Book-Biz Bigwigs Relieved to Flee Middlebrow Marriott

transomdame edna 1 getty Book Biz Bigwigs Relieved to Flee Middlebrow MarriottThe publishing industry may be sinking, as Andy Borowitz joked at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 18, but you wouldn’t have known it from the venue: Cipriani Wall Street, all domed, vaulted ceilings and Bellinis on silver trays.

Until last year, the event was held annually at the Marriott Times Square, which literary agent Lynn Nesbit told the Transom was “like going to a sales convention in Omaha.” For the 2008 Awards, the Grove/Atlantic president and National Book Foundation chairman, Morgan Entrekin, was enlisted to spice things up. Mr. Entrekin had his own description of the event’s former location: “It was like having the awards at an airport terminal!” The Transom then shared Ms. Nesbit’s Omaha description with him, to which Mr. Entrekin quickly corrected himself, “Well, yes! Sure. An airport in Omaha.”

“It’s marvelous isn’t it? Just beautiful,” Barry Humphries, a.k.a Dame Edna, marveled to wife Lizzie Spencer of the new location.

“It’s much more hi-si than I thought! I thought it would just be all nebbishy literary types,” said British interior designer and newly minted memoirist Nicholas Haslam of the event, which honored Dave Eggers and Gore Vidal.