On Thursday night last week, B.J. Novak was at the recently opened Word Bookstore in Jersey City, New Jersey, on the first night of the book tour for his new collection of short stories, One More Thing. The space was filled to capacity, and Mr. Novak was reading from his devastatingly tragic-comic vignettes: One story is about a girl on a first date with a warlord, another concerns a man desperate to know the secrets of dark matter (until he loses interest) and still another is an almost haiku-length musing on how one goes about becoming Kate Moss. Mr. Novak, a veteran performer, read with a stand-up comic’s sense of timing, and though the stories presented were by no means the darkest in the collection, there was still a George Saunders-like existentialism to them. Mr. Novak read about the nothingness at the heart of the universe. He read about hope, loss, perfection. He addressed the cynicism of the modern condition without succumbing to it.
Afterward, during the Q&A, a nervous audience member raised his hand. “So do you have any funny behind-the-scenes stories about working with Mindy Kaling or anyone on The Office?”
Last night, legendary Knopf editor Ashbel Green died while at dinner with his wife, Elizabeth Osha, and friends near their Stonington, Conn., home. He was 84.
Mr. Green, who was known as “Ash,” started working at the publishing house in 1964 and went on to edit over 500 books by a stable of well-known authors, political figures and journalists such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Vaclav Havel, George H.W. Bush and Walter Cronkite.
To many in the publishing world, Mr. Green was one of the last of the old-style gentleman editors.
“You could hear his typewriter from anywhere on the floor,” said Paul Bogaards, director of publicity at Knopf. “He was a classic editor with a red pencil.”
“He was an editor’s editor,” said Knopf editor Gary Fisketjon. “Those kind of people are rare in any generation.
On Monday Farrar, Straus and Giroux acquired a biography of Blanche Knopf—the wife of Alfred A. Knopf, founder and namesake of Random House’s rival literary imprint—by Laura Claridge.
“What’s fascinating about it is this writer has access to a tremendous cache of papers,” FSG executive editor Ileene Smith told The Observer yesterday.
Although she was Read More
A few weeks ago, Paul Bogaards did something few good publicists, let alone the head of public relations at New York’s most patrician publishing house, would suggest their client do.
In the early hours of Jan. 24, the 51-year-old executive director of publicity and marketing for Knopf posted “The Hierarchy of Book Publishing,” a top-100 ranking of his colleagues and competitors, on his personal Tumblr. Far from a fawning Forbes-style list, Mr. Bogaards’s blog post was a gallows-humor-inflected schematic of an industry in collapse. Books are so screwed, it suggested, that a self-published genre geek (J.A. Konrath, #2), the father of a 4-year-old child who has purportedly been to heaven (Todd Burpo, #4) and the intern running the company Twitter feed (#6) all faced sunnier futures than a feared industry veteran like Andrew Wylie (#11).
A couple hundred publishing-industry observers liked and reblogged the post, including the official Tumblr accounts of Vintage/Anchor, Penguin Press and Pantheon Books.
“It’s funny because it’s true,” Kathryn Ratcliffe-Lee, a HarperCollins assistant, commented.
“AHHHHH PERFECTION,” wrote Emma Straub, the bookstore-clerk-turned-fiction-writer. “And I don’t even get half the jokes.”
We’d like to take a moment to call your attention to the Tumblr of Knopf publicity director Paul Bogaards, where he has published a conceptual power list (A man after our own hearts!) delineating the hierarchy of book publishing in 2012.
Yesterday Mat Honan wrote a blog post for Gizmodo asking if Amazon was “letting publishers ruin the Kindle.” The blogger had trouble reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 across his array of mobile devices, and decided it was probably because the publisher of the book, Knopf, had decided to ruin the Kindle and restrict books to a single device. He failed to place a phone call to Knopf to see if the synching problem wasn’t due to some lightning storm in the humid Amazonian data cloud.
On the occasion of his 25th anniversary of designing book covers for Knopf, Chip Kidd discusses the design for the cover of Haruki Murakami’s new novel, 1Q84. Mr. Kidd engaged in “positive-negative play with the cover and the binding” that allows the subject on the cover to “exist in two different planes of reality.”
Bill Clinton is writing another book! Called Back to Work, it’s going to tell everyone how to get America “back into the future business.”
In a statement from Knopf, the book is said to detail “how we can get out of the current economic crisis and lay a foundation for long-term prosperity. He offers specific Read More
Julian Assange’s autobiography–which he initially championed and then tried to cancel–will be published in the U.K. tomorrow by Canongate, its British publisher. Its American publisher has decided not to go along, however.
“We cancelled our contract for Julian Assange’s memoir,” wrote Knopf spokesperson Paul Bogaards in an e-mail to The Observer.
Robert Gates just retired from his job as secretary of defense. Now, of course, he is writing not one but two books.
The first, to be published in 2013, will be a memoir about his experience as the only secretary of defense to serve two different presidents from both parties while at war the entire Read More