Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rep Night Catch Up--Here's #3, with Penguin Adult and Kids, Perseus/PGW, and Random House Blue (Crown and Random House Groups).

Can it be two weeks since we had our rep night on October 23?  Indeed it has.  We had four publisher reps present to Next Chapter, Books and Company, and Boswell, just hours after our event with Jeffrey Eugenides. It feels like just yesterday, but also in some ways, like a year ago. That said, holiday gift ideas must be presented, though I've forgotten the order in which the reps spoke. Does it matter? Hey, if Edmund de Waal (yes, I'm already thinking about my next post) can recreate conversations from the 19th century, I can certainly paraphrase a few comments. Here are some choice selections, about three to four from each rep.

John H. from Random House has a very strong fall, with a number of titles out and several more to come. John's the first person to talk about Diane Keaton's Then Again (that would be David Ebershoff, the editor/author who stopped by over the summer), and he won't be the last. Keaton's biography is said to read more like a literary memoir than a conversation that resulted from two hours with the "as told to" partner. It's not just a film chronicle, but a mother/daughter story as well.

It's not easy to sell art and photography books in a bookstore nowadays, unless you limit accessibility, you have to worry about dirty-handed browsers. They are often above the price point that triggers many customers rush to the A-word.  That said, Leibovitz has often been an exception, and her new collection, Pilgrimage, will spark extra interest as there are new humans in the photos!

Tension City, by Jim Lehrer, is a memoir that you might put in the long-awaited category. It's an informative history of presidential debates from "the guy who was in the driver's seat for most of them." Next Chapter's Geoff echoed the positive sentiment.

And Death in the City of Light is David King's narrative history of a prolific serial killer in Paris during the Nazi occupation.  Jason, who read this, also gave thumbs up. It's for folks who read Devil in the White City, particularly those who enjoyed the serial killer angle over the urban planning part.

Betty at PGW/Perseus has been our rep for a few years after a long gap. I remember when she sold David Schwartz, and gave us this program from Doubleday/Dell, where we would sign up for certain lead titles each month to have pre-determined order quantities. I remember these visuals of piles of books. And before that, we had this guy who I only met once, and could only talk about how great The Firm was  As this all happened pre-release, he apparently had a good eye. Isn't it odd how you get fixated on these little details?

But that is long ago, now her bag of goodies is large an assorted, like a very, very, very, very big Whitman's Sampler that has flavors you'd ever want to eat, many that you've never heard of, but look delicious, and just a few that sound like those unpleasant jellybeans in Harry Potter. But perhaps this box's salted caramel is Lily Tuck's I Married You for Happiness. It's a portrait of a 42-year marriage, and what happens when the husband goes into cardiac arrest. If you read her National Book Award winning The News from Paraguay, you'll recall her writing style of layered recollections. There's plot and character too, but Tuck (I don't know where the original "Berg" came from) is most definitely a language writer.

Melvyn Bragg's The Book of Books is a celebration of the 400-year anniversary of the King James Bible. Booklist notes that Bragg "greatly values the book for its impact on the human worlds of culture and politics." 

We do very well with books on bicycling, at least of late, and New World Library has On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life, an anthology edited by Amy Walker, a cofounder of Momentum magazine.

I obviously was not able to keep my chocolate metaphor going, but can still mention Choclatique, by Ed Engoron, a luscious collection by a California chocolatier. I guess it's all about starting with a good ganache, isn't it?
Penguin has some high-profile kids books this fall, including The Artist who Painted a Blue Horse, by Eric Carle. Our rep Alex noted that his collage work reaches new heights of brilliance and exuberance, but all I could think about was whether it would mean a new plush would soon follow.
I was not aware of the cult following of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, but apparently he's got 11 million followers for the stop-motion videos. We were on the fence about whether this might have been even more popular as an impulse title with a smaller trim, but won't that likely be next. There was oohing. There was ahhing.
Harlan Coben's Shelter is his first thriller for kids. If you sell in the kids area, you'll not that there is no end of options for a kid who likes science fiction and fantasy, but options for mystery/thriller lovers are usually a bit more limited.
And for the holidays, there is of course a new version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Laurel Long. It's a beautiful book that has an interactive element--every spread has every thing mentioned in the lyric to that point, from rings to drummers to a partridge.  And don't get that confused with Loren Long's new Otis and the Tornado.
Joe from the adult hardcover side of Penguin had a number of titles of interest. Biography lovers would gravitate to award-winning Claire Tomalin and her newest subject, Charles Dickens. It was just reviewed with Becoming Dickens in The New York Times.
In the Scandanavian mystery/thriller sweepstakes, Jussi Adler-Olsen seems to have developed some big fans here, after wearing the "#1 crimewriter" sash in Denmark. The series, starting with The Keeper of Lost Causes, follows Carl Morck, a homicide detective that closely escaped death and is "promoted" to solving cold case crimes in Copenhagen.

It's already had some time on bestseller lists, but it feels like Amor Towles's Rules of Civility hasn't yet quite reached its potential. Set in the 1930's, it's the story of Katey Kontent, who rises from Wall Street secretary to the upper echelons of society.
And Jeanne Darst's Fiction Ruined my Family is a family memoir that's had some great reads and was launched on "This American Life." She grew up one of five children, daughter of a struggling novelist with an alcohol problem, and I'm sure there are plenty more problems that I don't have the space or the knowledge to mention. So when she grows up and has an urge to write and to drink, is she doomed to escape the family history?
Jason noted that he was sort of excited that the last rep night only had three presenters. I can see his point. I'll give you the scoop on that one soon, but meanwhile here's hoping that a book caught your interest. And yes, the food was from Beans and Barley.

1 comment:

Richie said...

I suggest people checking out Tension City by Jim Lehrer. It was a great read and has a lot to do with today's debates and how it has all evolved. Jim is featured on THe book Reports radio show with Elaine Charles and there is a fantastic interview with great insight into the book. Also- if you are just a book worm like myself you will love the radio show talking about other fantastic books every week. http://bookreportradio.com/archives.html