Martha Stewart has cooked up a savory new business deal. The Associated Press (via USA Today) reported that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has "bought the rights to the Emeril Lagasse franchise of cookbooks, television shows and kitchen products for $45 million in cash and $5 million in stock at closing. The final price could reach $70 million if certain benchmarkets are achieved."
RBC Capital analyst David Bank said "the Emeril deal adds another well-known brand name to the company, so it would not depend solely on Martha Stewart's name."
"The more you can bring into the mix away from Martha the better you are," he added. "Diversifying the brands in the portfolio is a positive thing."
Or, as Stewart told the New York Times, "[Emeril's] tastes are very different from mine, as is his food, and I
think that’s good. Being complementary and different is
better than being competitive."
If setting a good example will increase the number of readers in the U.S., then Amanda Patchin, owner of Veritas Fine Books, Garden City, Idaho, is setting an example extraordinaire. Her goal is to read 200 books--79,349 pages--this year.
The marathon read is Patchin's response to the bad news about reading habits as summed up in last year's NEA report, "To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence." One of the findings was that young Americans spend an average of only seven minutes a day reading for pleasure.
According to the Idaho Statesman, Patchin, 27, "has obviously not participated in those studies. . . . [She] has read about 10,000 pages since Jan. 1. That's more than 200 pages a day."
You can learn more about her quest at 200books.com, where she sums it up this way: "200 books in 2008. Selected from Everyman's Library. Reading while caring for a toddler and a new baby and running a small business. With daily blog posts chronicling the attempt. Yeah, I'm nuts."
Check out pictures of Monday's fancy party at Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga., where fancy partygoers heard a reading of Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly! [Many thanks to Nicki Leone--and, yes, we were listening.]
Linda Cannon of Parson Weems had her 15 minutes of fame earlier this week when she was interviewed on TV at Jay's Bookstall, Pittsburgh, Pa., which is closing after 53 years in business (Shelf Awareness, February 19, 2008). Cannon had been a customer when she was a student in Pittsburgh 1969-1972, and for the past five years she had sold to owner Jay Dantry and manager Joe Emanuele. By coincidence, she was at the store when the TV crew was there. She added: "I am honored to have had the opportunity to pay tribute to Jay and his of 53 year service to independent bookselling over a period of time that saw dramatic historic, social and publishing changes. If only we could download his vast memory."
Off camera, Chris Kerr, also of Parson Weems, who had called on the store since 1978, said: "Jay Dantry used to tell me that he would give me an order if I shut up, left the catalogs and got coffee."
In November, Barnes & Noble plans to open a new store in Gilbert, Ariz., near Phoenix. The store will be in the San Tan Village Regional Shopping Center at 2150 East Williams Field Road.
In an effort to boost sales of James Patterson's soon-to-be-published Maximum Ride: The Final Warning, "Little, Brown has asked booksellers to commit to keeping the new 'Maximum Ride' book--along with The Dangerous Days of Daniel X,
the first title in a new young-adult series, due out in July--at the
front of their stores as long as Mr. Patterson's adult titles usually
stay there, in the hope of luring more adult buyers," today's New York Times reports, adding that the author "figures the best way to get young readers may be through their mothers."
"The reality is that women buy most books," said Patterson. "The
reality is that it's easier, and a really good habit, to start to get
parents when they walk into a bookstore to say, 'You know, I should buy
a book for my kid as well.'"
Product placement on the page. The New York Times looked at the creators of two book series for young readers who "have come to separate conclusions" about enlisting companies to sponsor branded mentions in their work.
When it was revealed that Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, authors of Cathy’s Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233, published in 2006, "had agreed to have characters wear specific makeup lines made by Cover Girl in exchange for promotional ads for the book on beinggirl.com, a Web site aimed at adolescent girls and run by Procter & Gamble, Cover Girl’s parent, the book came in for criticism. Ralph Nader's advocacy group, Commercial Alert, urged book review editors to boycott it, and the novelist Jane Smiley wrote a disapproving op-ed article for the Los Angeles Times; the New York Times wrote a critical editorial as well." The paperback edition will not include these references.
The Times contrasted this experience to Mackenzie Blue, a new series aimed at 8-to-12-year-old girls and created by Tina Wells, chief executive of Buzz Marketing Group, who "will herself be the author of titles in the series filled with references to brands. She plans to offer the companies that make them the chance to sponsor the books."
Is Hollywood "developing a more consistent approach to literature?" In the Los Angeles Times, David Ulin suggested that recent Oscar-worthy films based on novels, like There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men and Margot at the Wedding, seem to indicate the possibility of a trend.
"For me, this is a matter of sensibility, of complexity and nuance, the way these works take on bigger issues, the uncertainties and irresolution that mark our passage through the world," Ulin wrote, adding that "if these kinds of movies have anything to tell us, it's that interiority can sometimes play itself out on screen."
He concluded by noting the trend, however small, does indicate "that good books can indeed make thought-provoking movies, which means there may be less difference than we imagined between a successful novel and a successful film."
CEOs may be reading their way to success. India Times checked in with business leaders and concluded that the formula for the perfect leadership book is elusive at best: "'Is there a book that is the perfect compendium of all leadership advice?' Of course not, is India Inc's collective retort. But for those who want to parrot their CEOs' reading diets: Take note that many of them are taking cues from the annals of history; Ramachandra Guha and Jared Diamond find repeated mention. Add to that a healthy dose of Harry Potter. While we assume that's purely for entertainment, business writer Tom Morris did propose there was leadership wisdom in the world of Wizardry in his book titled If Harry Potter Ran General Electric. Oh well."
Bad news for the book biz? MSN Money offered "10 ways to save money on books:"
- Avoid new releases.
- Read reviews.
- Find the classics online.
- Search for bargains.
- Make Amazon your all-purpose book tool.
- Frequent your public library.
- Explore used bookstores.
- Harness the power of the Internet.
- Buy only what you intend to read.
Tom Luckinich has joined Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group and National Book Network as director of IT operations, where he will manage the MIS department and support daily operations as the company prepares to switch to IBS/BookMaster. He has held IT management positions for 20 years at several companies, including Westinghouse Electric.