On this date in 1959 Alaska became the US’s 49th State. Til then the Interior Department had a big hand in administering the territory, though there was also local government. Spanning 1941-46, Ruth Gruber—now 104, and the most senior living member of FDR administration—worked in the Cabinet-level department, and during that time served in Alaska as Secretary Harold Ickes’ Special Representative to the region. Her work there began in Spring 1941, a strategic place to be, especially when just six months later the Japanese air force bombed Pearl Harbor. After Hawaii, Alaska was the US’s other key Pacific outpost. She was a natural for the role in Alaska, which she got at age 29, as Harold Ickes had read her 1937 book I Went to the Soviet Arctic, a travelogue she wrote after becoming the first journalist or scholar—Westerner or Soviet, male or female—to travel in Siberia and observe the country’s population centers above the Arctic Circle. She explains how she got that earlier opportunity—after a Letter of Introduction to Soviet specialists by the mentor and Arctic explorer Viljalmur Stefanson, in her terrific memoir Ahead of Time: My Early Years as a Foreign Correspondent. One role she took on in Alaska was the establishment of homesteading in the vast land, anticipating especially the appeal the offer of land to settlers could have for US troops being demobilized as WWII ended. Her efforts helped lead ultimately to statehood, not even fifteen years following war’s end. You can read much more about Ruth’s career in her 18 books, 6 of which I helped her publish, many available nowadays from Open Road Integrated Media, and in my many blog posts about her, linked to here. Here she was photographed with local people.
For book industry pals like me, who’d read and wondered this week about the import of national book distributor Ingram’s acquisition of the digital company Aer.io, I was excited tonight to read this analysis by friend and industry observer Mike Shatzkin, which anticipates potentially a very dynamic platform, one that could provide thousands of website managers and Internet publishers tools to help them sell books—print and digital editions—directly to their visitors. For my part, I see that it could provide bloggers who write about books, including me, the ability to sell titles directly from our websites to our readers and visitors. I currently affiliate with Powell’s Books of Portland, OR, but that arrangement has long been limited to print copies, with no prospect for selling ebooks, which is the format more likely to be preferred by blog readers, with rapid availability of digital content, and no shipping involved. As a retail bookseller before I was an editor and blogger, with a career-long penchant for sharing my enthusiasms, I’m eager to learn about these new options, and from an industry perspective, I anticipate significant interest from bloggers like me.
Shatzkin speculates that the new platform, combining Aer.io’s tools with Ingram’s capacity, has the potential to dramatically increase the sheer volume of online bookselling, with the potential to bring along many new types of Web publishers; it could also represent competition for Amazon, hence the title, “Can crowd-sourced retailing give Amazon a run for its money?”
Here you’ll find 1) a screenshot of Ingram’s announcement; 2) a portion of Aer.io founder Ron Martinez’s optimistic interview with The Bookseller, explaining what the platform provides now, and what it may offer in the future; and 3) some paragraphs from Shatzkin’s cogent analysis. You can read these screenshots by clicking Pause at the upper right corner, and read them in their entirety on the respective websites: 1) / 2) / 3).
As readers of this blog may recall from earlier posts, I represent J. Michael Orenduff, author of the POT THIEF mystery series, which in 2009 became an indie- and self-publishing success. In 2013, we licensed the six-book series to Open Road Integrated Media for new ebook and trade paperback editions, and Open Road began publishing the books—The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein, The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier, The Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid—in 2014. The seventh book, The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O’Keeffe, will be published in January 2016, and in recent weeks we’ve been receiving blurbs for the new book, and today we got the first advance review, a strong, selling notice from Publishers Weekly, pasted in below.
One of the endorsements came from Anne Hillerman—daughter of the late mystery master Tony Hillerman, a personal favorite—who’s renewed the bestsellerdom of her father with new novels featuring Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito, and longtime series characters Lt Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee in Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock With Wings. Hillerman said this about the latest POT THIEF book:
“The newest installment in J. Michael Orenduff’s smartly funny series is filled with wild situations, clever word play, and a good helping of fast-paced action. I loved every twist and turn.”
As soon as we have a final cover I’ll post it here. Congrats to the author and Open Road on the excellent review. This link connects to Open Road’s ordering page for the books.
Hooray for NYC writer Jeremiah Moss, proprietor of the blog “Vanishing New York,” who will be writing a book inspired by his blog for a HarperCollins imprint. H/t to Publishersmarketplace.com for reporting the news in their daily deals email. Subscription is required for viewing the book industry site, but here’s a quick screenshot of the item.
It’s always gratifying when I know I’ve helped an author make his or her book better than when I received the manuscript from them, and even better when they show their appreciation with a recommendation that I can use in marketing my editorial and publishing services to other writers. Professor Dov Waxman’s Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel is an extremely important and timely book, just the kind of title I enjoyed acquiring when I was an in-house editor, one that I am proud to have worked on with Prof Waxman under the rubric of Philip Turner Book Productions. I look forward to seeing it in print in 2016. Meantime, I’m pleased to share his recommendation of my services:
“I was looking for someone to edit my book Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel (Princeton University Press, 2016) and my agent recommended Philip Turner. His recommendation was excellent. Philip turned out to be exactly the kind of editor I was looking for—thorough and detailed, with a keen understanding of my goals as a writer, my intended audience, and my book’s arguments. His careful editing has certainly improved my book, and I recommend him wholeheartedly.”—Dov Waxman, Professor of Political Science, International Affairs, and Israel Studies, Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies, Co-Director, Middle East Center, Northeastern University
For my #FridayReads this week, I just finished reading Marilinne Cooper’s excellent suspense novel Blue Moon, set in a New England town reminiscent of Franconia, NH, where she and I went to Franconia College. I was engrossed in discovering how the clever plot resolves, and delighted with the suspenseful ending, and the goodwill among major characters. I was with Marilinne at our FC Reunion last weekend, where I was excited to pick up a copy of this, her latest novel featuring her 6-book series character, investigative reporter Tyler Mackenzie. I read and love this genre, and this book is very well done. Good job by Ms Cooper, whose books are available via this link.
I really enjoyed reading The Ecliptic, a novel recently published in Britain by English author Benjamin Wood. It's narrated by a female painter named Knell, set in part in London in the early 1960s. The story opens at a mysterious refuge for artists where Knell and other creative people (a playwright, an architect, a composer) have found safe harbor. Ensconced in the protective cocoon of this colony, to which benefactors have sent them so they could work only on their artistic pursuits, they think are far away from all worldy concerns, until a new artist turns up in their midst, a troubled young man. Wood is a maker of great sentences—the kind your mind likes to chew on and re-read, making leisurely progress through the book a delicious process—and his story is an engrossing one with characters you come to really care about. The Ecliptic is the second novel by Benjamin Wood, whose first novel, The Bellwether Revivals, I am eager to read next. Here's a picture of well-thumbed the galley I read, with my business card out the top, which I used as a bookmark over the couple of weeks I savored this novel of ideas that explores the creative process in entertaining and thoughtful ways. The book will be published in the States in May 2016. I highly recommend you watch for this one.
As I reported on this blog last month, I was excited to begin working with Rizzoli to help them open their new flagship bookstore on Broadway near 26th St in Manhattan. It was gratifying to see the enthusiastic response of many friends and readers here who cheered my return to bookselling, more than 30 years after I got my start in the book business with Undercover Books in Cleveland. After working for Rizzoli pretty much all of July—including a stretch when I worked 19 out of 22 days, determined physical effort as part of a hard-working crew to which I was proud to contribute my efforts—we were excited to open the store to customers on July 27. However, due to the ongoing build-out of the 5,000 square foot space, with two large rooms then incomplete, and construction continuing for more weeks, I’ve decided to step back from working in the store for now. In the days I worked there after it opened to customers, the foot traffic was brisk, and I’m optimistic that the bookstore is going to do very well, indeed. I’m glad I was able to contribute to Rizzoli’s reopening in New York City, and am grateful to store manager Chad Bunning who gave me the opportunity, and with whom I share a devotion to energetic bookselling. I urge you to visit Rizzoli’s handsome new store, and if you first want to see a bit of what it looks like, below is a picture I took at a reception held in July for media and publishing professionals, and at this link there are others. For my part, I am excited to return full-time to my independent editorial and publishing consultancy, Philip Turner Book Productions, with some assignments from new clients already lined up for the fall.