Saturday, May 27, 2006


Why I like living in Boca Raton: Reason 1

As anyone who ever watched Seinfeld knows, everyone who lives in New York has to retire to south Florida, specifically, to Boca Raton. And they do - in droves.

Today a patron was checking out the new Philip Roth book, EVERYMAN. She told me that she went to high school with the famous author. I asked if he was very smart in high school, and she said,

"He was a big jerky nerd. I'm not kidding."

You heard it here first.

Signs of Turmoil as Publishing Industry Gathers for Annual Book Expo and Da Vinci Code Film Arrives in Theatres

May 19, 2006 - The life-expectancy of a bestselling novel has halved within the last decade, according to a long-term study of fiction bestsellers. It has fallen to barely a seventh of its level 40 years ago.

The findings of the 50-year study are announced as America's book trade gathers in Washington for Book Expo (May 18-21), its largest annual get-together, while the movie of "The Da Vinci Code," the mother of all recent bestsellers, goes on worldwide release (May 19). The study was conducted by (, the world's fastest-growing source of print-on-demand books.

The average number of weeks that a new No. 1 bestseller stayed top of the hardback fiction section of the New York Times Bestseller List has fallen from 5.5 in the 1990s, 14 in the 1970s and 22 in the 1960s to barely a fortnight last year -- according to the study of the half-century from 1956-2005.

In the 1960s, fewer than three novels reached No. 1 in an average year; last year, 23 did.

"The blockbuster novel is heading the way of the mayfly," says Bob Young, CEO of, referring to the famously short-lived insect.

The plummeting life-expectancy of a fiction bestseller, says Young, reflects the way that the publishing industry is unravelling, in an age of over-production, plus media fragmentation and now disruptive new technologies such as the Internet and print-on-demand: "The publishing revolution is nigh."

Similar trends are happening in other sectors, from music to movies, adds Young. "It's part of a cultural shift."

The future of publishing, he continues, belongs to "niche-busters" -- books targeting a niche rather than mass market." Over 1,200 new niche-buster titles are now published on Lulu each week.

Although the latest annual book trade figures show the first fall in US book production for years, the period covered by Lulu's 50-year study saw a huge growth in the annual output of new titles. The number of books published in the US almost doubled between 1993 and 2004 -- from 104,124 to 190,078.

Blockbusters, of course, do still exist, concedes Young, who could not do otherwise in the week that the movie of "The Da Vinci Code" opens worldwide. Indeed, the biggest ones today sell more overall than their forerunners. But even uber-blockbusters like "The Da Vinci Code" fail to achieve the sort of unbroken dominance that was once routine.

The three novels to have topped the list for the longest stints during the 50 years studied were "Advise and Consent," a political thriller by Allen Drury, which hit No. 1 on Oct 14, 1959 and stayed there for 57 consecutive weeks; "The Source," an historical epic by James Michener, which reached No.1 on July 11, 1965 and stayed top for 43 weeks; and "Love Story," by Erich Segal, which, from May 10, 1970, bestrode the list for 41 weeks.

The longest unbroken spell that "The Da Vinci Code," by contrast, has topped the list was 13 weeks, between November 16 2003 and February 15 2004 -- or two months less than the average No. 1 bestseller in the 1960s. Dan Brown's novel first hit No.1 on April 6, 2003, but stayed top for just two weeks. It has since lost and regained the top spot over 15 times, for varying periods.

"The market today is more chaotic," says Young. "The churn rate is far higher."

A growing number of bestsellers, says Young, now spend just a single week atop the list. "The New York Times will soon have to publish its bestseller lists daily instead of weekly, in order to stay up-to-date."


The Life Expectancy of Bestsellers:
Additional Data from the Study
1950s (1956--59) (Decade average: 16.4 weeks)
Advise and Consent by Allen Drury – 57 weeks

Hit #1 on Oct 14, 1959, and stayed there for most of 1960. Drury was a political journalist for The New York Times itself and Advise and Consent told the inside story of a fictional US administration. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960 and is credited with inventing the genre of the political thriller.

1960s (Decade average: 21.7 weeks)
The Source by James Michener – 43 Weeks

Hit No. 1 on Jul 11, 1965 and stayed top until it was knocked off the #1 spot by Jacquelin Susann’s Valley of the Dolls on May 8, 1966. The story revolves around an archaeological dig in Israel/Palestine, and takes the reader on a colourful and epic journey through the history of the Jews.

1970s (Decade average: 13.9 weeks)
Love Story by Erich Segal – 41 weeks

Made No. 1 on May 10, 1970 and remained top for 41 consecutive weeks. It started life as a screenplay before a literary agent suggested that Segal make it into a novel. The following year, he turned it back into a script, which in turn spawned the hit 1971 movie of the same name.

1980s (Decade average: 7.2 weeks)
The Covenant by James Michener – 25 weeks

Reached No.1 on November 2, 1980 and stayed there almost six months. Another Michener historical epic, it tells the story of the birth of the Zulu nation.

1990s (Decade average: 5.5 weeks)
The Client by John Grisham – 23 weeks

Reached No.1 on March 21, 1993, staying top for 23 weeks – no other book this decade even got close to this.

This Grisham thriller tells the story of a kid who discovers a terrible secret and finds the Mafia and others on his tail, before a lawyer comes to his aid.

The 2000s (2000--2005) (Decade average: 3 weeks)
Blow Fly by Patrician Cornwell – 16 weeks

Hit No.1 on November 2, 2003. This suspense/crime novel is about a familiar Cornwell character, the forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta and her ex--FBI friends, here dragged from retirement for a further assignment.

By the 2000s many No. 1s spend just a single week at the top of the list.

50s (1956--59): 3.8
60s: 2.8
70s: 4.4
80s: 7.6
90s: 10.0
00s (2000--05): 18.2
The number of bestsellers per year has increased by over 700 per cent since the 1960s, more than doubled since the 80s and almost doubled since the 90s. If present trends continue, they will have doubled in the 00s compared to the 90s.

50s (1956--59): 16.4
60s: 21.7
70s: 13.9
80s: 7.2
90s: 5.5
00s: 3.0

Life Expectancy of Bestselling Books -

Friday, May 26, 2006

Joe Finder at Levengers

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A day off. One of my favorite authors in town. Doing a signing at one of my favorite stores. Kismet!

I had the privilege of seeing Joseph Finder - author of KILLER INSTINCT, COMPANY MAN, PARANOIA, HIGH CRIMES and many others - at Levengers in Delray Beach. With his last three books, Joe has sort of invented a new sub-genre, if you will - the corporate thriller. He takes ordinary guys and puts them in extraordinary circumstances, all set in the corporate world where, as he pointed out, 65% of us work and spend a good hunk of our days. So we can relate to the happy salesman in KILLER INSTINCT, or to the cube-dweller in PARANOIA. Of course, their days get considerably more exciting than ours get - thank goodness! Joe writes these page turners that are un-put-downable. Who knew corporate America could be so exciting!

Joe is personable, funny and a very smart guy - graduated from Yale, taught at Harvard, and is a former intelligence officer of the CIA. He spoke a bit about the NSA and the CIA and what is going on today and didn't hold back at all, which was rather refreshing in this day and age, let me tell you. But he mostly talked about the not-quite-glamourous life of a touring author, kiddingly likening it to being a rock star, only his groupies are all librarians! He spoke about the research he does, interviewing CEO's and CFO's and visiting their offices and their warehouses and learning what goes on the various industries he writes about, like the plasma TV business for KILLER INSTINCT. His next book is set in the aeronautical industry and you can bet that one is well researched too. But we have to wait about a year for it!

Meanwhile, run out and get KILLER INSTINCT, (or order it from Amazon and support my site.) If Joe is doing a signing in your neck of the woods, do stop by, he is well worth the visit. Check out his website for a tour schedule.

Monday, May 22, 2006

BookExpo America builds buzz for upcoming titles
By Carol Memmott, USA TODAY

Thousands of booksellers and publishing professionals gathered in Washington, D.C., over the weekend at BookExpo America to look ahead to the big books for fall. Three titles that had the most buzz at the annual convention:

•For One More Day by Mitch Albom, best-selling author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Albom says his new novel "focuses on the relationships between mothers and sons." It's about a man who loses his mother and years later is given the chance to spend one more day with her. In stores: Sept. 26.


•Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier's first novel since 1997's Cold Mountain. Set in the 19th century, Moons is the story of a young white man adopted by members of the Cherokee nation. Publication date: Oct. 3.

•The Innocent Man: A True Story, the first non-fiction title from John Grisham. It's about Ronald Keith Williamson, a second-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in 1971 who was convicted in the late 1980s of raping and killing a waitress in Oklahoma. Williamson was five days away from execution in 1999 when he was exonerated by DNA evidence. In stores: Oct. 10.

Robert Taecher, a buyer for the Borders bookstores, says Frazier's novel is one of many "upcoming books by established authors who haven't published new novels in a long time." Taecher says fans of Anna Quindlen, Jane Hamilton, Richard Ford, Jennifer Egan and William Boyd also can expect to find their novels in stores this fall.

Other fiction titles talked up at BookExpo:

•The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. Historical thriller that imagines what happened when Sigmund Freud visited America in 1909. September.

•The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. A mystery revolving around a woman who is invited by a reclusive author to write her biography. It will "be as big as The Historian and The Rule of Four," says Bob Wietrak, vice president of marketing at Barnes & Noble. September.

•After This by Alice McDermott. Follows an American family dealing with the changing world of the mid-20th century. September.

•One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson. Jackson Brodie, protagonist in the author's successful 2004 novel Case Histories, is back. October.

Other hot non-fiction:

•The Audacity of Hope: Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama. The senator from Illinois lays out his vision for the country's political future. October.

•Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivial Pursuits by Ken Jennings. The author, a certified brainiac - he won on Jeopardy! 75 weeks in a row - writes of his game-show stardom. September.

•The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon. Publisher Hill and Wang is calling this the "most accessible version" of the report.

BookExpo America builds buzz for upcoming titles - Yahoo! News

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