Saturday, April 04, 2009

From Publishers Lunch

April 3
Among yesterday's over 40 new deals: Tad Williams' new fantasy series; Sissel-Jo Gazan's THE DINOSAUR FEATHER; Alison Armstrong on enhancing relationships by understanding men's motivations and language; Gary Vaynerchuk's ten-book deal; sister of President Obama, Maya Soetoro-Ng's picture book; and more.

Lucki to Step Down at HMH; Financier O'Callaghan Will Run Publisher
CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Tony Lucki, 60, is retiring on April 15 according to an internal memo reported by the WSJ. Barry O'Callaghan, the 39-year-old genius who built the parent company with a mountain of over $7 billion debt will make himself ceo, while still running Education Media & Publishing Group. Lucki will keep his title as nonexecutive chairman of the publisher, and O'Callaghan says "he's going to continue to be my publishing mentor."

"Our biggest challenge is the U.S. economy," O'Callaghan tells the Journal. "Our biggest customers are the states of Florida and California, and we all know what has happened to their sources of revenue regarding sales taxes and property taxes. But this is a timing issue. Core curriculums [sic] will have to be modernized." When the company renegotiated terms on their debt earlier this year, they said they expected flat revenue and 20 percent growth in ebitda this year.

The FT adds that "EMPG remains in talks to refinance $1.7bn of second lien debt on the operating company and $900m at the holding company level. The negotiations, which are expected to result in debt for equity swaps, are progressing well, a company spokesman said.

March 31
ohn Perkins' PERSPECTIVES OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN; David Levien's next two thrillers; Helen Simonson's debut novel MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND; Aatish Taseer's debut novel THE TEMPLE-GOERS; and more

Pershing Square Gives Borders Another Year
The biggest worry of the year for book publishers has been answered, as Borders appears to have been granted another 12 months to sort itself out. Leading shareholder and lender of last resort Pershing Square has extended their $42.5 million term loan to Borders until April 1, 2010.

But Pershing has once again won big concessions for that extension: The "put" option to buy the Paperchase chain (which Pershing never wanted to own in the first place) will expire, and the big grants of 14.7 million warrants will be reset from the previous price of $7 a share down to yesterday's stock price of just $0.65 per share.

CEO Ron Marshall, hand-picked by Pershing, says in the announcement, "The extension of the loan gives us some necessary breathing room, which is important in the current economic environment." Borders will announce fourth quarter earnings after the close of the market tomorrow.

"Final" Robert Jordan Book to be Published in Thirds
Tor announced today that Brandon Sanderson's much-anticipated completion of the late Robert Jordan's unfinished final installment of the Wheel of Time series has expanded so much that it will be published in three (sizable) volumes. Having promised fans a book this year, the first part, comprising a manuscript of about 300,000 words, will be published as THE GATHERING STORM on November 3. (The next two volumes are tentatively titled SHIFTING WINDS and TARMON'GAIDON, though Sanderson notes on his blog the title of the first one changed rather quickly. Together the three installments comprise A MEMORY OF LIGHT.)

Editor (and Jordan's widow) Harriet McDougal says "the scope and size of the novel was such that it could not be contained in a single volume." Already some fans are upset that this year's book will not be the promised conclusion of the series. Sanderson responds and explains extensively in his posting: "To get this into one book, I'd need to railroad the story from climax to climax. I'd have to ignore a lot of the smaller characters--and even some aspects of the larger characters. I just couldn't justify that. It wouldn't do the story justice. I cringed to consider what I would have to cut or ignore.

"Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps readers would have preferred a single, condensed volume so that they at least knew what happened. But I just couldn't do it. The Wheel of Time deserved better.

"This was not an easy choice. I knew it would anger some readers. I knew it would take a lot of time, and I would end up dedicating a great deal more of my life (and my family's life) to the Wheel of Time than I'd initially anticipated. At the very least, I was contemplating writing a book three to four times the length of the initial contract--essentially, doing four times the work for the exact same pay."

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