No Comments »

October 10th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Philip Turner Book Productions

First Reviews of THE BIG BOOK OF SWASHBUCKLING ADVENTURE: “An Excellent Read” & “A Brilliant Selection of Dash, Pluck, Skill, Yearning, and Fortune.”

And now the second pre-publication review is in for The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure, selected and introduced by my author client Lawrence Ellsworth, another very positive notice. It comes from Publishers Weekly, who commissioned author William Dietrich to review the anthology. Dietrich’s piece closes with this encomium: “Ellsworth offers the reader an excellent and entertaining survey of the genre’s roots, a brilliant selection of dash, pluck, skill, yearning, and fortune.” See below for more details on the book, and the first review, which came in last week. Thanks to Pegasus Books for preparing the handsome edition and congrats to editor Lawrence Ellsworth. There will be finished copies of the book in November. It’s setting up very nicely!

I first posted about this book project when I began presenting it to publishers in March 2013, and am delighted that Pegasus Books acquired it. They’re an independent press whose titles are sold to bookstores by W.W. Norton. Pegasus has done a great job getting the anthology ready for publication. You can see their catalog listing for the book via this link (or in the screenshot below). Yesterday, I was delighted to see the first review of it, by Cindy A. Matthews at Authorlink, which I quickly shared in its entirety on Facebook (embedded below). In the catalog copy, you’ll note an interesting sidelight about my author client Lawrence Ellsworth, who conceived of the anthology, selected all the pieces, wrote the introductions, and translated the Alexander Dumas selection that’s in the book: he was an original team member of the group that created the legendary role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. The oversized quality paperback, illustrated with art from the heady period when these stories were originally published, between the 1870s-1920s, will make a great holiday gift. Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure Pegasus catalog

No Comments »

March 18th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing

Publishers Weekly Makes a Key Correction to a Story about Ebook Rights


Open Road Media lost this ebook rights case, but are not in jeopardy for damages anywhere near what PW had at first suggested. Although I don’t have a screenshot of Publisher Weekly‘s first version of their story, they had stated that penalties for willful infringement could run up to $150,000 for each copy sold of the infringed work, reporting that the damages could potentially run in to hundreds of millions of dollars. Later, they revised that to say the penalty could be “per work infringed.” As they put it now at the bottom of the story they ran this morning,

Correction: An early version of this story mistakenly put the damages as applying per infringement, rather than per work infringed. In fact, there is a single infringement involved here, not multiple infringements. Thus, damages could not run into the millions. We regret the error.

In a penultimate paragraph that also was not part of PW‘s first Web version of this story, they point out that in its filing Open Road Media had asserted that the author whose ebook rights were at issue, Jean Craighead George, author of Julie of the Wolves, would have preferred to publish an ebook of the book with HarperCollins, given her long print history with them, but she objected to the 25% net royalty on offer by them. Open Road offers 50%, and so George went with them, or so Open Road implies. The entire issue of ebook royalties–and the 25% difference between the sum offered by Big 6/Big 5 publishers and other publishers, such as Open Road–has been a flash point of disagreement for several years among agents and authors on one side, and the Big 6/Big 5 houses on the other.

For the record, this is a link to the full Publishers Weekly story, as it ended up late on Tuesday, March 18, including the penultimate paragraph and the correction.

3 Comments »

May 28th, 2013

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

The POT THIEF Mystery Series–Licensed to Open Road Integrated Media

I’m happy to announce that as literary agent for author J. Michael Orenduff, in conjunction with the Silver Bitela Agency, my company Philip Turner Book Productions recently licensed the six-book POT THIEF mystery series to Open Road Integrated Media, a major player in digital publishing. The books, previously self-published by Mr. Orenduff, are 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. They will all be published by Open Road in print and digital editions beginning in 2014.

As a devoted mystery reader myself, I adore the POT THIEF books and have earlier written about them here. They are set in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico, featuring dealer in Native America pottery Hubie Schutz and his sidekick in sleuthing, wise-cracking Susannah Inchaustigui, a descendant of one of the region’s old-line Basque ranching families. They meet most afternoons at Hermanas Tortilleria, to sip margaritas and discuss their latest puzzler. After years running Undercover Books, a bookstore where I sold lots of mysteries, and as an editor publishing mysteries, I know the mystery market well and am particularly excited that the many readers of Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn mysteries, also set in the American Southwest, will now also be able to discover the POT THIEF books. In their earlier editions, the POT THIEF books won numerous awards and raves from mystery readers, including this one from Anne Hillerman, the late mystery master’s daughter: “I inhaled this book. Witty, well-crafted and filled with unexpected plot turns, The Pot Thief Who Studied Billy the Kid will delight J. Michael Orenduff’s many fans—and win him new ones.”

If you haven’t yet heard of Open Road, I suggest you visit their website. They have more than 3000 active titles, including five books by my longtime author Ruth Gruber, as well as titles by dozens of important authors such as William Styron, Rachel Carson, Andre Dubus, and Mary Glickman, always in digital editions, and sometimes in print editions, too. They’ve been operating for three years, innovating and growing along with the emerging ebook market. The company was recently profiled in an excellent piece via this link at paidcontent.org. 

I’m delighted for my author J. Michael Orenduff and also very pleased to be working with Ed Silver and Babz Bitela of the Silver Bitela Agency, who are representing the POT THIEF brand for film and TV rights. In fact, they are already sharing with producers an excellent screenplay based on the series, written by previously credited screenwriter, Robert C. Powers.  Announcements of the deal I made with Open Road have appeared in Publishers Weekly and in PublishersMarketplace.com, both of which mention the Silver Bitela Agency (these may only be available by subscription so I’ve made screenshots of both to be sure they can be read by GGB readers). Happy I could share this great news the same week as Book Expo America (BEA), the book industry’s annual convention, taking place at NYC’s Javits Center May 30-June 1. Please click here to see the deal coverage from book industry outlets.

No Comments »

October 30th, 2012

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

Hurricane Sandy’s Near-Wipeout of NY Publishers

Earlier today Publishers Weekly asked 10 publishing and bookselling companies if their offices were open–it was a total wipeout, not one managed to open this day after the big storm. While none of these establishments opened, I want to add for the record, that Philip Turner Book Productions LLC is answering its phone and has someone available for editorial and bookselling consultation. That would be me.

“Not surprisingly, Hurricane Sandy left most people in the New York City publishing world at home on Tuesday. Here is a list of different houses’ status. We will try to update this throughout the day, as more information surfaces. Please contact us with updates on Twitter @PublishersWkly. (Publishers Weekly’s email is currently down, and our Manhattan office is closed, but staffers with power will be monitoring Twitter and other social media.)

Macmillan is without power and email is down, due to outages in the Flatiron Building, where it is housed. (The publisher’s warehouse, however, remains open and operational.)

Random House email is working, but access to the office is limited due to the collapsed crane in midtown.

Penguin is currently closed and a decision has not yet been made about whether the office will open on Wednesday.

Hachette’s office is closed, but company email is working.

Bloomsbury’s office is closed, but company email is working.

Abrams is currently closed and company email is down.

Kensington’s office is closed, but an employee reports that the building has power. A decision has not yet been made about whether the office will be open on Wednesday.

Barnes & Noble’s New York City office is closed, and a decision has not yet been made on whether the office will be open on Wednesday.

McGraw-Hill closed its office in New York City, as well as in other cities, including Washington, DC.

Scholastic’s SoHo New York office was without power through Tuesday and the company is not sure when its headquarters will reopen.

Norton’s New York City office is closed, but the company’s warehouse in Scranton remains open.”

2 Comments »

May 4th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Philip Turner's Books & Writing; Technology, Science & Computers

Treasuring Early Natural History Books

Always happy to see a story involving my old hometown Cleveland’s book culture–Judith Rosen of Publishers Weekly reports that an 1886 book of natural history and ornithology, Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio, a copy of which was discovered in 1995 in the library of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, is now being republished by Princeton Architectural Press. PAP’s catalog listing for the book shows that the new edition has been retitled  America’s Other Audubon by Joy Kiser, the librarian who found one of twenty-five remaining copies of the rare book.

The author, Genevieve Jones, an amateur naturalist of her day, was inspired to create the book after seeing Audubon’s Birds of America paintings at the World’s Fair of 1876. She created sixty-eight original lithographs in making her book, which contemporaries described as “the most beautiful book ever produced in America.” Sadly, Jones died before it was finished and her family labored seven years to see to its completion, then underwriting printing and selling it by subscription. Only 90 copies were produced, and among the subscribers were Theodore Roosevelt and President Rutherford Hayes.

I love old natural history books, such as The Journal of A Disappointed Man by W.N.P. Barbellion, to which H.G. Wells contributed an Introduction upon its publication in 1919–a few months before the author died of multiple sclerosis at age thirty. Two sample entries from Barbellion’s youth, January 3, 1903: “Am writing an essay on the life-history of insects and have abandoned the idea of writing 0n ‘How Cats Spend their Time.'” and March 18, “Our Goldfinch roosts at 5:30. Joe’s kitten is a very small one. ‘Magpie’ is its name.”  I have an old Penguin copy of the book and a reprint published in 1989. Then there’s Fishes: Their Journeys and Migrations by Louis Roule, originally published in 1933, which I republished as a Kodansha Globe title in 1996, with a new Introduction by George Reiger of Field & Stream magazine. A reviewer of the original edition wrote, “Will please the nature student, the Izaak Walton enthusiast, or the reader who delights in believe-it-or-nots.” Living in an age of diminishing biological diversity with an accelerating pace of extinction, it is important to be aware of species and varieties that used to be common and are no more, or increasingly scarce, and I treasure these books for aiding that effort, decades after they were first published. That’s kind of miraculous.

2 Comments »

April 27th, 2012

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing

#FridayReads, April 27–“The Inferno” and “Mickey Cohen”

May 28, 2012 Update: I was delighted to see this new, modern translation of the Inferno received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. They write, “This will be the Dante for the next generation.”

#FridayReads, Mary Jo Bang’s splendid modern translation of Dante’s Inferno, with diabolical drawings by Henrik Drescher and fascinating, context-lending notes by Ms. Bang, being published by Graywolf this coming August.  Also, Mickey Cohen: The Life & Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster by Tere Tereba–what a nasty killer.

No Comments »

December 20th, 2011

By Philip Turner in: Books & Writing; Canada; Publishing & Bookselling; Technology, Science & Computers

Two Great Graphic Novels Coming as Ebooks

I just got an email from Montreal comics publisher Drawn & Quarterly, a company that produces exceptionally fine graphic novels and comic nonfiction, announcing their first entry into the ebooks space with two books by artist/writer Chester Brown. I think their email is worth quoting at length, because this is a fine print publisher stepping in to ebooks and because of their ebook royalty, which they explain will be an equal share with their authors. This is especially topical, in light of Michael Chabon’s new arrangement with Open Road Media, which I’ve discussed in an earlier post today. Bravo to D&Q and Kobo! This is an exciting publishing collaboration.

As announced in today’s PW Daily by Calvin Reid . . . the Drawn & Quarterly classic graphic novels LOUIS RIEL A COMIC-STRIP BIOGRAPHY and PAYING FOR IT A COMIC-STRIP BIOGRAPHY ABOUT BEING A JOHN by the award-winning and iconoclastic cartoonist Chester Brown, will each be available as ebooks via KOBO’s Vox Reader, it was announced today by Peggy Burns, Associate Publisher of Marketing & Sales. Known for its astute editorial standards and high print production values, this venture marks the Montreal-based company’s first foray into the digital sphere.
“Many people assumed we would never do ebooks, whereas the opposite was true. We were open to the idea, but wanted to approach it cautiously,” said Burns. “This past Fall, we had a fortuitous series of events that brought the project to the foreground. Chester voiced his desire for ebooks, CBC Canada Reads shortlisted LOUIS RIEL in its top-ten for its annual contest, and most importantly, the fellow Canadian company Kobo inquired if we would consider ebooks. Kobo’s pitch was very friendly and nonexclusive and they promote CBC Canada Reads. They understood who we are, our hesitancy and what is important to us. It all happened very organically which is how we prefer to do business.”
D+Q production manager Tracy Hurren oversaw the project and worked with Kobo to ensure that the same care and attention D+Q gives towards its print editions was in place for the ebooks. The arrangement is nonexclusive and D+Q expects to add more titles by different authors and devices throughout 2012.
Lastly, D+Q is proud to announce that the company will be splitting the net proceeds of its ebook sales equally with its authors, and is in agreement with the Writer’s Union of Canada.
“D+Q has always been an author-centric company, it is this ethos that has shaped us into who we are today,” said Chris Oliveros, D&Q’s Publisher and Editor-In-Chief. “It only seemed natural to offer the fairest proposition to our authors.”

No Comments »

November 9th, 2011

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

Beginning of the End of Favoritism for Online Sellers?

I’ve never observed a consensus on anything between Amazon and the American Booksellers Association, but a new initiative from a bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators seems to have found that improbable sweet spot, at least for now. Called the Marketplace Fairness Act, according to Publishers Weekly, a new law would have the “goal of leveling the playing field between brick-and-mortar retailers and online retailers.” Statements from both organizations showed support for the proposed law. Until now, “Amazon has staunchly opposed state-by-state” sales “tax initiatives, but said it would back a national policy.” “Staunchly opposed” is putting it mildly as Amazon has gone so far as to cut off affiliates in states planning to collect sales tax. For its part, ABA CEO Oren Teicher said, “For the first time in a long time, there has been significant movement in Washington in the fight for e-fairness. It is crucial that we take advantage of this window of opportunity.” If enacted, this could help independent retailers, including indie booksellers, while providing revenue to strapped state governments. I imagine there may be some problems with the proposed law that hasn’t been revealed yet, but it is long since past time that as a social policy we stop giving one class of shopping–online–a key advantage over another–brick & mortar. I hope this proves as promising as it looks today. I will follow up in this space.