Today in books and publishing: the Los Angeles Times enters the w-book business, Hoguhton Mifflin Harcourt prepares to restructure, and a new theory on what killed Jane Austen.
- Thirteen months after their rescue, the Chilean miners are apparently close to signing a book deal, although their story notes that "two industry insiders" "could not say which publisher was expected to buy the book." But when the buyer emerges, there will still be this question: why has it taken 13 months for the Chilean miners to get a book deal? Crain's New York Business suggests publishers may "because other accounts of the miners' dramatic rescue have not made much of a splash," but this project has the involvement of all 33 miners. As for the "other accounts" that didn't do well, Amazon only has listings for three other books about the incident, none of which were written by the actual Chilean miners. [Crain's New York Business]
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is about to go through a major corporate restructuring and, according to an internal memo from CEO Linda Zecher, it's going to mean more layoffs for the Boston-based trade publisher. Per the memo, the company's Education Group will no longer operate separately from the rest of the company. Zecher says the changes will enable the company to "operate as a single organization" under her watch, with "fewer senior leaders and more focus on our customers." In keeping with the fewer senior leaders theme, the current Education Group president and CFO have already told her they're leaving the company. [GalleyCat]
- The Los Angeles Times is getting into the 99-cent e-book game with A Nightmare Made Real, an "expanded version" of a two-part article Times staff writer Christopher Goffard wrote in June about a Las Vegas banker accused of kidnapping and sexual assault. The original story is still available for free on the paper's Web site, but according to the paper the e-book edition features "more detailed portraits of key characters and Goffard's account of how an unlikely tip led to his narrative" for those willing to pay the extra 99 cents. The paper says it will be giving eight more articles the expanded Ebook treatment this year. [The Los Angeles Times]
- Rick Perry's shaky debate performances have hurt his poll numbers and, apparently, the market for quickie books about the Texas governor. "I had a deal," grouses former Austin Star-Telegram reporter R.G. Ratcliffe, "and Perry blew it." I Love You Phillip Morris author Steve McVicker says interest in his proposed Perry book peaked in August, right around the time Perry held his giant prayer rally at Reliant Stadium in Houston, but now things are in "a state of flux." [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
- Crime novelist Lindsay Ashford says Jane Austen's early death in 1817 at the age of 41 was due to arsenic poisoning. This is not an unreasonable conclusion, since many of the symptoms Austen complained of to friends are consistent with arsenic poisoning, but it should be noted Ashford came to her conclusion after moving to Austen's hometown to write a novel called The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen. "I don't think murder is out of the question," declares Ashford. That position is not shared by Professor Janet Todd, who edits the Cambridge editions of Austen's books. She says it's "very unlikely" Austen was poisoned deliberately, noting she took arsenic to deal with rheumatism. [The Guardian]