Larry Kirshbaum, literary agent and former head of Time Warner book publishing--now Hachette Group--is becoming publisher of Amazon's New York office and will head a new general-interest imprint, according to the Wall Street Journal. He will start in July and likely sell his literary agency, LJK Literary, to employees.
Kirshbaum told the Journal that he will publish both fiction and nonfiction in print and digital editions. "I was trying to find a way to do some publishing as an agent, and I was talking to various people to learn how an agent could best be a publisher as well," he said. "In the end, I realized it was cleaner to do this working for a company totally committed to digital publishing and that has the resources and structure to make this successful."
Amazon has worked with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to distribute print editions of some of its titles to the trade but does not have a standing distribution arrangement with the publisher.
Before the Kirshbaum move, Amazon had five publishing imprints, two of which it launched earlier this month: Montlake Romance, which will publish romantic suspense and contemporary and historic romance novels, as well as fantasy and paranormal, and Thomas & Mercer, which will focus on mysteries and thrillers.
By the way, happy birthday, Larry!
In a story about Liberty Media's $17-a-share bid for Barnes & Noble, the Wall Street Journal reported:
Liberty Media head John Malone "sees the book chain as a bargain and an opportunity to play in what may be a large growth opportunity for e-books" and is "less interested in uniting the bookseller with his disparate array of assets," which include cable networks, satellite TV, home-shopping networks and the Atlanta Braves.
Malone has contacted B&N chairman Len Riggio about the offer, which is contingent on Riggio maintaining his 30% stake in the company and remaining involved in B&N. Riggio has "expressed openness" about working with Liberty Mutual executives.
Liberty Media's offer is the only serious one so far. The process is in the early stages, and the two companies are not yet in exclusive talks.
B&N had originally wanted to sell for at least $20 a share.
B&N first approached Liberty Media about a possible offer last August when the company put itself up for sale. It approached other companies, too.
Dissident shareholder Ron Burkle, who owns 20% of B&N, hasn't communicated with the company since he lost his proxy battle last fall and hasn't commented on the Liberty Media offer.
Malone "built his fortune in the early days of the cable business and is known for his pursuit of complex business deals that often stump investors and help him avoid paying taxes. [He has] acquired, traded and spun assets in myriad media and technology companies over the years, buying them when they're under duress and spinning them off or swapping them as business improved."
The Book Works, Del Mar, Calif., which was founded 35 years ago, is closing this summer. In an e-mail on Saturday entitled "the good fight," Lisa Stefanacci, who has owned the store for the past five years, said, "We're strong in spirit but there's an irritating tangible problem: finances. Sales are not meeting expenses. Why? The answer is in the business section of every newspaper in the country: the recession, Amazon, the digital revolution..."
She called the store "a sacred space in our hearts and in the community," a place that "has always enchanted me and I've had the pleasure of seeing this same effect on thousands of people who have walked through our doors. With its special magic the Book Works stimulates wonder and curiosity, discussion and laughter."
Stefanacci had been a senior staff scientist at the Salk Institute and a regular customer of the store for 16 years, when she bought the Book Works. "I came in as a person with a passion for books who wanted to share that passion with other people, not as a someone with a business to run," she told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "That was a romantic idea, I guess, and too good to be true."
Among efforts to bolster business, the store had remodeled to increase "cross-traffic between the store and the adjoining Pannikin coffee shop"; developed an author series "catering to the region's neuroscience set"; and cut prices.
Sterling Publishing Co. and HarperCollins UK have formed a partnership for Sterling to publish in the U.S. the complete works of Alistair MacLean and Len Deighton, altogether 57 thrillers. Most of the backlist titles of the two authors had been out of print in the U.S.
Early next month, Sterling is releasing 10 MacLean titles, including HMS Ulysses, The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, When Eight Bells Toll and The Lonely Sea. In August it will publish a dozen Deighton titles, including The Ipcress File, Horse Under Water, Funeral in Berlin, Billion-Dollar Brain, Bomber and Declarations of War.
The books will be available in trade paperback and e-book editions. Deighton is writing new introductions to each of his titles.
"Many people there will know of the numerous classic films based on these books, but they won't have seen the original books," said HarperCollins UK Group International Publisher Chris Wold. "There's a huge audience in the U.S. who are in for a real treat."
Tonight, 7-8 p.m. at the Housing Works Bookstore, 126 Crosby St., Melville House and Shelf Awareness host the Indie Booksellers Choice Awards. Comedian/cartoonist/man about town David Rees will present the awards. All are welcome to join the finalists and their publishers!
The "Bookstore Clerks Who Write About It" readings
earlier this month at the Fleeting Pages pop-up bookstore (Shelf Awareness, May
16, 2011), were "hilarious and insightful, painting a varied picture of
bookselling across the U.S. in prose, poetry and fiction," Karen Lillis,
aka Karen the Small Press Librarian, said. Hear the reading online.
Nice milestone: Baker & Taylor is forecasting that Blio, the e-reading software with online storefronts that was developed by K-NFB Reading Technology, will be preloaded on more than 25 million devices distributed in the U.S.
Cool event of the day: in preparation for an appearance by
Rob Penn, author of It's All About the Bike (Bloomsbury), Rakestraw Books in
Danville, Calif., hosted a ride with Penn. Some 20 riders showed up, and the
group rode toward Mt. Diablo for an hour before returning to the store for
Penn's presentation. Bikers (from l.): Jim Maxwell, Rakestraw owner and general manager Michael Barnard, Penn
and Chuck Williams.
Hilarious book trailer of the day: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (Random House). The trailer for the hardcover edition starred James Franco; this one, for the paperback, stars Paul Giamatti as Shteyngart's roommate, who goes with the author to a book club meeting in Shteyngart's honor. The meeting is a super sad love story.
"The perils of reading pregnant": Edan Lepucki offered a "list of non-friendly pregnancy books"
at the Millions, where she observed that anxious friends "don't want me
to read just anything. More than once I've had a person recommend a
book to me, and then say, 'Oh, but don't read it now. Not while you're
pregnant!' Apparently, people's protective urges extend beyond the body
of the mother-to-be, and into her reading life."
"In short, who needs another book about running?"
For NPR's Three Books series, Liz Colville suggested that new memoirs
by three runners "from starkly different backgrounds answer that
question, and prove that there is always something more to say about
this odd and entrancing sport."
Flavorwire showcased vintage foreign and American covers of Jack Kerouac's On the Road,
noting that they range "from the impressionistic to the flat out ugly,
from the sexed-up to the somewhat insensitive (a whiskey bottle for
someone who died of cirrhosis? Really, now)."
Larry Bennett has joined Bookmasters as
president of the international division, where he will focus on expanding the
company's foreign-language book development and distribution in the U.S. and
globally. He was formerly a v-p at Baker & Taylor, managing the digital
print media program. Before that, he was CEO of several startups, one of which
was bought by B&T.