Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lickerish allsorts

While buying some printer paper in W.H. Smith's on Monday (my normal supplier having run out), I noticed that, if you buy the latest Harry there, you can get a special deal on G.P. Taylor's Wormwood. This latter book is also supposed to be part of a seven-book series, and is described by WHS as 'the perfect partner for Harry Potter'.

According to Publishers Lunch, the Taylor book sold 20,000 copies in the first five hours of this offer, which ain't bad. Particularly as Amanda Craig (a leading children's book critic) -- not to mention my modest self -- came to the conclusion that Mr (actually the Reverend Mr) Taylor has a marked under-supply of talent.

Perhaps this success demonstrates the power of prayer.

Errol Lincoln Uys (pronounced Ace) is using the web as a kind of catalogue of his various books, and, more to the point, book proposals. He is then, as he puts it, 'sending out snail-mail invites asking editors and agents to come visit the site and take a byte.' If you are thinking of doing the same, you might take a look and get some ideas.

Uys's book proposals are not open to just any old web visitor, but the professionals who are contacted by mail are given appropriate passwords for entry.

Let's hear it for the old guys. Welsey Carrington Greayer (on bookshelves he comes between Grafton and Grisham) is old enough to have flown missions over Germany in WWII, and at 87 he has produced The Tornado Struck at Midnight.

Wisely or otherwise, Wesley used PublishAmerica to produce his book. I gather that ten copies offered in his local Barnes and Noble sold very quickly. When Wesley alerted PublishAmerica to this, they responded by pointing out that he could get a 50% discount on orders of 100 or more books.

PublishAmerica is not, perhaps, the first place that I would advise writers to go to when searching for a publisher.

If you've got a Chinese girlfriend or boyfriend, the Everyman Library has the perfect birthday present.

* describes itself as 'a new online initiative to get people talking and thinking about books. Developed by Holtzbrinck in Stuttgart and being launched by Macmillan in the English-speaking world, the English-language version has just been rolled out and is currently in beta form. The website is totally not for profit and non-commercial. Lovelybooks lets you create a virtual bookshelf, rate and review books, recommend books and meet new people with similar tastes.'

So. Take a look? As mentioned here a while back, these social-networking sites such as Shelfari et al are said to be the coming thing. Book marketers are very keen on them. Whether they will actually help to sell many books remains to be seen.

Replacing a once-worn hat on my head, I was very interested to see Galleycat's report about experiments in POD et cetera in the university press community.

While buying a loaf of bread yesterday afternoon, I was served by a bloke of about thirty. After handing me my change, he went back to reading a book which was open on the counter in front of him. Being expert in upside-downy, I could see that the running head was Harry Potter.

'Is that the latest?' I enquired.

'Yes,' said my friendly neighbourhood bread man. 'I'm reading it for the second time. It's that good.'

Now -- question: what other book(s) can you think of which would achieve that effect?

Meanwhile, P.J. Parrish concludes (link from M.J. Rose), re the selling-Harry-at-a-loss phenomenon, that 'the book business is just plain whacked-out.'

Dearie, dearie me. Say it ain't so.

If you aren't smart enough to know this already -- and you really ought to be -- then Cory Doctorow, in the Guardian, explains why digital rights management systems are a chimera. (Link from

'DRMs are often designed by ambitious, well-funded consortia, with top-notch engineers from every corner of the industry. They spend millions. They take years. They are defeated in days, for pennies, by hobbyists.'

In similar vein, about the difficulty of trying to prevent things from happening on the internet, Seoul Man has some thoughts on free speech.

Over on Galleycat, James Frey's publisher, Nan Talese, takes a well aimed kick at Oprah Winfrey's ample ass. Worth a few minutes of your time for an insight into how big-time TV operates. What was I saying in my novel last year, and repeating only a few days ago? Everything on TV is faked.


HRV said...

Hi grumpy old bookman,
bumped into your blog while looking to see if i could get a copy of the highfield mole.
must say, wormwood was underwhelming!

Thomas said...

Now -- question: what other book(s) can you think of which would achieve that effect?

Alex Haley's 'Roots': I read this twice, and know others who've read it five or six times.

And if you'll extend the discussion to TV prgrammes, I used to have to watch every episode of the adrenaline filled 'Oz' three times in a row, just to come to terms with what had happened.

Anonymous said...

Now -- question: what other book(s) can you think of which would achieve that effect?

Tolkien's trilogy "Lord of the Rings", Dicken's "Christmas Carol",for most people, and myself, besides the above, have read C.S.Lewis'"Screwtape Letters", Richard Bach's "Illusions:The Reluctant Messiah" and Ernest Bramah's "Kailung's Golden Hours" twice each. The Bramah book(s) are a riot to read.

Anonymous said...

Good for Welsey Greayer, by golly. Beautiful cover, I must say, and sometimes one has to say it's great if it worked for the individual, even if it was (shudder) PublishAmerica.

Unknown said...

An Ernest Bramah fan! I have all the Kai Lung books, but the first three (Wallet, Golden Hours and KL Unrolls His Mat) are the best.

Here's a piece I wrote about Bramah for Million magazine long years ago.

Anonymous said...

In regard to Frey's work, the publisher and the agent deserved to take some flak ---perhaps more than Frey.

From my recollection, Frey originally submitted it as a work of fiction.

Over time, the decision was made by the publisher and everyone else, so rework it as a memoir because it would be more marketable.

Everyone went along with it, never pausing to ask, "is this right?" "what if we get caught?"

While I think Oprah's producers and she herself were responsible for behaving unethically, it's difficult to have any sympathy for Nan Talese.

She deserved what she got.
I'm no fan of Oprah's. She should have shut up when the controversy came out, investigated, and dismissed Frey without all the hoopla.