10:00 am London Book Fair
A recap of the action at the London Book Fair, where attendance was down significantly due to the cloud of volcanic ash that grounded air traffic throughout Europe. Organizers offer an upbeat assessment, saying that most attendees found the steady background thrum of crickets a refreshing change from the usual din and bustle of productive activity. For many fairgoers, lower attendance just meant more room for swinging dead cats, and at least one publisher's rep enthused about the thrill of witnessing cobwebs form right before his eyes. The firing of a cannon through a thinly populated exhibitor hall was so well received that it may become a regular feature of the fair whenever it is disrupted by a cataclysmic natural disaster. Despite the low turnout, however, business was conducted: the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which generated by far the most buzz on the show floor, landed a seven-figure deal for a memoir that will cover its early days as a steam-venting fumarole right through to its headline-making eruption.
4:00 pm Recipe for Disaster
A discussion of the furor over an Australian cookbook that features a recipe calling for "salt and freshly ground black people." The publisher of the book, The Pasta Bible, calls it a proofreading gaffe and says, "Obviously, for health reasons we don't recommend adding salt to your food." Critics claim that the book not only suggests using ground black people as an ingredient, but even names specific individuals who should be added to certain dishes, including Basil, Rosemary, Ginger, and a mysterious woman called Nutmeg. Fearful that the book may spark an outbreak of cannibalism, authorities are scouring other cookbooks on the publisher's backlist, taking a hard look at recipes for such fare as finger sandwiches, baby food, and spotted dick.
11:00 am Danielle Steal
A conversation with the team that successfully prosecuted Danielle Steel's former assistant for embezzling $760,000 from the bestselling author. Steel paid $200,000 a year to the part-time employee, who apparently still had trouble making ends meet (if "making ends meet" is understood to mean "acquiring assets exceeding those of Scrooge McDuck"). According to the Associated Press, the woman admitted to "depositing numerous checks made out to 'cash' in her own bank account, using the author's credit card rewards points and paying herself more than her salary." Steel also reports that all her Monopoly money is missing. "Danielle Steel got off easy," one prosecutor says. "Embezzling huge amounts of money from an employer is often a gateway crime to other offenses, like stealing office supplies."
2:00 pm Shore Thing
The editor who acquired Never Fall in Love at the Jersey Shore, a forthcoming how-to guide by "Jersey Shore" cast mates J-WOWW and Ronnie, talks about the challenge of publishing a book written by people who've never read a book. "It took us a while to explain to them what books are why they shouldn't be used as chew toys," he says. "They got really excited about the project when they realized that 'reader' rhymes with 'guido,' sort of." The book will be featured in an upcoming episode of the show when a copy is given to a drunk at a boardwalk bar and he smashes Snooki in the face with it.
Follow Laurence Hughes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BookFlack