Friday, April 23, 2010

Algonquin roundtable turns virtuous

If you're a lover of books (electronic or otherwise) you probably know about the Algonquin Roundtable where Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and other New York literati of the 1920's lunched daily for ten years, dubbing themselves "The Vicious Circle."

Yesterday, "The Virtuous Circle" gathered there, a group of tweeting authors, editors, publicists, publishers and book marketers, many meeting IRL for the first time, greeting each other with exuberant "You look much better than your avatar!"

@BettyDraper and I were honored to have a place at the table with circle organizers Bethanne Patrick and Denise Berthiaume, along with writers distinguished in mediums calling for far more than 140 characters: Susan Orlean, Martha McPhee, Jason Pinter, Erin McHugh, Julie Klam, MJ Rose. (And others, I'm sure. There wasn't one table, but several.) Prix fixe menu was surprisingly good and for several hours, the room reverberated with clinking glasses and buzz about publishers (how few are left), bookstores (ditto), readings (one writer had been dismayed to look down at a signing and realize he was wearing two different shoes) and, of course, e-publishing. Which turns out to account for just 5% of book sales these days, not the larger numbers I'd heard. Everyone in the business is trying to figure out how to make it make money. "The actual physical book--the printing and binding--is the least expensive part of publishing," an editor told me. "The real costs are the writing, the editing, the sales and promotion which don't change, whether the book is handheld or virtual."

Along with dessert, a book exchange. Kind of like a not-Secret Santa, in which I nabbed Road Trip. Other takeaways: I learned that Dorothy Parker tweets from the grave. And, on the way to the ladies, made the acquaintance of the hotel's most famous resident- Matilda, a glamorous cat who not only has the run of the place but her own email address.

1 comment:

California Girl said...

I linked to a bunch of stuff in your post including the Virtuous Circle and Dorothy Parker. I always thought it would have been the height and depth of literary decadence to be in that group. Benchley we can see in old film. I've read my share of Parker, Anderson and the others and appreciate their wit.

I digress. Sounds like a fun filled way to learn more about what is and isn't working in the virual world of social media.