The New York Times has an article today about the vagaries of the book business and the attempt to create bestsellers. Little will be new to readers of this blog, but it's an entertaining article nonetheless, and cleverly crafted--the end is a bit of a zinger.
The article also gives an update on Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier's follow-on to Cold Mountain. I engaged in a bit of schadenfreude about the fact that Random House had paid $8 million for this novel, and printed 500,000 hardback copies (the New York Times corrects me: the print run was apparently 750,000 hardback copies), and had only sold in the 200-300,000 copy range. Despite the publicity blitz, the book seems to have stalled at 240,000 copies (though the paperback will be out soon). So far, the book has earned out about $1 million of the $8 million advance.
Will Thirteen Moons turn into the largest fiction-publishing debacle in the history of the industry? Quite possibly. Will anything change as a result? Don't count on it.