Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas to All!

It's been a holiday season full of e-cards! This card from Harry N. Abrams shows a magical image of Central Park. CEO Michael Jacobs writes:

"When I picked this image for our company holiday card--from our forthcoming book Seeing Central Park by Sara Cedar Miller of the Central Park Conservancy--it was around 50° (F) in the city but I thought that the mood it evoked was so perfect and dreamlike that I couldn't resist. If you were in NY now you'd know that it's been snowing intermittently since Friday and the Sheephold is as wintry and beautiful as depicted in this photo. The red brick building in the background is a well known restaurant seen from a different angle and its red brick façade in the snow (not unlike what it looks like outside my window now) is an inspiration as well."

A wonderful e-card from Brian Morris, owner of AVA Books, takes you on a fantasy ride with Santa around the globe, through the works of British artist and illustrator Jacquie Lawson. Click on this link to see the animated card, it is really lovely!

Also received some really nice personal e-cards from friends and colleagues. One from Bahar Gidwani, publisher, entrepreneur, and currently CEO of a new start-up called Sonibyte that allows publishers to convert their content into podcasts. Bahar's card is photo-album of a year of travels, and he certainly echoed my sentiments in his wishes that 2009 be a year of positive change for all of us!

Friday, December 19, 2008


I once heard an anecdote about someone whose method of organizing papers resembled the psychoanalytic process. Their filing system was like the unconscious: a dark and confused jumble from which - after much struggle and searching - that which had been presumed lost for good would miraculously surface.

Right now this is also an excellent description of my year-end paperwork-organizing efforts. The possibility of final clarity and coherence appears only remotely likely, and there always seem to be key pieces of information that are buried, lost or in some cases so complicated that they are likely to remain an eternal mystery. Add to this, tempting distractions such as perusing through the beautiful catalogue I picked up at Art Basel Miami.

However, shuffling through papers can be a welcome diversion, particularly when the economy is tanking and the future seems uncertain.

Last week I spend several days in Washington, DC and Manhattan visiting clients. Here are a few comments representative of the week's business discussions:

"I can't see you this week as we're bunkered down in meetings to try to figure out how much we lost in 2008"; "We're expecting 6-7% layoffs and have no idea what our publishing plans are for 2009";"It's going to be like the great Depression! There are going to be bread lines! In Manhattan!"

All of this may have contributed to the fact that I got violently ill the night of Mondadori's annual Holiday Party. I said a quick hello to a few clients (several of which had just been laid off), and then rushed over to a friend's apartment and tossed my cookies. When I had recovered sufficiently to converse, I learned that my friend (one of my most high-achieving pals, too) had just been laid off from her job at a major international bank.

So for this week I am hiding my head in paperwork. Everyone in publishing seems so panicked that it's hard to have meaningful discussions right now. Let's see what Santa Claus brings for Christmas and the New Year. I've got my list, which begins with "Some Really Nice New Book Projects, Please...."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Art Basel Miami - What's happening on South Beach

It's almost more fun to check out some of the galleries exhibiting outside the Miami Convention Center.

After a thorough tour of the Convention Center, I drive down to South Beach with my friend George Dick, where a number of the famous deco-style hotels on the beach are hosting gallery shows.

The Aqua Hotel is hosting gallery shows in the Wynwood Design District and also at their hotel on South Beach. Each guest room at the hotel has been turned into a small gallery space, and in the central courtyard, you can enjoy free drinks from the open bar and have your own personal poem created for you.

I like the friendly chattiness of the artists and gallery owners who are exhibiting here - since most are not yet really really famous, they are much more open to talking. And I am sure all the free drinks help in this department too! Here's one piece I liked by Shag.

A series of photos by and of Hunter S. Thompson presented by Ammo Books, part of their new limited edition title Gonzo.

I liked these works by Laura Sanders too. Very evocative of summers and vacations of my childhood.

Art Basel Miami - What's happening at the Convention Center

It is Thursday December 4 and I am at the Miami Convention Center attending one of the great events of the year - Art Basel Miami. There are over 220 exhibitors and it is a wonderful opportunity to discover galleries that produce beautiful catalogues and sometimes even hardcover monographs for their clients. This is a group that is used to spending some money, so printing in Italy with Mondadori is not necessarily such a stretch. It is also just a great scene, and I've been looking forward to this for weeks.

Only I have a rotten cold.  The truth is I feel so cruddy I almost couldn't drag myself down to the Convention Center today.  Even the sight of so many swanky art lovers conferring over cocktails didn't lift my spirits.

And then, I bump into my old friend - and competitor - George Dick from Louisville, Kentucky. Suddenly the chances of this turning into a really fun afternoon have just increased by 100 percent. George owns Four Colour Print Group and is funny, irreverent, really annoying at times, and a one-man party. We make inappropriate remarks about some of the more unusual pieces of art (Yoko Ono's "Touch Me" boxed body parts is pretty up there in my opinion). And we talk to various gallery owners, promoting ourselves and each other.  This tag-team strategy by two competitors seems to be so baffling to the potential leads we speak to that, in their confusion, they are much more forthcoming with names, phone numbers, email addresses. Who would have thought?

And we just have some fun. Though cameras are strictly forbidden inside the Convention Center (but open drinks are allowed around all this art? Explain that) I snap off shots of a few of our favorites.

George is considering this one as a mascot for his printing company. (That is, assuming he wants to lose all his business, possibly to me.) Actually, I am considering this one as a mascot for George's company

And this huge sculpture was just so weird and amazing, that it was constantly surrounded with a crowd of observers. From one view, the figure is nearly flat, while from another it is fully formed. And it had the effect of appearing almost like a hologram, even though it was completely solid.