Diversion Books Brings Pope Ebook to Market at Ungodly Speed

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On Feb. 15, Charles A. Coulombe’s literary agent brought the idea of a book about retiring Pope Benedict  XVI to Diversion Books, the New York-based start-up digital publisher.

A deal was signed 13 days later on Feb. 28, by which time Coulombe, the Catholic historian, had already started writing the book.

A week later, following an editing, design and production cycle, the book is coming to market. The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI hits e-bookshelves tomorrow for $4.99.

In the era of 24-hour news, book publishers could seem flat-footed. The normal development cycle for a book is at least 18 months at many publishers. Today, a story can be on Twitter in moments, in the news in minutes and on television and going through the analysis wringer in just hours. Where do book publishers fit into this new media cycle?

For some, the advantages of a longer timeline (more time to develop, edit, design, produce and market a book) may prove advantageous (See Robert Caro). For others, speed might be the top priority. During the Jeremy Lin “linsanity” of Feb. 2012, when the Harvard-graduated Asian-American point guard for the New York Knicks took the NBA and the U.S. by storm, Vook and literary agent Jason Allen Ashlock helped bring an ebook on the phenom to market in about a week.

Lin’s crossover may be faster than the Pope’s cross but both have ungodly speed compared to the usual book development cycle.

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