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.
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.
Time to relax post-BEA—summer Fridays, the publishing world’s traditional long weekends, start today. So! Pack the many free totes you collected with some (non-required??) reading and head for the Jitney now.
Or seek out a more creative destination. Knopf publicity director Paul Bogaards, who had a pretty good week with the new Read More
On Friday afternoon we ran through some of the most exciting galleys hitting the streets this summer. One we didn’t include was The Original of Laura, the final, unfinished novella from the late Vladimir Nabokov, which Knopf will be publishing on November 17. The reason Laura didn’t make it on our list was Read More
Yesterday afternoon, the author Alain de Botton posted a comment to the personal blog of critic Caleb Crain, who over the weekend had written unfavorably about his latest book in The New York Times Book Review. In his post, Mr. de Botton told Mr. Crain that he had “killed” his book’s Read More
When David Shipley, editor of the New York Times Op-Ed page, and Will Schwalbe, editor in chief of Hyperion Books, met for oysters in Grand Central Terminal in May of 2005, neither man would have guessed that their conversation that day would result in a 247-page book about e-mail.
“We were having lunch at the Read More