Friday, December 27, 2013

High praise, indeed

Saw this on Facebook from Jon Leonoudakis, producer/director of Not Exactly Cooperstown and 5:04 p.m.: A First Person Account of the 1989 World Series Earthquake Game:

"Christmas gift reading haul--I have read the first two profiles on "Glory" and am floored. Dipped into some of Ron Kaplan's gem, which is to be my book guide post for years to come. A pal gave me the 1974 Sporting News Official Baseball Register, another treasure trove of info and stories."

It's an honor to be on the same page -- literally -- as a classic like The Glory of Their Times (even if I did inadvertently omit it from 501).

I guess I'm doin' fine

Well hello there
My, it's been a long long time
How am I doin'
Oh well, I guess I'm doin' fine
It's been so long now and it seems that
It was only yesterday
Ain't it funny how time slips away

From "Ain't it Funny How Time Slips Away," by Willie Nelson

One of the questions I'm frequently asked by friends I haven't seen for awhile is "How's your book doing?"

Early on, I was told by my publisher -- University of Nebraska Press -- that it was doing well. But what did that mean? Well for a book of its kind? Well for their 2013 releases? It's all relative.

I Googled the question, "How many copies does the average non-fiction book sell?" I was shocked. I asked my wife what she thought and she said 100. Which was even more shocking.

According to this 2012 piece (and who knows if it's true; we're talking about statistics here), the average now-fiction book sells about 250 copies. 250! So by those standards, I should be very pleased, since I've more than tripled that number.

But that's just units sold; it doesn't necessarily translate into money. 501 has an "MSRP" of $24.95 but I doubt very many bought it for that price. You have Amazon, Barnes and Noble, et al. Many local book stores offer discounts as well.

It will be interesting to see how the next book does. I've been contracted to do a history of the Maccabiah Games )aka, the Jewish Olympics) by Skyhorse Press. If all goes well, it should come out in 2015. Because of the topic, I'm hoping to generate a lot of interest on the Jewish book circuit. I had one 501 gig at the St. Louis Jewish Book Fair, but since this one will have actual Jewish content those appearances should increase, which, in turn, should generate more sales (as will its suitability for bar and bat mitzva gift-giving).

Whatever else happens with 501 -- and future books -- down the road, I'm very grateful for my 15 minutes.

Friday, December 20, 2013

New 501 Review

Tim Morris of the University of Texas at Austin recently posted a review of 501. You can read it here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

'501' soon to be an international best-seller?

501Cup A dozen Frenchmen (French people?) can't be wrong. Found this on the Facebook page for the Bookshelf shortly after I returned from my trip to Paris and the visit to the local baseball federation:
INSOLITE | Ron Kaplan, célèbre pour son ouvrage "501 livres que les vrais fan de baseball doivent lire avant de mourir" et son blog Ron Kaplan's Baseball Bookshelf, a profité d'un voyage à Paris pour venir visiter les locaux de la Fédération Française de Baseball et Softball !
This is the translation, as provided by Bing:
UNUSUAL | Ron Kaplan, famous for his book "501 books that the true baseball fan should read before they die" and Ron Kaplan's Baseball Bookshelf blog, took a trip to Paris to visit the premises of the Fédération Française de Baseball and Softball!
Hmm, have to have a chat with those folks at Bing.

The post already has more than a dozen "likes" from local readers. I had been informed by the Federation that there were no French-language baseball books in France. Peut-etre this will change soon?

Du base-ball

My wife and I went to France last month as part of our 25th anniversary celebration. We did the usual touristy things, but I also had the opportunity to visit the Fédération Française de Baseball et Softball, aka, the French Baseball Federation, a small office located in the 12th "arrondisement," (as the districts in Paris are called).

According to Francois Collet, the gentleman who runs the bureau (as offices in France are called), there are about 10,000 people who play baseball and softball in France, as opposed to two million who play soccer. Obviously, there's a lot of catch-up to do.

I gave Collet a copy of my 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die. In return, Collet gave me a jersey from the national team. Tres jolie.  

Congratulations, Roger Angell


The "dean" of baseball writing was named recipient of the Baseball Hall of Fame's J.G. Taylor Spink Award for “meritorious contributions to baseball writing.” Frankly, I'm amazed this just happened now. Given his stature, I would think he'd have been elected years ago.

Angell, who turned 93 in September, has been the main reason I even glance at The New Yorker. Him and the cartoons. His work has fallen off in terms of volume lately, although he has been doing the occasional blog entry. Just about any of his collections are solid gold choices, although the title of his 2006 memoir, Let Me Finish, makes me sad and contemplative for some reason. Is it a plea to God (or the substitute of your choice) to allow one more time, presumably to complete his life's work; or merely telling someone not to interrupt a story?

The Roger Angell Baseball Collection: The Summer Game, Five Seasons, and Season Ticket

The Summer Game was one of my 501 Baseball Books paired with Thomas Boswell's Why Time Begins on Opening Day in the chapter on "Pop Culture," but you could substitute just about any of his other collections and the idea would remain the same.

I would love to had a Bookshelf podcast with him, but, frankly, am intimidated by the prospect. From what I've heard he doesn't suffer fools gladly, which pretty much eliminates me from the conversation. If you ever do read this, Mr. Angell, I am at your disposal.

Roger Angell, as envisioned by David Levine