This Week in Publishing 2/29/08

by | Feb 29, 2008 | Uncategorized | 30 comments

This week. Publishing. For real this time.

Don’t worry, I won’t be changing my business cards any time soon. You may have read the news that ICM and Curtis Brown UK are contemplating some sort of mating ritual, but FYI, Curtis Brown and Curtis Brown UK are separate companies and have been for some time, and thus I would not be affected by any possible joining of the two. As you were.

Editorial Anonymous got in touch with a sales rep for a publisher, who very helpfully answered some reader questions about author brands and in-office signings. Since I am a farmboy I can’t help but read “author brands” and think about the horrifying experience of watching my uncle brand cattle with one of those hot iron things, so in case you are feeling down about being an author and all of the new publicity demands that come with it, just remember: the cows have it worse. The cows always have it worse.

The Oscars came and went on Sunday, and needless to say: Cormac McCarthy won. I mean, was there ever any doubt? Anyone who lost their Oscar pool because they didn’t pick “No Country For Old Men” need to know just one thing: YOU DON’T BET AGAINST CORMAC MCCARTHY. The man is a juggernaut. Me? I tied for winning the Curtis Brown office pool, and if only “Salim Baba” would have won for best documentary short I would have taken the whole shebang and you really would have heard the bragging.

Meanwhile, you know how they were trying to turn the Quills into the Oscars of Books? Yeah. Let’s just say the Quills will not be celebrating their 80th anniversary in 76 years. In the wake of announcing that Reed Elsevier is putting their division Reed Business Information on the block, which includes trade magazines Variety and Publishers Weekly, they have also “suspended” the Quills. Sigh.

And finally, a book ATM? Oh hell yes. (thanks to Publishers Lunch for the tip). Contra Costa County in California is starting a program called “Library a-Go-Go.” Stay with me — I know that with “Book ATM” and the ridiculously great name “Library a-Go-Go” you are being besieged with awesomeness, but STAY FOCUSED. The Library a-Go-Go project will install several book ATMs at BART stations (BART = subway/commuter train basically) so you can pick up and drop off books at a Swedish-built machine containing 270-400 books, all without leaving the train platform. If this is the future sign me up. Now.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Other Lisa

    Heh. I did read about Curtis Brown UK and ICM and couldn’t figure out what it meant. Maybe I hadn’t had enough coffee yet.

  2. RC

    I’m glad to see my overdue library fines are being put to good use. That library-a-go-go sounds interesting. How big will those ATM machines be? The article was a bit vague on the details.

    Now if they could just extend BART down south.

  3. Ulysses

    My word. An author brand. It’s almost enough to make you take up painting.

    I’m not sure I want to be a brand. Some days it’s hard enough just being me (ie: caught between Scylla and Charybdis).

  4. Susan Sandmore

    So it’s not so much an “ATM” as it is a book vending machine? Interesting. I bet all the kids will be nudge-tilting that one. Look! The Sun Also Rises is about to fall–get it!

  5. Heidi the Hick

    The farmboy story is gold. I wouldn’t mind being a brand but I don’t think I’d like to get branded!

  6. Jessica

    There are vending machines for renting DVDs so why NOT books? It’s about time. Thanks for the info, Nathan.

  7. Dead Man Walking

    “…and thus I would not be affected by any possible joining of the two.”

    But Nathan…don’t you believe in The Butterfly Effect? Life’s more fun when you believe everything will eventually affect you.



  8. booklady

    Library ATMs–LOVE the idea. They do it with videos, so why not books? Even Netflix now has its twin in the book world in the form of (among others).

  9. pjd

    Can’t wait until they install one of those a-Go-Go things in Pleasant Hill. CCC Library has a very useful online catalog and book reservation/renewal site. I wonder if they’ll allow people to specify what they want online and then pick it up through the kiosk, or if they’ll only have the most popular titles like airport bookstores do.

    And I love the name. Back when I was in college in Berkeley, there was this little hole-in-the-wall sandwich dive called Sandwiche A-Go-Go. Cheap, not awful, and you couldn’t beat the name. Not sure if it’s still there, but Google reveals that dinesite dot com has this to say about it: “Visit Sandwich A – Go – Go and you`ll get a place that serves up American cooking especially known for sandwiches.” Uh, yeah. I don’t remember a lot of cooking going on.

  10. Furious D

    1. The new firm will be called ICBM UK and then get sued by Iran for stealing the name of the nuclear missile they’re building to aim at London. Sounds like the beginning of a wacky comedy.

    2. I heard that Random House had to stop branding their authors in the 70s. Too many of them were calling their next book: “Oh My Burnt Ass.”

    3. I also heard that Cormac McCarthy won the Ohio Primary, and he wasn’t even on the ballot.

    4. I guess the Quills people just couldn’t get a TV network interested in broadcasting a bunch of pasty authors in ill-fitting tuxedos, wolfing down the free food and booze. I don’t know why?

    5. A book ATM? I guess every time you take out or return a book, your bank charges you a $1.50.

  11. Nathan Bransford

    Furious D-

    I’m laughing really hard over here at ICBM UK.

  12. ORION

    I will only use the library ATM if they can also give me a latte with three equals and a shot of cinnamon along with my oatbran muffin.

  13. Ulysses

    Orion: that would require another vending machine.

  14. Adaora A.

    International Creative Management and Curtis Brown UK are merging? Wow. Would that mean that it’s only in relation to the UK ICM branch (and not NYC) or is it the whole shebang?

    Trivia a-go-go/a-snow-go (Regis and Kelly)

    “Wake me up, before you go go” (Beach Boys I think)

    and now there is a library a-go-go. Brilliant. Instead of picking some crap leaflet from the train station I can get a good book. I’m in. Who want’s fast-book?

  15. LindaBudz

    Sigh. California is so much cooler than DC. Our government officials would never have made up a name like that. It would have been called something like “Metro Book Drop Off and Pick Up Receptacles.”

    And, adaora a. No you didn’t! Mixing up the Beach Boys with Wham!? That is so wrong.

  16. P.G

    *giggles* Library ATMs, Books a GO-GO, just wonder when my library system will suggest this for our patrons.. The idea is great but how often are they going to fill these machines up? Plus how are they going to get those people to pay fines on overdue books.

    And when you get branded do you get a choice of where they put the brand? I wouldnt mind the ankle or upper thigh something I can show off to others. 🙂

  17. Just_Me

    You have libraries at your train stations? I don’t even have a train! I’m amaxingly envious and vow to try and move closer to civilization.

    My one question for the library books is how are they going to police the books? A year or so ago a person in Denver was charged with borrowing books from the library and selling them on e-bay, they didn’t make millions but they did make some nice petty cash. I’m curious how the book ATM’s will prevent similar thefts.

  18. Jessica

    Love the idea of the library ATM. Here at the airport in Edinburgh, we do have a book vending machine with current popular paperbacks, which I think is way-cool. If there’s ever a time when a non-reader is going to consider buying a book, it’s when they’re about to get on a long flight.

  19. writtenwyrdd

    I know I’ve heard the term Library-A-Go-Go someplace long ago. Were there mentions of this project idea in the 90s? Because I lived in SF in the 90s. Anyhow, it’s a great idea. Book Cafe might be a cool name if you had a kiosk that also made lattes, lol.

  20. Nona

    Mixing up the Beach Boys with Wham!? That is so wrong.

    I hate to age myself here, but I agree!

  21. Conda V. Douglas

    Oh wow, a book vending machine. This is another reason I love the Bay Area. There are times when I wish I lived there still–civilization!

  22. Anonymous

    Books a-go-go?

    All I can imagine is going back to the closet and dusting off those old white party boots and calling my old friend, Goldie Hawn up and asking if she still has that hair iron I lent her… or does Cher have it still?

    The new fashion for train apparel?

  23. Jan

    Nathan –

    I love your sense of humor … you are too funny.

    Now every time I am feeling frustrated with this whole world of publishing – I’m just going to think about the cows. The cows always have it worse than me…

    🙂 Jan

  24. BuffySquirrel

    Book vending machines aren’t new. They’re how Penguin got started.

  25. Bonnie

    Furious D — ROFLMAO!

  26. Anonymous

    Nathan, I’m curious re: your lack of mention of Diablo Cody’s Oscar win for screenplay. Whether or not we are all thrilled by her style, it seems only fair to give a nod to a relative newcomer who managed to grab the award.

    Her work obviously has struck a chord with both the public and Hollywood; not an easy fete.

  27. Anonymous

    LOL – “feat”…

    just went and got some more coffee!

  28. Nathan Bransford


    I liked Juno and all that, but this is a publishing blog, hence Cormac McCarthy.

  29. Anonymous

    Four degrees to Diablo Cody mention in Nathan’s blog:

    1. Diablo Cody is an author who has written both book and screenplay.
    2. Screenplay won an Oscar.
    3. Agents represent some authors who write both books and screenplays
    4. Nathan is an agent who blogs about authors

    Chill…just funnin’ with ya

  30. Redzilla

    Screw the flying cars, I want a book ATM.


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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