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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Authors Have Real Power in the Wylie/Random House Fiasco

Let's talk, again - but from a different perspective, about the Wylie literary agency entering the publishing business with their Odessey Editions e-book publishing deal with Amazon.

The air is thick with high-stakes suspense and intrigue in the publishing world!

And what is at stake in this standoff?...Publishing rights, that's what. And who initially owns ALL rights? Neither the agents nor the publishers! The authors (creators) do. So, it seems to me they are the ones who hold the true position of power...And authors are the one common denominator with both publishers and agents and the entity that drives their money-making capability!

So, why is all the publicity and hoopla concerned with Random House and Wylie and only secondarily with the authors they both supposedly "represent"?

I'll tell you why, because writers are not organized as well as a business industry/force to be reckoned with. Oh, there's the Authors Guild, but they are weak as water and came out with a statement RE the Wylie/RH fiasco to this affect:

"publishers have brought this on themselves.” ...Well, DUH!

The only thing at odds here is who owns the digital publishing rights before they came into existence. The authors owns ALL rights to their work unless they sell or contract them to others...And they cannot sell or contract any right that does not exist at the time of the contract or transaction.

I suggest all authors go back and review the exact wording in contracts with their agents and publishers and between their agents and publishers...I think they will find they can sell this new publishing right to whomever they desire.

Read this insightful article: Agent vs. Publisher: Could the Andrew Wylie/Random House stand-off happen in Canada? by Mark Medley in the Canadian National Post

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time Magazine is Unhappy with iPad Publishing

Is Apple screwing with it's publishers? Seems so according to this report by Matt Hartley
writing for cooltechzone :

Considering all of the hype built up around the iPad’s potential influence with the print media, one might think they’d be a little more happy about what it could do for them. No such luck. Seems that there are publishers out there that feel that the iPad spells real trouble for their own efforts, despite any previously conceived ideas of mutual benefit.

AllThingsDigital reports that Time Inc. is up in arms over how Apple is handling the way Time offers subscriptions to their users. In short, Apple says no dice. That’s correct, Apple is not allowing Time to manage their subscriptions they way the publisher would like. This means Time is not handling the money going back and forth, despite Apple allowing others such as Amazon to do this early on.

For comments to this piece go to original article http://alturl.com/qrbr8

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Augmented Reality-Powered Content Will Spur Magazine Sales

Augmented Reality-Powered Content allows you to use your mobile devices (e.g. smartphones) to access a video of the cover story from a magazine and bring it to audio and visual life!

How about that, Einstein?

This is really cool and Jason Fell, of FOLIO magazine, wrote this report:

The list of magazines tapping into the virtual world of augmented reality keeps growing larger. Time Out New York Kids and Revolver magazine have recently unveiled covers that feature the budding technology.

At Time Out, the August issue of Time Out New York Kids allows readers to use their smartphones to access a video of the cover subject, the chorus from Public School 22 in Staten Island (of YouTube “fame,” covering songs by popular music artists like Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys and Rihanna). Readers first download the junaio app from AR browser and TONY Kids’ technology partner Metaio (available from the Apple App store or Android Marketplace). After holding their smartphone up to the cover, a video of the student chorus singing “One Day” by artist Matisyahu pops up on their screen. Here’s a video demonstration:

Read more at FOLIO magazine

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is Wylie Agency's Foray into Publishing a Conflict of Interest?

If you think Shakespeare, pictured below, is confused trying to use a computer in the modern world, how about the confusion of publishers, authors, agents and booksellers in the new digital publishing world!

The debut of digital publishing has sparked an atmosphere in which authors, publishers, agents and booksellers are fighting amongst themselves, blurring their old-core missions and scrambling around looking for the best future bottomline after losing the old bottomline!

Case in point: Literary agent Wylie becoming a publisher through Amazon...

But, is Wylie in conflict of interest with their author clients? Could be, so authors be forewarned! If Wylie is dealing as a publisher will they be looking out for their interests or those of the author clients?

Now this is a conundrum that can be worked out, I believe, but it hasn't yet...Presents an interesting problem to be solved, no?

HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer, wrote a great article addressing this point for ABC News/Entertainment at http://alturl.com/ddhhe

Sunday, July 25, 2010

E-books Sales Up - Print Books Maintaining

Another view that puts print books in proper perspective...They are still a strong force.

Bob Hoover , of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, writes this intuitive piece that points out some figures that are sometimes ignored or forgotten:

Amazon, the online retailer, has been selling its Kindle digital book reader for nearly three years now, one of a handful of these electronic devices, including the recent Apple iPad that combines a bunch of "applications" that the other digital readers lack.

Despite the makers' suggestions that the device will make the old-fashioned print book extinct, it seems clear, for some time to come, at least, that these "appliances" are alternatives to books, not replacements.

My two-week experience with a Kindle last year convinced me that it's fine for reading straightforward narrative fiction and nonfiction while traveling, but it's a cold, impersonal experience for a "dinosaur" like myself, not raised on computer screens.

And, it's the screen itself that limits the eyes from roaming around unlike a standard book with its two-page view, as though you are inhabiting the story rather than getting it in restricted chunks.

No matter. E-book readers are selling well. Apple said last week it had sold 3.27 million iPads since April. Amazon said Kindle sales have tripled. Sony chimed in as well, claiming to have scored 10 million book sales at its online download store.

What boosted those sales was price cuts. Barnes & Noble sells a Nook model for $149; Amazon dropped the Kindle from $259 to $189 recently.

Amazon raised the level of its aggressive marketing strategy last week when it announced that e-book sales have surpassed print book totals on its website.

"Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books," the company said.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, called the event "the tipping point" for digital books, meaning his company's digital-book department and its Kindle.

Perhaps we should place that claim into perspective.

As Michael Cader of the trade observer Publishers Lunch pointed out, sales of print books last year were 205 million, a number that must reduce digital book numbers to insignificance at this point -- if we had those figures, but Amazon won't provide specific numbers, either for book or Kindle sales.

Read more http://alturl.com/dsbfw

Saturday, July 24, 2010

E-book Digital Rights to Past Published Books Belong to Who?

My opinion is that contracts with publishers prior to the advent of digital e-books do NOT cover or include any rights to non-existent media at the time of said contract...John R. Austin (that's me).

That's this writers opinion for what it's worth...Which means I believe that all rights to publish digitally remain with the writer NOT the print publisher.

Alison Flood of guardian.co.uk, and Ed Pilkington in guardian's New York office, reported this ground-beaking news:

Publishers rage against Wylie's ebook deal with Amazon

Wylie Agency's deal to bypass conventional publishers for digital sales is sending shockwaves around the industry.

Fear and loathing among the movers and shakers of America's publishing industry have reached new heights with both Random House and Macmillan denouncing the literary agent Andrew Wylie's move into digital publishing.

Home to 700 authors and estates ranging from Philip Roth to John Updike, Jorge Luis Borges and Saul Bellow, the Wylie Agency shocked the publishing world yesterday when it announced the launch of Odyssey Editions. The initiative has been set up to sell ebook editions of modern classics – including Lolita, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Updike's Rabbit tetralogy – exclusively via Amazon's Kindle store, leaving conventional publishers out of the picture.

The move provoked an immediate reaction from Random House, which publishes in print several of the authors involved with Odyssey Editions. The publisher fired off a letter to Amazon "disputing their rights to legally sell these titles", which it said were "subject to active Random House publishing agreements".

It went further, threatening that "on a worldwide basis", it "will not be entering into any new English-language business agreements with the Wylie Agency until this situation is resolved". It said the agency's decision to sell ebooks exclusively to Amazon "for titles which are subject to active Random House agreements undermines our longstanding commitments to and investments in our authors, and it establishes this agency as our direct competitor."

A Random House spokesman, Stuart Applebaum, told the Guardian that the severing of relations with Wylie would relate only to new book deals, while titles already in the pipeline would still go ahead. He accepted there was a risk involved for Random House, but argued that the stakes were higher for Wylie and his authors who would potentially lose a lucrative outlet for their work.

"It is not a decision that Random House reached lightly, but one that is unanimously agreed by our senior publishing colleagues in the US, Canada and the UK," Applebaum said.

Wylie's impressive client roster – which includes Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie as well as the estates of Hunter S Thompson, Norman Mailer and Evelyn Waugh – makes this a huge step for Random House, but one the publisher clearly felt was necessary.

At issue is who holds digital rights in older titles published before the advent of ebooks. Publishers argue that the ebook rights belong to them, and authors and agents respond that, if not specifically granted, the digital rights remain with the author.

Read more at original article here: http://alturl.com/4xuqi

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adobe's New iPad Publishing Tool is RICH!

Imagine getting custom designed, fully interactive, colorful, magazine-like web pages over your iPad rather than the same old blah template web pages...Well, it's coming gratis Adobe's InDesign software.

The Motley Fool's Gregory Robleto reports:

Adobe product manager Dave Dickson recently revealed on his blog that a forthcoming set of tools can act as the blueprint for publishing digital magazines when paired with Adobe's InDesign software.

I believe this will be one of the year's biggest success stories in digital publishing: the Wired magazine digital edition for the Apple iPad. Critics were awestruck by the elegant interactive layout of the digital edition, built using Adobe InDesign and a set of publishing tools. The results were hugely successful for Wired; the digital edition outsold the print edition while not cannibalizing the offline readership.

Why magazines look so much nicer than web pages
What made Wired's digital edition so successful is they provided a magazine-quality spread on the Apple iPad. Most digital publishers use content management systems that are resource-intensive to set up and maintain. Since it's cost-prohibitive to custom layout each article, many sites use the same template across all articles.

But in the print world, the process is simpler and designers do create custom layouts for each article. What Adobe revealed yesterday is that this new toolkit will make that same level of simplicity available for digital publication, while still maintaining online features such as interactive links and panning and zooming. The result is an interactive media experience that isn't so aesthetically blah.

Adobe out in front
Adobe must be very bullish on the iPad if it's setting up tools and a process for publication to a device that's only four months old. Adobe also plans to roll out similar technology across other upcoming tablet devices such as the HP Slate, Dell Streakn or the ever-rumored Google / HTC tablet.

Contrast that to when Adobe lagged in page layout software in the 1990s. Adobe was still peddling antiquated Aldus Pagemaker, while competitor Quark, was dominating the market space. So much so that they announced their intentions to buy out Adobe.

Adobe rejected that offer, continuing to churn away at their own PageMaker replacement, and in 1999, Adobe InDesign launched and began Adobe's displacement of Quark as the leader in the desktop publishing.

Now 11 years later, they are aggressively out in front announcing how to use their tools to publish to the next big thing in digital media and stealing all the spotlight from Quark, who two weeks ago announced pretty much the very same thing.

So what should the Fool do?
You tell us. As a publisher of digital newsletters, we'd like to know your thoughts. Would you be more enticed to read investing advice in Stock Advisor or the latest small-cap picks from Motley Fool Hidden Gems if it was made available to you in an elegant print fashion for your iPad, Kindle, or other favorite e-reader? Tell us your thoughts in comments.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Dirty Secret of the Traditional Publishing World

More on the changing (or leveling) of the traditional publishing industry...

When lenders charge exorbitant interest and fees it's called "usury"...What do they call it when a business (in this case traditional publishing) takes a usurious percentage of the profits?

"Immoral" is the best word I can think of...even if the usurious division of profits is technically legal...it is still immoral and, to me, "legal theft". Talk about a redistribution of wealth!

Traditional publishing has been taking advantage of writers and authors almost since it's inception and is guilty of usurious practices. When the administrative and purely business processes of getting a creative product to market makes more than the creation itself...something is drastically wrong...AND, publishers want the writers to do their own marketing/publicity at their own expense! BALDERDASH!

Effective marketing was the single thing that the old-timer publishers did that half-way made their expense worthwhile...When they relinquished that (except in some cases for already established authors), they became more or less impotent... and it was just a matter of time before their over-priced house-of-cards would fall.

This report is by Moe Zilla from Helium :

It's already happening. Instead of buying books, people are now buying something else: digital e-books. Amazon.com recently announced that they're selling many more e-books than they are of the traditional hardcover print editions. And this is great news for aspiring authors, because in the digital world, it's much easier to get your book published! But it's also going to bring a lot of big changes to the world of professional book publishing.

The dirty secret of the traditional publishing world is that most book authors don't make much money now! The "advance" they're given is just that - their publisher will then keep thousands of dollars from the book's profits until they've earned back all the money that they advanced the author to write it. But in addition, many publishers expect writers to use that advance money to line up their own publicity! (After all, the writer has to ensure that their book sales are high - so the publishers will want to publish their books again...) And even with all that, most professional authors earn less than $20,000 for their books. If you think about it, that's less than you could earn at almost any regular 40-hour a week job.

In the past, writers just had to accept this sorry state of events - but with digital publishing, they now have a very attractive option! In fact, the worst feature of a traditional publishing house is that most authors only earn a small part of the book's cover price. Some of it is eaten up by the cost to print the book, but a large chunk goes to the publishing house, with the writer getting whatever's left. Self-publishing allows these writers to bypass that publishing bureaucracy altogether, and keep more of the money for themselves!

Of course, most publishers also lose money on most of the books that they publish, so there's also ways that they could benefit from digital publishing. The biggest improvement would be the elimination of most printing costs. (If they misjudge the popularity of a new title, they won't lose the tens of thousands of dollars that it cost them to print it!) And I've heard some publishers simply locate the most popular e-books - and then offer those authors a chance to sell those same books with hard covers.

Publishing will definitely change in the digital age, but there will always be a place for the traditional hardcover book. For example, I'm not sure people want to prop their Kindle up in the kitchen so they can squint at a Kindle cookbook and try deciphering all of its ingredients!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

iPad Sales Break $2 Billion!

Holy cow! Talk about raking in piles of the ole dough in super abundance on a product that didn't even exist a year ago!

In its just released third quarter earnings report, Apple indicates that it has sold 3.27 million iPads as of June 26. That translates to more than $2 billion in revenue for the company in a product category that didn’t even exist one year ago.

Putting that in further perspective, it’s more money than Apple brought in through sales of iPods ($1.5 billion) and a bit less than half of its revenue from iPhone ($5.3 billion). It also represents about two-thirds of MacBook sales ($3.0 billion), another interesting nugget in light of a market many are expecting to shift towards tablets.

Speaking of his company’s performance, CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement that “It was a phenomenal quarter that exceeded our expectations all around, including the most successful product launch in Apple’s history with iPhone 4. iPad is off to a terrific start, more people are buying Macs than ever before, and we have amazing new products still to come this year.”

We’ll have more coverage of Apple’s earnings report in just a bit.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sharp to Issue E-reader

Come on down!...And play in the ever-growing arena of e-reader money! Yes indeedy, Japanese electronic giant Sharp is entering the game with an advanced model e-reader with great text, audio and video...all automatically adjustable to all publishers' formats.

Sharp is definitely a "sharp" cutting-edge company and I'm sure their new e-reader will surpass expectations.

This from AFP, global news agency:

The Japanese electronic book market is now estimated to be worth 46 billion yen (about 500 million dollars), with most titles distributed via mobile telephones and conventional computers.

Sharp said Tuesday it would launch an e-reader this year able to handle text as well as video and audio content, in a bid to challenge Apple and other rivals in the lucrative market.

The Japanese electronics giant said it had updated its e-book format with the "next-generation XMDF" platform, an advanced multimedia version of the XMDF format for text and still images that it launched in 2001.

"The next-generation XMDF enables easy viewing of digital content including video and audio and allows automatic adjustment of the layout to match and meet publishers' needs," Sharp said in a statement.

Sharp plans to begin the service and sell two types of e-readers, which resemble Apple's iPhone and iPad, by the end of the year in Japan and will then also export the gadgets.

"Now there is a lot of attention on the e-publishing business," Masami Obatake, a senior Sharp official, told a news conference. "Launching it by the end of this year will be good timing."

Asked if Sharp can cope with the competition, Obatake said: "Since we have a new system, I think we will be able to compete sufficiently."

Sharp said it had already reached basic accords with major Japanese publishers and newspaper companies on content, adding it would be open to further collaboration to establish an e-book market.

In late May, Sony announced a similar plan jointly with telecoms operator KDDI, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper company and the Toppan printing company, with each company taking a 25 percent stake.

That came just a day before the launch of the iPad in Japan and other countries outside the United States, where print media face a steady decline in advertising and have turned to e-readers as a way to win new revenue.

The Japanese electronic book market is now estimated to be worth 46 billion yen (about 500 million dollars), with most titles distributed via mobile telephones and conventional computers.

Japanese news media had until this year taken a wait-and-see approach to the devices, contrary to US peers.

Newspaper circulation has held up better than in the United States, having fallen only six percent between 1999 and 2009 to 50.3 million sales daily, the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association said. However, magazine circulation in Japan has slumped by a third over the decade.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved. More »

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vogue's Ad-Pages Increase Significantly

Consumer print magazines are indeed climbing out of a big downturn...Conde Nast and it's harem of luxury magazines are just one example, other magazines are also reporting increases in ad pages and revenues (see my 12 July post).

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am of the opinion that much of the rebirth of magazines (and newspapers) print popularity is due to online digital exposure...much of it free. Now if they can just get the online digital monetization and paywall thing solved...a new publishing business model might be in our presence!

Read this from Matthew Flamm of Crain's New York Business:

Luxury magazines, like the economy, are making a slow comeback. On Monday, Vogue magazine will announce ad-pages results for its all-important September issue, and industry insiders say that the fashion monthly will show a spike of 100 advertising pages, or 23% over a year ago, for a total of 529.

The relatively improved economic climate has been boosting numbers for Vogue's sister titles at Condé Nast, the most luxury-oriented of the major magazine publishers and the one that was hardest hit by the downturn. But even 23% growth for the September issue—in which designers and fashion companies display their next season's lineups—barely puts Vogue back in the league it was in a few years ago.

In 2007, the magazine carried a record 727 ad pages—and weighed in at four pounds nine ounces. In 2008, Vogue dropped 7% of its ad-weight, coming in at 674 pages.

Condé Nast will release the September issue information at 6 p.m. on Monday. Vogue Publisher Susan Plagemann declined through a spokeswoman to comment.

Once known for sticking closely to its rate card pricing and only offering discounts to advertisers making large corporate deals, Condé Nast has become more flexible in its negotiations over the past year, according to media buyers and executives at rival publishers.

Insiders say that Vogue has not been an exception, and that some of the increase in paging is the result of deals in which digital advertising inventory was essentially given away.

Others point out, however, that Condé Nast still markets its titles at a premium and that Vogue's latest numbers show a marked improvement from the devastation of a year ago, when pages plunged 36%.

“Condé Nast is perhaps bending a little on what we call ‘added value,' but I don't think you can attribute a 100-page increase just to that,” said Roberta Garfinkle, director of print strategy at media buying agency TargetCast tcm.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

iPad and Publishing

With all the mad-dash think-tanking going on about how to monetize online content occupying all the publishing executives' every breathing moment...what are they coming up with?

Not much...But some possibilities are materializing on the horizon (not entirely from their intellectual efforts)...Even online, digital companies such as Google, who at first took business away from print, is working with apps to assist newspapers and magazines with monetizing business models...

And, of course, there is this thing called the iPad. It's popularity might make paying for quality online content more acceptable and the money-generating apps that will allow this content to appear should put some more jingle in publishers' pockets.

Mark Wood, former editor-in-chief of Reuters and chief executive of ITN, writes this for The Australian (Business) about the iPad's future in publishing:

WILL Steve Jobs go down as the saviour of the newspaper industry? Quite possibly, if iPads are the big Christmas hit this year.
That would mean they are becoming essential gadgets for businesspeople, commuters, air travellers and the reading classes in general.

They might just mark a turning point in the fortunes of a British industry, particularly, grappling desperately with dramatic declines in sales, defection of advertisers and woeful returns on huge investments in glitzy websites and marketing budgets. It is an industry praying for a miracle.

Few newspaper readers appreciate the nightmare facing the companies that produce them.

Classified ads, once about a third of an average newspaper's revenue, have steadily migrated online -- a shift accelerated by the recession. Display advertising is now defecting too. And with so much content available cost-free on the web, and free-sheets given away to commuters, circulations are plummeting.

Normal readers are also defecting -- either grabbing a free-sheet on their way to work, or picking up their news via Google for free. Newspapers everywhere have been affected but no country, apart from the US, has suffered as much as Britain. Since 2007, British circulations have fallen by a quarter, according to an OECD report. In the US, they have fallen by a third -- with 293 newspapers and 1120 magazines folding last year alone. Advertising revenue may recover a little this year, but the trend is clear: over the past year, British broadsheets lost up to 16 per cent of their readers. Few businesses can deal with structural change on this scale. The losses are mounting.

The Times newspapers are losing pound stg. 1.6 million ($2.8m) a week between them. The Guardian and The Observer are losing pound stg. 3.2m. "No matter which way you look at it, the numbers are just unsustainable at this level," muttered one senior editorial figure after discussing the rosy hue painted on the results by Guardian Media Group outgoing chief executive Carolyn McCall. Something fairly substantial has to change.

Even the remaining profitable newspaper groups such as The Telegraph are not immune to the flight of advertising and readers.

What does a newspaper do? Salvation may come in the form of a Russian sugar-daddy, as it has for The Independent.

Others may give themselves away free, like the London Evening Standard.

But most proprietors and executives are frantically looking for a new way to make the newspaper business model work.

Newspapers may be powerful brands with high-quality content honed to the tastes of their target audiences, but hold on to the wrong business model for the digital age. Some 80 per cent of their costs tend to go on things like paper, printing presses and distribution. But the bit the punters are actually buying -- the content -- is as powerful a draw in the digital markets as at the newsagents.

The iPad and the host of digital tablets following may well become game changers, because the iPad makes browsing your book or newspaper feel almost like the real thing. And because it is a new mobile platform (a bit like a big smartphone), publishers believe there will be little resistance to paying a subscription, as long as it is not exorbitant -- maybe a tenner a month.

For their money, the punters will get a product miles ahead of the newspaper website. Publishers can deliver a complete, packaged paper, like a giant PDF, which means they can shape the layout, embed video and audio clips, and use clever navigation tools that learn about user preferences and give you your newspaper in the order you like to read it.

Once the principle of paying is established -- as it is already for music through the runaway successes of iTunes -- the next step will be to see if it can be applied to newspapers. Rupert Murdoch is, not for the first time, blazing a trail for his industry here by erecting a pound stg. 2-a-week paywall around the websites of The Times and The Sunday Times. The argument advanced by James Murdoch is that the company is "placing a proper value on creative endeavour" in the belief that its output is worth paying for. Journalists accustomed to loathing Rupert Murdoch now grudgingly wish him luck. If he pioneers a business model, others may follow.

Another potential lifeline is being offered by Google, which is the world's biggest media business.

This sounds ironic, as the company has long been described as the Darth Vader of the news world with its Google News search engine directing users to whatever they want to read, for free. It pledged resources to help fix the "monetisation problem" -- that is, how to persuade people to pay for the news found through its search engine. Google is cagey about details, but appears to be working on some solutions. One, apparently called Newspass, will be a system that allows users to make tiny payments to read articles and charge from a Google account. Google would, presumably, take a cut in the transaction.

As for the iPad itself, it is perhaps the biggest step yet on a road towards highly capable, light, portable reading devices that will make paper and smudgy ink look medieval. If it takes off, it could be the portal that allows users of both Google and Murdoch to pay for their product. Each publication could sell an app. What has made newspapers and magazines huge successes over the decades -- their range and their personalities -- ought to triumph on the new platforms if properly projected.

The clock is certainly ticking. Microsoft gives newspapers 10 more years at most as printed artefacts. One Financial Times executive has suggested it will be out of the pink newspaper business in five. Other publishers give it longer, but the time frame is years rather than decades.

To stay ahead of the game, newspapers and magazines -- even the one you hold now -- will have no choice but to migrate to an online format that people will want to keep paying for.

In launching the iPad, Jobs probably never gave a moment's thought to the survival of age-old British newspapers.

But if his iPad takes off, and leaves its owners willing to pay a little for something of quality to read on it, then this device -- and its successors -- may well save Fleet Street.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gannett Newspaper Publisher Talks Money

In previous posts I have reported on the re-blossoming of magazine publishing, including increasing ad pages and revenues...Are newspapers on the road to a financial comeback also?

This insightful article from guardian.co.uk by Mark Sweney gives a clue:

The US newspaper publisher Gannett, which owns the UK regional publisher Newsquest, has reported the best ad revenue performance at its publishing arm in three years and has unveiled a major ad partnership with Yahoo.

Craig Dubow, chief executive of Gannett, said that its publishing division had benefitted from cost cutting and lower newsprint expenses in its second quarter results published today.

"In our publishing segment this quarter was the best comparison quarter for advertising revenues since mid-2007," he said. "We benefited from continuing efficiency efforts company-wide as well as lower newsprint expense."

Gannett, which publishes USA Today and more than 80 other newspapers as well as running 600 magazines and 23 TV stations, said that ad revenue at its publishing division fell 5.7% year on year. Circulation revenue fell 5.9%.

Ad revenues were 4.6% lower in the USA and 6.4% down, in pounds, at Newsquest. The company said that figures in June, which show ad revenues down just 3.6%, were the best comparison "since early 2007".

Newsquest, which owns titles including Glasgow-based the Herald, saw classified ad reveue fall 6.8%, national ad revenue drop 11% and retail advertising fall 4.4%.

Gannett used its results to announce a local advertising partnership with Yahoo. All of Gannett's 81 local publishing organisations and seven of its broadcasting division sites will sell Yahoo advertising inventory.

Gannett reckons the partnership, which "may" include providing "select local content for programming across Yahoo sites in the US", will extend its local media organisation reach to cover "as much as" 80% of the total digital audience in the markets it operates.

"Working with Yahoo will allow us to offer targeted advertising messages with unmatched local audience reach," said Gracia Martore, president at Gannett.

Dubow pointed to Gannett's broadcast and digital divisions as the real drivers of growth, while a positive result for the embattled publishing division was continuing to achieve "moderating revenue declines".

"Our strong results this quarter reflect very positive revenue trends for our broadcast and digital segments and moderating revenue declines in publishing as we continued to close the revenue gap in the quarter," he said. "Stronger core advertising demand and increased political spending drove revenue growth in broadcasting while positive revenue results at CareerBuilder and PointRoll contributed to revenue growth in the digital segment".

Gannett's digital operation saw revenue increase by 8.3% while the broadcasting unit saw revenues climb by a massive 20.3% year on year.

Overall Gannett saw net profits rise 35.7% year on year to $146.5m. Total revenues fell 1.6% year-on-year to $1.37bn.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Big-Name Authors Sign Directly with E-book Retailers

Is big publishing getting the boot ?

At first, lesser-known and newbie authors were signing with E-book retailers; but now big-name authors are joining the trend and by-passing the middleman traditional publishers and signing directly with eBook retailers like Amazon, Smashwords and other companies !

More and more established authors are signing on the digital, multi-media publishing bandwagon...The latest is Ryu Murakami, author of Coin Locker Babies among others.

This report from the Wall Street Journal by Yoree Koh goes into more detail:

Ever since the arrival of the slim and snazzy electronic book devices, the magnates of the traditional publishing industry have feared the worst: that precious big-name authors might sign directly with e-book retailers, relegating the old-school publishers as the dispensable middleman.

Let the nightmare begin. Novelist Ryu Murakami plans to release his latest novel exclusively for digital bookworms through Apple Inc.’s iPad ahead of the print version. Mr. Murakami, the acclaimed author of over 15 novels including “Coin Locker Babies” and “In the Miso Soup”, replaced the publishers with a software company to help develop the e-book titled “A Singing Whale,” or “Utau Kujira” in Japanese. The digital package will include video content and set to music composed by Academy Award winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, according to the Japanese business daily Nikkei. The newspaper reports the e-book will cost 1,500 yen ($17) and will be ready to download pending Apple’s approval. Apple Japan and Mr. Murakami did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Mr. Murakami’s decision is the latest step taken by well known authors in re-writing the business model of the publishing industry – but it’s a step beyond what others have done. In April, the master penman of suspense, Stephen King, released the e-book edition of his newest work “Blockade Billy” one month before the hardcover version published by Scribner, an imprint of New York publishing giant Simon and Schuster, hit retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada. Mr. King also published a story, UR, exclusively for Kindle, the popular e-book reader produced by Amazon, around the time a newer version of the device was released in February 2009.

In December of last year, Amazon scored another success when business guru Steven Covey granted the online retailer exclusive e-book rights for two of his best-selling books for one year. Until recently, Mr. Covey’s move to shift older titles, also known as backlist titles – the warehouse of past best-selling books with strong staying power that provide publishers a steady revenue stream each year – to the digital sphere has been the more common rebellion among successful wordsmiths. Brazilian writer Paul Coehlo and the estate of the late American novelist William Styron also moved the rights to sell e-book editions of older works to Amazon.

But in offering fresh material only in an electronic format, Mr. Murakami’s plan has basically removed the traditional book publisher from the calculation entirely. Mr. Murakami’s past novels have been published by venerated Japanese companies like Kodansha. The company wasn’t immediately available for comment. The new equation, in theory, would give authors a bigger chunk of royalties. Mr. Murakami said his initial goal of 5,000 downloads would cancel out the investment costs, and if the plan is approved, Apple will receive 30% of the revenue with the rest to be parsed among Mr. Murakami, Mr. Sakamoto and the software company, according to the Nikkei.

UPDATE, 14:05 p.m. JST: Kodansha, Murakami’s publisher responds, saying it’s talking to the novelist about releasing a hard copy version of “A Singing Whale”, though nothing has been finalized.

Read this post in Japanese/日本語訳はこちら≫

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Law to Protect US Writers and Publishers from Libel in Foreign Courts

Have you ever wondered how our American right to freedom of speech and expression is protected overseas?

It wasn't...But, it is now, or at least it is just a few clicks away!

This interesting report is from the guardian.co.uk by Paul Harris in Los Angeles:

American legislators have moved closer to shielding US authors, journalists and publishers from libel tourism in foreign courts.

A bill already known as the Speech Act – or the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act, to give it its full name – has been passed by the Senate judiciary committee. It is intended to hamper efforts to sue Americans for libel in overseas jurisdictions where rules governing freedom of speech are less strong.

Many places, including Britain, currently have stricter libel laws than the US, leading to libel tourism, where plaintiffs search for a jurisdiction most likely to be sympathetic to their case. Some human rights campaigners and legal scholars saying the practice is used by the rich and powerful to stifle dissent and criticism. The growth of publishing on the internet has sparked fears that libel tourism will grow rapidly in coming years.

The American bill – if passed by the full Senate – will make it difficult to impose any judgments made in foreign courts on US nationals if those decisions are seen as hurting their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech. It would allow defendants to obtain a US court's judgment that the decision was not enforceable under American law, and would protect the assets of American citizens falling victim to libel tourism and not allow them to be used to pay damages.

The bill is based on a state law in New York that was passed after the American author Rachel Ehrenfeld wrote a book on the financing of terrorism and was sued for libel in London by a Saudi billionaire. In a blogpost, Ehrenfeld has said the bill is vital for opposing libel tourism. "[It] will help deter libel tourism and secure Americans' right to speak, write and publish freely to preserve the safety and integrity of our democracy," she said.

The bill got cross-party support and was sponsored by Republican and Democrat senators. "We take seriously the challenge of getting this right – to be respectful of foreign nations, many of whom are allies. But at the same time we could have a major detriment to the right to publish and speak freely in America if we don't confront this problem," said Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Censorship - Is America a Free Country or Not?

A bad Massachusetts law (Massachusetts? I don't believe it!) may spur self-censorship by bookstores. The law, that went into effect yesterday, would severly restrict constitutionally protected speech RE anything that "could" be harmful to minors.

Isn't everything about real life harmful to minors without adult-instilled values, teachings and guidance! Parants don't seem to want to take time with their kids today and teach them about the realities of life, they'd rather just keep them in the dark and censor everything from their fragile view and learning...They can't handle the truth!...Pure BS. Children are much smarter than you think.

Anyway, this report is from the American Booksellers Association (ABA), who together with others, filed suit against the state of Massachusetts to block the censorship law:

On Tuesday, July 13, a coalition including the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), Harvard Book Store, and Porter Square Books filed suit to block a broad Massachusetts censorship law that bans constitutionally protected speech on the Internet on topics such as contraception and pregnancy, sexual health, literature, and art.

The law, Chapter 74 of the Acts of 2010, signed in April by Gov. Deval Patrick, went into effect on Monday. It imposes severe restrictions on the distribution of constitutionally protected speech on the Internet and would make anyone who operates a website or communicates through a listserv criminally liable for nudity or sexually related material, if the material can be considered "harmful to minors" under the law's definition, said Media Coalition. In effect, it bans from the Internet anything that may be "harmful to minors," including material adults have a First Amendment right to view.

Violators can be fined $10,000 or sentenced to up to five years in prison, or both.

"The risk of five years in prison or a $10,000 fine will certainly have a chilling effect on booksellers with websites that describe their books available online or in a store," said Chris Finan, president of ABFFE, a member of Media Coalition. "Most bookstores are small businesses, and it is very likely that booksellers will try to avoid problems by engaging in self-censorship."

Other plaintiffs in the suit against state attorney general Martha Coakley and Massachusetts district attorneys are the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the Photographic Resource Center, and licensed marriage and family therapist Marty Klein.

Since there is no way for websites to determine the age of an Internet browser and no way to block Internet users from Massachusetts regardless of the location of the originating website, Media Coalition said, "The law threatens Internet users nationwide and even worldwide. The suit seeks to have the law declared unconstitutional and void on its face, and to enjoin the state from enforcing it, on the basis of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and the Constitution's Commerce Clause."

"While this Act may have been motivated by the desire to protect children from sexual predators on the Internet, its effect is much broader," said John Reinstein, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. "Its inevitable effect, if permitted to stand, is that Internet content providers will limit the range of their speech. There are no reasonable technological means that allow Internet users to ascertain the age of anyone who might access their online communications and then restrict access for minors."

"Courts have repeatedly rejected laws that lead to this sort of self-censorship," said Michael Bamberger of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, general counsel of Media Coalition and counsel in the case. "We should have adequate safeguards to protect children, but those safeguards cannot unreasonably interfere with the rights of adults to access materials protected by the First Amendment."

If the law is struck down, the groups said, it would not limit the state's ability to prosecute obscenity, child pornography, speech intended to entice minors into inappropriate activity, or harassing speech.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is Magazine Publishing Smoking the Victory Cigar Once Again?

Today I discovered that, in the world of magazine publishing, both ad pages and revenue are up! Does this mean that the print mags are making a comeback?


This report comes from Matthew Flamm of Crain's New York Business:

The last time both benchmarks bumped upward was end of 2007. Automotive ads were biggest driver of modest overall increase for the industry.

Magazines may not be quite out of the tunnel, but they're certainly seeing light at the end of it.

Total magazine advertising pages rose 0.8% in the second quarter, to 43,427, while rate-card-reported revenue was up 5.7%, to $5.2 billion, compared with the year-ago period, according to the Publishers Information Bureau, which released the numbers on Monday.

The results mark the first time in nine quarters that the magazine industry has seen gains in both ad pages and revenue. The last time that happened was in the fourth quarter of 2007.

“Magazines are benefiting from what appears to be an advertising economic lift,” said Nina Link, chief executive of Magazine Publishers of America, the trade organization that operates Publishers Information Bureau, in a statement. She credits renewed investment from key advertising categories, including automotive, finance, real estate, toiletries and cosmetics.

The biggest jump came from automotive, which spent $338 million on magazines in the second quarter, a spike of 41% over the same period in 2009. Ad pages in the category were up 28%.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The End of a Publishing Giant's Edifice

Todays post is about a slice of publishing history...Remember the very popular Collier's Magazine (a weekly), Woman's Home Companion, Country Home, etc., etc. I do! Damn, I'm getting old!

These magazines, and others, were published by the Crowell-Collier Publishing Co. that folded in 1956 after becoming one of the world's largest. Crowell-Collier operated (separately and merged) from approx. 1880 to 1956 and published 20 million periodical monthly in it's heyday!

Now, the 917,000 SF, city block building that was built by and housed this publishing giant on High Street in Springfield, Ohio is also on it's deathbed.

This report is from Jessica Holbrook, Staff Writer for the Springfield News-Sun:

Last week, a structural engineering report said the continued deterioration of the Crowell-Collier building posed a “serious and ongoing concern,” but the local landmark wasn’t always an eyesore.

Until 1956, the 917,000-square-foot complex housed the Crowell-Collier Publishing Co. The publishing house was best known for their magazines — “Collier’s Weekly,” “Woman’s Home Companion,” “Farm and Fireside” (later “Country Home”) and “The American Magazine” — and during its heyday in the 1940s was producing about 20 million periodicals every month.

The structure, which today fills a downtown city block, started in 1880 as a three-story building on the corner of High Street. The company continued growing in size and circulation throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, becoming one of the biggest publishing companies in the world. In 1938, a $1.5 million expansion brought the structure to its current size.

The company laid off 2,275 local workers when it folded in December 1956.

The building changed hands several times following the company’s closure and was bought by its current owner, Harry Denune, in December 1972. Denune has since used the building for his company, Dixie Distributing, a motorcycle-parts distribution business. While there have been suggestions on how to use the building — like a 1999 plan to convert it into low-income housing apartments — they have all fallen through.

About three-fourths of the building is currently being used for personal storage by Denune, said Nick Heimlich, assistant chief and fire marshal for the Springfield Fire Rescue Division.

On May 10, 1999, a large fire struck the building, burning for more than seven hours. The fire caused little structural damage to the building, but Denune was required to update the building’s sprinkler system.

The sprinkler system remains a concern for the fire department, which continues to check on the building, Heimlich said.

According to a structural engineer’s report from Jezerinac Geers & Associates, the building’s deterioration is significant but not unexpected in an old building. The outside walls of the building are made of brick and limestone, two materials that are negatively affected by weather and moisture over time. The structure was also constructed using now outdated building methods, which has contributed to cracking and shifting on the outside walls, the report said.

The report suggested razing the buildings, because repairs to bring the structure in line with Ohio Building Code and allow it to be used in another capacity, would be more expensive than just demolishing the complex and building new structures.

The city does not have an estimate of how much it would cost to demolish the building, because the structure is filled with Denune’s personal items said Shannon Meadows, Community Development director.

Any estimate would have to include the cost of removing the building’s contents, she said.

The building also holds significance for many people in the community, so making a decision about its future can be difficult, Heimlich said.

“I know a lot of folks with memories of that building, but those folks are fading as time moves forward,” he said. “I think our connection with the building is changing as time goes on.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Meet the REAL Mark Twain!

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was an all-American writer...and a man after my own heart. Not so much because of his legendary writings (that too), but because of his legendary thinking!

The University of California Press will publish volume one of three of his 500,000 word unexpurgated autobiography this coming November. This autobiography shows his true thoughts on politics and worldly affairs to be current and contemporary as well as passionate...A must read for history buffs.

This autobiography was dictacted to a stenographer from 1906 to 1910 and witheld from publication at his request for a century...Primarily because Mark Twain believed his more brash positions might hurt his reputation at that time.

Two brief excerpts:

"Twain’s opposition to incipient imperialism and American military intervention in Cuba and the Philippines, for example, were well known even in his own time. But the uncensored autobiography makes it clear that those feelings ran very deep and includes remarks that, if made today in the context of Iraq or Afghanistan, would probably lead the right wing to question the patriotism of this most American of American writers."

"He is similarly unsparing about the plutocrats and Wall Street luminaries of his day, who he argued had destroyed the innate generosity of Americans and replaced it with greed and selfishness. “The world believes that the elder Rockefeller is worth a billion dollars,” Twain observes. “He pays taxes on two million and a half.”

This report from Larry Rohter of the New York Times:

Dead for a Century, Twain Says What He Meant

Wry and cranky, droll and cantankerous — that’s the Mark Twain we think we know, thanks to reading “Huck Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” in high school. But in his unexpurgated autobiography, whose first volume is about to be published a century after his death, a very different Twain emerges, more pointedly political and willing to play the role of the angry prophet.

Whether anguishing over American military interventions abroad or delivering jabs at Wall Street tycoons, this Twain is strikingly contemporary. Though the autobiography also contains its share of homespun tales, some of its observations about American life are so acerbic — at one point Twain refers to American soldiers as “uniformed assassins” — that his heirs and editors, as well as the writer himself, feared they would damage his reputation if not withheld.

“From the first, second, third and fourth editions all sound and sane expressions of opinion must be left out,” Twain instructed them in 1906. “There may be a market for that kind of wares a century from now. There is no hurry. Wait and see.”

Twain’s decree will be put to the test when the University of California Press publishes the first of three volumes of the 500,000-word “Autobiography of Mark Twain” in November. Twain dictated most of it to a stenographer in the four years before his death at 74 on April 21, 1910. He argued that speaking his recollections and opinions, rather than writing them down, allowed him to adopt a more natural, colloquial and frank tone, and Twain scholars who have seen the manuscript agree.

Read more at http://alturl.com/d9psa

Friday, July 9, 2010

Publishing Business Not Dead Quite Yet?

The latest figures tumbling out of the trade magazines RE publishing shout the fact that there are numerous "new-kids-on-the-block"! This reflects the high impact of the e-media on traditional publishing (TP)...And is forcing TP companies to either bankrupt or adapt new business models.

Those TP companies that try to form new biz models with hidden agendas (that try to regain ill-gotten control of the past) will fail...Those that genuinely set new goals to work as team members with equal partners will survive...Simple as that!

Michael Wolff , the founder of newser.com, reports this on what the new numbers and rankings from the online trade magazine MediaPost (a newbie itself) mean (many feel these numbers are suspect):

What is there to conclude from the recent ranking of the top 100 publishers by the online trade magazine, MediaPost?

It’s a ranking that claims to figure in traffic, plus “prestige, share of voice, content quality, overall design and UX, innovation and, well, importance.” In other words, it’s as sketchy as any ranking. But it does illustrate the obvious, albeit hard to quantify, fact that the consumer publishing business—the business of gathering audiences by aggregating information and then selling those audiences to advertisers—has in a remarkably short period of time been turned on its ear.

While many traditional publishers still figure on the list, with the New York Times at number one, and the Wall Street Journal at number four—Google and Wikimedia are respectively at two and three—more than half of the list consists of publishers who didn’t exist 10 years ago, half again of which did not exist five years ago. Three-year-old Newser is on the list at 25; 88-year-old Time is on the list at 100.

Read more at http://alturl.com/bm2mi

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Are E-books Obsoleting Ink and Paper?

Another interesting question and one I have alluded to in past posts. I don't feel that printed books will ever go away...they just won't be the prom queen anymore.

This Paul Levine post in the Huffington Post is informative, descriptive AND funny:

I was standing in a circle of Chardonnay sippers at an art show in Santa Monica when the conversation turned to the future of reading. As a novelist, I had skin in the game, so I grabbed a canape, sidled over, and eavesdropped.

"I'll never buy one of those electronic gizmos," said a heavyset man in his fifties, a humanities professor. "I'd miss the smell of ink on paper, the conjuring of medieval libraries and ancient parchment."

Funny, I don't recall anyone blissfully sniffing their books until the threat from e-publishing appeared. Now, readers can't resist comparing their moldy old tomes to the finest Bordeaux.

Respectfully, I say, move over Gutenberg!

E-books are to traditional publishing what the internal combustion engine was to the horse and buggy. Some experts predict that half of all books will be digital downloads within two to three years. That's astonishing. For 600 years, Johannes Gutenberg's printing press and its progeny have produced our books, newspapers, and magazines. Now, in the blink of an electronic eye, the application of ink to paper is approaching obsolescence.

Complaints about progress are hardly new. When Gutenberg invented movable type, a Venetian judge whined that "The pen is a virgin, the printing press a whore." Some New York publishers have called Amazon and Google even worse names.

I'm all for nostalgia. I have dreamy memories of a rickety blue Bookmobile rumbling into my central Pennsylvania hometown, and my standing on tip-toes to haul down a well-worn volume about dinosaurs. But my Kindle holds more books than that old truck, and there are 600,000 more at Amazon just a few clicks away.

A recent newspaper headline asked: "Will the Kindle Save the Written Word?" The hope is that those techno-savvy kids will interrupt their music and games and videos and texts and tweets and blogs...and start reading.

Call me crazy, but I think they will. I predict that packing a portable library will soon become a hip way to impress the opposite sex. More so, hopefully, than a barbed wire tattoo.

So why is that wine-sipping professor so afraid of the Kindle or Nook or iPad or Kobo? There will still be books in hardcover, trade paperback, and mass-market.

Or will there?

Garrison Keillor, the bard of the prairie, recently wrote that "book publishing is about to slide into the sea." The numbers give reason to worry. For the first quarter of 2010, Simon & Schuster reported a decline in revenue from print, but a 233 per cent increase in digital publishing. Expect that trend to continue, industry-wide. Is the book biz in the same position as the music industry a decade ago? It's not a coincidence that Apple's iTunes store now sells e-books, too.

Consider Amazon, where you can buy a 6000 BTU window air conditioner or a Kindle e-reader for the same $189. Amazon is now a book publisher, not just a retailer. The company is cutting deals with fledgling and mid-list authors for original e-books. How long will it be before Stephen King, or some other literary luminary, inks an exclusive deal to publish in both print and digital editions?

Amazon enjoys a huge advantage over both New York publishers and the bricks-and-mortar retail stores. The Internet behemoth knows the e-mail address and reading habits of every customer, and it need not kill trees, run presses, or hire trucks to produce and distribute its electronic products.

There are advantages for readers, too. Classic literature can be downloaded for free. My first two Kindle "purchases" were "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes"and "Pride and Prejudice." Both gratis. Prices of bestsellers are in a state of flux, but they're consistently lower than paper-and-ink books.

The new paradigm is a great deal more democratic for authors, too. Writers who could never land a literary agent, much less a publishing deal, are putting their books on Amazon at customer-friendly prices. True, the writing often warrants a C-minus in eleventh grade English class, but there will be undiscovered gems to be dug from the electronic slush pile.

The shelf life of dead-tree books roughly approximates that of a pint of yogurt, but out-of-print books get eternal life on the Internet. Recently, I celebrated the 20th Anniversary of my debut legal thriller, "To Speak for the Dead." The book is long gone from bookstores, which is where e-publishing comes in. For less than $1,000 in costs - scanning, proofreading, formatting, and cover art - I became my own publisher. In the next year, awaiting release of an old-fashioned hardcover novel from the Bantam imprint at Random House, I'll be publishing eight of my out-of-print mysteries and thrillers.

Woody Allen once said, "I don't want to become immortal through my art. I want to become immortal by not dying." The latter remains impossible, but the former - our work living on forever - just became a bit easier.

"To Speak for the Dead," by Paul Levine, is now for sale at Amazon's Kindle Store and Smashwords, with all proceeds going to the Four Diamonds Fund for cancer treatment and research at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. More information at http://www.paul-levine.com/content/jake-lassiter.asp

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is Big Publishing Turning "Agency" Over-reaching?

I was exposed to the term "agency model" in publishing jargon a few weeks ago. I understood the meaning, in the context of the aricle I was reading, to be a business model where the publisher set the price for his work (or contracted work) instead of the online retailer (e.g. Amazon)...

Now, in the following article the phrase "publisher as agency", which I assume to be "agency model", takes on an additional meaning of a publishing company that expands it's usual services to include additional services above and beyond it's original core mission.

So, which is correct? Or are both correct? Or does the word "agency" take on different meanings in publishing jargon?


This article for Marketing Pilgrim by Frank Reed uses the "agency" term in the context of expansion of known services in describing the troubled Tribune Company 's fight to re-invent itself...Keep in mind that Frank Reed is also an internet marketer and is speaking from that frame of mind:

The Tribune Company is struggling to pull itself out of bankruptcy proceedings but it continues to try to move its business forward by becoming the latest publishing company to turn agency. This type of move by larger publishers is becoming more commonplace these days as they scramble to re-invent themselves in light of the digital ‘revolution’ that has kicked many in the tail pretty hard.

“With ad dollars for magazines and newspapers continuing to shrink, publishers like Meredith and Gannett have expanded the purview of their digital ad sales teams to include digital marketing services offerings outside of the content they produce. Tribune Company is the latest entrant into the interactive marketing space. The publisher, still struggling through its interminable bankruptcy proceedings, has formed a new interactive marketing consultancy called 435 Digital Services. Named for Tribune’s Chicago street address, the project will shift a small number of current ad sales staffers into the new 10-person unit, as well as making a few new hires, according to a piece in Crain’s Chicago Business.”

Newspapers are under attack from all fronts which include the general move to online consumption of content, the rise of classified ad killer Craigslist and the challenge of smaller, more nimble hyperlocal blogs.

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine how these companies including Meredith and Hearst (who purchased iCrossing recently) are going to pull this off. Even traditional advertising agencies were slow to truly pick up on digital offerings and are playing catch up. Add to the fact that everyone knows the troubles that the newspaper industry is having and it’s tough to see how even a small to medium business, or SMB, would trust their marketing to a newspaper entity.

Of course, what companies think they can charge the SMB for such services will play a very large role in their level of success. No matter what the politicians say, the economy for the smaller players is still very bad and the fears of getting worse are getting more play these days. As a result, SMB’s won’t pay top dollar for services that many tell them they can do by themselves. Whether that is good advice to the SMB is irrelevant because many use it as a shield to keep service providers at bay.

So this move to be all things to all businesses is interesting. Interesting in a way that it could very well be too little too late. It also looks like a move born more out of desperation rather than something that was part of a bigger business plan to succeed in the online space. Heck, if any of these companies had been actually planning for the new digital world order they wouldn’t be where they are now anyway.

So would you trust your marketing services to a newspaper or magazine publisher who just put on another hat to attract your business?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Update on Blio: E-reader Software Adds to Arsenal!

I have posted about Blio in the past (9 Dec 2009 & 18 June 2010)...Now I read that the Blio principle players are adding rich digital media content to Blio's already advanced package of leading edge technology...

The only drawback on Blio is the delayed launch date!...Come on Blio principles...let's get this thing to market!

This update from PR Newswire:

CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Baker & Taylor, Inc., the world's largest distributor of physical and digital books and entertainment products, is proud to announce it has entered into an agreement with Quayside Publishing Group to provide rich, highly-formatted content on Blio. Blio is the revolutionary e-reader software application created by K-NFB Reading Technology and powered by Baker & Taylor. Quayside is a specialty publisher whose imprints publish more than 300 new titles a year on wide-ranging topics – from transportation and sports to cooking and crafts and history and graphic design.

"Baker & Taylor is pleased to include Quayside's specialty titles on Blio," said Tom Morgan, Chairman and CEO of Baker & Taylor. "Blio is simply the best e-reader application for showing off Quayside's books, which are chock full of highly specialized and informative text and graphics. Readers are in for a real treat – a totally immersive e-reading experience, too."

By leveraging strong relationships with the publishing community as well with its best-of-breed digital technology partners LibreDigital and K-NFB Reading Technology, Baker & Taylor is converting new content for Blio every day. With more than 41,000 customers in 120 countries, Baker & Taylor's global reach makes it the perfect partner to provide superior content management and distribution for the world's most innovative e-reader application. Baker & Taylor's affiliation with Blio is its latest step in bringing comprehensive digital media services to multiple channels and to a wide variety of customers, strengthening its position as the premier source for digital and physical media distribution.

"It is important to us that e-book editions of our frontlist and backlist titles maintain the same high-level quality of layout and design that our readers have come to expect – and that's exactly what Baker & Taylor and Blio deliver," said Ken Fund, CEO and President of Quayside.

Blio, featuring cutting-edge print-to-speech (for rights-enabled titles) and full-color 3-D technologies, is the brainchild of futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil, CEO of K-NFB Reading Technology. Blio delivers the most advanced, flexible and open reading platform in the world. Blio simply brings books to life. And Blio is also hardware neutral, meaning it works on a number of devices, including personal computers, laptops, netbooks, iPhones and iPads.

About Baker & Taylor

Baker & Taylor Inc. (www.baker-taylor.com) is a global media distribution company and leading provider of digital media services. Baker & Taylor ensures that its more than 30,000 publishing partners get their materials into readers' hands in the format and on their device of choice. Baker & Taylor is especially proud to power Blio, the world's most advanced, flexible and engaging e-reader software application. Based in Charlotte, N.C., Baker & Taylor has been in existence for more than 180 years and has developed long-term relationships with major publishers.

Baker & Taylor maintains one of the largest in-stock book inventory in the United States, and services the broadest customer base in the industry. Baker & Taylor is majority owned by Castle Harlan Partners IV, L.P., an institutional private equity fund managed by Castle Harlan Inc., a leading private equity investment firm. Baker & Taylor and the Baker & Taylor logo are trademarks of Baker & Taylor, Inc. Blio is a trademark of K-NFB Reading Technology, Inc. Other company and product names mentioned for identification purposes may be trademarks of their respective owners.

About Quayside

Quayside Publishing Group (www.quaysidepublishinggroup.com) represents a dynamic group of imprints dedicated to providing quality and excellence to its readers. Each imprint embodies the breadth and scope of its non-fiction specialty topics. Quayside encompasses Creative Publishing international, Fair Winds Press, Motorbooks, MVP Books, Quarry Books, Quiver Books , Rockport Publishers, Voyageur Press, Walter Foster Publishing and Zenith Press. Quayside, a division of the U.K.-based Quarto Group, has offices in Beverly, Mass., Minneapolis, Minn., and Irvine, Calif.

About K-NFB Reading Technology Inc.

K–NFB Reading Technology has propelled reading technology forward for the last 30 years with the invention of omnifont OCR, flatbed scanners, text-to-speech technology and reading machines for the blind. Once again, K-NFB is redefining the boundaries of the printed word, via Blio – the new generation in e-reading. This free application, works across platforms, and presents books as they are intended, in full color, as laid out by the publisher. A joint venture between Kurzweil Technologies and the National Federation of the Blind, K-NFB is headed by CEO Ray Kurzweil, a 30-year innovator and pioneer in assistive technologies. The National Federation of the Blind is the largest, most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. For more on Blio, created by K-NFB Reading Technology and powered by Baker & Taylor, go to www.blioreader.com. For more on Blio, created by K-NFB Reading Technology and powered by Baker & Taylor, go to www.blioreader.com.

SOURCE Baker & Taylor, Inc.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Are Best-seller Lists Accurate in the E-book Age?

An interesting question. Hell, I wonder how accurate best-seller lists were BEFORE the eBook age. I'm very skeptical about these lists...I feel they are just paid lists (mostly through celebrity or notoriety) without any REAL connection to artistic-worthiness! Yep, I think money behind marketing is what lands a book on these lists...Have you ever read a so-called best-seller? Some really stink!

Maggie Galehouse of the Houston Chronicle wrote this insightful piece:

Best-seller lists help readers decide which books to buy by ranking books readers have already bought.

So is the tail wagging the dog?

To complicate matters, e-book sales are still fighting for representation on most of these lists, even though 30 percent of fiction sales could be electronic by next year.

For now, securing a spot on a best-seller list is like winning a literary jackpot. Best-selling titles are sold at a discount and enjoy prominent placement in bookstores.

"Hitting the lists gets a book and author noticed by producers, booksellers, critics and reviewers who may have overlooked it or passed the first time around," Dawn Davis, vice president and editorial director of Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins, noted via e-mail.

"When I published Steve Harvey's Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, many producers passed when we tried to book him on various morning shows," Davis wrote. "But once he debuted at the top of the list, our publicist was able to get so many more bookings for him. The content hadn't changed, but the perception of the book had."

In some instances, though, how a book lands on a best-seller list is a bit of a mystery.

With Amazon, which updates its list hourly, authors and readers get a real-time sense of book sales.

But the sacred New York Times best-seller list is based on book sales from a full two weeks earlier, a huge lag time in a digital age. Although the Times' weekly rankings are culled from sales at thousands of venues — including independent retailers, national and local chains, and online entertainment - they are hardly a comprehensive tally of book sales across the country.

At best, the rankings are educated guesstimates.

"I don't know what the secret magical formula of the New York Times list is, and I don't know if anyone knows," said David Hale Smith, who runs a literary agency and creative management firm in Dallas. "It's not necessarily about the numbers. It's about velocity - rate of movement of certain titles related to other titles."

Publishers recognize the importance of the Times list and its limitations.

"Nowadays a great number of publishers don't rely on the New York Times list at all," said Lorraine Shanley, a publishing consultant and principal at Market Partners International. "But as it is with many things, the more you're perceived to have sold, the more you sell. The New York Times list is the ultimate in terms of being able to tout your success, but it's not used as a yardstick in creating marketing because you want to be able to respond more rapidly."

Industry insiders pay more attention to Nielsen BookScan rankings, which cast a wider net and are more up-to-date. But these rankings aren't comprehensive, either.

New e-book lists

And e-books are making the picture even murkier.

Last summer, USA Today started including Amazon Kindle e-book sales in its best-seller list. Last month, Kindle split its best-seller list, creating one for paid titles and another for free titles.

And e-readers are more affordable than ever.

Two weeks ago, Barnes & Noble slashed Nook prices (the WiFi version is now $149), and Amazon dropped the Kindle to $189. And last week, Amazon subsidiary Woot sold nearly 5,000 Kindle 2s for $149.99 in about eight hours.

Although e-books make up just 5 percent of book sales, that number is much higher in certain genres.

"I think fiction is going to be 30 percent e-book sales by next year," Shanley said. "If you look at a given title, you can see that some books have reached almost 40 to 50 percent e-books penetration. … I know the most recent Stieg Larsson book sold hundreds of thousands of e-books very early on."

Though digital book sales offer more data, unpacking the numbers is tough.

"I'm in a unique spot to talk about this," said Smith, the founder of DHS Literary. "I have a client named Michael Koryta whose book, So Cold the River, was released by Little Brown a few weeks ago."

Print and e-books sales for this new title are exploding, Smith said. So Cold the River reached the top 100 in Amazon hardcover and hit the top 50 on the Kindle best-seller list. It was also featured in Parade magazine.

"But we're trying to figure out whether e-book sales have added to overall sales or whether they've taken away from bookstore sales that might have gotten him on the New York Times best-seller list two weeks ago," Smith said.

Marketing oppor-tunities for e-books are different. Last month, for example, readers who brought their Nooks to a Houston Barnes & Noble where author Justin Cronin was appearing to promote The Passage were offered "exclusive free content" from the author.

Owners of Kindles, iPads, Nooks and Sony e-readers represent different demographics, and each e-reader has apps available on other devices.

"What I think will be really interesting is where you start seeing the correlation between the device, the platform and the reader," Shanley said. "Is the 17-year-old boy buying graphic novels on an iPhone? Is the 50-year-old woman buying romance novels on a Kindle?"

Sharing is an issue

Sharing e-books is another thorny issue.

"Only the Nook has dealt with the question of being able to pass along and share books," Shanley said. "You can share a book with another Nook user, but basically what happens is it gets turned off your Nook and turned on somewhere else. The other person has two weeks to read the book. Libraries are also starting to offer e-books, but publishers are worried that it's going to be like the second-hand book market and eat into their sales."

Shanley is excited about the digital possibilities for cookbooks, children's books and illustrated books, which have been slow to enter the e-book market because of their graphic nature. With sophisticated e-readers like the iPad, she says, there's a potentially robust market with huge opportunities for interactivity.

Smith shares her enthusiasm.

"We're just beginning to see the power of the digital delivery," he said. "It's a great tool for authors and publishers. And what I think we're all hoping is that someone will figure out a way to combine the number of e-book sales with print sales."

That way, there would be a definitive best-seller list, one that offers a clearer picture of which books people are buying.

Of course, one of the peculiarities of books — as opposed to most other merchandise — is that the more successfully a book sells, the better the discount.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Ben Franklin Project is a Publishing Revolution!

The Ben Franklin Project is a brainchild of the Journal Register Company, a publishing leader in local news and information serving 992 communities in 10 states. The Company's 324 multi-platform products reach an audience of nearly 14 million people each month.

Essentially the Ben Franklin Project is an effort to produce their entire news products using only available free resources on the internet...They have succeeded!...Damn, what an achievement! I knew something like this was probably possible for individuals on a small basis, but on this large of scale is mind-boggling to me! This validates my beliefs in the power of the internet...

This press release is from MarketWatch.com:

YARDLEY, PA, Jul 04, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Journal Register Company, a leading local news and information company, declared its independence from proprietary publishing systems this weekend by producing the Company's 18 daily websites and newspapers using only free web-based tools.

"In the process, we have declared our independence from not only old proprietary systems but the old way of thinking as well and opened up new opportunities for this Company to grow and continue its mission of providing compelling journalism to the communities we serve," Chief Executive Officer John Paton said.

The Company's Ben Franklin Project, which started in April as an experiment to publish a daily and a weekly using free web tools within a 30-day window, expanded to encompass all of Journal Register's daily operations following the success of the initial project. The Company celebrated this achievement on July 4.

The Ben Franklin Project not only proves that websites and newspapers can be freed from the restraints of legacy, proprietary publishing systems, but also heralds the potential of an open and transparent newsgathering process. The Project allowed audience members to help shape editorial story budgets through crowd sourcing. Stories ranged from an in-depth look at property taxes and community revitalization projects to reports on childhood obesity.

"These are everyday issues that impact the health -- physical and fiscal -- of our readers," said Jon Cooper, Vice President of Content. "The Ben Franklin Project has renewed the focus on stories that impact the communities we serve because the ideas for those stories come from the communities we serve."

The Company's newsrooms were not the only focus of the Ben Franklin Project. From advertising ordering, to print and digital ad design, to finance, free web-based tools were utilized throughout the production process. Employees throughout Journal Register participated in collaborative conference calls and web-based seminars as part of a peer-to-peer training program to learn the software and tools compiled from submissions of project observers from across the globe.

"The collaborative nature of the Ben Franklin Project has provided opportunities for innovation and created an environment where the best ideas will win out. Journal Register's employees have developed new low-cost solutions to long-standing, legacy issues," said Mr. Cooper. These include using free, open-source desktop publishing tools and combining software programs that could serve as models for future development of billing and ad tracking interfaces.

The Company will continue to expand on this ground-breaking experiment and will continue to share -- through blogs and social media -- lessons learned from the Ben Franklin Project with others in the industry.

For more information visit the company website at http://www.journalregister.com/.

SOURCE: Journal Register Company

Copyright 2010 Marketwire, Inc., All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Halo Publishing International - Full Service Self-Publishing ?

Another self-publishing company for your consideration...Halo Publishing International (HPI) has been in business since 2002 and guides you through the self-publishing process for both printed and digital books.

Halo appears to have the expertise and connections to handle all the myriad details of publishing plus the marketing AND distribution through the nation's largest: Ingram Distribution. Ingram captures the demand from booksellers, libraries and consumers.

The only thing I could not determine this late on Saturday were the costs. So, I can't assess if they are reasonable or not...But, you can follow the link and contact them directly...Looks like they will build a price for you based on your needs and budget.

This press release from PR-inside.com:

Valley View, OH, July 02, 2010 -- As Sue Lunquist, one of Halo's authors, who published her own book, also known as self-publishing, eloquently sums up her experience with Halo Publishing International ( http://www.halopublishing.com/ ) and its founder Lisa M. Umina, it is not only the services offered by a publishing company that creates success but also the expertise, passion and enthusiasm of the actual people who are involved in helping to accomplish the mission. "As in life, finding ‘trust’ combined with a ‘can do’ attitude is an unlikely commodity. With Halo Publishing International, ( www.halopublishing.com ) they have ‘it’; ‘It’ being; trust, wealth of knowledge, creativity, honesty and a proven, successful track record. I am proud to be affiliated with Halo Publishing ( www.halopublishing.com ) as their team goes way beyond a ‘typical’ job description."

Self-publishing can be a wonderful solution for getting into print as it puts an author in control of his or her own destiny and positions them to be a lot more profitable than going with a typical royalty publisher
. Self-publishing also offers an advantage in that the writer keeps approximately 95% of the profits as opposed to the less than $1 most royalty publishers offer. With Halo Publishing’s process, ( www.halopublishing.com ) the author controls everything: cover design, title, printer choice, promotion, book marketing strategies, sales, rights and after market deals. Self-publishing involves a lot of details, decisions, and determination, making it seem to some, pretty overwhelming. That is precisely why self- publishing resources like Halo Publishing International exist! At Halo Publishing International, ( www.halopublishing.com ) they have "been there and done that" many times over and are often able to save their authors from making expensive mistakes. They often tell authors to think of them like a handy Swiss Army knife in that they possess all the necessary tools to lead their writers to greater success and profits when utilizing them to self-publish a book.

Press Contact:
Christine Folgmann
Halo Publishing International LLC
5549 Canal Road
Valley View, OH 44125