PRESS RELEASE:– Financial crisis lights fire under publishers

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The financial crisis is happening so fast that business books about it can be outdated before they hit the shelves. Some U.S. publishers and finance authors are responding by bringing books to market faster.

While it normally takes 9 to 12 months from the time an author turns in a manuscript to when a book is released, that is down to just a few months for some publishers trying to keep up with the 24-hour information age.

One example is “A Colossal Failure of Common Sense,” a financial thriller about the collapse of Lehman Brothers by former vice president Lawrence G. McDonald. Crown will publish it in July, after acquiring the manuscript only last month.

“With something as current as this, unless your timing is right, you can lose your audience for it,” said John Mahaney, executive editor of Crown Business. Crown is a division of Random House, part of Bertelsmann AG BERT.UL.

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Changing events are an added burden for authors. Shari Olefson’s “Foreclosure Nation — Mortgaging the American Dream” was due to be published in October last year, but when the economic meltdown erupted she realized it would be “wrong and outdated.”

“Really the whole book had to be rewritten,” she said. After resubmitting her manuscript at the end of December the book was published late last month by Prometheus Books.

“Writing a book about an ongoing financial crisis is like herding cats, it’s just really challenging,” Olefson said.

Simon & Schuster, part of CBS Corp (CBS.N), is publishing several books related to the financial crisis that it says have been turned around at a faster rate of four to six months.

“Books that are related to any ongoing, shifting crisis are best published as close to when they’re written as possible,” said David Rosenthal, Simon & Schuster executive vice president and publisher.

Among them is “Bold Endeavors: How Our Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild Now” by Felix Rohatyn, released in February, just as the U.S. government was considering stimulus plans.

“The financial crisis has led to several instant books,” Popoff said. “The publishers want to be timely and the sooner they can get it out, the closer they can get it to the event happening, the more relevant the book.”

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