tv Salman Rushdie Languages of Truth CSPAN January 24, 2022 7:03am-7:53am EST
the job of a diplomat is you you carry out the instructions produced by a democratic. until the day comes when you can't and then you got to go and so i went and i didn't write about it until after i left office, but after i left office i did write about because i thought people don't even know this is happening. this is steven miller operating in the dark whispering in the presidency year. and people don't know and i got the word out and there was a fair amount of media and four members of congress the california in california republicans lost their jobs in in districts that were heavily vietnamese american so i don't think people did like what the administration was doing in secret, but it took bringing it out into the open right and there there's in ted's book. there's a wonderful description of your visit to the i gather your one and only visit to the oval office in the trump white
house and it is it's a humdinger so i won't spoil that one, but i would say it's worth buying ted's book just to read that and so here's some of the things that the president of the united states said in your in unbelievable or perhaps not unbelievable, but that's that. i don't want a spoiler alert. i'm not going i won't spoil it. so you have to buy the book. so what did happen? i mean how many of i tried to figure this out google this yesterday and i didn't get very far how many vietnamese were deported ultimately. do you have any idea i have not been able to get that answer i've continued to ask i believe that it slowed down to a trickle. it looked like that. i don't think it has ever stopped 100% yeah, because the there's the other problem with the deep state once you're once you've turned that ship in particular direction, it's hard to turn it back right, but i think it's slowed down to a very very tiny number. that's what it looked like the last date i saw was 2018 and it
there was still numbers in the teens sort of yes, and i submitted a bunch of statements. i have people and some of the we managed legal especially lawyers working pro bono. yeah, we're able to stop some of the deportes. it's interesting because you don't make the connection in your book, but i'm fascinated by all the times that you spoke with the vietnamese community in the united states, you know, who didn't approve of the the new government of vietnam and then what you actually did to support them. i mean, i you just love vietnam and vietnamese people. well the other the final thing i want to ask and i know that we have a bunch of questions out. there is i am fascinated by your your activism on this topic and also on gay and lesbian rights, and you founded gleefa. i didn't know that's how we pronounced it. i wasn't sure back when well, you could you certainly couldn't be appointed an ambassador. if you were gay you would lose your security clearance. yeah, and that's recently as recently as what the 880s right
or yeah is recently is the 80. no actually until the second term of bill clinton, right? so mid 90s, right? yeah, so we founded glyph i met my husband through glyphos. so a good things came with our organization, but also we changed part we managed to change policy in the state department. so i have friends who were in the audience who will remember that i never hid who i was but i certainly didn't really i don't really want them to find out we the membership list of our organization. we kept secret because we knew that if diplomatic security found it it all lose our security clearances and lose the ability to operate and we had a very simple goal. we we wanted non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and that did finally happen at the end of bill clinton's first term in office. so that's not that long ago. think about it, but at that time, no you couldn't possibly imagine an out gay person
becoming an ambassador. yeah flash forward. i had you know, i had some delays in my confirmation, but nothing that had to do with my sexual orientation. it's just not an issue. i spoke vietnamese. i was qualified and and i went through and a few months after we've been there for a few months. and the supreme court made the decision of the overgraphical decision that made we've been married in canada, but made our marriage legal can all 50 states and at that moment i got a letter from ruth bader ginsburg who said i want to come to vietnam. can i stay with you bet? yes, please. come stay with us and she did
and a friend of mine said well, why don't you ask her to renew your vaps and we've been married for 10 years at that point and i thought well that so hotspot, but i asked her and she said sure i will do that. so she renewed our vows in the living room of the residents and we had our children by that they were there were still little they were they were one and two and man so much we had thought about it as kind of a political gesture to show young people in vietnam. you can have a family in a job and you can be gay you can be yourself and it turned out it was really meaningful to us because you know, we had these children and we knew what marriage meant at that point by then. we really understood what what marriage meant and our children are kind of living proof. we know the responsibilities of of and so it was very powerful powerful for us. you tell a wonderful there's a
whole set of stories about being an ambassadorial charm school, which i didn't know existed, but that's worth reading about too and the director of fsi asked you do you want to be known as the gay ambassador or would you rather be considered the best ambassador? and how did you how did you answer that? what how did yeah. well, and i had to think about it pretty quickly because the first a few months later. i was going to land and you know this very conservative society. so i thought well i don't know how this is going to work out, but i'm going to be me because that's all i know how to do and so we i did a video where i didn't entirely in vietnamese where i introduced myself and my family to the people of vietnam and it kind of went viral one because i spoke vietnamese and two because our son was really really cute and so that video went all over the place and then when we arrived the first
picture that the vietnamese people saw was me with my african-american husband and my my a then 85 year old mother and our toddler child, and i think that helped because we were a three generational family. and that was something to vietnamese could relate to won't zaiden batehe a three generational family because that's what you want to have in a in a home. and so people related to that and the fact that we were gay. i don't think ended up making much of a difference that there were we were just we were welcome. we were really welcome even in that very conservative society although it made a huge difference to a number of young gay and lesbian vietnamese. it did. yeah. yeah. well, i've dominated i got moderators privilege here, and i know we have questions from the floor and we also have some questions from the zoom audience if first priority goes to those of you who came here if you have a question, would you step up to the microphone please you mean
we need to record this for posterity and please say your name and who you are just so we you from? hello ambassador. so thank you very much for what you have done to. countries and then my name is the big chun from the university of antwa and i also a junk fellow at the csis service asia program. so, you know in your book you wrote that the you know, the the content of the us vietnam partnership already strategic. it's not just in the name yet and then you know the vietnamese ambassador to the united states are giving up also said that's the real terms already, but you know still in in the you know within the relationship which in the united states and vietnam then or strategic partnership is still a higher level than a comprehensive charge to the
partnership. so my question is that in your view, you know in the future when the two countries, you know actually upgrade their relationship to strategic partnership then how will it look like, especially in defense corporation and intelligent shar. thank you. thank you. thanks very much. so my view is that the vietnamese have been quite practical and it's kind of like lin futon going to beijing before we went to the oval office. they know they have to balance relations with us with relations with the 800 pound. gorilla the nation of one point two billion on their northern border with which they've had so many wars including recent one in the 19, you know, 1979's and 1991 people forget thousands of people died every year during that border war so they know how much pain china can inflict on that. and the change in name of that partnership would cause all
kinds of pain and it wouldn't get them anything because we already have a strategic partnership. how come up is absolutely right? it's already strategic we are doing they're doing more on in the military realm with us than with any other nation by a long shot. they we're their number one export market the you know, the numbers are all going up in terms of our engagement with vietnam. so the strategic partnership already exists just doesn't have that name because it would cost so much trouble to their north. so i think that the relationship going forward. has no real ceiling. there's no limit to what is possible in this relationship, but it has to it has a pace. and they can't surge too fast because it will cause vietnam a lot of problems. and you know, they they want they're going to limit they're going to keep it going at a kind of moderate pace. so for example the aircraft
carriers every other year now, that was unthinkable when it first happened a visit to danang by an us aircraft carrier 5,000 sailors coming to board that hadn't happened since the war but we made that happen and there will be more every other year, but they won't do it too fast because it would cause huge problems. so my view is it'll keep going and just add a moderate pace. thank you. my name is jim bullock. i'm a retired pd officer and read about the same time. i joined the service i married a french woman and she had an uncle who actually had been a captive at the nbn foo and so going back to paris a lot over all the years lots of vietnamese in france now. i'm just curious if you maybe you didn't treat that maybe that's all you know before the vietnam war. i didn't reality but i'm just kind of curious about comparing contrast. we try to spend as pd officers. we try to get libraries open in english teaching. well the french had french
libraries it and the military back when i was in you know in the military they were teaching us to learn french to go to vietnam not vietnamese was a lot easier for one thing, but just maybe any observations at all. what did we do right that the french didn't the french laws to war the french had tremendous soft power investment. they had all kind of opportunities they could have built on. but they didn't just maybe some observations. well, i i write about dnb. to in the book because i feel like it's such a pivotal moment that i do a kind of a flashback to understand to explain a little bit. what kind of vietnamese thinking there is because i think it helps us to understand what what followed the the language of french has pretty much disappeared from vietnam and that was so that was so critical to the french that exporting the language. they're still people eat ban me with the bond is the word for bread and they you know, they're
still vestiges but only only very elderly people tend to speak french every young person. wants to speak english. i mean you find that everywhere. i think what one of the things we did is. you know, we're the center of entrepreneurship entrepreneurship is valued in vietnam very much and it is it's a one of our exports. so i think the fact that we kind of stand for entrepreneurship and dynamism and energy has has what has helped us the most and then i think the internet there's been much more interest in young people among young people in vietnam in learning about the united states and other parts of the world, but first of all, the united states through the internet and the vietnamese made a vietnamese leadership made a decision early on well, let's not do what the chinese did and we're not going to put up a great firewall.
so the internet has flourished businesses have flourished on the internet facebook their 70 million people on facebook in in a country of a hundred million. and so i feel like our culture has been exported through multiple means now we do also have done a lot in the field of education, which i'm really proud of so our moocs we would do these massive online courses through the american centers and in hanoi and in saigon, which we're always crazily over subscribed entrepreneurship was one of the top subjects that that people wanted to learn. so i think we've done a lot of things right in public in the world of public diplomacy. i'd like to see us keep moving forward in terms of technology in it. i'll just one quick digression but in indonesia, we created something called ad america, which is this very dynamic hip space where we use a lot of technology to bring people
together and that has flourished. in indonesia, the world's largest muslim majority nation we could do something like that. it doesn't cost that much we could do that in other countries, and i think it would be very very impactful. so we need to keep updating our tools. so we just did well the french says yeah, well, i think there are. i think they also their time as colonial power. they weren't all that interested. they talked about mission civil latrice, but they weren't really all that interested in raising up the people of vietnam creating opportunities for the people of vietnam. they were much more interested in what they could that what they could take back. yeah. i'm done with i'm the four year which the student in economics at job mason and answer. i answer received the master
public policy from vietnam from the right school. and i just have simple question for you. just what make you feel the most beautiful. when you left vietnam the most what beautiful? beautiful beautiful beautiful. yeah pitiful well, i think there were things we didn't do fast enough. so the things that maybe things i like things i regret. because i don't think i don't think anything in vietnam is pitiful. i think i was quite magnificent. i love it, but i do have some regrets. we were too slow to clean up agent orange. that's probably my biggest regret. i did all i could as ambassador to keep moving things forward, but there are people there were people until quite recently. families living in places where the water was soaked with dioxin still eating fish out of out of
rivers where dioxin had entered into the flesh of those fish. he actually got a question about that on the and hold it. yeah from charles bailey who writes reconciliation is about people in the vietnamese are still deeply concerned about their victims of agent orange the us does provide health and disability assistance to disabled vietnamese in areas that were heavily sprayed with agent orange, but it's described as regardless of cause is there any way to reconcile this disconnect between viet? is feelings about the heavy impact of agent orange and the us helpful, but hesitant approach what to the vietnamese think about the way ahead. so charles is my hero. he he took. talk about taking risks. he took huge risks in order to expose the truth about agent orange he invested in sound science to show where the hot spots were. and and because of charles's work and because the work of the
ford foundation and later he went to the aspen institute. the united states had had to kind of finally fess up and deal with the consequences of agent orange. not only among our veterans but in vietnam as well, we haven't finished and he's total the premise of the question is absolutely right. we haven't finished what i was telling this gentleman about is that there was a place it was there were places off of beyondhua. airfield which was the third and largest of the hotspots that charles researched where people until recently were still living and eating and kids were playing in and being exposed to daxton and dax and once it gets in your system. it's not only there forever for you, but for your children your grandchildren and we now think to the fourth generation, so those kids that i saw where we hadn't cleaned up yet.
they were condemned and their families were condemned. so it hurt, you know, because we were so so slow because of bureaucratics more than anything else. we didn't have enough money to do it. all using usaid funds we needed money from dod to clean up the mess that the military had created and it took a long time and it took people like charles it took patrick leahy tim reser it took other people who were just determined that we do the right thing who just didn't let go and charles didn't never never has let go and what he has been arguing. is that okay? so now we're finally in the stages where we're finishing the cleanup so they don't have to be more victims. but what about all those people? who are lives are already greatly curtailed by their exposure to agent orange. don't we have a responsibility there? and we do the bottom line is we do and we have focused our
assistance in places that were most heavily sprayed. but we have also limited now. i think there's another part of the question where he said what do you need to do to kind of reconcile the two views and i think sound science is best. it was sound science that led us to to clean up. the dacsin that still existed in the three hotspots and i think sound research and science will show that actually not all the birth defects in vietnam result of agent agent orange there. there's a high incidence of birth defects in vietnam and some of the birth defectors result of age in orange, but not all and there's been a tendency to lump. you know, it's everybody who has a birth defect got it because of the americans. well, that's not accurate. and i think it's better to make decisions based on science when people said if you don't there's
there's unexploded ordinance lettering the entire country. there's no way you can go in vietnam where there isn't time to explode ordinance. well, that's not true. there are places where it's concentrated and where you have to work very hard to make to make sure that it is cleaned up and that's in train. and there isn't agent orange everywhere their age. there's agent orange in these hotspots if you were. ignore science and say it's soaking the fields in the produce everywhere. well, how would vietnam ever turn around but if you focus on where it actually is and where people have actually been affected then you can do something about it. so i i like science-based decision making thank you. hi, my name is farrell latif. i'm a research fellow at the center for public affairs the george mason university and well, thank you for your wonderful discussion and
wonderful storytelling. i've many questions, but i've boiled them down to two first time wondering about building trust you talk about building trust with vietnamese and trust is a two-way process. so i'm wondering if you can tell us a little bit about what did you experience? and what did the vietnamese do to earn your trust? and my second question is a little different and it's about whether you have any lessons for us china relationship from your experience with vietnam. thank you. thanks very much. answer your first question in a slightly different way not about what they did to earn my trust but what vietnamese did to earn the trust of namely ebook yet vietnamese americans because i think that's really important. there's still a lot of mistrust
between that community and the nation of especially the leadership of vietnam. so there's a cemetery out near this this base the bianwai former bianca. airbase is called bien hoi cemetery and a lot of people who fought for the south are buried in that cemetery. and when i arrived it was a mess there were tree roots growing through the graves and sometimes when it rained really heavily the graves would wash away they weren't being honored and in vietnamese tradition, it's really important to honor the dead and be able to go back to where they've been. buried and pay respects and so i went to leadership in hanoi and said what about letting this american ngo? clean up this cemetery it will build a lot of trust that will
allow vietnamese who suffer great vietnamese americans except for great losses to feel more trust if you do that isn't just about money. it isn't just about welcoming and welcoming american investment. it's also about building trust and the first answer i got was that's really really difficult. so but i am pretty stubborn and i went back and i went to the chairman of benzung province where it's located and i said listen, we're investing your province. we're doing everything i kept the real reason. i came to see you chairman. is that cemetery? what about just letting them chop some cut some tree roots and dig some ditches. that's all it is not flags not symbols. not this, you know, the people who lost in the people who won just ditches and tree roots. he said let me see what i can do. and so he didn't say no. he obviously consulted with an ori because this was this was sensitive. this is the losing side. think about our civil war. now. look how long we're still not
over it and it took us very very long time before we were able to honor those who were lost on the losing side. well hanoi isn't so different. but they let it happen. i got a friend told me a few months after i left. they've dug the ditches and they've cut down the trees and they trimmed the tree roots, and those people are honored. that's another wonderful. that's trust light motif in the book. i'm so sorry. we're actually out of time. so in china, that's a huge answer good question. huge answer. i apologize to the people online. i sort of been ignoring you but them and and perhaps you can ask your question once we're done, but we do need to end. it has been such a pleasure and this book is really wonderful and it's for sale out there and that is willing to stay around and sign it and so let's all thank ambassador ocs for this really wonder. thank you. thanks for those online. thank you. thank you very much.
here's a look at the list >> here's a look at the list of bestng selling nonfiction books according to the los angeles times. topping the list is crying in h mark follow by university of houston professor renee brown's atlas of the heart about making meaningful human connections. following thatg is creator of e 1619 project, nicole hannah jones' look at american history and slavery's legacy in present-day america. then it's my body. emily ratajkowski's thoughts on feminism and if beauty. and wrapping up our look at the best selling nonfiction books is comedian mel brooks' memoir, all about me. some of these authors have appeared on booktv, and you can watch their programs anytime at booktv.org. ♪ ♪ >> weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america's stories. and on sundays, booktv brings
you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from these television companies and more,or including mitgo. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> midco, along with these television companies, supports c-span2 as a public service. ♪ >> on "about books," we delve into the latest news about the publishing industry with interesting insider interview is the. we'll also give you updates on current nonfiction a authors and books, the latest book reviews, and we'll talk about the current nonfiction books featured on c-span's booktv.
and welcome to the "about books "podcast and p program. in this episode, it's an update on what's going on in the plushing -- publishing world and a look at new books being published. we'll also introduce you to keith urbahn, president of a literaryct agency, and we'll fid out exactly what that is and what he does. but first, let's start with this publishing industry news. now, a recent axios report looks at the rise and challenge to ban books in public school libraries. according to the american library association, there were over 300 challenges to books in school libraries in just three months last year. 156 challenges in all of 2020 now one of the most targeted titles has been alex gino's novel about a transgender girl. it's entitled george. retired texas librarian carolyn foote told axios quote we might
have one big challenge like every two years i have to say that what we are seeing is really unprecedented. also in the news hunter biden's ex-wife is writing about her life. and the end of her marriage due to what she says was mr. biden's substance abuse and infidelity. the book is entitled if we break it's being published by crown and will be available in june. also in the news author and critic terry teachout died recently at the age of 65. was a regular theater and arts columnist for the wall street journal and he was also the author of numerous books including biographies of hl menken louis armstrong and duke ellington. and in more news former attorney general william barr is publishing a memoir of his time as attorney general in both the trump and george h.w. bush administrations its title. one -- thing after another and it will be on sale, march 8th.
now according to the npd book scan print book sales got off to a rocky start for the new year down close to 14% for the week ending january 8th. now this could be a post holiday slump a reminder that 40% of all books are sold during the holiday period well, what do donald rumsfeld senator tom cotton donna brazil and john boehner all have in common. we'll give you one answer and that's that. they've all worked with the javelin literary agency here in washington dc the president of that organization joins us now on about books keith urban, mr. urban. when did you start javelin and is it fair to call it a literary agency at this point? it is peter. we're one of the litter agencies here in dc. we started at my partner matt latimer and i did 10 years ago just over that we celebrated at
our 10th anniversary. last fall and we've been we love what we do and it's fun to to work with authors. some of them you named i think we've worked with about 150 authors at this point in 10 years and i like to think we have the funnest job in washington dc with just all the conversations. we have all the intelligence we're hearing. it's just it's a it's a fun job to be at the intersection of publishing and media and politics. it's it's a joy. well, mr. urban, what does a literary agent do? well, we are well an unsharable way of putting it would be mercenaries where sort of the middlemen between authors and publishers and we try to get our authors the best possible deal which is usually in the form of an advance from from publishers and and you know, most of them are based in new york the publishers. they're five big ones harper collins simon schuster mcmillan
shett and we work to work with our authors to come up with book proposals. basically the ideas for books and then we go out and sell them and you know, what makes us a little different as agents from a lot of people in the industry is you know, my background as you alluded to is as a writer has a pentagon speechwriter for a number of years as well as my partners a speech writer as well. as well as for the president and you know, so we work with our authors to sort of come up with book ideas and help sharpen those ideas to move to the most commercial. idea possible and we work with them to help in some cases help from write the book and then we have a whole in-house publicity team that works with our authors and the the publishers get the word out about those. books that we're pretty aggressive and if we work with us, you know chances are you'll read about it or hear about it somewhere in the media including on c-span as many of our authors have done over the years. so isn't that something though
that a publisher does as well? you know it is i do think you know in prickly in this day and age editors are overworked a lot of them are editing 20 30 books a year and 20 30 books a year and you know publicity teams are overworked. so i think it helps our authors to have that additional support both on the editorial side as well as with publicity and you know being in washington and working with a lot of journalists. i think, you know we tend to be trusted with with you know, some of the most interesting books and and exclusive interviews. and so when we we work with our authors, we really try to pull out all the stops to make sure that you know, that book is is received well and heard about you know, i think a complaint you'll hear from many who've written books over the last decade is that there's there's not enough support given by publishers to to the publicity side of it as well as to the editorial. and so i think just having those extra sets of eyes and hands to
help support author ends up making a big difference. so we try to do that as a value add and javelin. well keith urban one of the truth i think about the publishing industry is that it's 80% left of center and you don't come at it from that. point of view, is that correct? well, you know, i i try to be my politics out of it. i mean, it's that i worked in. republican politics for a number of years defense department and the united states senate, but you know i work with authors left right center. and you know, i view my job as being their advocate and i don't have to agree with all my authors 100% of the time and i think you know, we're an agency that supports free expression and you know works with a wide range of authors. and so, you know, i try to leave my my politics outside of it whenever i'm working with an author i think for for some of our authors on the left one who
are democrats. i think it helps sometimes to anticipate some of the questions and you know objections that they might get from the right and conversely working with conservatives. and and which is you know, where we started. our company we work with a lot of conservatives. we were one of the only agencies in the business that was working with folks at a republican politics and since then we've grown and really work with with all sides. well some of the best journalists in the world which were really proud to do. have you ever turned down an author? yes many times in fact we do it. you know, i'm for many reasons. sometimes it's because it's you know politics but more often, you know, just business of being an agent is that you know, we get, you know, probably dozen to 20 proposals a week and very rarely do end up taking them on you know it. and there are lots of reasons to do that, but we end up saying no far far more than we say. yes.
keith urban one of the high-profile authors that you did represent after he was fired from the fbi was james comey. what was that process like well, james, comey is one of the the first major authors in in sort of the political sphere who was not coming out of republican or conservative circles. so he was in many ways of a formative client for us. we pitched him out of a blue and my partner really deserves the credit for that and you know after a couple email exchanges where he insisted that he wouldn't wasn't interested in writing a book. we were able to get it in person meeting and you know, i think we're able to convince him that getting his side of the story out. there would be a real service of the country and a real service to history and a higher loyalty ended up being a number one new york times bestseller for for weeks on end and one of the best-selling political books of the last decade and you know it
was it was a privilege to work with him. he's he's a great man. how much editorial input did you have into his book? like like a lot of authors, we work pretty hands-on with him and he delivered a complete first draft about the help of any writer or collaborator, which is pretty rare for someone who's been in public office that long. he's a lawyer so he actually was quite a gifted writer, but i think as he would tell you we spent some time with him. reorganizing is mostly structural helping him pull out of a narrative. showing more than telling and we work with him over, you know, probably two three weeks just crashing on that manuscript and getting it to the best possible shape and making sure that that sort of the storytelling really really shine through and i think you know the success of that book reviews of the book for that out. i'm proud of i'm proud of i'm really proud of that. mr. urban profiles have been
written about javelin and yourself and matt latimer in the washingtonian the new york times magazine and the word ghost writer has come up in both of those profiles. is that something that javelin offers to its clients you know, i would say for some of our authors they do end up hiring ghost writers. back when we started we really did a lot more of that in-house meaning, you know offer that editorial support, you know, our business has grown so much over the last decade that we rarely do that anymore. you know, we have a stable of writers and researchers that we work with and connect authors with but yeah, i mean, it's it's not surprising that you know folks that have been in public office or ceos need writing assistants from time to time a lot of books. are that way and i think as long as you disclose that and the acknowledgments and say you know
how a book was produced. it's it's well about board and so, you know a javelin our jobs produced the best possible book and for people who aren't born writers or you know storytellers. sometimes it helps to bring in some some editorial support whether that's in the form of a full ghost writer or collaborator or an editorial assistant extra set of eyes. mr. urban you were quoted in the new york times profile as saying books still have a cultural weight what were you referring to? well, i think there's something important about holding a book and a physical book and for you know a long time. um in the mid-2000s. there were a lot of obituaries written from publishing industry ebooks are going to take over and you know, the physical print book is dead. and i don't think that's true. it's certainly not been born on our experience and i i think you know when you when you have a
book and and meaning 60 hundred thousand words printed between two bound covers it conveys authority it conveys gravitas allows you to go out and talk to media do podcasts and you know, i think sometimes the the medium through which you people hear about books and learn about books and decide to buy a book changes over time. i think publishing um in terms of the traditional book industry is strong certainly the covid era has borne that out. i think you know the publishing industry profits are up people or left with more times of time on their hands and and reading at home more than they have been before so i think publishing's far from that. i think it's working they may be for some years in the future. has technology changed the
publisher author agent? publicity model in the last couple of years i don't think technology or anything a publishing is really changed. you know, how important publicity is again? i think you know podcasts are you know now a very good vehicle and sort of the long form interview as opposed to you know the network morning shows or some of the ways that you know, 10 20 years ago were really a primary vehicles to to book publicity and i think now there are a lot more avenues to getting worn out about a book than there were before and i think some of them are very successful. i will say one thing that's changed sort of technology-wise in publishing is sort of the advent of ebooks and instantly downloadable on your iphone into your car being able to hear an author read a book as opposed to you know, you sitting down in a
chair and and i on a kindle or or physical copy the explosion and audiobooks has been something that's that's been don't think a lot of people were predicting a decade ago. keith urban here in washington, we've all been exposed to the to the revelation to the newspaper article in the washington post or somewhere. that's an excerpt from a book. how important is that revelation that shock moment in a book? you know, it depends on the kind of book if you know, we would do a lot of history do a lot of pop science. what do things outside of politics that don't need a big flashy excerpt or you know, a push notification via the washington post that this bombshell book is now out or you know something on the drudge report. i think it's more important for political books to have that kind of coverage and sort of sequencing, you know a publicity campaign, so that parts of the book come out, you know when the
author and and when the publisher wants it to rather than having it leak out which happens, you know particularly on these highly anticipated political books, you know oftentimes the guardian will get a copy early and and sort of discord all the contents all the the newsy tidbits out there and when that happens i think it you know, authors aren't generally happy so we try to get ahead of that and plan in advance working with different reporters and journalists who are interested in subject matter to to get the book out and point them to passages that they'll find interesting and that that, you know, a general audience will find interesting. so i think think it's very important that you there's sort of strategic rollout and that you know, that media is a big part. well, i'm glad you mentioned the guardian because it does seem that the guardian newspaper out of london. gets advanced copies of a lot of these books and can excerpt them and bring the shock value to
light. how do you think that happens? you know, i don't know someone did a profile of i think the journalist who gets a lot of them and you know, it's anyone's guess as to how the guardian gets advanced copies, but i know it's a it's a big thorn in the backside of publishers. and you know, we plan we plan rollouts around it and we try to game out when we think the guardian is going to get an advanced copy and and you know, sometimes we work that into our plan. sometimes we try to preempt it. but you know, it's it's a big mystery. i don't know but kudos to them they obviously have you know a system that that works publishers work really hard in some cases like we did in with the comey book. we kept it under lock and key for weeks and we were able to hold that secret, you know a long time up until the thursday friday before publications. so four days before and we you if a book is contains truly
explosive material publishers will go to extreme lights to make sure that you know, the embargo holds as long as possible and that folks like the guardian. don't get it two weeks early, which sometimes they do keith urban. i want to ask you a question about putting an author on tour here at book tv we get most every nonfiction author that you can possibly imagine. we find an event or an interview or something. but with president biden's book prior to running for office promises to keep. we could not get an event because it was being sponsored by live nation and they would not let cameras in. is this a new model? you know, i think it's been a model that's been tried. i know president biden with that book, you know, he partnered with, you know, meet a big sort of corporate deal with live
nation to do book events around the country. i don't know. how successful it was from a profits perspective. i think they're competing interests with with a book rollout. i'm sure that um, you know, that reality was frustrating to the the publisher of that book not being able to do, you know an event a broadcast event with book tv which in our experience and i think in pretty much everyone's experience one of the tried and true to reach a book buying audience in any in any form of media and i think you know, i i think that was sort of more of a one-off. i i think in the covid era sort of that live events business has taken a big hit and may come back in the future as we start to do more and more things in person again, but i have not, you know, i've not heard of a lot of examples in the last two three years of you know, sort of as book selling opportunities be a big part of the business.
i think of anything. it's the client substantially. has the pandemic. hurt authors trying to get out on tour. i think it is. it's the pandemic has certainly changed the way authors promote books and where we used to do 10 15 city tours around the country and you know bundle 500,000 books in each event that hasn't happened. and so i think it's put more of a premium on earned media and doing you know, sort of more remote interviews to reach audiences, you know, there was a period early on the pandemic when people were doing you know, book events by zoom and i think enthusiasm for those quickly waned that's did not end up be particularly successful for authors and selling books. so, you know, i'd say in the last six months. you know since the summer i think. omicron has has changed it and people are dow back the
in-person events again, but i'm not sure that that's gonna continue. we'll see but i do think just not not being able able to go out and be with an audience speaking in person. it's been harder, but people are still able to find books. you know, it's you know, i think the pandemic has certainly cemented amazon's, you know status as the dominant player in terms of retail sales and people being able to with a click of a button have books delivered to their doorstep. that's just how people buy books these days and it's a reality of life in 2022 keith urban. what are the advantages and perhaps disadvantages of being located in washington and not the publishing center of the world, new york city? wow, that's a good question. i mean i think this was an underserved market before we started. you know start a javelin in terms of just america has a fascination with politics and what goes on in the city and you
know, i think we've been able part of the reason we've been successful is we've tapped into that and work with authors who have interesting things to say that people want to hear and so there was i think avoid here in terms of publishing and helping authors think through books before we started certainly there's some some good agents in dc, but i think we've helped sort of tell the story of journalists and political figures and people here. i think one of the limits is, you know, a lot of our colleagues who are editors that we work day to day. they are in new york, although for the last two years very few of them have even been back in their offices. so they're all working remote and you know, we would travel up to new york every month to do author meetings, you know, pre-pandemic and we haven't we haven't done that since we haven't we haven't needed to you since everyone sort of working remotely and publishing succeeded in you know, making the remote
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