Michael Crichton? Make Mine a Collins

Edward Wyatt of the NEW YORK TIMES wrote a fascinating profile of Jane Friedman in the Sunday business section. The article is called MICHAEL CRICHTON? HE’S JUST THE AUTHOR. Jane Friedman is president and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers; Ms. Friedman addressed a group of aspiring editors and publicists at NYU’s Center for Publishing, according to Mr. Wyatt. “Ms. Friedman, 59, envisions a day when a reader in a bookstore will reach for a HarperCollins novel the way some parents of young children now reach for a Disney film in a video store…a result of faith in the producer rather than the specific content.”

Can you envision such a day? My recollection of being a young parent is that renting Disney videos was the parental equivalent of taking one for the team; I also remember studying the write-up for suitability. Faith in the producer only stretches so far.

Ms. Friedman has generated good results at Harper since she joined back in 1997. I was so dumbstruck by her vision of how novels will be purchased in the future, that I wrote to her, asking for a clarification. If she replies and gives her permission, I’ll let you know what she says.

I met author Skye Moody last weekend and wanted to mention her novel THE GOOD DIAMOND, from St. Martin-Minotaur. It’s one of a series featuring Venus Diamond; Skye is a photographer as well as a writer, and spent years as a bush guide in East Africa.

Rebecca Pawel’s THE WATCHER IN THE PINE is in bookstores now. You may recall my rave review of her work; she’s agreed to do an interview right here on Collected Miscellany.

Elizabeth Crane’s story collection ALL THIS HEAVENLY GLORY will be released in March; her publicist indicates that she’s available for an interview which I’ll try to line up closer to the release date.

Finally, TJ Parker’s CALIFORNIA GIRL was nominated for an EDGAR AWARD mere hours after being reviewed on Collected Miscellany. Cause and effect? No. Sarah has a comprehensive list of all the category nominees as well as insightful commentary as always. Richard Aleas’ LITTLE GIRL LOST, from HARD CASE CRIME, is nominated as well, albeit in a separate category. LITTLE GIRL LOST was reviewed here last fall accompanying an interview with author and publisher Charles Ardai.

I’m off to the video store now to rent a Disney movie.


  1. Buying a book from a publishers like HarperCollins without caring about the author or authors sounds like a egotistical fantasy. I don’t mean to be harsh, but the author is the first thing I think about with any book, not the publishers. Now, a read might trust a small publisher, like Intervarsity Press or Overlook Press, saying to himself, “If it’s one of their books, it must be solid;” but HC publishes far too wide on the spectrum. With a publisher as large as HC, would anyone buy a genre book without knowing anything except that it’s from HC? “Here’s a mystery from HC by DOA Jones. Who’s he? Can’t tell anything from the cover, but I’ll bet it’s a winner nonetheless.”

    Friedman can test her theory on airport novels, if she is able. To go without authors on the cover, they would have to be written by the staff, wouldn’t they?

  2. I guess HC _is_ too big, but it could work for genre publishers. I think that publishing is more like the recording industry than the movie industry.

    Sometimes small/indy record labels get to be known for some niche, but the big stars are always the big stars.

    Of course, aside from Disney and Pixar, I don’t think most people care about the studio much any more.

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