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August 22nd, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Bicycling; Urban Life & New York City

Ducks on the Hudson

Looking south with a flock of ducks from Hudson Beach w/a view of the west side of Manhattan and downtown w/NJ shore on the far right.

Source: Philip Turner

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August 22nd, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Publishing & Bookselling

#FridayReads—Marilinne Cooper’s Suspenseful “Blue Moon”

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.


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August 18th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Sports

Hoping Lebron Extends His University of Akron Support to the School’s Publishing Arm

My news reading this morning included quite a synchronous twofer:

1) Here I read about the staggering generosity of Lebron James’ gift of full scholarships to attend University of Akron for more than 1100 Akron high school students—a philanthropic package with about a $41M value.
2) Then I read the latest update in another University of Akron story, this one involving the school’s scholarly publishing arm. Last week, local outlets and Publishers Weekly reported University of Akron Press would be shuttered, as part of wider cost-cutting measures at the school (ending the jobs of more than 150 people, including the press’s staff). Thankfully, today brings news that amid a spontaneous campaign by press supporters, university administrators have rehired two of the press’s staffers, and affirmed they’ll take “all steps necessary” to make sure the press “maintains its well-earned reputation as a vibrant, active academic press.”

I’m sure this was the first time I’d encountered two important stories about the University of Akron one after another like this and so wrote this waggish tweet.

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August 17th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Publishing & Bookselling

I Savored “The Ecliptic,” Benjamin Wood’s Novel about Artists and the Creative Process

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.



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August 10th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels; Philip Turner Book Productions; Publishing & Bookselling

With Rizzoli Bookstore Open, Wishing them Well, Stepping Back for Now

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.


August 6th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Philip Turner Book Productions; Publishing & Bookselling

RIP Tyler Drumheller, CIA Operative & Iraq War Truthteller

With President Obama rightly sounding a cautionary tone during his speech yesterday promoting the Iran nuclear deal—by citing the many examples of flawed judgment shown during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq—I note with rue and sadness the death this week of Tyler Drumheller, longtime CIA operative and an Iraq War truthteller whose book, On the Brink: An Insider’s Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence written with Elaine Monahan, I edited and published with him (Philip Turner Books, Carroll & Graf, 2006). Tyler wrote about how he and other US intelligence officials had spotted early on that the Iraqi source Curveball was a serial fabricator whose claims about mobile biological weapons labs should not be believed. Yet Curveball’s claims remained in the inventory of malarkey from unreliable Iraqis that Bush administration officials exploited, with his bogus info being inserted into Colin Powell’s disastrous speech at the UN. As Greg Miller’s excellent Washington Post obit on Drumheller reports, Tyler was flabbergasted when he heard Powell’s speech, and bravely tangled in print and on “60 Minutes” with the CIA Director George Tenet about Curveball. It was a distinct pleasure for Tyler when I suggested to him that we use the agency photo of the two of them for the back cover photo that you see below.

I worked on Tyler’s book amid an amazing, energized period of six years during which I also acquired, edited, and published Susan McDougal’s The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk: Why I Wouldn’t Testify Against the Clintons and What I Learned in Jail (Carroll & Graf, 2001), which sort of stamped ‘paid-back’ to the Whitewater years, and Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s blockbuster book The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity, (Carroll & Graf, 2004) a story that was in the news for months, bridging Bush’s first and second terms. Following Tyler’s book—a true insider’s account that showed definitively how determined the Bushies had been to find and cultivate intelligence that would give them a pretext for invading Iraq—with journalist Murray Waas I brought out The United States v. I. Lewis Libby (Union Square Press, 2007), a compendium of public documents that featured the transcript from the trial that saw Scooter Libby, Chief of Staff to VP Cheney, prosecuted for obstructing justice in the circumstances surrounding the release of Valerie Plame Wilson’s CIA status. I’ve written more here about these books and the years when rogue prosecutors, the Bush administration, and determined adversaries were targeting authors with whom I worked.

I’m thinking of Tyler today, who less than ten years ago was devoting his reluctant retirement from the CIA to exposing how the agency had been used and abused by Bush administration officials to justify the tragic invasion of Iraq. I’m so relieved that a decade later President Obama is in charge of our foreign policy, determined to use diplomacy to make peace with adversaries.

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July 22nd, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Book Biz; Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels; Publishing & Bookselling

New Rizzoli Bookstore Opens for One Night to Media—Public Opening July 27

As I wrote on this blog last week, I’m now working at the soon-to-reopen at Rizzoli Bookstore’s new store in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan. Last night we held a reception for media and book publishing professionals in our handsome, still-under-construction new digs. There was a ribbon cutting with the Manhattan Borough President and celebrity toasts (pictures below). It was a thrill to meet many people to the space and say, “Welcome to Rizzoli’s new bookstore!” I was tickled to bump in to an old friend, Ralph Gardner, Jr., who I knew in NY back in the ’90s, and whose Wall St. Journal article on Rizzoli’s exciting plans, published almost a year ago, I linked to in my post last week. We’ll begin welcoming customers with a soft opening next Monday, July 27. The new store is at 1133 Broadway, near 26th St. This will be a very exciting week.

This photo I took during last night’s party shows gorgeous murals of the Italian artist Fornasetti above the expanse of our literature section.


Click here for more of my iPhone shots from last night.


July 16th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Book Biz; Personal history, Family, Friends; Philip Turner Book Productions; Publishing & Bookselling

Happy to be Back in Bookselling with the New Rizzoli Bookstore

To longtime readers of this blog, and many, many friends in the book business, I’m excited to announce a new venture I’m going to be part of. I’ll be working as a bookseller in the soon-to-be-reopening Rizzoli Bookstore here in New York City. You may recall that last year Rizzoli lost its prior location on W. 57th St when their lease there ended. They’ve found a fabulous new location in the St. James, a landmark building on Broadway between 25th St and 26th St in the booming Manhattan neighborhood of NoMad (north of Madison Park). The Wall St Journal’s Ralph Gardner wrote about Rizzoli’s plans in a story here. Earlier this month, Rizzoli sent out this fact sheet. Decorated handsomely with elegant fixtures in a museum-like setting, the new 5,000 square foot store will offer a stellar inventory of illustrated books in art, photography, architecture, interior design, fashion, film, theater, dance, music, and cooking, along with current releases and classics in fiction and nonfiction, and childrens books. The selection of titles will be fabulous.

The store will have a soft opening, apt for our sultry summer weather, starting July 27. While I’m already spending lots of my time there to help get the store opened and underway, and will continue working many hours in the early weeks once it opens, my longterm schedule will nonetheless permit me to continue operating Philip Turner Book Productions, my editorial service and publishing consultancy, and in fact have completed work on two manuscripts for author clients this month.

I am really excited with this opportunity to be back working on the floor of a well-stocked bookstore, which brings my career full circle. It all began for me with Undercover Books, the three-store indie chain I ran with my family in Cleveland, a business I worked in from 1978 until 1985, when I came to NYC and began working in publishing. I worked for big publishing houses from 1986 until 2009, when I began my consultancy. Now, thirty years after leaving Undercover Books, I’m back as a bookseller. I look forward to seeing NY friends and visitors to the city in the new Rizzoli Bookstore, at 1133 Broadway.