Friday, May 29, 2009

The Hot Five from Perseus - un-BEA edition!

Some quick items of interest as Perseus titles make waves in the marketplace:

Glenn Beck has found someone to help him through his great fears for our nation, and that man is Thomas Sowell. Last night, he had Mr. Sowell on his program to discuss the economy and President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. The good television host was moved almost to tears by Mr. Sowell’s wisdom and reason: But that is only the beginning. Next week, Mr. Beck will conduct a week-long, 5-part seminar on the wisdom to be found in Mr. Sowell’s current book, The Housing Boom and Bust (Basic, 9780465018802). Much more national media is scheduled, including a review and Q&A in the Investor’s Business Daily, and an appearance on the nationally syndicated “G. Gordon Liddy Show.” The trick is not to mind it…and to sell the book.

If you like, you can set up a point-counterpoint on your display shelves, between Mr. Sowell on the right, and Robert Frank on the left. On Monday, June 1, Mr. Frank will be a guest on NPR’s “The Talk of the Nation” in the 3 o’clock hour, discussing his current release, The Economic Naturalist’s Field Guide (Basic, 9780465015115). The first reviews for this unabashedly liberal look at political economy have been stellar. Library Journal wrote, “Frank’s writing sparkles, and the topics, which include health care and the subprime-mortgage crisis, are timely.” And on Monday Booklist will have a starred review: “Witty, compelling, and sensible, these essays should resonate in this era of economic turmoil.” There is also a Q&A with Mr. Frank in the current issue of Money magazine, which you can find here:

We were very pleased with the starred PW review of Neil MacFarquhar’s The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday (PublicAffairs, 9781586486358); how much more so you may imagine with last Sunday’s Washington Post Outlook piece: “Neil MacFarquhar is that rare and wonderful thing, a Middle East correspondent who not only speaks Arabic but also grew up in the region. This experience infuses his book -- the product of 20 years of reporting -- with the wit, insight and eye-rolling exasperation of a near-native…. The result is an intelligent and fascinating romp full of anecdotes, acid asides and conversations with everyone from dissidents to diplomats and liberal religious sheikhs, and even a Kuwaiti woman with a sex-advice column…. It's a testament to MacFarquhar's deep background knowledge and the lightness of his touch that complex issues … are distilled into clear exposition without ever being oversimplified or dumbed down. But MacFarquhar has written much more than just a very good primer to the region. His real achievement is to give the reader a window into the private debates among the intelligentsia and political classes of the Middle East…. MacFarquhar, now the United Nations bureau chief at the New York Times, is a fun guide.” Upcoming national media includes Charlie Rose (probably on June 4) and, just confirmed, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on June 10.

A big thanks to Southern California booksellers, for starting Eduardo Galeano’s Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (Nation Books, 9781568584232) with a bang – in its week of publication it hit #12 on the SCIBA bestseller list. And that’s before any of the big media hits! This afternoon Mr. Galeano appeared on CNN International’s “CNN Today” and on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy NOW.” This weekend he’ll be conversing with booksellers at BEA. Next week, he’ll appear on public radio programs from Seattle (KUOW’s “Weekday,” KEXP’s “Mind over Matters”) to Los Angeles (KPFK’s “Free Forum” and “Uprising”), with pieces also scheduled on NPR’s “Latino USA” and KCRW’s “Bookworm.” He has taped an interview with Washington Post book editor Maria Arana, and a version of it will run alongside his piece on “The Writing Life” in the June 12 Outlook section. On June 11, he will be interviewed by the LA Times, with a feature to run shortly thereafter. And reviews are expected far and wide, with the San Francisco Chronicle confirmed. Yes, the word will be out – please help us get the book into people’s hands. Judging by PW’s starred review, they won’t be disappointed: “Across disparate civilizations and centuries—but always with an unflinching eye (and irony) trained on the present—Galeano's stories register the imaginations of our mythmaking species, the elaborate gestures of (gendered) forms of power and the spirit of rebellion and resilience that fires the underdog masses.”

And finally, a bit of a sleeper: Peter Carlson’s K Blows Top (PublicAffairs, 9781586484972) continues to capture imaginations. Most recently, it was America’s Finest News Source, The Onion, with a glowing review: “Carlson delivers his bizarre travelogue in the most deadpan manner possible, as if to counteract the largely hysterical news reports at the time, which tracked K’s every move with the ardor of paparazzi chasing a bare-headed Britney.” The book will be among Parade Magazine’s picks next weekend, and by the end of the month Mr. Carlson should make appearances on NPR’s “On the Media” and “Morning Edition Saturday.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this book is just a total hoot.

That’s all for now – go do your good works.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Vegan Soul Kitchen. Just do it.

A recent e-mail from Paul Takushi. head book buyer at UC Davis Bookstore:

If you are hosting an event for Bryant Terry's new book, Vegan Soul Kitchen (Da Capo, 9780738212289), be sure to get at least as many copies as the number of attendees you are expecting at your event. Also be sure to stock his 2005 book, GRUB (9781585424597). Bryant is a very good speaker: entertaining, humorous, informative, polite (and we all know how much this counts at author events). About half of the attendees at the event I just worked bought more than one copy of each book. He usually travels with copies of his own so you might want to make arrangements with him for consignment sales just in case you run out (but don't under-stock the books with this mind).

If you have not already booked this guy for an event, do it

(I'll admit, I added the emphasis for that last sentence - but wouldn't you have done?)

For more info on Mr. Terry, check out Da Capo's excellent new cooking site.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

BOOK: The Sequel - a collaborative venture from Perseus

A note from World Headquarters in New York, USA:

As you may know, we are spearheading a unique project at BEA - a collaborative crashed title called BOOK: The Sequel.

This project asks the world to imagine the sequel to any book, and then write its first sentence.

For example: ever wonder what happens to Harry Potter after twenty years of marriage and a steady government gig? Or what Karl Marx would say about today's financial crisis? If the Bible had a sequel, what its first sentence would be? Write that sentence and you could be published! It's easy!

Pick a Book.
Imagine its Sequel.
Write the first sentence.
Add a great title, and then submit it to, and it might just get published by Perseus.

At 5pm on Thursday, May 28th, at the start of BEA, we will "open the submissions box." Over the next 48 hours, in our booth at BEA, we will Select, Edit, Organize, Design, Layout, Print, Convert to Digital, Create the Audio and Large Print versions, Publicize, Market and Sell this book.

Submissions have been rolling into our website since its launch April 28th - all are encouraged to participate. In addition to the website, we've got a Facebook page (become a friend!), and you can follow the project on Twitter.

Some inspiration to get you started:

"See, I was right." -From Das Kapital 2, by Karl Marx (sequel to Das Kapital)

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man who has lost his fortune in a Ponzi scheme, his job in structured finance and his retirement savings in toxic assets, must be in want of a wife." -From Busted and Bailed Out by Jane Austen (sequel to Sense and Sensibility)

"Call Me, Ishmael!" -From Moby Dick's Guide to Dating at Sea

Write your own at, and find out on May 30 if you've become a published author!

(As for the actual book itself: it will be a paper original , priced at $9.95, on sale as soon after June 2 as standard shipping allows -- ISBN: 978-0-78674-781-8. Orders accepted now!)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Congratulations to Justin Marozzi!

This was a pleasant bit of news to start the morning: the long list of finalists for the 2009 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction has just been announced, and it includes a book called The Man Who Invented History, by Justin Marozzi. The book was published here in the states under the title The Way of Herodotus: Travels with the Man Who Invented History (Da Capo, 9780306816215), to glowing reviews. (The LA Times, for example, called it "one of the year's best and most engaging travel books." Personally, I think that undersells the book; it's as much a meditation on history, history writing, and cultural difference as it is a travel book.)

The Samuel Johnson Prize is the richest non-fiction prize in the UK, and aims "to reward the best of non-fiction and is open to authors of all non-fiction books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts." Mr. Marozzi's book is in exalted company - others on the long list include David Grann's The Lost City of Z, Alexander Waugh's The House of Wittgenstein, and Alain de Botton's The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. It truly is an accomplishment to be grouped together with those (and the rest of the finalists), and I wish him well as the judges deliberate.

The short list will be announced later this month, and the winner will be declared in a televised ceremony on June 30. Hopefully, we'll be able to put a fancy "winner" badge on the paperback, which is on this fall's list and due for publication in February 2010.

(Oh, and a backlist opportunity: if you'd like to check out Mr. Marozzi's chops as a more conventional historian, I highly recommend his earlier book, Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World. It's available in paperback (9780306815430), and an excellent contribution to western scholarship on the history of the Muslim world - an area in which I'm pleased to say the Perseus Books Group has been publishing strongly. More on that later, perhaps; for the moment I'll just say that Mr. Marozzi's skills as a writer - vivid descriptions and characterizations, strong narrative drive - are equally evident here.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In Wisconsin, every week is Banned Books Week

My thanks to UC Davis buyer Paul Takushi for passing this update along:

May 11, 2009
(As reported by ABBFFE, the American Booksellers Foundation
for Free Expression)
The controversy over the dismissal of four library board
members in West Bend, Wisconsin, continues to grow. The West Bend Common Council may soon be forced to reconsider its April 21 vote to dismiss the board members because of their refusal to remove controversial books from the young adult section of the library. The board members are accused of promoting "the overt
indoctrination of the gay agenda." Supporters of the library board intend to introduce a motion to reconsider at the May 18 council meeting.

Two of the books challenged are Brent Hartinger's Geography Club (Harper) and Stephan Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Simon & Schuster). Meanwhile, critics have recently called for restrictions on a third book, Baby Be Bop by Francesca Lia Block (Harper). The Christian Civil Liberties Union's (CCLU) Milwaukee branch has filed a legal claim, calling the book offensive and arguing that the elderly plaintiffs' mental and emotional well-beings are damaged by the book's presence at the library. Named in the claim are the city of West Bend, Mayor Kristine Deiss, the West Bend Library Board and Library Director. CCLU seeks $30,000 per plaintiff, Deiss' resignation and the book's removal and a public burning.
That's right: an organization with "Civil Liberties Union" in its title is calling for a court-mandated book burning. Truly chilling.

(If I'm supposed to connect this to a direct professional interest, I'd point out that we have had two books featured by ABBFFE: Obscene in the Extreme, by Rick Wartzman (PublicAffairs, 9781586483319), which is not only a detailed anatomy of a particular censorship drive (against Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath), but also a marvelous piece of Depression-era history; and Freedom for the Thought that We Hate, by Anthony Lewis (Basic, 9780465039173), a biography, and celebration, of the first amendment and those who defend it. Both are coming in paper this fall. Obviously, I think both are appropriate and valuable in this context.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

May 12 is John Ross Day!

Here’s a reason to love San Francisco: the Board of Supervisors has decreed that May 12 shall be a day to honor the vestigial Wobbly, visionary, poet, journalist, and all around literary maverick John Ross. He’s scheduled to receive the honor at City Hall, during their annual “Poets Under the Dome” event – although I’m told he may use the occasion to protest the City’s treatment of the homeless, which would only be appropriate.

If you’d like a sense of what Mr. Ross has been up to recently, check out this recent account on the Bay Guardian’s blog. When not harassing repressive authorities, Mr. Ross has been writing a followup to his marvelous Murdered by Capitalism – Nation Books is proud to be publishing, this November, El Monstruo, an epic lovesong to the urban monstrosity that is Mexico City. Attached is a little flier they drew up to spread the early word. If you’ve got a place to display it, that would be marvelous. Even if you don’t, please salute Mr. Ross and his uniquely distinguished career…and consider once again displaying his backlist.

Murdered By Capitalism (Nation Books, 9781560255789)

Zapatistas!: Making another World Possible (Nation Books, 9781560258742)

El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City (Nation Books, 9781568584249 - available November, 2009)

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Hot Five from Perseus - Unbridled Spirit edition

It’s late on a Friday afternoon, so I’ll keep this quick: our major publicity hits upcoming – prepare yourselves!

1. Frank Partnoy will be on “The Daily Show” on May 11 to promote The Match King (PublicAffairs, 9781586487430). This comes on the heels of some great review attention, including from PW (Starred review), The Huffington Post, Slate, The Economist, and BusinessWeek. I’ll just quote this last: “An absorbing tale and a poignant reminder that every boom has its scoundrels…Partnoy gives us a rich account of the Roaring Twenties' most astounding confidence man.” The story is uncannily appropriate to our times, and the book is picking up steam.

2. Richard Dowden’s Africa (PublicAffairs, 9781586487539) will be reviewed in this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review – Nicholas D. Kristof will have this to say: “We journalists tend to cover Africa in stark and simple contrasts, but countries live and grow and falter in grays. So it’s refreshing to encounter not only Dowden’s hopefulness, but also his reliance on shading and nuance, on the recognition that the world does not have to feel sorry for Africa to care about it.”

3. We’ve just received word that Bryant Terry’s interview on American Public Media’s “The Splendid Table” will air tomorrow, 5/2! Mr. Terry is the author of Vegan Soul Kitchen (Da Capo, 9780738212289), which was our #10 selling book last week. The program airs on stations KAZU (Monterey / Santa Cruz), KPCC (Pasadena), KOPB (Portland / Corvallis / Eugene), and KUOW and KSER (Seattle / Tacoma). And the current issue of VegNews provides a strong endorsement: “With 150 recipes, this can’t-miss classic will have you kissing your Collard Confetti without missing a beat.”

4. Here’s what being a former New York Times correspondent gets you: plenty of national media is lining up for Neil MacFarquhar and The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday (PublicAffairs, 9781586486358). To wit:


5/7 CNN “Situation Room” / interview

5/13 PBS “Charlie Rose” / interview


5/4 NPR’s “Morning Edition” / interview

5/4 WBUR’s “On Point” (nationally syndicated) / interview

5/4 PRI’s “The World” / interview

Additionally, it has been assigned for review at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

5. And last but in no way least, the Donald. Think Like a Champion (Vanguard, 9781593155308) will be #8 on this Sunday’s New York Times Bestseller List. Last night, Mr. Trump visited with Bill O’Reilly, and Papa Bear proclaimed the book “perfect for Dads.” We have two national publicity hits within the next week, and hopefully they will decree the book perfect for Moms and for Grads: He’ll be on Letterman on Monday (May 4), reading the Top 10 List, and the next morning he’ll have an audience with the ladies of “The View.” Please, do not disappoint the Donald.

That’s all for this week’s edition (brought to you by the Bluegrass State); stay tuned next week, for the Trotsky special. (No kidding.)