1. The facts are in, and the CBE (Christian Book Expo) lost $250,000, according to sources. As I've said here before, I loved the idea, but it didn't work, and that type of loss means the organization won't be doing it again. Dang. (It should also be noted that the leadership is approaching member publishers and asking them for donations to meet the deficit. One word: Yikes. It's a brutal time in publishing to be asking publishers to donate money for something that was such a bust.) I'm sorry this failed. [Correction: Mike Hyatt, the Prez at Thomas Nelson, wrote to say that ECPA announced they won't do the Book Expo next year. Once they clear out the debt, they're going to explore options, maybe partner with somebody else. You can read his note in the "comments" section.]
2. Today Amazon bought Stanza
— the software that makes digital books available on an iPhone. The previous software on your iPhone did okay with reading digital books, but it was clunky and not really made to "read" many books. That problem is solved, and the solution now belongs to Amazon. (And here's an interesting thing: The e-book store that provided books for those with Stanza software was Fictionwise… which is now owned by Barnes & Noble. something tells me Fictionwise will no longer be selling those Stanza titles.)
3. If you haven't heard about the big Google settlement… well, then you're really out of touch. The Author's Guild settled a suit with Google that would basically grant that company electronic rights to every book that's out of print. It's an interesting idea, and it will either be a boon for authors (who can get their oop books back onto the market) or a boondoggle (since we don't really know if this is going to work or what sort of money it might generate). But today the courts put the whole thing on hold, since it was argued that authors were being forced to hurry into a decision. You can go to the website ( www.googlebooksettlement.com ), and either opt in or opt out — but be aware: the site is a pain. You'll have to do a new form for every book you've had published prior to this year. They could have made this much easier. [A judge yesterday postponed the decision for four months, AND the justice department is reviewing the whole schlamozzle to see if it violates US anti-trust laws.]
4. There's a very funny project you should know about: www.unshelved.com/publisherconfidential.pdf . It's a bunch of wisdom gleaned from booksellers, authors, and librarians at Book Expo America, presented in a comic-book form… and it's a hoot. They asked people a simple question: What do you wish publishers knew? The answers and cartoons are great. Stop by and get a laugh.
5. On the not-so-funny side, retailers report that religious book sales were off 19% in the month of February. That's the biggest drop in years. Overall book sales were down 12%.
6. Endeavor and the William Morris agency joined forces this week, creating the second-largest representational group in the business, behind only Creative Artists Agency. The LA Times called it "easily the most talked-about hookup in town since Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt." Hey, we have mega-churches, mega-businesses, mega-publishers… why not a mega-agency?
7. Some authors have written to ask about getting their self-published or out-of-print books available on Kindle. I could be wrong, but I don't think there's a way to sell your e-book-only on Kindle. Or you can go to a website my friend and fellow agent Steve Laube turned me on to… www.ljndawson.com. For a thousand bucks you can get your manuscript turned into an e-book and made available in all forms and in all places where e-books are sold. Sounds like a deal. (And thanks for the tip, Steve.)
8. A great interview over at www.genreality.net/the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller. Bestselling author S.L. Viehl offers facts and figures at to (1) what she sold, (2) what she made, and (3) how she got to the bestseller list in the first place. It's a fascinating, honest look into the business of writing. I highly recommend you visit.
9. It's official: Random House is now making contract offers in quarters. That breaks down to 1/4 of the advance on signing, 1/4 on delivery and acceptance of the manuscript, 1/4 on release of the hardcover, and the last 1/4 a year after that release. As bad ideas go, I rank this one right up there with the Edsel, hip-hop pants that have the crotch at the knees, and putting poisonous chemicals in cute bottles and making it the same color as Kool-Aid. A year after the book releases? Can you imagine the fights we're going to have when an expensive book tanks? Good Lord. Hey, let's no longer call this an "advance." Let's call it a "delay."
10. I've been scorched by Christians lately for making a joke about George W. Bush on this blog. Some really vile things sent to me. Um… Look, I voted for the guy twice. I'm sure he's undoubtedly a nice guy who loves his wife and goes to church. But what is keeping Christians from admitting what is abundantly obvious — that W was one really lousy president. Lousy oversight, terrible fiscal management, and an expensive war that has drug on forever and cost a trillion dollars. I mean, it doesn't take a genius to see this guy was a disaster. I'm no fan of Bill Clinton, but next to W, he looks like a flippin' genius. Good grief, people…