Never has the phrase You can't make this stuff up been more appropriate. As we arrived in the UK last week there was heavy news reporting about the last days on Litvinenco. (At this point barely a ripple on the US networks). Unless the authorities were keeping it quiet, the whole radiation thing only started to come out after the poor bloke was dead. My thoughts firstly were how did the stuff get here? Well, now BA are finding the stuff in multiple planes and this is weird not because it may have been transported via plane but why as many as three planes? I can see two planes - outbound and in-bound but what's with the third? Perhaps more than one carrier just to double the chances that some would reach the intended target? If so, where's the extra? My second subsequent thought was that this guy lay in hospital for three weeks before he died and we then found out he had radiation poisoning. What does this say about London's readiness to identify a more serious outbreak of anything? On this kind of schedule we will all be dead.
Back to publishing...
The Houghton Mifflin deal was agreed this week with executive positions announced. As the news reports pointed out the equity firms which purchased the company a few years have made a very nice return on thier investment. More from The Australian on the riches brought forth.
Proquest have completed the divesture of their electronic parts catalog business to Snap-On tools. I suspect Snap On sees a huge opportunity in building a e-commerce business based on this data. Coupled with the large community represented by the Proquest sales channel of over 33,000 dealers. Proquest recieves mostly cash for the deal. Earlier this year Proquest announced some accounting irregularities but stressed they did not impede the business.
Wolters Kluwer announced better than expected results this week and this article from Forbes on publishing deals notes that the WK educational unit may be put up for sale. Apparently they have had some expressions of interest. I have heard this unit has been a little problematic for them; generally legal, tax, regulatory, medical and nursing titles.
Indigo books announced a program with iUniverse which is similar to the program iUniverse has with Barnes & Noble. The program enables iUniverse authors to have a presence on front of store displays. The titles have to meet certain commercial criteria.
For the aging generation - thankfully not me yet - Harpercollins has launched a 'luxe' large print program. Named HarperLuxe, they aim to raise the standard of typical large print titles. Look for others to follow-on. I always liked the large print publisher market which used to be 'dominated' by GK Hall and Thorndyke. When Macmillan was collapsing I had a thought of acquiring G.K. Hall. A little issue of money reduced this to little more than a thought.
I had a hand in this implementation at Bowker - made the go ahead decision and signed the contract. On occaision I demo the interface; however, it sits behind a subscription wall so it is not easy to get to. To get an idea what this interface looks like go here and type 'suspense' in the search box. By the way, Queens Public is one of the more innovative library systems in the nation and also has one of the most diverse population served.
If you were doubting your sartorial sensibility then this article from The Age (my one-time home newspaper) on a flood of new titles for those needing a refresher on 'manners' and 'dress code'. That would be me. I am closer to the loin cloth type - see the article.
There were a few best of lists this week but here is a different take from Forbes magazine which asked a list of reputable media types what books mean to them and the title of the last significant book they read. I liked the gorgeous Suzanne Somers the best.
New York Times best of 2006. and the Kirkus' reviews of said titles.
Publisher's Weekly (Glad to see George Pelecanos and Cormac McCarthy on their list)
Amazon.co.uk (Interesting selection - click on fiction for more)
Amazon.com (I just started The Emperors Children which is on this list)
The Observer - The Great and the Good note their best 2006 picks.