Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Offers You Can’t Refuse

There is a great deal happening at Quercus Publishing in the UK, as it gears up for the English-language release (in January) of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second part of his “Millennium Trilogy.” Firstly, there’s that “lost” Mario Puzo novel Quercus has on deck. As The Bookseller reports:
Quercus imprint Maclehose Press has acquired rights to a long-lost novel by Mario Puzo, written a year before he completed his international bestseller The Godfather. The independent publisher has secured UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada. Six Graves to Munich had previously been published under Puzo’s pseudonym Mario Cleri by Banner in 1967.

Quercus’ UK version of the book is due out in May 2009 and will be produced as a £12.99 hardback. A trade paperback for export and airside retailers will also be available, retailing at £11.99. The novel opens in the final throws of the Second World War as American intelligence officer Michael Rogan is being tortured by the Gestapo, who are trying to uncover secrets only he knows. Ten years later, Rogan is determined to avenge the death of his wife, killed by the same men, and embarks on a quest to track down each person involved.
In keeping with the theme of Quercus publishing books slightly “left of center,” this week it launches the late John Gardner’s final novel, Moriarty. [Editor’s note: An American version of that same novel is also out from Harcourt.] Publicity director Lucy Ramsey, knowing that I am a fan of that late author’s work, has kindly invited me to the posthumous launch party, being held this week in London. Meanwhile, Quercus sent me this synopsis of Moriarty, along with its party invitation:
Bestselling British novelist John Gardner published two books purporting to be the true history of Professor James Moriarty, archenemy of “Sherlock Holmes”, the Napoleon of crime. The books--“The Return of Moriarty” and “The Revenge of Moriarty”--were praised as stand-alone volumes set in a vividly accurate Victorian London and a stunning vision of the underworld of the time, inhabited by the kind of men and women who lived and preyed on the society of the late 19th century. Now it is the turn of the century and Moriarty has been away from London for several years, realizing his plans to set up crime syndicates in major U.S. cities. He is suddenly called back to London where his vast criminal society has been overrun by a rival concern led by the shadowy Sir Jordan ‘Mad Jack’ de Levant--a supposed gentleman hoodlum who is acting on behalf of the leaders of well-known criminal elements in France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Moriarty lives again and revolts against the upstart criminals who have attempted to oust him from his rightful place as king of all criminal endeavour.
Finally, I see that Quercus is instituting some organizational changes and planning to offer new stock shares to its existing shareholders. Again, from The Bookseller:
Anthony Cheetham has stepped down from his role as executive chairman of independent publisher Quercus after two years in the position, taking up a non-executive role within the firm. Quercus has also said it is looking to raise £1.75m of additional funds from existing shareholders.

Cheetham will remain “a significant shareholder”, owning some 9.84% of company equity. Cheetham said: “The group has seen transformational growth since flotation in October 2006 and I’m confident that we have a strong team in place to continue to drive the group’s strategic vision.”

Taking on the role of non-executive chairman was, he said, “a natural progression to ensure a stable transition into the next stage of group development”.

Mark Smith, chief executive of Quercus, said Cheetham would be “focusing more on the future strategy of the company, and the overall look of the publishing programme”.
More on Quercus Publishing’s effort to raise additional cash comes by way of Marketwire.

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