Monday, October 09, 2006

Synchronisity Again, The Road, Harlequin, St.Martin's, Publishing News. AbeBooks,

Synchronisity plays a part in my reading again. I recently purchased a copy of Letters from London by Julian Barnes (signed) at The Strand in NYC. Among numerous topics it covers the leadership challenge to Margaret Thatcher. Earlier in 2006, I also plowed through Heseltine's biography and it was interesting to recall his version of events during this time. Anyway, given the current state of the Labor party's convulsions over their leadership issues I thought the following quote from Barnes' book was interesting.

Mrs Thatcher had been removed because enough members of her thought that her domineering dogmatism had become electorially counterproductive. On the other hand, Mr. Major has been the candidate of the outgoing leader and the diehard Thatcherites. So he had to keep the 'Business as Usual' sign in the window while redecorating the place and updating the stock: instead of barbed wire and rifles, the family store would in future sell chocolate bars and liniment.

What of Gordon Brown? Personally, I think they should both go and Labor should take the next year to re-establish a relationship with the electorate with new leadership. It is hard to see Brown elected in his own right.

I purchased Cormac MacCarthy's book The Road last week and there was another positive review in the NYT Book review. While it is bleak, I am looking forward to reading it. Bob Woodward was with Tim Russert yesterday. The administration knives have been out, but the damage has been done. Apparently they produced a list of 'inaccuracies' all of which have been proven out. Meaning Woodward was correct. Russert asked him about Kissenger and he stated Kissenger confirmed that the President speaks with him regularly. The massive ego even suggested it was more frequently than Woodward had in the book; information which was provided by Chaney. Apparently, Chaney called Woodward personally, argued with him and told him 'Bullshit' that his comments were not on the record and hung up on him! How adult. I haven't decided to buy his book yet. It reminds me of the All the President's Men which is one of the best books I recall reading as a teenager. Just the combination of incompetence and arrogance is breathtaking.

News last week from Harlequin and as I have said before it must represent some level of incompetence to allow this company to falter so much. It strains credibility that a company with such a loyal base of customers and potentially large electronic distribution opportunities is laying off staff. Someone needs to buy this company.

Time magazine - which in truth I rarely read - has an article this week about publishers of 'streetlit titles' and their promotional activities designed to reach 'non-traditional' markets. The article makes note of St.Martins Press which is publishing K'wan who has over 400,000 units sold of titles such as Gangsta, Road Dawgz and his latest, Hood Rat. I remember reading about K'wan last year and he is quite the entrepreneur having built his publishing empire by literally hand selling his titles on the street, in barber shops and on street vendor tabletops. Other authors are mentioned in the article. It reminds me of Basquat - spray painting subway cars on his way to making millions as an avant guard artist.

Interesting news in the area of publishing trade magazines. Publishing News (UK) and AuthorLink (US) have created an alliance to "broaden the two entities news and features coverage across the globe." I can't say I am familiar with AuthorLink but I will have to check it out. In the US, Publisher's Weekly has been wandering the proverbial desert attempting with limited success to re-define itself as a trade title with appeal to consumers. Hopeless. Facing declining ad revenue and subscribers - not a healthy combination - they are reinserting some of the trade oriented sections (but not calling them sections) and have also hired a new Publisher. They have also decided to offer the title to retailers for free. That is a big risk - it will be very hard to reconsider that decision. Other subscribers, particularly libraries are likely to be unhappy with their exclusion from this offer.

ABEbooks - which has a stake in - announced that the number of titles available for sale on their site has now exceeded 100million. I don't believe this means unique titles but impressive nevertheless.

I am surprised that more hasn't been said about the Automated Content Access Protocol which I discussed last week. Here is a blog entry from that explains all there is to know about it thusfar.

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