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The literary version of speed dating at BEA

May 29, 2009 | 10:09 am

Bookthesequel Well, this is certainly fast.

Perseus Books Group is in the midst of the publishing version of speed dating. As an experiment in instant-publishing, Perseus, live during BookExpo America, is putting together “Book: The Sequel,” a tongue-in-cheek project in which it solicited e-mail submissions of proposed first lines for sequels of books. Among the finalists: “Call me, Ismael,” as the opening lined from “Moby Dick’s Guide to Dating at Sea,” says Rick Joyce, Perseus’ chief marketing officer.

They spent a month collecting the submissions, and beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday culled them into 240 entries for the 144-page book. By 11:30 a.m. today they had a cover, and by 5 p.m. they hope to kick out an egalley (e-mail agustina.casal@ perseusbooks.com with “egalley Book: The Sequel” in the subject line to get a copy). The launch party for the printed version is 4 p.m. Saturday.

But the true innovation is the cross-platform approach. “Book: The Sequel” will be available in 13 different platforms, from Braille to iPods. Kindles too.

“Readers should be able to get books in whatever platform they want,” Joyce said.

To shrink the production time from weeks or months to hours requires close collaboration among all layers of the production process. “We’re learning stuff,” Joyce says. “You think about this as a puppet show, but it’s not…. We publish a lot of books and if we can do that more efficiently we can spend that time on important decisions.”

-- Scott Martelle