Today in publishing and literature: Multivolume biographies aren't what they used to be, Amazon has some big Harry Potter news, and the 2012 election will result in a quickie Ann Coulter book.
It works like a charm for Robert Caro, but the market for multivolume biographies that take forever to get done is ice cold. "I don't know of anyone who has gotten a contract for a multivolume biography in the last five years," says David Nasaw, a history professor at CUNY whose Joseph Kennedy bio is coming out in November. "God bless Bob Caro, but it's over." It's easy to see why publishers might be hesitant to contract authors who want to tell the sweeping life history of a figure rapidly receding into the past. Some previously commissioned multivolume bios with installments still outstanding: part three of Blanche Cook's three part Eleanor Roosevelt biography (part two came out in 1999), Gary Giddins' second book on Bing Crosby (Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams—the Early Years (1903-1940) came out in 2001) and the second half of James Kaplan's 2010 Sinatra biography Frank Sinatra: The Voice (due out in 2015.) We wish them luck. [The Wall Street Journal]
Amazon has some big Harry Potter-related announcement to make, but they're not telling anyone what it is. "We’ll have to ask you to stay tuned for an upcoming announcement," a spokesman informed Paid Content's Laura Hazard Owen. So infuriating, these cheeky Amazon spokespersons. Until then, we'll all have to be content with a banner ad featuring a picture of an owl accompanied by the text "Something Wizardry Is On The Way." But it probably is going to involve the Kindle. [Paid Content]
Ann Coulter has signed a deal with Penguin for a book "directly relevant to the presidential election." Directly relevant! The directly relevant book in question, which is untitled, is slated to come out in October. She better get typing! [GalleyCat]
Various fancy book types -- including Salman Rushdie, Art Spiegelman and Jonathan Lethem -- have signed a petition letting the world and, more specifically, the New York Public Library know that they do not care for the planned $300 million "restructuring" of the NYPL's 42nd Street building. “More space, more computers, a café, and a lending library will not improve an already democratic institution,” the letter proclaims. We don't know: sounds pretty nice to us. [The New York Times]