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Techie book news: What’s next? Cliff Notes on Twitter?

September 29, 2009
Sarah Palin, literary prodigy

Sarah Palin, literary prodigy

Electronic readers like the Kindle and Sony Reader will be the hot gift item this Christmas, according to the Los Angeles Times, but you won’t be able to read Sarah Palin’s new autobiography on one, even though she pounded the thing out in under four months, reports the Associated Press.

That’s because publishers worry that e-books, a tiny but fast-growing segment of the $24 billion publishing business, will eat into sales of more expensive hardcover editions.

Palin’s book, a 400-page opus titled Going Rogue, won’t be available as an an e-book until Dec. 26. HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis is remarkably frank about her company’s reasoning: “We want to maximize hardcover sales over the holidays.”

Going Rogue, originally scheduled for a Spring 2010 release, will now be published Nov. 17. Palin perplexed and annoyed pundits when she quit her job as Alaska governor with more than a year remaining on her first term, but now we know why:

She wanted to devote her full energies to writing Going Rogue, which presumably will explain why she should be allowed to bring the intellectual prowess and political sophistication she showed as John McCain’s vice-presidential running mate to the White House in 2012.

Going Rogue will have a first printing of 1.5 million copies, the same as the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s recently published memoir, True Compass

IN OTHER E-BOOK NEWS: Celebrated magazine editor Tina Brown, who now runs The Daily Beast, an online news and commentary site, thinks traditional publishing is way too slow. So she’s inked a deal with Persea Books to generate e-books by Daily Beast writers and reporters at record speed, reports The New York Times.

Called Beast Books, the new venture will allow an author three months to write a book, while editors and designers will spend a month knocking it into shape for electronic publication. Traditional publishing usually requires a year for writing, and a year for production before a book hits the shelves (unless the author is Sarah Palin).

Brown says topical books take too long to come to print, thereby missing an opportunity to find readers and influence people.

“There is a real window of interest when people want to know something,” Brown said. “And that window slams shut pretty quickly in the media cycle.”

JUST WHAT WE NEED, EASIER ACCESS TO SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS: Meanwhile, Sony has signed up two small e-book publishers, Smashwords and Author Solutions, to sell self-published e-books on the Sony Reader. .

“This is one more example of the democratization of book publishing,” said Mark Coker, founder of Los Gatos, Calif.-based Smashwords.

You say “democratization,” I say “mobification.”

KINDLE FLUNKS AT PRINCETON: E-books may be the future of reading, but most of the 50 Princeton students given a Kindle in a pilot program despise the thing, according to

“”I hate to sound like a Luddite, but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool,” said one student. “It’s clunky, slow and a real pain to operate.”

APPLE TABLET UPDATE: Gadget geeks, meanwhile, look eagerly to Apple to perform the same trick for e-readers that the iPod turned for music players – show competitors how it’s done. cites the rehiring of Michael Tchao as vice president of product marketing as a promising sign they won’t have to wait much longer.

Tchao, you see, was one of the original “ideators” (don’t you love geek speak?) behind the Apple Newton, a progenitor of the hand-held electronic device, like Blackberry and iPhone, that dominate human existence today. Of course, the Newton never made it into production, so can this really bode well for the Apple Tablet?

FINALLY: SLOW DOWN YOU’RE MOVING TOO FAST: For an antidote to all this speed, Eva Hoffman offers a long, thoughtful essay over at the Guardian about how digital technology — specifically its very speed and efficiency — is making us dumber by the minute.

Preaching to the choir here, Eva, preaching to the choir.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2009 12:30 pm

    I do not quite understand. The old time publishing business is one of the most controlled in the world. Very little room for good authors. Very closed group for sure. It hurts the education , intelligence, and literature world. The best do not always get to market. Now we have the new speed group. They are exposing new talent but they also will go by many as they ramp up. I certainly do not want the hard copy book to disappear. The industry itself really has self inflicted wounds. Money, money, money.

  2. September 29, 2009 1:28 pm

    Interesting article in the NEATODAY Magazine. Called “Turning the Page, and another called”Beyond the Stacks. The school librarian in the digital age. All about the digital world and books.

  3. rachel permalink
    September 29, 2009 2:52 pm

    1. Nice picture. Why is she so scary?
    2. I think the fact that it is going to be available the day after Christmas in ebook form is frank enough for anyone. However, if I wanted to subject someone to the double hell of reading her autobiography and an ebook in general then I would just trace a book on a sheet of paper put the paper in a box, wrap it all pretty and say: sorry, tomorrow you will get your real present: a book that’s not a book.
    3. I understand the concept of The Daily Beast publishing time sensitive books quickly – with the disappearance of print journalism, books could take up the slack. Except for the fact that they normally take a while to hit the shelf. So it makes sense. But somehow it still seems like a bad idea.
    4. What’s wrong with being a Luddite?
    5. I agree. Let’s slow down, we’re moving too fast.
    6. Too much news here, Chauncey Mabe. Necessitates many comments. (6 to be exact).

  4. Lynne permalink
    September 29, 2009 7:46 pm

    I’ll never give up my books, never. Thanks, Chauncy, for another great piece to share with my journalism students. We’re including a Kindle review in our holiday edition.

  5. September 30, 2009 9:33 am

    Thanks for keeping me updated with your usual flair. However, knowing Palin’s masterpiece is soon to be released makes me wonder why I bother. I mean, given how erudite she is as a speaker, I can only imagine how breathtaking her written prose (or her ghostwriter’s) must be.
    Great to be reading you regularly again.

  6. PJ Parrish permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:26 am

    Palin’s ghost writer is Lynn Vincent who spent 10 years working for the Christian World Magazine before taking time off to work with Palin this summer. Along the way, Vincent published several other books, among them memoirs focused on Christian pop singer Michael English, former PLO member Kamal Saleem, and Delta Force leader Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin. Vincent is also a credited author on “Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party,” a take-down of the Democrats co-written by conservative crackpot Robert Stacy McCain.

    Sounds like a marriage made in celebrity memoir heaven.

  7. Candice permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:00 pm

    I worked for an academic publishing house back in the late 1980s when so-called camera-ready books were all the rage because you didn’t have to edit and it took less time to publish. Never mind the quality.

    The company evaluated its acquisitions editors largely based on the number of books they submitted for publication per year. I remember one editor so desperate that she dug through her own rejection files to meet her quota. Never mind the quality.

    As for Palin–you really think anyone will actually buy that tripe? Youbetcha. Never mind the quality.

  8. February 6, 2010 11:33 pm

    Celeb XRay

  9. September 13, 2010 12:08 pm

    Nice article. 🙂


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