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Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Keys to a Barnes and Noble Book Signing

Getting book signings at major bookstore chains is a real plus in marketing and selling your book. However, if you are self-published or have a print-on-demand (POD) book, it is more difficult to arrange these type of book signings.

But, do not despair! There are ways around the obstacles to obtain major bookstore signings AND other means available to you: independent bookstore signings and speaking engagements with backroom sales that allow you to keep more of the retail price, to name two.

Sallie Goetsch, a writer and small business consultant, has written an insightful article on ezinearticles.com explaining how to best obtain book signings, what the major chain book stores have to go through to provide you with one and what you need to have in place to land a major signing. I present her article here for your information:

Dan Poynter wrote in Successful Nonfiction that authors should never host autograph parties. Instead of merely signing their books, the thing to do was offer "mini-seminars." In an August 27th, 2006 interview with Tee Morris for "The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy," Annie Hololob, Community Relations Manager for the Harrisonburg, VA Barnes & Noble, confirms the value of making your book signing into an event. (Tee himself apparently has a habit of staging sword fights during his book signings, which definitely livens things up.) If you want to have an event at a Barnes & Noble, the Community Relations Manager is the person to talk to. This is the person who knows whether the store's customers are the right market for your book, or whether you'd do better at a store in a different city. (My local Barnes & Noble, for instance, doesn't even have author events, just a children's story time.) This is the person whose good side you want to get on.

There are two important things you need before you start assembling your press kit and cultivating the CRM at your local Barnes & Noble, however. Without them, there's no way the store can carry your books. Large chain bookstores have to operate by certain rules in order to stay in business, and those rules may exclude you and your book for reasons that have nothing to do with your merits as a writer.


In order for BN to order, stock, and sell your books, they have to be available through a wholesaler or distributor such as Ingram or Baker & Taylor--one BN already has a relationship with. That means BN can buy the book at a wholesale price, usually 40-60% off the cover price, without going to extra trouble to special-order it. If your book is traditionally published, there should be no problem with this. One of the reasons for choosing to go with a major publisher or established small press is that they are already BN Vendors of Record. The traditionally self-published, those like Dan Poynter who start their own publishing companies, can become Vendors of Record by filling out the BN Publisher Information Form.

The authors who run into real trouble in the distribution department are those with POD books. These books may be good-looking and high quality. They may even be available through Baker & Taylor or Ingram. But unless ordered in very high quantities, they are offered only for the retail price. BN's standard order when dealing with a new publisher is two copies of every title. Even an order of 30-50 books for a signing isn't going to provide enough of a profit margin to make it worth the bookstore's while. And because Print on Demand books are literally printed only when ordered, each copy is much more expensive to produce than a comparable mass-produced book.


The other thing that keeps POD books-and their authors-out of chain stores like Barnes & Noble is the lack of a returns policy. Bookstores expect to be able to return all unsold books to a publisher, and not to pay the publisher for any of the books until after they sell. Unsold books aren't even returned intact: the covers get ripped off and they're sent away to be pulped. (I kid you not. I was horrified to learn this, even after reading all those warnings about not buying books without covers.)

POD houses don't warehouse books and can't provide that kind of returns policy, and very few self-published authors are going to want to. But no matter how barbaric a practice pulping is, it's a fact of life at all major book outlets, and Barnes & Noble didn't invent it. Nor does a Community Relations Manager have the power to bend the rules about this, however flexible s/he may be about the form your signing takes if you can meet the store's requirements.


If you're a self-published or POD author and touring the major chain bookstores is something you can't live without, you can try to interest a traditional publisher in your book, though you need to make sure that you really own the book in its current form before you do this. (Most POD houses lay claim to the final, formatted version of your book, though the content remains yours.)

Or you can skip Barnes & Noble altogether and hold your book events elsewhere. Independent bookstores are often in a better position than large chains to take a chance on an author, though they, too, need to be able to buy the books at a low enough price to make a profit. Public libraries are almost always willing to accept the donation of a book or two and host a reading.

And, of course, if you make your living as a speaker, back-of-room sales may be your best bet and an opportunity to take advantage of the plus side of self-publishing and POD: getting to keep a far greater percentage of the book's retail price.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Will Authors Bypass Publishers In The Future ?

I have previously hit on this subject in past posts and find that Mike Shatzkin (The Shatzkin Files) also feels that authors will exercise more control over the publishing process in the near future (it's beginning already!).

Partial excerpt from the 25 Nov 2009 posting on The Shatzkin Files:

"We have observed previously that the day will likely come when Big Authors will go straight to electronic distribution for some ebooks, bypassing the publishers to collect bigger royalties. What could be the first shot of that battle, and a reflection of the ideas in this post as well, may have been fired in the UK where Sony has announced a special edition James Patterson ebook which will contain the new book, “Cross Country”, a month before its general release plus other excerpts and a special letter from James Patterson. Of course, that deal was probably made by the publisher with Patterson’s cooperation, but it points to possibilities that should make publishers nervous.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I wish all my friends & followers & everyone else a very Happy & Prosperous Thanksgiving Day !

Hope every single day after today is a better one than the day before.

Good Luck In All You Do,

John R. Austin & Family

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

McGraw-Hill Fights RBI’s Espionage Lawsuit

I TOLD you there was intrigue in the publishing industry!
A great account of the latest in this espionage lawsuit is given by Jason Fell of FOLIO magazine:

McGraw-Hill has filed a motion to dismiss five counts of misconduct brought against it in a lawsuit filed last month by Reed Construction Data, a unit of b-to-b publisher Reed Business Information. The suit charges corporate espionage, among other things.

The motion was filed Friday by McGraw-Hill in U.S. district court in New York.

Reed’s 60-page complaint alleges that McGraw-Hill’s Dodge Construction division unlawfully accessed confidential and secret trade information from RCD by hiring consultants to subscribe to RCD’s confidential data, using made up names and fake companies. It also alleges that Dodge manipulated the RCD information to create “misleading comparisons” between Dodge and RCD’s products and services “in an attempt to mislead the marketplace.”

McGraw-Hill’s motion requests that the court dismiss the counts alleging misappropriation of confidential information, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, violation of New York General Business Law, violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to violate RICO.

The motion, however, did not request the dismissal of the other counts alleging fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, monopolization, and others.

“We will address those allegations as part of our response to the entire lawsuit,” a McGraw-Hill spokesperson told FOLIO:. It was not immediately clear, however, exactly when or how the company would issue a formal response.

Construction President Out

On November 9, McGraw-Hill announced to staff that longtime McGraw-Hill Construction president Norbert Young had left the company. Glenn Goldberg, president of McGraw-Hill Information & Media would assume responsibility for the construction group, assisted by Robert Stuono, the group’s senior vice president and general manager.

The spokesperson declined to say if Young’s departure was related to the Reed lawsuit, saying that as a policy the company does not comment on personnel issues.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bad Writing Habits You Learned In School

Is a new paradigm for teaching "writing" developing? Or has one already evolved out of the crushing current of new generation need for time-saving shortcuts.

Jon Morrow, an Associate Editor of Copyblogger and Cofounder of Partnering Profits, discusses the bad habits that we probably learned in school:

What is good writing?

Ask an English teacher, and they’ll tell you good writing is grammatically correct. They’ll tell you it makes a point and supports it with evidence. Maybe, if they’re really honest, they’ll admit it has a scholarly tone — prose that sounds like Jane Austen earns an A, while a paper that could’ve been written by Willie Nelson scores a B (or worse).

Not all English teachers abide by this system, but the vast majority do. Just look at the writing of most graduates, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s proper, polite, and just polished enough not to embarrass anyone. Mission accomplished, as far as our schools are concerned.

But let me ask you something:

Is that really good writing?

I think most good writers listen to the way English teachers want them to write and think, “This isn’t real. It has no feeling, no distinctiveness, no oomph. You’re the only person in the world who would willingly read it. Everyone else would rather chew off their own eyelids than read more than three pages of this boring crap.” And they’re right.

Compare an award-winning essay to a best-selling novel, and you’ll notice that they are written in almost completely different languages. Some of it has to do with the audience, sure. It’s natural to write differently for academics than you would for everyday people. But my question is: who are you going to spend more time writing for?

My guess: everyday people — your family and friends, your blog audience, your boss at work, maybe even a Letter to the Editor every now and again. None of them are academics. None of them want to read an essay.

Personally, I think good writing doesn’t have to be educated or well supported or even grammatically correct. It does have to be interesting enough that other people want to read it. Much of what comes out of high schools and universities fails this test, not because our students are incapable of saying anything interesting, but because a well-meaning but flawed academic system has taught them a lot of bad habits.

Let’s go through some of them...Read more at http://alturl.com/evpt

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Magazines No Longer the ‘Center of the Universe’

Print advertising profits are declining due to all the new upstarts in digital media. Publishers are having to re-think their place in the media food chain and design new business models to move forward and survive.

More on this topic by Jason Fell in November issue of Folio magazine:

Publisher Survival, especially for those supported mainly by print advertising, was the topic of debate, and some contention, during a Folio: Show Virtual panel discussion last month called “Big Ideas and New Opportunities for 2010 and Beyond.”

“The magazine business, particularly if you’re dominated by print advertising, is going to continue to be no-growth to a declining business—probably forever,” said panelist David Nussbaum, CEO of enthusiast magazine and book publisher F+W Media. Other panelists included Mann Media CEO Bernie Mann; Eric Biener, Nielsen Business Media’s vice president of business development; and Daniel McCarthy, chairman and CEO of Network Communications, Inc.

While some print magazines will survive, publishers “can’t bank on them being the driver” of their business, Nussbaum argued. At F+W, magazine publishing depends largely on subscription and newsstand revenues. “Advertising, which we love and we want, will be gravy on top of that,” he said.

Mann, who publishes North Carolina’s Our State, countered that losses in print don’t pertain to the entire industry. “Trust is very important and is hard to find. How many people trust television today? How many people trust their daily newspapers,” he said. “If you can build trust in magazines, you have some long, long legs.”

Growing Competition

With bloggers and other online publishers are continuing to pop up and take market share, traditional magazine publishers in the future won’t hold sole ownership of the markets they serve, the panelists largely agreed. Publishers now should focus more on core products, the panelists said, and on being “active participants” in the markets they serve.

“I don’t think we’re ever going back to the day when we were the center of the universe. We have to recognize that,” Nussbaum said. “We now are part of the overall community. If we can grasp that role then we can begin to get back to levels of profitability.”

The Paid Content Debate

And, of course, what’s a panel discussion today without talk about charging for content online? “Allowing people to parse out the pieces of content they find valuable, and to make nickels on those pieces on an economy of scale is one of the future models we are looking at for our businesses,” Biener said. “I think micropayments are going to play successfully in the future of media business, specifically content.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Have Publishers Lost the Capacity for Long-Term Planning?

In the panic to survive month to month, many publishers have lost the calmness for long-term planning for lasting growth.

"If you want to save your company, think beyond the next quarter or loan payment." A special treatise today by Joe Pulizzi from Folio magazine:

Joe Pulizzi is founder of Junta42, an online lead generation/matching service for custom publishers. Joe is also co-author of Get Content Get Customers, considered the handbook for content marketing joe@junta42.com

Just a few years ago, all the talk was about implementing the three-legged stool strategy. Dubbed “the holy grail,” a publisher that offered advertisers a robust print, online and in-person solution, packaged together, would win.

The three legs of the stool…the answer to our problems. Publishers with the necessary resources developed the three-legged stool. Others tried new launches.

And now, after many publishers have struggled to make the stool model work, customers are spending their money elsewhere. Who knew there were plenty of other stool legs?

And then there was lead generation. Webinars. Podcasts. Virtual Trade Shows. And now social media. As Ted Bahr so eloquently stated at the Niche Magazine Conference just last April, “beware the fad of the year.”

The Next Big Idea
In FOLIO:’s “Big Idea” article in August, the lead paragraph states, “We all know that the top strategic priority this year isn’t really ‘online,’ or ‘lead gen’ or ‘events,’ it’s flat-out survival. Planning for the future now means the next fiscal quarter, not the next five years.”

This is exactly the problem. We are focused on short-term tactics, not strategy. We are focused on next month’s financials, not how to sustain and build the business for the long-term. A business does not prosper and grow because it can make the next quarter’s financial goals. It survives because it has a long-term vision, plan and strategy that engages all of its employees and resources in building great companies…in winning.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term
Peter Drucker, the great management guru, saw this coming when organizations started to focus less on the customer and more on where the CFO was looking. Corporations (publishers) were now to be managed exclusively to “maximize shareholder’s value.”

“This will not work,” Drucker said. “It forces the corporation to be managed for the shortest term. But that means damaging, if not destroying, the wealth-producing capacity of the business. It means decline, and fairly swift decline. Long-term results cannot be achieved by piling short-term results on short-term results. They should be achieved by balancing short-term and long-term needs and objectives.”

And boy, have we seen decline. And the spiral continues. The more revenue decline, the more focus on short term thinking (exclusively).

Correcting the Course
Changing from a short-term to a balanced short/long-term focus is really hard to do. Here are a few areas that will help you get there.

1. Sales Training. Yes, sales training. This is one of the reasons why publishers like Watt seem to be a step ahead. They have a passion for educating their salespeople, not so they understand how to pitch a product (which is important), but what questions to ask so that they can be better consultants, and form better relationships with their customers. The “advertising space rep” of the past is simply not equipped to succeed in this new, highly complex and varied communication world.

2. Expand the T&E budget. Now, more than ever, we need to see our customers face-to-face. It’s almost impossible to develop a relationship with customers as publishers without seeing them in person. If we want to understand where customers are going, and thus where business is heading, get face time with customers on their turf. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper now than it was at this time last year. When was the last time any of us heard of a publishing CEO visiting his key customers and asking how they were planning for the future?

3. Marketing. What, publishers actually marketing outside their own products? Unheard of in most media companies, but more important than ever, especially when there’s more competition than ever. If your customers are going to see you as their trusted marketing provider you need to be communicating with more than your sales rep. An easy start is a consistent (at least monthly) e-newsletter from your reps to your customers. Tell them how to grow their business, how to market smarter…and they’ll reward you with more business. Practice what you are preaching to your customers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Words and Silence - Food for Thought

Thomas Carlyle once said: "Silence is more eloquent than words."

This is an interesting thought for writers since, on the simplest level, silence would translate into writing NO words! At least if you wanted to be eloquent. Hummmm...

Well I came across an excellent analysis of Thomas Carlyle's quote made by Jeanne Dininni in her "Writer's Notes" blog. A blog "Helping Writers Follow Their Dreams Through Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement!"

Her treatise on this thought has earned her a spotlight here and I am privileged to present her:

Words and Silence
by Jeanne Dininni

Personally, I would say that there are definitely times when silence is more eloquent than words--as in those times when no words are adequate to express an emotion or when nothing we could say would ever be sufficient to respond to another person's sorrow or despair without trivializing it.

I also believe that silence can be a highly effective method for punctuating a statement and providing dramatic contrast, which can not only drive an idea home in a particularly potent manner but also encourage (and allow) a listener to really ponder it.

Of course, the above comments would apply more to verbal exchanges than written ones--though there are also many times when silence in written messages can exert a powerful (though not always unambiguous) influence.

"Silence" in Writing

We all know that not replying to something said by someone in an e-mail, letter, or comment can sometimes cause that person to question why and wonder about the significance of the omission. This type of "silence" can create serious doubts about our message's intent and sometimes even give the recipient a totally erroneous impression of what we meant to convey. This would be a negative application of silence in our written communications, which--while certainly powerful--wouldn't actually qualify as "eloquent."

In the writing arena, I also think that, in many cases, economy of words can have a similar effect to that of auditory silence in conversation. This is true in the sense that it leaves some room for individual thought, opinion formulation, and/or personal application of a concept, rather than bombarding the reader with the author's own perspective and thereby limiting the reader's engagement with the work in question. This would be a positive manifestation of written "silence" which might actually qualify for Carlyle's "eloquent" descriptor.

Another version of this type of "silence"--whether in speech or writing--would be the art of asking questions. This is because the very act of questioning implies that a period of silence will follow, during which the hearer's/reader's input will be welcome--another positive manifestation of written "silence." (Even rhetorical questions invite the hearer/reader to ponder the topic and provide the "space" for him to reach his own conclusions.)

What are your thoughts on words and silence--either from a writing or conversational perspective? You have the floor!

Visit Jeanne's blog at http://www.writersnotes.net/

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Realities of a Times Best Seller

I have just come across a superb "insider" post by author Lynn Viehl. She gives her own experience and insight into what one may expect to earn from a novel that makes a best selling list:

"Back in April when I posted and discussed the royalty statement for Twilight Fall, my top twenty New York Times mass market bestseller, I promised I would post the next royalty statement that came in for the book. That arrived this week, so today I’d like to take a look at that and share some thoughts on how the book performed in the eleven months since the initial release.

First, the actual statement, which you can view here http://alturl.com/oj65

As before, the only thing I’ve blanked out is Penguin Group’s address. This statement represents the sale period from November 30, 2008 through May 31, 2009. It was issued on August 18, 2009 and I received it on November 2, 2009.

On the statement my publisher reports sales of 7,550 copies and returns of 10,812 copies. The publisher released credits of 21,140 copies or $13,512.69 from reserves held against returns, but at the same time reserved credits against another 13,790 copies or $8,814.57, which reduces the credit adjustment to 7,350 copies or $4698.12.

Total sales for the novel now stand at 89,142 copies, minus returns of 27,479, for net sales of 61,663 copies. My credited earnings from this statement was $2,434.38 with no money due; it will probably take another six months to a year for the novel to earn out the last of my $50,000.00 advance.

So how much money have I made from my Times bestseller? Depending on the type of sale, I gross 6-8% of the cover price of $7.99. After paying taxes, commission to my agent and covering my expenses, my net profit on the book currently stands at $24,517.36, which is actually pretty good since on average I generally net about 30-40% of my advance. Unless something triggers an unexpected spike in my sales, I don’t expect to see any additional profit from this book coming in for at least another year or two.

One thing I didn’t mention in the last post is whether or not my sell-through, advance, and royalties are typical of an author with a top twenty Times mass market bestseller. Very few authors offer up their numbers, and even when they do they either go the anonymous survey route and/or don’t post statements, and publishers rarely give us any information at all, so it’s difficult to know. But based on my estimation of comparitive print run sizes, placement, distribution and a couple of other factors, I’d say no; my numbers overall probably run lower than most of the other authors on the list (of course if any other Times bestseller authors out there want to post their royalty statements, we’d all love to see the real numbers so we can establish a range.)

Speaking of comparisons, the publisher’s portion of sales on this book has grossed them around $453,839.68. I don’t have any hard figures on the publisher’s net, so I can’t give you the bottom line there. If I had to make a guess, I’d say they probably netted around $250K on this one.

What I’m taking away from this statement: returns were about what I expected; booksellers have been keeping these books on the shelves due to steady sales, and that helps.

My export sales are up, and they’re now constituting about 10% of my total sales, which is great. I’ve been reaching out to overseas readers for a couple of years now via blog promotion and I’m seeing a growing return on that investment. I’d love to see some foreign rights sales so that more of my readers could have the books in their native language, but unfortunately that doesn’t happen very often, and I can’t do anything about it because it’s all decided and handled by the publisher.

My income per book always reminds me of how tough it is to make at living at this gig, especially for writers who only produce one book per year. If I did the same, and my one book performed as well as TF, and my family of four were solely dependent on my income, my net would be only around $2500.00 over the income level considered to be the U.S. poverty threshhold (based on 2008 figures.) Yep, we’d almost qualify for foodstamps.

I finished this novel’s series in January of this year with the seventh book, which debuted eight spots lower than TF on the Times extended list. I’ve since moved on to writing a spin-off series, the first book of which is Shadowlight, which debuted at #17 on the Times list, two spots higher than TF. Shadowlight is now my bestselling novel to date.

What it boils down to is that you never know. I won’t find out for another six months how well Shadowlight initially performed or if TF will earn out in the next six months, which keeps me from obsessing over my sales. Either the books sell or they don’t; I have zero control over whether or not they appear on any list. My focus has to be on the writing (and Carrie did an excellent post this week to celebrate her series anniversary and to discuss excellent reasons to focus on the work; check it out when you have a chance.)

The overall response to the last statement I posted in April was quite positive and supportive, especially here at Genreality. A few places elsewhere, not so much. Several times since April I considered forgetting all about this follow-up post because I knew if I did it I’d be painting another great big target on myself, and no one wants to volunteer for that kind of duty. But I did promise my writer friends and you guys that I would do this, and I keep my promises. So I will duck and dodge one more time.

I know how important writer dreams are — sometimes they’re the only thing that keep us going — but I think they also have to be tempered by facing reality. To me, sharing an uncomfortable truth is better than perpetuating a myth. I know Publishing will never rise up to meet our expectations, but fiction belongs on the page, not in what we tell each other. Otherwise we risk becoming characters uttering lines of dialogue instead of working writers helping each other make good decisions."

Frances Jeanne Said:

Re: Magazine Editing - The Accidental Profession

Great article, Johnny! I'm sharing with my neighbor, Nancy - who's a veteran consultant for AAA Magazines.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Magazine Editing - The Accidental Profession

Hi Friends & Followers. Hope all are enjoying their Saturday. I'm happy! My Florida Gators won a tough-fought game today against our past coach's team: the South Carolina Gamecocks. That makes a 20 game winning streak! Highest in the nation.

Todays post is about how we sometimes "stumble" into a profession in the publishing, writing and editorial fields.

John Brady is a partner at Brady & Paul Communications, a publishing consultancy, and discusses this very thing in Folio Magazine, The Magazine For Magazine Management:

Magazine editing is not a job. It’s a calling. Like barbecue experts, most editors are self-proclaimed. Very few graduate from journalism school where they majored in magazine editing and come up through the editorial ranks. Most editors of my acquaintance have stumbled into their jobs through happenstance. They studied accounting (with an English minor), took a summer job at a fulfillment house, did some copyediting on the side, became an assistant editor when someone quit on short notice and now the title is: Editor-in-chief.

I call it the accidental profession. Or another way of putting it is—we don’t choose magazine editing. It chooses us.

Today, the job is changing dramatically as we find ourselves in the midst of enormous change in the profession. We are in the bunker in an age when magazines as we have come to know and love are at risk. Many are gone, and many others are in deep decline—as though they are saying: “Please help me, I’ve fallen and can’t get up.”

What Can We Do?

Foremost, let’s recognize that the dilemma is not primarily an editorial problem. In most publications, editorial has never been better. Advertising—or the lack thereof—is the problem.

What does an editor need in these troubled times? You don’t need more money. (In fact, don’t even ask.) You don’t need a bigger staff. That’s just more cost—and more people to worry and wonder about.

I think you may need an extra dose of savvy—which I define as the ability to learn and to work that knowledge quickly into the editorial mix while we ride things out and wait for an upturn in the economy and in the ad-page count.

A minor in psychology helps.

This is nothing new for us in the editing game. Inventors and magazine editors are seldom without problems to solve. It’s all part of the job description.

We all know how important it is to know what you want. It is also important to like being in charge, and now is the time for being in charge of change.

When the crunch is on, editors will go to great lengths to make everything change. They will hire new people and fire those who don’t seem to do the right thing. They will change the look of a magazine. They will change the story mix, the departments. They will do everything but change themselves.

Your Real Job: Editorial Sales Manager

To which I say—editor, examine thyself. Instead of taking yourself as an editor, consider a totally new persona. Your approach to each issue should be: This is not a publication, it is an EVENT.

You are in charge of selling tickets to an editorial event. Think of your job as Editorial Sales Manager.

Here we can take a page from the advertising playbook. Advertising changes constantly. Ad campaigns change. Ads within a campaign change regularly. Some ads are seen only a few times, and then replaced within a 30-day cycle.

Tradition is one of the major roadblocks to editorial change, a powerful force not easily overcome. “If it’s October, we’ve got to do the show issue”—that kind of thinking is paralysis in the current environment.

It all begins with a campaign plan. Revising and revamping your contributor guidelines is a golden opportunity to change the way you do editorial business. Get the magazine on a new track at ground level, and keep it there for purposes of editorial planning.

The editor’s job today goes beyond getting the magazine’s content right. As editorial sales manager (or event planner), your job is to SELL editorial, to stage the magazine as an ongoing advertisement for itself. This means creating events that are constantly evolving and changing so that each issue reads and looks “the same, only different” and, in doing so, arouses curiosity about the next issue.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Can the chains provide us with better small bookstores?

A little intrigue and history of the evolution of brick-and-mortar book stores and what has brought them to their present state of perilous existance. Can they survive? I believe so, with a different and more flexible business model.

From the Shatzkin Files:

There is considerable concern among the trade publishing establishment about the future of brick-and-mortar stores. As well there should be. Retail stores provide the most efficient promotion opportunities for books: putting them in front of people poised to buy. They give clear signals about sales appeal by positioning and piles of stock of varying sizes; they make it possible to “look inside” of illustrated books in ways that no online presentation can match; they enable discovery through serendipity; and they put more different book choices in front of any person faster and more efficiently than any web page or smart phone screen possibly can.

But they’re troubled. Same store sales, or what the Brits call “like-for-like”, have been declining. That may be partly due to the recession, but it is also due to factors that won’t go away: shifts of sales to the Internet, to ebooks, and perhaps to substitutes in other media and the Web.

The magic that grew Barnes & Noble and Borders into behemoths was large store size and title selection. My first experience with this effect was a lesson from my father, Leonard Shatzkin. He took over executive responsibility for the Brentano’s bookstore chain as a vice-president of Crowell-Collier (later called Macmillan, a company subsequently bought by Simon & Schuster and not connected to the company now called Macmillan) in the early 1960s. The store in that chain that was doing least well was in Short Hills, New Jersey. They doubled the number of titles the store carried and it soon was the best-performing store in the chain.

But the “size as a magnet” concept took a back seat to mall store expansion by Walden and B. Dalton in the 1970s. As shopping centers were built across the country, the mall developers favored national chains, which were “bankable”, for their leases. Walden and Dalton rode that wave and added hundreds of stores. Meanwhile, partly assisted by the expanding wholesaling services offered by Ingram, independent stores thrived and grew their title selections beyond what the space-challenged mall stores could offer...Read more at http://alturl.com/fy9p

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Completing Desktop Publishing

Alright, Fine People, we have discussed desktop publishing in the last several posts including:

1. What is Desktop Publishing?

2. When Was Desktop Publishing Invented?

3. What is Page Layout?

4. Myths & Misconceptions
5. The Graphic Design Connection

6. The Web Design Connection

7. The Word Processing Connection

Now that I have, hopefully, whet your appetite for desktop publishing through fine instructional articles by
Jacci Howard Bear, I am gong to give you the link to her many other desktop publishing instructions that delve into such things as: 
1. The Rules of Desktop Publishing

2. Four Steps to Perfect Publications

3. Learn to Use Desktop Publishing Software

4. How to Do Desktop Publishing and Desktop Printing
This link contains more detail about this fascinating subject. Take your time and read it thoroughly when you can. Keep it for future reference: http://alturl.com/qf5o

Monday, November 9, 2009

Word Processing vs. Desktop Publishing

Continuing with desktop publishing:

Crossing the Line

By Jacci Howard Bear, About.com

Are you a Word Processor or a Desktop Publisher?

Do you use word processing software, desktop publishing software, or some combination of the two? In some circles proclaiming that you use Microsoft Publisher or — worse still — your word processing software for desktop publishing will, at best, elicit mild amusement or silence. At worst, you'll find yourself the target of bitingly hostile verbal (or electronic) abuse.

Don't worry, this isn't one of those places. My aim is to provide a place where practitioners of “desktop publishing” in all its forms can peacefully co-exist. Originally word processing involved text only. Letters, memos, student papers, book manuscripts, and simple résumés were the world of the word processor (the person and the software).

When typesetting and page layout capabilities moved to the desktop computer, “desktop publishing” was the realm of the big boys like PageMaker and QuarkXPress. The users of these desktop publishing packages were most often traditionally trained graphic designers. Desktop publishers had more than a passing knowledge of grids, typography, halftones, and the entire design, production, and printing process. Their desktop tools gave them precise control over all these elements.

Today, what originally made desktop publishing packages so attractive to graphic designers — the ability to quickly and easily manipulate text and graphics on screen and try out new ideas — is readily available in less expensive, easy to use programs. At the same time that trimmed down desktop publishing programs are appearing, word processing software is adding more page layout features — and so the line is blurring between desktop publishing and word processing, in part, because of the software.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Desktop Publishing: Print Design vs. Web Design

Continuing with desktop publishing:

Similarities and Differences in Desktop Publishing and Web Design
By Jacci Howard Bear, About.com

Although desktop publishing and Web design have a common ancestry, they aren't the same. Yes, there are certain similarities -- such as text, graphics, color, page composition, and the need for clear navigation -- but Web design has its own set of challenges and design parameters.


Writing and reading on-screen differs from print so typography online has its own idiosyncrasies. A font that looks great on paper may be much harder to read on-screen. And unless the font is used in a graphic, there's a strong chance that visitors to your Web page aren't going to all see the same font -- either because they don't have it installed or they use Web browser preferences that override your font choices. Those are just some of the differences between text in print and text on the Web.
Typography on Screen: http://alturl.com/nez2
While TIFF and EPS are the professional graphics standards for print, they won't fly on the Web. You'll need to learn how to properly create and use JPEG, GIF, and PNG images in Web design. Additionally, Web graphics use a lower resolution and may require digital protection.
Best Graphics File Formats: http://alturl.com/d86k

Commercial printing processes are typically done in CMYK or uses Pantone spot colors or other print-friendly color specifications. On the Web, color is RGB. And then you'll also need to contend with browser-safe color schemes -- maybe. The use of color in typography also differs, in part because of readability differences on-screen.
Web Color: http://alturl.com/n4kf
Although Web pages may use some navigational elements derived from print, such as table of contents, navigating through the interconnected pages of a Web site isn't the same as the usually linear navigation of the pages of a book.
Effective Web Navigation: http://alturl.com/quii
Page Composition:
In print design, page layouts are static designs. Once it is printed, everyone viewing the page sees the graphics in the same place, the text columns in the same size, and the piece of paper it's printed on doesn't change size or shape each time someone picks up the paper. Web pages are more fluid, more dynamic.
Fixed Width vs. Liquid Layouts: http://alturl.com/cvrq


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Playboy Publisher Scrambles To Maintain Profits

From Folio magazine by Jason Fell 11/5/2009

Cost Cutting, New Business Model Top Priority for Playboy CEO.

Company reports $23.5 million net loss through first nine months.

In order for the print edition of Playboy magazine to break even or be profitable, “bolder steps are required,” recently-named CEO Scott Flanders said during the company’s third quarter earnings call Thursday morning. The company’s print/digital group reported a $900,000 loss through the first nine months compared to a $3 million loss during the same period in 2008.

Overall, Playboy Enterprises reported a $23.5 million net loss through the third quarter, down from a $13.6 million net loss last year.

During the call, Flanders declined to offer specifics about the “bolder” steps, but said three things are sure: he’s creating a new “corporate culture” that enables his staff to think and perform across divisions; he’s working on a joint venture in the development of a new business model for the company; and is strongly considering further cost cutting initiatives.

Flanders said he expects to announce those developments before the end of the year.

Last month, the company said it would reduce its rate base to 1.5 million from 2.6 million, and will combine its January and February issues into one, meaning it will publish two issues total during the first quarter next year. This summer, Playboy published a singular July/August issue that saved the company roughly $1 million in printing, paper and other costs. Those savings were offset slightly by expected declines in ad and circulation revenues as well as higher editorial costs, Flanders said during the earnings call.

Licensing, meanwhile, remains Playboy’s most profitable business, he said. The division reported a net profit of $15.9 million through the first nine months, down from $19.4 million during the same period last year.

Flanders said he expects to report a 38 percent decline in ad pages during the fourth quarter this year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What is the Difference Between Graphic Design and Desktop Publishing?

Continuing with desktop publishing; further discussion of graphic design versus desktop publishing:

By Jacci Howard Bear, About.com

Question: What is the Difference Between Graphic Design and Desktop Publishing?

Graphic design and desktop publishing share so many similarities that people often use the terms interchangeably. There's not really anything terribly wrong with that but it is helpful to know and understand how they differ and how some people use and confuse the terms.

Answer: The short answer:

•graphic design jobs involve the creative process of coming up with the concepts and ideas and arrangements for visually communicating a specific message

•desktop publishing is the mechanical process that the designer and the non-designer use to turn their ideas for newsletters, brochures, ads, posters, greeting cards, and other projects into digital files for desktop or commercial printing

While desktop publishing does require a certain amount of creativity, it is more production-oriented than design-oriented.

Desktop Publishing Software Is A Common Denominator

Graphic designers use desktop publishing software and techniques to create the print materials they envision. The computer and desktop publishing software also aids in the creative process by allowing the designer to easily try out various page layouts, fonts, colors, and other elements.

Non-designers also use desktop publishing software and techniques to create print projects for business or pleasure. The amount of creative design that goes into these projects varies greatly. The computer and desktop publishing software, along with professionally-designed templates, allow consumers to construct and print the same type of projects as graphic designers although the overall product may not be as well-thought out, carefully crafted, or polished as the work of a professional designer.

Graphic design is the process and art of combining text and graphics and communicating an effective message in the design of logos, graphics, brochures, newsletters, posters, signs, and any other type of visual communication.

Desktop publishing is the process of using the computer and specific types of software to combine text and graphics to produce documents such as newsletters, brochures, books, etc.

Graphic Design = "Good" and Desktop Publishing = "Evil" Myth

Graphic design and desktop publishing are often used interchangeably but, in part because it is an activity also used by non-designers, desktop publishing is often considered a lesser activity than graphic design. In truth, the two are separate but intertwined disciplines.

Not everyone who does desktop publishing does graphic design, but most graphic designers are involved in desktop publishing - the production side of design. The term desktop publisher can refer to a designer or a non-designer but it often carries negative connotations of an amateur.

Some graphic designers are quite vocal about their distaste for desktop publishing, which is somewhat amusing since much of what they do does involve desktop publishing. What they are really upset about is not desktop publishing itself - it's an invaluable part of the entire graphic design process - but rather the misuse (real or perceived) of desktop publishing software by non-designers.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Desktop Publishing: Page Layout and Myths & Misconceptions

Continuing with Desktop Publishing:

Page Layout

By Jacci Howard Bear, About.com

Definition: Page layout (verb) is the process of placing and arranging and rearranging text and graphics on the page to produce documents such as newsletters, brochures, books, etc. Page layout (noun) refers to the actual document page and its composition. The primary software programs for desktop publishing are called page layout applications.

Also Known As: page design
page composition
document design
desktop publishing


"Before designers had desktop publishing software, page layout was often done by pasting blocks of typed or typeset text and images cut from special 'clip art' books onto sheets of paper." AND "Adobe PageMaker was the first desktop publishing or page layout program that made it easy to arrange and rearrange text and graphics on screen -- no more scissors or messy glue."
Myths and Misconceptions About Desktop Publishing:
Aldus Corporation founder Paul Brainerd, is generally credited for coining the phrase, "desktop publishing" after the development of Aldus PageMaker (now Adobe PageMaker). Before the invention of desktop publishing software the tasks involved in desktop publishing were done manually, by a variety of people and involved both graphic design and prepress tasks which sometimes leads to confusion about what desktop publishing is and how it is done.

Perhaps this list will help you combat your own desktop publishing and graphic design misconceptions or those of others.

1. Desktop publishing is just another name for graphic design.

Graphic design has been around far longer than desktop publishing. Desktop publishing is simply a software tool that graphic designers can use to help translate their concepts and ideas into the proper format for printing. But desktop publishing software is also a tool that anyone can use to create and print their own designs as well.

2. Desktop publishing is amateur design.

Desktop publishing by itself isn't design. It is the use of specific software tools to create projects such as business cards, invitations, books, newsletters, bookmarks, posters, and just about anything else that can be printed. Projects can be good or bad. It's the vision and skill of the person using desktop publishing software that determines the quality of the output. Desktop publishing software can be used for creating good or bad, professional or amateur design - it doesn't discriminate.

3. Real graphic designers don't do desktop publishing.

Most of today's graphic designers use desktop publishing software so in that sense, yes, they do desktop publishing. See the two previous myths for clarification.

4. You can do desktop publishing with Microsoft Word.

Yes and no. Desktop publishing software works in a different manner than word processing software. However, word processing software continues to evolve to include more of the features that used to only be available in desktop publishing software. For printing simple projects to a desktop printer, a word processor may be sufficient for your needs. For commerical printing or for complex page layout tasks, desktop publishing software designed specifically for page layout is more desirable.

5. You can do desktop publishing with Microsoft PowerPoint.

No, but people try. PowerPoint and other such presentation programs are not desktop publishing software. Graphic designers might do some work in PowerPoint but so do office managers, executives, accountants, Web designers, secretaries, and the kid across the street. It's simply a different tool used by many type of people, just as desktop publishing is a tool used by many.

6. You can do desktop publishing with Adobe Photoshop.

No. Adobe Photoshop and programs like it are graphics software. Photoshop is simply one type of software tool used by designers and non-designers. True, graphics software is used by graphic designers and others who use desktop publishing software but it is not a page layout application -- the type of software that defines desktop publishing.

7. Anyone using desktop publishing software can create professional designs.

No. Sure, the advertising hype for "easy-to-use" desktop publishing software claims otherwise but it's not true. It is true that desktop publishing software allows the non-professional designer to do page layout more easily and with a plethora of templates, fonts, and clip art at their fingertips they have the potential to create projects that look really good. But the software itself doesn't guarantee professional-quality design no matter who uses it.