Tag Archive for The New York Times

Times Article, Columbine, Picture Book Countdown, and Some Vacation Photos

It’s Tuesday the 21st, and I’m back at the desk, working under a deadline. I have to admit that I’m not in Full-On Blogger Mode — it’s like I’ve forgotten how — but here’s what’s up exactly now.

I’m still stunned by yesterday’s cover article in The New York Times, written by C.J. Chivers.

Photo: Tyler Hicks.

A tense, dramatic, tautly-written account of an ambush in Afghanistan, it struck me as such a different kind of article than I remember seeing before. Maybe I’m wrong, but my sense is that after years of regulations that attempt to control war coverage, perhaps now there’s a new openness about war reporting. Could that be true? Regardless, this article signaled to me that there was a shift of some kind. I applaud this article, the courage of the reporter, and the Times by putting this story front and center, above the fold on page one. It’s too easy to forget that we’re at war, that young men are killing and dying, that there’s a cause and a cost. By all means, read the story.

I did a school visit recently, where I spoke with approximately 400 6th-grade students. In part, I focused on my upcoming book, Bystander, which centers on bullying and its effect on five main characters: Dylan, Griffin, Mary, David, and Cody. The idea for the opening scene was inspired by a piece of information I picked up on Columbine and ketchup packets. If only for myself, I needed that allusion echoing through my book. When I asked the students if they’d ever heard of Columbine, only two hands were raised. I guess that surprised me. After all, that event changed our schools forever. Just the other day I was in an elementary school when they had a “lock-down drill,” you know, because there’s “a wild animal loose in the school.” I imagine my second-grade daughter, Maggie, picturing a deer skidding through the halls, like a clown in socks.

Anyway, this new book, Columbine by Dave Cullin, is at the top of my reading list. The cover designer for the book, Henry Sene Yee, recently posted a detailed account of how he arrived at that remarkable, understated, haunting cover. Fascinating.

On a different note, Elizabeth Bird at Fuse 8 continues to deliver great content at a reasonable price (free). She’s been counting down the top 100 picture books of all-time (based on a readers’ poll), and if you haven’t gotten over there, it’s a real treat.

Art from Virginia Lee Burton’s, The Little House.

Elizabeth isn’t just providing another tired list, she’s doing research, showing artwork and videos, clips from reviews, and personal commentary. It makes you want to go back and read those books all over again; and in some cases, discover the few that somehow fell through the cracks.

Lastly, a few shots of Canyon de Chelley, Navajo land, in Arizona near the New Mexico border, another one from Taos Pueblo, one from Mesa Verda, and a couple of shots of people who came along for the ride. It was a great vacation/adventure.

Layoffs Hit HarperCollins, Bowen Press

More troubling industry news today. HarperCollins Publishers announced major restructuring and layoffs. According to The New York Times:

The industry had been expecting some news from HarperCollins, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, as it was one of the few major publishing houses not to have announced layoffs during the current punishing retail downturn. Random House, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Macmillan, which operates divisions including Farrar, Straus & Giroux and St. Martin’s Press, have all announced job losses in recent months.


In the six months that ended on Dec. 31, HarperCollins’s operating income dropped nearly 75 percent, to $26 million from $103 million. Over all, the publishing industry has struggled as bookstore sales have slowed drastically. For the months of October and November, the Association of American Publishers announced double-digit declines in sales, and the holiday season was widely considered the worst in recent memory.

The web is abuzz with more on this. Go here at PW, or here at Gawker (including some internal HarperCollins memos). Shelf-Awareness reports:

HarperCollins has shut down the Collins division, is realigning imprints and has made cutbacks in the children’s division, too, including shutting down the Bowen Press, which had been set to launch this month.

In connection with the moves, Steve Ross, president and publisher of Collins, and Lisa Gallagher, senior v-p and publisher of William Morrow have been laid off. (Ross may be reached at slross58@gmail.com; Gallagher may be reached at lisagallaghernyc@gmail.com.) Brenda Bowen, head of the eponymous children’s imprint, has also left HarperCollins. At least one sales rep has been let go. The New York Times said that at least five Collins editors are gone and that “several sales, marketing and publicity staff members” from Collins and other divisions were also laid off. As many nine people in the children’s division have been laid off, and reports are that at least one rep has been let go.

Sigh. My thoughts go out to everyone hurt by these changes, especially my old friend, Brenda Bowen. We’re all in for tough times ahead.