Sunday, June 7, 2009


It was a stunt, but a fun and interesting one. Earlier this year PublicAffairs, a publisher which is part of the Perseus Book Group, announced that it would go through practically the entire process of publishing a book in a 48-hour period during the BEA Convention in New York City. The book was to be called, Book: The Sequel, and, for the content, PublicAffairs threw out this challenge to literary types around the world: choose an existing book, imagine its sequel, and write the first sentence and title of that imaginary sequel.

Last week, PublicAffairs arrived at BEA with more than 800 submissions from which to produce the finished book. The process began on Friday morning with the decision on what submissions to use and how to format the book. Then came the choice of front cover design, with input from convention-goers and people following the process on Twitter. Initial page galleys had arrived by late afternoon on Friday.

On Saturday, a website for the book was created (found here), along with reading group guides and other marketing tools, and decisions were made about the first print run. Then, precisely on time at 4 PM Saturday afternoon, finished copies of the book itself (a paperback) arrived at the PublicAffairs convention booth. (It's also available in large print and Braille editions, as well as in various e-book formats.) PublicAffairs also set up a YouTube channel with four videos, running a total of about twelve minutes, documenting the entire process. We hope to have the book available at Accent on Books by the end of this week.

All in all, another example of the powerful -- and, for us oldsters, somewhat intimidating -- effects of technological advances on the staid old world of publishing.

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