Have you heard about Book: The Sequel (Public Affairs)? Here’s the gist: readers were asked to contribute the first line of a proposed sequel to their favorite book, via a website that was up for about a month. Sounds fun, sounds great. But wait, you also get...the actual book. During a 48-period, beginning the first night of BEA, the submissions were edited, formatted and then published—as a paperback, audiobook, e-book, large print, etc.
OK, but what's the point? That’s a question we put to Rick Joyce, Perseus Books Group’s chief marketing officer, Saturday at BEA during the launch party for Book: The Sequel. Admittedly, we went for the champagne, but came away with much more. As you'll hear, this project wasn't just about beloved books, it's about the future of publishing.
This weekend marked my first BEA experience—and even though reports indicated that attendance was down from past years, you wouldn’t have known it on Friday afternoon at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. The place was absolutely packed and MiChelle and I worried that we might not make it to the BookPage booth with our rolling suitcases, since we headed right from LaGuardia airport to the show (apologies to the several people I inadvertently rolled over).
We did make it to the booth, and we had a great weekend. A lot of interesting people stopped by to say hi, to tell us what they liked about BookPage and to learn more about us. I had a great time meeting with publicists at the various publishing houses to hear about their Fall fiction lists, and I’m really excited to share some great new novels with our readers.
The only disappointment would have to be the lack of galleys available for pickup—or at least that’s how it seemed to me. I heard that in past years BookPage staffers came back with entire suitcases filled with advance reading copies; this year the galleys seemed few and far between. But there were two notable exceptions: Roses by Leila Meacham (on sale in January 2010) and Stardust by Joseph Kanon (on sale in late September).
Grand Central publicists tell me everyone is really excited about Roses, an epic saga that spans the 20th century in a small East Texas town and is being compared to The Thorn Birds. Joseph Kanon was at the Atria booth signing copies of his latest, Stardust, and I was lucky enough to get one inscribed to my Dad! This novel is being pitched as a tale of Hollywood glamour, post-war espionage and family secrets, and Kanon is best known as the author of The Good German.
Once I recover from the weekend, I’m looking forward to digging into both of these novels. Hopefully they will live up to the hype!
While the Internet has been abuzz with news about Dan Brown’s latest novel, The Lost Symbol, for weeks, we thought our Book Case readers might want a bit more on Brown. Years (and several title incarnations) in the making, the long-awaited follow-up to The Da Vinci Code will be released from Doubleday on September 15th, 2009.
When the news of this momentous publication hit the web, The Lost Symbol shot to #1 on Amazon.com almost immediately. And B&N.com is offering pre-order customers a whopping 40% discount. With an unprecedented first printing of five million copies, we’re sure the folks at Doubleday are hoping to break all kinds of pre-order—and overall—sales records.
About The Lost Symbol, Brown’s longtime editor, Jason Kaufman, says, “Nothing ever is as it first appears in a Dan Brown novel. This book’s narrative takes place in a 12-hour period, and from the first page, Dan’s readers will feel the thrill of discovery as they follow Robert Langdon through a masterful and unexpected new landscape. The Lost Symbol is full of surprises.”
While you’re waiting for publication of The Lost Symbol, you can check out Ron Howard’s big screen adaptation of Angels & Demons, the prequel to The Da Vinci Code, which hits theaters nationwide on May 15th. Fan favorite Tom Hanks stars again as Robert Langdon, and this time we’ll watch Landgon track a legendary secret society, the Illuminati, and their connection with the recent murder of renowned physicist.
So which Dan Brown event are you more excited about—the movie of the summer or the bestseller of the fall?
Congratulations to Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, who won the Pulitzer Prize for biography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Meacham told BookPage in an interview last fall that he saw many parallels between Jackson's age and our own. "It's somewhat depressing, actually, to be a journalist who writes history because you realize that everything has happened before," he said. Tennessee bragging rights: Meacham is a native of Chattanooga, and he wrote much of American Lion in his summer house in Sewanee, Tennessee (near his alma mater, the University of the South).
Other Pulitzer winners include Annette Gordon-Reed, who took the History prize for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (BookPage review here); Douglas A. Blackmon, who won in General Nonfiction for Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II; and W.S. Merwin, whose collection The Shadow of Sirius won the Poetry prize.
The somewhat surprising winner in Fiction (at least to us! see prognostication post below) is Elizabeth Strout for Olive Kitteridge. The Pulitzer citation describes the book as "a collection of 13 short stories set in small-town Maine that packs a cumulative emotional wallop, bound together by polished prose and by Olive, the title character, blunt, flawed and fascinating." A 2006 BookPage interview notes Strout's fascination with Maine and her keenly observed portraits of its people. Fiction finalists are The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (BookPage review) and All Souls by Christine Schutt (BookPage review). Book clubs, take note: Olive Kitteridge is already out in paperback, while The Plague of Doves comes out in paperback in May, and All Souls in June.
The London Book Fair kicked off today, with our web editor in attendance. Transatlantic blogging is a bit beyond our tech pay-grade, but we do have these photos from Trisha to share and will report soon on any publishing tidbits she picks up at the show. James Patterson was the headliner for today's events, with a book signing and live interview planned.