Posts from November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by Carole Stuart on November 25, 2009 | (187) Comments

I wanted to put something up on Hot News for Thanksgiving. But being basically lazy, today’s blog is from my friend, and funny man, Lew Grossberger, who eloquently said, “Sure” when I asked if I could put his latest column up on our Web site.  You should check Lew out—you’ll find him on on a regular basis.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy this and his other blogs.  Happy Thanksgiving!



Every year at this time, as my loved ones sink into a stupor often followed by coma, I read the true story of the first Thanksgiving. No matter how rough the weather or how dry the turkey, this recitation of the beloved holiday classic never fails to make listeners and readers shed a tear as they come to appreciate the rich bounty that is Oprah Winfrey’s and Goldman Sachs’s but not theirs.

It was the year 1620 when the strange people known as The Pilgrims set sail from England, crashed into Plymouth Rock and set about the daunting task of learning to spell Massachusetts.

Their ship, the Mayflower, had sprung a leak at one point but was saved by a massive bailout.

The Pilgrims were humble, God-fearing folk who sought only the freedom to oppress others as they had been oppressed back home. Thus they were overjoyed to encounter the Indians.

The first reaction of the Indians (who were really the Native Americans but refused to admit it for several hundred years) has not been recorded but according to witnesses, one is said to have ruminated, “They come here, they walk around like they own the place, they wear stupid-looking hats… Who are these assholes?”

Food was scarce and the winter cruel, or perhaps vice versa, but The Plucky Pilgrims survived because thanks to the teachings of their religion, Pillism, they genuinely enjoyed misery. Adapting to local customs, they learned to stay indoors during blizzards, catch some of the exciting new fatal diseases available on this continent and wear the skins of animals, first taking care to remove the original owner.

Even dying Pilgrims felt better off in the New World, since everything here was newer and shinier than in the Old World. Besides, Europe was a breeding ground for socialism, as their town crier, Glemuel Beck, kept reminding them between bursts of sobbing. Plus the New World nightlife was livelier, consisting as it did of witches cavorting orgiastically with Satan in the woods.

The Pilgrims were not the first English colonists here; that honor went to Jamestown in Virginia. Few people today are aware of it because A) The Pilgrims hired a great public-relations man and B) there’s something off-putting about a town where everyone is named James. But most of all, because of C) the Jamestown colonists’ failure to invent Thanksgiving. Their excuse, that they had no food, was pathetic.

The Pilgrims didn’t have much either but they did boast resourceful leaders. While his constituents debated whether to deep fry or roast heretics, Governor William Hussein Bradford swallowed his pride (though it contained little nutritional value) and went to see Massasoit, the great sachem of the Wampanoags to beg for foreign aid.

Massasoit turned him down flat. Desperate, Bradford went to Wampanoag, the great massasoit of the Sachems. There he got lucky. W, as he was known, went on CNN—the Corn Niblet Network—and ordered his braves as well as his cowards to teach The Pilgrims the ancient lore of the woods. The Indians imparted such essential survival tricks as planting seeds in order to grow crops and after the crops fail, buying produce wholesale.

Having toiled in the fields for a full hour, The Pilgrims needed a break and declared a three-day feast of Giving Thank Yous (changed in 1938 to Thanksgiving). The Indians were invited in the hope they would bring a decent dessert but their skunk-cabbage strudel didn’t go over that well.

Following the feast came the entertainment, which was a rousing success until the Pilgrim comic Jamie Leno was stoned to death for letting his act go on too long.

It all went down in history as The First Thanksgiving, the beginning of a glorious tradition of humble and solemn overeating of bland foods and expressing gratitude to our creator for not killing us until a later date as yet unknown to us and allowing us in the meantime to watch a football game.




Posted by Carole Stuart on November 12, 2009 | (347) Comments

I’ve known Barry Farber ever since I was doing publicity for Lyle Stuart, Inc and regularly booked authors on his radio shows. He has been doing talk radio long enough and interviewed enough authors, celebrities and other talkers to be in the Guinness Book of Records. Barry is one of the best-known radio talk show hosts of all time. He is an author himself. Barricade published a number of his books including “How to Not Make the Same Mistake Twice.” He has interviewed most of our authors and even had me across from his microphone on several occasions. He’s terrific and has helped to promote many of our books. Virtually every author worth reading has been on his show.

Recently I visited Barry at his apartment in the Apthorp Apartments in New York City. He introduced me to a beautiful blonde woman who seemed very much at home. When she left the room I asked Barry who she was. “She’s my wife!” he said. I was completely surprised having known two other wives of Barry and had no inkling of this new lady in his life. I would save this item for Valentine’s Day but don’t have the patience to wait so what follows is the story of Barry and Sara:

Even though it was 1969, Barry Farber clearly remembers today that he wanted to marry Sara Pentz on sight and on site; on the spot; right there! "She'd applied to me for a job when my show was over 25% of WOR Radio's entire broadcast week," he recalls; "but we got along like a slow waiter and a poor tipper. She didn't want the job and she didn't smile."

About two years later he ran into her again. "She'd become a high-profile news reporter for Channel 5 in New York," said Farber, "and she was covering something I was involved in on the west side of Manhattan." And again, Farber recalls he did not get what comic Jimmy Durante used to call the Big Hello. Thirty-seven years after that first meeting Farber spotted her name on an e-mail copied to a mutual friend. "I quickly sent him an e-mail asking if this were the same Sara Pentz who used to be a reporter for Channel Five. Affirmative! He then bucked my e-mail over to her and she sent me a nice e-mail and I sent her a nicer one.

"We were married in the Orange County, California Court House in Santa Ana last September 3," says Farber proudly. "My Democratic cousin told me he was pretty sure that if Obama won the election, then anybody who gets married at my age could count on Medicare picking up 80% of the cost of the honeymoon!" Barry and Sara Pentz Farber call their romantic adventure "Cupid's Long Nap." The doormen and building staff at their Apthorp Apartments residence refer to them as, "The couple that still holds hands." Barry just promoted Sara to the rank of "co-host" of his nightly talk show beginning at 8 p. m. Eastern Time on the CRN Digital Talk Radio Network and his Saturday afternoon show on the Talk Radio Network. Anybody can access their daily show at and the Saturday show at


Posted by Carole Stuart on November 02, 2009 | (59) Comments

This blog was delayed due to being caught up in football and baseball.
Lyle was one of the first Americans to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1960.  There’s a photograph hanging in my office of Lyle and of other publishing people representing the American Booksellers Association who would be the first group to attend. For years “Frankfurt” was the major international book fair for publishers throughout the world interested in selling translation rights to their books.  We haven’t attended in a long time.  Publishing has changed and rights are being sold in many different ways.  I go to the London Book Fair. It’s shorter, smaller (although growing steadily) and London is a nice city to visit.
The report that follows is compiled by friends who did attend:
The big projects of the Fair this year were a Nelson Mandela book, and THE DISCOVERY OF WITCHES from St. Martin’s Press.  There were fewer people attending and many heads of houses and high profile people stayed home, leaving the rights people to do their jobs unencumbered.  Many stands were smaller than usual—S&S for example.  Those who did attend, worked hard; so it was constructive. Many baby boomers announced their retirement, and there were some private parties for big names like Toine Akveld, etc.  Hachette still had its pre-Frankfurt soiree, but Bertelsmann and Heyne (two German power houses) no longer do.  Three new hotels were built in Frankfurt last year, so some hotel rates have gone down.
The refrain from most quarters is that the fair is too long and many resent that it is opened to the public on the weekend; when most foreign publishers have already gone home.  Frankfurt secured the Book Fair through 2023 so it won’t be moved to Berlin or Munich, as rumored, any time soon.  One of the biggest concerns is e-rights and how to protect territories. It is still worth attending the Fair as there is still serendipity: should a foreign publisher pass your stand and see a book that they want but otherwise would not have known about.  One meets new editors, learns about new publishing programs, etc.  So, yes, it’s worth doing but only for 3 days.
It all depends on how you spin things: A very abbreviated article from The Bookseller saw the Fair this way:
“This year’s Frankfurt Book Fair…the second busiest in its 61-year history, according to the final numbers released by the organiser. The figures belie the quiet mood in the international Hall 8, where estimates suggested numbers were down as much as 20%, with fewer editors and fewer American publishers in attendance. But Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos said “many publishers found this fair to be the best in a long time” To read the entire article go to: 

There’s a certain irony about The Frankfurt Fair just ending and the death of Reinhard Mohn who died on October 8 at the age of 88.
Mohn was the fifth-generation head of Bertelsmann, the German publishing company he inherited after its near-demise in the wake of World War II and transformed it into a world-wide media empire that owned Random House, music conglomerate Sony BMG, and numerous television and magazine chains.
Mohn had been in a prisoner-of-war camp in the U.S. in the state of Kansas. When he was released after the War he went back to Germany and started the Bertelsmann Book Clubs, which were unique and extremely successful.
In the years we attended the Frankfurt Book Fair the Bertelsmann party was THE party to get into.  At first it was only for German publishers but as Americans and other non-German publishers were coming to the Fair the very smart and talented, Michael Meller, who was then working for Bertelsmann, convinced Mohn that he should open the invitation list to others. 
Getting in was a symbol that you’d made it.  It was a tough party to crash. You had to get by Michael who stood guard (literally) at the top of a circular staircase that led to the ballroom where the party was held. The security rivaled getting past the guards at the White House. Once in, the food and drinks were non-stop.  It was also a great networking place.
After spending long days at the Bookmesse, publishing people were hungry and thirsty. At the party, waiters passed trays of wine and beer.  There were few places to sit but people clustered around the tall tables scattered throughout the large room.
As his obit described, Mohn, came from Gutersloh, Germany and made the city the home base for Bertelsmann. He established an unusual open-space office atmosphere. Instead of people being closed in their cubicles, the office was open, divided by plants rather than walls, encouraging staff to have a pleasant workplace. Lyle admired and copied the policy.  Eventually, it didn’t work for either Bertelsmann or Lyle Stuart Inc. and back to traditional offices we went.
Bertelsmann is the 800-pound gorilla in the publishing industry but even the mighty are pulling in their belts.  This year’s Frankfurt Book Fair was the first without a Bertelsmann party.  A lot of hungry, thirsty book industry people were not happy.




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