Getting a Jump on Earth Day
At least a half dozen ”green” books are being published in time for Earth Day, April 24, but already there’s one best-seller in the lot: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth (printed on recycled paper) has sold 550,000 copies so far — all thanks to word of mouth — and a new printing of 350,000 is being snapped up so quickly that it’s all EarthWorks Press can do to keep up with the orders. Author John Javna, who founded the press to publish the book, says, ”We get 50 to 100 letters a day from people thanking us, telling us what they’re doing with what they’ve learned.” (For example, use a mug instead of a foam coffee cup.) At first, EarthWorks had some trouble finding enough recycled paper, ”but our demand has inspired prrnters to start stocking recycled paper and other publishers to think about using it,” Javna says. ”I don’t anticipate any more problems.” But who knows, if 50 Simple Things keeps selling at this rate?
Not Like a Virgin
The New York Daily News reports that the ”sometimes blond, sometimes brunette” Madonna is interested in acquiring the movie rights to Erica Jong’s latest fictional sexploit, Any Woman’s Blues.
Connie Bruck, the author of The Predators’ Ball, a book about Michael Milken and Drexel Burnham Lambert, is at work on a book about Time-Warner’s Steve Ross.
Stretching the Truth
Those who have read Carrie Fisher’s new novel, Surrender the Pink (from Simon & Schuster) say that the boyfriend character is very much like Paul Simon, Carrie’s ex. Except he’s much taller.
In light of Donald and Ivana’s split, Norman King is scrambling to add a final chapter to Ivana Trump: A Very Unauthorized Biography, the tell-all tome he has written for Carroll & Graf, due to be published in July.
Now you can buy an hour — well, 45 minutes — with Salman Rushdie or Margaret Atwood. In a special series, London’s venerable Institute of Contemporary Art videotaped conversations with 94 of the world’s leading novelists. The best-selling tape: Toni Morrison’s. The most ironic one: Salman Rushdie’s. Speaking the day after The Satanic Verses was published, he said: ”I just feel I’ve finished a bit of what I set out to do. It has the sense of a great liberation. I can do anything now.”
Pot of Gold
He’s reclusive and he’s rich, too. Paperback rights to Thomas Pynchon’s Vineland have gone to Penguin for a reported $800,000. Although that’s not in the league with paperback rights to Princess Daisy ($3.2 million), it’s a lot for a book running third in the unread-best-seller sweepstakes (behind Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum).
Early next month Vintage Books will publish the first paperbacks of the venerable Library of America series. Dreamed up by Edmund Wilson 20 years ago as a way to help preserve American literary heritage, the series did not get under way until 1982, when the first volumes — Whitman, Melville, Stowe, and Hawthorne — were published. The Vintage paperbacks will differ from the hardcover line in two ways: Most will contain just one work and all will be introduced by a writer or critic. The first titles are The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. DuBois; Essays: First and Second Series, by Ralph Waldo Emerson; The Autobiography, by Benjamin Franklin; Indian Summer, by William Dean Howells; and The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Quote of the Week
Press lord Robert Maxwell assessing Magyar Hirlap, the once official Hungarian government newspaper of which he is now part owner: ”The government was interested in publishing long, boring, and stupid articles which no one read. And naturally, they were not interested in any advertising.”