The New York Times

Books So Tiny That Unabridged Often Means Unread
April 23, 2013

He browsed the books like a giant looking for something to read. Some were small enough to fit into a fold of his hand. Many of the books were illegibly small, and he didn’t know what they were all about. But reading them was never the point.

Neale Albert, 75, is a collector of miniature books, and he may be the most serious collector living in New York. By definition, miniature books are properly printed and bound, and for the most part no larger than three inches. Mr. Albert has over 4,000 of them, some the size of matchboxes

Copyright Law: We Have Created a Monster. How we did it, and how to work around it.
April 12, 2013

The Supreme Court clarified early in April in Kirtsaeng v Wiley that the “first use” doctrine in copyright law applied to any work lawfully manufactured anywhere in the world and purchased anywhere in the world. This ruling upset many in the publisher world, and relieved many in the library and bookseller world.

First use means that after purchase of a legally manufactured copyrighted work, the user can resell, rent or loan the work without permission of, or royalty payments to, the copyright holder. The used book and library markets, for example, are built on this foundation. Kirtsaeng was purchasing textbooks printed abroad more cheaply and reselling them in the U.S. Wiley lost on its claim that first use should also apply to the first U.S. sale of books manufactured and purchased abroad.

As Scott Turow, President of the Author’s Guild (of which I am a member), saw it in a New York Times op ed on April 7, “The Slow Death of the American Author,” the Kirtsaeng case was only the latest nail in the coffin awaiting authors. It cut off an additional revenue stream, since secondary sales do not pay royalties.

Edward Jay Epstein announces "Annals of Unsolved Crime: The Ultimate Online Q&A," an online interactive series to be powered by Shindig
April 12, 2013

Prize-winning investigative reporter Edward Jay Epstein will speak to true crime fans and conspiracy enthusiasts around the globe through a series of interactive online video chats discussing some of history's most intriguing unsolved crimes, which are the topic of his recent book, The Annals of Unsolved Crime.

The series will comprise an initial six online chats on Tuesdays at 5pm EDT and will be powered by Shindig.com, an interactive platform for large scale video chat events, allowing attendees to enjoy a live talk by a notable personality, share the stage to ask them questions face-to-face or to privately video chat with other participants in the event. "Shindig provides an extraordinary interactive means of directly answering questions provoked by the cases in my book," Epstein said. The discussions will be free, but are limited to the first 800 RSVPs who sign up at: www.mhpbooks.com/unsolvedcrime

Night Shade Books' would-be owners on their controversial deal: "We're the good guys"
April 8, 2013

Night Shade Books has published some of the coolest books of the past several years, but it's also run into financial difficulties. Now Night Shade is trying to sell out to two other entities, in a deal that authors and agents have criticized. We talked to the prospective buyers, and they explained their side of things.

"We're the good guys," insists Jarred Weisfeld with Start Publishing. "We're the ones who are coming in and trying to save something."

In our half-hour phone interview with Weisfeld and his partner in this buyout, Tony Lyons with Skyhorse Publishing, that theme came up several

Chinua Achebe, Nigerian Writer, Dies at 82
March 22, 2013

Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian writer who was one of Africa’s most widely read novelists and one of the continent’s towering men of letters, died on Thursday in Boston. He was 82.

His death was confirmed by his agent in London.

Besides novels, Mr. Achebe’s works included powerful essays and poignant short stories and poems rooted in the countryside and cities of his native Nigeria, before and after independence from British colonial rule. His most memorable fictional characters were buffeted and bewildered by the conflicting pulls of traditional African culture and invasive Western values.

Is There a Formula for an International Bestseller?
March 18, 2013

Books, always, seem to defy expectations. Some are hyped to high heaven and never meet expectations; others surprise. Take the case of Herman Koch’s The Dinner. The Dutch novel, a huge success in Europe, has found itself in the top ten on The New York Times Book Review’s bestseller list for three weeks running.

Like the Times‘s own reviewer, Claire Messud, I had my doubts that the book would resonate with American readers.

Award-Winning Titles from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers to be Offered as Ebooks on Storia
March 14, 2013

Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, today announced an agreement with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, one of the leading publishers of children’s books, to offer a selection of their popular titles on Storia®, the classroom-based, teacher-recommended ereading app for kids. The collection of books, from picture books to young adult novels, will be available for purchase by teachers and parents on Storia, through Scholastic Book Clubs and Scholastic Book Fairs beginning in late Spring 2013.

Too Much At Once: SXSW 2013 Report from the Trenches
March 11, 2013

Arrived in Austin late Saturday night in time for a beautiful, noisy thunderstorm—a sparkling deluge that soaked the parched earth and was welcomed joyously by the grateful natives. It left behind a clear blue sky and a cheerful sun blazing benignly over all these tens of thousands of folks who have flocked to town to grab and probe at the newest and coolest, to wait in line and dash from session to session, to be in the know and be able to say we heard it here first and then to go back to their respective somewheres enriched and inspired.

Truly it is too much to take in at once.

Male Book Reviewers Still Outnumber Female Reviewers at Major Literary Journals
March 4, 2013

VIDA: Women in Literary Arts have released a report entitled “Vida Count 2012″ revealing that male writers still outnumbered female writers in a number of major literary publications last year. Follow this link to see a three-year comparison.

This report tracks the statistics of gender balance among writers published at literary magazines around the country. They also looked at authors reviewed, book reviewers, and interviews at certain publications.

Meet The Advisers
March 1, 2013

What big issues do you see publishers thinking and talking about these days?

You can't toss a conference program without hitting someone talking about "discovery," particularly across online platforms. I wish that the conversation was a bit less driven by talk of metadata (although that matters a lot). Institutions like libraries play a critical role in discovering books, but they have been largely shut out of the digital conversation. That needs to change.