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From iUniverse to NYT bestseller

Posted by Jan Gardner  January 22, 2009 11:30 AM

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A local author is Exhibit A in Time magazine's story about the state of book publishing. Lisa Genova self-published her novel, "Still Alice" in 2007 because she couldn't even get an agent, never mind a publisher. Simon & Schuster subsequently paid her just over half a million dollars and it came out in hardcover earlier this month, debuting on the New York Times bestseller list this coming Sunday. Genova, a health-care industry consultant, has a Ph.D in neuroscience from Harvard. Her novel is the story of a woman's descent into early Alzheimer's.

A lot of what Lev Grossman has to say in Time isn't new for anyone who follows book publishing: Shipping books back and forth between publisher and bookstore and offering full refunds for unsold books isn't a very reasonable way to do business anymore, if it ever was. Self-publishing has shifted to somewhat of a try-out for a contract with a mainstream publisher. It's democratized the business a bit, shifted the balance of power a little, and you can bet more changes are on the way.

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About off the shelf News about books, authors, and publishers from The Boston Globe.
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Nicole Lamy is editor of the Globe's Books section.
Jan Gardner writes the "Shelf Life" column for the Globe's Books section.
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