MOVIE DEAL #1
The film rights for Manifest Destiny—a political thriller written by Rick Robinson and published by Headline Books—have been acquired by Los Angeles-based producer Peter R.J. Deyell. He’s working with screenwriter Quinn Redeker (The Deer Hunter) and shopping the movie concept to Hollywood studios. This is the first movie rights deal for Headline, which has 67 active authors.
Robinson, an attorney, has written three novels, all published by Headline, and he’s working on a fourth, also contracted to it.
Headline Books president Cathy Teets says Robinson is especially adept at using social marketing to create visibility for his titles. The Manifest Destiny deal came about because of another kind of exposure; the book was available in an airport bookshop where agent Jason Pinter saw it.
Teets also reports that several Headline Books authors, including Robinson, did signings at BEA, and that one of them—Tim Packman, author of a new children’s book, Funny Dan the Face Car Man—appeared with Funny Dan himself. The new book’s cover was converted to a decal for a NASCAR competitor’s car in the May 14 NASCAR race, and the book is in the NASCAR Library Collection.
FROM EMPLOYEETO OWNER
Farcountry Press sales and marketing director Linda Netschert and her husband, Steve, have purchased this Helena, MT, book publisher from newspaper chain Lee Enterprises. Sweetgrass Books, its custom publishing division, was included in the purchase.
Formed in 1980, Farcountry Press publishes photography books, children’s series, guidebooks, cookbooks, and regional history titles. Netschert, now the publisher, has worked for the press since 1996.
The staff currently produces about 15 books annually, and the backlist now includes more than 300 titles.
Juggler in the Wind, the first book in ChironBooks’ Wand Bearer trilogy by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin, will be adapted as a classroom play and appear in the October 2011 issue of READ. Owned by the Weekly Reader unit of Reader’s Digest, READ issues fiction, nonfiction, and reader’s theater for grades 6–10.
Peggy Glenn, who helped spearhead the organization of IBPA’s forerunner in 1983 in preparation for the 1984 ABA convention, and who was an early board member, sold her last business, Firefighters Bookstore, in 2008 and retired from her work with the new owners this spring. This gave her time to decide which of her old association records belong in archives, and to alert us to the James Beard Award won recently by Diana Kennedy for Oaxaca al Gusto, published by the University of Texas Press. “Diana was one of the very first PASCAL/PMA members with her first Mexican cookbook.”
TRADE PRESSRE PUBERTY
A Sourcebooks title, Stupid Fast, was the subject of a lengthy review in a recent issue of Shelf Awareness (shelf-awareness.com), the digital newsletter distributed each weekday to more than 20,000 booksellers, librarians, and others in the trade. Released last month, this YA book by Geoff Herbach “gets to the heart of what happens in puberty.”
E-FORMATSINTHE COLLEGE MARKET
If you publish college texts or material that can be sold in the college market as supplements, should you be worrying about creating e-reader versions? The results of two recent studies suggest there’s no hurry.
“Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education,” a Book Industry Study Group report powered by Bowker’s PubTrack data, found earlier this year that “most college students say they prefer textbooks in printed rather than e-text form”; in fact, nearly 75 percent of respondents said they prefer printed texts, citing a fondness for print’s look and feel, as well as its permanence and ability to be resold (for more on this study, visit bisg.org).
And a 2010 pilot study of the Kindle DX conducted at seven U.S. universities reported, “There is no e-reader that supports what we found these students doing,” in the words of first author Alex Thayer, a doctoral student in Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, one of the participants. “It remains to be seen how to design one,” Thayer noted.
“College Students’ Use of Kindle DX Points to E-Reader’s Role in Academia,” a story that appeared in UW Today, a publication of the University of Washington PR office, described how university researchers who study technology looked at the ways students involved in the pilot project did their academic reading.
“While some of the study’s findings were expected—students want improved support for taking notes, checking references and viewing figures—the authors also found that allowing people to switch between reading styles, and providing the reader with physical cues, are two challenges that e-readers will need to address in cracking the college market,” wrote university staffer Hannah Hickey.
“Most e-readers were designed for leisure reading—think romance novels on the beach,” said co-author Charlotte Lee, a University of Washington assistant professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering. “We found that reading is just a small part of what students are doing. And when we realize how dynamic and complicated a process this is, it kind of redefines what it means to design an e-reader.”
Over a nine-month period, researchers interviewed 39 first-year graduate students in the university’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Seven months into the study, less than 40 percent of the students were regularly doing academic reading on the Kindle DX. Reasons included the device’s lack of support for taking notes and difficulty in looking up references. (Amazon.com, Inc., which makes the Kindle DX, has since improved some of these features.)
• Of the students who continued to use the device, some read near a computer so they could look up references or do other tasks that were easier to do on a computer. Others tucked a sheet of paper into the case so they could write notes.
• With print-on-paper products, three quarters of students marked up texts as they read. This included highlighting key passages, underlining, drawing pictures, and writing notes in margins.
• A drawback of the Kindle DX was the difficulty of switching between reading techniques, such as skimming an article’s illustrations or references just before reading the complete text. Students frequently made such switches as they read course material.
• The digital text also disrupted a technique called cognitive mapping, in which readers used physical cues such as the location on the page and the position in the book to go back and find a section of text or even to help retain and recall the information they had read.
“E-readers are not where they need to be in order to support academic reading,” Lee concludes. But asked when e-readers will reach that point, she predicts: “It’s going to be sooner than we think.”
DESIGN DISCOVERIES ABOUT BILINGUAL BOOKS
Speaking of formats, Panama-based Piggy Press president Pat Alvarado offers advice on formatting bilingual books. “Bilingual books were a novelty here in 2001, so some readers thought my initial ‘flip’ format was cute, and a few teachers thought it was good because students wouldn’t be able to see the other language right away,” she explains about her first editions of children’s books, which had two covers, one for the English text, and the other, which you flipped the book to see, for the Spanish text.
“However, most teachers suggested a side-by-side approach to facilitate new-language acquisition,” Alvarado reports, “and today most people tell us that’s what they prefer, because they can see the other language right away.”
Teacher approval is important for sales of children’s book sales in Panama, as is the blessing of the Ministry of Education, which Piggy Press has obtained for its titles. “Teachers have a say in what complementary books they want to use in the classroom, and they submit a list to parents, who must purchase the books.”
For novels, Piggy Press continues to print the entire text first in one language and then the other. “Both are under the same cover, but no flipping is involved. We include ideas and questions at the end of both versions,” Alvarado says, adding, “Teachers love this because it makes lesson planning easier.”
Besides relying on Follett for library distribution, Piggy Press has listed its titles in the online catalog for Centro Regional para el Formento del Libro en América Latina y el Caribe (cerlalc.org, an intergovernmental organization under the auspices of UNESCO that provides technical support to Latin-American governments to promote books, reading, and copyright in Spanish and Portuguese.
Members in the Spotlight is compiled by Linda Carlson (lindacarlson.com), who is in Seattle. She welcomes news of unusual special sales, licensing deals, significant media coups, and other achievements at email@example.com. Remember to submit news items promptly.
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