The Inside Scoop on the Book World
Conde Nast and Hearst Magazines, Richard Kluger, and Jean Georges made news the week of October 2, 1998
HAVE A COW, MAN Hey, we thought reading was about just saying no to commercials! Lately, however, literacy campaigns are diving headlong into bed with Madison Avenue. First, the nonprofit Literacy Partners joined hands with Conde Nast-owned Vogue (”Reading is always in style”), whose advertisers came up with pithy slogans like ”Danskin says…reading stretches your mind” and ”Timex says…reading is time well spent” for the occasion. Now Conde Nast competitor Hearst Magazines is working with the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board to sponsor the Read to Me Children’s Literacy Program. The calcium-fortified faction is doubtless hoping that tykes will clamor for The Milk Mustache Book, a history of the ubiquitous ad campaign — which has featured literary idols from Bart Simpson to Vanna White — due from Ballantine in October.
A WIN WIN SITUATION Not surprisingly, this is a great season for baseball books: Norton has just paid a rumored $500,000 for a history of the New York Yankees from Richard Kluger, who won a Pulitzer for his last book, the tobacco expose Ashes to Ashes. Tentatively titled If They Don’t Win It’s a Shame, the soup-to-nuts history should be out in time for the team’s centennial in 2003. Meanwhile, Pocket Books is rushing out instant paperback bios of Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, and St. Martin’s has gone back to press for more copies of Rob Rains’ Mark McGwire: Home Run Hero. The fortuitously timed bio — published on Sept. 1 — now has 50,000 copies in print.
THE HUNGER Cookbook parties, a major source of sustenance for the half-starved publishing breed, are notorious for running out of food. But that wasn’t the problem with Broadway Books’ recent revel for Jean-Georges: Cooking at Home With a Four-Star Chef, held at the shy, Prada-wearing chef Vongerichten’s eponymous restaurant in Manhattan. One reporter, comfortably ensconced in a corner banquette, wondered at the seemingly slow pace of the hors d’oeuvres. Rising to investigate, she discovered a logjam near the kitchen, where fellow partygoers — Donald Trump, Julia Child, and Martha Stewart among them — were clawing greedily for morsels of boneless lamb and molten chocolate cakes before waiters could even hoist their trays into the fray. ”Jean-Georges was extra careful about the amount of food,” says a spokeswoman for the book. ”There were 9,000 plates, 30 different dishes.” But how do you plan for a four-star feeding frenzy?