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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 17, 2011 8:00am-9:00am EST

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site at you can join the conversation on social media sites. >> welcome to c-span's booktv. every weekend we bring you 48 hours of books on history, biography and public affairs by nonfiction authors. .. >> of the past year. sarah weinman is the news editor of "publickers marketplace." ms. weinman, if you would start by telling us, giving us just a
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little bit of a snapshot of the publishing industry in 2011, if you had to write a paragraph or two on what the publishing industry did this year. >> oh, my goodness. where to even begin. i think the best way to look at what happened to the publishing industry this year is the increasing rise of digital books, digital market share and also just a tremendous transformation of the physical book market. for example, i guess a really good way to look at it is through the almighty prism of amazon. for example, amazon introduced just a couple of months ago some new devices, for example, the kindle fire which is their answer to the tablet market. it's priced at $199, and, um, just based off of preorders and new shipments alone various analysts have projected that it will reach number two in sales behind apple's ipad which, of
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course, is priced at the lowest end at $499. now, the thing, too, with amazon's kindle fire is that it's also in direct competition with barnes & noble which we'll get to in a little bit of a second. but amazon also introduced some other lower cost kindle devices. kindle is, by amazon's reckoning, excuse me, the number one best-selling e-reader. and it's also that reckoning by analysts as well. of course, amazon isn't exactly going to tell anybody exactly how many kindles et has sold -- it has sold. that's the party line they've adhered to ever since they introduced the kindle about four years ago, and they're going to keep sticking with that because they make so much money. they clearly feel they can get away not exactly imparting sales figures. but in any case, the kindle fire has been received somewhat mixed reviews. a lot of people like it because
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media consumption device where people are playing videogames and watching movies and getting access to various things through amazon's prime service where you pay $79, and you get things shipped for, in two-day service and a whole bunch of other things. but there are also some people who are like it's too slow and laggy, so it'll be interesting to see the some of the projections, one analyst says it's going to ship almost four million units between, i guess, november and the end of the year. the christmas holiday is going to be a really big factor as to how it's going to do, so it'll be interesting to see if that'll hold into the new year. amazon, of course, is not just about devices, it's also moving very aggressively into the publishing world as well. for example, this week news broke that they had bought many titles, 450 titles of marshall
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caffen dish which is a children's book and educational publisher. so they now bought the rights to these titles, and they're going to be incorporating it with their recently-launched new york imprint which is run by once the ceo of time warner books and also most recently a literary agent as well. so amazon has been aggressively moving into publishing both seemingly from a traditional standpoint, but they've also been doing a lot of stuff with respect to people who can publish directly as well. so as a result, publishers rightly or wrongly feel perhaps a little wary of what amazon is doing, that they've been moving so aggressively, that they've been competing in terms of trying to buy titles. the new york unit, for example, has been sending large advances for titles by the likes of penny marshall. and it's, again, amazon as always is going to be one to
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watch into the new year. so i hope i haven't gone on too long with respect to everything amazon, but it's hard not to look at the publishing industry without talking about them at length. >> so, sarah weinman, though, publishers have kind of a love/hate relationship with amazon, would that be fair to say? >> i think that's a good way of characterizing it. one way i've also looked at it is that they're frenemies because on the one hand amazon competes with them in terms of being publishers, it competes with them in terms of marketing and the like, but at the same time publishers need them because amazon is a very big player in the online retail service, and so, um, publishers want to have their books stocked on amazon as well. so i think everybody's still trying to figure out how they can have multiple courses of relationships for lack of a better term. where on the one hand there's some symbiosis, on the other hand, there's some competition,
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and everybody can kind of, you know, move ahong accordingly -- along accordingly, i suppose. >> sarah weinman, before we show some figures from 2011 on book sales in general, i wanted to ask you about two large book companies, booksellers, barnes & noble and their new nook, and the demise of borders in 2010. >> yes. let's first look at barnes & noble. for example, they had said in a recent earnings report that their digital business which includes nook, it includes the nook color, it now includes the nook tablet which has just recently come out and is now priced at 249 and is, i suppose, a direct competitor more with amazon's kindle fire as posed to apple's ipad. barnes & noble had projected their digital business to be approximately $880 million, and in the most recent fiscal quarter which, i think, was the first quarter of 2012, that digital business was about $220
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million. so the digital business has been going like gangbusters for barnes & noble. i mean, if you walk into new york city's union square barnes & noble which is their, i believe, their largest store in the city, what they've done is in the back there's this gigantic kiosk devoted to the all things nook where you walk around, and they have various demos, tablets and nooks for people to try out. they have all manner of accessories and other digital-related things. so they're really -- it's so clear just from the way they have been remodeling this store and, i believe, other stores around the country that, you know, nook is where they want their business to go. their ceo, william lynch, has said repeatedly that barnes & noble accounts for anywhere between 26 and 28% of the overall digital market. so they've been moving aggressively. but the flip side of what's been
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happening with barnes & noble on the digital side is, of course, the physical side. if you walk into a store, you may see fewer books readily available. they've also been expanding their toys and game department. they're trying to figure out how do we keep evolving when digital keeps rising and the physical book space keeps falling. now, one thing barnes & noble has said every now and then is they expect to pick up significant business from borders' recent bankruptcy. borders had been having many, many problems for many years. i mean, this goes back to the late '90s, it goes back to a whole series of ceo changes to 2001 when they outsourced their online business to amazon and didn't actually take it back in house until 2008 to just a lot of bad leases that they were locked into that they were paying, you know, very expensive rates on. so by the end of 2010, the writing was very much on the wall, and they finally declared chapter 11 bankruptcy on, i
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believe, february 16th. and then it wednesdayed its way -- wednesdayed its way through the courts, and it looked like it might be bought by potential buyers, and that fell through. finally, in the summer they announced they were going to liquidate all the stores. they had started before chapter 11 with about 642 stores, and slowly they just all disappeared so that by september you would walk by and see going out of business signs, 90% off. it's a very terrible story of how, essentially, 10 president of the book market just vanished off the face of the earth, and that remains to be seen whether that will ever be accounted for again. will digital be able to pick up the slack, will barnes & noble be able to pick up business from potential borders customers? there's been some indications that that might be happening, but i think we'll have a better sense of what's going on perhaps in the first quarter of next year. >> sarah weinman, what about independent booksellers?
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how was their year in 2011 overall? >> well, if you ask independent booksellers, i think, on a case-by-case basis, some of them have done rather well. now, granted, i live in new york, and i think that that creates a certain selection bias because there are a number of great independent bookstores, especially in brook run, and they -- brooklyn, and they all seem to be doing very well. they cure rate their selections very select i havely, and as a result i think they really understand what their customers want, but they don't try to necessarily overreach. another example, i think, is what the best selling writer ann patchett is doing. when she went out on book tour for her newest novel, "state of wonder," which did very well and garnered a great many great reviews, she talked about her next project which is to open an independent bookstore in tennessee which had lost a whole number of different stores, both big box chains as well as independents. for example, they had a davis
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kids store whose parent company filed for bankruptcy, and even though davis was doing well because the parent company was not, they went out of business. so just a few weeks ago patchett, in conjunction with a random house sales representative named karen hayes, opened up a much smaller bookstore. but i think by virtue of patchett being involved and also just the sense that people in nashville really wanted to have an independent bookstore and also that they're starting small, it's only going to be about 4,000 square feet, there is a sense that even though people might call her crazy to open an independent bookstore when things are changing so rapidly and things are moving so fast on the digital front, but as long as she and hayes and their staff can be very savvy about what they stock and who they -- and which authors they might have in for signings and how they approach the selling of books, you know, they to, i think, stand a very good chance.
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i mean, they stand as good a chance as any business that opens. there's always the high probability one can close, but i'm an optimist at heart, and i like seeing these independents battle and stay afloat and then some. another thing i think has helped independents not so much on a statistical front, but perhaps just from a mind share front is that many independents are able to sell e-books, and that's because their association, the american booksellers association, signed on with google books, and they became partners so that google would enable them to sell e-books through their stores. um, now, independents are not about to stock kindle books. be you ask an independent bookseller about amazon, you're going to get a whole slew of angry responses that certainly was borne out this week in light of the news about both marshall cavern dish and also an app that amazon is doing where you can, i
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guess, on saturday you can walk into other types of retail stores and if you tell them what the price is, they'll give you $5 off. it's not applicable to bookstores, but independent booksellers were, nonetheless, upset. so even though i'm still waiting on precise data about how much of a digital market share independent booksellers have, the fact that they have some skin in the game, i think, speaks very well to, you know, just having a chance. and not being completely disregarded with respect to the digital side. >> sarah weinman, there was a recent headline in "publishers weekly." e-book sales doubled in september, mass market tanked, was the headline. and here are some figures from the association of american publishers. in 2011 adult paperback sales were down 18%. adult hard cover sales down 18%.
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and adult mass market down nearly 30%, but e-books up 144%. >> yes. i mean, it's what i was saying before, that the digital side is certainly the fastest growing, and all the things that i've mentioned -- the demise of borders, the general shrinking of physical book space, even barnes & noble has been closing some stores largely due to onerous leases that they're trying to find a way not to be a part of anymore. now, that said, there's always a caveat with respect to the association of american publishers which is that the data that they receive is self-reported by publishers, and it does fluctuate from month to month. so even though it does appear that mass market sales are tanking, and they're certainly down in large part because they're not being stocked in the same way that they once were, there aren't as many outlets. but it is, i think, important to point out that especially even
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on the digital side the number of publishers that report on the month-to-month basis does change, and i think what will ultimately be helpful is to look at it from a yearly basis. eventually, the aap in association with the book industry study group is going to release another edition of a new venture, a new statistical venture called book stats. and that will give a much clearer snapshot of what the actual book industry's statistics are at the moment. in their most recent one, it appeared that digital sales in 2010 were closing in on the 10% mark. we know for sure from figures reported that sometimes they're well in excess of 20% on a month-to-month basis. suffice it to say that it's hovering around the 20% mark. and for bestsellers, especially in their opening weeks, it can be much, much higher, in the 40-50% range. but i think we'll have a much clearer picture of what those
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stats are when the next iteration of book stats comes out which i believe will be in a month or two. i'm not certain as of yet. i suspect it will be one of those things that will land in e-mail and we'll have to parse very quickly in order to determine what's really going on. >> what do e-book sales do for profits for publishers and authors? >> it's funny you mention because, um, especially for the largest six houses which have moved to something called the agency model where if you have a total piece of the pie, 30% of that pie goes to the retailer, be it amazon or barnes & noble or apple. retailers that, i mean, that sell e-books. that leaves 70% left over to the publisher which then distributes 25% net of that to the author which roughly translates to about 17.5% of the overall
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royalty. yes. so what's happened is that, with those publishers moving towards the agency model because they are getting a larger piece of the pie than they would have under a different model, that many other publishers are still using but which has a completely separate business model, publishers are making money off of e-books. if you look at various earnings reports from the largest houses, the reason why some of the profits have been going up is in large part because of e-books. so as a result, they're certainly happier with how things are going. of course, would they like to make more money? everybody wants to make more money. but the move to the agency model was a way for publishers to mitigate against downward pricing trends and, also, enable their profit margins to stay higher and build. >> this is booktv on c-span2,
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48 hours of nonfiction books every weekend. sarah weinman is our guest as we look at 2011 in review. she's the news editor of "publishers marketplace." is her web site. one more piece of publishing news before we look at some specific books. what's the us the of the google -- what's the status of the google book settlement? >> it is as byzantine and drama-filled as ever. on december 5th, google had move today dismiss the authors' guild suit which had been separated out from the association of american publishers suit. originally, they were partnered together, but after judge chen expressed displeasure at how things were going, basically, they had to go back to the starting gate again. so with google's move, judge chen has now set a december 23rd deadline for google to file a motion to dismiss, and the
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plaintiff's response -- that'd be the ag -- that's due january 23rd, and google's response is due february 3rd. also trying to determine whether their suit can gain class action status. so there are these parallel tracks that are happening with the google book lawsuit at the moment, and we're still, of course, on schedule if things keep going according to the trial schedule where a trial may happen at the end of 2012, i believe. so, basically, there are a lot of hearings that are being scheduled, a lot of motions that are being filed, and it remains to be seen as to where things will go from here. >> according to "the new york times" bestseller list, hardcover, nonfiction, here are 2011's bestsellers. laura hillenbrand, "unbroken,"
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is number one. 50 weeks on "the new york times" best season geller list. eric larson, "in the garden of beasts," one week at number week. tina fey with "bossy pants" came in third for the year, 25 weeks on the bestseller list. david mccull hour, "the greater journey," 17 weeks on the best season geller list, and number five, "sale team six: memoirs of an elite navy seal sniper." what was laura hillenbrand's book about, sarah weinman? >> she talked about a man named louis who had been an athlete and then ended up in world war ii and, i believe, he was a prisoner of war. and he at least as of a few months ago was still alive and was, you know, well into his 90s. and, of course, laura hillenbrand is a fascinating story because she has chronic
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fatigue syndrome and off cannot leave -- often cannot leave the house. so she was conducting a lot of her research from her house and through, you know, prodigious telephone calls and outsourcing of people helping her to bring in documents and things like that. and from that she produced this tremendous piece of not only scholarship and research, but also this very inspiring story that was released at the end of 2010, and as you've noted, is loathe the leave the bestseller list. so i think it's just an indication of how people really respond to these stories of the human spirit. and told extremely well, and i suspect that just like her previous book, "seabiscuit," it will just keep selling into 2012. >> since she has chronic fatigue syndrome, doesn't leave the house very often, she can't really go on tour like other authors, correct? >> that's right. but i think it's an indication
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of just how strong the story was. and also i believe that louis was available for interviews as well, so to hear from him directly is also very inspiring. so even though she herself could not go out and about to promote it, there were work arounds. he did do some interviews as long as, i think, they were set up and took special care with her needs. there are a lot of ways to promote books, especially thanks to the internet where an author does not necessarily have to go out on the national book tour anymore. and unfortunately, this is where losing physical book stores also impacts the effect of an author tour as well. there are fewer places to go, there's less likely a chance to even have a tour. >> is there proof that if an author goes on tour, more books get sold? >> um, i don't necessarily think that's the case. and it also depends on the book.
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i think while readers do like to meet some authors, aye seen this myself -- i've seen this myself when david mitchell appeared at various bookstores last year and even though he was at four different stores in new york city, all of them were standing room only, some of them had attracted several hundred people, but to extrapolate that to everybody is not something that i think anybody can do. it really is a case-by-case basis. >> if you look at "the new york times" bestseller list and you combine print and e-books, the number one bestseller in 2011 was todd burpo's "heaven is for real." laura hillenbrand came in second. rebecca scoot, that was on "the new york times" bestseller list for 41 weeks, and then tina fey with "bossy pants" and eric
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larson, "in the garden of beasts." i know this data is difficult to find, but laura hillenbrand, best-selling nonfiction book, todd burpo, "heaven is for real," bestselling nonfiction e-book and, you know, print list as well. do you have any idea how many copies of those books got sold? >> um, it's funny you mention. i feel like especially as the digital market share keeps rising finding statistics that one can rely on becomes increasingly more difficult. i'll give an example. nielsen has a service called book scan which tracks anywhere from about 70 to 75% of print sales. now, even as far back as, i think, three years ago when the kindle was still new and e-book sales were barely into the single digits, one could look to book scan and at least get a pretty good snap shot of how a
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book was selling. i mean, it depended on what outlets they were reporting. they still don't report on certain ones. but, again, it was at least a fairly good relative snapshot. but because nielsen book scan does not report digital sales, they've promised that they will, but so far that has not come to fruition. as a result, it's 70-75% of print. but again, as i said earlier in the broadcast, for some best-selling titles e-book sales make up far more than the 20% average overall. it could be 40%, 50%, sometimes even higher. so if those e-book sales are not being accounted for, then nielsen's numbers don't have the same heft, and they don't have the same power that they once did. and be because publishers, of course, they know what the sales figures are, but with amazon not wanting to reveal what devices are being sold and how many e-books are being sold, barnes &
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noble has taken that up in turn, so there's just a lot of nonreporting at the moment. and so one can certainly look at "the new york times" list and, of course, they only started tracking e-books earlier this year, and they have their own system which may be a combination of hard data and flight to fancy as the hardcover and paperback lists sometimes tend to be. [laughter] so they felt it would appear that todd burpo's book which has sold well in excess of the million copies, but i do think that it appears to be a strong e-bookseller as well. >> and do religious books and religious-themed books sell well? >> oh, absolutely. it's also, i think, why another one of the big publishing stories which will play out into 2012 was when harper harpercolls bought thomas nelson which also happens to publish "heaven is for real."
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relatively recent statistics indicated that harpercollins was the fourth largest book trade publishing house, and thomas nelson was the seventh largest. so this is a big deal. and harper, i believe, only paid a little more than about $200 million to buy thomas nelson. and harper, of course, also is a religious publisher in its own right. they own or have a very strong stake in a publisher of religious books, the bible, various bibles and the like. so the combination of thomas nelson creates this tremendous religious publishing powerhouse under the hard per collins umbrella. and i do think, i mean, one can look back at how the left behind books did several years ago, and, of course, now looking at "heaven is for real," i suppose this may be another instance of a case-by-case bestseller because the idea that a little
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boy had seen heaven and came back to hell about it is an irresistible. perhaps there's also a strong crossover element where it's also hitting the larger book world as well. so, but i do think that we cannot count out the religious publishing circles for big publishing stories coming into the year. >> 2011 pulitzer prize winners. for fiction, jennifer egan, a visit from the goon squad. history, eric foner, the fiery trail, abraham lincoln and american slavery. for biography or autobiography, ron chernow. kay ryan, "the best of it," and general nonfiction, siddhartha knew car gee, a biography of cancer. sarah weinman, did you have a chance to read the book on cancer? >> you know, i didn't, and i had picked up an early copy when it
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was featured at bookexpo america. it came out at the end of 2010, and this was in may 2010. so already scrivener had been targeting this as one of their big, lead titles for the fall, and it's ease is i to see why. it talks about the totality of cancer. knew car gee is a noted cancer specialist, i believe, in new york city. so he's certainly an expert in the subject. and from what i can tell, he imparted this knowledge with a tremendously human way. it was very well written and very well received. yes, it won the prettier. it also won awards on the other side of the atlantic too. it's certainly been garnering tremendous acclaim, and i think it's just because it's so definitive in how it treats its subject. >> does winning a pulitzer help sales? >> absolutely, it does. i would venture to say that the
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pulitzer prize more than any other prize in america boosts sales. it certainly did on the fiction side when jennifer egan won. "visit from the goon squad" had attracted some attention when it was released in june of 2010, certainly among various independent bookseller communities, online, everybody i pretty much talked to loved this book and was recommending it left and right. so there was this tremendous momentum that was built up near the end of the year. egan also won the national book critics' circle prize as well, but it was the pulitzer that really catapulted "a visit from the goon squad" from a sales standpoint. the paperback had just come out or was about to come out, and that also helps, too, that here's an affordable edition of this award-winning book that people can pick up, and i do believe its sales track has only increased over time. but the previous year when paul harding whose book, first novel was published by a very tiny
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press called bellevue literary press, when he won the pulitzer, it was the same thing. there were low six-figure sales that ensued, and his next books are going to be published by a larger house. and i'm sure that that pulitzer prize win only helped to boost not only his profile, but also his sales. >> and booktv covered three of the pulitzer prize winners for 2011 in our coverage this past year. you can go to and in the upper left-hand corner is a search function. you can type in the name of the author, and you can watch it online whenever you want. we covered eric foner for "the fiery trial," ron chernow, and siddhartha mukherjee for the emperor of all maladies, a biography of cancer. well, the last time we talked to sarah weinman was at the national book awards, and the national book award winners for the 2011. fiction, jasmine ward, "salvage the bones."
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nonfiction was steven green great, "the swerve." poetry, nicky finney, "head off and split." sarah weinman, what does a national book award do for sales? does it have the same impact? >> the national -- it doesn't have the same impact as the pulitzer, but it does lead to some sales boost as well. like, for example, with "salvage the bones" by jasmine ward each though a notable publisher, bloomsbury, had brought it out, it really had not received much in the way of critical attention prior to the national book award. i believe "the washington post" had given it a rave review, be i that ran very close to when the awards were given out and after she was nominated. since then there's been additional coverage from the guardian, los angeles times, i believe as well. looks bury -- bloomsbury increased their print run by another 50,000 copies.
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and it's taken a while. i think it's more of a slow build in large part because it deals with hurricane katrina, and so it's a very tough subject. but i think those who have the staying power will find that it's a very rewarding read. truth be told, i think the national book award winners are perhaps a little more off the beaten track than what you might find with the pulitzer. i do know that when nicky finney won for poetry for "head off and split," she gave such a tremendously inspiring speech, i think many in the crowd felt they wanted to just stand up and cheer for her. it was, you know, with such passion and such fire that i think it really, you know, caused people to go, well, who is this woman, and i should be reading more of her poetry. with steven greenblatt, you know, he's dealing with a big
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subject as well, the very concept of modernity. so it's good that the national book award judges recognized this, and this will undoubtedly boost his profile as well. >> and booktv covered the national book awards this year. again, go to, use the search function, and you can watch the entire ceremony. i wanted to talk about some of the biographies that have come out in the past year including one very recent one, currently number one on "the new york times" bestseller list, walther isakson's "steve jobs." >> oh, yes. i very much enjoyed reading that. i started it, i think, about two or three days after publication date, and for whatever reason i need nonfiction more slowly than i do fiction, i think in large part just because there's such a tremendous amount to absorb. and isakson, clearly, he talked to a great many people. he, of course, talked to steve jobs several times including the
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last interview in august just weeks before his death in on. so the portrait that isakson painted of steve jobs is a tremendously complicated one. this is not a guy who was about roses and puppies by any stretch of the imagination. he was driven. he could be brutal, he could be tremendously demanding. but one could argue that that type of driven personality produces results. all you have to do is look at how many people carry around their iphones or their ipads or type on mac book airs. i mean, apple certainly, especially after jobs came back in the late '90s, became a force to be reckoned with. so it was a fascinating portrait of this, this very driven man who turned around a company and made it so much his own. and, of course, there's this arc where he and steve wozniak had
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created it x then jobs was forced out, and he was in the so-called wilderness, but his wilderness was in creating, in buying pixar and turning it into a multibillion dollar company as well. so it's just an amazing portrait of, i guess, american capitalism ultimately, too. >> how much cooperation did steve jobs give to walther isakson in that book, and the original publication date was moved up from march 2012, wasn't it? >> yes, it was. i think it was originally moved up to the end of the year, and then when it became very clear that jobs' health was not good, it was also moved up again, i think, a couple of days after jobs' death. what's interesting, too, is that even though it's clearly been selling tremendously well, simon & schuster has not released sales figures. i did attempt to ask them several times why this was the case, but they just felt that it
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was not in their best interests to do so. but it's very clear that it's selling just tremendously well. and, yes, jobs did cooperate. he granted several interviews to isakson, and he also had said, basically, that he wasn't going to fight him on any unflattering portraits that emerged. he wanted, essentially, i believe the quote was i wanted my kids to know me, and by that it could be inferred he wanted his children to know him as he truly was so they could understand some of the decisions he made in order, perhaps, to stay much later at the office or spend that much time turning apple into the juggernaut that it is. it certainly accomplishes that, i believe. >> well, viking had a biography out this year by the late manning marable, "malcolm x." sarah weinman? >> that's right. that's right, marable had been
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working on this for, i believe, a decade if not more. and unfortunately, he passed away just days before the biography's publication date. whether that influenced coverage is not for me to say, but certainly when the biography was released, it both received great reviews and also some controversy because it did put forward some additional or alternate theories as to what really happened to malcolm x when he was assassinated in 1965. but certainly, i mean, it was a finalist for the national book award as well. it's been on many best-of lists so far this year. it certainly was one of the most notable biographies that was released in all of 2011. >> and three other autobiographies came out, and and they're all bush administration officials beginning with condoleezza rice, the second half of her memoir, "no higher honor." dick cheney, "in my time" came out in 2011 as well, as did
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donald rumsfeld's "known and unknown: a memoir." sarah weinman, do you know how well these sold and what the reaction was to these three books? >> um, although i believe all of them placed fairly highly on the bestseller list certainly soon after their release, they just didn't seem to have the staying power that other political autobiographies had. i mean, the benchmark certainly seems to be bill clinton's "my life," even going back many years, hillary clinton's "living history." and even as recently as last year with george bush's "decision points," that was, i believe, the top-selling nonfiction book of 2010. these books just didn't quite work as well. and perhaps it was an indication of why could be found in some of the reviews which felt that each of these particular political figures didn't seem to be as forthcoming as, perhaps, critics and readers had hoped, that they
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weren't necessarily holding themselves fully accountable for what actually transpired during the bush administration, that there was, perhaps, more, you know, trying to be an apologist for what happened as opposed to, you know, just looking at what actually happened and trying to come to terms with it. of course, that's their right. this is their story, and each of them can feel free to tell it how they choose to tell it. but it also means that the critical reception will go accordingly. >> well, you mentioned former president bill clinton who also had another book out this year, just came out recently, in november of 2011, "back to work: why we need smart government for a strong economy." did this, did this book get a good reaction? >> i think in large part because, um, its publication date was announced very close to the actual publication date, i think there was only about a two month lead time to the best of my recollection, it did seem --
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and this is just my own impressions talking -- that the overall reception, you know, it just didn't seem to be quite as much fanfare. and maybe it's just, of course, that it cannot possibly have as much fanfare as clinton's "my life." i mean, that was a, you know, several hundred page, if not a thousand-page biography which he wrote and which really took a full accounting of his presidency. this book was not even 200 pages long, it's more of a working paper about what government should do and how, essentially, the parties should stop fighting and work together to come up with some reasonable ways to not only get people back to work, but also some, you know, green technology so there can be, you know, more environmentally sound ideas coming in the future. and it was more ideas-driven. so i think as a result once the ideas had kind of been disseminated, then that was it
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for the book. does that mean it couldn't have another life down the line? i'm sure it could. but it did seem as if impact wasn't quite as forceful as clinton's previous tomes. >> other political books that came out this year include ann coulter's "demonic." mark stein's "after america: get ready for armageddon." henry kissinger, "on china." "that used to be us: how america fell behind in the world it invented and how we come back," and toure ray, "who's afraid of post-blackness? ann coulter, mark stein, conservative books in general, they seem to sell very well, sarah weinman. >> they do seem to be selling very well, but as with any segment, there is some attrition. again, it seemed as if ann coulter's newest book didn't have the same impact as previous books. steven may have had -- stein may
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have had some, but it's also interesting just to kind of take a larger view of this that even though there are so many nonfiction books that are being produced, the advent of some new digital companies that specialize in shorter tomes, companies like the at, tavist or the byliner or, they're running books between 10,000 and 30,000 words, and it'll be interesting to see if some of these political books which at least to my mind feel as though their stretched out a little bit, that they could have a concise argument in about 100 pages or 20,000 words instead of being padded to 250 or 300 pages. you know, will they go over to an online-only outlet? we're also seeing as we move into 2012 and the election year some partnerships between web sites and publishers to produce shorter e-book-first publications.
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for example, random house and politico are partnering on a series of election-oriented titles, the first one just came out, and i believe there will be three more before november of 2012. there are also other partnerships that are forming or about to be formed along those lines as well. so will it sort of change the political nonfiction landscape where especially because it's so easy to just get news online and even analysis online, that how will we think of how a book is packaged? do we want ann coulter or other pundits to impart what they feel they need to say in book format, or are they better served in an electronic context? it remains to be seen, but it's something i'm certainly watching out for. >> well, speaking of political book, coming out next year is washington post editor david mariner's book on barack obama, "the story," is what it's called. what have you heard about this?
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>> and, um, well, i believe this has been in the works for at least a couple years. as with any book about the sitting president, it will be not only interesting what new information he uncovers, but where that new -- whether that new information will remain secreted away until the book's publication, or will it be leaked out to various other publications well in advance to drum up some advance attention. so certainly, it will be interesting to see what this book will uncover about barack obama. >> and that is due out in june of 2012. another partial memoir that came out this year, michael moore, "here comes trouble." how did this do, sarah weinman? >> the impression i got is that it, again, did rather well but didn't quite measure up to his previous books. now, granted, moore has not published in book form for well
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over a decade. so the announcement of a new book was certainly greeted with some, no small degree of fanfare. he was also at the bookexpo america trade show reading an excerpt from his book, and i do know that the reaction from booksellers and other industry people in the crowd was, by and large, positive. so certainly that, i think, led to additional coverage as the book was released. >> both ann coulter and michael moore appeared this past year on booktv's "in depth." again, is the place to go if you want to watch that online. just go up and use the search function in the upper left-hand corner, type in the author's name, and you can watch it online. sarah weinman, if people go to, what will they find there? >> um, well, they'll be able to find the news blog in which we
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look at the top stories of the day. publishers marketplace also has a deals database. we also have many other databases related to bestsellers and reviews. it's basically an online exchange for all things related to the book publishing industry and for the book publishing community. >> two other books that came along a little off the beaten path, so to speak, and if you could speak to these as well beginning with amanda foreman, "a world on fire: britain's crucial role in the american civil war," put out by random house this past summer, and candice millard, "destiny of the republic." by doubleday. >> um, what i can speak to is the fact that both these books have, i believe, appeared on best seller lists. the foreman actually made the new york times book review or perhaps the daily publication's ten-best list. so certainly, you know, looking
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back in history perhaps the appeal of these books is just if we know what went on many decades or centuries before us, perhaps we can glean some wisdom as to what's been happening now. certainly, when i read books on history, one of my favorite books of the year, for example, was robert k. massey's "captain of the great" biography. here was a woman -- katherine the great biography. here was a woman who had to contend with a coup that took her husband out of power so that she could ascend to the throne. and also just trying to find a way to overcome the serf problem unsuccessfully as it turned out. so there are certain political, economic and historical antecedents to what we can look at today and try to figure out if we've learned anything from those centuries past. in some cases we have and are thankful that we do. in many cases not so much. >> you also put on your list
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that we asked you for in advance of this taping, you also included t.j. english, "the savage city." what is that book about, sarah weinman? >> "english" was chronicling new york during 1963 and 1973, and what i really liked about it was that he was looking at the city in tremendous turmoil. there was one case of a black man who was accused of the brutal murder of two women, and the way he was treated by police was just, it just was not right. and ultimately, it turned out that he was not the culprit. but it would take several years to work its way through the courts before he was ultimately exonerated. he also contrasted this against the rise of the black panthers, especially in that harlem. so it was really interesting for me to learn about an aspect about the city that i knew something about, but not enough to have any real knowledge of
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it. and i just felt that it really enriched what i know and love about new york and also how it's changed as well. i mean, one can only look at times square and the billboards and the loudness and just this sense of total corporatism and contrast it with the seediness that predominated in the '60s and '70s and even in the '80s. >> and those are two of sarah weinman's picks for 2011. robert massey's "catherine the great," and t.j. english, "the savage city." well, we touched on economics a little earlier, sarah weinman, but several major works of economic books came out, and i just want to show a couple here beginning with michael lewis, "boomerang: travels in new third world." sylvia nasser, "grand pursuit: the story of economic genius." ron suskind, "confidence men." and gretchen morganson and joshua rosner on "reckless
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endangerment: how outsized ambition, greed and corruption led to economic armageddon." >> well, i think if all those instances and i'd even include nasser in this, she's trying to trace the roots of how we got to where we are in this post-2008 crash world. so michael lewis had done the big short which is still selling very well. boomerang he traveled to other countries, i believe germany, dubai, to kind of look at how the economy was both affected and affected by what was happening in those outposts as well. and the suskind, too, he was talking about the treasury department as well as the top investment bankers and telling various stories that might help
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to illuminate why the economy tanked so tremendously in 2008 and why we're still recovering from this. and also, um, whether there are still some unexploded bombs that are set to drop anytime soon. the same, i think, would go for the morganson and the rosner, too, they're also trying to chronicle -- there were a number of books that had already come out, but i think we're still going to see several more volumes that are trying to make sense of what led to the, to the economic crash, what led to all sorts of malfeasance and the bailouts and all of those things which certainly not only america, but every place around the world is trying to get a grip on. one need only look at what's happening in europe at the moment and with the precariousness of the eurozone to see that we're nowhere near out of the woods. and sometimes books are the best way to kind of get a sense of what's going on and perhaps
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anticipate what will happen next. >> well, one history book on economics that came out was mary gabriel's "love and capital: carl and jenny marx." this one kind of -- this one did quite well, didn't it? it got notable on several different lists, etc. >> it also was nominated for the national book award. i mean, to my mind how can you not win by combining the story of karl marx and his wife against the larger backdrop of changing economic times, his theories about socialism which led to communism? you know, contrasting love and money is a great way to find a way in to write a biography, and it sounds to me like gabriel spent a great deal of time parsing everything about the marx's relationship, but also what marx worked on. and it's certainly a very thorough volume as a result. >> well, we've only got a few
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minutes left, sarah weinman, and i wanted to look ahead to 2012. here are some of the titles that booktv is tracking coming out in the next couple of months including south carolina governor nikki haley's "can't is not an option: my american story." and that's being published by sentinel press. neil degrasse tyson is coming out with "space chronicles" in february. "strategic visions: america and the crisis of global power." and robert caro is coming out with "the years of lyndon johnson," and that's the fourth in his lbj biographical set. what's caught your eye for early 2012? >> well, certainly the caro. i remember when the announcement was made, i think i did the internet virtual equivalent of a happy dance. i mean, his books are so good. he's just managed to document
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and plum every depth of lyndon johnson so far, and, of course, his first book "the power broker "about robert mosess caused such a stir and continues to be a watershed benchmark for how to write a biography. so understandably, this new volume which, i believe, still only gets us into the vice presidency and not even into his presidency proper yet. so even though caro who is not getting younger by any stretch of the imagination has been working on lyndon johnson for, you know, almost three decades, i believe, now his next volume he's going to have to address the presidency, and it'll be interesting to see how quickly he'll be able to produce it. um, so certainly, i think this fourth volume is exciting on its own, but it's also exciting for what additional research and scholarship and new material he'll be able to present about lyndon johnson's presidency some years down the line. >> and finally, let's return to where we began, sarah weinman.
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the publishing industry and what changes are we going to see in 2012? and i know that's kind of a dumb question, but what are you going to be looking for? >> well, i think it's, it's more, i think, a very complicated question. certainly, it will be very interesting to see how amazon contends as a publisher. for example, as i noted earlier in the broadcast, it has a new new york-based division, but it also has several imprints mostly focused on genre based out of seattle. so what i'm wondering is whether amazon's culture of, essentially, looking at data in algorithms, how it will contend with a more traditional publishing type of imprint which is what the new york-based one is. another thing with respect to amazon is that for the moment
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because they're so content to have exclusives, will they be able to get their books stocked in barnes & noble? i think a good example is what happened with a title called "the hangman's daughter" which, actually, was one of my favorite crime thrillers of 2011. amazon had published the e-book edition which sold north of 250,000 copies, and then they struck a deal with harcourt to produce the trade edition. the trade edition sold all right, i think about 30,000 copies all told, but it wasn't stocked widely, if at all, in barnes & noble because barnes & noble's attitude was we're not going to stock books that are only available exclusively on a digital level. we want a chance to have our own digital edition. so what we may be seeing are more exclusive deals not just with amazon, but barnes & noble has done some as well. other retailers may be trying this in turn.
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will there just be more stratification of how books are published? will we also see authors opt to leave their publishing houses for different pastures, be it fully self-published or in some partnership with a larger retailer? it remains to be seen. will we see barnes & noble reduce the nurple of stores? -- the number of stores? that may be a prospect as well. it'll just be interesting, ultimately, to see how further the digital market share will grow especially after christmas and whether the physical book declines will be able to be offset by the growth in digital. >> sarah weinman is the news editor of "publishers marketplace." thank you for being on booktv and helping us with our 2011 year in review. her web site, you can also go to if you would like to watch any of the authors or many of the
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authors that we've talked about in the past hour. ms. weinman, thank you for joining us from our new york studio. >> thanks so much for having me on again, peter. >> you're watching c-span2 with politics and public affairs, weekdays featuring live coverage of the u.s. senate. on weeknights watch key public policy events, and every weekend the latest nonfiction authors and books on booktv. you can see past programs and get our schedules at our web site, and you can join in the conversation on social media sites. >> the senate's in today finishing business for the year and taking up four votes this morning. yesterday the house and senate approved a one-day continuing resolution to keep the government funded. the budget authority ran out yesterday. and that gave senators time to return this morning at 9 eastern time to work on the omnibus spending bill. and according to the hill newspapers and others, leaders in the senate met with their


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