Saturday, March 25, 2006

ITW's First Award Nominees Are In!

You may not have been at Left Coast Crime in Bristol, but that doesn't mean you're out of the awards' loop.

At a dinner on Friday, March 17th, 2006, the co-presidents of ITW, Gayle Lynds and David Morrell, announced the nominees for the new International Thriller Awards (or more simply "The Thrillers").

Over three hundred titles were reviewed by our judging committees, along with a slew of screenplays by our film panel. And as stipulated in ITW bylaws, no one on the board of directors, nor myself as chair of the awards, was eligible to compete. Each judging committee was selected to balance men and women, authors and reviewers, while also incorporating an international flare with judges from beyond US borders. Operating under a strict code of silence and isolated from prejudicial interference, they have deliberated for the past several months to pare down the towering pile of submissions to the nominees listed below.

So with great pride and delight, and congratulations to all, here are the nominees (listed alphabetically by writer) for the first International Thriller Awards.

The Thrillers

PANIC by Jeff Abbott (Dutton)
CONSENT TO KILL by Vince Flynn (Atria)
VELOCITY by Dean Koontz (Bantam)
THE PATRIOTS CLUB by Christopher Reich (Delacorte Press)
CITIZEN VINCE by Jess Walter (Regan Books)

IMPROBABLE by Adam Fawer (William Morrow)
THE COLOR OF LAW by Mark Gimenez (Doubleday)
COLD GRANITE by Stuart MacBride (St. Martin's Minotaur)
PAIN KILLER by Will Staeger (William Morrow)
BENEATH A PANAMANIAN MOON by David Terrenoire (Thomas Dunne Books)

SLEEPER CELL by Jeffrey Anderson (Berkley)
PRIDE RUNS DEEP by R. Cameron Cooke (Jove)
UPSIDE DOWN by John Ramsay Miller (Dell)
THE DYING HOUR by Rick Mofina (Pinnacle Books)
EXIT STRATEGY by Michael Wiecek (Jove)

MATCH POINT, screenplay by Woody Allen
SYRIANA, based on the book by Robert Baer, written by Stephen Gaghan
CACHE (Hidden), screenplay by Michael Haneke
OLDBOY, screenplay by Jo-yun Hwang, Chun-hyeong Lim, Joon-hyung Lim, and Chan-wook Park; story by Garon Tsuchiya
MUNICH, screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth; based on the book by George Jonas

James Rollins
ITW Awards Chair

New homes have top-shelf libraries
By Maria Puente

Most British country estates have libraries. Most American suburban McMansions have TV rooms (and better plumbing). Until now.

Architects and builders say more of their high-end clients want a library in their homes, but not the kind on ''Masterpiece Theatre.'' An American home library might be out in the open, on a stair landing or in a loft or an alcove. It might double as an office and have climate controls, high-tech lighting, TVs and computers.

''The library has come back strongly,'' says Santa Barbara, Calif., architect Barry Berkus, head of the award-winning firm B3 Architects.

About half the custom-designed million-dollar homes built by Witt Construction of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., feature libraries. ''People want something a bit more elegant than an ordinary office,'' says Suzanne Pitts, Witt sales director. ''And when they have guests, they want them to see it.''

Gopal Ahluwalia, research director at the National Association of Home Builders, says home libraries are most common in houses 3,000 square feet or larger, which is about 20 percent of the total U.S. housing stock.

Home libraries fit in with affluent homebuilders' desire for ''specialty rooms'' that reflect personal interests and hobbies, from meditation and massage rooms to wine cellars and yoga rooms. This year's New American Home, a 10,000-square foot Caribbean-style home built for the International Builders' Show in Orange County, Fla., featured a second-story loft library.

Sometimes, the homeowner collects costly antique books that he has actually read. But sometimes the library is just for show. Antiquarian booksellers, such as New York's 85-year-old Argosy Book Store, say about half their sales of antique books go to homeowners who care more about the looks than the books.

''They buy just to fill up the shelves, and they want it to look pretty,'' co-owner Naomi Hample says.''Some want all the same color. Some don't care what language it's in.''

Tallahassee Democrat - - Tallahassee, FL.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Booked Solid
Some Readers' Cherished Collections Have Nowhere to Grow

By Annie Groer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 23, 2006; H01

Law librarian Rick Ramponi's collection of 3,000 regional cookbooks --including "Talk About Good" from the Lafayette, La., Junior League and "Shalom on the Range," which celebrates southwestern Jewish cuisine -- was manageable while he lived in a large house in Kalorama.

But when he moved to a one-bedroom Dupont Circle apartment with a partner who collects large art and architecture books, Ramponi had to exile those cherished culinary texts to a pair of rented storage units several blocks away.

Since 2002, he has spent more than $5,000 to keep them there, which "may be more than they are all worth," he concedes. "But there is a sentimental attachment and I associate them with places I've been, people I know."

Accountant Jennifer Kimball, who is studying for a master's degree in English, and policy analyst Matt Cail, who has a pair of master's degrees, call themselves "huge bibliophiles." Thus their chief requirement when condo shopping two years ago was enough wall space for shelves to hold their books. Already they have run out of space in their Alexandria flat. "Next year we will start looking for a house to buy that has room for children," she says. And books.

Then there is the Georgetown widow who requests anonymity to keep her literary "addiction" secret. She admits she once seriously considered buying and moving into the house next door, leaving her mushrooming book collection at the old address. Ultimately she could not justify carrying two mortgages, even though her own living space has been reduced to narrow paths winding past groaning shelves and grocery sacks filled with secondhand books.

"You think if you keep buying books you will never die until you've read them all," she says. "Of course, that's absurd."

Books, it turns out, inflame a particular kind of passion. They inform, they amuse, they provoke. They keep us company and lull us to sleep. They give manifest evidence of our intellect. They show off our interests and our values. And when we've run out of places to put them, they prove extremely difficult to part with.

Washington, with its affluent and educated populace, is a natural habitat for bibliomaniacs, defined by the late British author Sir Hugh Walpole as those "to whom books are like bottles of whiskey to the inebriate, to whom anything that is between covers has a sort of intoxicating savour."

The Association of American Publishers reports nationwide sales of nearly 969 million new books in 2004, the most recent available figure from 20 major U.S. publishers. The Washington area ranked fourth last year in sales, after New York, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay/Silicon Valley axis, according to Nielsen BookScan, a retail book sales monitoring service.

More than 100 million used books also change hands each year, reports the American Booksellers Association. Many are scavenged from secondhand bookstores, thrift shops or estate sales, where paperbacks can be found for a dollar or less and hardcovers for as little as $2. Voracious readers also hit sales at libraries and schools, where $5 or $10 can often buy a shopping bag stuffed with books.

"There is a feeling that words written on a page have some kind of power," says Carla Cohen, co-owner of Politics and Prose bookstore in the District, whose own Northwest Washington home is filled with books she cannot bear to part with. "Books talk to us. They are like friends. Certainly some of my books are," says Cohen. "They actually do more than evoke the story. They evoke the place I read it -- Maine, college, a trip. They become almost a memento of the trip."

The effort to contain a growing collection can last decades. Nearly a half-century ago, Daniel Davidson -- lawyer, former diplomat and book reviewer (sometimes for The Washington Post) -- paid $150 for five custom bookcases, including one with a built-in bar. They've survived several moves with him, and now anchor the den of the Northwest Washington home he shares with his writer wife, Susan Davidson.

"The serious stuff, books I've reviewed," crowd a quartet of nine-shelf, 10-foot-high bookcases in the living room. "I figure that after we go, it's my daughter's problem. I told her to throw out everything but the books autographed by [former secretary of state] Dean Acheson."

Professional organizer Kim Oser of Put It Away! in Gaithersburg says it can be difficult to persuade clients to jettison the literary surplus. "People treat books as trophies. When they finish a book, they have to put it up to show 'I read that.' "

Her tough-love solution is simple: "Books that you keep are childhood books, historical books, classics. There are two options with the other books: If it's so good that you would tell friends to read it, you pass it along. If it's so awful, you donate it."

Avid readers consider such advice heresy, preferring instead to grapple with storage, from basic bricks-and-board shelving to exquisite, and exquisitely expensive, custom cabinetry. They have discovered that books can be tucked under the stairs, over doorways, into headboards, atop the refrigerator and inside kitchen cabinets. The cliched decorator's trick of stacking large, glossy art books on their sides can give new life to occasional tables. Indeed, several uniform, knee-high piles of books on the floor can become a table when topped by a piece of glass.

The ultimate luxury, of course, is a personal library. To Washington designer John Peters Irelan, a traditional library boasts wood-paneled walls, with bookcases of various widths and depths topped by pediments, leaving a bit of wall exposed below the crown molding. A contemporary library contains just floor-to-ceiling shelves to create "a tapestry of books" needing no further embellishment.

One Irelan client offered a tip to keep dust off shelves: Make them no deeper than the books themselves. Eight inches works for most hardbacks; a foot will do for art books.

For those who have yet to unbox their favorites, Marco Fogg, the hero of Paul Auster's novel "Moon Palace," has a solution: "Imaginary furniture" for his apartment made from dozens of cartons filled with 1,000 books once owned by his late uncle.

"One set of 16 served as the support for my mattress, another set of 12 became a table, others of seven became chairs, another of two became a bed stand, and so on," Fogg mused. "Imagine the pleasure of sitting down to a meal with the entire Renaissance lurking below your food."

Booked Solid

Gumshoe Awards 2006

The 5th Annual Gumshoe Awards are given by Mystery Ink to recognize the best achievements in crime fiction. This year's nominees were chosen from books first
published in the United States in 2005. The winners will be announced on May 9, 2006.

Best Mystery:
The Nominees:

As Dog Is My Witness by Jeffrey Cohen (Bancroft Press)
The James Deans by Reed Farrel Coleman (Plume)
Savage Garden by Denise Hamilton (Scribner)
To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman (William Morrow)
The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Best Thriller:
The Nominees:

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
Company Man by Joseph Finder (St. Martin's Press)
The Only Suspect by Jonnie Jacobs (Kensington)
Falls the Shadow by William Lashner (William Morrow)
Creepers by David Morrell (CDS Books)

Best European Crime Novel:
The Nominees:

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde (Viking)
Kiss Her Goodbye by Allan Guthrie (Hard Case Crime)
Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Have Mercy on Us All by Fred Vargas (Simon & Schuster)
The Vanished Hands by Robert Wilson (Harcourt)

Best First Novel:
The Nominees:

The Color of Law by Mark Gimenez (Doubleday)
Tilt-a-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein (Carroll & Graf)
The Baby Game by Randall Hicks (Wordslinger Press)
Sacred Cows by Karen E. Olson (Mysterious Press)
Beneath a Panamanian Moon by David Terrenoire (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

JAMES O. BORN in depth interview in January Magazine

Interview | James O. Born

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The literary novelist as paperback writer
By Edward Wyatt The New York Times

Knock-offs of "The Da Vinci Code," made-up memoirs and accounts of life with ornery pets are selling tens of thousands of hardcover copies a week. But publishers say there is no harder sell in the world of books these days than literary fiction.

Even critically acclaimed literary novels often have a short shelf life in hardcover, with one-half to three-quarters of the books shipped to stores often being returned to the publisher unsold.

That has a growing number of publishing companies, from smaller houses like Grove/Atlantic to giants like Random House, adopting a different business model, offering books by lesser- known authors only as "paperback originals," forgoing the higher profit afforded by publishing a book in hardcover for a chance at attracting more buyers and a more sustained shelf life.

"In the last four or five years, it's gotten hard to publish fiction by lesser- known authors, and even by some better-known authors," said Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove/Atlantic.

And when a book fails in hardcover, booksellers often will limit their orders for a paperback edition, making it harder to sell the author's next book.

"When you're taking back 50 to 70 percent of the hardcover copies you shipped," Entrekin said, "the stores - rightfully so - are not willing to take another chance."

Entrekin recently revived a dormant imprint, Black Cat, to highlight his trade paperback originals. Last month, Black Cat released "White Ghost Girls," a debut novel by Alice Greenway, in a paperback edition that included flaps on the paper cover and the ragged-edge pages that bespeak "quality fiction." Other publishers, like HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Random House, have also been ramping up their efforts.

"It has been more of an evolution than a big jump," said Jane von Mehren, publisher of trade paperbacks at Random House. "Getting somebody to spend $22 on a book by an author who they've never heard of is hard, but getting them to spend $13.95 on a paperback is much easier."

The paperback original is not an entirely new concept. European publishing companies have been doing it for years; in the United States, the so-called Beat Generation writers were often published only in paperback in the early 1960s. More recently, in 1999, Jhumpa Lahiri's volume of short stories, "Interpreter of Maladies," was released only in paperback by Houghton Mifflin's Mariner Books. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Still, the paperback-original format has been used relatively infrequently by publishers, in part because it is often fought by authors and their agents, who are sometimes unwilling to give up the prestige and higher royalties from hardcover publication, as well as the chance for a second release in stores with a paperback edition.

Publishers have plowed ahead, however. Harper Perennial, the literary paperback imprint of HarperCollins, is planning to publish 22 paperback originals this year, up from 10 last year.

"We see it as a great opportunity to publish some young debut writers," said Carrie Kania, publisher of Harper Perennial.

She cited as an example Nick Laird, the husband of the British novelist Zadie Smith; his first novel, "Utterly Monkey," was published as a paperback original in January.

"Part of our strategy was that we believe Nick Laird is going to be a great writer, and we want to build him up," Kania said. "That is hard to do when there is a lot of hardcover competition."

The economics of the decision to publish in hardcover or paperback are not simple.

Publishers generally receive a wholesale price for new books that is about half the retail cover price. Thirty percent of the publisher's share, or 15 percent of the cover price, goes to the author as royalties, and 40 percent of the publisher's take goes for the production, distribution, marketing and publicity costs of the book.

On a typical hardcover priced at $26, that would leave a little less than $4 a copy for the publisher, before accounting for the cost of corporate overhead or the books that will be returned - on which the publisher earns nothing.

For paperbacks, authors generally earn only 7.5 percent of the cover price as a royalty. But the lower price also means publishers earn far less, about $1 to $2 a book before returns. The advantage of paperback is that if a book proves to be even a modest seller, booksellers are less likely to return all of their copies, figuring they can stock a small number permanently on their shelves - something they rarely do with hardcover books.

"Book for book, you're obviously going to make more money on a hardcover," said Martin Asher, editor in chief of Vintage/Anchor Books, part of Random House's Knopf Publishing Group.

"But you can usually sell two or more paperbacks for every hardcover, and when you bring in the question of building an audience for a new writer," the scale tips further in the paperback original's favor.

One longtime argument against paperback originals has been that book critics are less likely to review them. Several publishers say that has changed, citing what they described as a watershed event: the review on Feb. 6, 2005, of "Death of an Ordinary Man," by Glen Duncan, a paperback original book published by Entrekin's Black Cat imprint, that was featured on the front page of The New York Times Book Review.

"Historically, getting the books reviewed was a big concern for us," Kania of Harper Perennial said. "But increasingly, paperback originals are being treated as new books."

The literary novelist as paperback writer - Technology - International Herald Tribune

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