Dan Brown, as an e-book for $9.99 at Amazon.com.

Or you can don a pirate’s cap and snatch a free copy from another online user at RapidShare, Megaupload, Hotfile and other file-storage sites.

Until now, few readers have preferred e-books to printed or audible versions, so the public availability of free-for-the-taking copies did not much matter. But e-books won’t stay on the periphery of book publishing much longer. E-book hardware is on the verge of going mainstream. More dedicated e-readers are coming, with ever larger screens. So, too, are computer tablets that can serve as giant e-readers, and hardware that will not be very hard at all: a thin display flexible enough to roll up into a tube.

Full story in the NYT

Daily Beast Seeks to Publish Faster

Having ramped up her metabolism from magazines to online journalism with The Daily Beast, Tina Brown now wants to speed up book publishing.

In a joint venture with Perseus Books Group, The Daily Beast is forming a new imprint, Beast Books, that will focus on publishing timely titles by Daily Beast writers — first as e-books, and then as paperbacks on a much shorter schedule than traditional books.

On a typical publishing schedule, a writer may take a year or more to deliver a manuscript, after which the publisher takes another nine months to a year to put finished books in stores. At Beast Books, writers would be expected to spend one to three months writing a book, and the publisher would take another month to produce an e-book edition.

Full story here.

Disney Storybook Time @ the Computer

Not sure how one can improve storybook time in a grownups lap or snuggling together before bed, but the Disney Company is giving it a try. A new digital subscription service allows families to access electronic replicas of hundreds of Disney books, from “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too” to “Hannah Montana: Crush-tastic!”

DisneyDigitalBooks.com, which is aimed at children ages 3 to 12, is organized by reading level. In the “look and listen” section for beginning readers, the books will be read aloud by voice actors to accompanying music (with each word highlighted on the screen as it is spoken). Another area is dedicated to children who read on their own. Find an unfamiliar word? Click on it and a voice says it aloud. Chapter books for teenagers and trivia features round out the service.

A Former Bush Speechwriter Tells His Own Story

In his new tell-all book, Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor, former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer talks about how the former President determined who would receive a a Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil award. According to Latimer, Bush completely politicized the revered award during his administration.

Latimer writes that administration officials objected to giving author J.K. Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because her writing “encouraged witchcraft” (p. 201):

This was the same sort of narrow thinking that led people in the White House to actually object to giving the author J.K. Rowling a presidential medal because the Harry Potter books encouraged witchcraft.

The article in Think Progress goes on to tell how Bush stayed away from awarding the medal to such liberal politicians as Teddy Kennedy.

The book is published by Random House.

Google Lets You Custom-Print Millions of Public Domain Books

Wired's Epicenter blog details the latest venture to come out of Mountain View CA, public domain books printed on demand.

"What’s hot off the presses come Thursday? Any one of the more than 2 million books old enough to fall out of copyright into the public domain.

And now Google Book Search, in partnership with On Demand Books, is letting readers turn those digital copies back into paper copies, individually printed by bookstores around the world."

Embargo, Schmembargo...NYTimes Reviews New Dan Brown

The New York Times has broken the embargo on the new Dan Brown book, The Lost Symbol, with a review of Brown's "third rip-snorting adventure". According to the newspaper, "The Lost Symbol manages to take a twisting, turning route through many such aspects of the occult even as it heads for a final secret . . . In the end it is Brown's sweet optimism, even more than Langdon's sleuthing and explicating, that may amaze his readers most."

Here is the Times review, entitled "Fasten Your Seat Belts, There’s Code to Crack".

Dire Warning to Publishers: The End of Hardbacks

According to the French publishing group Hachette: Hardback books could be killed off if Amazon’s e-books and Google’s digital library force publishers to slash prices, warns Arnaud Nourry, Hachette's chief executive.

Mr Nourry said unilateral pricing by Google, Amazon and other e-book retailers such as Barnes & Noble could destroy publishers’ profits (not to mention what is happening to bookstores).

He said publishers were “very hostile” to Amazon’s pricing strategy – over which the online retailer failed to consult publishers – to charge $9.99 for all its e-books in the US. He also pointed to plans by Google to put millions of out-of-copyright books online for public use.

“On the one hand, you have millions of books for free where there is no longer an author to pay and, on the other hand, there are very recent books, bestsellers at $9.99, which means that all the rest will have to be sold at between zero and $9.99,” Mr Nourry said.

Mr Nourry’s comments come as analysts predict a growth spurt for the still-niche electronic reader market, with wireless devices from Sony, Plastic Logic and others due to compete with the Kindle.

Financial Times reports.

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