HarperCollins’ Quixotic Quest
April 7, 2008

As readers of this e-zine know, I started out in the book business—first in publicity departments and later as a traveling salesman calling on bookstores, wholesalers and libraries in the East and Midwest. As a salesman, I used to get commissions. As an author of books, I receive royalties. The killer on any commission or royalty statement is the line, “Returns”—unsold books returned to the publisher for credit on which commissions and royalties are deducted. Returns have been the bane of book publishing for more than 70 years. The announcement that HarperCollins will launch a new division that will not accept returns from booksellers

The Business of Being a CEO
June 28, 2007

On Monday of this week, The New York Times launched a delicious, old-fashioned hatchet job on Australian/UK/U.S. media lord Rupert Murdoch, whose bid for The Wall Street Journal is a threat to the Pinch Sulzberger’s flagging advertising. The gist of the Times’ Monday story is that Murdoch uses his newspapers and TV networks to further his own agenda. In addition, reports the Times, he has built his $68 billion empire by bribing important politicians with campaign contributions and juicy book contracts and they, in turn, pass legislation that bends the rules to his News Corporation’s advantage. Tuesday’s story in the Times was all about

Nuts & Bolts: Book Club
May 1, 2007

Content aside, “Punk Marketing: Get Off Your Ass and Join the Revolution” ($29.95, HarperCollins), is a revolution in reading fundamentals. Cross out paragraphs, rip out pages—the book’s prologue invites you to. But whatever you do, know the authors care little about the means by which you enjoy it (or not), so long as the end is anti-pretty-much-everything you’ve known/done/learned in marketing up until now. With informative prose interspersed with engagingly random factoids, authors Richard Laermer and Mark Simmons attempt to snap a finger in front of what they contend to be the collectively glazed-over eyes of the marketing world. The flag they’re waving: “Power has

The Babe Went Out With the Bath Water
February 6, 2007

Judith Regan, a 53-year-old self-proclaimed hottie, has been called by Vanity Fair “the Angriest Woman in Media.” She reportedly cussed out employees on a regular basis with the “f” word, the “s” word and, in doing so, routinely alluded to male and female anatomies—her own included—with various “c” words. According to one former editor, Regan went through 18 personal assistants in 2005. “Say what you want about the fearless, foul-mouthed former publisher of ReganBooks,” wrote Steve Kettmann in the San Francisco Chronicle, “it would be hard to deny she has probably been the single most influential force in publishing over the past decade.” She