Tuesday, February 27, 2007

All the troubles in the world

Is it just me, or is today a Derbyshire* kind of day? Nothing but bad news as far as the eye can see:

* Note: John Derbyshire is the NRO columnist who once asserted that human destruction is inevitable.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Egyptian blogger jailed for advocating moderation

The AP reported this disturbing story of naked censorship in Egypt last week:
An Egyptian blogger was convicted Thursday and sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam and Egypt's president, sending a chill through fellow Internet writers who fear a government crackdown.

Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, had been a vocal secularist and sharp critic of conservative Muslims in his blog. He often lashed out at Al-Azhar -- the most prominent religious center in Sunni Islam -- calling it "the university of terrorism" and accusing it of encouraging extremism.

Nabil was actually eligible for 9 years in prison, but his sentence of 4 included 3 for "insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad" and 1 for "insulting President Hosni Mubarak." His lawyer says he plans to appeal, but in the meantime Nabil is behind bars for daring to advocate moderation in his online posts.

By way of contrast, here in the U.S., "Titanic" director James Cameron is airing a dubious documentary that claims to have found the ossuary of Christ, and Louis Farrakhan (leader of the Nation of Islam) has just called for the impeachment of our president. I'd like to point out to the freedom-hating Islamofascists that neither of these shysters are on their way to the klink. Free people are generally smart enough to recognize a kook when they encounter one.

The imprisoning of Nabil highlights the intellectual and moral feebleness of Islamofacism, offering yet more proof that it's nothing more than a violent, backward ideology.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Book of Saddam's poems, letters being shopped

Saddam Hussein's lawyer is planning a book that will contain "many secrets" about the fall of Baghdad, as well as "200-300 letters, poems and other texts handwritten by President Saddam." Khalil al-Dulaimi told the AFP that he hasn't written the book yet, but will soon begin contacting publishers. (No word yet if he's tried tracking down Judith Regan.)

Poetry by Saddam Hussein?!? Good grief. One shudders to think what this madman might have written...

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by me, flogged tortured gassed,
dragging themselves through my dungeons looking for missing relatives (*)

(But at least he looked the part.)

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

The new New Hampshire?

The NYT has an article today on books by the current crop of presidential candidates. It quotes the editor of Hotline as saying that publishing is now a critical part of the nomination process:

“The book publishing business has become the new exploratory committee... That’s when you find out: Are you interesting enough to get enough interviews? Can you get people to show up for a signing?”

If this is true, then perhaps Darth Hideous is in more trouble than I thought. The article notes:

In December, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s publisher rereleased 'It Takes a Village' in a 10th-anniversary edition, but it flopped, selling only 6,000 copies...

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hollywood hypes Obama -- but can it read Gore?

La-La Land is abuzz about Barack Obama's $1.3 million Hollywood fundraiser last night -- it's getting as much air time on local TV as Britney Spears shaving her head and checking into rehab. Obama certainly must be pleased with how things went. Not only did he rake in a lot of cash, but appearing alongside George Clooney and Babs actually made the guy look intellectual. Plus, he was able to deliver an important message to those in attendance:
He told an audience that included Spielberg, Oscar nominee Eddie Murphy, actress Jennifer Anniston and singer Jackson Browne that they have "enormous power" that comes with "enormous responsibility" because of their impact on American culture.

"Don't sell yourselves short," he said in a 25-minute address. "You are the storytellers of our age."

(As if Hollywood is in need of an ego-boost.)

But the glitterati do more than just raise money for empty suit liberals -- they'll get to read books "written" by one of them, too. PW reports that "Al Gore's eco-alarming book, An Inconvenient Truth, [will be] pre-Oscar party favors for the Hollywood elite."

I'm sure that the Oscar-bound celebs will enjoy reading about greenhouse gases during the one-half block limousine ride from the Renaissance Hotel to the Kodak Theater's red carpet...

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Herschensohn's "Taiwan" reviewed

The Taiwan Journal features a review of World Ahead's latest release, Taiwan: The Threatened Democracy by Bruce Herschensohn. While I won't deny that I'm biased (what publisher isn't?), I believe that this is an undeniably important book if for no other reason than the question posed on its dust jacket:
China has nuclear weapons capable of reaching America, prompting a Chinese general to ask, "Would the U.S. sacrifice Los Angeles to protect Taipei?"

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Greenspan, Coulter keynotes; PGW's fate; Air America fire sale

Late-breaking news from the ever glamorous world of publishing:

* Alan Greenspan will be the keynote speaker at this year's BookExpo America in NYC on June 1. He's there to hype his book (a Sept. release from Penguin), which is understandable, but the format sounds like a clunker -- a Q&A by his wife, Andrea Mitchell.

* Forget Greenspan, a bigger name in the publishing world, Ann Coulter, will headline News Expo 2007 in Washington DC on May 11. I'm looking forward to attending both events since World Ahead will have a booth at News Expo and BEA.

* There's been another development in the sad saga of AMS -- the parent co. of Publishers Group West -- publishing's equivalent of the Anna Nicole Smith affair. PW reports that the court just ruled that publishers distributed to the retail trade by PGW will be picked up by Perseus, which beat out rival National Book Network (World Ahead's former distributor) for the deal.

* And speaking of bankruptcy judges... One just approved the sale of Air America to real estate developer Stephen Green for $4.25 million. That price probably went up after windbag Al Franken quit earlier this week to run for Senate in Minn. (He looks quite the statesman, doesn't he?)

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Poll on GOP's meltdown

Richard Viguerie has a new poll to gauge who was responsible for the GOP implosion last November. President Bush and big spending seem to be the leading culprits thus far, results which mirror my observations from last fall. (Not surprisingly, Nancy Pelosi is not one of the choices.)


Friday, February 09, 2007

Wrap-Up: Murdoch on Regan, "24" politics, and libs bash Vanguard

* Rupert Murdoch tells the NY Daily News that the O.J. Simpson book debacle wasn't the reason he axed Judith Regan. Instead, he says Regan "wasn't a team player" and points a finger at the tasteless Mickey Mantle novel that she planned to publish.

* The New Yorker has a lengthy but interesting article about Joel Surnow, the executive producer of "24" and one of the few conservatives in Hollywood. One interesting tidbit: Some Pentagon brass are made squeamish by the show's frequent depiction of torture.

* Liberals wasted little time in attacking after Human Events billed it the conservative answer to MoveOn last month. Both Daily Kos and have gotten into the fray.

* Bloggers and other new media watchers should check out the Web 2.0 Expo being held in San Francisco on April 15-18.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

World's oldest newspaper goes web-only

I may not have the Post-och Inrikes Tidningar website bookmarked on my browser, but its decision to go completely digital does merit a mention:
For centuries, readers thumbed through the crackling pages of Sweden's Post-och Inrikes Tidningar newspaper. No longer. The world's oldest paper still in circulation has dropped its paper edition and now exists only in cyberspace. The newspaper, founded in 1645 by Sweden's Queen Kristina, became a Web-only publication on Jan. 1. It's a fate, many ink-stained writers and readers fear, that may await many of the world's most venerable journals.

This article by the AP goes on to quote the paper's editor, who bemoans being forced to abandon the print edition. But, with a circulation of only 1,000, it's an understandable decision. And at least the economics of the Internet allow a low-circulation publication like this to stay in business.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Terms of illegal immigration debate shifting?

Victor Davis Hanson has a powerful editorial about the illegal immigration debate over at City Journal entitled "Mexifornia, Five Years Later." He contends that the terms of debate have shifted towards border security over the past half-decade.

In my mind, Hanson speaks with some authority on this subject. He remains one of the most articulate conservative voices on this issue, and he deserves as much credit as anyone this side of the Minutemen (esp. Jim Gilchrist, who co-authored our book on this subject) for bringing illegal immigration back into the national spotlight.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Manuscript call for kid's book on global warming

World Ahead is in the market for a kid's book that concerned parents can use as an alternative to the left-wing global warming title being published by Scholastic. Aspiring authors should read our announcement for more details.

(Note: Manuscript submissions featuring either Al Gore or a sea goddess will be discarded.)

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Potter pub date sends publishers scurrying

The final Harry Potter book now has a pub date: July 21. Within hours of Scholastic's announcement, both Amazon and B&N sent out promotional emails to solicit orders.

I'll confess that I'm completely out of touch on this subject -- I've never read a Harry Potter book. (J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis filled that fantasy void for me.) But that doesn't mean that I don't realize what a significant event this is for the publishing industry.

According to Nielsen Bookscan, there are 11 different versions of Harry Potter books that have sold over 1 million copies, 9 that have sold 200K-1 mil, and 19 that have sold between 100-200K. When you stop to think that all 39 of these items are basically just repackaged versions of J.K. Rowling's 6 novels, the power of Potter is all the more undeniable. (Will Scholastic's new book on global warming discuss the impact of all the trees that died to print those Potter books?)

So, after hearing about the pub date, my frantic reaction was to ask our staff: "Do we have anything scheduled for release around the second half of July?!" (We did, and our schedule will need to be juggled.) And I don't think that I'll be the only publisher who has this reaction. Watch for July to be a quiet month in publishing this year as the rest of us duck for cover until Harry's hype has passed.

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