Today's Stories

(click the headlines below):

Big Books for Fall
Big Children's Books for Fall
An Early Morning Lovefest for Comics
Work Action Hits Convention
Big Read Update
IndieBound #1 Topic at ABA Meetings
Bezos Pushes Kindle Virtues
Going Green
Authors and Their Online Communities
Mellow Mood as Show Opens
• Take My Manuscript to Hollywood...Please• Obituary: Leda Liounis• Documentary Narrates Indie Booksellers' Struggle

Big Books for the Fall
By Louisa Ermelino

The line to get a hardcover copy of Andre Dubus III’s The Garden of Last Days (Norton, June) started forming an hour before he was scheduled to arrive. It snaked along a main aisle and continued around the corner. Anticipated by booksellers—from Richard Howorth of Square One bookstore in Oxford, Miss., to Jane Moser from Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Tex.—it’s been one of the most talked-about bookseller favorites.

But big fiction books were everywhere, with or without their authors: Toni Morrison’s novel A Mercy, coming from Knopf in November, looks at racism in the 17th century. Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day (Morrow, Sept.), set in post-WWI Boston, got snapped up and lugged around despite its door-stopper size. Anita Shreve and Julia Glass both have new books that look at family dynamics: Glass’s third novel, I See You Everywhere (Pantheon, Oct.), follows the relationship of two sisters over the course of 25 years, and Shreve’s Testimony (Little, Brown, Oct.) explores the aftermath of a sex tape scandal that ruins marriages and the lives of several boarding school students. And, of course, there’s Philip Roth’s coming-of-age story set in the Korean war era, Indignation (Houghton, Sept.), Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence (Random, June) and Marilynne Robinson’s follow-up to Gilead, Home (FSG, Sept.)

Nonfiction: Animals, Politics, Celebrities

Moving on from Marley is the moving We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee (Weinstein Books, Sept.), a memoir in which a family buys a dilapidated zoo in the English countryside and copes with tigers, fighting emus and family tragedy.

The Book of Animal Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson (Harmony, Sept.) is a collection of entertaining bits about creatures big and small that could very well match the bestselling success of the author’s The Book of General Ignorance. And Bliss to You (Hyperion September) is golden retriever Dean Trixie Koontz’s gems of wisdom “as told to her owner Dean Koontz.”

For politics, the pre-BEA talk was all about former Bush press secretary’s Scott McClellan’s stunner from Public Affairs. The embargoed book pubbed Monday; at the Knopf dinner Friday we heard Barbara Walters say that she’d been planning to buy the book, but upon reading the extensive L.A. Times review, she didn’t have to.

Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America (FSG, Sept.) looks to be big, along with The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank (Metropolitan Books, Aug.), an examination of corruption in Washington, D.C.

On the memoir front, Kathleen Norris’s Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life (Riverhead, Sept.) should do well, given the author’s popularity and the book’s pitch as “part meditation/part memoir.” In The Night of the Gun (Simon & Schuster, Sept.) David Carr writes a terrifying memoir of addiction, illness and, of course, recovery.

Celebrities were much in evidence, at the show and beyond. The party at Prince’s house off Mulholland Drive was the hottest ticket at BEA—directions to his manse were not revealed until the RSVP was approved. His royal purpleness performed somewhere around 2 a.m. in honor of his collection of poetry/music/lyrics, 21 Nights—a $50 hardcover coming from Atria in September.

Lewis Black follows his popular memoir, Nothing’s Sacred, with a book about religion, Me of Little Faith (Riverhead, June); and Alec Baldwin offers A Promise to Ourselves, written with Mark Tabb (St. Martin’s, Sept.). At Saturday’s breakfast, Baldwin described his memoir is a serious critique of the plight of fathers in the family court system, rather than a tell-all—but booksellers expect it to be a huge success nonetheless. At the show, Diahann Carroll was furiously signing copies of her memoir The Legs Are the Last to Go (Amistad, Oct.). And coming up are George Hamilton’s Don’t Mind if I Do (Touchstone, Dec.) and Ted Turner’s Call Me Ted,coming in November from Grand Central.

Fiction Prospects

Booksellers were raving about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Dial, July). Lynn Wilbur, a University of Western Ontario bookseller, told Show Daily it was selling big in Canada, and Debra Linn from Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla., picked it as the hit of the summer: “Who knew the Nazis occupied the Channel Islands? It’s a whole new look at WWII.” She’s also excited about Phillipa Gregory’s The Other Queen (Simon & Schuster, Sept.): “My customers can’t get enough of her. In this book, she makes Mary, Queen of Scots, come to life.”

Karl Pohrt, of Shaman Drum in Ann Arbor, Mich., is high on Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (FSG, Oct.), describing it as “an example of what I call the new cosmopolitan novel. It’s about people from a number of different cultures coming together—in this case, on a ship.”

Flying high in fiction debuts are witches, and fortune tellers. The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent (Little, Brown, Sept.), about the women accused of witchcraft in Salem, “sounds perfect for reading book groups,” according to Kelly Estep from Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, Ky. The Lace Reader (Morrow, July) by Brunonia Barry, about women in Salem who can read the future in lace has people talking.

Bob Wietrak, v-p of merchandising for Barnes & Noble is really excited about two European thrillers: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Knopf, Sept.) by Stieg Larsson and The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (Doubleday, Aug.).

Paul Yamazaki of City Lights bookstore in San Francisco thinks Roberto Bolano’s 2666 (FSG, Nov.) is going to be huge; FSG is releasing the 900-page hardcover—along with a three-volume paperback edition for readers who have injured themselves falling asleep with a huge hardcover on their face.

And on the small press front, there’s The Flying Troutmans (Counterpoint, Oct.), a debut novel by Miriam Toews, about two young girls and their aunt on a cross-country van trip to find the girls’ father. Jamie Siocco, a bookseller at McIntyre’s Bookshop in Pittsboro, N.C., sang the praises of In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld (Unbridled, Sept.); she was surprised at how moved she was by this story of the relationships between the characters and with the natural world. “We live our lives too quickly,” she said. “In Hovering Flight made me realize we have to sit and observe the world about us a lot more.”

“When she moved into the White House, Jackie was a size 12. When she left she was a size 8.” Thus begins Adam Braver’s Nov. 22, 1963, coming from Tin House in November: a chilling blend of fact and fiction that chronicles Jacqueline Kennedy’s fateful day. back to top

Big Books for Children
By Diane Roback

Two fall books from children’s divisions are likely to be two of the biggest-selling books of the year, period. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown/Tingley, Aug. 2) and Brisingr by Christopher Paolini (Knopf, Sept. 20), both eagerly anticipated by booksellers, each have first printings of 2.5 million copies. Hundreds of bookstores across the country are planning midnight parties for the titles.

Many of the most buzzed-about titles are followups to previous hits. Swing! by Rufus Butler Seder (Workman, Oct., 450,000), follows last year’s blockbuster Gallop! Jean Feiwel at Feiwel & Friends reported an “enormous response” for Nancy Tillman and Eric Metaxas’s It’s Time to Sleep, My Love (Sept, 500,000), companion to On the Night You Were Born; If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond (HarperCollins/Geringer, Oct., one million); Bats at the Library by Brian Lies (Houghton, July, 100,000), following up Bats at the Beach; The Scrambled States of America Talent Show by Laurie Keller (Holt/Ottaviano, Aug.); Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer (Disney-Hyperion, July, 750,000)—Antonia Squire from Kepler’s said, “I didn’t think it could get any better, but this one’s just brilliant”—and the second Octavian Nothing from M.T. Anderson (Candlewick, Oct., 50,000).

Several noteworthy series are reaching their end this season. Cornelia Funke wraps up her Inkheart trilogy with Inkdeath (Scholastic/Chicken House, Oct., 350,000 copies); The Diamond of Darkhold (Random, Sept.), ends Jeanne DuPrau’s fantasy sequence a month before the City of Ember movie hits movie theaters; and The Runaway Dolls is last in the Doll People trilogy by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Disney-Hyperion, Oct., 175,000).

Fall fiction garnered the lion’s share of the attention at the show. Scholastic threw a bash (complete with caviar and oysters) at the Millenium Biltmore to launch The 39 Clues; Rick Riordan penned the first volume of the multi-platform series, which pubs in September. Another Scholastic novel, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, probably had the most advance buzz heading into the show; it pubs in October with 100,000 copies. At the children’s breakfast, Gaiman created a lot of bookseller excitement for The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, Oct., 250,000); publicity director Sandee Roston said that galleys at the booth went “in 10 seconds.” Other highlights: Science Fair by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (Disney-Hyperion, Oct., 250,000); Paper Towns from John Green (Dutton, Oct.); My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath (Random/Schwartz & Wade, Oct., 50,000); and Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (S&S, Oct., 100,000).

On the picture book front, Mem Fox traveled to BEA from Australia for Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Harcourt, Oct., 150,000). Several booksellers at the breakfast given in Fox’s honor, including Valerie Lewis at Hicklebee’s, said they “saw a classic in the making.” Big Words for Little People is the latest from the bestselling team of Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell (HarperCollins/Cotler, Sept., 500,000); and for Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Friends (Putnam, Sept., 350,000), a line began at 6 a.m. for tickets to her autographing. Two pop-ups of note: Peter Pan from Robert Sabuda (Little Simon, Oct., 200,000); and ABC3D by Marion Bataille (Roaring Brook/Porter, Oct., 100,000).

Nonfiction made a strong showing, starting with David Macaulay’s long-awaited The Way We Work (Houghton, Oct., 300,000), supported by a 15-city tour and a $500,000 marketing campaign, including TV. Knucklehead is a memoir by National Ambassador Jon Scieszka of his childhood with five brothers (Viking, Oct.). Feiwel & Friends crashed Yes We Can, a biography of Barack Obama by Garen Thomas, onto its list; it pubs this week. S&S brings two bestselling adult franchises into the children’s arena: Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook (Oct., 300,000) and The 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey (Sept., 200,000). America: A Making of a Nation by Charlie Samuels is an interactive book with flaps and pullouts, including a full-size Declaration of Independence (Little, Brown, Sept., 150,000); and an all-star anthology, Our White House: Looking In Looking Out (Candlewick, Sept., 100,000), features an introduction by David McCullough.

Next spring marks the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, and many books are in the works, including three prominent titles this season: Abe’s Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Disney-Hyperion); Lincoln Shot, illustrated by Christopher Bing (Feiwel & Friends); and Lincoln and Douglass: An American Friendship by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Holt). (Giovanni also has an October title from Sourcebooks, Hip-Hop Speaks to Children, poetry plus an audio CD.)

And there’s always room for titles to break out at the show. For Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link (Viking, Oct.), booksellers lined up a half-hour before her informal signing; as the publisher of Small Beer Press, Link has been building up a hipster following. Harcourt decided to tour Adam Rex for his Frankenstein Takes the Cake (Sept., 75,000), thanks to his reception at BEA. Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig has a novel for young readers, Ignatius MacFarland: Frequenaut! (Little, Brown, Sept.); “booksellers know he’s funny,” said LB’s Melanie Chang. Booksellers were also buzzing about a first novel for September, The Devil’s Breath by David Gilman (Delacorte, Sept.), and Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards, a humorous picture book of colloquialisms by Serge Block (Sterling, Aug.). back to top

An Early Morning Lovefest for Comics

by Calvin Reid

The long line that formed before 8 a.m. to get into BEA’s first-ever graphic novel breakfast was the first indication that the BEA couldn’t have come up with a better lineup of guests to introduce comics as book category. Jeff Smith, the creator of the bestselling Bone series, was the moderator of a panel that featured acclaimed cartoonist Spiegelman, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and Jeph Loeb, comics writer and also producer of the hit TV series Heroes. The hall was packed--sold out, in fact-- Smith said in his opening remarks, to the “pleasure and surprise of BEA.”

Smith was introduced to audience by Janna Morishima, who works with publishers for Diamond Comics Distribution, sponsor of the breakfast. She was formerly an editor at Scholastic and one of the cofounding editors of Graphix, its graphic novel imprint. Smith’s originally self-published fantasy and comic adventure series, Bone, was the book Scholastic chose to launch the line, and Morshima told the packed hall how she found out about it: “I went to the New York City comics shop Forbidden Planet and I asked the first tattooed, multiply-pierced worker I saw to recommend the best book he had for a nine-year-old boy.” Both the clerk and Morishima clearly made the right choice--Bone has gone on to sell nearly three million copies of its Scholastic edition.

What followed Smith’s introductions was a bit of education on the history of comics since the 1950s (from debased kids’ stuff to mass entertainment and serious literature) and a survey of his own creative development—using a combination of images, critical insight and droll commentary--by Spiegelman. Mignola followed with a short discussion on the joys of making comics--alone in a room “chained” to his drawing table--in comparison to the overwhelming and often frustrating group task of creating a big-budget Hollywood film based his comic book series Hellboy. And Loeb followed that with an engrossing talk about his background in both the comics and film industries and his delight and pride in the institutionalization of comic book-based movies in Hollywood as a serious and profitable genre in their own right.

In the q&a period, Smith’s comparisons of comics to films (“pans,” “camera angles,” “zoom shots,”) clearly began to agitate Spiegelman. He was quick to point out that “the language you’re using predates the film medium. All the stuff you describe was in the early comics of Rudolf Toeffler [a 19th-century artist credited with some of the first comics works]. Comics are not the same as films.”

Despite the mild conflict, this event was another indication of just how far comics have come. A category formerly rejected by librarians, teachers and booksellers is now showing up in literary reviews and on bestseller lists and even has a new, more refined name—graphic novels—though all the creators noted that it’s still comic books to them.

In fact, an independent bookseller in the audience scolded the panel for only mentioning chain bookstores, claiming that chain stores “only started selling them when the category became popular.” And while that statement was allowed to pass, the reality is just the opposite. Chain bookstores pioneered the selling of comics in general bookstores; even now independent bookstores--with exceptions to be sure--lag woefully behind in stocking and selling them. But no matter. Everybody’s on the comics bandwagon these days. This year’s graphic novel breakfast served as small coming-out party for comics and graphic novels, and the event marks another stage in the category’s development into a respected (and profitable) category in the book market. back to top

Work Action Hits Convention
by Michael Coffey

Local 11of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union staged a surprise work stoppage at 11:30, disrupting Saturday’s lunch hour. Close to 300 workers assembled along the patio area outside of West Hall. Many fairgoers were puzzled by the sudden crowd of service staff standing idle, but it became increasingly clear that a protest was underway. The 13,000-strong local has been in a dispute over wages and benefits with Aramark, the catering company that operates concession and food service at the Convention Center, many hotels and large venues such as Anaheim Stadium. The local’s organizing director, Robin Rodriguez, told ShowDaily that the union has worked without a contract for two years, and that talks last week between the union and Aramark had broken down, prompting the show of force. Aramark representatives and union leadership exchanged testy barbs in a storage room just off the patio while attempting to end the stalemate. One Aramark manager was heard reassuring workers that there would be “no lockdown—we will talk,” as a small chorus of union members barked, “Show us the money.” After 90 minutes, with a verbal agreement to reopen negotiations, the word spread among the workers that they were to go back to their posts. BEA workers stepped in to deliver more than 1,000 lunches during the service hiaturs, said Lance Festerman of the BEA, who apologized for the inconvenience and said that the BEA would continue to work to “mitigate any additional inconveniences.” Although Festerman warned that the dispute “might affect some food service throughout the weekend,” Rodriguez told Show Daily that that was not the case. “We sent our message today,” she said.

Aramark, based in Philadelphia, has been the target of work stoppages in various cities in the last year. Aramark representatives at the show declined to comment. back to top

Big Read Update
By Claire Kirch

Sunil Iyengar, director of research and analysis at National Endowment for the Arts, presented the empirical findings from the NEA’s 2007 report on reading trends among Americans, followed by NEA literature director David Kipen’s presentation of the NEA Big Read initiative to restore reading to Americans’ cultural lives yesterday in Saturday morning’s “To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence” educational session, which was attended by about 40 people. According to Iyengar, the news is pretty grim: Americans—especially teens and young adults—are spending less time reading, resulting in an erosion in reading comprehension skills. These declines have serious civic, social, cultural and economic implications, Iyengar declared, “which has implications for our democracy,” as “good readers make good citizens,” with 84% of proficient readers voting, as opposed to 53% of below-basic readers. Also, 43% of proficient readers volunteer their time, compared to 16% of below-basic readers. There was a silver lining to Iyengar’s grey cloud, however: nine-year-olds read more often each day than ever before. In fact, the reading levels of nine-year-olds stand at their highest since 1971, the first year the test was administered to them. Kipen described himself as Pollyanna to Iyengar’s Cassandra, observing an “incremental reversal” of the decline as he described the success of the Big Read program, which has grown twenty-fold since it’s debut in 10 communities in 2006; it’s been implemented in 200 communities this year. In addition to a grant from the NEA to support the community reading initiative, each participating community receives a collection of materials about the selected title developed by a team of “20 English major” literary experts. The materials include readers’s guides, teachers’s guides and audio guides for each book. Launched with four American classic novels in 2006, the Big Read list includes 21 novels, and Kipen said they’re beginning to include more international titles and contemporary works, and want to branch out into poetry and nonfiction in the future, after getting the fiction selections “right.” Promising “an exclusive,” Kipen unveiled the latest books to be added to the list: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien; an Edgar Allan Poe anthology that has yet to be specified; The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder; and Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. “The ultimate goal, Kipen said, “is to give the residents of America’s cities and towns something more interesting to discuss than the weather.” back to top

IndieBound #1 Topic at ABA Meetings

by Judith Rosen

ABA’s self-styled “movement/revolution” IndieBound, the organization’s new plan to promote independent booksellers, was the focus of Friday’s Town Hall and Annual Membership Meetings. After the initiative’s introduction at Thursday evening’s Celebration of Bookselling, many questions remain about how IndieBound differs from the Book Sense program introduced a decade ago.

Among the booksellers confused by the teaser preview, Maryelizabeth Hart, co-owner of Mysterious Galaxy Books in San Diego, said, “I want to be enthused about IndieBound. I don’t think it is much more than Book Sense renamed. I kind of felt like a teenager who only got to second base last night.”

However, enthusiasm is starting to build among others, who had a chance to view the collateral materials for the program, which are at the ABA Lounge and will be delivered to members in a “Literary Liberation Box.” Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books and Books in Coral Gables, Fla., congratulated the board for putting together the initiative, while Lucy Kogler, manager of Talking Leaves Books in Buffalo, N.Y., praised the greater flexibility of IndieBound. “What I didn’t like about Book Sense,” she said, “was we had to toe the line. You’ll be giving me the tools to do it my way.”

Asking booksellers to give IndieBound a chance, ABA CEO Avin Domnitz noted, “It took seven days to make the world. It’s going to take seven months to make IndieBound.” During his report at the annual meeting Domnitz said that the program will be a success if 25,000 businesses (not just bookstores) post IndieBound decals in their windows to trumpet the fact that they are independent businesses. To quell concerns that IndieBound will compete with the two independent alliances that many booksellers already work with, American Independent Business Alliance and Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, he said, “We’re very active in support of AMIBA and BALLE. IndieBound is not meant to replace anything.”

For ABA outgoing president Russ Lawrence, owner of Chapter One Book Store in Hamilton, Mont., providing tools for booksellers to improve their business was one of his original missions as president. Now members will have IndieBound. Another goal coming to fruition was to see more stores open. He pointed to openings like that of California bookseller Diesel: A Bookstore, which is adding a new branch in Brentwood.

Echoing that note in her report on membership, incoming president Gayle Shanks, owner of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., said, “We’re on the way up, not on the way down. We’ve added 200 members in the last couple years.” Currently ABA has 1,524 bookstore members, down slightly from 1,580 in 2007.

The organization remains in strong financial shape despite a dismal economic time, noted Domnitz, who referred to the current fiscal year ending September 30 as “the proverbial rainy day.” ABA cut $250,000 out of its expenses in response to a loss in unrealized value of its portfolio of about $3 million. Even with the downturn, he said, ABA has a fund balance of almost $39 million. back to top

Bezos Pushes Kindle Virtues
by Jim Milliot

Amazon developed the Kindle to make it easier for customers to find and buy books, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told a large BEA crowd yesterday. “We’ve been selling e-books for 10 years and you need an electron microscope to find the sales,” Bezos said. Since the release of the Kindle, e-book sales have been stronger than expected, Bezos said, although he didn’t provide hard figures. He did say that Kindle customers purchase more books by a factor of 2.6 than non-Kindle owners. He also reiterated a statistic: of the 125,000 Kindle titles available, Kindle sales represent 6% of sales of those same physical books. The vision for Kindle is to make every book ever printed in any language available for download in 60 seconds, Bezos said. He declined to estimated how long that will take or how many titles will be available for the Kindle a year from now, but he commended Simon & Schuster for its decision to make another 5,000 titles available for the device by the end of 2008. He said Amazon is working on developing a Kindle edition for international markets.

Asked by Wired editor and host Chris Anderson (The Long Tail) if the Kindle will change the way people write, Bezos said he would be “startled” if some authors don’t resort to Charles Dickens—type serializations. The Kindle platform has been designed to promote experimentation by writers, Bezos noted.

While most of the hour was devoted to the virtues of the Kindle—now available for $359—Bezos did defend Amazon’s decision to require print-on-demand titles to be manufactured by Amazon’s BookSurge subsidiary. According to Bezos, printing POD titles in-house makes it easier and cheaper to combine orders in one package, saving time and money for customers. “We’re willing to be misunderstood” on the issue because it improves the customer experience, Bezos said. “It doesn’t make sense to print it somewhere else,” he said in response to a question.

He likened the POD controversy to the one that developed when the company first started selling used books, a practice, Bezos maintained, that has proven beneficial to the overall book “ecosystem.” He claimed Amazon studies have shown little cannibalization of new books by selling used titles. back to top

Going Green
by Wendy Werris

Three panels addressing environmental issues were among yesterday’s roster of educational programs, highlighting the growing importance of implementing green policies within the book industry.

“Environmental Trends in the Book Industry” featured panelists Tyson Miller, director of the Green Press Initiative; Michael Healy, head of BISG’s Environmental Committee; and Andrew Van Der Laan of Random House.

Healy presented highlights of BISG’s latest report, “Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts: Findings from the U.S. Book Industry.” The survey involved more than 95 publishers, printers and paper mills and reveals a promising sixfold increase in the industry’s use of recycled fiber. A majority of the companies surveyed reported that they’re developing environmental policies that aim to significantly reduce energy consumption and lessen their overall carbon imprints.

Explaining that every 1.6 million tons of paper requires the destruction of 30 million trees, Miller hailed the increase in PCW (post-consumer waste) paper in the publishing industry from 2.5% in 2004 to 13.3% in 2007. “In surveying readers, we’ve found that 42% are willing to pay$1 more to subsidize responsible paper use in book manufacturing,” Miller said. “If the industry trend continues, by 2012 PCW paper will be used by 30% of U.S. publishers.”

Van Der Laam, in discussing the environmental policies in place at Random House, said that publishing has a tremendous impact on our natural resources. “Ultimately, the consumer owns the book’s carbon footprint—and will urge publishers to change. They’ll hold publishers responsible for the damage incurred by the way books are produced.”

John Grisham’s latest book, The Appeal, provides a good example of how much publishing affects the environment. The book is responsible for 20 pounds of carbon per copy.

“Going Green” panelists were Tona Pearce Myers, New World Library’s production director; Michael Powell, founder and president, Powell’s Books; and another appearance by AndrewVan Der Laam. Tyson Miller moderated the panel, leading off with the statistic that each ton of recycled paper saves 17 to 24 trees.

“By 2007, 100 titles from New World Library were produced using recycled paper,” Pearce Myers reported. “We’ve also introduced the use of solar power in our office and encouraged employee carpooling, office recycling and the powering down of our computers when they’re not in use.”

Citing the importance of initiating a carbon imprint audit, Van Der Laam proudly said that Random House was the first major publisher to adapt an environmental paper policy, in 2006, and has implemented changes in all aspects of the company to lessen its carbon footprint. Everything from the way sales conferences are conducted to its offices’ copy paper and thermostat have been changed to reflect the publisher’s environmental policies.

“Peter Olson [outgoing Random House chairman] considered green issues so important that he attended nearly every meeting we had to discuss the implementation of our policies,” Van Der Laam told the audience.

At Powell’s in Portland, Ore., a green committee now exists in the bookstore to examine ways to comply with environmental issues. “Our customers look to us as leaders,” Powell said, “and our employees are passionate about being active in all things green. If it’s good for the planet, it’s good for business.”

Powell’s has switched to using bio-diesel in its company vehicles and recycled packing materials. “We also sell recyclable shopping bags to our customers for $1. They cost us ninety cents to make, so we’re really doing our best to accommodate as many environmental concerns as we can,” Powell noted.

“Green Consumerism: Changing How We Shop” featured Lori Bongiorno (Green, Greener, Greenest, Perigee), Diane Mac Ecachern (The Big Green Purse, Avery ) and Richard Bangs (Adventures with Purpose, Menasha Ridge Press). The panelists discussed the important of economics in the green products industry, and how much more expensive it is for consumers to support environmental issues in their shopping habits.

“It was recently reported that Costco profits are way up, while Whole Foods’ stock value has fallen,” noted Bangs. “We still have a long way to go in terms of making ‘green’ economically viable.”

Mac Ecachern urged the audience to be aware of all contributors to Global Warming. “Be aware, too, of how you use and waste energy. This is essential.” back to top

Authors and Their Online Communities: The Perils, the Opportunities, and What's Next
By Bethanne Patrick

Friday’s late-afternoon panel “Authors and Their Online Communities,” moderated by Patrick Neilsen Hayden, senior editor at Tor Books, featured three blogger-authors: John Scalzi, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and Cory Doctorow, discussing how their blogs and the communities that evolved around them have affected the books all three have subsequently published.

Moulitsas Zuniga recalled how he’d watched many blogs “go up in flames” during the 2000 vote recount. “These great blogs would completely self-destruct,” he said. “I knew I had to be different. I had to become a benevolent dictator.” The “Daily Kos” publisher noted that the first thing any blogger-author must consider is meeting a need. “The site evolved because I’d seen a real need for it. At a certain point, when that need was being met and the site was successful, I realized I’d have to focus just as much on running it as I would on my own writing.”

Scalzi jumped in to talk about the limits of scale as they apply to blogs, and mentioned that as soon as he enabled comments for his blog (about four years in), “traffic doubled.” “Even if I’m not around, the community continues,” he said. Scalzi gave a silly but relevant example: he typed in “My toe hurts” as an entry one day, while he was talking to a reporter. “Before we could finish the next question, comments were popping up: ‘Which toe hurts?’ ‘My toe hurt once....’”

Neilsen Hayden mentioned Clay Shirky’s recent book Here Comes Everybody, and asked the panelists if they sometimes feel that there’s too much community going on their sites. Doctorow said that on BoingBoing he feels there are two choices for making sure that community doesn’t overwhelm a site: you can spread things out as, for example, World of Warcraft has done, with two sites, or you can “twiddle” a bit, sending a staffer in to pump up different discussions and see what community members are saying.

The question of transitioning from Web to print (and back again) was Neilsen Hayden’s next: “Do your ears pop?” he asked the panel. Moulitsas Zuniga said that the biggest culture shock for him is that many fans don’t recognize that his books have nothing to do with his blog: “I’m not writing compilations!”

The panelists agreed that they use their blogs to enlist readers in helping them to keep going while working on book projects, sometimes to simply stop procrastinating (Scalzi said his readers know that when he starts doing “weird PhotoShop stuff” he needs to be prodded to go back to work), or sometimes just to discuss a sticky plot point. Scalzi said, “You have to be very careful not to be all ‘book this, book that’ constantly. People don’t want to feel used.”

Doctorow noted that you have to close the deal for readers. “Make it a happy consummation,” he said. At the end of each e-chapter he posts, he provides a link to buy his books from independent bookstores he champions. back to top

Mellow Mood as Show Opens

by Lynn Andriani

The throngs of convention-goers normally associated with Day One of BEA were largely absent at the Los Angeles Convention Center yesterday. As the annual conference returned to L.A. for the fist time in five years, some publishers reported the show was well attended, but many others commented that things felt quiet and a little slow. The general consensus: crowds are nowhere near New York level, but decent considering the convention is a six-hour flight from book publishing’s hub.

Lesleigh Irish-Underwood, director of marketing and online media at Kensington, echoed the sentiments of many when she said the show was not nearly “as packed as New York,” yet still lively. Julie Burton, publicity director at MacAdam/Cage, agreed: “Compared to New York, it’s quiet. But we think it’s been great.” MacAdam/Cage’s booth is smaller this year, but Burton said the terrific location—right near the entrance to South Hall—was a boon.

Exhibitors offered up a range of reasons for Friday’s slow traffic. Brian Belfiglio, v-p and director of publicity at Simon & Schuster, suggested the children’s book and author breakfast, which ran from 8 to 9:30 a.m., could have held up the masses. The breakfast included heavy hitters Sherman Alexie, Judy Blume, Neil Gaiman and Eoin Colfer. Adam Rothberg at S&S said, “Usually at this hour [10:30], you can’t move in our booth. Maybe it’s that we’re in California and people are... mellow.”

Still, there are upsides to having BEA on the West Coast. Lissa Warren, v-p, senior director of publicity, and acquiring editor at Da Capo/Lifelong, told PW the show was somewhat quiet, but that “there are some West Coast media folks here who we don’t usually get to see,” such as producers from Tavis Smiley’s and Dennis Miller’s shows. Bethany Buck, publisher of Aladdin and Pulse at S&S, said, “It’s great to be in touch with local booksellers and authors who don’t typically come [East].” Others said the smaller scale made it easier to navigate. Tim Jones, assistant director of marketing at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, noted, “Sometimes BEA is packed. This is much more manageable.” And, of course, being in sunny California is a perk. Bob Wayne, v-p of sales at DC Comics, said, “I definitely enjoy being in L.A., and the weather’s beautiful”; and Emily Hamilton, marketing manager at the University of Minnesota Press, said having BEA in L.A. is “a nice change. It’s got a different flavor. It’s a chance to explore Los Angeles from a book perspective.”

Attendees seemed to favor quality over quantity, picking their way through galleys to find ones that would be most appropriate for their readers. Workman’s Suzanne Rafer said, “It’s not just, ‘Give me a bag, give me a book.’ ” Susan Bolotin, also at Workman, said people are less “grabby” this year.

Despite the easygoing mood, a few galleys flew out of publishers’ booths. Carla Parker, national accounts manager for William Morrow, said galleys for Dennis Lehane’s forthcoming novel, The Given Day, were “gone in maybe 10 minutes.” Hyperion’s neatly arranged circle of galleys of Click by Bill Tancer, were nearly gone by mid-morning. But the book everyone was talking about wasn’t even a fall ’08 book: it was Scott McClellan’s What Happened, which Public Affairs published earlier this week. Tessa Shanks, senior publicist at Public Affairs, said McClellan is not attending the show, and that the house does not have copies of the book here. However, she said, “It’s been great because we’ve gotten so much attention. But we didn’t bring any copies because we knew we wouldn’t have enough.” The house currently has 170,000 copies in print over four runs.

As for the party everyone’s talking about, the Friday night soiree at Prince’s house seemed to top the list. The pop superstar, who recently inked a deal with Atria, was rumored to be performing.

One anonymous publisher summed up BEA in Los Angeles this way: “It’s an ass haul out here, but the L.A. Convention Center is much better than that shithole Javits.”—with reporting by Rachel Deahl and Diane Roback back to top

Take My Manuscript to Hollywood...Please

by Rachel Deahl

It was an SRO crowd at the Friday BEA panel From Book to Blockbuster: Straight Talk from Today’s Execs. As moderator Maura E. Teitelbaum of Abrams Artists Agency pointed out, the packed room was probably due to the fact that it’s not so easy to get the ear of the panelists who “are not dying to take their lunch hour and leave Beverly Hills to come to the L.A. Convention Center.” But the panelists, who all work in book to film development, did brave freeway traffic to discuss that elusive thing which entices them to option manuscripts: good storytelling and strong characters.

Teitelbaum kicked off the panel by asking the $10,000 question: What do executives look for? Liz Wise, a manager for movie programming at Lifetime, who noted that her network does about 10 to 14 TV movies annually, said she wants a “strong central hook.” The other question she asks herself, she added, is: “How do I sell this?” She elaborated: “For TV we need plot-driven stories. A nice book with nice characters is hard for me to produce.”

Tia Maggini, a senior exec at Marc Platt Productions, said she wants “concept-driven” material. For books that are a “tougher sell” there often needs to be a consumer seal of approval—“it’s either high-concept or it rises above.” The entire panel echoed this sentiment and pointed to examples like The Da Vinci Code, a book that everyone in town passed on multiple times when it was first shopped but fetched a huge sum once it became a major bestseller.

David Blackman, senior v-p for the Sony-based Laurence Mark Productions, which has produced films like I, Robot and Jerry Maguire, said the trick with high concept material is often in the translation. “With concept-driven books sometimes it’s studios reacting to something that’s hard to put in the box,” he said, adding that sometimes, the studios become interested in the idea behind a book or a series more than the specific of the work.

Teitelbaum next tossed out a question about what happens when a book is optioned, which compelled the panel to talk about the dreaded thing which can happen to many books: turnaround. Lisa Hamilton, a Dreamworks exec who focuses on books (and worked in publishing before moving to the film side), explained that after a manuscript is optioned it can take a year, or more, to actually line up a screenwriter to adapt the work. It can take even longer to shuttle a work into production. “It can take years to get [a project] going, and that’s why a lot of books die. Tastes change, current events change, etcetera.”

Maggini added that it can be hard to start with a fresh work that’s been in the market awhile. If a book doesn’t sell before it gets published, or right after, she noted, it can be tough to generate excitement in town. “It’s all about whose attention you can get.”

Palak Patel, v-p of development at Spring Creek Productions, which has a first look deal with Warner Brothers, said that an expired option isn’t always a bad thing and that his company sometimes seeks out projects which are coming back into the market. “We occasionally look for books that sold for a lot four or five years ago that the option is now expired on” in order to get the work for less.

And Wise said that with Lifeftime there is often interest in works that might have gotten passes from the studios. She pointed to the recent hit the net had with The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which hit the airwaves long after the book published.

But Hamilton put it more succinctly: “Things that usually get made get made quickly.” back to top

Obituary: Leda Liounis

Leda Liounis, director of inventory and special projects at Sterling Publishing, passed away on Monday, May 26. She was 45. During her 25 year career, Liounis worked in publishing operations for Wiley, Pocket Books, Golden Books and Random House, and worked in every facet of back-room operations from inventory management to acquisition integration. A service will be held Monday 10 a.m., Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 319 E.74th St., in New York. back to top

Documentary Film Narrates Indie Booksellers’ Struggle

Independent booksellers today live embattled lives, though their battles—against the big chains, the difficult economics of brick and mortar sales in the Internet age, and a culture in which the practice of reading itself often seems threatened—are often fought quietly. Certainly, indie booksellers seem like unlikely subjects for films—until now. “Paperback Dreams,” a one hour documentary screening today at BEA (details below), follows the struggles of two storied Indie Booksellers, Cody’s and Kepler’s, as they adapt to survive in a rapidly changing industry.

“Paperback Dreams” at BEA: Saturday 5/31/08, 1:30-3pm, 511 ABC West Hall, LA Convention Center back to top