Barbarians at the Bookstore Gate: Big bucks and big books (or boobs?)
December 12, 2013 | 6:28 pm
Next time, o lowly author, you’re feeling underrewarded and underappreciated, just think how lucky you are to scrape acquaintance and kiss rings with the glamorous beautiful and bucks-bundling people of the swanky publishing industry. Instead of slumming it with the little nobodies, you too can touch, however briefly, the hems of the garments of HELLO! Magazine glitterati. Doesn’t that make you feel better as you toil at your screen?
And just to remind you, Publishers Lunch has run a laudatory headline declaring: “Judith Regan Returns to Publishing, Backed By Phaidon.” Publishers Weekly also put up a notice stating: “Phaidon Taps Judith Regan to Head New Multimedia Unit.” Even the New York Times ran a piece headlined: “Judith Regan Returns to Publishing by Joining Phaidon.” Who? Judith Regan, that’s who. I’m sorry, could you run that past me one more time: Who?
Well, gentle reader, this is the Judith Regan who was fired from HarperCollins by Rupert Murdoch, in a sudden excess of good taste, in December 2006, after her plans to publish the book by O.J. Simpson entitled If I Did It, via her own ReganBooks imprint, managed that rare achievement of shaming even Fox News, through an advertising boycott. ReganBooks’s other hits include a memoir from Jenna Jameson, “How to Make Love Like a Porn Star.”
And inviting Regan on board Phaidon – appropriately enough, in an own-branded venture called Regan Arts, are Leon and Debra Black, Phaidon owners. As it happens, Leon Black would receive less of a “who?” in financial circles at least. When not wearing my rakish TeleRead hat, I still also cover private equity and venture capital, and this is the same Leon Black, with a buyout pedigree right back to the glory days of Barbarians At The Gate, who heads Apollo Global Management, which is currently seeking to raise $17.5 billion for its biggest buyout fund since the 2008 crash.
As of the time of writing, Regan Arts has relatively little content. The “About” section has two subheads: “Regan Arts” and “About Me”. Both are empty right now. But I’m betting that they, and especially the second one, won’t stay empty for long.
HarperCollins and Phaidon authors in particular, aren’t you glad that your sales go towards keeping people like Judith Regan in the limelight? It just brings oodles more buzz than those few miserable KDP cents you can contribute towards Jeff Bezos’s TIME Person of the Year candidature, does it? Just one more reason to diss on self-publishing and digital disruption: If they win the day, you won’t have that privilege any more! Time to renew that HELLO! Magazine subscription: Clearly the writer’s best friend.