Notes: Thirteen Reasons Why's Long Shelf Life; Foote Bio
Today's New York Times offered an inquest into the YA debut novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, published by Penguin's Razorbill imprint, a story about a teenager's suicide that "has become a stealthy hit with surprising staying power."
Published in October 2007, the book is a transcription of audiotapes made by a 16-year-old girl before she commits suicide--interspersed with reactions by friends after her death. Asher, who has worked as a children's librarian and bookseller, said he was inspired to use the format after listening to an audio tour of an exhibition about King Tut in Las Vegas, Nev.
One reason for the book's popularity: a series of YouTube videos created as part of an ad campaign and featuring the voice of Olivia Thirlby, who played the best friend of the title character in Juno. While a cassette player rolls, Thirlby's voice reads the tapes made by the protagonist of Thirteen Reasons Why.
"Death and dying has always been a popular theme for kids," Josalyn Moran, v-p of children's books at Barnes & Noble, told the paper. "Kids like to read about situations that are worse than theirs and figure out that 'O.K., my life isn't so bad.' "
And Kris Vreeland, children's book buyer at Vroman's, Pasadena, Calif., said she had read many YA titles that are "pretty dark, but not something that was specifically that kind of format and never anything that really dealt with suicide from the perspective of the person who has committed suicide." Vroman's has sold more than 250 copies of Thirteen Reasons Why.
More on Horton Foote, playwright and screenwriter who died last Wednesday at 92:
On September 8, the Free Press is publishing Horton Foote: America's Storyteller by Wilborn Hampton, the New York Times theater critic who was a friend of Foote for more than 20 years.
Free Press called this "the first comprehensive biography" of Foote and one based on "the full cooperation of Mr. Foote as well as his close friends and family. Colorful and compulsively readable, it recounts Mr. Foote's rich life and extraordinary career, spanning much of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, ranging from small-town Texas to Broadway to Hollywood."
Hampton wrote the obituary for Foote in Thursday's New York Times.
For comic comment on the values of the book, click here.
Boing Boing recommended the blog Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves, whose the author "reviews children's books of yore that she digs up at thrift stores, library sales, and used bookstores. Even if you don't have little ones, the pages she posts have wonderful art."
A paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which includes an illustrated card signed by J.K. Rowling, was sold for $19,120 by a Dallas auction house. The Associated Press (via USA Today) reported that the book was "one of only 200 copies from the first printing issued with illustrated wrappers by London publisher Bloomsbury." The winning bid came from a vintage comic book collector in Dubai.
Rob Weisbach, president and publisher of Rob Weisbach Books at Morrow, then v-p and editor-at-large at Simon & Schuster, then president and CEO of Miramax Books and president and CEO of the Weinstein Company's new book division, has formed Rob Weisbach Creative Management.
The company aims to remake the traditional literary agency as "a cross-training development company--one that will work with new and established talent on all aspects of career building. The company will help artists fully develop their creative potential, represent their work aggressively across all formats including film and television, train them for media and pursue national exposure on their behalf, and build an overall strategic plan for self-promotion, long-term financial stability and a sustained creative life in the arts."
Besides working for its primary clients, Rob Weisbach Creative Management will also offer services for artists who are otherwise represented, from editorial consultation and media training to marketing and publication plans. The company will also include satellite co-agents--a "virtual team of experts"--who will represent their own clients as well as provide their professional expertise in dramatic and foreign rights, publicity, editorial and online marketing.
Weisbach's first project has been the survival memoir Crazy for the Storm by Norman Ollestad, which will be published here in June by Ecco and has been sold around the world.
Rob Weisbach Creative Management may be reached at 212-414-0743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Effective today, Jonathan Merkh has been named v-p and publisher of the Howard Books imprint at Simon & Schuster. He formerly worked at the William Morris Agency and earlier worked at Guideposts and Thomas Nelson, where he was senior v-p and publisher of the Nelson Books division.
In a statement, Mark Gompertz, executive v-p of the Touchstone Fireside division, said that Merkh is "well-known and highly regarded in both the CBA community and the wider world of publishing, with a substantive track record for publishing books that serve the Christian marketplace and have broad mainstream appeal. He is the right person to help us grow this area of our publishing, expanding upon the solid foundation built by John Howard and the rest of Howard Books staff."