Monday, April 10, 2006

Notes from the weekend

First kill the lawyers...

...then burn the bookshops. Clive Keeble draws attention to a report from Baghdad about determined attempts to destroy bookshops which sell newspapers.

Heady stuff

Lynne Scanlon has been having breakfast (4 April) with Steve Murphy, who runs Rodale, and has been suggesting to him, very politely, that his business's days are numbered. This is known, I believe, as chutzpah.

The Needle award

Gee and I thought I was keeping up with this stuff. Poddy Girl is a reader who has been searching through the self-published print-on-demand (POD) books of this world, seeing if she could find an overlooked gem. Well, she found two.

One was Brian Agincourt Massey's Morning Glory's Long Lost Order of Worship (literary fiction), published by iUniverse. This was highighted by Poddy Girl as long ago as 15 August 2005. Another is Isn't That Bigamy? (commercial fiction), by Mike Vogel, published by Lulu, and noted on 13 June 2005.

On his own site, Brian Agincourt Massey notes that Poddy had 6,000 nominations to choose from, looked at 1,400, and chose two. Mike Vogel also has his own little corner of the web.

Now you and I, dear reader, may or may not like the look of either of these books. But the point is, there are people out there looking for the good stuff, despite the needle in a haystack model. This is noble work.

Both Needle award winners, by the way, now have agents who are looking after them.

MNW feedback

Boyd Tonkin has a few things to say about the MNW initiative, officially launched last Thursday evening. He demands to be astonished, which is a bit cheeky considering how seldom that happens even with experienced names.

Aviation and photography

UK based? Looking for books on aviation and/or photography? John and Jan Lewis specialise in these topics respectively. They always have hard-copy catalogues available and are open to visits in Alton, Hampshire, by appointment.

Sara Gran has a hard time

Sara Gran is an experienced writer with some reviews that most of us would cheerfully give a couple of teeth for, but even for her life does not go smoothly. To find out what's going on, visit her blog and read the various posts about the fate of Come Closer. (I was led there, incidentally, by Maxine Clarke, who saw references to the situation on Jenny Davidson's Light Reading.)

James Aach

James Aach, and the online publication of his techno-thriller Rad Decision, were noted here on 6 January 2006. Now James has written an interesting set of reflections on publishing's attitude towards techno material on (Link from Maxine Clarke again.)

Elaine Pomm: Edinburgh Knights

If you've finished The Da Vinci Code and want to explore more of the same, you might try Elaine Pomm's Edinburgh Knights. Yes, it is another self-published work (Authorhouse), but why not live dangerously? Available from or

Scott Pack to join The Friday Project

Scott Pack, described by some as the most powerful man in UK publishing, made it known a while back that, of his own volition, he would be leaving Waterstone's and heading for pastures new. Now it has been announced that he will join new publishers The Friday Project. He will have overall responsibility for the Project's commercial strategy.

'Most people know,' says Scott Pack, 'that I am a huge fan of the independent publishing sector. It is where the most imaginative and innovative publishing is happening at the moment and The Friday Project are very much at the forefront of that activity. I can't wait to start on this exciting new adventure but hope someone there knows how to make a decent cup of tea.'

I must say that I find this a very surprising announcement (the first para, not the bit about the tea), and Ihave no doubt that it will generate a fair bit of comment this week.

More Maddox

Publishers Weekly has noticed the Maddox phenomenon and adds a few details re print run et cetera. More to come, I am told, in the NY Times on Thursday.

Even Smaller

Carmel Morgan's new play, Smaller, was discussed here on 20 February 2006. Now it has gone into the West End, and the critics have been taking a look at it. Most of the notices have been OK to reasonable, though not the kind of money notices that set the phones ringing. Jon Peter, of the Sunday Times, however, really didn't like the play at all.

He has nothing against the play, he says, 'except it being in a West End theatre. Any theatre. It’s a half-hour sitcom thinly stretched out as a two-hour play, full of flat, cutesy writing and plodding jokes.... For God's sake,' he concludes, 'no more celebrity theatre.'

Ah yes, you see, but that's what brings in the punters, Jon. As I remarked in the first place.


Kitty said...

I've read Mike Vogel's Isn't It Bigamy? and thought it was quite funny. I was also impressed with the book considering that it was all his own doing, right down to the cover design.

Maxine Clarke said...

Thank you for the mention, not once but twice; it has made my day!

I just love that post by Lynne Scanlon to which you link! The best of everything to her -- chutzpah indeed. I linked to her post, and to another one you might like about some "serious" magazines, at:

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Regarding Maddox, this is a sad day for Amazon. I suggest you take a journey through the comments (the new "Discussion Forum") on Amazon--Maddox has a following of thugs who are posting every conceivable obscenity and making dark threats against anyone who dares question them, thereby insuring they are all that is left to talk. Not unlike the Nazis.

It raises the spectre that anyone with enough money to buy their own books and/or reimburse friends for buying them can rocket to the top of Amazon and thereby get the attention of the Times. Scarier is that abusive people and pimply-faced bloggers are dictating what is said.

Amazon has, as a result of this (and other books I have seen using the same tactic) lost all credibility with me. I have discussed this with Amazon and, according to them, they are helpless to prevent the trash-mouthing or the manipulation of standings.


Anonymous said...

Surprising isn't really the word.

What has Scott Pack done - got in a time machine, gone back ten years and heard about all these nifty new start ups? "The internet is the future!" "You've got to lose money to make money!" "If you don't understand our crazy new ways, that's because you're old!"

I mean, sure, there's lots of good blogs, but the existing publishers seem to have this covered - the Blooker prize list is full of 'em, not one from Friday Books. Surely any web authors with a proper readership are going to do what they've been doing for the last decade: get an agent, and go to a publisher who gives proper advances?

And of all the small companies doing this kind of thing, how uncool to think of Friday Project / Books / Media / whatever they're calling themselves this week. I guess if Pack is new enough to the web to be excited by it, he may not have followed the strange history of this lot: all the launch parties going nowhere, disappearing products, general blundering.

This is funny. So is this.

Or maybe Pack's just bought some of those weird unlisted shares, and is going to make his cash back, sell the assets on and pull a better iron out the fire with some silly stories to tell his grandkids?