Today in books and publishing: Schwarzenegger fails to pump up his sales figures; Murakami fans feel he was cheated; R.I.P. Larry Sloan, Mad Libs publisher; the most comfortable of book clubs.
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Wimpy sales of Schwarzenegger's memoir. Why are you conspiring to make Arnold Schwarzenegger angry, book buyers? It's never pretty when he gets angry. Hopefully Arnold's people can shield him from the disappointing news that his memoir Total Recall sold only 21,000 copies in its first week. And he tried so hard to publicize it too! He got real with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes, opened himself up to Jon Stewart's ribbing on The Daily Show, and even held a "surprise" signing at New York's McNally Jackson. Compare Total Recall's performance with J.K. Rowling's bestselling success A Casual Vacancy, which pushed 350,000 units in its first week on shelves. [The Hollywood Reporter]
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After Nobels, Harukists are smarting. Haruki Murakami was the odds-on favorite to win this year's Nobel Prize in literature ... at least to gambling enthusiasts. But those who follow the Nobels closely knew that Murakami's reputation as a pop writer, whether he deserves it or not, would prevent him from winning this most highfalutin of awards. Nevertheless, Murakami devotees known as "Harukists" gathered at a bar in Tokyo to cheer him on. The New Yorker's Roland Kelts was there to capture their dashed hopes upon Mo Yan's win: "The disappointed Harukists managed only sighs, followed by half-hearted applause for their neighbor’s accolade. 'I’m very happy the winner was someone from Asia,' one female Harukist told the Mainichi newspaper on her way home, polite to the end." If Murakami fans are already bummed out over one year's Nobel snub, how must Philip Roth fans feel? [The New Yorker]
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Co-creator of Mad Libs dies. Larry Sloan, the last surviving co-founder of Los Angeles publisher Price Stern Sloan, has died at 89. His company was best known for printing the insanely popular Mad Libs books, which have sold over 110 million copies. All three men behind the books entered publishing by exiting Hollywood. Leonard Stern and Roger Price, the guys who dreamt up the Mad Libs concept, got their start in television. Sloan wrote a column for the Hollywood Citizen News and worked as Carol Channing and Mae West's press agent before launching his publishing venture in the early 1960s. Other titles that Sloan directed editing for include humorous books like The VIP Desk Diary and How to Be a Jewish Mother. He died after a brief bout of illness at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to his daughter. [Los Angeles Times]
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Book clubs invade spas. Book clubs are migrating from living rooms to high-end spas, and The New York Times is totally, nauseatingly on it. "At what seems to be a growing number of spas, clients are comparing their thoughts about something other than the newest anti-aging facial or which technician gives the best deep-tissue massage," reports Rachel Felder. "They’re discussing a suspenseful page-turner or recently released self-help best seller." The Carlyle Hotel's Sense spa, The Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas, Tucson's Canyon Ranch, and a few other spas have been hosting literary "salon" events lately, so sure, let's call it a trend. Creating bookish events for spa-goers makes sense for New York's Bliss spa because, as Crown Archetype VP Leigh Ann Ambrosi puts it, "You’re capturing the person that already wants to take care of themselves, and now wants to take care of themselves in a more emotional way." Books: the emotional equivalent of a mani-pedi. [The New York Times]
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Goodreads' top influencers. Forbes' Mark Fidelman has some harsh words for professional book reviewers ("there are no 'professional' critics that matter anymore") and some awe-struck praise for online book recommendations ("passionate book readers like you and me have the chance to shape a book’s success"). Since Fidelman seems quite sure that crowd-sourcing will vanquish all books coverage in traditional media, you should probably get to know the top 25 influencers on Goodreads. [Forbes]
Tall tale teller. Will Self may have lost the Man Booker prize to repeat-winner Hilary Mantel last night, but the 6'5'' novelist took this photo op to remind Mantel that he could totally smoke her in a game of keep-away: [AP]