Moving Day and Other Bits and Pieces

Posted by Mark Morell on February 01, 2010 | (86) Comments

MOVING DAY AND OTHER BITS AND PIECES

Barricade Books is moving. As of February 1, we are not going far—just next to our current space in the same office building One change—we are no longer in Suite 308A. The new address is Suite 309,185 Bridge Plaza North, Ft. Lee NJ 07024. For anyone (like me) who still keeps a Rolodex, make note of this.

WHAT’S NEW IN THE FUTURE OF BOOKS?

EBooks, Kindle, Sony Reader, The Tablet, The Nook, PDFs, etc. Is there any topic of greater speculation in publishing than rights to electronic books?

I attended a large group of publishers, writers, literary agents and other assorted people in the industry recently held by The Author’s Guild at Scandinavian House in New York City to explore and discuss where this new medium will lead us. It seems to me that no one knows what the impact will be on the industry, but all were sure that it will—and already is—significant. My opinion, for the record, is we are all racing to catch up and be there—wherever “there” is. Our authors want their books on the devices—but how many know how little money is involved? Publishers can’t fix the prices for which books are sold. The Kindle sells most books for $9.99. Lately, it’s been written about how some books are given away free. It's just been reported that Amazon, bowing to pressure from Macmillan will adjust its pricing policy.

Add to the mix the many thousands of self-published books where authors can produce their own PDFs and get them up on a variety of Web sites, Amazon, Banes & Noble, etc., not to exclude their own sites. We too are eager to be in the game and will soon have our Web site equipped to not only sell our actual books direct to the consumer, we will also be able to make some books available for downloads, only from Barricade Books.

The wisest comment of the evening was from Susan Cheever. Cheever was the “author” on a panel made up of a literary agent, publisher and marketer of electronic books. Cheever pointed out that it’s still up to the author to create the book in the first place. Ebooks are here, and they appear to be staying. They offer a new opportunity to market our books. But here’s to the authors, let them continue to write new books, and let’s hope readers will continue to read.  Today it was reported that Amazon agreed to change their pricing policy for books available on Kindle, responding to pressure from Macmillan.

What of the actual bookstores? The New York Times just reported the closing of Skyline Books after 20 years in business on West 18th Street in New York City. The owner, Rob Warren, can’t afford the rent increases or “behemoth bookstores and Web sites.” So he will begin selling online. There goes, as a customer called Skyline Books, “…the best bookstore on the East Coast.”

IN THE EARLY DAYS

Before we would grow to be one of the major publishers of mafia/true crime books, we met Rick Porello. Rick had been researching the murders of his notorious grandfather and three uncles—members of the Mafia. After nine years, he put his work together, and the result was THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CLEVELAND MAFIA.

Barricade published his book in 1995 in cloth, and it eventually went into a paperback format. Fifteen years later, it is still in print and has been one of our best-selling titles in the series. The story of Rick Porello and his family changed his life and started us on the path to publish more than 22 true-crime titles. Below, in Rick Porello’s words, you can follow his journey from Mafia family member to author.

Angelo “Big Ange” Lonardo and The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia

Even by the time that Licata, Italy, had served as an Allied landing point during the 1943 World War II invasion of Sicily, its distinction as having produced some of the most powerful men in the Italian-American Mafia, one in particular, was still unknown. Then in 1995, I memorialized the bloodshed that cursed my ancestors and revealed the significance of two cities, one American, one Sicilian, and their progeny in the history of the Mafia. The book: The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia. Its subjects are my grandfather, his six brothers, and their four Licatese countrymen, the Lonardos. By 1920. they had settled in Cleveland, Ohio, and stood apart from thousands of other immigrants seeking the freedom of America and working hard and patiently toward success. By 1927, the sons of Licata and Cleveland were wealthy, powerful and feared purveyors of corn sugar, a key ingredient of bootleg whiskey. The fortune and reign of the brothers Porrello and Lonardo among America’s first Mafiosi didn’t last long. By 1932, my grandfather was dead of a single bullet to the brain. Three of his brothers shared his fate. Three Lonardos, also.

As the sugar war closed, one teenager, Angelo Lonardo, avenged his father’s murder and thus sealed his own fate, swearing, above God himself, his allegiance to that dark and secret organization.

Fast forward to 1977, the murder of another ethnic mobster, the Irishman—Danny Greene—and unprecedented convictions across the U.S. Facing life in prison, the once powerful don Lonardo shocked family and friends and betrayed omerta. From a witness stand, he bought his freedom. And dozens of his brethren lost theirs. By the time don Lonardo died a very old man, the Italian-American Mafia had become public and penetrable, the very antithesis of the once-mighty society brought to Cleveland from Licata.

The above story was only the beginning of Rick’s adventure. Going in a different direction from his family, Rick was a veteran of a Cleveland policy agency with a degree in criminal justice. Today, he is a Cleveland-area police chief and author of three books about organized crime.

After THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CLEVELAND MAFIA, Rick started publishing his own books. His second book, To Kill the Irishman—the War that Crippled the Mafia, is now a major motion picture starring Ray Stevenson, Chris Walken, Val Kilmer and Paul Sorvino due to be released later this year. Visit http://www.movieset.com/theirishman

 We plan to take publishing advantage by bringing an updated edition of THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CLEVELAND MAFIA when the movie opens.

A little family note: Eileen Brand, Lyle’s sister-in-law, edited THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CLEVELAND MAFIA. Last year, at age 91, she self-published The Bodacious Ballot Box Burglary and Other Mysteries of My First Ninety-one Years. An engaging and insightful read. Go to http://ballotboxburglary.com/ to download it for free or to order a paperback copy.

Another little family note: Grandson Aaron Jaffe designed the Web site. Let me know if you’re interested in working with him.

BRRR. IT’S COLD OUT THERE . . .

On February 20, good friend, Steven Lidsky—my Columbia County pal—is taking a plunge—in Upper Rhoda Point at Camp Mohican in Copake, New York. This is the second leap in the lake for Steven and, he promises, the last—all for charity.

Steven is service coordinator supervisor of COARC. COARC (Columbia County ARC) is a nonprofit agency, now in its 45th year, which creates opportunities for developmentally disabled adults and children in Columbia County, N.Y. Part of the statewide NYSARC, they run residential group homes and apartments, a sheltered workshop, supported employment (job coaches), adult day programs and various children's services such as a preschool and summer camp.

Last year, the Polar Bear Plunge was held to raise money for activities at COARC’s summer camp for developmentally disabled children. This year, it is to raise funds for a new playground for their integrated preschool. If you want to contribute, mail a check made out to COARC to Steven Lidsky, COARC, 65 Prospect Ave Hudson, NY 12534. For additional information, please phone Steven at (518) 828-6043, ext. 100 or e-mail: Steve1@COARC.org

FRANK SERPICO STILL BEARDED, HANDSOME AND FASCINATING

The New York Times recently did a long piece about Frank Serpico, made famous when Al Pacino portrayed him in Sidney Lumet’s brilliant film of the same name. As many will remember, Serpico was an unusual cop, dressing in disguises from street vagrant to butcher to orthodox rabbi. He became an outcast from the NYPD when he turned whistle blower exposing widespread corruption in the New York Police Department and testified at the Knapp Commission hearings that shook up the department. We met years ago when he lived quietly and out of public eye by choice. He was, and still is, quite the flamboyant fellow, dressing in unusual clothing. At the time we met, he had a very large Great Dane, a gentle giant of a dog. He told an amusing story of the filming of Serpico where he was on the set as an adviser. Lumet was filming a dramatic scene that took place in the bathroom of a rundown apartment. The victim of this scene was having his face pushed repeatedly into a toilet—a dramatic style of interrogation.

Frank went to Lumet and said, “Sidney, that’s not how it happened.”

Lumet, without missing a beat, replied, “Pussycat, it’s a movie.”

Years later, I was surprised to see Frank at one of my favorite tango parlors. He was surprised to see me, too. In the Times article, it refers to some of his interests, including tango. (Message to Frank—I’d love to take a few turns around the floor with you.)

FLOYD ABRAMS AND FREE SPEECH

Floyd Abrams deserves the acclaim he has achieved as a First Amendment lawyer. He recently spoke about press freedom on a panel that took place at the New York Times, which was written about, in the January 30-31 issue of the Wall Street Journal by reporter James Taranto. Lyle and I met with Abrams when we were facing a long, expensive libel action against Barricade Books, which I don’t care to discuss here lest it bring back bad memories. It was in our opinion a First Amendment issue, and you couldn’t do better than have Floyd Abrams represent you in such a case. Abrams was elegant, smart and gracious. He was also thoughtful about our plight and amiably pointed out that we could not afford to hire his firm at their rarefied rates. He had a few suggestions including looking for a patron. Alas, that did not happen. Nevertheless, he was a gentleman. This long, very good piece in the Wall Street Journal discusses how Abrams has represented the New York Times Co. from time to time, notably in the Pentagon Papers case of 1971. Now, he was on the opposite side against the Times in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission where the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision invalidated federal laws that made certain political speech a crime.

This was not Abrams’ case but he took interest in it because it overturned a case he lost, McConnell v. FEC, where a 5-4 majority upheld provisions of the 2002 McCain-Feingold law, including one that criminalized corporate funding of “electioneering communication” within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. He now supported Citizens United, which produced the critical documentary about Hillary Clinton, saying it was a very committed conservative entity and should have the same protection of speech by the First Amendment no matter how disdainful their expression for a candidate is. It’s the unpopular (as seen by some) expression that needs the protection of the First Amendment.

He went on to talk about restrictions on campaign contributions, which he was in favor of. Abrams thought there was room for more government involvement about contributions because “. . . there is a greater risk of something in the order of quid pro quo corruption . . . As of right now, the court has struck the balance pretty well.”

The article was written before the Supreme Court overturned the limit on campaign contributions.

Until next time,

Carole

LEONORE FLEISCHER - QUEEN OF KITSCH

Posted by Carole Stuart on December 20, 2009 | (5169) Comments

LEONORE FLEISCHER – QUEEN OF KITSCH

 

For more than 20 years, I owned a house in New York State’s Columbia County in the town of Stuyvesant. We called the County “The Unhamptons” because it was the antithesis of Long Island’s very chic, very social East End.

Over the years, this very quiet county, which was about half-hour from Albany, became filled with weekenders drawn heavily from New York’s literary world, as well as artists and musicians who liked the laid-back atmosphere.

Many homes were built in the 1700s and 1800s – genuine Colonials, saltboxes, and other styles that were gradually sold to the New Yorkers who adopted the county as a second home. Hudson, originally a whaling town, quickly became a Mecca of antique dealers who catered not only to those with homes there, but New Yorkers who found treasures on Warren Street – the main street of this sleepy town.

I came to Stuyvesant, the last town in the county bordering on the Hudson River, because of Leonore Fleischer. As did many others.

It was l981, and I’d written a few books that generated enough royalty income for me to look for a good investment.

“Buy a house,” my accountant suggested. And so I began my search for a second home. The first person I told of this was my friend, Leonore.

Leonore, who had written New York magazine’s “Sales and Bargains” column and for Publishers Weekly and other magazines, had a house in Hudson. She chose Hudson because, not being able to drive a car, she could take Amtrak from New York up the Hudson River right to Hudson. From there, a trolley took her right up Warren Street almost directly to her house on Prospect Avenue.

Leonore soon began inviting her New York friends to visit her.

Many of us fell in love with the quiet, scenic county, and it became common to spend one weekend at her house and then buy a house. In those days, houses were really inexpensive.

Mine, on almost two-and-a-half acres overlooking the Hudson, was comfortably less than $100,000. I called it “Ongoing Royalties,” which was an appropriate name for quite some time.

Weekends were spent at flea markets and country auctions as many of the homes were furnished with odds and ends bought this way. It was a lot of fun. The years passed, parties and fund-raising events became common. A film festival started in the town of Chatham. We discovered our neighbors were publishers, film producers, and soon Columbia County became a cultural center. If there was an unofficial PR person boosting the county, it was Leonore.

Leonore was a passionate shopper. “Sales and Bargains” was a perfect fit for her because she bought many things over the years in Hudson: quilts, jewelry, dishes, and much more. She had every piece of Franciscan ware dishes sold. It was extensive. I bought some of it from her. Fish Sets, teapots, cookie jars, old linens, coin silver, antique clothing. You name it. Eventually, she opened a shop on Warren Street and began selling some of her things, always keeping special items for herself and her friends who were lucky to receive wonderful gifts.

Over the years, she became homebound and ill. She didn’t venture out of her home often. Many of the friends she had brought to the County had sold their homes and moved out.

I kept in touch mostly by phone and an occasional visit. The last time I saw her, I brought a feast of smoked fish and bagels from Fairway Market in New York City.

This year Leonore died in the home she’d lived in after giving up her New York apartment and became a permanent resident of Hudson. She had a son, Alexander, who did not respond to phone calls after her death. And then one day, our friend, Steven Lidsky, a resident of Hudson, drove along Prospect Avenue, near her house, now unoccupied, and saw amateurish hand-printed signs announcing “Estate Sale, 17 Prospect Ave. Sat-Sun.”

I asked Steven to go to the sale and tell me about it. What follows is his report.

Up the broken concrete stoop on the porch and inside the house, the remnants of Leonore’s collections were being sold by scruffy men in green tee shirts. She would not have been pleased.

“The Christmas tree that stood in the living room for years despite the season was gone. So were the Santa Clauses and most of Leonore’s cherished collection of Mickey Mouse. Some, the Mickey watches, however, were in a glass case each for sale at $50 – a definite bargain, according to one of the salesmen. Three of Leonore’s red sweaters with the Mickey images were hanging on the wall, also for sale. Bargain hunters were standing about in the living and dining rooms turning plates over to check porcelain marks, holding things up to the light to check for imperfections, and discussing how anyone could possibly collect so much.

“They did not know Leonore; they did not realize that only remnants of her cherished collections were scattered about on the dirty carpeting and dusty shelves. Leonore seemingly collected everything. Teapots – indeed, she wrote a book on the subject – fish plates, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy as well as other cartoon characters, Santas, toys, cookie jars, cups and saucers, platters, board games, wooden and plastic jack-o-lanterns, and, being a writer, people. She introduced many to Columbia County.

“Up the winding staircase to the second floor, one could not help but notice, although Leonore’s beloved cats were no longer in residence, their odor lingered. In the bedroom, a couple was whispering over a wood-cased radio. It was apparent that the women believed she had discovered something of value. Another man was rummaging through a cardboard box. No treasures. Frustrated, he left the contents in a heap on the floor.

“Up the next staircase to the attic. Leaning against the wall was a Plexiglas sign that used to hang in the window of Leonore’s shop on Warren Street. A quarter moon with a face was painted on the plastic along with the words “Only Yesterday – Antiques and Collectibles.” No one seemed interested in the sign.

“Back downstairs at a bridge table near the entrance, the woman I observed in the bedroom was bargaining with a salesman over the wood-case radio. After all, she said the case was cracked. Therefore, she should get a break on the price. I thought of Leonore’s column …1930 wood case radio, usually $150, here $40…

 “Leonore would have understood this woman.”

                                     ••••

GOOD NEWS CAN HAPPEN IN THE BOOK BUSINESS

One of the best things that happened this year for Barricade Books was JAILING THE JOHNSTON GANG by Bruce Mowday.

We publish a growing line of true-crime books. There are now 23 in the series, and it’s growing. It includes– Scott Deitche, Cigar City Mafia, Silent Don, and now Balls: The Life of Eddie Trascher, Gentleman Gangster; Ron Chepesiuk, Gangsters of Harlem, Black Gangsters of Chicago, and his latest, Gangsters of Miami; and A Cop’s Tale, by retired NYC detective Jim O’Neil and Mel Fazzino.

When Bruce Mowday contacted me about Jailing the Johnston Gang, I was impressed with his record of marketing his self-published books. He was looking for a wider audience for this book about an East Coast gang who terrorized communities and stole millions of dollars worth of property.

When the gang couldn’t intimidate witnesses to their many crimes, they murdered them. The leader of the gang, Bruce A. Johnston Sr, had a reputation as the most notorious criminal in Pennsylvania’s Chester County. After raping his son’s girlfriend, he ordered his brothers to murder his son. He also shot his stepson to death. Nice fellow.

It’s quite a book and a tribute to the FBI, Pennsylvania’s local police departments, U.S. Attorney prosecutors, and the Chester County DA’s office, who worked together to bring down this gang.

What makes me happy is the book has turned out to be the best-performing title on Barricade Books’ list this year. It began without much bookstore support, relying on Mowday’s energy. He had almost nonstop speaking engagements at all sorts of venues.

Eventually, the bookstores started to order, and now they are selling it briskly and asking for in-store appearances where people are actually buying copies. As many of us know, book signings are unpredictable. Often people come to listen, finding a comfortable place to be entertained by an author, and then leave without making a purchase. Not this time.

For more information, see the Web page for JAILING THE JOHNSTON GANG. (http://www.barricadebooks.com/index.php/books/single/jailing_the_johnston_gang/)

                                             ••••

I want to close with a poem by Philip Larkin supplied by Patrick O’Connor a good friend who has been an editor for many years. Pat has reinvented himself a number of times. He describes himself this way:

I'm eighty-four years old, a veteran of WWII, I'm just learning to play golf, and I take tap-dancing lessons every week. Doing well at golf flunking tap dancing. I also write a column more or less weekly for a newspaper in Munhall, PA, (near Pittsburgh) called the Valley Mirror. Patrick is also an editor, poet, ski instructor. His publications include NO POEM FOR FRITZ (Poetry); THE PRAYERS OF MAN; THE MONKEES GO MOD; DON'T LOOK BACK, A MEMOIR, Published by Moyer Bell. (If you haven’t read the memoir, get a copy. It’s just great. Below, in Patrick’s words:

 “Every week, a writer in the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times or any number of magazine references THIS BE VERSE by Philip Larkin – they never reprint the poem. Larkin was furious at the attention paid to this poem for which he was best known. For those of you who don’t know it, here it is.”

THIS BE VERSE

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

            They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

            And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn

            By fools in Old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

            And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.

            It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can.

            And don’t have any kids yourself.

If I don’t manage to post another blog before the end of the year, I wish you all a happy holiday.

Carole 

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 trueslant.com/lewgrossberger on a regular basis.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy this and his other blogs.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Carole

THE FIRST THANKSGIVING...WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.

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.

 

 

BARRY FARBER - RADIO AT ITS BEST -  POSTED BY CAROLE STUART

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 www.crntalk.com and the Saturday show at www.talkradionetwork.com

FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR

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

This blog was delayed due to being caught up in football and baseball.
FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR
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: http://www.thebookseller.com/ 

REINHARD MOHN
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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