Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Times Square, Northern Over-Exposure, and Books I Plan to Read

From Paul Levine

ILLEGAL HITS TIMES SQUARE: But not Barnes and Noble! For those who have e-mailed, called, and written threatening letters, ILLEGAL will be in the B&N stores early next week. For now, you can find the Jimmy (Royal) Payne thriller at independent bookstores (our favorites), Borders and other chains, and of course, at Amazon.

THOSE FAMOUSLY FERTILE PALIN GALS: What was Sarah Palin thinking...?

Hold that thought. Let’s back up.

Thirty-five years ago, William L. Scott was a Republican senator from Virginia. In 1974, New Times, a little literary magazine now long defunct, reported that an obscure research group judged Scott to be the “dumbest” person in the U.S. Congress. No one paid much attention. In fact, virtually no one heard about it.

Then, Scott called a press conference to deny he was the dumbest Congressman. Network news covered the press conference and millions of people heard the allegation...and the dumb denial.

Back to the present. Why did Gov. Palin draw more attention to Levi Johnston’s cheesy appearance on the Tyra Banks show, a daytime yawner watched by a few dozen people taking sick leave.

If you missed it, Gov. Palin released a statement prior to the telecast, blasting Johnston for talking about his sex life with Bristol, who now, according to Mom, is “advocating abstinence.” With the Palin gals being famously fertile, we surely hope so. We note, however, that Mom didn’t say “practicing abstinence.”

Having been tipped off by the Guv, I had to watch Levi, a kid whose only known talent is producing spermatozoa that could beat Michael Phelps in the 100 meter freestyle. Levi told Tyra he was “pretty sure” the Governor knew he was having sex with Bristol. Yep, that’s the headline. Now, I am returning to my other career, "advocating abstinence," but trying, against all odds, not to practice it.


New books I have to read:

Harlan Coben’s “Long Lost.”

Lisa Scottoline’s “Look Again”

Joel Goldman’s “The Dead Man.”

The Edgar-nominated Goldman writes a series featuring ex-FBI agent Jack Davis.
Billionaire Milo Harper wants Jack Davis’ help. People in Harper’s study of the human brain are starting to die exactly as they have dreamed they would die. Harper hires Jack to find out why their nightmares are coming true and protect his foundation. But when Jack investigates, he crosses paths with a serial killer inside one of the most advanced research facilities in the world.

In Hollywood, that would be called “high concept.”
You can find an excerpt of “The Dead Man” here.

What? You want video? We got video. I don't like most book trailers, but this is a nifty one.

I signed “Illegal” at several bookstores last week and tonight I'll be at Vroman’s in Pasadena. Some “fan” already has placed his/her signed copy for sale on Amazon for $45! Whoa. Cover price is $22. Amazon price is $14.96. Is my signature worth $30? If so, please send me thirty bucks and I will sign anything you want.



  1. My most valuable autograph is one from Pete Rose. It's written on a napkin......
    "IOU $200,000...Pete Rose"


  2. There was a funny story I heard some time back about an author (can't remember his name) who saw the book he had autographed for his mother for sale on Ebay.

  3. there is a signed US proof of MAISIE DOBBS on offer at ebay.de for 149,99 pounds.


  4. You can buy some of my old Jake Lassiter books on Amazon for 1 cent plus shipping. Perhaps a good negotiator could get them to pay you for taking the books!

  5. all kidding aside,Paul, why a hardcover this time? Isn't it hard enough to sell a paperback at 6.95 or whatever? not to mention this whole Kindle thing too.....


  6. Illegal may not be at the BN store, but it is available at BN.com. I already have my book from there in my hands. I've skimmed through the first few pages. Looks like it will be a great, fast read. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  7. Jon,
    Some people won't buy paperbacks. Print too small...or they think (wrongly!) than a paperback original must not be as good as a hardcover.

    There's another consideration in marketing. Yes, mass market paperbacks sell more copies than hardcovers, but by a smaller multiple than before. That's because there are far fewer mass market racks in airports, bus stations, drugstores, etc. And the racks that are there are carrying far fewer titles. Part of this has to do with the demise of the independent wholesalers whose truck drivers were very smart about stocking and restocking the paperbacks. Produce clerks don't exactly know what books to order.

    Long and short of it...the quality of a book has nothing to do with whether it's in cloth or paper. Costs do matter, however.
    Some publishers are cutting costs by putting hardcover authors in paper. I had eight hardcovers, four paperbacks, and am now back in hardcover. (And Kindle). Hardcover also gives you two shots at the market, as the paperback will come out a year later.

    No one knows what will sell this year or next. The economy and the Internet are taking a toll on book sales.

    But, yes, as you suggest, there is consumer price resistance to hardcovers. "Illegal" has a cover price of $22, which I like, because it's at the lower end...priced to entice buyers of those earlier paperbacks. On Amazon, it's $14.96, about the price of a trade paperback.

    As I've said in this space before, Kindle and its ilk are the wave of the future. And when the hardware price ($359) gets under $100, you'll see a fantastic upswing in sales, with book prices around $6 to $8.

    Sorry to be so long winded.

  8. Sybille,
    Signed galleys and ARC's often bring the highest dollar in the collectible market because far fewer copies are printed.

    Also, complete sets of an author's work can bring a pretty penny. Can you imagine if you had a signed first edition of every book by John Updike? Such a collection probably does not exist....even in the late author's study.

  9. You weren't too verbose, Paul. I understand the double down effect which comes from a release of a hardcover into paperback. I also thought, though, that the "shelf life" of any novel is rather short----unless it catches fire and becomes all the rage....then I guess it wouldn't matter in which format it came.
    It would seem that the greater price incurred with a hardcover [ and I presume the greater list price doesn't translate into $ into YOUR pocket---or does it?] can be "justified" by your base following......


  10. James O. Born4/07/2009 1:52 PM

    Wy didn't B&N have the book? To whom should we protest?


  11. paul,
    i know that they can bring a pretty penny. i own a few signed proofs and a signed galley of frederic forsyths' THE DEVILS ALTERNATIVE. but the ones dearest to me are the signed maisie dobbs books that jackie was so kind to let me have.

    what i can never understand is that people can actually part these treasures and sell them at a faceless auction.


  12. Jon,
    The author makes considerably more from a hardcover sale. Say, $3 to $4 per book versus 70 to 80 cents a book, depending on cover price.

    B&N snafu no one's fault...although I think Dick Cheyney's prints are all over it. It's being cured. That's all I could ask.

  13. I just went to Ebay where I saw the large print cover of False Profits for the first time. Cool.