Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Robert Morgan’s “Gap Creek” entered Harry Potter’s magical realm
this week when it made its debut at No. 4 on the href="/books/feature/1999/10/14/nytimes/index.html">New York
Times Bestseller List, Morgan’s novel, about a poor
turn-of-the-century Appalachian couple, has enjoyed some target=new
reviews, but it took href="/people/bc/1999/05/04/oprah/index.html">Oprah Winfrey’s
golden touch to spring it to the top.
Three weeks ago, Winfrey chose “Gap Creek” as her book club
selection for January, a move that had a predictably electric
effect on sales. The pre-Oprah printing was 10,000. The
post-Oprah printing was 525,000 — and the publisher, Algonquin
Books of Chapel Hill, N.C., may be going back for a reprint.
“The reviewers love him, other writers love him and his small
following loves him,” Algonquin’s publisher, Elizabeth Scharlatt,
says of Morgan, an award-winning novelist who teaches at Cornell.
“Now he’s being discovered by a much larger audience, and for a
writer that’s better than winning the lottery.”
As effervescent as Oprah’s nod may have made Morgan, though, it
saddled Algonquin with a heavy burden. The publisher got the news
Jan. 10 but had to promise to keep the choice a secret for the
next eight days, calling the book only Oprah Book No. 30 until
Jan. 18. And while Algonquin had to notify its customers about
the mystery book, its salespeople could tell their accounts only
that they had Oprah Book No. 30. Although retailers
had no idea what they were ordering, the results were astounding.
“Over a period of days, we had half a million orders,” Scharlatt
That was great — except that Algonquin also had to deliver the
product, and the extraordinarily high numbers left the publisher
scrambling, since it’s more accustomed to putting out literary
novels with small print runs (like Stacy D’Erasmo’s recent href="/books/review/2000/01/11/d_erasmo/index.html">“Tea”).
“Our eyes were wide for days,” Scharlatt recalls. “We had two
different printers and binderies working three-shift days for a
period of six days.”
And Algonquin had to get Winfrey’s people to sign off on several
crucial decisions. According to Scharlatt, “Oprah had to approve
the stencil on the box: ‘Oprah Book No. 30. Do Not Open Before
Jan. 18.’” The book club also oversees the Oprah logo that goes
on the cover: a big yellow “O” with a white center. In the case
of “Gap Creek,” the original book jacket had a moon in the upper
right-hand corner that would compete with the logo; in the end,
Scharlatt said, “We had to give up the moon.” Lunar concessions
notwithstanding, Algonquin is reaping earthly delights, including
a six-figure deal with Simon & Schuster to publish the book’s
debut in September 1996, Oprah’s Book Club has been responsible for a
remarkable string of bestsellers. Now
it’s time to chalk up another one.
Craig Offman is the New York correspondent for Salon Books.More Craig Offman.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.