Monthly Archives: July 2010

Archaia Plans Original Graphic Novel from Jim Henson Script

Calvin Reid -- July 30th, 2010

If you love the Muppets creator, the late Jim Henson, and you also love graphic novels, then you’re going to love this. Archaia, an independent L.A. graphic novel publisher, is planning to release a hardcover graphic novel based on a never-before-seen-nor-produced screenplay developed by Henson and his longtime collaborator, the late Jerry Juhl, more than 30 years ago. The book is called A Tale of Sand and it will be released in late Summer 2011.

The production of the book will be overseen by Henson’s daughter, Lisa Henson, CEO of the Henson Company, which entered into a multi-year co-development deal with Archaia in 2009 to produce graphic novels and periodical comics based on Henson material as well as create original co-branded Henson works. Archaia editor-in-chief Stephen Christy, who will also oversee the book’s production, said the book was announced at the recent San Diego Comic-Con and we were able to talk with Christy to get a few more details. Archaia is close to picking an illustrator who will work with with him and with Lisa Henson to create the work. The name of the illustrator and preliminary artwork will be revealed at the New York Comic-Con in October.

The book was originally developed in the 1960s and Christy says it went through numerous drafts but was “too expansive to be produced as a film at that time. It’s the last piece of Jim Henson’s legacy and no one’s seen it outside of the family. It’s the first original work by Henson to be published since his death.” According to conversations with Lisa Henson, Christy said the Tale of Sand was “an idea that was in Henson’s head since the 1950s. We have 3 or 4 versions and we’re going to base the book on a 1974 draft.”

A Tale of Sand is a feature length screenplay, Christy said, that tells the story of a young boy kicked out of a dusty town in the middle of the desert. “There’s nothing but sand in every direction,” Christy said, “and he embarks on an oddball journey.” Christy said the screenplay is “dark and very weird” and was done before Henson made films like Labyrinth and Dark Crystal.

Christy said the process of adapting the screenplay will be helped by a script that “is very descriptive, Henson says what the characters are doing and feeling. It’s very much like a comic book script and there are a lot of margin notes in all the drafts.” Archaia will also have the memories of Lisa and of Juhl’s widow, to help them, but “the text we have is very rich and we can see Henson’s creative process,” he said. Archaia hopes to eventually publish a companion volume to Tale of Sand that will replicate the raw script pages full of marginalia.

The graphic novel will not be turned into a movie. “Lisa has said that it won’t be a movie since he isn’t here to do a film himself. But she’s comfortable with a graphic novel as homage to her dad and to get some idea of what the film might have looked like visually,” Christy said. “This kind of project is what this partnership with the Henson Company is really all about.”

E-Book Poll Results: Price Is Still A Big Factor

PWStaff -- July 30th, 2010

This morning we asked you to take a poll about your e-reading habits–do you read no, a few, or many e-b00ks?  Over a few hours, we had almost 400 responses and lots of telling comments, so we thought we’d take a few minutes to look at the results.

First off, our respondents certainly don’t represent all the readers out there, but PW readers are generally people who care about books and are follow the book world to some degree, if not very closely.  So their responses should tell us something about what book people are thinking and feeling about e-books.  As you can see, our top and bottom levels–”I read zero e-books,” and “I read five or more” were almost tied (and, by the way, forgive us for having a little fun with that “geeks” comment–we meant nothing by it; we’re geeks around here), with zero e-books edging ahead with 37.5% of respondents verses the 35.5% who said they read five or more.  That would seem to indicate, unsurprisingly, that readers are fairly evenly divided, maybe even polarized, in their feelings about e-books.

Perhaps the most interesting, and timely, piece of information to come out of this poll, however, comes from the comments and responses typed into the “Other” field that was the last answer to the poll.  While a couple of people wrote things like “I don’t read e-books,” more said things like this: “I’ve been waiting for the price to come down.”  Even with the recent price reductions, the price of e-readers is still a big factor.  Let us not forget that a paperback book is a present you can buy–for yourself or someone else–for less than 20 bucks, and you don’t need a gadget to read it, just some light.

If Amazon started giving Kindles away, would e-book sales skyrocket?

White House Party Crashers Party Into Publishing

Lynn Andriani -- July 30th, 2010

They crashed a White House State Dinner, and now they’re crashing a book. Michaele and Tareq Salahi are cooperating with reporter Diane Dimond on Cirque du Salahi:  Be Careful Who You Trust, which they will publish via CreateSpace on September 17.

The book is embargoed, but details from a press release reveal that the book “will take readers inside the glamorous, mysterious and oft-misunderstood lives of the Salahis, the Washington, D.C. power couple that instantly became famous after attending a November 2009 White House event.” Dimond, who also wrote Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case, promises to reveal “documents, photographs and the innermost secrets of [the Salahis'] lives.”

Literary agent Sharlene Martin, who repped the Goldman family in taking back the rights of O.J. Simpson’s If I Did It, said she chose to publish the book via Amazon imprint CreateSpace “because the traditional publishing route would be too slow to accommodate the timeliness of this story.” The Salahis are participating in the upcoming Bravo series The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C., which premieres August 5.

Paperback and e-book editions of the book will be available for pre-order on August 4.

PW on Showbiz Sandbox

Craig Morgan Teicher -- July 30th, 2010

Even film and TV people have Wylie on the brain.  This week, our own Rachel Deahl, senior news editor and film/book crossover expert talked to the folks on the Showbiz Sandbox podcast about the implications of Wylie’s Odyssey Editions.  Click here for the link to the show, and fast-forward to minute 43 to hear Rachel’s segment.

Wylie’s Fightin’ Words

PWStaff -- July 30th, 2010

As the controversy over Wylie’s Odyssey Editions grows after Random House suspended dealings with the super-agent, Andrew Wylie offered some fightin’ words for publishers in an interview quoted in Financial Times.  He said he would expand Odyssey Editions if publishers didn’t come around to negotiating deals for both print and digital rights on books.  Here’s the juicy bit:

“If we do not reach an accord, Odyssey will grow. It will not publish 20 books, it will publish 2,000 and have outside investors and make itself available to other agents,” Mr Wylie told the Financial Times this week.

“I am only trying to make a point in order to underscore the importance of getting the right terms with a view to uniting the two [print and digital] revenue streams,” Mr Wylie said.

Mark Twain Takes on Piracy

Andrew Richard Albanese -- July 30th, 2010

This week, in something of a coup, the British literary journal Granta published an excerpt from the first volume of Mark Twain’s forthcoming autobiography, to be published unabridged for the first time this November by the University of California Press, a full 100 years after Twain’s death. The wonderful passage Granta chose to excerpt, entitled “The Farm,” recounts Twain’s childhood memories on his uncle’s estate in Florida, Missouri—including Twain’s first encounters with slavery.

Seeing the Granta piece, however, reminded me of another part of Twain’s legacy—his rocky relationship with publishers, and copyright. In fact, during his life, Twain envisioned his autobiography as a weapon to defeat the then 42-year copyright term. His plan: to publish new editions of his public domain works with sections of the autobiography interspersed, thus qualifying the work for new copyrights. “Of course this will not totally prevent piracy,” a December, 1906, New York Times article reported, “but Mark Twain believes this will vitiate the sales of editions that do not contain the autobiography and make them worthless.” In the article, Twain is said to view copyright as “pure robbery,” and publishers as “pirates.” And that, the Times says, is a conservative rendering of Twain’s views, a more faithful, “radical” rendering, the article notes, would lead to the Times being “excluded from the mails.”

Twain’s scheme, to publish new editions of, say, Tom Sawyer together with passages of his autobiography separated only by a rule on the page, “would have been ridiculous in actual practice,” Ken Fisher blogged for Ars Technica in 2007, although, it sounds perfectly suited for the digital age. And, the great American author was on to an important point, Fisher noted, later to be widely espoused by Wired’s Chris Anderson: you can and must compete with “free,” in this case, “free” being royalty-free editions of his books. “Twain understood how the value of copyrighted works could change over time, and he imagined a scenario in which he would creatively try to enliven old works to renew their commercial aspects.”

Notably, Twain was not in favor of perpetual copyright. Although he lobbied for copyright term extensions, he told lawmakers that copyright should be extended to protect revenues for his children. As for the grandchildren, “they can fend for themselves,” he famously said.

The PW Morning Report: Friday, July 30, 2010

Craig Morgan Teicher -- July 30th, 2010

You won’t be back at work until August…

Barnes & Noble Plans Nook Push: B&N is planning to build Nook boutiques in every store this fall in order to push Nook sales. From the NYT.

Are E-Books Just for E-Book Lovers?: The Guardian polls readers about whether e-books could ever replace print books.

15 Biggest Bestsellers Ever (After the Bible): HuffPo runs ‘em down.  One is by Mao.  Like three are about a certain wizard (not Willy).

Reuniting Markson’s Library: 50 cartons of books owned by the late experimental novelist David Markson ended up at the Strand, where they were shelved and sold as used books.  Jacket Copy tells the remarkable story of fans who are trying to put Markson’s library back together again.

Online Used Bookselling A Mixed Bag: The SGV Tribune talks to used booksellers who are having both good and bad experiences selling books via the Internet.

Cheaper Textbooks: A new law will give students more time to shop around for their textbooks. From USA Today.

Soap Star Susan Lucci to Publish Memoir: That’s the whole story. From AP.

Copia Unveils $99 E-Reader

PWStaff -- July 29th, 2010

Just as we reported in our June 28 story, Price Cuts Roil the Market for Digital Readers, the Wall Street Journal is also taking note that Copia is releasing a $99 full color LCD e-reader along with a reconfigured line of 5 digital readers. Not to be outdone by Amazon, Copia, a division of DMC Worldwide, has previewed the most inexpensive of 6 e-reader models, set to debut this fall.

Amazon, Not UK Publishers, Will Set E-Book Prices in UK

PWStaff -- July 29th, 2010

Amazon won’t let UK publishers set the prices for their e-books in the soon-to-launch UK Kindle Store, reports the Bookseller.  This means no agency model in the UK, whereas five US publishers sell their e-books in the Kindle store using the agency model and set their own prices.

Steve Kessel, senior VP of Amazon Kindle, had much to say to the Bookseller about the UK launch of the Kindle store, the Kindle 3, Wylie’s Odyssey Editions, and the iPad.  He denied rumors that Amazon was approaching other agents to hammer out similar Kindle-exclusive deals.  He also added this interesting tidbit about Amazon’s view of the iPad:

Kessel also denied the new Kindle was a response to the Apple iPad, reiterating sales of the device had increased since the iPad was launched earlier this year. He said: “From Amazon’s perspective the take off of the iPad and tablet devices is very exciting. People sitting on their couch and surfing the internet means we will sell more shoes, more barbeque grills or more groceries.”