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The Authors Guild

Supreme Court’s Pass on Journalist’s Appeal Puts Focus on Federal Shield Law

On Monday the Supreme Court issued a one-line order declining to hear the appeal of New York Times journalist James Risen. A lower court had ordered the reporter to comply with a subpoena requiring him to reveal a confidential source.

The case began after Risen’s 2006 book, State of War, reported on a botched CIA operation that may have given valuable nuclear technology to Iran. During a Justice Department investigation of the operation, Risen was issued a subpoena to testify about a confidential source. He refused.

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

Sarah McGrath is executive editor at Riverhead. Last year that publisher had four big bestsellers. McGrath was interviewed by PW, and she described what she looks for when she opens a manuscript:

“I want a book that makes you forget what you are doing. That can be because of the beauty of the sentences, or because of the propulsion of the plot, or the emotional effect it has on you. Hopefully, it’s all three of those things.”

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by Sophie Blackall, Jane Cutler, Anna Dewdney, Meryl Gordon, Paul Dubois Jacobs, Steven James, Maggie Rudy, David McCullough, Jr., Claudia Mills, Matteo Pistono, Amy Plum, Patricia Skalka, Dennis Snelling, Susan Spano, Eileen Spinelli, George Vecsey, and Yvonne Ventresca. Titles under the jump.

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Hachette and Amazon Trade Barbs in Public Statements

In a remarkable move, Amazon released a statement yesterday defending its slow-walking of Hachette Book Group titles. The normally tight-lipped corporation broke its silence amid a barrage of press—including Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson’s appearance on the Bloomberg TV program “Market Makers”—concerning its ploy to pressure Hachette into accepting unfavorable contract terms.

Today, Hachette shot back.

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

If, at the beach this summer, the water is too cold, critic Janet Maslin suggests, choose “something else to dive into.” In Sunday’s New York Times she wrote that “we have entered the fun season with the sandy nickname, the one known for books impossible to put down.” Her articles about beach books are an annual event.

This summer? “If there’s one overriding motif, it’s this: “The crazier, the better.” The longest title: You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About.

Maslin wound up with “Here’s a sure way to tell when the summer reading season is ending. . . . Leaves will change color.” The ones on trees. Not those in books.

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Amazon Tightens Its Grip in Dispute with Hachette

Blackmail works best.  That seems to be Amazon’s negotiating strategy, at least.  The online retailer is now refusing orders on some Hachette Book Group titles in an attempt to extort better contract terms from the publisher.

We reported earlier this week on Amazon’s “slow walking” of Hachette Book Group titles.  Amazon was putting pressure on the smallest of the Big Five publishers as the two firms try to negotiate a new contract.

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch of contests includes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Deadlines ranger from Jun 15-30.

The Autumn House Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction Contests are now open for submissions. Fiction and nonfiction submissions should be 200-300 pages in length; poetry submissions should be 50-80 pages in length. The winner of each contest will be awarded publication and $2,500 ($1,000 advance against royalties and $1,500 travel grant to promote his or her book). Entry fee: $30 per entry. Deadline: June 30, 2014. For complete guidelines about each genre, please visit the website.

The University of Pittsburgh Press is now accepting submissions for its 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize for a collection of short fiction. The award is open to writers who have published a novel, a collection of short fiction, or at least three short stories or novellas in publications with national distribution. The winner will receive $15,000 and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Manuscripts must be between 150 and 300 typed pages. Deadline: June 30, 2014. For complete submission guidelines, please visit the website.

The Salamander Fiction Prize is now open for submissions. The winner will receive $1,500 and publication. Stories must not exceed 30 pages (double spaced, 12 point font). Multiple entries are allowed but each story must be submitted separately. Previously published works and works accepted for publication elsewhere cannot be considered. Entry fee: $15 per entry (includes a one year subscription). Deadline: June 15, 2014. For complete guidelines, please visit the website.

Why Can’t Publishers Quit Amazon?

Amazon and Hachette Book Group are still battling it out as Amazon seeks to squeeze the publisher’s profit margins in their new contract. Amazon continues to deploy a tactic we’ve called “slow walking,” purposefully putting what appears to be hundreds of Hachette books on two to three week back order to remind Hachette of Amazon’s market power. (See “Amazon Slow-walks Books by Gladwell, Colbert, Others in Spat with Hachette” for more.)

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a letter to a friend in 1881. The author was happy about a book he was working on. “If this don’t fetch the kids, why, they have gone rotten since my day. Will you be surprised to learn that it is about buccaneers. . . That it’s all about a map, and a treasure, and a mutiny, and a derelict ship . . . and a seacook with one leg, and a sea-song with the chorus ‘Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum’ (at the third Ho you heave at the capstan bars), which is a real buccaneer’s song, only known to the crew of the late Captain Flint.”

Stevenson admitted: “It’s awful fun, boys’ stories; you just indulge the pleasure of your heart, that’s all.” The quotes about the creation of Treasure Island (1883) are courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by Dan Burns, Julia Dahl, Stacey D’Erasmo, William Dietrich, David Fuller, Elizabeth Gunn, Nigel Hamilton, Steven James, Fred Kaplan, Garrison Keillor, Sandra Tsing Loh, Susan Lurie, Scott Martelle, and Phyllis Rose. Titles under the jump.

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