Today in books and publishing: Girls creator has inked a huge deal; Wikileaks founder has a book deal; and uncertainty over Penguin's future ownership.
Dunham's book reportedly goes for $3.5 million. Spokespeople still aren't commenting on the advance, so we remain skeptical, but anonymous "publishers" are saying that Random House has purchased Lena Dunham's book for $3.5 million. "We’re thrilled to welcome Lena to Random House editor-in-chief and publisher Susan Kamil. "Her skill on the page as a writer is remarkable—fresh, wise, so assured," writes Random House She is that rare literary talent that will only grow from strength to strength and we look forward to helping her build a long career as an author." In Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned, Dunham will pen essays about personal experiences and offers advice for success. Judging from how quickly she's ascended the ladder from low-budget filmmaker to darling of the New York cultural stratosphere, she must know a thing or two about success. [The New York Times]
WikiLeaks founder, other "cypherpunks" to release book. No, not "cyberpunk"—"cypherpunk." Sorry to everyone hoping to read Assange's Hackers fan fiction. OR Books has announced the November 26th release of a book co-written by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Internet freedom and government surveillance. Cypherpunk's other authors include Jacob Appelbaum (Tor Project member and WikiLeaks representative), Jérémie Zimmermann (co-founder of La Quadrature du Net), and Andy Müller-Maguhn (Chaos Computer Club hacker), some of whom have been targeted by law enforcement agencies due to their work. "In March 2012 I gathered together three of today’s leading cypherpunks to discuss the resistance," Assange said in a statement about the book. "Their words, and their stories, need to be heard." Let's all hope it goes better than his $1.3 million deal with Canongate, which resulted in demands he return the money paid, publication of his autobiography over Assange's objections, and miniscule book sales. [The New York Times]
Could Penguin soon come up for sale? Pearson PLC's exiting CEO Marjorie Scardino was known for jealously guarding the company's brands, once saying that prospective buyers of the Financial Times would have to take the newspaper "over my dead body." But the industry has changed dramatically since she assumed leadership in 1997. And with the change in leadership, many are speculating about the future of Penguin, the least profitable asset in Pearson's portfolio. "If they want to sell something non-core then selling Penguin is the obvious choice," Panmure analyst Alex DeGroote tells The Guardian. "It is hard to see a great growth story in a 10-year view." But that begs the question: who would buy Penguin? DeGroote says interested buyers may include he-who-must-not-be-named, Rupert Murdoch. "It is a bit far-fetched to see Murdoch buy the FT—they have the Wall Street Journal—but not at all far-fetched to see them buying the imprints under Penguin." Murdoch's media behemoth NewsCorp already owns HarperCollins, and one thing publishing certainly doesn't need is further consolidation. [The Guardian]
Amazon plays hardball with coffee table book publishers. Amazon is not making any friends with its new requirement that all coffe table, gift, and art books be shipped individually rather than in bulk. Publishers are obviously miffed by the added cost, and environmentalists are surely groaning about all that packaging waste. But when Amazon makes a demand—and threatens to stop selling your title if you refuse to comply—there's little anyone can do to circumvent it. The new requirement stems from customer complaints about shipping damages, but many publishers don't think such costly precaution is necessary. "We support a good customer experience, but we don't respond well to threats," one publisher tells publishing news site Shelf Awareness. Another source said they don't know why publishers have to be burdened with Amazon's concerns over customer satisfaction. "Isn't it Amazon's problem if their customers want their gift book in each individual box? Isn't their problem to deal with?" [Shelf Awareness]