Illustrator Ricardo Cortés is in Javits today promoting two Akashic 2012 releases that are sure to create some buzz for the press, each in its own way. One—a children’s picture book, the press’s first—is meant to soothe, while the other—an illustrated picture book for adults, another first for Akashic—is a lot more caffeinated: Seriously, Just Go to Sleep by Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Cortés (May), and The Secret History of Coffee, Coca, and Cola (Dec.), which Cortés wrote as well as illustrated.
As most booksellers will recall, the talk of last year’s BEA was a little book with a loud title: Go the F**k to Sleep by Mansbach, illustrated by Cortés. Since its release last spring, Akashic Books, the Brooklyn small press that published it, has sold more than 600,000 print copies. Counting e-book and foreign editions, more than one million copies have sold to date.
“I don’t expect Seriously, Just Go to Sleep to have the same impact as Go the F**k to Sleep,” publisher Johnny Temple tells Show Daily. “Go the F**k to Sleep tapped into the zeitgeist.”
Seriously, Just Go to Sleep will be released with a 30,000-copy initial print run. Temple is adamant that Just Go to Sleep is not a “censored or toned-down” version of Go the F**k to Sleep, meant to milk its success. “It’s for kids, calling them out on their bedtime shenanigans. It allows parents to talk to their kids about bedtime, bringing levity to what can be a tense situation,” Temple explains.
Speaking of bedtime, Cortés’s fully illustrated exposé of the Coca-Cola Company’s success in receiving an exclusive exemption from the 1961 international ban on the coca leaf, from which cocaine is derived, is sure to keep readers awake at night. And to further perk up booksellers picking up galley copies of The Secret History of Coffee, Coca, and Cola at booth 3904, Akashic is handing out decadent and addictive treats that should never be banned: chocolate-covered coffee beans.
Cortés is unfazed about any potential controversy resulting from the release of The Secret History. After all, the first book he wrote and illustrated was It’s Just a Plant: A Children’s Story of Marijuana (2006), so he’s been there, done that. In fact, he says, The Secret History initially was intended to be a children’s book about the history of the coca leaf. After discovering in the National Archives correspondence between the president of the Coca-Cola Company and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (the predecessor of the Drug Enforcement Agency), the idea brewed into a book for adults that’s bound to give those classic advertising slogans promoting Coca-Cola, such as “Have a Coke and a smile” and “Live on the Coke side of life,” a whole new meaning.
“Really, it’s not a takedown of the Coca-Cola Company,” insists Cortés. “I drink Coca-Cola myself. But it’s an important history about a company that keeps its ‘secret formula’ secret as a way to avoid disclosure about the coca leaf.”
Cortés will be signing finished copies of Seriously, Just Go to Sleep and ARCs of The Secret History of Coffee, Coca, and Cola in the Consortium Pavilion (booth 3904) today, 2–3 p.m.