Sunday, April 26, 2009

Printing - It's all about the People (and also about the food)

A stay in Verona would not be complete without many good meals!

I had a chance to have dinner with my old friend Enrico from Mondadori, who used to work with me on The Black Book account and now handles pre-press for many of my clients including The National Geographic and Hudson Hills Press. Joining us were his wife Elena, and their daughter Elisabetta. American parents be advised: Here in Italy, five-year-olds do not clamor for chicken tenders or french fries - they eat plates of proscuitto with bruscetta!

Now, if only Enrico could stop calling the plant to see how that job is doing on press ....

I stayed in my favorite hotel, the Colomba D'Oro, and listened to the sweet sound of swallows flying outside the window, calling to each other across the piazza.

Printing - It's all about the People

I am just back from three days in Verona, spending time with my colleagues at the factory.

Not that I needed a reminder, but here are 10 really good reasons to print your next book with Mondadori. And there are many more, it's just that my camera battery died before I could capture them all!! For that, my apologies.

And that's just the beginning of everything Mondadori has to offer. Thanks everyone for a great time! xxxx

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

London Book Fair - Tuesday Evening - And yes, there was more eating

Its important in the middle of all this bad news to stop and smell the flowers, which is exactly what my colleague Maria Luisa from Verona decided to do.

Dealing with all the uncertainty is just plain exhausting. At the end of the day, a group of us who had come to London to represent Mondadori put business out of our minds and took a leisurely walk down London's side streets, in search of some place to have dinner.

I designated myself "Leader in Search of a Cute Place to Eat" and marshaled the group which included Italians who were too cold to eat outside, a Brit who need to stop for a cigarette break, and a noisy American like myself who was GETTING REALLY HUNGRY NOW.

We settled on an Italian restaurant serving Buffalo chicken wings, and everyone was happy.

And then sad, because really we did have an awfully good time together, despite all the gloom and doom, and these times when we can all be together are too short.

London Book Fair -Tuesday

I think most people were relieved to see that the London Fair was crowded, packed actually. A comforting mass of people jammed their way down the aisles. I had to hold two meetings standing up, as the Mondadori Booth was so crowded there were not enough seats for everyone.

And still, there is overwhelming uncertainty in the air. And so, many of us took comfort in just getting together and talking with old friends from the business. I was glad to share thoughts with Leslie van Breen of Hudson Hills, Dan Farrell of the Antique Collectors Club, Sherry Babbit of the Philadelphia Museum. I also had a chance to pitch ideas to Leslie Stoker of STC, Michael Jacobs of Abrams, Frank Oppel of Book Sales, Robert Abrams of Abbeville. There might even be a few resulting sales from these meetings, we'll see.

Paolo Scaramuzzo from Imago was proud to display a kit designed for children in the British school system by the Kew Gardens, that allows them to perform various horticultural experiments and learn all about Darwin's adventures and discoveries.

Steve Bryant of Everbest was looking suave and unflappable as ever, and expressed confidence that we'd all be making buckets of money by the end of the year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

London Book Fair - Monday

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Are these the last few people on the planet who read books???

Monday was the first day of the Fair, and yes we did do some work.

But the nicest part of the day was a "Sex in the City" moment in the late afternoon, lounging around the hotel lobby bar with Elsa from Paris and Maria Eugenia from Barcelona, and a couple rounds of Cosmopolitans and Margaritas!

Later we went off in search of an Italian restaurant. We never found the one that had been recommended to us. Instead we stumbled (not literally) on this cute little joint - Ollins Restaurant - with probably six tables and three giant chandeliers.  Dinner was great, and a bottle of Sicilian wine kept the conversation flowing from politics, to movies, to husbands, to dessert. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

London Book Fair - Sunday afternoon - Taking it Easy

I know New York City pretty well, after living there for 15 years. And once upon a time I could find my way around Hong Kong, in fact on a day off I would play a game in which I would actually try to get lost. But I always managed to orient myself because of the Harbour and the Peak, and never really got very turned-around.

But there is no other city I can really figure out. I could never figure out Boston, after four years of going to college there. And to a great extent the layout of Washington DC, where I travel once a month, is still pretty obscure to me (I have this vague impression that it is more or less like a circle, or a snail shell - wait, maybe that's Paris ...)

I wake up this afternoon in my London hotel, after a flight from New York in which every conversation on the airplane, subway, on the street seems to have to d0 with publishing and seems to invariably include "And Business is Down by 40%!" Outside, I have no idea where I am in relation to anything else in London, but it is Spring and it is beautiful and I am touched by that magical feeling that strolling through a foreign city on a lovely afternoon can give you. I decide to get lost, which shouldn't be too hard.

I have been to London several times already, but still really have no sense of the overall layout or feel of the place. I wonder: Is this what it all looks like? Who knows, but this is what it looks like to me. For all us clueless Americans there is lettering on every street corner to remind you which way to look so that you don't get flattened.

Another reason why you might get distracted and bowled over by on-coming traffic is that it is just so incredibly cute. Yes, it does look like this.

Even the back alley ways are picturesque

Good Heavens! Who would have expected such unusual birdlife! I risk getting flattened (again) to capture this "National Geographic" shot of what is probably an ordinary London Bird, but looks highly exotic to me. He's big too!

Later I meet up with my colleague Nancy, and our wanderings inevitably lead us to a cute cafe and a glass of wine. After which we wind our way through these small streets, hitting dead-ends, false turns, a secret pathway between a tall garden hedge and finally make it back to our hotel just in time for our pre-Fair meeting.