Today we got word from Abrams Books that a Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon will debut in this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. More than 50 million people will watch the parade on TV, in addition to 3.5 million in person—and one lucky reader will win the opportunity to be part of that crowd. A sweepstakes launched today by Abrams will give one winner and three guests a Thanksgiving trip to New York City and VIP grandstand tickets to view the parade.
There are 37 million copies of the Wimpy Kid books in print in the United States alone, and I know many readers are getting very excited for the Nov. 9 release of Jeff Kinney's fifth book in the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth.
BookPage will mark the occasion with an interview in our November print edition. Contributor Alice Cary recently talked to Kinney at his home in Massachusetts, and though you can't read her full report just yet, she gave us a preview of her visit and shared a few BookPage-exclusive photos.
I headed to southern Massachusetts a few days ago to visit Diary of a Wimpy Kid author/illustrator Jeff Kinney. Five million copies of his new book, The Ugly Truth, will hit stores in November, prompting much excitement among fans—and great secrecy from Kinney’s publisher, Abrams, about the contents of the book.
Despite all of this fame and buildup, Jeff Kinney seems to be the nicest, most relaxed guy you'll ever meet. CNN was expected later in the day to film him, but Jeff appeared to have all the time in the world to visit with me. He admits that, at times, all the hoopla around his books doesn't feel real, and he certainly had some interesting stories to share.
All photos (c) copyright 2010 Alice Cary.
Jeff Kinney draws on the tablet in his hands, and Greg H. appears on his computer screen.
Kinney at his office desk, where he works. The walls are purposely bare so he won't be distracted.
Kinney in his office. The closet contains a lot of drawing pads!
(That's what those stacks are near his hand.)
Kinney signing books in his office. This is the spot where he sits for hours to think up ideas for the books.
Who is excited for The Ugly Truth?!
Also in BookPage: Check out our illustrated Q&A with Jeff Kinney.
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Here at BookPage, we follow an industry database of book deals called Publishers Marketplace. Deals run from obscure foreign rights to multi-million dollar film deals, highly-anticipated literary novels, celebrity memoirs and more. It's always interesting to start the day by checking up on the latest deals, and it's a thrill to learn that a favorite author has a new book in the works.
The past few days have brought news of four novels that will be popular for very different reasons:
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi of Jersey Shore will write a novel. Yep, you read right—a novel. By Snooki. The same Snooki who told New York Times writer Cathy Horyn that she's only read two books in her life: Twilight and Dear John. (Not that I have anything against Stephenie Meyer and Nicholas Sparks. But two books in her life?) Snooki's novel will be titled A Shore Thing, and according to Publishers Marketplace it's about "a girl looking for love on the boardwalk (one full of big hair, dark tans, and fights galore)." Simon & Schuster's Gallery will publish the novel in January 2011.
Kiran Desai, the Booker Prize-winning author of The Inheritance of Loss, has signed a deal to write a novel called The Loneliness of Sonia and Sunny. Knopf's Sonny Mehta reportedly paid $2.5 million for the book—on the basis of a four-page manuscript! Even if you're not a big follower of industry news, you probably know that huge advances for literary novels are few and far between these days, so this is major news—particularly in the wake of a Wall Street Journal article about low advances for literary authors in the e-book market.
Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, will publish another novel in 2013. Bill Thomas of Doubleday bought the novel, along with a short-story collection, for six figures. BookPage's Stephenie Harrison interviewed Bender for our June issue and called her novel a "literary confection" filled with "the foreign and the fantastic."
Jonathan Lethem, author of (most recently) Chronic City and the NBCC award-winning Motherless Brooklyn, will publish a new novel titled Dissident Gardens. This one's "a family epic spanning three generations of American leftists, set in the real-life neighborhood of Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, about the disillusionment ideology brings." Lethem will also publish a collection called The Ecstasy of Influence: "part autobiography, part manifesto for past and present work, and part 'greatest hits' and 'lesser-known b-sides'."Doubleday's Thomas bought Lethem's works, as well.
As you can tell, it's been a busy week for fiction deals. Are you appalled by the thought of Snooki's novel—or curious? Eager for more news on the details of Desai's proposal? Looking forward to Lethem and Bender?
Today we have a guest post from Freddie O'Connell, web guru extraordinaire who is hard at work on a bigger, better BookPage.com version 2.0, coming to your browser in 2011. We asked Freddie to share a little bit about his experience working on literary sites with our readers.
I am an unabashed lover of books. My shelves at home are literally overflowing. I have, on occasion, sought professional safe haven among books, working for a time at Davis-Kidd when on temporary furlough in the aftermath of the dotcom collapse. Shortly thereafter, I went to work for NetCentral, the e-commerce subsidiary of Books-A-Million. And now, I'm excited that we're working closely with BookPage on a variety of projects. Just as exciting has been our completely unrelated relationship with some exciting debut authors.
So, as an agency, we've been immersed in thinking about how readers discover books online but also how writers think about communicating about their writing to audiences online. And as an agency that focuses on our customers getting found, we must think about the way the ecosystem of sites around authors and books and book recommendation services like BookPage are engaging with their content.
In our extended collaboration with Adam Ross, author of the remarkable Mr. Peanut, we encouraged him to think about his website as a place to include a book equivalent of DVD extras, which he did naturally. So the site includes a beautiful elaboration of the Sam Sheppard case for curious readers, as well as a gallery of unused and international covers of the book. And he also took naturally to blogging and Twitter.
After launching Adam's site, we watched in awe the rise of a writer who had written the book that everyone wanted to write about. Not all critics unconditionally loved Mr. Peanut, but they unconditionally wanted to express their thoughts. So we had a few Google Alerts configured to help us track the buzz about the book on the Web, and we quickly realized how haphazard the modern editorial process is for content sites the world over, some of whom link to Amazon as affiliates, some of whom link to the publisher page for the book, a few of whom were enterprising enough to link to Adam's site directly, and some of whom link to nothing at all. As an agency that wants our customers to be easily discovered (whether by link or by search engine, many of the latter of which rely on the former), we think about these issues all the time. In this case, we've achieved good success, ensuring that Adam's site is reliably on the first page of Google search results for people searching for [adam ross].
We were thrilled when, not long after the release of Mr. Peanut and the launch of Adam's website, we were approached by Natasha Vargas-Cooper who loved Adam's site (and his book) and wanted us to create a site for her book Mad Men Unbuttoned, which is a series of essays drawn from moments in the show that elaborate on the cultural indicators to which they're clearly or likely attached in some way. Natasha reaffirmed that what was true for a fiction writer like Adam is true for nonfiction writers as well: good writers are a pleasure to work with because they're constantly thinking about the process of communicating. It didn't hurt that Helen Stevens, our Chief Semantic Stylist who gives visual life to our ideas, was already enamored of the show. She quickly captured a style that suited Natasha and her book delightfully.
One of our ongoing challenges with Natasha, though, is that she already had a blog, The Footnotes of Mad Men, that inspired the book. So when people are linking to referential material, should they link to the blog or the book site? This gets at one of the overall challenges of link building for multiple points of relevant content. Rich content sites, including news and reviews sites, aren't often structured to facilitate easily managed and usable related content. We'll be covering the topic of how there is no standard or protocol for linking readers to related information on our own blog soon.
And now we're deeply immersed in making the BookPage experience a more rewarding experience for those who love to read. We need to ensure that our friends at BookPage can deliver a fresh and meaningful experience to those arriving at the front page while still ensuring that longtime readers can discover gems from among the deep and extensive archives of reviews and recommendations compiled over more than a decade of being online. Beyond that, we need to include ways for you to interact with this rich repository of material.
So we have a ceaseless and ceaselessly interesting flow of ideas coming from the writers we work with, those who recommend the best elements of their writing, and those who love to read the written word. This is made perpetually challenging, too, by the march of technology, which gave us first the Kindle and then the iPad, possibly upending Steve Jobs's observation that "people don't read anymore." We expect that the concept of the book will evolve, and we'll need to evolve our strategies for usable, discoverable access to books along with it.
We want you to discover the book recommendation service that will help you discover your next great book, no matter how you'll be reading it. So by all means, keep reading!
In February I posted about the Coen Brothers' adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel True Grit. Yesterday, Paramount released the first trailer—and I gotta admit, I'm pumped. (I was skeptical about the choice to cast a non-Southerner as Mattie Ross, but it looks like Hailee Steinfeld can hold her own.) What do you think? The movie comes out on December 25, 2010.
From Never Let Me Go to The Social Network to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I to True Grit, fall 2010 is packed with book-to-film adaptations. Which movie are you most excited about?
The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
Pamela Dorman • $26.95 • ISBN 9780670022403
On sale January 10, 2011
In this excerpt, Karen has just met and agreed to tutor the captivating Biba, sister to Rex, and they've gone to seal the deal in the university bar. Kelly sets the scene while maintaining suspense, never letting the reader forget that the book is moving toward a dark revelation:
"Can you buy a bottle of red, darling? A Merlot if they've got it," she said, and I wondered how someone whose voice and bag suggested an expensive education and a credit card could be too poor to afford student bar prices. "It's so much cheaper than by the glass, and we won't have to keep going to the bar." Red wine had always given me headaches, but I ordered it then, and because Biba and Rex drank little else, I trained myself to like it that summer. I have never had a sip of it since, though. For me, the bouquet of rich red wine is now indivisible from another smell, metallic and warm and meaty all at once, one that summons up a slideshow of frozen images in my mind like a series of photographs in a police incident room.
Kevin Brockmeier is something of a writer's writer—his two adult novels and two short story collections have generated a lot of critical buzz and solid sales, but despite being deemed one of the best young American novelists by Granta in 2007—and one of the best debut novelists of 2003 by BookPage—he's far from a household name. Maybe that will change this February with the release of The Illumination (Pantheon), a third novel that once again imbues life as we know it with a dash of magic.
From the publisher:
What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us? In the aftermath of a fatal car accident, a private journal of love notes written by a husband to his wife passes into the keeping of a hospital patient, and from there through the hands of five other suffering people, touching each of them uniquely. I love the soft blue veins on your wrist. I love your lopsided smile. I love watching TV and shelling sunflower seeds with you.
The six recipients—a data analyst, a photojour nalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor—inhabit an acutely observed, beautifully familiar yet particularly strange universe, as only Kevin Brockmeier could imagine it: a world in which human pain is expressed as illumination, so that one’s wounds glitter, fluoresce, and blaze with light.
First, I think I'll re-read John Updike's "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" as it's the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams' last at-bat—and his famous final home run, when "the ball seemed less an object in flight than the tip of a towering, motionless construct, like the Eiffel Tower or the Tappan Zee Bridge." (My favorite line: "All baseball fans believe in miracles; the question is, how many do you believe in?")
In celebration of this essay, first published in the October 22, 1960, issue of The New Yorker, the Library of America has released a special commemorative book which includes an autobiographical preface and an afterword written by Updike. The book was prepared just months before Updike's death in January of 2009. For more on the significance of this essay—considered to be the best baseball essay ever—see this nice tribute in Saturday's New York Times.
In other baseball news, Ken Burns' The Tenth Inning premieres tonight on PBS. The documentary covers the period from the 1994 strike through the 2008 season and is the first chapter in Burns' Baseball series since 1994.
What are your favorite books/essays/documentaries about baseball?
Forever, the final book in Maggie Stiefvater's best-selling Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, doesn't come out until July 12, 2011—but yesterday the jacket was unveiled on Scholastic's blog and Steifvater's LiveJournal:
Christopher Stengel, Associate Art Director of Scholastic, has designed all three jackets in the trilogy. (I'm a big fan of his work; he also designed for Francisco X. Stork's Marcelo in the Real World.) Back in July, when Linger was released, Stiefvater interviewed Stengel about the process of designing the jackets. If you're a fan of the trilogy (or graphic design), the Q&A is worth a read. Here's an excerpt—a quote on why Stengel's concept did not include photos:
Sometimes photography is the correct approach for a certain book depending on the age range and content, and other times, an iconic and graphic direction is needed. It's a matter of picking the right tool(s) for the job, I guess. While Shiver may be a YA title, it felt like it truly deserved to be set apart from the many photo-based covers on the shelves.
Sena Jeter Naslund is the author of Ahab's Wife and five other novels. Her latest, Adam & Eve, comes out today.
In a Q&A with BookPage, Naslund describes Adam & Eve as "a story of genesis set in 2020, in a half-mythical Eden. My Adam and Eve re-create themselves, given a world where violence and war are the snakes in the garden." [Continue reading this interview.]
Naslund shares more about her book in this trailer—including why she chose to use an ampersand in the title and why literature is empowering:
Will you read this novel?
Many of you are already subscribers to BookPageXTRA, the most popular of our three e-newsletters—today, we're inviting you to be contributors as well. For those not in the know, XTRA comes out twice a month and includes previews of the print edition of BookPage, exclusive reviews and interviews, editors' picks and lots and lots of book recommendations. We also give away books in each issue. Here's a sample of the most recent edition.
Next week's XTRA is all about social media—and how BookPage communicates with booklovers and spreads the word about new books through this blog, Facebook, Twitter and more. Of course, we have our own ideas about how all this works, but we'd love to share yours as well. To contribute, just answer any or all of the questions below in the comments.
Why do you like reading book blogs?
What books or authors have you discovered from book blogs, Facebook fan pages, etc.?
Have you connected with other readers thanks to book blogs? Why are these relationships important to you?
We will choose several comments for inclusion in the newsletter (and we'll only include your first name).
Can't wait to read your comments!