Welcome to the blog of the Consulting Editors Alliance. This is our forum for sharing views on the wonderful, bizarre, enormously frustrating and satisfying (depends on the day) world of book publishing and our roles in it as freelance editors, writing collaborators, and ghostwriters. Please join the conversation!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Why Is Someone Else In My Book's Author Photo?"

Check out this story from Salon to read about one of the weirdest publishing snafus I've ever heard about (and believe me I've heard about quite a few).

Incidentally if any of the publishers I work with is looking for a new photo of me to use on a forthcoming book, I'd suggest the shot to the left.  It might generate a few extra sales . . . 

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Big Seven

re the back and forth between Karl and Toni about allowing consumers to vote on covers--Galley Cat reports that author Max Barry has convinced his publisher to allow the Reddit community to vote on cover for his latest book.

While this is not what we seem to be now referring to as the big six, it is a step towards democratic selection.

More important-How do we feel about Amazon hiring Larry Kirschbaum, the world's greatest publisher, to head their publishing group? I think this means that we will have a big seven. I wonder if the publishing arm will start to interfere with what Create Space and other printers put on their site? Hmmmm-Frankly, this worries me -- it feels like a blow to the Indie Publishing movement. But it probably is time to do some sort of weeding.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Only Advertisement Most Books Ever Get

I enjoyed the feature in the Times Book Review last week showing rejected book cover designs, but this version is so much better, since it presents the "winning" designs alongside for easy comparison.

The next logical step: Publishers should present two or three alternative designs online and let prospective readers choose their favorite.  Better still, the publisher could count the "votes" by inviting readers to click on book covers for more information or to pre-order the title.  The image that draws the most clicks would be the one to get printed.

This is such an obvious use of social media that I am baffled as to why it hasn't already been done.  Unless it has, in which case I would love to hear about it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why Go To A Bricks-and-Mortar Bookstore? Here's A Reason

Sign of the times: This afteroon I went to my nearest physical bookstore (a Barnes & Noble fifteen minutes away from my home by car) for the first time in months. And why did I make the trip? Because the author of a book I'm editing wanted to quote a passage from a book she'd read on her Kindle--which meant she didn't know the number of the page on which the passage appeared. So I volunteered to drive to B&N to look at a printed copy of George W. Bush's Decision Points and ascertain that the endnote should refer to page 427.

Which proves I guess that you can't do everything on Amazon.  Yet.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Next-Generation E-Book

Wow--you need to check out this presentation by Mike Matas of the interaction digital book for iPad and iPhone that he and his creative team have developed.  And be sure to watch the last thirty seconds of the four-and-a-half minute video, in which Matas explains the business model.  We live in exciting times.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Let's Debate In The Public Square, Not In The Courtroom

Whatever you think of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Zionism, apartheid, or former president Jimmy Carter, the rebuff to the lawsuit against him over alleged "falsehoods and misrepresentations" in his controversial book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is unalloyed good news.  (Full disclosure: I am not unbiased in this matter since I have worked with President Carter and am an admirer of his, though of course I don't agree with everything he has ever written or said.)

Can anyone really imagine that the public debate over tough issues like the road to peace in the Middle East would be improved by the prospect of having every controversial book become the subject of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Bookish Is Coming

And what is Bookish? you ask.  It's a new social networking website, launching this summer, that will be built around the book reading experience, with members sharing their favorite reads, garnering recommendations based on their past preferences, getting news about authors, and so on.  Think of a literary version of Pandora, one that provides links to books for avid readers rather than links to audio files for music fans.

Sounds like a good idea if it is done well.  And the resources and connections will be there to support it, since Arianna Huffington's AOL, Hachette, Penguin, and Simon and Schuster are all behind it, as this press release explains.

Full disclosure: A close family friend has been part of the team working part-time to help create Bookish for the last few weeks.  Much to my frustration he has been utterly faithful to his non-disclosure agreement and so today is the first time I've even heard the name of the furshlugginer thing.  But I promise the minute he is authorized to disclose anything more the readers of this blog will be among the first to hear it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

University Press Publishing: "This Is Madness"

Under the headline "Adventures in Deadweight Loss," blogger Matt Yglesias laments the nonsensical economics of academic publishing, citing the case of an important new book on political philosophy that is priced on Amazon--with a discount!--at $82.40. Key quote: "I do wish people working in the academic world would think a bit harder about this economic/scholarly model. Professors employed at research universities are getting public and charitable funding because we think the production and dissemination of knowledge is important. That means it’s important to think about what’s actually a good way of disseminating knowledge."

Amen.  Here's how the university press "model" has been described by one expert: "We publish the smallest editions at the greatest cost, and on these we place the highest prices and then we try to market them to the people who can least afford them.  This is madness."

Who said it?  Chester Kerr of Yale University Press.  And when did he say it?  In a once-famous report about university presses . . . published in 1949.

La plus ca change, etc. etc.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Marketing Books at the Bronx Zoo

Visited the Bronx Zoo with the grandkids on a beautiful spring Saturday and encountered commercial giveaways and promotions for a variety of businesses and products, from Fisher-Price toys and Chevy Volt cars to New York Life insurance and Stonyfield Farms yogurt . . . as well as books.  The Zoo is working with publishers to publicize children's books on animal themes, including a recent alphabet book by our artist friend Matt Van Fleet.

Can't help having mixed feelings about it all.  On the one hand, it's annoying to find the capitalist urge pushing its way to the forefront of yet another once-noncommercial public institution.  On the other hand, if kids are going to be indoctrinated into buying stuff, I'd rather have it be books than most other things.