Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Musharraf scores big sales

PW reports that Pervez Musharraf's autobiography In the Line of Fire (which is also the title for a great Clint Eastwood movie) is on pace to outsell both Harry Potter and Bill Clinton's My Life in Pakistan and India.

Musharraf's importance in that region of the world notwithstanding, it's still rare that a memoir outsells major works of fiction like both of those books...

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Mainstream media coverage favors Dems

USA Today has an article describing a study of network news stories by the Center for Media and Public Affairs:

The study found that three out of four evaluations of Democratic candidates' chances of winning — such as sound bites — were positive, compared with one out of eight for Republicans. Coverage has been dominated by two major themes: the effects of the Foley scandal, and the impact the Bush presidency is having on the party's congressional candidates.

Is anyone surprised by this?


Monday, October 30, 2006

Nancy Pelosi's grapes of rapacity

Joseph Klein, the author of Global Deception: The UN's Stealth Assault on America's Freedom, has a noteworthy editorial about Nancy Pelosi's support of illegal immigration on FrontPageMag today. Apparently Rep. Pelosi has more than a passing interest in keeping our borders wide open. Click here to read Klein's editorial.


Newspaper circulation continues to plunge

The blows keep on coming for the Old Media... Editor & Publisher reports that newspaper circulation continues to decline, with the most precipitous drop coming on Sundays:

This is the fourth consecutive semi-annual report to register a severe drop in daily circulation and -- perhaps more troubling to the industry -- Sunday copies. While the estimated decline 2.8% for daily circulation for all reporting papers may seem negligible, consider that in years past that decrease averaged around 1%. Sunday, considered the industry's bread-and-butter, showed even steeper losses, with a decline of about 3.4%.

Big cities like L.A., Miami, and Boston are feeling the effects of the Internet and the trimming of other-paid circulation....

Of course, these numbers are just for printed papers. As disruptive as the Internet has been for this industry, some quality publications like the WSJ are finding ways to make money from their online sites.

Americans believe gov't is too big

CNN released an interesting poll today that finds that a majority of Americans believe Washington is too big:

A quarter century after the Reagan revolution and a dozen
years after Republicans vaulted into control of Congress, a new CNN poll finds
most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the
Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is
the problem."...

Queried about their views on the role of government, 54
percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too
many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent
said they thought the government should do more to solve the country's

The problems the GOP faces in this election spring not from an excessively conservative agenda, but from an agenda that is not conservative enough. Whether it is excessive federal spending, nonchalance toward border security, expansion of new entitlements, failure to address the looming Social Security crisis, or a liberal-like denial that we face a serious enemy in Iraq, both Congress and the Bush Administration have not been as conservative as their Republican base. These policy issues will have a much greater impact on turnout next week than the disgusting Foley scandal.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Borders chastised for rejecting teenage sex book

The Book Standard (BS) has a news story about its own columnist, Jessa Crispin -- who also runs a blog called Bookslut (honest!) -- that seems to imply that she's taking a terribly brave stand by chiding Borders for not carrying a book called Pop! According to the BS:

The book, which has enjoyed a generally good critical reception, concerns a seventeen-year-old virgin and her quest to have sex; it is deliberately reminiscent of the work of one particularly revered young-adult novelist. [Aury] Wallington [the author of Pop!] tells Crispin that she "wanted to write a book that would serve a new generation of girls the way Judy Blume's Forever served me—answering questions that I was too embarrassed to ask anyone, and showing the emotional issues of sex and virginity through a character I could identify with." Wallington believes the young-adult section is in need of books like hers, precisely because it doesn't oversimplify teenage sexuality.

I could give the BS a hard time for treating its own columnists as news, but that's too easy. Let's just deal with Jessa.

Her editorial starts out by calling Wallington a "promising writer who finds herself at a huge disadvantage...because one of the largest bookstore chains in America is refusing to stock her book." She then goes on to quote a Borders representative who gives a non-specific response, prompting Jessa to encourage the reader to infer that the decision was made because the book is about teenage sex.

Finally, Jessa quotes Wallington as saying, "I've been so pleased with the reaction I've gotten to Pop!, both from readers and organizations like Planned Parenthood (which is running an interview with me about both the book and the issues surrounding sex and virginity on its website, that I was surprised and disheartened to learn that Borders won't be carrying it..." [emphasis added]

First, Borders' decision may have had nothing to do with the book's subject. I can tell you from my own experience as a publisher that Borders is very selective. They usually buy fewer initial copies than Barnes & Noble (and sometimes Amazon) for most new books, and instead watch for sales momentum before placing future orders. It's quite possible that Borders looked at the competition in the competitive Young Adult category and decided to pass.

Second, so what if Borders' decision had something to do with the book's subject? I say "Bravo." Pop culture today already bombards our children with sexual imagery from all sides, and Borders is a private organization that has the right to decide which products it wants to sell on its shelves. If they decided to pass on a book that encourages teenagers to have sex, so much the better.

Third, if abortion-provider Planned Parenthood (which received $272 million in federal funds this year) likes Pop! so darn much, why don't they tell their supporters to stop defacing pro-life signs in South Dakota and go order copies to hand out at the local high school? After all, encouraging teenage sex is a good way for Planned Parenthood to drum up future clients.


China jails pro-freedom blogger

China jailed an Internet blogger named Li Jianping for "praising pro-rights protests in Hong Kong." He was found guilty earlier this year for "inciting subversion of state power." Reporters Without Borders says that at least 32 journalists and 50 Internet writers are political prisoners being held in Chinese prisons.

Credit Michelle Malkin with catching this news item -- and also for providing this humorous faux-Google logo. Given their willingness to collaborate with the regime in Beijing, one has to wonder if Google or any other American dot-coms aided in the gathering of "evidence" on Li.

Netroot jihad serves up Google bombs

The NYT reports that liberal bloggers are manipulating Google searches in an attemp to damage the credibility of 50 Republican candidates.

As cute as this is, all this hard work by the netroots wasn't neccesary. Given Google's left-wing leanings, I'm sure all they had to do was ask.


More on the O.J. autobiography (and Fidel)

Rush & Malloy has quoted a lawyer for O.J. Simpson denying earlier reports that the suspected murderer is writing a book for $3.5 million. Evidently he is still too busy looking for the real killer.

Unfortunately there are no reports that soon-to-be author Fidel Castro will emulate Juice in this regard. I would've guessed that the Cuban tyrant was too busy being a real killer to get around to dictating a memoir.

(Image Source:


Europe's submission to Islam

Here's a worthy follow-up to Gregory Davis's op-ed on thinking about Islam. It comes in the form of a dire warning from Paul Belien, writing in the Brussels Journal:

The German author Henryk M. Broder recently told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (12 October) that young Europeans who love freedom, better emigrate. Europe as we know it will no longer exist 20 years from now. Whilst sitting on a terrace in Berlin, Broder pointed to the other customers and the passers-by and said melancholically: “We are watching the world of yesterday.”

The reason, Broder is quoted as saying, is that Europe is turning Muslim, and its left-wing secularist culture would prefer to submit rather than fight. The rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, Belien writes, stems from the same mindset: "They hate them [Israelis and Americans] because they are afraid that the latter will endanger their lives as well. In their view everyone must submit."

This piece is alarming--and excellent. Be sure to read it.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Thinking about Islam

Gregory Davis, author of the new World Ahead book Religion of Peace?: Islam's War Against the World, has an editorial in Human Events today calling for a new framework on the part of the West when it comes to thinking about Islam.

Davis makes a key point here -- and one that is ironic for reasons that I will explain:

When Western leaders and opinion-makers pontificate on Islam, they invariably engage in a futile effort to force Islam into their own conceptual categories. But Islam is neither a nation, nor a party, nor a religion in the conventional sense. Islam is rather a tribe whose members share spiritual, social and political ties that transcend conventional political boundaries... We are at war with an alien power with no regard for Western principles; an enemy that seeks nothing less than our submission or destruction.

Advocates of "multiculturalism" have long opposed the concept of an intellectual canon written primarily by dead white males on the basis of their claim that all cultures are equal and it is impossible to analyze or evaluate the merit of another culture as an outsider. And to some extent the multiculturalistas have prevailed in many important Western institutions, especially academia and the media (e.g. the Beeb).

But -- as Davis asserts -- this approach is being abandoned when it comes to Islam, which is instead viewed through the left side of a Western prism that veils the ugly reality. This is why we opted to publish Davis's book; he's not afraid to speak the unpleasant truth, and everyone in the West needs to hear it.


Latest chapter in the e-book saga

E-books will mature as a product at some point -- with so many big names pushing them, they almost have to. (Even if it's to Harper Lee's chagrin.) Sony launched its new Reader just last month, and Amazon's digital "Upgrade" service was announced at Book Expo earlier this year.

The latest news come from Adobe, which is releasing a beta version of its Adobe Digital Editions software. Besides supporting multiple formats, this software will also enable a social networking feature for shared reading lists.


Monday, October 23, 2006

The secret game of book embargoes

Who knew that publishing was so cloak and dagger? Yesterday the Post ran a piece discussing the increasingly comical practice of book embargoes.

For books other than Harry Potter, embargoes usually go something like this: 1) Publisher declares a book top secret until a certain date. 2) A media outlet "breaks" the story on the book before that certain date. 3) Other media outlets report on the media outlet that "broke" the story. And 4) Bookstores start selling the book whenever they please.

The article implies that the media blame publishers for this process:

Many journalists complain that publishers also use embargoes to manipulate the press in more devious ways. Almost every critic interviewed for this article had a story about either getting around an embargo with a publicist's consent or being barred by a publisher's non-disclosure agreement from sharing a book with their publication's newsroom.
Authors and their agents, however, seem to blame the media:

"The irony is that it's journalists who are encouraging the embargos," says literary agent Chris Calhoun, who represents Pakistan's Musharraf. According to [Bob] Woodward, that's nothing new. "If The Post has a scoop, they put it out in the newspaper," he says. "That's embargoed, effectively. Maybe it's ready on a Monday, and they wait to run it on a Thursday."

(Don't worry, it's not you -- I've read that Woodward quote a dozen times and it doesn't make sense. And it's in his own paper, mind you.) The "great dumb shark" goes on to add:

He had State of Denial embargoed, he says, to ensure that the book's contents were presented "coherently."

Sure, that's the real reason Woodward had the book embargoed. And this guy thinks Bush is in a state of denial?

The bottom line on embargoes is that big publishers, famous authors, and the major media all see the benefit of playing a game of trying to turns books into a quasi-news story by restricting their availability. It's only retailers who frequently do not go along because their incentive is to get inventory out on store shelves, which is exactly what simple game theory would predict.

The entire practice of embargoes is odd -- and virtually non-enforcable unless you're a publishing conglomerate. But it's not likely to go away as long it provides media outlets with the opportunity to manufacture news about themselves.

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BBC admits left-wing editorial bias

A Beeb internal memo on "impartiality" acknowledges the network is left-wing, anti-Israel, pro-Muslim, anti-Christian, overly political correct, anti-War on Terror, anti-American, anti-countryside, and maybe just a little bit pro-OBL. A senior executive is quoted as saying "...we may have gone too far in the direction of political correctness. Unfortunately, much of it is...deeply embedded in the BBC's culture..." This bastion of multiculturalism is even willing to let news anchors wear a veil:

Among other issues raised in the summit was the question of whether or not veiled women should be allowed to read the news. The BBC’s diversity editor said that since news anchors were allowed to wear crosses, any news anchor should be permitted to wear anything they wished, including the veil. [emphasis added]

If Helen Thomas ever decides to make the leap from newsprint to broadcast, this could be a good policy.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

If the advance fits, will someone publish it?

The BS reports that the National Enquirer reports that a "West Coast source" reports that O.J. Simpson has been paid $3.5 million from an unnamed publisher for a confessional tell-all entitled If I Did It. The book is said to recount how O.J. "hypothetically" would have murdered his ex-wife Nicole and friend Ron Goldman -- if he were the real killer, of course.

I'm pretty skeptical of this report for obvious reasons. But then again, if Penguin is willing to publish the memoirs of a tyrant, perhaps nothing is out of bounds in the publishing industry these days.


GOP electoral train wreck forthcoming?

Bad news for Republicans keeps rolling in... A new NBC/WSJ poll gives Congress just a 16% approval rating, and respondents favored Dems to the GOP by a 52% to 37% margin. Mike Allen over at Time writes that GOP insiders hope to keep control of the Senate, but "Republican officials now concede they could lose a net of 23 to 27 seats in the House." Allen says that the Senate may hinge upon incumbent George Allen winning in Virginia. Apparently if Allen holds, and Sen. Mike DeWine squeaks out a win in Ohio and/or Tom Kean Jr. scores an upset over Sen. Robert Menendez in New Jersey, then the GOP should retain control of the chamber.

Not that Nancy Pelosi cares what goes on in the Senate. She's too busy telling her troops to keep their mouths shut while she measures the Speaker's office for drapes.

(Image source: Neal Boortz.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

S&S to reissue "It Takes a Village"

Simon & Schuster plans to release a tenth anniversary edition of Hillary's It Takes a Village on December 12. It will be illustrated with photographs -- there's no word if this one will be among them.


Penguin to publish Fidel Castro memoir next year

Penguin will publish the memoir of Fidel Castro on March 29, 2007. The publisher reports that the book will be released in the U.K. but not the U.S. According to the Book Standard ("BS"):

Journalist Ignacio Ramonet conducted a series of interviews for the book with Castro, who worked with him on the text which is told in Castro's words. Editor Will Goodlad at Allen Lane said: "Ramonet managed to do what everyone has tried to do before: get Fidel to sit down and talk through his whole life story."

make my living from freedom of the press, but Penguin's decision to publish this memoir is horrible. Castro is a brutal dictator who once pointed nuclear weapons at the U.S., starves his people while hoarding a fortune, and oversees one of the most oppressive regimes on the planet. As Peter Schweizer points out in Reagan's War, Castro also played a very active role in promoting armed communist revolutionaries throughout Latin America. Why give this hate-mongering warlord a platform to spout his propaganda?

There is no word on whether or not the tyrant was given an advance. But given the hefty retail price of 25 pounds, I'd say there's a significant chance he was. Also, the "BS" didn't mention whether Penguin was not releasing in the U.S. due to the embargo on goods from Cuba, but that would be my guess. (I've looked for a press release from Penguin but haven't yet found one.)

If anything about giving a platform to a communist butcher can be called amusing, it's the title -- My Life. Expect this whitewashing of the truth to shame even Bill Clinton's memoir of the same name.


At least she's always been a Yankees fan

Hillary Clinton has unexplicably fessed up that she is not named after Mt. Everest climber Sir Edmund Hillary. Reader's of the Hillary quote book I've Always Been a Yankees Fan by Thomas Kuiper know that she still has a lot of 'splaining to do -- like that whopper about her daughter jogging near the WTC on 9-11, a fib that Chelsea herself later contradicted...


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Turk wins one Nobel, jerk up for another

Orhan Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. One has to wonder if backlash over the decision to honor Turkey at the Frankfurt Book Fair influenced the voting.

And in other news... Cindy Sheehan claims to be a finalist for the Peace Prize. If she wins she'll enjoy some august company.

Political censorship at YouTube?

YouTube's acquisition by Google has raised its profile, and in the process drawn additional scrutiny about possible editorial bias. Google's well-known left-wing slant is one reason for this, but much of the concern is based on YouTube's own actions.

WorldNetDaily has an article today on YouTube's decision to limit access to the hilarious Madeline Albright political ad by David Zucker. Earlier this week, Tom Zeller wrote on an op-ed titled "A Slippery Slope of Censorship at YouTube" discussing their decision to remove a video by Michelle Malkin. All of this has prompted Robert Cox at the Washington Examiner to ask if conservatives are abandoning Web 2.0.

Given that the YouTube founders are acquaintances, I hope the incidents above are isolated -- i.e. the result of netroot flames posted against conservative videos that in turn triggered reviews by clueless customer service people. If I hear further word on this I will share it.

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So Wallace isn't one of "all the right-wingers"?

It turns out that Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who dared to ask Bill Clinton about failing to eliminate OBL, is a registered Democrat.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ted Turner can't pick sides in War on Terror

Speaking of YouTube... Ted Turner now says he's not sure which side he supports in the War on Terror. Watch this video by clicking below. (It will play directly in your browser.)

It's sad that Turner and other liberals like him have had their minds so clouded by moral relativism. There are plenty of bones to pick with liberals from half a century ago, people like FDR, Truman, and even LBJ. But at least all of these pre-60s liberals would likely be able to tell the difference between the Islamofascists who killed 3,000 Americans on 9-11 and the country that liberated 50 million people under totalitarian rule in Afghanistan and Iraq.

PW on Grisham's latest: Flawed, but mercifully liberal

PW's review of John Grisham's new book, The Innocent Man, faults the non-fiction account as "simplistic," "colored by his disgust," and "tedious." But evidently the reviewer thinks it does have some redeeming values -- its politics! After first dismissing the book, the reviewer discovers a silver lining:

Still, he gives an acute picture of Williamson’s tragic life and convincingly shows the abuse of the system in America’s heartland: coerced confessions; dubious testimony by prison
snitches; forensics analysts who suspiciously change their evaluation of evidence to favor the prosecution... (emphasis added)

Evidently flyover country has a legal system that makes Club Gitmo look like a, well, club. But that's not all the reviewer finds redeeming, as the final paragraph of the review makes clear:

Despite its artistic shortcomings, the power of Grisham’s story, along with the author’s ability to reach a huge audience, could serve to focus public attention on the death penalty and the flaws in our justice system. (emphasis added)

This is a textbook example of how editorial bias can color a supposedly objective trade magazine's recommendation to the industry.


Impact of Google's purchase of YouTube on publishing

Google has acquired the online video website YouTube for $1.65 billion. Besides giving a hat tip to fellow PayPal alumni Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, I should point out that publishers need to follow this closely. By scanning and cataloguing the contents of books, Google is already changing the way people learn about books in spite of the opposition of some in the publishing industry. Now that it will be hosting videos as well, Google has the chance to deliver relevant news stories, blog posts, videos, and even book content when users run searches about books or the topics of books. In other words, publishing increasingly looks less about putting words onto bound paper and more about providing multimedia content. Google isn't the only catalyst in this trend, but it is perhaps the most important.

YouTube cofounders Chad Hurley, 29, left, and Steven Chen, 27, pose for a photo with their laptops at their office loft in a San Mateo, Calif. file photo from March 29, 2006. (Copyright 2006 Associated Press)

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Russian author gunned down

Russian author/reporter Anna Politkovskaya has been killed in Moscow. Her book, Putin's Russia, was published overseas but never in her native land.

Liberals will surely rush to draw parallels between what appears to be an act of murder with the "pattern" of human rights violations, media suppression, and general disinformation allegedly fostered by Bush. Of course, those critics will ignore the fact that 6 of the 16 hardcovers on the NYT's political bestsellers are criticisms of the Bush Administration. (And this count doesn't include books by authors, such as Friedman and Huffington, who are also Bush critics.)

The contrast of this list and the murder of Politkovskaya is telling, but not in the way liberals think. Freedom of speech in the U.S. is alive and well in our country -- even when members of the media show poor judgment.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A right-wing riddle

Brad Miner at CompassPoints asks an interesting question -- how can right-of-center personalities dominate talk radio (17 of the top 25 shows) and cable TV, but right-of-center book clubs and magazines seldom surpass 100,000 subscribers? At first this seems like a paradox, but I think the answer Brad suggests is correct.



Mark Noonan over at Blogs for Bush -- who, along with Matt Margolis, is writing a forthcoming book for World Ahead -- cites a powerful example showing how anti-Christian the left has become.


Google fights back against publishers' lawsuit

The WSJ reports Google is subpoenaing rivals Yahoo and Microsoft in an effort to defend its book scanning project from lawsuits by publishers and authors. While I understand the copyright concerns motivating the publishers in this matter, they're ultimately misguided -- this is nothing like the case against Napster by the record labels from a couple of years ago. Technology is changing the way people find information, and making a book's content available to online searches is a critical way to find readers and take advantage of the Long Tail phenomenon. Google is also implementing this program in a way that will make only portions of the text available, protecting publishers from lost sales. There are many decisions to criticize Google for, but this is not one of them.

Speaking of Google, the WSJ also reports they're in talks to buy YouTube, which was started by several of my fellow PayPal alumni. If the deal goes through, it would certainly be further leverage for Google in its escalating clash with the rest of Web...

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PW picks up WND deal

A hat tip to PW for a very balanced article on our WND Books announcement. I've been tough on them in the past for editorial bias impacting their news coverage, so let me be the first to acknowledge this piece.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

More on Columbia morons

Michelle Malkin has more coverage, including film footage of Columbia students rushing the stage.

Students attack "Minutemen" authors at Columbia Univ.

Protestors stormed the stage during an event at Columbia last night and assailed the speakers, who included Minutemen co-authors Jim Gilchrist and Jerome R. Corsi. Fortunately security was able to evacuate them without harm. The New York Sun and WorldNetDaily both have articles on the event. (This makes the protestors at the book signings in California last week look civilized by comparison.)

These photos are courtesy of Dr. Corsi:

Protestors gathering prior to the start of the event at Columbia University.

Minutemen author Jim Gilchrist at podium at Columbia event.

Students storming the stage, forcing security to evacuate Gilchrist, Corsi, and other event participants.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

WorldNetDaily to partner with World Ahead on WND Books

It's my pleasure to announce that World Ahead will be teaming up with WorldNetDaily to publish WND Books effective next year.

I think I speak for all of World Ahead's staff and partners when I say that we are thrilled to be working with Joseph Farah and the excellent team at WorldNetDaily!


Monday, October 02, 2006

Religion of Peace? (the bobblehead)

Credit Michelle Malkin with "discovering" this hilarious bobblehead. The politically incorrect statement that this doll makes is exactly what author/filmmaker Gregory Davis explores in a more thoughtful way in his upcoming book, Religion of Peace?: Islam's War Against the World. As readers of this blog will note (see here and here), current events are certainly bolstering the claim that Davis asserts about Islam.


Political books round-up: whiny Colin, Qaeda memoir

Colin Powell claims in a new biography he warned President Bush that Iraq would be a mess. That doesn't quite qualify Powell as a sage, though -- his warnings came in January 2005. He is also quoted in 2004 as bemoaning that "There are people [in the White House] who would like to take me down." Given Powell's willingness to cover up Richard Armitage's role in the Valerie Plame kerfuffle at the expense of innocent members of the administration, I'd say those "people" had the right idea...

Woodward's State of Denial claims that George Tenet warned Condi Rice of a pending Al Qaeda attack two months before 9-11, a warning which she denies. If that were true, I'm kind of surprised that Tenet didn't save it for his own forthcoming book...

Basic Books is publishing the memoir of a former Al Qaeda agent turned Western spy. Titled Inside the Jihad: My Life with Al Qaeda, A Spy’s Story, the account is by Omar Nasiri, a pen name used for obvious reasons. Let's hope that the book shines a valuable light on the Islamofascist organization but also repudiates their hateful, backwards ideology...

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