More than a few Web entrepreneurs are using their site's contents to generate book projects. The folks at Nerve, an erotically inclined Web site; Razorfish, a cutting-edge Web design and digital strategic planning site; and gURL.com, a Web site for teenage girls -- all talked with PW about current and forthcoming book projects.
Nerve cofounder and editor-in-chief Rufus Griscom chatted with PW about the site's new book, Nerve: Literate Smut, an anthology of the site's steamy writing (with selections from Barry Yourgrau, Robert Olen Butler and Catherine Texier, among many others) just published by Broadway Books. Both Griscom and cofounder Genevieve Field were previously book editors (at Cader Books and MTV Books, respectively) and the old media was always central to their plans. "Print has higher standards than the Web, so we always acquired content for the site with books in mind," said Griscom, who quipped that "Nerve survived on our [book] advance for the first six months." There are more Nerve books to come. "We're devotees of content," he said, "not mediums." The site (www.Nerve.com) is currently circulating a proposal for a book on Nerve's database of erotic Web sites, and Griscom cited plans for anthologies of Nerve fiction and photography.
Discovery Inn is a new book of photographs of rock musicians by Danny Clinch published by Razorfish Studios, a kind of cyber art development unit at Razorfish (www.razorfish.com). Craig Kanarik, a highly regarded digital pioneer as well as Razorfish's founder and chairman, told PW that "ideally" books will produce some revenue and that Razorfish has plans for about four titles over the next year. He emphasized, "We try to make creative statements, not products." Rizzoli Bookstores is featuring Discovery Inn, which is also available through the Razorfish online store. According to Kanarik, "We've been selling copies online with no promotion at all," and the company plans more aggressive marketing of both the online store and the book. Their next title (to be published with Soft Skull Press) will be Flatness Is God, a book on the process of art design by designer Ryan McGinness, due out in 1999.
gURL.com, a popular Web watering hole for teenage girls, was founded by Esther Drill, Rebecca Odes and Heather McDonald, in 1996. It features a cheerfully funky, girl-friendly interface and, in executive editor Drill's words, "an honest approach to teenage issues." In fall 1999, Scholastic will publish Deal with It!: A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain and Life as a Teenage gURL, coauthored by the founding trio and illustrated by Odes, who created the hand-drawn look of the Web site. Deal with It! will feature original content, "in the voice of the site," said Drill. The book project developed "after we got such a great response about the site," she explained. "We've got lots of ideas for more books. We like having an offline presence."
Elsewhere On the Web
Houghton Mifflin's distinguished and sometimes reclusive author Philip Roth (I Married a Communist), recent recipient of the NEA's National Medal of Arts, now has a Web site (www.hmco.com/hmco/trade/features/philiproth), which includes a rare interview (text and audio).... Transgender publisher Firebrand Books has a new Web site (www.firebrandbooks.com) featuring secure ordering, a searchable database and lots of stuff about popular cartoonist Alison Bechdel.... Time Warner Electronic Publishing has launched a Web site for Lorraine Johnson-Coleman's Just Plain Folks (www.plainfolks.com), her collection of short stories and essays on African-American rural life.... eBookNet is a new site (www.ebooknet.com) dedicated to all things about electronic books. The site claims to provide "unbiased" information on all the models, technical developments and much more.