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Cover Blurb:  “Treat yourself to this book, please–I can’t recommend it highly enough.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society BookSweet but never boring.  Intense but never overdone.  Inspiring but never preaching.  Loving but never raunchy.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a rare novel, one that comes into our life without a sound, but leaves having made an imprint on our soul.

Such an odd, cumbersome title, and one that may have never appealed to me personally except Random House professionals, Susan Kamil, SVP, Editor-in-Chief, and Jane Von Mehren, VP, Publisher, Trade Paperbacks, came to my NYU SPI class to share their experience and the road to success.  This title is globally recognized as this book has been on the New York Times Bestseller List since publication in 2008 (read the inside story of how it achieved such fame in my column on Beneath the Cover, “The Making of a Bestseller”).  Small in stature (the trade paperback a mere 274 pages), this book may initially be cast-off as a whimsical historical fiction novel until you try to put it down… I dare you to leave it untouched for a full 24-hours once you’ve begun.

The characters are lively, quirky, and lovable as they communicate via hand-written letters in 1946, as they rediscover themselves and their world post the trauma and impact of World War II.  You find yourself wanting novelist Juliet Ashton as your own pen pal and quiet Dawsey Adams as a neighbor.  Twists and turns are discrete and natural so that you almost don’t realize when a revelation occurs and the impact in the character’s life.

This novel celebrates people who love books and the written word.  Text, language and history are embraced within remarkable friendships.

Though the era has passed, issues of love, hope, and the kindness of the human spirit will always be timeless and this book (I wager) is destined to become a classic alongside the titles of the authors celebrated in the text, including the Brontes, Austen, Shakespeare, etc… This book  appeals to a wide audience, as it is told from multiple perspectives allowing a glimpse into different psyches.  I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert’s quote, above, to give yourself the gift of this book.

  • NovelWhore’s Grade: A
  • Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  • Author: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • Publisher: Random House
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A half-century length career in book publishing is my dream, and Jason Epstein is the icon and achiever of this goal.

Epstein is kind enough to expel his knowledge and experience of the publishing industry in his professional memoir, Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future.  While catered toward the niche group of people interested in book publishing, this is also a wonderful tale of history and the way relationships with books have evolved throughout the 1900s.

This iconic career began when Epstein stumbled across an editorial position

Epstein sharing his knowledge in 2009

Epstein sharing his knowledge in 2009

with Doubleday in his early 20s (and I do mean stumbled, he claims to have known nothing about publishing at the time when the opportunity was offered him), during which he repeatedly said he was ready to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice, though he ended up staying there a decade.  Within that decade he was the man responsible for the invention of Anchor Books – the imprint responsible for the “quality paperback” book, which made literature more affordable for the masses as opposed to the superior quality, expensive hard cover novels.

After that success, Epstein moved over to Random House, now the world’s largest trade publisher.  When Epstein first made the career transition Random House was a family-style business located within the wing of one New York mansion, in which he tells tales of famous authors delivering manuscripts in slippers and spending the night on couches (and not always alone!).

Epstein is a big-picture businessman.  Able to look at book publishing from the editorial and quality of literature angle, as well as the ability to envision new venues for sales and marketing, he is a man I would trust to carry a book from conception to success.

Responsible for numerous advances in the publishing industry throughout his career, Epstein was among the first to embrace the online retail giant in its struggling years, Amazon (ironically he found fault with Amazon’s business model, which has boomed since the publication of this memoir in 2001).  This enlightening book, surprisingly small in statue considering the wealth of information contained within, cites book publishing to be on the edge of a vast transformation, in which I see future opportunities without bounds.

Since this publication, Epstein has capitalized on some of his own visions mentioned.

Espresso Book Machine - visit ondemandbooks.com

Espresso Book Machine: ondemandbooks.com

In 2004, he launched “OnDemandBooks.”  With yet another invention on his repertoire, the “Espresso Book Machine” is available at locations throughout the United States, Canada and England for on-demand, affordable printing of books

Read this if: You’re interested in hearing  a behind the scenes tale from a publishing great, and how the industry has changed in a mere 50 years and the how the transformation may continue.

Avoid this if: You’re looking for a raucous tale filled with gossip and dirt on some of the most respected authors.  This is not a tell-all, but a memoir of an accomplished career.

  • Title: Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future
  • Author: Jason Epstein
  • Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
  • NovelWhore’s Grade: A-

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed on and digested.” ~Francis Bacon

…Currently in the midst of trying to write up two intense, very different books, and feeling a little stuck (aka, “digesting” these novels).

Stay tuned: “Lolita” and “When Corruption Was King” will (hopefully) be coming soon…

Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, has acquired Ten Speed Press out of Berkeley, California for an undisclosed cost.  Ten Speed Press is a small publisher of non-fiction titles, such as “What Color is Your Parachute” and “The Moosewood Cookbook”.

The full article is available from WSJ online here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123595334003305307.html?mod=rss_Deals_and_Deal_Makers

There is still hope for book publishing!

Thoughts, insights, experiences to share?

I’ve researched the Random House Associates Program and am quite interested (as in obsessed) in the opportunity, though I would like to hear more about it first-hand.

Random House in NYC

Random House in NYC

I think it is geared towards graduating college students, whereas I already have about two years of solid agency experience and wonder if it would be a waste of time when I feel as if I have the ability to jump right in to a full-time position? But it’s Random House, and as the largest general trade publisher in the WORLD it might be worth it!?!

A second worry is with the way this economy is going there is even a smaller likelihood that a full-time job would be available at the end of the program in July 2010… I need help!

If you have any experience with the Associates Program, or Random House in general please please contact me – novelwhore@gmail.com.  THANKS!

Below is an interesting article about the latest venture in the publishing world, a partnership with James Patterson (who I think is a B-list author at best, I am often surprised by how well his mediocre thrillers perform), Borders and RandomHouse.

An interesting concept given that all 29 participating “guest” authors undoubtebly have a unique writing style, I am curious as to how well the chapters will mesh.

While much more a promotional idea than a money-making venture (or so I would assume), the companies and individuals involved seem to be enjoying free publicity, so I wonder if their only goal has already been achieved…

patterson-chain-thrillerFull Article:

It was about a year ago that Pandora—the first community-sourced thriller from book collaboration site WEbook—was officially released. Pandora features the work of 17 different authors, and now a similar project from Random House and Borders Australia aims to combine the work of 29 authors in what it calls the world’s first chain novel. Best-selling crime author James Patterson will write the first and last chapters of AirBorne, a 30-chapter thriller that will be released one chapter at a time beginning next month. For those in between, Borders and Random House held a contest to find 28 writers who could each create a fast-paced and thrilling chapter in less than 750 words. The contest closed on Sunday, and now judges are in the process of selecting the winners, each of whom will receive a copy of the finished book; one lucky author will also get a one-on-one master class by phone with Patterson himself. Once completed, AirBorne will be released one chapter at a time beginning on 20 March. Readers will be able to download each chapter electronically, but the final book will be published in print only for participants in the competition, according to digitalOZ. Meanwhile, one aspiring collaborator’s entry is posted online. Though clearly being held primarily for promotional purposes, the AirBorne competition makes smart use of Generation C’s wild enthusiasm for creating content of every kind. As the saying goes, the pen is mightier than the sword—or, in this case, the mass-market ad campaign! 😉

Website: http://www.borders.com.au/chain-thriller/

Contact: http://www.borders.com.au/customer-enquiry-form.asp

Source:  Springwise, February, 18, 2009

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