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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
Sweet 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
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
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.
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-
You know those days that surprise you, that appear out of no where (or, in this case, a rare 60 degree day with sunshine) that just make you appreciate where you are and just happy? I’ve been lucky enough to have one of those days today.
It started with my first-time visit to this amazing coffee shop… For those of you in my neighborhood, I urge you to try the ING Cafe at Chestnut and Wabash (Gold Coast), where coffee, tea, bottled water and even muffins are available for only $1! Then I had time to peruse the internet and get a little productivity in before my pilates class, at which there was a wonderful new instructor who, while laughing at my lack of coordination really was encouraging and helpful.
Had I already mentioned the 60 degree weather? So I donned my sunglasses and headed downtown to take a look at the relatively new Chicago Publishers Gallery, located in the Cultural Center (77 E. Randolph St.).
An impressive place (even just the Cultural Center itself was worth the trip), I was thrilled with the offerings, took out my nerdy little notebook and started taking notes on publishers and books to research further. The Gallery consists of two cozy areas on either side of a grand staircase, with comfy leather chairs and soft lighting, making a very inviting area.
For me, the experience was doubly important as I was impressed by the tangible displays of the publishing industry in Chicago. True, there were no Random House or HarperCollins imprints, but the quantity and quality of books available was a welcoming sight to see.
After making note of the books I couldn’t wait to read, I headed straight for my favorite new and used book store, After-Words (23 E. Illinois St.). Amazingly enough, they had both books I wanted (and used, so cheap!) – I was able to pick up a collection of Mike Royko’s columns and “Alpana Pours” for just over $20. I am already looking forward to reviewing both of these Chicago-published books, so keep coming back!
Now, on for what will hopefully continue to be a wonderful Friday. Happy Weeked, everyone!
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.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org. THANKS!