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Between The Lines

The inside scoop on the book world

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STARS ON PARADE In the grand tradition of Al Franken’s 1996 hit Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, other authors are invoking celebrity monikers in book titles. Last year, Michael Thomas Ford won acclaim with his compilation of comic vignettes Alec Baldwin Doesn’t Love Me. This month, Pocket published Sharon Hanby-Robie’s how-to guide, My Name Isn’t Martha, but I Can Renovate My Home, and in November Routledge releases John Heilpern’s collection of theater essays, How Good Is David Mamet, Anyway? So what’s with all the name-dropping? Bigger sales, says Franken, who toyed with the idea of using Limbaugh again in the title of last January’s follow-up (which ended up with the relatively unimaginative tag Why Not Me?). ”I wanted to call it Rush Limbaugh’s Butt Is Big and Smelly,” Franken recalls. ”It would have been a best-seller. But many people felt it would actually undermine the achievement of the first book.”

ROSIE RIVETED Summer’s winding down, but we already have a hunch what the hot kiddie book will be this Christmas: Elise Primavera’s Auntie Claus. The tale of Santa’s glamorous, gift-toting sister — not due in stores until October — has sold out its first pressrun and gone back for a second, bringing the in-print total to 150,000. The book will be featured in Saks Fifth Avenue’s holiday windows, and Rosie O’Donnell is interested in starring in Nickelodeon’s film adaptation. ”It’s still early,” says O’Donnell’s publicist. ”But it’s something that she’s most definitely considering.”

PUTTING NO STOCK IN STORES This fall, fledgling Toby Press will try a different publishing model: The tiny indie press will sell its first six offerings of literary fiction from its website — tobypress.com — and through an 800 number. But you won’t find the company’s titles in bookstores or on book-selling websites. Toby Press director Matthew Miller, a publishing neophyte, expects to cut at least 50 percent off his overhead by eliminating the middleman. ”For a smaller publisher, [selling in bookstores] is a death march,” Miller says. ”This is a viable alternative.” Based in England, the American plans to release 15 titles a year. — Clarissa Cruz and Matthew Flamm