Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Random Notes

Two interesting items to note.

First off, what is most interesting about this ridiculous news that comedienne Kathy Griffin landed a $2 million deal with Random House's Ballantine to publish her memoir is perhaps the comments beneath the article in the NY Observer. Christopher was just bitching to me about Diane Keaton selling her book recently, also to Random House, for the same - $2 million, but at least that's about her taking care of her mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's. The most they're sayiing about Griffin is that she "has a passionate fanbase that includes lots and lots of gay men." U-G-H. I don't mind being targeted by brands but this? Disgusting.

But the comments below show a backfire a'brewin, folks. One anonymous commenter sums up multiple reactions to this news: "Talk about bad timing and bad judgment. They can pay $2 million dollars for a D-list comic but can't find a way not to lay off good editors? Something is seriously wrong." Many in the publishing industry read this paper so it's unsurprising that many of the commenters would have such awareness in responding to this article, but it's good to see multiple people making this connection. Says another, "If I were a laid off Random House staffer, I would be thinking homicidal thoughts." Yikes. That's a bit extreme, but this does seem like a case of publishers feeling like they want to be in with the big kids - movie execs especially - and blowing tons of money on a book that, as yet another commenter points out, "will have a [shelf]life of about 6 months."

On a much different note, I wanted to link to the final Q&A in Scott Esposito's terrific series of interviews over at Conversational Reading with editors at independent presses. This latest interview is with David Godine, who runs a press of that very name right here in Boston. He's an eccentric man, as one may note somewhat in this interview, and he's a bit safer than others from the series. But in line with some comparisons folks have made to the music business and the way many companies have expanded into digital music while also boosting vinyl, sometimes even pairing the two, Godine mentions how at his press, they "provide a fairly identifiable 'quality' product and we have a fairly loyal and predictable customer base- both consumers and bookstores. When times are tough, people inevitably move to quality. They may buy less, but they buy better. " He does produce gorgeous books - take a look. I think he's right to see a continued share of the market staying with books produced with such care.

So some like these gorgeous books, while gay men flock to washed out comedienne memoirs about drinking too much, having regretable sex, and saying inappropriate things. Is that right? Well, I wish I could help Godine, but my demographic calls!

(please note sarcasm - thanks)

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