Monday, March 31, 2008

Why Blog? Reason No. 92: Book Deal

Personally I think a lot of people blog and hope it leads to a book deal - most of them should stay blogs - although I do love "Stuff White People Like" - I do think it's better as a blog - I would never buy it in book form. Here's the article from the NY Times:


THIS is how it happens.

A guy starts a clever blog in January and calls it Stuff White People Like. The site contains a list of cultural totems, including gifted children, marathons and writers’ workshops, that a certain type of moneyed and liberal American might be expected to like.

“The No. 1 reason why white people like not having a TV,” reads the explanation under entry No. 28, Not Having a TV, “is so that they can tell you that they don’t have a TV.”

Readers discover, like it and forward links to their friends, who forward them to lots more friends. Newspaper columnists mention it, stealing — er, quoting — some of the better jokes. By the end of February, the NPR program “Talk of the Nation” runs a report on it, debating whether the site is racist or satire.

And then on March 20 Random House announces that it has purchased the rights to a book by the blog’s founder, Christian Lander, an Internet copy writer. The price, according to a source familiar with the deal but not authorized to discuss the total, was about $300,000, a sum that many in the publishing and blogging communities believe is an astronomical amount for a book spawned from a blog, written by a previously unpublished author.

“I was shocked and amazed that they got that much money for a concept that Martin Mull had written a book on back in 1985,” said Ron Hogan, who writes GalleyCat, a blog about the publishing industry. He was referring to “The History of White People in America,” by Mr. Mull and Allen Rucker, which mined its comedy from stereotypes about WASPs, noting that the term “white sex” was a contradiction akin to “towering miniseries.”

Mr. Lander’s more yuppified targets presumably like sex just fine — especially if sex is with Asian women, whom 95 percent of white men have dated or wanted to date at some point, he notes in No. 11, Asian Girls.

There was an innocent time, oh, about four years ago, when the idea of turning a blog into a book seemed novel, a fresh path for unknown writers to break into the big time.

The outcry over Mr. Lander’s book deal suggests the trend that has been building for a half decade may have finally reached apogee.

One of the first literary agents to troll the Web for talent was Kate Lee, who in 2003 was an assistant at International Creative Management, the sprawling talent agency, looking for a way to make her name.

When she started contacting bloggers and talking to them about book deals, many were stunned that a real literary agent was interested in their midnight typings. Her roster was so rich with bloggers, including Matt Welch from Hit & Run and Glenn Reynolds from Instapundit, that the New Yorker profiled her in 2004. Two years from now, the magazine noted, “Books by bloggers will be a trend, a cultural phenomenon.”

And two years after that?

“If I contact someone or someone is put in touch with me, chances are they’ve already been contacted by another agent,” Ms. Lee said. “Or they’ve at least thought about turning their blog into a book or some kind of film or TV project.”

Mr. Lander, for one, was scooped up by Erin Malone, an agent with William Morris.

On March 7, the daily e-mail newsletter Very Short List lauded his site.

That same day, Ms. Malone contacted Kurt Andersen, a founder of Very Short List who is also represented by the William Morris agency and who is an adviser to Random House. He had seen Stuff White People Like and liked it.

Ms. Malone told Mr. Andersen she was planning to circulate a White People book proposal for bids the next day, he said. The agent asked him to bring it to the attention of Gina Centrello, the president and publisher of Random House.

“I sent an e-mail to Gina saying, ‘I think this thing is smart and good. Just letting you know they’re sending out a book proposal tomorrow,’ ” Mr. Andersen said.

Mr. Andersen is a good friend to have. Although there were many bidders, Random House prevailed and announced the deal on March 20.

Mr. Andersen said what impressed him about White People’s prospects as a book is that it was already sort of unbloglike. The site is not chockablock with links to other material, but with what amounts to a series of daily essays. “It’s more like a book he’s putting out serially on the Web,” Mr. Andersen said. On his blog, Mr. Lander pledged that the book will be mostly new material not on the Web site.

Barbara Fillon, a Random House spokeswoman, said her office mates were laughing about the content on White People for weeks before they heard there was a book proposal in the offing.

Mr. Lander, who has given interviews to Wired, The Houston Chronicle and The Los Angeles Times, is taking a hiatus from speaking to the news media because he is busy writing, Ms. Fillon said. The book is scheduled to be released in August as a paperback original.

It will be difficult for the publisher to make a profit, said Sara Nelson, editor of Publishers Weekly. Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, she figured Random House would have to sell about 75,000 copies, a total that would likely land the book on best-seller lists, to earn back its $300,000 advance.

The publishing house is not worried about any accusations about the book being racist because it’s not really about white people, Ms. Fillon said.

“A lot of different people are relating to this,” she said. “It exposes pop culture in general on a level everyone can relate to no matter what their race is.”

Racist or not, others are not such fans. The site’s satire does not hit the scathing heights of irony, but wallows in the simple scorched-earth attack of snarkiness, said Jon Winokur, the author of “The Big Book of Irony.”

“Snarkiness is contempt before investigation,” he said. “It’s just a pose that rejects everything in its path, and that’s what I take this to be.”

But can 1.5 million hits, the number Random House says Mr. Lander’s site has attracted, be wrong? If a blog has lured that many eyeballs in the freewheeling terrain of the Internet, publishers are willing to take a chance it will attract attention in the bookstore, said Kate McKean, a literary agent with the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, who is one of those now scouring the Web for new clients.

The site I Can Has Cheezburger (, which features lolcats, photos of animals with humorous, ungrammatical captions, debuted in January 2007. Three months later, Ms. McKean contacted the founders; by last August, they had chosen her over other agents, she said. The site has 1.6 million page views a day, she said, a fact noted in the book proposal she helped prepare.

After a bidding war among several publishers, Gotham Books signed her clients. Come this November, expect the I Can Has Cheezburger book on shelves. “It’s going to be predominantly photos but also will enlighten readers on the key memes of lolcats,” Ms. McKean said, referring to strange rules of grammar unique to the form.

Another client, Noah Scalin, the creator of the Skull-A-Day blog (, has a deal for an October release, by Lark Books, of his tome that features images of the skulls he makes from candy, sparklers and other bric-a-brac.

How long has his blog been running?

“Let’s see,” Ms. McKean said on Thursday, clicking onto the site. “He’s on skull No. 298, so it started 298 days ago.”

Blog books are far from a sure thing at the cash register. spawned the book, “The Gawker Guide to Conquering All Media,” which has sold fewer than 1,000 copies since its release in October 2007. A book based on a popular Web site focused on fashion disasters has sold 2,000 copies in its first seven weeks of release, according to Nielsen BookScan.

But there are successes. On the nonhumor front, the best seller “Julie and Julia,” about a woman who cooked one Julia Child recipe a day, started as a blog, and “The Hipster Handbook,” spawned from in 2003, has sold 39,000, according to Nielsen BookScan.

Even the snarky can retain a bit of wonder. On Wednesday, Mr. Lander, who is white, added his 92nd entry to Stuff White People Like: Book Deals.

“White people,” he wrote, “like having their dreams come true when they least expected it.”

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Feel the Burn

Feel the Burn is a behind closed doors peek at the author s career as a personal trainer to New York s high society. The novel first appeared as an online column for New York Social Diary. The column ran every week for two years and attracted approximately 20,000 readers per week. The venues in the book are real or lightly veiled and the storylines all have a grain of truth but are essentially composites of the many people the author engaged in his dozen years with the jet set of New York and points beyond. Feel the Burn is a smashing debut about sex, betrayal and high society. If madras wearing Steven Stolman (pictured at the book party in Palm Beach) is reading Feel the Burn, so am I!

Photo from

Books for Soldiers

I love the idea of Books for Soldiers, a non-profit organization that sends books to soldiers overseas. ...even if you don't support the war you should support our troops and the men and women who are fighting in order for us to have freedom.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Save The Mount!

My friend over at Pigtown Design mentioned this a while back - I had read the same article in the NY Times and was so surprised to hear of the situation. I read today that The Mount has been given an extenstion but still must raise $3 million by April 24th. Here are the details via Luxist:

The organization that owns author Edith Wharton's Lenox, Massachusetts estate, "The Mount" is fighting foreclosure. The Boston Herald reports that they recently received a one-month extension to raise the $3 million needed to save the home. So far the group has raised $560,463 from donors around the world but they have to raise $3 million by April 24 to avoid foreclosure by the Berkshire Bank in Pittsfield. The good news is that an anonymous donor has pledged to match the $3 million which would allow the group to restructure its debt. The foundation website reports that donations will be processed only if The Mount meets its fundraising goal, otherwise they will destroy all checks and credit card slips.

Wharton, the author of Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, designed and built the house in 1902. She wrote over 40 books in 40 years, including authoritative works on architecture and gardens and was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Mount is one of the five percent of National Historic Landmarks dedicated to women. It only gets around 30,000 visitors a year but is a lovely and significant reminder of a more gracious era.

Click here to donate!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Simply Lulu

Welcome to the World of Lulu !

A Craft all her Own: Lulu de Kwiatkowski textiles get their own tôme

Lulu de Kwiatkowski, daughter of the late billionaire financier Henryk de Kwiatkowski, is solidly forging her own path as a successful artist and designer of chic textiles and wallpapers under the label Lulu DK. The latest project for this social butterfly, a mainstay on the international party circuit in the nineties and a backgammon fiend, is her first monograph. Lulu, out at the end of May, is a 192-page account of her travels. It combines an eclectic range of mediums including painting, drawing, photography, and writing. The sumptuous coffee table book (priced at $100) showcases her expertise and creative eye for blending flora and fauna. Handwritten words lend an air of poignancy and glamour to the book. Especially fascinating? A collage of her fictional romance with an Italian aristocrat.

{Top two photos & article via Fashion Week Daily}

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

House of Eliott

The House of Eliott - Complete Collection - this is a wonderful BBC series and I can't say enough good things about it. After watching Part One this weekend I am hooked. I own the first series on DVD and there are two more sets which I am getting from Netflix. The one pictured above is the complete series. If you are a fashion loving anglophile like me this series will not disappoint. It kicks of in 1920s London so you know it's going to be interesting.

Wikipedia sums it up nicely: The House of Eliott is a British television series produced and broadcast by the BBC in three series between 1991 and 1994. The series starred Stella Gonet and Louise Lombard (most recently appearing on CSI!) as two sisters who start a dressmaking business. It was created by Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, who had previously devised Upstairs, Downstairs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Was Told There’d Be Cake

I Was Told There'd Be Cake sounds like a fun little book. I read one of the stories in Radar Magazine last month and there is a great little blurb about the author on NY


Wayne Thiebaud is by far one of my favorite "modern" artists and his paintings always bring a smile to my face. It could also have something to do with my love for sweets. Susan Goldman Rubin specializes in writing art books for children and her latest is Delicious: The Art and Life of Wayne Thiebaud - it's fabulous. You can view a short slideshow here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is Condé Nast Publications eyeing Dwell?

Though some might argue the company has its hands full with its homegrown shelter titles — in recent months, it's folded House & Garden, expanded Vogue Living, and seen its three-year-old launch Domino struggle to weather a category-wide slump — sources close to the company said acquisition talks with Dwell were on.

The San Francisco-based magazine has remained independent under founder and owner Lara Hedberg Deam. Michela O'Connor Abrams, president and publisher, told WWD, "I have not been involved in any discussions with Condé Nast." A spokeswoman for Condé Nast, which also owns WWD, declined comment.

Condé Nast chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr. has praised the magazine to employees, said several people privy to the conversations. One person familiar with the negotiations said they began in December and quoted the figure of $30 million as an asking price.

Founded in 2000, Dwell has grown steadily to a rate base of 325,000, picking up a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2005 and ending 2007 with 1,325.76 ad pages, flat from the year before. The magazine revealed a redesign in its February issue, featuring a new trim size and the use of recycled paper.

Article from

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Little Pink Raincoat

Men May Come and Men May Go ... But I've Still Got My Little Pink Raincoat: Life and Love In and Out of My Wardrobe (also available in Paperback - this is the cover for the Hardcover edition). Here is the link to Gigi's website in case you want to see what else she has written - I haven't read this one yet but I find her very humorous.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Video for Such a Pretty Fat - Jen Lancaster

This is SO great especially since I am trying to get on the weight-loss/working out bandwagon. Honestly, before seeing this I was just like "eh - another Jen Lancaster book, it will be funny but..." - now I am really excited to read the book!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Now You See Him

Now You See Him: A Novel sounds excellent. I am immediately interested when someone even remotely compares a book to The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Many books have come close like Special Topics in Calamity Physics but not quite. The following blurb comes from the publishers website:

His name was Rob Castor. Quite possibly, you've heard of him. He became a minor cult celebrity in his early twenties for writing a book of darkly pitch-perfect stories set in a stupid upstate New York town. About a dozen years later, he murdered his writer-girlfriend and committed suicide. . . .

The deaths of Rob Castor and his girlfriend begin a wrenching and enthrallingly suspenseful story that mines the explosive terrains of love and paternity, marriage and its delicate intricacies, family secrets and how they fester over time, and ultimately the true nature of loyalty and trust, friendship and envy, deception and manipulation.

As the media takes hold of this sensational crime, a series of unexpected revelations unleashes hidden truths in the lives of those closest to Rob. At the center of this driving narrative is Rob's childhood best friend, Nick Framingham, whose ten-year marriage to his college sweetheart is faltering. Shocked by Rob's death, Nick begins to reevaluate his own life and his past, and as he does so, a fault line opens up beneath him, leading him all the way to the novel's startling conclusion.

In this ambitious and thrilling novel, award-winning author Eli Gottlieb—with extraordinarily luxuriant and evocative prose—takes us deep into the human psyche, where the most profound of secrets are kept.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Birkin and Hermès

PARIS: What would you do for a Birkin bag?

Even the world's richest women beg, steal or borrow to lay their hands on the elusive handbag made by Hermès, which officially has a waiting list of two to three years.

No doubt they will be salivating over the new creations the French fashion house unveiled on Saturday in its autumn-winter ready-to-wear show, held in a tent beside the Eiffel Tower.

They included the So Kelly, an oblong variation on the classic Kelly bag, and the Gypsy, a unisex shoulder bag modeled by Jean Paul Gaultier, who designs for Hermès.

"That Birkin on your arm tells other women your place in society," said Michael Tonello, who recounts his adventures buying and selling Birkin bags in his forthcoming memoir "Bringing Home the Birkin" (William Morrow).

"It sort of suggests to them that you are successful, that you have money, that you are someone, or else Hermès wouldn't be selling you this bag," he added.

Celebrities that have adopted the handbag, named after British actress Jane Birkin, include Eva Longoria and Katie Holmes. Victoria Beckham is said to own 100.

Though prices start at more than $8,000, hundreds more women languish on the waiting list. So when Tonello found a way of bypassing the wait, he rocketed to the top of every socialite's Rolodex.

"I began to feel like I was a drug dealer," he told The Associated Press. "You know, there are people that will do almost anything to get one of these bags."

Tonello spent nearly a decade traveling the world snapping up Birkins - he says he once purchased 140 in three months - and reselling them on eBay for a tidy profit. He said he stopped because the activity was taking over his life.

Officials at Hermès declined to comment on the book, due to be published in the United States in April, and on the thriving secondary market for its high-end goods.

From the International Herald Tribune 3.2.08