Publishing

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.

Novels Don't Have to be Hard to Read

Wall Street Journal. AUGUST 29, 2009, "Storytelling: Good Books Don't Have to Be Hard; A novelist on the pleasure of reading stories that don't bore; rising up from the supermarket racks." By LEV GROSSMAN

This brought with it another, related development: difficulty. It's hard to imagine it now, but there was a time when literary novels were not, generally speaking, all that hard to read. Say what you like about the works of Dickens and Thackeray, you pretty much always know who's talking, and when, and what they're talking about. The Modernists introduced us to the idea that reading could be work, and not common labor but the work of an intellectual elite, a highly trained coterie of professional aesthetic interpreters. The motto of Ezra Pound's "Little Review," which published the first chapters of Joyce's "Ulysses," was "Making no compromise with the public taste." Imagine what it felt like the first time somebody opened up "The Waste Land" and saw that it came with footnotes. Amateur hour was over.

The Party's Over at the World's Biggest Book Show

In a sign of the economic times, Random House has canceled its famed curtain-raising soiree during the Frankfurt Book Fair. The party, long known as a lavish annual industry event, has been the financial responsibility of Random House and parent company Bertelsmann and was, this year, canceled by the CEOs of those companies.

A spokesperson for the publisher issued a statement saying that "this course of action is consistent with our not hosting any corporate social events this spring at the LBF or BookExpo America. Story from Publishers Weekly.

Yale University press caught up in censorship row

Yale University Press has been forced onto the defensive, amid accusations that it is unfairly curtailing a social scientist’s ability to publish her research.

Latest Magazine to File for Bankruptcy

The Reader’s Digest Association Monday became the latest magazine publisher weighted down by severe debt to file for bankruptcy protection. RDA said it reached an agreement in principle with a majority of its senior secured lenders on terms of a restructuring plan to reduce the company’s debt from $2.2 billion to $550 million, and expects to file a pre-packaged Chapter 11 petition for its U.S. business within the next 30 days.

RDA's lender group will also provide the company with $150 million in debtor-in-possession financing which, it said, will be convertible into exit financing upon emergence from Chapter 11.

But, there will always be Reader's Digests....won't there?

Bits of Destruction Hit the Book Publishing Business

Bits of Destruction Hit the Book Publishing Business: Part 4

In this fourth part of our investigation into the ongoing changes in the book publishing business, we look at the author's point of view. What are they getting today? What would they like to get? What can they reasonably expect to get as this drama unfolds? Authors are the creative juice of the whole eco-system. If they don't create material that people want to read, no one will make any money.

Full story at ReadWriteWeb

If you had not seen the previous parts here they are:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

No Images of Muhammad in New Book

The forthcoming book from Yale University Press, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” will NOT contain the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005. A panel of diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism unanimously decided not to include the cartoons that are the main subject matter of the book.

New York Times reports.

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