Today in books and publishing: Glenn Beck is reworking a series of technothrillers to appeal to his fans, the founder of Perseus Books has died, and SNL gets around to making fun of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Frank Pearl, the founder of Perseus Books, died Friday in Baltimore at the age of 68. Washington lawyer Vernon Jordan -- a friend of Pearl's -- told The New York Times that the publisher had lung cancer. In a 1998 profile, New York magazine estimated Pearl spent $60 million in the span of a year to launch Perseus, a publishing house "entirely devoted to the sort of literary fiction and serious nonfiction that the conglomerates increasingly deem endangered species." With an initial roster of authors that included Cornel West, Evan Connell, Gina Berriault and Orlando Patterson, Perseus would grow to become the largest independent book distributor in the country. De Capo, PublicAffairs, Basic Books, and Nation Books are among the publishers Perseus either owns or works in partnership with. [The New York Times]
Fifty Shades of Grey -- the "triple-X" literary trilogy that moms are devouring in secret and Newsweek is devoting cover stories to -- reached a new level of cultural ubiquity this weekend courtesy of Saturday Night Live, which featured a fake Amazon Mother's Day ad in which assorted husband-types and children barge in on moms during their "mommy porn" time.
[via The Huffington Post]
Today, in the hunt for the next Harry Potter/J.K. Rowling: Bloomsbury has given 20-year-old Oxford student Samantha Shannon a reported "six-figure" contract to publish her debut novel The Bone Season and its two sequels. The first installment apparently is set in London in 2059 and focuses on a 19-year-old heroine named Paige Mahoney who, according to the publisher, "drops in and out of people's minds." Shannon, who was apparently inspired by A Clockwork Orange and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, plans to tell the entire story over seven books just like Rowling. [The Daily Mail]