The LOOP Print Emailer

Published: Thu 11 May 2000 05:16 PM
The LOOP Print Emailer
11 May 2000
Two new books by big players in the 1996 JonBenet Ramsay murder case are struggling to convince the public of the 'truth' in the mystery of who killed the 6-year-old beauty queen. Authorities have failed to find a killer but say her parents remain ''under an umbrella of suspicion''.
In JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, published in the States last week, former detective Steve Thomas theorises that Patsy Ramsey strangled her injured daughter in panic, after accidentally hitting her too hard following a bed-wetting accident. Thomas was the lead detective in the case before quitting in disgust in 1998, saying the case was being mishandled by police and the district attorney's office.
The Ramseys' book, The Death of Innocence: The Untold Story of JonBenet's Murder and How Its Exploitation Compromised the Pursuit of Truth, was published last month. The couple speculate that their daughter was killed by a pedophile, probably during a botched kidnap attempt. Naturally, they maintain their innocence. Their recently aired TV interview with ABC's Barbara Walters caused a major stir in the States, especially when they offered to take lie detector tests - an offer they have now dropped. The book is now No. 7 on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Adding fuel to the fire, the Ramseys have filed law suits against both Time Warner and the New York Post, over reports that JonBenet's brother was a suspect. Burke Ramsey was 9 at the time of the killing.
The suits concern a May 1999 story in the Star supermarket tabloid alleging that authorities suspected the murderer was the Ramseys' son. They seek $4 million from each defendant, for allegedly not attempting to contact the district attorney's office to find out if the tabloid report was true before publishing its own version of the story.
The suit alleges that Time Warner libeled Burke with the headline 'Extra: Tabloid solves JonBenet Case! Star magazine reports that police now think the brother did it. Don't laugh.' The report was published on, and is still available online.
Microsoft has signed an agreement with Lightning Source, a firm that stores electronic books, that will broaden Microsoft's reach in the electronic book market. The deal makes Lightning Source's electronic versions compatible with the Microsoft Reader, software that is targeted at a range of handheld devices. Such software would allow it to compete in the electronic book market with devices like the Rocket eBook. "It represents another avenue for publishers to get their books out," a spokesman for Lightning Source spokesman said
In the time it takes to drink a cup of bad cappuccino, American customers can order a book and have it in their hands, fresh off the press at the publisher's recommended retail. A customer seeking a single book can get it, or just parts of it, printed and bound in about 15 minutes on advanced, high-speed equipment. Barnes & Noble and both offer a print-on-demand service. Printing a single book or even a few dozen at a time could be a huge boon to the New Zealand publishing industry, keeping older titles alive and allowing books with a traditionally small market (poetry, specialist non-fiction) the opportunity to make money on print runs off 5 or 10 books. American industry watchers have warned it could harm authors however, since publishers would be able to hold on to book rights indefinitely rather than reverting them to authors when sales dry up.
Feminist author Germaine Greer says she is "alive and well," following an attack a fortnight ago. A 19-year-old student from Bath university has been arrested and charged with unlawful imprisonment and causing actual bodily harm. Greer, an English professor at England's Warwick University, was on the way to a dinner when she was confronted by a female student. She was tied up, had her glasses smashed and ornaments in her house were broken. Greer is one of the most influential feminists of her generation. Her 1970 book The Female Eunuch revolutionised the lives of millions of women around the world, and last year's sequel The Whole Woman stated: "It's time to get angry again."
The Underwater Melon Man and Other Unreasonable Rhymes was published late last year, a quality hardback book for children featuring brilliant illustrations and lively text accompanied by a CD of 25 related songs. The short songs (none over two and a half minutes) cover vast musical turf in style and execution, and feature a galaxy of Kiwi stars: Dave Dobbyn, Neil Finn, Tim Finn, Che Fu, King Kapisi, Bic and Boh Runga, Nathan Haines, Don McGlashan... all reeled in through good connections and an attraction to the evident strength of the compositions.
With Saatchi & Saatchi typography design guru Len Cheeseman on the (book)case, along with the image manipulation princes at Megalith, the working process was very successful. It prompted a new Flaws motto: "Be your own client, and surround yourself with experts." It worked. "I'm a great client... I'd be going 'fantastic', letting them be experts, not like in commerce and advertising where it all gets compromised... We had a hell of a good time."
Project completed, Flaws went looking for a publisher with what he thought was a hot property, and pretty definite ideas about what he wanted: a quality job, hardback, big print run. Reality check: "Everyone loved it - but no one wanted to publish it."
Despite professing admiration for the project, the common response was "we can't make it work". Even the company that looked at a run of 6000 soft-covers pulled back. "They couldn't make it stack up."
So Flaws used his Seatoun home as security, borrowed the money, organised a print broker and went for it: printing nearly 20,000 copies in a market where selling out a print run a tenth that size is considered a hit. Everyone looked askance. Then Whitcoulls took a huge order, the pre-Christmas sales kicked in, and now he's sold 14,000 copies. There's also the prospect of Australian and US editions. An American deal could mean a print run of up to 50,000 copies, which would suddenly bump Monkey Biz into a whole new league.
Flaws knows that something from all this great stuff will strike gold with publishers and record companies in the States, even though he's coming up against blinkered marketers unused to the CD/book concept. "They ask, is it a book with music or is it music with a book? I go - who cares? 'But... how do we promote it?' Well, it's both."
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