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Friday, April 30, 2010

The Digital Newsstand: How Magazines Will Be Sold in the Tablet Age

Let's take a small step into the future and see how digital magazines will be distributed on digital newsstands. WOOOOSSHH...PLOP! We're here!

This looksee through the futuristic curtain is provided by Chandra Johnson-Greene of FOLIO magazine (pictured at left):

Magazine Publishers have quite a few choices when it comes to finding a newsstand in which to sell the digital, e-reader and mobile versions of their titles. From platforms created by digital edition vendors such as Zinio and Nxtbook, to newsstands directly related to devices created by Amazon and Barnes & Noble, publishers have multiple opportunities to position themselves in this new landscape. Here’s a breakdown of what’s currently available as well as what’s to come.

Breaking Down the Options

Digital edition vendors are currently taking two approaches when it comes to helping publishers sell their digital editions online: they’re either creating their own marketplaces or they’re creating magazine-branded storefronts and/or apps.

The majority of vendors, it seems, are taking the second approach. Tulsa, Oklahoma-based iMirus, for example, has been building microsites directly onto its clients’ Web sites where all of the digital subscription transactions take place. “The microsite allows us to strengthen the Pharmacy Today brand and it makes us more searchable,” says Bill Succolosky, senior director, creative services, associate publisher, American Pharmacists Association. “It connects our readers back to our homepage and also allows us the opportunity to sell ads online, which supplements our print edition.”

Lancaster, PA-based Nxtbook also has its own newsstand, but it isn’t actually used to sell digital subscriptions. Nxt-Stand is a portal where publishers can promote their digital content and readers can browse content for free. From there, customers are directed to the subscription page of that publisher’s Web site or are advised to purchase subscriptions via eMagazines.com. All of Nxtbook digital magazines are accessible on the Blackberry via the company’s Liberty platform.

Texterity has no plans to align its current newsstand Coverleaf with its mobile and e-reader offerings, according to a company spokesperson. It is currently working on providing print/digital bundle subscriptions that will be magazine-branded, not Texterity-branded.

“Digital vendors removing themselves from branding makes a lot of sense,” says Technologizer founder Harry McCracken. “There’s no inherent reason why readers should care about digital-distribution companies any more than they do about the ones that deliver print magazines to newsstands.”

Tablets and the iPad could be a boon for digital magazines. “If companies like Zinio, Nxtbook and Texterity play their cards right, e-readers should be the best things that ever happened to them,” says McCracken. “They already have well-established publisher relationships and technologies, and far more people are going to want to read magazine-format publications on tablet-style devices than ever wanted to on PCs.”

Publishers are also producing their own apps. “Very soon, we’ll have our own branded app and then customers will be able to get to our digital edition right from SportingNews.com,” says Jeff Price, president and publisher of Sporting News, which also works with Zinio. “It’s the best of both worlds because now we can focus on the loyalists through our own marketing and outreach efforts.”

Publishers can also sell their digital content on newsstands that Amazon and Barnes & Noble have created specifically for their devices—the Kindle and the nook. Both companies have created apps to make the content users download onto their devices accessible on PCs, Macs, Blackberrys and iPhones.

The subscription prices on these retailer newsstands, however, are more competitive than other digital newsstands. A monthly subscription to Fortune, for example, can be purchased for $1.49 a month on the Kindle, while The Nation costs the same on the nook.

What’s Next?

Going into 2011, publishers should have two more digital storefronts: Next Issue Media and Skiff.

“We don’t want to force people to have to go onto their computer and into a browser to get new content,” Skiff president Gilbert Fuchsberg told FOLIO:. “So we think it’s important to optimize our service for various devices.”

Skiff is in support of a traditional subscription model, according to Fuchsberg, because it’s what consumers tend to prefer, but the company will also sell single copies and bundles that could include the print magazine. When asked about price points, Fuchsberg declined to provide specifics but says that they will probably reflect was consumers are expecting.

“In general, consumers expect digital to be less expensive,” he says. “But at the same time, we want to make sure that publishers are getting paid for the value that’s being delivered.”

The magic price point for e-reader content may not come soon, according to McCracken. “Part of convincing people to pay will be to produce a product that’s meaningfully better than both the print and Web versions, at least for some reasons,” he says. “Nobody has completely solved that riddle. I’m pretty sure that it’s lower than the full print subscription cost—and I hope that it’s meaningfully higher than $0.”

For the most part, consumers are set on how they expect their shopping experience to be, which includes choices that are relevant to them, having access to decent search capabilities, and being able to read what they want in a timely fashion, according to Fuchsberg. “One of the great virtues of e-reading is thinking of something and doing it in a minute or less,” he says.

And publishers looking to get their titles onto any digital newsstands should be thinking about how to do so in the most efficient way possible. “That’s a big challenge especially for smaller publishers,” Fuchsberg says. “It’s not just about the migration of existing audiences. There will be readers that may not have had a previous relationship with your titles. Now you can deliver a new product to them that they would have never experimented with in print form before, but at a lower cost than print.”

Digital Newsstand Rundown

Company: BlueToad, Inc.
Platform: CoverStand
Titles Available: Magazines include GolfWeek, Paste, The Christian Science Monitor and L.A. Parent. Newspapers, books and catalogs are also available.
Sub Options: Users can subscribe to receive a digital version for their computers or, in most cases, their iPhones.
Price: Most magazines subscriptions are free, while most newspapers and books are paid.

Company: Texterity
Platform: Coverleaf
Titles Available: Titles include Ladies Home Journal, Discover, Fitness and Men’s Health.
Sub Options: If you’re already a print subscriber, you can download the digital version of that magazine for free. Single copies, print/digital bundles and digital-only subscriptions are also available.
Price: Single copies start at $0.99, one-year digital subs start at $4.99 and print/digital bundles start at around $9.97.

Company: Amazon
Platform: Kindle
Titles Available: Magazines include The Atlantic, Forbes, Fortune and Newsweek. Books and newspaper subscriptions are also available.
Sub Options: Subscribers are charged on a monthly basis despite the frequency of the magazine. The Kindle version of each title is delivered once the physical issue hits the newsstands. Kindle apps are also available for the PC, Mac, Blackberry, iPhone and iPad.
Price: Monthly e-magazine subs start at $1.49.

Company: Zinio
Platform: UNITY
Titles Available: Magazines include Billboard, Car and Driver and PC Magazine.
Sub Options: With one subscription purchase, users can receive the PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad versions of each title they choose.
Price: Varies

Company: eMagazines
Platform: eMagazines.com
Titles Available: Titles include ESPN, Black Enterprise, Nylon Guys and Family Circle.
Sub Options: eMagazines.com combines digital editions from across various platforms and software. Mostly monthly subscriptions are available.
Price: Varies

Company: Barnes & Noble
Platform: nook
Titles Available: Magazines include The Nation, Guideposts, Foreign Affairs and Harvard Business Review. Books and newspaper subscriptions are also available.
Sub Options: Users have the choice of only purchasing the most current issue or a monthly subscription. All issues will appear in the user’s eBooks Library on BN.com, on their nook and in their Barnes & Noble eReader.
Price: Monthly e-magazine subs start at $1.49.

Company: Mygazines
Platform: Mygazines.net
Titles Available: Titles include Relevant, AudioFile, Peer to Peer and SpaFinder.
Sub Options: Users can browse, share and e-mail individual issues at no cost. A mobile-browser flexible interface allows users to read their Mygazines on an iPhone, iPad, iTouch or Android.
Price: Free

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Anatomy of an Agent Search

I just read the story of writer Deborah Blake's arduous search for an agent and found it inspiring along with a few insightful nuggets of how you may deal with literary agents.

Deborah (pictured left) told her story: 2 Years, 3 Manuscripts, and 50 Rejections: Anatomy of an Agent Search to famous romance author Candace Havens (pictured right):

I have been writing on and off my entire life. In my youth, I even sent out a few short stories (mostly fantasy and science fiction). They got rejected. That led to the “off” part.

Five years ago, almost accidentally, I wrote a book about modern Witchcraft, and started my career as a Llewellyn author. I loved writing the nonfiction, and my fourth and fifth books will be out this year—but truly, my heart was with with fiction world. So I decided I needed to get serious about that side of my writing. That first nonfiction book had taught me something important: I could finish a book.

I set myself some concrete goals: I would write and finish a novel. Then I would get an agent. A top agent, of course. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But I didn’t realize just how hard and long the journey would be.

Two years, three manuscripts, and well over fifty rejections later, I finally achieved my goal. Along the way, a few surprising things happened, and I learned a lot about the agent search, publishing, and myself.

Candace Havens—one of the best surprises that happened to me on my journey—suggested that I share my travels and a little bit of what I learned, so here it is:

The Journey—

I finished the final edits on the first book in early February of 2008, and sent out my first query about a week later. Over the course of about a year, I sent out a lot of other queries, and got requests for partials and a few requests for fulls (including one from Harlequin editor Patience Smith, as a result of my EMILY “Best of the Best” contest win). I used all the Writer’s Digest GUIDE TO AGENTS and GUIDE TO PUBLISHING books, and the Agent Query site online. I also checked websites for the agencies and agents I was interested in, read the dedication pages of books by authors I respected, and started spending inordinate amounts of time following agents and editors on Facebook and Twitter.


It took insane amounts of time and effort, but the research really did pay off. For one thing, I only sent queries to agents who represented the kind of books I was writing. Which undoubtedly increased the amounts of requests I got (and didn’t piss off the agents—always a plus). It also helped me to come up with a top “wish list’ of agents, one of whom was the agent who signed me.

Read the rest of the story at http://alturl.com/aeev

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Publishing Prognostications

I admire and respect Mike Shatzkin who is CEO of The Idea Logical Company, Inc., a publishing consulting company. This man has worked at every level in the publishing chain since the early sixties and possesses a uniquely insightful knowledge of said industry.

The BISG (Book Industry Study Group)says this of Mike:

Mike’s first job in publishing was as a sales clerk at the brand-new paperback department at Brentano's Bookstore on 5th Avenue in 1962. Since then, he has authored five books and worked at virtually every step in the publishing value chain: editorial, production, sales, marketing and distribution. He served as Director of Marketing for The Two Continents Publishing Group in the 1970s and has been a consultant since 1979.

I have often used Mike as a valuable resource on my blogs. I mention this because, although I don't always agree with every one of his conclusions (I'll give an example later), he is a foremost authority that usually nails it correctly with logical perpsective gained from real experience.

ANYWAY, Mike has prepaired a brief but intensive history, status and outlook for publishing that is extremely informative and will educate all that are interested and want to know why publishing is in dire straits today and what it will look like and how it will perform in the future.

From Mike Shatzkin :

This is the 2nd of a 4-part post spelling out what I would have said if I had appeared at the Annual General Meeting of the UK Publishers Association on Wednesday, April 28, and not been cancelled by a volcano. Part 1 set the stage, spelling out how much change can take place in 20 years. This post offers a vision of the world of information and entertainment (or what we today think of as the world of “content”) 20 years from now. Part 3 will suggest what a publisher’s role can be in the new paradigm and Part 4 will take a shorter view, looking at the change we should expect in the next 2 or 3 years.

If we accept that 20 years is time for things to change a lot and with the belief that the pace of change in the world of information and entertainment is accelerating because of digital technology, here’s a view of what happens to content, audiences, and what will pass for “publishing” 20 years from now.

I’d expect that 20 years from now, the “local” hard drive will be relatively unimportant: a relatively short-term “emergency” cache for the rare moments when you aren’t easily connected to the network (the internet.) Data — all data, including everything you think you “own” — will live in “the cloud.” Kids in 2030 will find it as quaint to think of not being able to get at your files except by getting to your own computer as kids today would think it was to not be able to call somebody unless you could find a phone booth and they were at home (which was the situation 20 years ago.) Local storage may be seen by some as a virtue, but it is a virtue manufactured of necessity. It’s actually a hindrance. We will very shortly expect to get at all our files at any time based on a password or an iris scan or a fingerprint or some combination thereof (depending on our need for security.)

And we’ll access those files through a multiplicity of devices, which by then will really just be screens of varying descriptions with online access. There will be big ones that hang on our walls for us to watch movies on and to put a Picasso in when we’re not watching a movie. There will be small ones, foldable ones, and ones that come in rolls where you can use whatever roll width suits your immediate purpose. With your password, you’ll be able to use my screen for your data, just as you can use my computer to get at your gmail account today. There will be screens you can write and underline on which will store your markings (to share or not, as you choose.)

(I don’t want to get into the fact that we’re working toward converting a phone conversation into having the hologram of the person on the other end in the room for your chat, and I don’t know enough to know the timetable for that, but maybe we’ll get there in 20 years too!)

When screen technology progresses sufficiently, the idea of using paper will become a total anachronism. Paper won’t record and store your notes or annotations; screens will. For any volume of content, paper gets heavy. Screens don’t. If you could call anything up on a screen in your pocket that you could get today on paper, why would you want the paper? Nobody will, except for the artistic value that is associated with antiques. Paper won’t even be as good as a screen for your grocery shopping list. (I am imagining that my wife would be able to add an item or two to the screen list I have folded in my back pocket while I’m walking to the store.)

Even illustrated and coffee table books will be just about defunct, except as pure works of art. Screens will be able to deliver better image quality with more flexibility: to blow up the image, or rotate it (which you can see in the “Elements” ebook on the iPad today.) Screens can deliver you the accompanying text on top of the image for you to read it and then “take it away” for you to see the image alone. Books can’t do that.

Now, if this becomes true, it obviously changes the face of publishing. If distribution of all content is digital, and it is hard to see why it would not be, then the list of businesses that exist today that won’t exist in 20 years is a long one. Bookstores will exist, but they’ll be curiosity shops carrying used books and perhaps a handful of printed-on-demand newer items for the few print-pervy holdouts that remain (and 20 years from now, there will still be some.) It is hard to see survival for newsstands. Printing may still exist for packaging, but it won’t for newpapers, magazines, or books (except for the handful printed-on-demand.)

The change for publishers, though, is far more profound than a simple change in delivery mechanism would suggest. Publishers, indeed all commercial media in our lifetime, have been defined primarily by format. Some do books; some do magazines; some do newspapers. Others called producers do movies or television or radio. The capital and skill set requirements for a format effectively channeled the media company. For the most part, big media was not topic- or subject-specific; it was format-specific.

But when the exchange between publisher and content consumer becomes a file, rather than a book or magazine or movie or TV show, then format becomes irrelevant. A file can hold any of the formats we have historically thought of: text, photographs, diagrams, maps, video, audio. A file can also hold games and productivity software. So the publisher that is limited by the formats of the 20th century will not be competitive in the cloud-and-screen based media exchange of the future.

Wrapping our heads around the transition from physical media to digital gives some clues to how publishing and publishers will have to change to survive, but there’s another aspect of the web development we can expect over the next 20 years that is just as important. We call that the shift from “horizontal media” to “vertical.”

We’ve seen that media have been defined by format. The companion thought is that media have rarely been defined by topic or subject. Whether you’re talking about CBS or the BBC, The New York Times or the Times of London, or Random House in either country, the subject of the content is not limited. These companies will cover news, sports, public affairs, science, every academic discipline at some level, and pure entertainment. Except in the spheres where publishing exists in service to or as an extension of another establishment (educational, academic, professional), the primary identify of most publishers of scale is by their format, not their audience.

But we already see that the Web has changed that. Even superficially-”horizontal” brands on the web — Huffington Post and Gawker being two examples that are popular in the US — serve pretty specific interests (politics and celebrity, respectively, in these two cases.) And there are far more examples of new successful web brands which are subject specific: on sports, politics, women’s interest, health, crafts, cars. These businesses are built, first of all, on repeat visitors to a particular web site. But when they’re smart, they add user-generated content which turns into databases. They have lengthy comment strings to their blogposts which attract an audience of their own.

And they are building the publishing brands of 2030.

When we lived in a world of physically-produced and hand-delivered content, barriers of cost and scale effectively kept content scarce. It is no longer. Anybody who creates any content today can make it available to the world for no incremental cost if they have a web connection. Lots of professional content creators — individual and institutional — feel it is in their best interest to make content available without charge on the Web (sometimes with advertising support; sometimes not.) A consumer 20 years ago couldn’t read good writing and watch videos all day about whatever is their favorite subject for free unless they went to a library, where access would be bureacratic and cumbersome. A consumer with a web connection today surely can. All of this inevitably reduces the price anybody can charge for a competing piece of content in any form.

Here’s the important point for publishers to take on board. Content is being devalued by technology. This is inexorable. It is not anybody’s fault. It is not in anybody’s power to change it. The price consumers will be willing to pay for content is going to go down because of the laws of supply and demand. It is true that professional content creators can benefit from efficiencies and cost savings offered by the same technologies, so the loss of revenue doesn’t necessarily translate into an equivalent loss of income or profit. But the general direction is one way: down. Businesses that depend on monetizing the content they create will continue to be increasingly challenged over the next 20 years as they have been over the last 10. This won’t end well for the formula of creating content and selling it.

John's Note: I respectfully disagree with the previous paragraph. New content-driven technology gadgets should INCREASE not decrease the value of good content...AND I think the future demand for content will grow exponentially as many future tech devices will demand ever newer and fresher content. The tech with the best content offerings will be the better sellers. It's like having a nice new futuristic car in front of you that runs on content, but you can't drive it because you're out of content! After all, NO tech device or technology can replace the human brain and create content...

But if the price of content must inexorably go down because of the laws of supply and demand, publishers should look at what might go up for the same reason. And what will become more valuable over time is the audience looking at the content. Content won’t be scarce and command revenue, but human attention will. As the world verticalizes, the owner or controller of the web community that has (for example) the gardeners will be the one to decide what new gardening content is needed. However it is montetized — by standalone sale, or as part of a subscription, or supported by advertising, or underwritten by a sponsor — the control will belong to the entity that commands the eyeballs.

What all of this means, taken together, is that the successful publisher of the year 2030 will own a web community which is both a principal source of content and provides the audience for it. The community will not be content-centric alone; but we aren’t getting into that in more detail right now because sketching out the whole concept for “vortals” is “out of scope” for this exercise.

The publisher who owns “knitting”, or perhaps “knitting sweaters”, will develop and curate the content and control access to the audience just as surely as a major publisher has controlled access to bookstores shelves or a newspaper publisher to newsstand sales in our lifetimes.

Without bookstores and without any general marketplace dedicated to the sale of “books” as a format, the idea of a General Trade Publisher will have no meaning.

That’s 20 years away so publishers have some time to get from “here” to “there”. But they won’t get “there” by staying “here.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Want to Know the Changing Roles in Publishing?

Crumbling jobs, new jobs, abandoned distribution systems, expanded old jobs with new responsibilities and timelines, short-fuse investments due to rapid changing technology...Talk about being in the fast lane! What's a publisher to do?

Find out by attending the third annual Making Information Pay Conference for the Book Industry Study Group.

From the Shatzkin Files:
Mike pictured below

This is the third year in a row that we’ve put together the Making Information Pay conference for the Book Industry Study Group, in conjunction with Ted Hill of THA Consulting. We’ve repeated the formula we’ve applied for the past two years, doing an industry survey on the conference theme to provide some additional insight.

This year’s conference is called “Points of No Return.” It looks at things from the perspective of publishing’s employees and seeks to discover when the markets, technologies, and process changes make things so different that old skills don’t map, old organizational structures have to be completely revamped, and people really have to develop new capabilities, accept new roles, or be forced to move on.

Our survey this year tried to gauge the feelings of publishing’s labor force about the changes they’re seeing in their company and throughout the industry. We also asked for a reaction to a number of industry “buzzwords” (like “Twitter” and “vertical”.) A report on the survey results will be distributed at the conference, but here are three little nuggets:

1. The preponderant majority of workers in all parts of publishing — editorial, marketing, sales, IT, distribution — believe that significant changes caused by technology either have occurred or are occurring now. No surprise there, but the surprise will be that there is one function people think is changing much less than everything else. And wouldn’t you know it is one that I think will likely change more than any other over the next few years?

2. Half of our respondents think publishing will become a more profitable business in the future, but they split down the middle as to whether the business will be smaller and more profitable or larger and more profitable. There’s a similar split on expectations about whether there will be more jobs or fewer. (Half of those expressing an opinion think there will be more jobs! Stop the presses!!)

3. What I found to be a startling percentage of our respondents think Twitter is a fad, soon to fade away.

Making Information Pay delivers a concise program: two 90-minute sessions surrounding a 30-minute networking break that starts at 9 and concludes at 12:30. We designed the program so that the first 90 minutes delivers facts and insights about the industry and the second half features reports from the front lines of change.

After BISG Executive Director Scott Lubeck opens the program and I deliver a very short keynote, Kelly Gallagher of Bowker will begin the morning segment talking about what Bowker PubTrack Consumer has discovered consumers are saying that is relevant to publishers thinking about points of no return. PubTrack has delivered some great insights over the past year, from demonstrating how important in-store display is to book sales to quantifying consumer attitudes about ebooks in a special study done jointly with BISG. He will highlight the Bowker findings most relevant to our program’s theme.

The Gilbane Group is also working with BISG, doing research on the seven “essential processes” (which I still call “systems”) that publishers need to keep up to date in order to stay viable as their businesses change. Do your production processes support tagging chunks of content that you might want to sell separately from the whole book? If not, you will lose revenue as the market for fragments develops. Does your royalty accounting process enable you to report to authors on sales of this kind and divide revenues appropriately? If not, then you’ll have a different set of problems exploiting those new opportunities. David Guenette of Gilbane will tell the MIP audience what the seven essential processes are, why they’re critical, and what pitfalls await if they are not ready for what’s coming.

George Lossius of Publishing Technology will tackle one of the paralyzing challenges of our current environment: how can publishers make substantial investments in technology when the business climate is changing so quickly around them? Lossius maintains that there are things we do know that can guide us; he’ll be helping publishers see what truths are stable and reliable to guide their investment decisions, even when a lot is not.

Jabin White of Wolters Kluwer has worked through some major process changes within his own company. We’ve asked him to focus on the people-centered challenges of those changes. How do you bring people along when change might be making them uncomfortable or unhappy? And how does an organization deal with the changes in job skills required, which could mean changes in the particular people required, in the least disruptive way?

The second half of the program will start with Bruce Shaw and Adam Salamone of Harvard Common Press who will present an eye-opening view of how the strategy for new title acquisition changes when a publisher becomes sensitive to its role as a vertical player. They demonstrate convincingly that decisions change when an editor sees they are acquiring content for a database rather than simply publishing a book.

Phil Madans is deeply involved in Hachette’s move to a digital workflow for book development. This requires a shift from an “assembly line” way of working to a “collaborative” one. Editors no longer finish their work before they engage with design and production; there’s a lot more being done simultaneously rather than consecutively. Hachette is well along in building this new process; Madans will offer insights that will be very useful to other publishers still contemplating this switch

Matt Baldacci of Macmillan, who oversees all the marketing spending at his company, is covering the challenge of changes in where marketing dollars are allocated, and the processes and skill sets necessary to do successful marketing in today’s marketplace.

Maureen McMahon of Kaplan draws on her prior experience directing sales at Random House to analyze the changes in sales, which she sees as having moved from requring “closing” to requiring “connecting”, all of which leads to different hiring criteria than she would have applied only a few years ago.

And on top of that, BISG has two sponsors with useful messages. Steve Walker of SBS Worldwide offers his Electronic Distribution Center, which gives publishers completely new supply chain capabilities and a web-based tracking mechanism that cuts administration and communication costs at the same time. And John Konczal of Sterling Commerce has tools to enable new business models, such as those that the Gilbane analysis points out as requirements earlier in the conference.

We’re very excited about this program; we think people at every publishing house will have something to take home and apply that very afternoon, which is always our objective. As readers of this blog well know, I’ve been speaking at, running, and going to digital change conferences for almost two full decades. To my knowledge, there has never been one before that focused on people in their jobs. How will mine change? Will I still be able to do it? Will it still be here for me? And what do I have to do to make sure I can stay employed in publishing?

We think these are questions a lot of people are thinking about. If you’re one of them, join us at Making Information Pay on May 6!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Do Big Publishers Always Have Digital Rights? NOT!

Older, successful books (even pulitzer prize winners) may be digitally published by the author or author's estate by other than original publishers...AND this could mean a larger cut of the profits AND introducing fine literature to newer readers... Past "Lions of Lit" can experience a resurgence in popularity!

Pictured at left are Jane Friedman and Jeffrey Sharp of Open Road Integrated Media.

This from the New York Times by Motoko Rich:

After publicly staking a claim to the right to publish electronic versions of books that already have a long history in print, Random House appears to be letting go of digital rights to several works by one prominent author without a fight, potentially opening the way for other authors to take their e-books away from traditional publishers.

Early next month the family of William Styron, a literary lion of the 20th century who died in 2006 at 81, will proceed with plans to work with a new venture, Open Road Integrated Media, to release e-books of titles like “Sophie’s Choice,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Confessions of Nat Turner” and Styron’s memoir of depression, “Darkness Visible.”

Because e-books were not explicitly mentioned in most author contracts until about 15 years ago, disputes have arisen about who has the right to publish digital versions of older books. But along with other publishers, Random House, which releases Styron’s works in print, has said that clauses like “in book form” give it exclusive rights to publish electronic editions. In a letter to literary agents in December, Markus Dohle, chief executive of Random House, the world’s largest publisher of trade books, said authors were “precluded from granting publishing rights to third parties” for electronic editions.

But in a statement last week Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House, said the company was continuing talks with many authors or their estates about publishing e-books of their older works. “The decision of the Styron estate is an exception to these discussions,” he said in an e-mail message. “Our understanding is that this is a unique family situation.”

Mr. Applebaum added that Random House had released e-book editions of two titles by Styron published after electronic rights clauses had been added to contracts. “We are hopeful future discussions with his family members will eventually result in additional e-book publications,” Mr. Applebaum said.

People in the publishing industry said Random House’s apparent acquiescence in the Styron case could lead to a flood of other authors or their estates moving e-books to separate digital publishers.

“I just wonder whether we will see a spate of ‘me toos’ from other Random House authors and agents who feel that they too deserve similar accommodation,” said Richard Curtis, a literary agent and publisher of E-Reads, an e-book company.

With the market for e-books growing faster than any other segment of the industry, traditional publishers are scrambling to secure their digital futures not only by publishing current titles in e-book form but also by digitizing older titles. Some of these books can be very important to publishing houses because they bring in lucrative revenues every year with very little marketing investment.

But many authors and agents have not been satisfied by the royalty rates that traditional publishers offer on e-books. And in the Styron case the family was also lured by Open Road’s promise to reinvigorate Styron’s legacy and introduce his older books to new readers.

“There’s a whole generation, if not two new generations, who aren’t familiar with my father’s work,” Susanna Styron, the author’s eldest daughter, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t think a lot of young people are going to be introduced to my father’s work if they aren’t introduced to it electronically.”

Despite William Styron’s literary reputation his books have not sold particularly well in print in recent years. According to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, his biggest selling title last year was “Sophie’s Choice,” with only 5,000 copies.

Open Road, which was founded by Jane Friedman, the former president and chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, and Jeffrey Sharp, a film producer whose features include “Boys Don’t Cry” and “You Can Count on Me,” has a plan to push Styron’s work all over the Internet. In addition to selling the e-books — for which it has designed new “covers” and added biographical summaries — Open Road has produced film clips of Styron’s widow, Rose, and daughters Alexandra and Susanna discussing his life and work, and digitized hundreds of letters, photos and other documents from Styron’s archives at Duke University.

This material will appear on Open Road’s Web site, openroadmedia.com, as well as on Facebook. Open Road will also send out links on Twitter and try to persuade literary bloggers and fan sites to link to the content.

“All of this is going to be used by Open Road to uncover more fans for William Styron,” Ms. Friedman said in an interview last week at the company’s offices in SoHo. Open Road will not charge for any of this extra material. The company said the e-books would be sold through various online retailers, but for now it has a deal only with Amazon.

Rose Styron said she was attracted by the marketing plan. “My children and I felt it would be a fine way to get him back into the public eye,” she said in a telephone interview. “And this sort of publicity would be good for everyone, we thought, including Random House, because people would buy more of Bill’s books in print.”

Ms. Styron also said that the fact Open Road was offering a 50-50 profit share on the e-book editions attracted the family. “Of course we like that,” she said. The traditional publishers, including Random House, have recently moved toward an industry standard of offering authors 25 percent of net receipts (that is, revenue taken in from e-book retailers) for electronic editions. Individual authors have struck different deals with publishers.

Ms. Styron added the family was nevertheless torn by its decision to move the e-books out of Random House because of the family’s long-standing relationship with Bob Loomis, Styron’s friend and editor.

Jeffrey Coploff, the Styron estate’s lawyer, said Random House tried to persuade the Styrons to stay, but that in the end they decided they would be better served by Open Road, and that they had a legal right to seek a separate e-book publisher.

Mr. Loomis said he wished the family had decided to keep the e-books with Random House, but that he understood why it had chosen to move. Open Road is “concentrating on one author, which is a good thing for Bill,” Mr. Loomis said. “I think it’s going to work, if things like this can work.”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Street Fiction Publishing Firm to Release Novel

Street or urban fiction is a genre that takes place in the inner cities and expressed in locality slang...Raw, colorful and passionate, these books expose the reader to drugs, violence, sex and and the gritty realities of street life in urban America. If you want a slice of inner city life from the experienced imaginations of a talented group of authors from a growing genre, then put one of these books on your reading list.

This from The Journal Times dot com by Michael Burke:

A company that edits urban street fiction for publication has also moved into publishing the genre itself.

In October 2008 Niccole Simmons, 34, of Racine, and her nephew, Bryant Jones, 33, of Waukegan, Ill., cofounded 21st Street Urban Editing.

"Bryant had written a book and was looking for an editor," Simmons said about the company's start. But he was having a hard time finding an editor who wouldn't clean up his intentional slang and misspellings.

Simmons, who started in human services, said urban street fiction is written the way the urban culture talks; it includes forms of words not considered acceptable in traditional fiction. For example, its readers like to see "ain't" left alone.

"It's like hip-hop," Simmons said. "It's like the difference between hip-hop and R and B (rhythm and blues)."

The 21st Street mission statement is: "To provide the same quality editing service to urban and hip hop literature authors as the traditional editing services, at an affordable price."

Recently, Simmons and Jones added a third equal partner, Tiona Dawkins, 32, of Newark, N.J., to become 21st Street Urban Editing and Publishing.

Last week, Dawkins was on the verge of seeing her own novel, "The Unusual Suspects," released by Cartel Publications. She met Simmons and Jones because 21st Street was editing her manuscript.

The firm's intended clients are urban authors who, so far, have been self-published and sell their books at barber shops, beauty parlors, swap meets and so on.

So far the company has Jones, Dawkins and three other authors on board, Simmons said.
The first novel for 21st Street will be Jones' titled, "21st Street; Straight Outta Zompton" (slang for Zion, Ill.). It will be released as a trilogy of novellas, the first one scheduled for a June 1 release.

The book will be available at the 21st Street website, Amazon.com and through small distributors, Simmons said. The latter means that people could go to a bookstore and order it, but would not find it on the shelves.

After publishing 10 books, she said, 21st Street Editing & Publishing would be able to use some of the major distributors and have books placed in bookstores such as Barnes & Noble.

For more information, visit: http://21streeturbanediting.com or e-mail: niccole@21streeturbanediting.com

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Men Don't Read

Who says men don't read? They DO read...Indeed they do! But, to hear published-author Jason Pinter tell it, it's a wonder! I didn't REALLY realize, until I read his article in the Huffington Post, just how gender-biased most new literary and publishing business decisions and advertising are to women...He points out some excellent examples:

Jason Pinter is pictured at right.

Back in 2005, while I was still working as an editor, I had an opportunity to acquire a book that I was confident would be a bestseller. The author had a huge media platform, was one of the stars on a show watched by millions of people each week, hosted his own radio show, headlined his own band, he had a fascinating life story, thousands (if not millions) of fans worldwide, and even had a degree in journalisn. Unlike many celebrity memoirs, I knew this author was passionate about his story and had the writing chops to make it a great read. The author's agent wanted, in my opinion, a reasonable advance. I had confidence that this book was low risk, very high reward. However...

The author's name was Chris Jericho. Chris Jericho is a professional wrestler. Needless to say, pitching Jericho's book to my editorial board was like pitching iPads to the Amish. A whole lot of blank stares and a whole lot of people saying 'I don't get it'. Now, this is not the fault of the individuals, but it is the fault of a system in which in a room of 15-20 people, not one of them knew what I was talking about.

Like many boys, I grew up watching pro wrestling. I knew that Jericho was not only a huge star, but a genuinely smart, charismatic guy who had some incredible stories to tell. In an attempt to convince the editorial board, I brought in Chris's videos, action figures, CDs, anything I could think of to prove to a skeptical room that this guy was a big deal and his book would work. Nobody was buying my pitch. Nobody had heard of Jericho. So here's what happened--and I swear this is true.

One of our senior editors had a 15-year old nephew who was a wrestling fan. I was instructed to have a conference call with the editor's nephew, where I would ask him what he thought about Jericho. If the nephew agreed that Jericho was popular and the book had potential, I would be permitted to make an offer. If the kid disagreed, no dice. Naturally I was dumbstruck, infuriated, since I was essentially being told that a random 15-year with no publishing experience and questionable judgment was trusted more than I was. Thankfully, the kid agreed with me, and thought the book was a fantastic idea. The offer was greenlit, I acquired the book, and Chris Jericho's A Lion's Tale got rave reviews (Kirkus loved it. Kirkus!!!) and the
book became a New York Times bestseller. The sequel is scheduled to come out this Fall.

Why do I bring this up? Because if you've worked in publishing, you've heard the tired old maxim: Men Don't Read. Try to acquire or sell a book aimed predominantly at men, and odds are you'll be told Men Don't Read. This story is not an isolated incident, but merely a microcosm of a huge problem within the industry. If you keep telling yourself something, regardless of its validity, eventually you'll begin to believe it. So because publishers rarely publish for men and don't market towards men, somehow that equates to our entire gender having given up on the reading books. THIS MUST END.

This NPR piece three years ago came to the conclusion that women read more fiction than men by a 4-1 margin. Articles like this madden me because I think they miss the big picture, or perhaps are even ignoring it purposefully. It's like discussing global warming, while completely ignoring the fact that hey, maybe we have something to do with it.

In my opinion, this empty mantra has begotten a vicious cycle. I was hesitant to write this article, mainly because in no way do I want to be perceived as diminishing the talents of many, many brilliant women in publishing. That is not the aim of this piece, nor is it my opinion in any way. This is a critique of the system, not those who work within it.

Nobody can deny the fact that most editorial meetings tend to be dominated by women. Saying the ratio is 75/25 is not overstating things. So needless to say when a male editor pitches a book aimed at men, there are perilously few men to read it and give their opinions. Not to mention that, because there are so few men, the competition to buy books aimed at men is astronomical. I was once shot down in an effort to buy a sports humor book because I couldn't get the support of a senior editor. The reason? This editor had written a similar book proposal on submission and didn't want to hurt his chances of selling it.

Men read. Tons of them do. But they are not marketed to, not targeted, and often totally dismissed. Go to a book conference, a signing. Outside of a Tucker Max event, what percentage of attendees are men?

I thought about this while watching the first television ad for the Barnes & Noble Nook. The ad itself, I think, is quite well done and effective. It tells a story, hits strong emotions. But notice something odd? It markets itself solely towards women. What about the Kindle? Amazon is a brilliant, juggernaut of a company, but the ads for Kindle with their twee music would make any guy groan. Why would men buy an e-reader, considering the takeaway from these ads is you can a) learn about your pregnancy after falling for Mr. Darcy, or b) become Amelia Earhart or Holly Golightly?

Now look at the ads for the iPad. Cool, right? They catch your attention without alienating half the consumer population. Why can't we do that? Make a fun, cool campaign that doesn't cut your audience off at the knees?

I'm tired of people saying Men Don't Read. Men LOVE to read. I've been a reader my whole life. My father is a reader. Most of my male friends are readers. But the more publishing repeats the empty mantra that Men Don't Read the less they're going to try to appeal to men, which is where this vicious cycle begins.

Publish more books for men and boys. Trust editors who try to buy these books, and work on the marketing campaigns to hit those audiences. The readers are there, waiting, eager just under the surface. And I promise, if publishing makes an effort to tap it, they'll come out in droves. It won't be easy. They've been alienated for a long time and might need to be roused from their slumber. But as I've always said the biggest problems facing the publishing industry are not ebooks, or returns, but the number of people reading. This is a way to bring back a lot of readers who have essentially been forgotten about.

So the next person who tells me that Men Don't Read, I'll simply respond by saying Then You Don't Know Men.

Print it, and they will come.

Friday, April 23, 2010

B&N Adds Browser To E-reader, Competes With Ipad

I see the other e-readers, that were slightly diminished when the "more options" iPad came bursting on the scene, are scrambling to add extras NOW so they can stand a little taller against king iPad and keep a viable share of the market...Look forward to seeing many more improvements from all...including iPad!

From Associated press through Cain's New York Business:

An update to Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader will also allow users to browse complete books in B&N stores at no cost in another application in testing.

(AP) - Barnes & Noble says a software update to its electronic reader the Nook will let users surf the Web and play games.

The update will also allow users to browse complete books in Barnes & Noble stores at no cost in another application in testing.

Barnes & Noble's Nook uses Google's Android operating system. When it was launched, executives said Android applications could be developed for the Nook. The games, which includes chess and Sudoku, are the first Android applications.

Dedicated e-readers have been threatened by the launch of Apple's iPad earlier this month. Amazon.com's Kindle also offers a basic Web browser.

Nook users can download the update at www.nook.com/update.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Amazon vs Book Publishers

As many are already aware, there is a fight being waged to control prices of digital books. Amazon initially set prices lower than their own costs to boost sales and popularity of their Kindle e-reader. The Amazon $9.99 price for all digital books upset publishers who said this would destroy the publishing business...The publishers desired a so-called "agency model" that would let them set prices and have Amazon act as a vendor or retailer who would get 30% for selling.

Simply put, my dear interested readers (and I KNOW there are many out there!), we have two adversaries with very different motivations. One wants to set lower prices and accumulate a large content inventory (question quality) to sell digital devices. NOT good for writers...While the other wants the power to set high enough prices to pay for good talent to produce future quality content that will result in higher profits realized from content-driven work rather than "at-the-moment" digital devices. GOOD for writers.

Donald Marron, The Christian Science Monitor, says this about the subject waging war:

What will the future of publishing be as the book world goes digital? The latest battle between Amazon.com and book publishers may offer a hint.

Over at the New Yorker, Ken Auletta has a fascinating piece about the future of publishing as the book world goes digital. Highly recommended if you a Kindle lover, an iPad enthusiast, or a Google watcher (or, like me, all three).

The article also describes an unusual battle between book publishers and Amazon about the pricing of electronic books:

Amazon had been buying many e-books from publishers for about thirteen dollars and selling them for $9.99, taking a loss on each book in order to gain market share and encourage sales of its electronic reading device, the Kindle. By the end of last year, Amazon accounted for an estimated eighty per cent of all electronic-book sales, and $9.99 seemed to be established as the price of an e-book. Publishers were panicked. David Young, the chairman and C.E.O. of Hachette Book Group USA, said, “The big concern—and it’s a massive concern—is the $9.99 pricing point. If it’s allowed to take hold in the consumer’s mind that a book is worth ten bucks, to my mind it’s game over for this business.”

As an alternative, several publishers decided to push for an “agency model” for e-books. Under such a model, the publisher would be considered the seller, and an online vender like Amazon would act as an “agent,” in exchange for a thirty-per-cent fee.

That way, the publishers would be able to set the retail price themselves, presumably at a higher level that the $9.99 favored by Amazon.

Ponder that for a moment. Under the original system, Amazon paid the publishers $13.00 for each e-book. Under the new system, publishers would receive 70% of the retail price of an e-book. To net $13.00 per book, the publishers would thus have to set a price of about $18.50 per e-book, well above the norm for electronic books. Indeed, so far above the norm that it generally doesn’t happen:

“I’m not sure the ‘agency model’ is best,” the head of one major publishing house told me. Publishers would collect less money this way, about nine dollars a book, rather than thirteen; the unattractive tradeoff was to cede some profit in order to set a minimum price.

The publisher could also have noted a second problem with this strategy: publishers will sell fewer e-books because of the increase in retail prices.

Through keen negotiating, the publishers have thus forced Amazon to (a) pay them less per book and (b) sell fewer of their books. Not something you see everyday.

All of which yields a great topic for a microeconomics or business strategy class: Can the long-term benefit (to publishers) of higher minimum prices justify the near-term costs of lower sales and lower margins?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Acquia and Phase2 Technology Announce Powerful Pairing for Online Publishers

Real nuggets of information in this post RE a social publishing platform that is tailored to meet the needs of today's online publishers. Check out all three main- player companies mentioned in the subject pairing, on your own, and I guarantee you will learn infinitly more about self-publishing and related resources than you knew before.

Press release from Marketwire through MarketWatch.com:

Today Acquia and Phase2 Technology announce a partnership to provide packaged solutions for the OpenPublish Drupal distribution.

OpenPublish is a distribution of the popular open source Drupal social publishing platform that is tailored to meet the needs of today's online publishers. OpenPublish taps the power of Drupal and supports everything from basic news coverage to Web 2.0 trends, social media, topic hubs and rich semantic metadata using Thomson Reuters' OpenCalais Web Service.

The partnership combines Acquia's support expertise with Phase2 Technology's proficiency in developing complex Drupal solutions for online publishing and media organizations. It provides an opportunity for OpenPublish users to get support, hosting, training, and management solutions for smooth operation of OpenPublish sites. Packages include ongoing Enterprise support, Acquia Hosting designed for scale, and Drupal Remote Administration services for maintenance. These options will offer OpenPublish users a wealth of proven technology to solve challenges in the news and publishing space.

"We've defined a roadmap for continued development with an eye towards adding the latest innovations for the publishing industry," said Jeff Walpole, Phase2 Technology CEO.

The recently released OpenPublish Version 2.0 builds on previous releases and includes: support for premium content; advanced multimedia support out-of-the-box, including video, audio, embedded media and image cropping; and designer-friendly template architecture.

"The OpenPublish distribution represents an important step in the evolution of the Drupal market, offering publishers an easy on-ramp when considering Drupal," said Tom Erickson, Acquia CEO. "Our partnership with Phase2 Technology enables customers to benefit from our collective expertise in both publishing business processes and Drupal technology."

About Phase2 Technology

Phase2 is internationally recognized for providing technology leadership on the web using open source technology including Java and the Drupal social publishing platform for clients in these practice areas: online publishing and journalism; open government and public policy; advocacy and associations; media and entertainment. Our experienced team of consultants is known for specialty in content management systems, community applications, API and open data integration, and custom application development. Phase2 practices our own AgileApproach(TM), an agile development methodology that ensures quality and time to market of our software solutions. Please visit: http://www.phase2technology.com/

About Acquia

Acquia helps organizations of all sizes build social publishing websites quickly, easily and with a lower total cost of ownership by leveraging Drupal, the open source social publishing platform that blends content and community. Our products, services and support enable companies to leverage the power, technical innovation and economic value of Drupal while simplifying the experience, removing the complexity and minimizing the risk. Please visit: http://acquia.com.

About Drupal

Drupal is a free software package that allows an individual or a community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. Tens of thousands of people and organizations are using Drupal to power scores of different web sites, including community web portals, corporate web sites, Intranet applications, E-commerce applications and resource directories. The built-in functionality, combined with dozens of freely available add-on modules, will enable features such as: blogs, collaborative authoring environments, forums, podcasting, and much more. Drupal is open-source software distributed under the GPL and is maintained and developed by a community of thousands of users and developers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ipad = The Savior Knight of Publishing

Sir iPad came riding through speeding arrows, splattering fire balls and spiralling lances on a snorting, fire-breathing, white dragon and pulled Princess Publishing from a gasping death in the Amazon Kindle dungeon!...Ahhh, I've always wanted to write a little something gothic or medieval...

This comes from The New Yorker magazine through Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times:

This week's New Yorker brings an excellent overview by Ken Auletta of what the iPad means for the publishing industry. Auletta shows that Apple's entry into the e-book universe was about a lot more than just a new device: It gave publishers an alternative to Amazon's e-book pricing structure, a bit of leverage where they had previously had none.

Auletta details what happened when Amazon removed MacMillan's buy buttons and the role of e-books in the larger bookselling landscape. He also goes back, trying to get at Amazon's intentions toward books: "'Don't forget,' the chief of a publishing house said, 'Bezos has declared that the physical book and bookstores are dead.'"

He talks to Markus Dohle -- the CEO of Random House, the biggest of the big six publishers -- about why his company is selling e-books only with Amazon and not with Apple. He hears from business publisher Tim O'Reilly, who says publishing's traditional business model is flawed.

And then he looks forward, at the probable coming of Google's massive book project, which has an entirely different structure. Apple's entrance has shaken up the industry, but it's not settled yet. How people get books is diversifying; the iPad is just the latest, shiniest access point.

About the only thing Auletta's marvelous piece doesn't address is the reading experience. I tackled that in our pages, and while in my estimation the iPad handily beat the Kindle, a flood of e-mails tells me that Kindle owners remain unconvinced.

Get the full Ken Auletta article here http://alturl.com/go9p

Monday, April 19, 2010

Publishing Venture Bets on iPhone Short Stories

Talk about niche-need forecasting! A new publisher, Ether Books, launching today at the London Book Fair, will be offering short stories and poems over smaller mobile devices people already own.

Georgina Prodhan, reporting for the Washington Post, spells it out this way:

A new publishing company is betting that readers will bypass electronic readers such as Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader in favor of reading bite-sized stories on mobile devices they already own.

Ether Books will launch at the London Book Fair on Monday, and will offer a catalog of short stories, essays and poetry initially via Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch, by authors including Alexander McCall-Smith and Louis de Bernieres.

Well over 1 billion mobile phones are expected to be sold worldwide this year, compared with just a few million e-readers. Apple alone has already sold more than 85 million iPhone and iPod touch devices, and has just launched its iPad tablet PCs.

"The tech press may be slavering over the iPad, Kindle and Sony eReader as traditional publishers leap over themselves to expand their e-book offerings," Ether Books Digital Director Maureen Scott said.

"But at Ether Books we've made the decision to go straight to distributing short works via our iPhone app to devices people already own, are familiar with and are happy to use when they have 10-15 minutes to spare."

Scott previously worked for British technology group Psion, was a director of U.S. mobile Web pioneer Openwave and managed the development of the first airline consumer self-booking reservation product at British Airways.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Xlibris Corporation Announces the Launch of its eAdvantage Publishing Package

How about a way to self-publish your book automatically in all the latest e-reader formats, have it distributed by the six largest ePublishing retailers, have ability to custom design the interior and exterior (cover) AND FURTHER, have your book featured in the Google Search Engine marketing component! (I think Google pretty much happens for you for free when you self-publish on your own anyway).

Xlibris Corporation says it does this very thing through it's eAdvantage publishing package.

Pretty damn good, eh? I think this could be a good thing...depending on the up-front costs, which I can't determine over the week-end...But, there is an "800" phone number given below
that you can call later and get all the relevent info.

I DO know that you can get your books advertised on Smashwords that offer downloads in all the e-reader formats FOR FREE...but, you have to pretty much do your own advertising...I just don't know, at this point, what exact value Xlibris offers. Xlibris is a subsidiary of Author House/Author Solutions (a so-called "vanity" publisher), who hasn't enjoyed the best rep in the past...but, with self-publishing becoming more acceptable in today's publishing upheaval, they may just be offering a worthwhile product...Just proceed with caution.

This press release from PR-USA.net:

Bloomington-based self-publishing pioneer Xlibris Corporation announces the launch of its eAdvantage Publishing Package. This service spells a fresh opportunity for self-published authors wanting to tap into the emerging market of portable eBook readers across the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Figures from the Association of American Publishers, a group of leading book publishers in the US, reported a 176.6% increase in eBook sales amounting to $169.5 million in 2009. The report underscores the growth of the electronic publishing's share of trade from 1.2% in 2008 to 3.3% in 2009, suggesting a shift in reader's book-buying preferences.

Xlibris goes on to tap this emerging niche by offering the eAdvantage publishing package for independent authors. The package combines its professional self-publishing services with top of the line marketing services that maximizes an eBook's availability and visibility online.

Standard package features include a fully customizable book interior layout and cover design services where authors themselves can either work with a professional interior layout and cover design templates or provide their own designs. All published eBooks get the "ePak", that is automatic distribution to six major electronic publishing retailers in their respective formats: Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble.com's The Nook, Sony Readers and online digital book portals Scribd.com and Booksonboard.com.

Complementing the list of publishing and distribution features is the eAdvantage's Google Search Engine Marketing component. This allows electronic publishing buyers to find titles using keywords that authors can "bid" on to associate their published works with, thereby boosting their eBook's visibility online.

Both previously published and unpublished authors can take advantage of eAdvantage's Author Services Representative who will guide them through the entire publishing process. They can also track their electronic publishing's progress and sales via the "MyXlibris" tracking interface in the Xlibris website. Published titles get their own book pages within the site with their authors retaining full control of the content. Further, authors get a 50% royalty on every eBook sale paid on a quarterly basis.

For more information on the eAdvantage Publishing Services Package, please visit http://www2.xlibris.com, e-mail pressrelease@xlibris.com or call at 1-888-795-4274, to receive a free publishing guide.

About Xlibris:
Xlibris was founded in 1997 and, as the leading publishing services provider for authors, has helped to publish more than 25,000 titles. Xlibris is based in Bloomington, IN and provides authors with direct and personal access to quality publication in hardcover, trade paperback, custom leather-bound, and full-color formats.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Will New Thriller Make Indian Publishing History?

India is hungry for fiction writers! Apparently a big market has developed in India and they are eagarly seeking more commercial thriller fiction writers!

Have a good fiction thriller manuscript laying around? Send it to HarperCollins-India...

This plucked from IANS (Indo-Asian News Service):

The yet-to-be released thriller 'Johnny Gone Down' by Karan Bajaj is set to make publishing history with a first print run of 50,000 books, billed as one of the biggest ever in India for a work of fiction.

The thriller will be published by HarperCollins-India at an affordable price of Rs.99. 'It is the first time HarperCollins-India is aiming to achieve nearly 100,000 copies in a year with the first print run of 50,000 for an Indian author at such an attractive price,' Lipika Bhushan, head of marketing at HarperCollins-India, told IANS.

The book narrates the racy tale of 40-year-old Ivy League scholar, Nikhil Arya (aka Johnny), who is broke, homeless and minutes away from blowing his brains. An innocent vacation turns into an intercontinental journey that sees Nikhil first become a genocide survivor, then a Buddhist monk, a drug lord, a homeless accountant, a software mogul and a game fighter.

Bajaj is also the author of 'Keep off the Grass'. His new book is also being used by the publishing house as a brand emblem to promote mass market commercial fiction and thrillers with a multi-pronged publicity campaign, sources said.

A source at HarperCollins said: 'The publishing house was promoting commercial mass market fiction this year. It is a genre we have been promoting over the last couple of years very aggressively.'

'Books such as 'Almost Single', 'The Zoya Factor', 'Bombay Rains' and 'Keep off the Grass', 'Married But Available', 'Secrets and Lies', and very recently 'Keep the Change Year After Year' have been a series of titles from Indian authors for the Indian audience that end up doing big numbers,' Bhushan said.

The publisher is using the book as a 'brand symbol' for the genre of commercial thriller that is beginning to come of age in India with a new crop of young writers, who are fusing western classical thriller models with 'desi' sensibilities, sources at HarperCollins said.

The publishing house had earlier mounted a similar publicity blitz for Sam Bourne's thrillers in India.

'As Johnny, the protagonist, is an interesting character, the marketing drive is to get readers inquisitive about Johnny with a 'Who is Johnny Campaign'. The USP of the campaign that will roll out in the next two weeks will comprise a mix of great price point, quality content, advertising (all media) and retail level promotions, events, and heavy online promotion,' Bhushan said.

Author Bajaj said the novel was a 'deeper darker Forest Gump-ish adventure'.

'It relates the almost bizarre, almost surreal series of events that transform a pretty ordinary NASA scientist into a genocide survivor, then a Buddhist monk, a drug lord, a homeless accountant, software mogul and then a game fighter,' the writer told IANS.

Bajaj said he was inspired by both films and literature.

'I was influenced as much by the dark, gritty mood of films like 'Oldboy', 'The Deer Hunter' and 'Amores Perros' as by the incredible journey of 'Forrest Gump' (which is one of my favourite novels and a mighty decent film as well) and the surreal adventures of Sonchai Jitpleecheep, the Buddhist detective-protagonist of John Burdett's Bangkok novels, 'Bangkok 8', 'Bangkok Tattoo' and 'Bangkok Haunts',' he said.

For a book summary: 'Johnny Gone Down'

Friday, April 16, 2010

Could an 'iPad Skeleton' Transform Tablets into Notebooks?

How about a stand or sleeve to prop your iPad on coupled with an app to accommodate a keyboard and processor with an operating system to magically turn your iPad into a notebook computer? This scenario, or some facsimile, is sure to come...

You realize, of course, I made the previous statement with only the foggiest idea of what the hell the difference, if any, there is between a tablet computer, a notebook (or laptop) computer, a slate, an iPod or iPhone, etc, etc, etc!

This from Mark Hachman of PC Magazine...and thank the computer god for experts:

Lenovo's U1 Hybrid could signal the future of the Apple iPad and tablet industry, if any accessory manufacturers want to jump on board.

Lenovo's U1 is something truly novel: a Linux-based tablet that can be docked back into a notebook form factor, adding a keyboard, a second processor, a Windows operating system, and additional battery life to the mix. But what if all a user wanted was a keyboard?

Let me explain. I haven't been lucky enough to play with the iPad yet, so I can't comment on the usability of its keyboard. But the disadvantage of any touchscreen device, in my mind, has been the lack of a quality keyboard, that can be used as effectively as a physical keyboard over long periods of time. And this, I believe, is a concern: by adding iWork to the iPad software ecosystem, Apple has signaled that it hopes customers will perform some light content creation. Patrick Moorhead of AMD, who used the iPad for a week as a business tool, noted that his wrists became cramped after a few hours of work.

From a physical standpoint, here's what differentiates a notebook from a tablet: A hinge. And a keyboard.

While MacBooks can be found all over college campuses, I can't imagine too many students will be taking notes (typed notes, mind you) on an iPad or other tablet unless there's a hard surface to support the tablet. Even though Apple banished laptop users to a specially designated ghetto at the recent iPhone OS 4 launch, the majority of attendees at that and at any industry event tend to favor notebooks or netbooks. We're used to the experience.

In February, LaCie announced several tablet sleeves that (coincidentally, as it turns out - LaCie did not receive any information about the iPad's specs before the launch) fit the iPad and other tablets. Since then, a number of other sleeve manufacturers (including, most recently, Speck) have launched protective sleeves and cases.

But the one innovation I haven't seen is a sort of skeleton notebook, with an open sleeve at the top to allow users to insert and remove the iPad, with a hinged plastic or metal backing that would support it. If I was designing the concept (a tab-book? an iPad skeleton? a "Markbook"?) I'd either build in a Bluetooth wireless keyboard into the plastic base, or somehow leave a space for users to attach their own. Basically, think of an empty notebook shell, with a keyboard, but with an iPad replacing the display. (Bluetooth allows a physical separation between the keyboard and iPad.)

I imagine the skeleton might look vaguely like the Sweetbox notebook case above, just a bit more rugged, integrated, and with a more elegant design.

Before the iPad's launch, I wasn't sure if Apple would allow a Bluetooth keyboard to connect to the iPad. Fortunately, it is increasingly becoming clear that users have a great deal of freedom in selecting one; according to reports, Bluetooth keyboards that work with Apple's tablet include the iGo Stowaway, the Think Outside keyboard, and, best of all, Apple's own Bluetooth keyboard.

The advantages are significant; Apple's Wi-Fi-only iPad starts at $499. The MacBook starts at $999. That $500 gap is roomy enough for a sleeve or other accessory manufacturer to sell an iPad skeleton for $80 to $140 and still lure customers. And since we're talking about a keyboard married to a case combined with a sleeve, I can imagine both keyboard and peripheral manufacturers (Belkin, LaCie, or Logitech, for example) as well as sleeve manufacturers potentially entering the market.

Note that the concept isn't necessarily confined to iPads. A number of other suppliers (including Dell, with its Mini 5 tablet, the HP Slate, and an undisclosed tablet from Toshiba, among others) could certainly take advantage of the skeleton concept.

Of course, the concept could be taken even farther, with full-fledged docking stations built into the skeleton base. At that point, the line between laptop, netbook, and tablet would blur even further.

A skeleton certainly represents a threat to the Apple MacBook; a skeleton takes a product primarily designed for consumption and turns it into more of a productivity tool. But it seems like a win-win for all concerned.

I've held informal conversations with a few manufacturers, and they've seemed intrigued by the idea. That either means we should be seeing iPad skeletons shortly, or else they're running into some unexpected snags. Either way, I'm personally interested in the concept, and would like to see what the industry could do with it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Non-Traditional Books Lead Industry's Growth

This means, my dear book worms, that e-books are where the action is! This post gives some statistics RE the top genre of books sold on the internet as well as the top online publishers of 2009.

Gloria McDonough-Taub , CNBC Senior Editor of Blogs, published these details on her CNBC blog Bullish on Books :

Interesting release from Bowker—the folks who watch all things publishing.

Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker projects traditional U.S. title output in 2009 was virtually unchanged —BUT— the big driver in '09 were “non-traditional” books.

These so-called "non-traditional" books are marketed almost exclusively on the web and are largely those on-demand titles produced by reprint houses specializing in public domain works and by presses catering to self-publishers and "micro-niche" publications.

The production of print-on-demand books first surpassed traditional book publishing in 2008 and they've been on fire ever since.

Bowker reports these titles are now more than twice the output of traditional titles and only a handful of publishers dominate the market. “These companies are opening up new publishing venues by producing titles for very niche markets and also bringing public domain titles back to life. The net effect creates a long-tail that has no end,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services for New Providence, N.J.-based Bowker.

Ok, so we're reading, but take a look at what we're reading:

Categories that grew tended to be those that could help readers in the workplace or those looking for what I call, "economic survival guides." For example, output increased in technology (+11%), science (+9%) and personal finance (+9).

Losers—cookery and language titles each declined 16% and travel continued its year over year decline, down 5% in 2009 (it took a 10% loss in 2008).

Fiction titles also saw a second year of decline—down 15%.

Top Book Production Categories:

1. Fiction 45,181 53,058
2. Juveniles 32,348 29,825
3. Sociology
/Economics 25,992 24,737
4. Religion 19,310 18,296
5. Science 15,428 14,100

And as for those few who are doing so much - here's the list of those publishers who are dominating the "non-traditional" market.

Top Publishers by Title Output in 2009:

BiblioBazaar 272,930
Books LLC 224,460
Kessinger Publishing, LLC 190,175
CreateSpace 21,819
GeneralBooks LLC 11,887
Lulu.com 10,386
Xlibris Corporation 10,161
AuthorHouse 9,445
International Business Publications, USA 8,271
PublishAmerica, Incorporated 5,698

To read the full report, download the full statistics report here.

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.com — And follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Writers Should Set Goals

Goal setting has never been my forte...BUT, I am working on it! Guess I need to set a goal to set better goals...At any rate, I read a great blog on GENREALITY by Bob Mayer that gives some sharp direction (what else would you expect from an ex-green beret) on setting strategic goals for writers and the tactical (or sub-) goals that lead to their accomplishment:

The Hierarchy of Goals

Overall Writing Goal. (Strategic)

Book goal. (Tactical)

Business goal (Tactical)

Shorter range/daily goals (Tactical)

So let’s talk about your strategic writing goal. It can be anything, but it’s important that you lock it down. Some broad examples:

I will be a NY Times best-selling thriller author in five years.

I will write my memoir for my grandchildren in the next three months.

I write part-time simply because it is a hobby and spend an hour a day on it.

I want to be published within 2 years by a major, traditional press.

I will have my book in print within 2 months via self-publishing.

I will write a book that will help people with —– and spend the next three years using it to bolster and complement my speaking career.

The Importance of Your Strategic Goal:

It starts your creative and practical process.

It determines your tactical goals.

Remembering it keeps you focused.

It is the core of your work regime.

It is the core of your marketing campaign.

All tactical goals must align with it in the hierarchy.

Tactical Goals.

The key to exactly knowing your strategic goal is that every tactical goal that follows is designed to support it. Thus, everyone’s path will be different based on having different strategic goals. Everything that you do and learn is filtered through your specific strategic goal. When you go to a writers’ conference, everything you hear is also filtered through your strategic goal. So two people attending the same session are going to walk out with two different impressions, each filtered through their point of view, which is shaped by their strategic goal.

What I have seen—and experienced—is that most writers do their first book blindly and don’t have a plan beyond finishing it and trying to sell it. Most writers spend too much time and effort trying to sell their first book, rather than moving on to a second and third manuscript. Rarely does a first manuscript sell. Most published authors I know sold somewhere around number two or three. At a daily level, many writers don’t have a plan for writing every day.

When you state your goals, they should be done in one sentence. The sentence should have a positive verb that indicates the action you want to use to achieve your goal. The verb must indicate an action you control—to an extent. In publishing, you control the writing and the way you approach the business. Beyond that, the publishing gods are fickle. I will become a NY Times Bestselling author in five years seems a bit lofty. But here’s the bottom line: if that’s what you want to achieve, then state it. And then develop a plan to do it. This greatly increases you odds of achieving the goal than the hit-or-miss method. I have listened to many successful authors and many of them set out with lofty goals, and then busted their butt to achieve those goals. As you will see shortly, once you have that strategic goal, it changes everything you do, because everything you do has to support that goal.

Your goal should have an external, visible outcome. Just as in your novel your character’s goal should be something concrete and external, so should yours.

You should have a time lock for achieving the goal, unless time is of no consequence to you. For most of us, time is the most valuable asset we have.


Here’s another thing about stating your goal: Putting it out there, verbally and in writing, is a form of making a commitment. I know many writers get some static from those around them about all the time and money they invest in writing when they are unpublished and there seems to be no payback. If all those around you see is you sitting in front of a computer staring into space and then going off to conferences, they might start to question what you are doing. Letting others know your goal is committing you to trying to achieve it and also lets others know you’re serious about what you are trying to achieve. Then showing your tactical goals such as how much time you allocate each day to writing, attending conferences, taking workshops, etc. will make sense in terms of the framework of the larger, long-term goal.

It also puts pressure on you to stick to your goals. I know many people who are afraid to clearly state their goals because by not doing so, they can slack off day after day. Also, some are afraid to state goals because they fear ridicule.

In 1987 Jim Carrey was 25 years old and a struggling comic. He drove his Toyota up Mulholland Drive in LA. Overlooking the city he wrote himself a check for $10 million. He dated it 1995 and noted it was “for acting services rendered”.

He was wrong. In 1995, his price for a movie was $20 million.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Special Report: E-Reader Revolution in True Digital Format!

For those who have not experienced the new digital ambiance through an e-reader and all it's convenient interactivity, todays post will take you there through FOLIO magazine's special report:

THE E-READER REVOLUTION: Digital Magazines, Mobile Media, E-Readers and the Opportunities for Media Brands

If anything, this year will be a year of transformation for the digital magazine, driven by an exploding mobile device market, including e-readers and tablets. Publishers have renewed their interest in producing digital editions for these new platforms while simultaneously continuing to distribute “traditional” digital replicas of their magazine brands. Here, we check in with vendors and publishers for an update on the state of the digital magazine, its new opportunities and where it’s headed. ■

CLICK HERE to view this digital report in its entirety in true digital format.

Monday, April 12, 2010

BN's Nook Expanding Its Retail Presence

The competition between e-readers is heating up...as expected! The Barnes & Noble's Nook will be sold in the Best Buy chain beginning next week per the Associated Press:

Bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. has struck a deal with electronics retailer Best Buy to start selling its Nook e-reader in more than 1,000 of the mega stores next week.

Electronics seller Best Buy Co. will sell Barnes & Noble Inc.'s electronic reader Nook beginning Sunday, the companies said Monday.

The $259.99 e-reader and its will be sold at 1,070 Best Buy stores in the U.S.

Previously, the device was sold only at Barnes & Noble stores and online.

Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook last year to compete against Amazon.com's Kindle and other e-readers.

Shares of the book seller rose 10 cents to $22.87 in morning trading. Best Buy shares rose 14 cents to $45.03.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Technology Behind Paywalls

I've always been curious about the choices you might have when constructing or designing a paywall for online content...Well, Bill Mickey , an astute writer for FOLIO magazine, has presented a clear picture of what some well known mags are experimenting with to monetize their proprietary online digital content:

Online paywalls are still being scrutinized as a possible revenue stream to supplement declining revenues in print and online display advertising. Yet, there are still relatively few publishers that have found success in the strategy. What’s conspiring against more rapid implementation, especially these days, are significant capital investments in technology, a strategic about-face, a possible decline of total audience, and the daunting prospect of determining if your content can be fashioned into a service or experience, thereby unlocking its value.

There are different models of online paid content—metered, pay-per-article, subscription, and so on. At The Deal, LLC, a b-to-b media company serving the financial and investment sector, an enterprise subscription model was selected.

Even in the b-to-b world, where content is valued for its depth of data and service orientation, adjusting to a paid model can be painful. The Deal, which had a paid model that CIO Michael Lonier called a “mixed bag” of individual subscription packages, re-engineered its platform into one that provides access on an enterprise license level. The decision was based on a conclusion that a fully-licensed model offered a steadier income stream that smoothed out the “cyclical and longer-term secular changes in sponsored advertising,” says Lonier.

“We’re about a year and a half into a significant transformation of our product, and prior to that we had a more conventional b-to-b kind of product mix with a qualified magazine and free stuff and some paid stuff and some premium products. It was a mixed bag of products, which we supported with a subscription strategy and sold primarily via telemarketing,” says Lonier.

The Deal moved away from that strategy to one where all the content was streamlined onto a common platform and format where it could be sold as an enterprise-level service called The Deal Pipeline, complete with its own dedicated sales team. “We sell with a relationship model like you would sell almost any other high-end service,” says Lonier. “There’s a sales team that works with different accounts.”

The jump, as all publishers know, was both risky and painful. In The Deal’s case, the publisher went all in. Not only is the content at a much higher price point, but the company is targeting a smaller customer universe. “The first year is tough for this sort of thing,” says Lonier. “It will be for anyone. You have the baggage of the way you used to do things. Especially, in our case, since we are shooting for a higher price point.”

Lonier is careful to make an important distinction that the value proposition for The Pipeline is what the content does for the customer, not the content itself. “We don’t sell content, we’re selling an enterprise information service. Content is part of it. The other part is access and deliverability. All of that is designed to add value.”

Subscription Paywalls

Harvard Business Review has a paywall that’s primarily accessed via a subscription model. Print subscribers don’t have automatic access. Readers can subscribe to print ($79/year) or digital ($99/year), or both ($129). Non-subscribers also have the option of buying a single-copy PDF of a story for $6.50.

It’s a fairly aggressive paywall in both pricing and access—non-subscribers can read the first full page of a story before bumping into the subscribe message. According to Kevin Newman, director of Web technology at HBR, the magazine is exploring ways to be a bit more flexible. The goal is to tease just enough to achieve conversion. “Our strategy is changing to allow users, instead of having that firm wall, to have an opportunity to get a deeper sample and then restrict after that,” says Newman. “Hopefully, we’re accommodating users and finding that pivot point where users become subscribers.”

In-House Solution for Flexibility

The infrastructure Newman’s team has built was engineered completely in-house. This approach allows Newman the flexibility to make changes on the fly, especially since specific paywall strategies are difficult to commit to as user preferences and behaviors change.

“We went in this direction because we want to do this piecemeal,” he says. “We want to introduce it to the users without disrupting their experience and find the right mix for people who aren’t customers. We haven’t found any other products out there that can deliver that kind of functionality.”

Accordingly, the HBR paywall system exists in between enterprise systems (user data and transactional operations, for example) and the content systems (CMS). This allows Newman to experiment with new approaches without having to re-engineer integration with the other systems. “In between there we’ve got the applications my team runs,” he says. “The point at which we’ll be experimenting with the paywall is exactly there. At what point do we want the content to be displayed, or put up an offer? It’s all very much in the application and not tied to the enterprise systems. It’s back to the more flexible approach. If users rebel and reject our approach we want to dissemble it and get back to where we were, without all the overhead.”

Similarly, The Deal built its system in-house as well, all the way down to the way the publisher controls subscriber access. “We built a whole new platform,” says Lonier. “We moved away from an old Sun Server world and built a virtualized network. We employ services in the cloud. Every page is a set of queries—when people access our content people are actually manipulating queries.”

Would you continue to use your favorite site if there was a paywall?

Bad [for] News
In its recent State of the News Media report, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism broke out a section on online economics. Keep in mind that the report is on news media, not media in general, but the results don’t bode well for paid content in a mass-news market. In a phone survey, 82 percent of online news readers said they’d surf somewhere else for news if they confronted a paywall—even if it was their favorite site.