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Explosive Words

Updikes Autographs His Book
"Defend your lonely forts," John Updike, here signing copies of his new book, "Terrorist," told booksellers on Saturday. ". . . Books are intrinsic to our human identity." (Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

"The Long Tail: Who Needs Megahits?" it read.

Steve Rubin, president of Doubleday -- who publishes Dan Brown and has reaped the benefit of Brown's astonishing sales -- scoffed at the notion that the long-tail phenomenon means blockbusters will become less important.

Jane Friedman, president and CEO of HarperCollins, said she embraces digital change. HarperCollins is "friends with Google," she said, because "we like the searchability of our books -- it's like taking the shrink wrap off books in bookstores to allow a consumer to see a page."

But Friedman doesn't want to give up those digital files to anyone. She was chair of the American Association of Publishers when it sued Google over the library scanning project. "I'm very bullish on everything digital," she said, but "w e are going to control the destiny of our digital files," no matter how much Google cites HarperCollins as an ally in its PR.

Off and Selling

"Okay -- go!" the Buzz Forum moderator said.

Doubleday's Bill Henry launched into a rapid-fire pitch for Hampton Sides's "Blood and Thunder," an epic tale of the Navajo, mountain man Kit Carson and the conquest of the American West.

Five other editors followed suit. No one got kicked off the island. No one mentioned Google, Kevin Kelly or even John Updike. It was all about persuading the "salt of the book world" to believe in these particular edged volumes and make them their own.

In other words, it was business as usual. For now.

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