November 9, 2004
News & Opinion: Publishing Industry Stories
There have been some interesting stories published in the last week about different aspects of the publishing industry. In its Nov. 15 issue, Forbes ran an article on the prolific romance novelist Nora Roberts. She has written 157 books to date and still writes three paperbacks and three hardcovers every year. "To avoid confusion, this has necessitated putting stickers on new releases that designate them as such." There is a growing phenomenon in the area of instant books. These are titles that are published in a short period of time. The 9/11 Commission Report is a well-known example of this type of book. This from Instant Books Race to Cash In on Election Buzz [WSJ, 11/5/04, sub. needed]:
[Gene] Stone, who has written or ghostwritten 20 books, got the idea while watching the third presidential debate. On Monday, Oct. 18, he sent an e-mail memo to Mr. Karp, suggesting a humorous instant book. Mr. Karp made an offer the next morning, noting that he would need the manuscript by noon on Oct. 25. Mr. Stone delivered his book [The Bush Survival Guide] two hours early. Mr. Karp read the manuscript that night and requested added material by the next day. Meanwhile, he sent the book to the typesetter. On Wednesday, Mr. Stone added a number of chapters with such headings as "Seven Reasons to Love Global Warming." On Thursday, Mr. Stone came in to read his book, which had now been copy-edited and typeset. The following morning, the cover was sent to the printer. Everyone then waited to see who would win the election. If President Bush lost, Mr. Stone's book would have been killed. But even though it was in Mr. Stone's own financial interest for President Bush to win, the author said he was still devastated when rival John Kerry was defeated. Gina Centrello, Random House Publishing Group's president and publisher, gave the green light on Wednesday morning. Manufacturing was expected to be completed by 6 p.m. for all 100,000, with the $9.95 books expected to be on sale as early as tomorrow. "I used to work in publishing, and I've never seen anything move this fast," said Mr. Stone.When you consider it take 12 to 18 months to get most books to market, this is an amazing feat.