It comes as a surprise that Simon & Schuster is launching yet another new books site, called 250 Words.
The publisher’s first foray into literary websites was Bookish, a book recommendation site started by the Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and Penguin USA.
Last month, we learned that Bookish had been sold to the e-book retailer Zola. It seems it was unable to compete with huge sites with Amazon, and struggled to draw in readers since its significantly delayed 2013 launch.
Our sources tell us the publishing groups sold Bookish, which had reportedly received $20 million in funding, at a pretty serious loss.
So the debut of 250 Words seems strange, given that the last attempt at a books site was hardly a best-seller. Mediabistro reported yesterday that the publishing company has just launched 250 Words, a site that aims to become “a hub for intelligent business thinking, with a focus on books.”
Once upon a time, I took a meeting with a book agent who handled some of my favorite comedians. I pitched him a couple of ideas, to the vein of “Like David Sedaris, but not as funny, and for Lena Dunham money.”
He gently pulled my head out of my ass and told me that no one made Lena Dunham money (except Garth Risk Hallberg, I guess), and if I really wanted to cash in, I would need to write for the YA genre. “Like Twilight,” he said, “but you know, not actually Twilight.” (Though based on the success of 50 Shades of Grey, I could have written actually Twilight.)
The Book Biz
People in book publishing are accustomed to getting free books, but that particular perk doesn’t make sense as a way to gin up excitement and generate publicity when the book in question’s target readership is people in book publishing. So in order to sell Hothouse, Boris Kachka’s history of Farrar, Straus & Giroux (which we reviewed in this week’s paper), publisher Simon & Schuster has tried a novel approach: a well-produced mailer announcing that there will be no free copies.
“Don’t even think about asking us for a free copy,” proclaims a glossy brochure that went out earlier this week. “Seriously. Don’t even think about it,” warns the back cover.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Simon & Schuster will become the first major publishing company to dive into the booming self-publishing market, the Times reports.
Self-publishing has promised a lucrative future for book publishing, even as it seemed like the last resort for authors who have not been able to go through the traditional book publishing industry.
HarperCollins’s parent company News Corp. is interested in acquiring Simon & Schuster from CBS, according to The Wall Street Journal, which is also owned by News Corp.
The prospect of a merger between Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins doesn’t come as a surprise to publishing insiders.
Cover your ears, MFA rejects, conceptual poets and other miserable literary types. Yesterday, Publishers Marketplace (subscription required) yielded two new blog-to-book deals. Three if we count Hairpin domestic goddess Jolie Kerr’s My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag.
Meet the newest bloggers-turned-authors:
Rob Lowe earned accolades upon the publication of his memoir Stories I Only Tell My Friends when it turned out he was literate, or as The New York Times put it, “He’s Handsome — You Noticed? — but Not Just.” That Mr. Lowe was both a celebrity and had apparently read Elements of Style put him on the bestseller list. Now he’s back for another round!
Now A Major Motion Picture
The other day we noticed that Simon & Schuster imprint Free Press had advertised an opening for a senior editor on Publishers Marketplace — did this mean an expansion? Well, maybe not: today Ecco books, the imprint founded by Dan Halpern and owned by HarperCollins, announced the hire of Free Press senior editor Hilary Redmon. Ms. Redmon will serve as executive editor at Ecco with a focus on acquiring non-fiction titles.
Sony Pictures has acquired the rights to Walter Isaacson’s forthcoming biography of Steve Jobs. Titled Steve Jobs, Simon & Schuster has already moved the publication date for the book to October 24 from November 12. Sony Pictures has adapted other business books to the screen, including Moneyball and The Social Network. [Deadline Hollywood] Read More
John “NOT the father of liberalism” Locke, a self-published author of a series of thriller novels starring an ex-CIA assassin named Donovan Creed, has signed a sales and distribution agreement with Simon & Schuster.