Book sales in 2013 were so-so — but with a caveat – the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group report today. Total net revenues for books and professional and scholarly journals fell 0.4% to $27.0B, with net units -1.2% to 2.6B, The numbers were drearier if you just look at the trade sector, which includes general consumer fiction and non-fiction, and religion. Net revenues there fell 2.3% to $14.6B, with units -1.7% to 2.3B. But the trade group says the numbers are a little misleading: 2012 “was the strongest year in publishing’s recent history with a series of blockbuster releases” including The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades Of Grey. Last year’s trade revenues were 4.5% higher than 2011 with units +11%.
Adult Non-Fiction was the strongest category in 2013 (revenues +5.4% to $4.7B, units +2.8% to 488.8M). The story for trade sector eBooks was mixed: Sales hit a record in units sold (+10.1%to 512.7M) but revenues slipped (-0.7% to $3.1B) with fewer blockbusters and lower prices generally vs 2012. The revenue numbers represent the amounts that publishers see after returns, discounts, and promotions — not retail prices.
Here’s a novel concept: NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products Group and Hyperion Books are teaming to publish Pawnee: The Greatest Town In America, a book “written” by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. Pawnee, Ind., is the setting for the series, which centers on Knope, a deputy director in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The book, penned by the series’ writing staff, will be published Oct. 4, a couple of weeks after the Primetime Emmy Awards are handed out; the series is expected to garner some Emmy attention when nominations are revealed July 14 (Poehler received an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy nom in 2010). “The ever-expanding town of Pawnee has become its own character in our show, and we’re thrilled that we got to accelerate that expansion in one giant, goofy 240-page comedy book,” said Mike Schur, co-creator and executive producer of the series. “It’s a complete portrait of Everytown, USA, which every reader — whether a fan of the show or a newbie — can enjoy.”
In what seemed an inevitable move once it fell behind on vendor payments, the brick and mortar bookseller Borders officially filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy today as management attempts to figure out a way to keep afloat the Borders and Waldenbook chains. Its first move will be to close 30% of its stores. It doesn’t seem that different from woes of Blockbuster, another retail system eclipsed by upstart rivals like Netflix and Redbox that embraced technological changes that have hobbled businesses that require real estate and manpower costs. Apple’s announcement that it will streamline digital subscriptions of print magazines to its iPad and other devices seems another step toward rendering the traditional newsstand an anachronism, eventually removing another staple of bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble. While the Apple deal still has to be figured out–the company is demanding 30% of subscription revenue, magazine publishers are howling about it and consumers are going to want an e-book level discount for a product cheaper to produce because of no paper costs–the walls are closing in on brick and mortar set. Even to a paper purist like myself, the notion of lugging around a heavy copy of Keith Richards’ Life, or the Vanity Fair Hollywood issue when both can exist on the same lightweight gizmo has made me reconsider, the way many drivers stopped driving stick shift when automatic transmissions became commonplace.
Here is the official word which Borders has posted on its … Read More »
Simon & Schuster today is about to market the heck out of O, its anonymously written and self-proclaimed provocative novel about Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. That’s right — the campaign that hasn’t happened yet. Supposedly, it’s penned by someone “who’s been in the room with Obama”. This is kinda different from Primary Colors, the thinly disguised roman a clef about Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and also written anonymously until journalist Joe Klein came forward to claim responsibility. That novel sold a ton of copies for rival publishing house Random House, and S&S is obviously trying to capitalize on that success. Will Hollywood bite? “We haven’t discussed it with anyone yet, but it’s early, and no one’s read a thing about it until today,” S&S publisher Jonathan Karp just told Deadline.
Primary Colors was deemed a stiff at the box office when Universal made it into a comedy in 1998 with Mike Nichols directing and Elaine May writing the adapted screenplay. Still, that script was nominated for an Oscar along with Kathy Bates for Supporting Actress. S&S is owned by CBS Inc, so maybe Showtime or even CBS Films might get a crack at it first. Meantime, here’s a (satirical) memo Karp just sent his authors:
On January 25, we’ll be publishing a secret novel simply titled O, about President Obama’s campaign for re-election in 2012. The author of the novel wishes to remain anonymous. You may be asked to comment on whether or not you are the author. If
EXCLUSIVE: Gersh has hired Joseph Veltre to become head of its book department, where he will broker publishing deals and sell books for film and TV. Veltre had spent the past six years running The Veltre Company, and he’ll bring all his clients with him when he joins the Gotham Gersh office on February 1. Veltre’s author clients include Steve Amick (The Lake), Taylor Antrim (The Headmaster Ritual), Jessica Blank (Almost Home), Bob Friel (The Barefoot Bandit), Robyn Harding (Chronicles of a Midlife Crisis), Stephanie Klein (Straight Up and Dirty), Alison Pace (Through Thick and Thin), Jason Pinter (The Mark), Matthew Polly (American Shaolin), David Treuer (The Translation of Dr. Apelles), and Lauren Willig (The Secret History of the Pink Carnation).
Phyllis Wender continues at Gersh, where she had been brokering publishing deals. Veltre fills a void left by Sara Self, who made all the book to movie deals for the agency before she left. Before starting his own company, Veltre had been director of development for Miramax Films and editor-at-large for Miramax Books, and before that was an editor at HarperCollins and St. Martin’s Press. “I’ve been admirer of the agency for years, and this is a great opportunity,” Veltre told me.
Gersh recently bolstered its lit ranks by acquired boutique agency Hohman Maybank Lieb, and it solidified its independent film distribution/finance department by making Jay Cohen a partner and pairing him with producer Jennifer Dana.
Law & Order executive producer/showrunner Neal Baer is making his novel writing debut with a series of 3 books. The novels, which Baer is writing with SVU co-executive producer Jonathan Greene, have been sold to Kensington. The medical thriller books, the first of which is titled Kill Switch, are set in the world of forensic psychiatry, an area previously explored by Silence of the Lambs, among others. They are slated to be published in January of 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The series centers on Claire Waters, a young forensic psychiatrist. Baer, a pediatrician by trade, had had some training in psychiatry and, during his tenure on SVU, he has talked to many forensic psychiatrists. “I became interested in the science behind what makes a criminal mind. Claire is driven to understand the scientific explanation of why people would commit a crime,” he said. The books stem from a feature outline Baer and Greene wrote 8 years ago. Now, they’re planning to go full circle, eying a feature adaptation for the novels. The duo’s agency Paradigm is taking out to film producers a synopsis for the first book and the part of it that has been completed.
Baer is wrapping his final season at the helm of SVU before transitioning to an overall deal at CBS TV Studios in June.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has acquired world rights to The Night Circus, a first novel by Erin Morgenstern that will be published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group in September. The book is the story of two young prodigy illusionists in the 19th Century who are groomed to battle out their fathers’ age-old rivalry in an enchanted circus created just for their competition. They complicate matters when the young man and woman fall in love.
The book was a much-buzzed about title at the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair. Summit president of production Erik Feig chased it hard, and came away with the rights after a persuasive meeting with lit agent Richard Pine, who had planned to hold meetings with all studios after the holiday. Those meetings were canceled while Pine ‘s Inkwell Management and UTA made a deal that covers both movie and TV rights. The aspiration is to make a film first, and then possibly consider TV options. Pine will be exec producer, and Feig will oversee development with exec Jeyun Choi for Summit.
“The Night Circus sets a spell on the reader from its very first page and we cannot wait to find the right filmmaker and cast to make the world come as inordinately alive as it does in the mind’s eye,” Feig said in a statement.
Just last week, the literary agent for UK author Patrick Ness was in Los Angeles discussing film rights to his celebrated Chaos Walking children’s book trilogy. “The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say,” is the brilliant opening line of the first book The Knife Of Never Letting Go but Ness’ agent Michelle Kass tells me she has been deliberately holding off selling the rights, despite big Hollywood interest, until after Candlewick published the final book Monsters of Men in September. But Kass admits there are some problems with trying to turn Chaos Walking into the next Harry Potter. “First, the book takes place in a world where everybody can hear everybody else’s thoughts. Second, it has some very adult moments. But I think that the Chaos Walking books could be turned into an astounding film, and it’s not just a children’s film.” Her trip west couldn’t be better timed. It comes just as British Prime Minister David Cameron is exhorting the UK film industry to make more fantasy films based on bestselling British children’s authors, even going so far as to tell the House of Commons: “I think one of the keys to Warner’s success is the Harry Potter film franchise which they have been making. There is a great tip and key for filmmakers here. That is, we have got to make films people want to watch.”
Warner Bros in particular has been searching for another British kids fantasy franchise to replace Harry Potter now that it’s coming to an end. It needs to put something in its $161 million studio facility that will reopen in north London in mid-2012. The studio has just renewed its option on UK educator turned author Joseph Delaney’s children’s fantasy series, The Spook’s Apprentice, which has been in development since 2005 and is now called Seventh Son. Sergei Bodrov has been hired to direct, and Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures are co-financing. They’re co-producing with Lionel Wigram, executive producer of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and a new children’s author himself, and Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road (Clash Of The Titans). The book tells the story of a 13-year-old boy who is apprenticed to a forbidding wizard though I’m told the Warner Bros’ script now concentrates on the 2 teenage characters in the novel. Sounds like they’re making it more Harry Potter-ish. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After cranking out three bestsellers, E! Entertainment Chelsea Lately host Chelsea Handler has taken the next step forward. She has been given her own imprint by her publisher, the Hachette Book Group USA division Grand Central Publishing. The imprint, called Borderline Amazing/A Chelsea Handler Book, will kick off with Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me, a book that will be published May 2011. The imprint starts with a three-book deal. The second will ostensibly written under the byline of her long-suffering dog, Chunk (the pooch has a co-writer, who has been helping with a Twitter feed that apparently has a rabid following). Borderline Amazing Productions, the shingle she runs with Tom Brunelle, will oversee the publishing venture.
Handler, who has become increasingly entrepreneurial since her E! show premiered in 2007, said the imprint gives her the opportunity to hatch books from some of the talent that appears on her show. Handler is also embracing the inevitable: once up and comers get established, the public wants to see them taken down a few pegs. Why shouldn’t the latter process be handled by loved ones who can profit from it?
Said Handler: “I’ve written three books now, and while they throw money at you after awhile, I completed the Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang book tour, went out every weekend and signed all those books, and I don’t know if I can do it … Read More »
More lucrative extensions for HBO’s flagship series True Blood. HBO will release a True Blood graphic novel,True Blood, Vol.1: All Together Now. on February 8, 2011. It is a compilation of the six issues from the first True Blood comic book series plus bonus content. Since debuting in July, the True Blood comic series has become the best selling title for IDW Publishing in their history.
Denis Leary goes Hollywood with the promo campaign for his new book, Suck on This Year: LYFAO@140 Characters or Less, a compilation of his tweets. Here is a look at the movie trailer-type ad for the book.
Lionsgate plans to turn Heidi Murkoff’s bestselling how-to manual What to Expect When You’re Expecting into a blueprint for a romantic comedy, and has hired Whip It! scribe Shauna Cross to rewrite the first draft by Heather Hach. The book has sold north of 16 million copies, and is being turned into a pic in the vein of Love Actually, where 5 couples experience the surprises that happen when a stork visit is imminent. They’ll hire a director shortly and will start production next spring. WME reps Cross.
BREAKING: The e-book rift between Random House Worldwide chairman Markus Dohle and lit agent Andrew Wylie really is in the past history books. The duo has formalized a far-reaching deal to publish a memoir by Salman Rushdie. The book will be published in 2012 and will cover the Booker Prize-winning author’s entire life, including the time when he was forced into hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa on his life following the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988. It revives a long relationship between the author and publisher.
The seven-figure deal will involve multiple imprints under the Random House roof, and covers hardcover, paperback, audio and e-book rights for English, German and Spanish-speaking territories. Random House will publish in most of the territories, while Knopf Canada will handle the book up north. The RH imprint Jonathan Cape will publish in the UK; Germany will be handled by RH’s Verlagsgruppe Random House imprint and Spain and Latin America editions will be published by Random House Mondadori’s Literatura Modadori. The Wylie Agency will sell other territories.
This is a giant turnaround from earlier this year, when Random House issued its own fatwa on Wylie after he revealed plans to form an imprint and sell the e-book rights to his author backlists exclusively to Amazon for use on its Kindle device. Dohle rescinded his order to view Wylie as a competitor when they met and found common ground for RH to continue … Read More »
Universal Pictures has hired Robert Nelson Jacobs to adapt Sweep for Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Picture Show banner to produce with Alloy Entertainment. The Cate Tiernan young adult fantasy novel is about a 16-year old who learns she’s a blood witch, descended from an ancient, powerful line.
EXCLUSIVE: ICM has hired Nick Harris to co-head its books-to-film department in the agency’s Los Angeles office. Harris and Josie Freedman will co-head the department, which also includes veteran agent Ron Bernstein. Harris is expected to join the agency on November 1st. A 10-year veteran of the film and television rights biz, Harris began at AP Watt Literary Agency based in London, then moved to Los Angeles in 2006 to join Rabineau Wachter Sanford Harris (RWSH) as a partner before moving to Mosaic, where he repped authors, graphic novelists, and comic book creators. Harris negotiated film rights for Fox Searchlight’s The Last King of Scotland, as well as The Men Who Stare at Goats, and the upcoming We Bought a Zoo. Freedman, an attorney, joined The Gersh Agency and in 2001 moved to ICM negotiating film and television deals based on books, life rights, articles and short stories. Her sales include: He’s Just Not That Into You, The Illusionist, Thank You for Smoking, King Dork, and Boomsday.
Agents tell me international publisher demand for celebrity biographies is dipping. But the reps and publishers I’ve spoken to are quietly confident business overall will be better at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair which opens today – at least compared to the disastrous London market in April. Laura Morris, an independent agent who represents film author David Thomson, says, “There’s a feeling that things are getting better. Christmas books still do well. The interest in Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Freedom shows you can still make a big splash with books.” “Yes, the market does seem to be picking up, but quietly,” says literary agent Julian Friedmann of Blake Friedmann. But fewer people will travel to Frankfurt this year. Read More »
Guillermo del Toro is at The Grove in Los Angeles tonight for a few hours that began at 7 PM to sign copies of The Fall, the second installment of The Strain vampire trilogy novel that he wrote with Chuck Hogan (whose book Prince of Thieves was turned into The Town by Ben Affleck). Published last week, the book has already hit No. 8 on The New York Times bestseller list. That’s a slot higher on the list than his first book, The Strain. Tonight is one of the last signing sessions after Del Toro did stops in San Francisco, New York and Seattle. He said that while fans are most curious about his plans to direct an adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness with James Cameron for Universal, many implore him to make one more installment of Hellboy.Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Channing Tatum is set to star in The Contortionist’s Handbook, the film adaptation of the Craig Clevenger novel that will be financed by GreeneStreet Films and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment as a co-production between those companies and DAS Films. Production will begin early next year.
Tatum will play a forger who moves smoothly from one identity to the next because of a strict code of conduct that keeps him from getting caught or having to deal with his own troubled past. That gets upended when he falls for a beautiful woman with her own dark secret. Robin Shushan wrote the script. The novel was published in 2002.
The film will be produced by Das Films’ Sriram Das, GreeneStreet’s John Penotti, Tim Williams and Sidney Kimmel. Tatum is aboard the project as co-producer, along with Reid Carolin, his partner in the shingle 33andout.
Stretching into a producing role with The Contortionist’s Handbook seems a logical progression for Tatum, the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra star who broadened into the romance genre with the hit Dear John. Tatum has been filming The Dilemma, the Ron Howard-directed comedy for Universal Pictures that stars Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, and next begins shooting The Vow opposite Rachel McAdams. Tatum just wrapped the Steven Soderbergh-directed Haywire. He’ll next star in the Kevin Macdonald-directed Focus Features drama The Eagle, playing a Roman soldier who ventures into the untamed … Read More »
The network’s movie arm has optioned The Ex Files, a 2003 chick-lit novel by Jane Moore, a columnist on Murdoch tabloid The Sun. Veteran TV and film producer Leonard Goldberg will produce. The Ex Files is about a a couple who invite all their ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends to their wedding. Goldberg has boiled the title down to The Exes, presumably to avoid confusion with Scully and Mulder, and looks to be mining the same territory as 27 Dresses and Bride Wars and My Best Friend’s Wedding. Then again, rom-coms about impending nuptials do tend to perform at the box office. Tally Garner of Curtis Brown negotiated the CBS deal on behalf of Moore. ICM client Sahara Lotti is adapting the novel.