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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

There's Something About Barnes and Noble

Just like the old country store in past eras became a gathering and resting place, so has the Barnes and Noble bookstores in present time...or is it getting to be the recent past?

Anyway, B&N is a great place for a good cup of joe!

This insightful slice of literary Americana was reported in the New York Times by Julie Bosman:

At Bookstore, Even Nonbuyers Regret Its End

On Monday afternoon, Jai Cha walked out of the Barnes & Noble at 66th Street and Broadway in Manhattan as he does nearly every week — without a book.

“I’m just killing time,” said Mr. Cha, a 30-year-old lawyer, his hands stuffed deep in his pockets. “I’ve been coming here to read Bill Simmons’s ‘Book of Basketball,’ about a chapter at a time.”

He might have to hurry. Barnes & Noble announced on Monday that at the end of January it would close the store, a four-story space across the street from Lincoln Center that has been a neighborhood landmark since it opened nearly 15 years ago.

“We recognize that this store has been an important part of the fabric of the Upper West Side community since we opened our doors on Oct. 20, 1995,” Mary Ellen Keating, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement. “However, the current lease is at its end of term, and the increased rent that would be required to stay in the location makes it economically impossible for us to extend the lease.”

It has been a bumpy year for Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest book chain, with 720 stores. Sales and store traffic have suffered as the book business has shifted online; Amazon has held its early lead in the e-reader war; and early this month, Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale and is now in the midst of a battle for control of the company with Ronald W. Burkle, the billionaire investor.

Read more http://alturl.com/io3xc

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oxford Dictionary Leaving Print

The English language has always been an active, dynamic, ever-changing language; one, quite frankly, that the past printed dictionaries could not adequately keep pace with.

Much like traditional publishing could not adequately keep pace with all the past incoming writing talent. Even when the big publishing houses employed full staffs, they could not keep up; hence "slush piles" were created and old stories were born about all the great, past authors who were initially rejected numerous times before finally getting published.

But, I digress!

This report comes from staff writers at heraldsun.com.au (a great Austrailian resource, by the way):

A TEAM of 80 has been working on it for the past 21 years, but now the lexicographers compiling the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary are being told that it will never appear in print, its owner has admitted in a report today.

The dictionary’s owner, Oxford University Press (OUP), has said that the impact of the internet means the latest update to the definitive record of the English language will never be published as a book.

"The print dictionary market is just disappearing, it is falling away by tens of percent a year," said Nigel Portwood, chief executive of OUP. Asked if he thought the third edition would be printed, he said: "I don’t think so."

The OED will live on online, where it has already been available for a decade and receives two million hits a month. An annual subscription costs £205 (US$217) plus value added tax (VAT).

OUP also gets royalty payments from Google, which uses an unbranded Oxford dictionary in its search engine.

Google was added to the dictionary as a verb in 2006, a century after HG Wells, in his novel "The Sleeper Awakes," first envisaged all literature appearing on screen rather than in books.

Read more http://alturl.com/te7to

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Multi-Book Deal at Age Six!

A six year old boy from India gets a multi-book deal from American publisher!

Damn, talk about predestined. I am astounded and happy for this little fellow. I think he has a future mapped out for him, thanks in no small part to his author mommy.

This from IndianExpress.com :

A six-year-old Harry Potter fan, whose school teachers once said that his story writing needed improvement, has bagged a multi-book publishing deal after he penned a mini-novel about his pet dog.

Little Leo Hunter wrote 'Me And My Best Friend' to tell the story of his alliance with pet Alsatian 'Kugar'. His impressed mum Jamie, an author, contacted publishers on both sides of the Atlantic.

And, US firm Strategic Book Publishing liked the mini- novel so much that they to take it -- and signed Leo to write 23 more, 'The Sun' reported.

He will get 20 per cent from early sales of the 10-pound, 25-page books. But this will rise to 50 per cent if more than 500 are sold. He will write under the same pseudonym as his mum, JS Huntlands, to protect his privacy.

Now, Leo says he wants to be "more famous than JK Rowling". "I like Harry Potter but I like my books even more. Writing makes me very happy - it's so interesting," the boy, from Derby, was quoted as saying.

Though his primary school teachers were chuffed with his success, they once wrote a report saying his story writing needed improvement and he "needed to remember that there's a beginning, middle and end".

John' Note: BTW, "chuffed" is a British word meaning "delighted".

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Video In Print Magazines

Ever since Entertainment Weekly put a video (chip?) in an issue of their print magazine awhile back I have been mesmerized with the concept. Now Meredith Corp.’s Successful Farming has included a video ad in their August issue.

I am still like a kid in an astrology lab, being completely blown away with all the new wonderment! This video-in-print-pages process, I admit, I don't understand...but, I'm just flabbergasted by the whole reality of it!

Jason Fell, FOLIO magazine, wrote this fine piece today about video in print:

It was only a matter of time before more print magazines followed Entertainment Weekly’s footsteps and start incorporating video elements into their print magazines. Next up on the list is Meredith Corp.’s Successful Farming, which partnered with advertiser Bayer CropScience to develop a video insert that appeared in the August issue.

According to publisher Scott Mortimer, Successful Farming and the pesticide company—through its communications agency Rhea+Kaiser—began collaborating on the initiative more than six months ago. The ad, for Bayer’s Votivo product, is a four-page insert that includes a two-inch-by-two-inch video screen on page 20 of the magazine. The screen plays an opening message when a reader opens to the page and then four additional videos depending on which buttons the reader pushes.

The video ad insert was distributed to 17,000 of Successful Farming’s subscribers. The magazine helped cross reference its sub list with the Bayer CropScience’s database in order to target the most qualified potential customers for the Votivo product.

Read more and see a demonstatiion video at http://alturl.com/v5vkj

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Random House Retains Digital Rights Over Wylie Agency

On 26 July 2010, I posted about the esteemed Wylie Literary Agency getting into the publishing field by publishing the digital versions of old classics by their own writer clientele through Amazon.

You see, the old, original publishing contracts with Random House (and a few others) did not include "digital rights"...They didn't exist at the time.

It now seems that Random House, who published most of the original print versions of the subject Wylie titles, has wrestled the digital rights from Wylie.

Even though I previously commented on a concern over a Wylie Agency conflict of interest with their authors, I would still like to see the wording of those original Random House contracts...that evidently held up rights that didn't exist at the time. Rights I believe belong to the writers/authors to assign as they wish.

What do you think?

Anyway, here is a Wall Street Journal report written by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg giving more details.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Best-selling Author Dumps Traditional Publishers

The publishing and book world is ABUZZZZZ with the news that Seth Godin, a top selling marketing author, is dumping his traditional publisher because they take too long to get his product to his readers AND he has developed a close enough relationship with his readers, through his online blog, that he feels he can sell directly to them and dispense with the laborious publishers.

Phew! That was a long and laborious sentence, I'm out of breadth...It says a lot though:

First, it points out the importance of blogs to establish an author's online platform and relationships.

Second, life is too short to waste it jumping through the traditional publishing hoops.

Third, the internet can tell you just who your readers are (and provide better tracking).

This from Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal:

In a significant defection for the book industry, best-selling marketing author Seth Godin is ditching his traditional publisher, Portfolio, after a string of books and plans to sell his future works directly to his fans.

The author of about a dozen books including "Purple Cow" said he now has so many direct customer relationships, largely via his blog, that he no longer needs a traditional publisher. Mr. Godin plans to release subsequent titles himself in electronic books, via print-on-demand or in such formats as audiobooks, apps, small digital files called PDFs and podcasts.

"Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don't know who reads their books," said Mr. Godin in an interview. "What the Internet has done for me, and a lot of others, is enable me to know my readers."

It's unclear how many, if any, best-selling authors will follow Mr. Godin's lead. However, his departure from Portfolio, an imprint owned by Pearson PLC's Penguin Group (USA), comes at a critical juncture for the industry. With many new titles spending less time on best-seller lists and in bookstores, publishers are increasingly dependent on brand-name authors such as Mr. Godin to deliver significant book sales.

Read more http://alturl.com/keqy6

Monday, August 23, 2010

liquidpubs, a New Digital Publisher for Mobiles

Liquidpubs is the name of a new, so-called "next generation" digital publisher.

What exactly does that mean? As far as I can determine...I think it means a digital publisher that publishes for the new mobile devices in their particular formats (specifically smartphones and tablet computers).
Just how many digital publishers are there? Don't know, but there is a ton of members to the IDPF (The International Digital Publishing Forum), an international trade and standards association for the digital publishing industry.

Robin Wauters, writing for TechCrunch, gives more details:

There’s a new “next generation” digital publishing solutions provider in town, and its name is liquidpubs. Offering tools and services for publishing for smartphones and tablet computers, specifically, the startup aims to cater to publishers of magazines, newspapers and books wanting to get their content onto devices like the iPad and iPhone.

Of note: one of the company’s creative directors is Rob Janoff, a graphic designer probably most famous for his creation of the Apple logo (the rainbow bitten apple one, not the early Isaac Newton one) and his later design work for the likes of IBM and Intel.

The other creative director is renowned photographer and image artist Alexx Henry, but let’s not digress too much.

Liquidpubs is essentially a set of services and technologies that allows publishers of magazines, newspapers and books to offer owners of the iPad, an iPhone or an Android based tablet or smartphone an experience of their content specifically made for said devices.

Read more http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/23/liquidpubs/

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Are E-Readers More Sociable than Books?

A different take on the impact of e-readers. Some are saying that when one is seen reading an e-reader they seem more approachable and less "bookwormish" and isolated than when one is seen reading a printed book.

I'm not so sure if I buy into this concept totally because I never considered a person reading a book as unapproachable in the first place...Probably has more to do with personalities and backgrounds than anything else. For sure, the popularity of e-readers has made reading anywhere more common and accepted and therefore less "isolated".

Austin Considine had this to say in the New York Times today:

E-Books Make Readers Less Isolated

VOLUMES have been written about technology’s ability to connect people. But burying one’s nose in a book has always been somewhat isolating — with its unspoken assertion that the reader does not want to be disturbed. So what about a device that occupies the evolving intersection between?

“Strangers constantly ask about it,” Michael Hughes, a communications associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said of his iPad, which he uses to read a mix of novels and nonfiction. “It’s almost like having a new baby.” An iPad owner for four months, Mr. Hughes said people were much more likely to approach him now than when he toted a book. “People approach me and ask to see it, to touch it, how much I like it,” he said. “That rarely happens with dead-tree books.”

With the price of e-readers coming down, sales of the flyweight devices are rising. Last month, Amazon reported that so far this year, Kindle sales had tripled over last year’s. When Amazon cut Kindle’s price in June to $189 from $259, over the next month Amazon sold 180 e-books for every 100 hardcovers.

Read more http://alturl.com/v2wvw

Friday, August 20, 2010

Publisher 'Inkling' Leading in Interactive Content Publishing

Inkling has evidently developed an interactive content publishing platform that will be useful to many applications outside it's own educational, textbook mission...and is raising series A funding for further development.

Seems only fitting that an educational publisher, that deals with teaching in an interactive environment, would be the innovator of such a platform in the new digital publishing world.

Here are more details in a press release from Business Wire :

Inkling(tm) announced its Series A financing today, led by Sequoia Capital with participation from Kapor Capital, Sherpalo Ventures and Felicis Ventures. Inkling delivers engaging interactive textbooks that feature powerful social collaboration, integrated multimedia, and instant learner feedback. Inkling also launched its platform for advanced learning content today with the immediate availability of its iPad app.

Inkling Founder and CEO Matt MacInnis announced that the company has added Peter Currie, Former CFO of Netscape, and Bryan Schreier, Partner, Sequoia Capital, to its board.

The publishing industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation as devices like iPad enable new interactive digital experiences. Getting content onto these devices is expensive, and best practices aren't yet established. Educational content in particular presents special challenges because of its visual and informational complexity. Inkling provides a scalable platform for creating complex interactive experiences for multiple platforms, starting first with iPad.

"We're going to change the way people learn," said Mr. MacInnis. "And our object-oriented publishing platform positions us to accelerate change in the publishing industry, benefitting publishers, students, and educators alike."

"Inkling has produced a groundbreaking platform for interactive content publishing in a market that's primed for innovation," said Mr. Schreier. "With its visionary product strategy and phenomenal team, Inkling is leading the way for digital content platforms, not just in education, but in digital publishing everywhere. We're excited to be a part of it."

Inkling was founded in late 2009 to tackle the challenges of interactive publishing. Inkling's partnerships with major publishers like Cengage Learning, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, and Wolters Kluwer will yield next-generation interactive titles that replace traditional textbooks and other printed learning materials.

Lauren E. Struck, 415-975-4423

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What are Shelter Magazines? And Which are Surviving?

Just what are shelter magazines? According to Wikipedia.com 'shelter magazine' is a publishing trade term used to indicate a segment of the U.S. magazine market, designating a periodical publication with an editorial focus on interior design, architecture, home furnishings, and often gardening.

Some examples of shelter mags:

Architectural Digest
Better Homes and Gardens
Country Life in America, 1901-1942.
Country Living
Dwell (magazine)
Desert Magazine
Elle Decor
Garden Design
House Beautiful
Martha Stewart Living
Metropolitan Home

Having established what a shelter mag is and given examples of a few, which ones are surviving in the present chaotic publishing landscape where so many mags have been mowed over like dead weeds?

Jason Fell of FOLIO magazine has the answer with numbers to illustrate (interesting stuff) in the following article:

Over the last several weeks, the editorial leaders at the industry’s top shelter magazines have been playing a game of musical chairs, much like the executives at the big publishing companies that own them. The most recent move came at Condé Nast’s Architectural Digest, where longtime editor Paige Rense Noland retired and was replaced by Margaret Russell, the editor-in-chief of Hachette’s Elle Décor. Michael Boodro, Elle Décor’s executive editor, is serving as acting editor-in-chief.

Elsewhere, Stephen Drucker, who had served as editor-in-chief of Hearst’s House Beautiful, jumped to sister title Town&Country, and was replaced by style director Newell Turner. Hearst’s Veranda named Dara Caponigro, style director at now-defunct Domino, as editor, replacing founding editor Lisa Newsom. And Time Inc.’s Southern Living recently appointed former Cottage Living editor Eleanor Griffin as vice president of brand development.

“These changes mean there’s a ‘wanted-ness’ in the shelter category, both in terms of readership and those who want to work in this category,” says House Beautiful publisher Kate Kelly Smith. “From a business perspective, it may be a challenge to some titles because some advertisers like consistency and any changes mean their brands may not resonate as well.”

In terms of business, now that the big shelter magazine die-off—spurred on by the housing market collapse and pullback in advertising dollars across the publishing industry—appears to have slowed if not stopped altogether, the forecast for the remaining titles seems to be that while the category overall is rebounding, the general market is still lagging. “Some aspects of the category are showing modest rebounding, but more mass-targeted brands are coming back slowly,” says Chris Allen, publisher of Hearst’s Country Living, which targets the shelter lifestyle market.

Meredith’s category monster, Better Homes & Gardens (7.6 million circ) saw ad pages through the first half grow 6.8 percent to 823.92, according to Publishers Information Bureau figures. Percentage-wise, Elle Décor had the best first six months, with ad pages shooting up 15.6 percent to 474.16.

Read more http://alturl.com/6rrg2

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Little, Brown Publishing Pushing Newbie Writer!

Going back to basics, including what I consider publishing's core mission: discovering and marketing new writers, is smart and a welcome breath of fresh air!

Little, Brown publishing company, was founded in 1837 and became a constituent of Hachette Book Group in 2006...

Little, Brown Company has QUITE an interesting history so please visit the link I provided.

Rachel Deahl of Publishers Weekly describes this newbie writer and his book/s and why Little, Brown is big-budgeting this new writer:

A "great old-fashioned publishing job" is how Michael Pietsch described the campaign Little, Brown has launched for the author it's trying to turn into its latest franchise bestseller: Michael Koryta. Amid the growing cacophony of claims that authors don't really need publishers anymore—this was the general media's takeaway from the news that the Andrew Wylie Agency launched a publishing division—Little, Brown's major investment in a relative unknown (who isn't writing a YA trilogy) stands as an important reminder that there are still publishers who think they can make money by investing in an author that they simply believe can write.

Koryta (pronounced Kor-ee-ta) was a young (he's 27) genre thriller writer at St. Martin's Press until, in a case of serendipity, his editor there turned down a manuscript of his that veered into the supernatural. His agent, David Hale Smith, started shopping the book and it landed at Little, Brown, which signed the author, in 2008 to a three-book deal.

The manuscript that SMP passed on, originally called Lost River, was published as So Cold the River by LB in June. To Koryta's small fan base, the new book was a noticeable shift. Moving away from the hard-boiled mysteries he wrote at SMP, So Cold the River, which follows a struggling Hollywood director who takes an unorthodox video history assignment in an Indiana town, is a ghost story. While Koryta said a lot of his fans have been focused on the genre shift, LB saw the change in So Cold the River as a chance to launch the publisher's new talent as if he were a debut author.

Although Koryta's written five books at SMP—four of them feature the Cleveland PI Lincoln Perry—he's not well-known outside of the mystery community. He also didn't head into his LB deal with an impressive sales record. Pietsch said Koryta's books at SMP never sold much beyond the 5,000-copy mark.

Despite Koryta's unimpressive sales record, LB has upped its investment in the author. As LB was preparing to publish So Cold the River, book three in Koryta's contract arrived. (Koryta says 2009, which was the first year he spent as a full-time writer, was unusually productive for him; he estimates he churned out more than 400,000 words.) With two of Koryta's contracted books ready for market, and a third in good shape, Pietsch decided to sign Koryta to another contract.

Read more http://alturl.com/pxaun

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dueling Bookstores - High Noon in Westhampton Beach

I could NOT BELIEVE that some of the residents of this small village of Westhampton Beach, New York (approx. 2000 population without tourists) could behave with such malicious, hateful behavior over a second indie bookstore opening in their town...

It's nice to be loyal to an existing owner, but damn, educated people do NOT go into a new book store and stick gum between the pages of new books! They all should be charged to the max for willful destruction of property and anything else the authorities can throw at them! Makes you wonder what these idiots have been reading lately?

Julie Bosman wrote this in the New York Times about the dueling bookstores:

Ever since Books & Books opened its doors on Main Street here last month, it has missed out on some of the adulation usually reserved for new independent bookstores in the age of Amazon.

Several storeowners nearby have ordered their staffs not to shop there. Indignant older women have marched inside the bookstore to yell at employees. And someone, or perhaps several someones, may have sneakily placed used chewing gum between the pages of new books.

The animosity seems to have stemmed from the fact that Books & Books moved in when there was already an independent bookstore, the Open Book, around the corner. And as some people saw it, there was no room for another one.

Terry Lucas, a librarian and the owner of the Open Book, which she founded in 1999, said Books & Books is on a course to put her already struggling store out of business.

The dueling bookstores have caused a bit of summer drama in this quiet, laid-back town on the south fork of Long Island, where much of the commercial activity happens on Main Street, a tidy stretch lined with restaurants, real estate offices and boutiques.

Read more http://alturl.com/dvo5y

Monday, August 16, 2010

Facebook Recruiting Top Talent Through Acquisitions

For writers wanting to build online platforms for their books and other wares, Facebook has been one of the major social media sites to accomplish that goal...Now, FB is quietly (or not so quietly) stacking their team with innovative "ringers" from the staffs of their numerous, recent buyouts.

Wonder what their agenda is? What do they see coming down the track? Hummmmm...
Let's hope they don't get too big to fail...because once in this position companies inevitably get too big for their own britches...and who suffers? We do!

This article from InformationWeek by Antone Gonsalves delves into some of the recent FB acquisitions and the talent acquired:

Facebook has bought Chai Labs, the latest in a string of acquisitions where the company's talent is at least as important as the technology.

What Chai Labs does is unclear from its website. The company says it has an "in-depth focus on a handful of verticals" and helps web publishers "easily customize and launch scalable, search-friendly sites."

However, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company was founded by Gokul Rajaram, a former Google AdSense executive. In addition, its investors and advisers include Marc Andreessen, general partner of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and co-founder of now-defunct Netscape Communications; Reid Hoffman, general partner at Greylock Partners and chairman of Linkedin; and Joe Kraus, general partner of Google Ventures.

Read more http://alturl.com/im9g7

Saturday, August 14, 2010


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'Goodreads' Owner Pushes Print on the Web Over Paper

"Chandler talks about how the world of publishing has been blown wide open by self-publishing sites. With more than 300,000 new titles a year, he maintains that the traditional media can't possibly cover them all. 'Someone has got to sort through what is good and what is bad,' he said, suggesting Goodreads members will be the new arbiters"...
Excerpt from LATimes article by James Rainey.

I have been a member of Goodreads since last January, although, I admit, I just haven't had enough time to visit as often as I'd like...It's an excellent site and founded by Otis Chandler (pictured above), of the Chandler family who owns the Los Angeles Times.

Otis Chandler gives his outlook on the future of publishing and media in this eye-opening, LATimes aricle by James Rainey:

"Book reviews in newspapers, well, those are gone," the young Web entrepreneur told me in the most matter-of-fact way. "Independent bookstores are almost gone. Chains will probably be gone soon. It's all happening online now."

That might have been ho-hum stuff coming from just any techie. But the pronouncements were being made by a descendent of a print-and-ink empire.

Otis Chandler made no apologies. His great-great-great-grandfather may have founded the Los Angeles Times. His grandfather, another Otis, pushed the newspaper to renown. But this member of the Chandler family, generation six, has moved on.

He has built one of the biggest sites on the Internet for book lovers, one that has been growing steadily since its inception in 2006. Goodreads.com hosts reading clubs, gives away books, sponsors author chats, offers literature quizzes and generally dissects and celebrates writing. The website has 3.5 million members. It has more than 1.7 million unique visitors a month, a 65% jump from a year ago, according to the Nielsen Co.

Chandler, 32, has built a substantial audience and considerable good will. But he must confront the central challenge that faces most other media companies, old and new: how to make money off the audiences they have built on the Web.

I met with Young Otis this week in his bare-bones office in Santa Monica. It's upstairs from a liquor store and next to an acupuncturist, the same spot, according to the landlord, where Lakers owner Jerry Buss nurtured a fledgling real estate business.

When I asked whether Goodreads had turned a profit, Chandler didn't answer directly. "I'll just say we are doing well," said the soft-spoken Stanford graduate, who pecked at his laptop, which sat atop a folding table in a room with mostly bare walls.

"I think we are doing very well as an advertising platform for books," he continued, "and I have other ideas to increase that. To be a really big media business, I think you need other [revenue] streams. We have several other ideas to create those."

Young Otis, who founded the company with his wife, Elizabeth Khuri Chandler, a former Times staffer, wouldn't say where that money might be found. But he sounded confident that it lurked out there, just waiting to be mined.

Chandler said Goodreads has worked with all the major publishing houses to promote books and authors in a variety of ways. That can mean banner ads standard on the Web, "sponsored" links like the ones that power Google, and other options — like paid mentions for a book or author in one of the site's polls, quizzes or in its monthly e-mailed newsletter.

The start-up has 10 employees and announced in December that it landed $2 million in venture capital, adding to its initial round of funding.

Read more and get original comments at LATimes http://alturl.com/5p89r

Friday, August 13, 2010

Who Needs Publishers?...Anyone?

"For as long as anyone has been writing books, authors' careers have rested on the judgments or whims of publishers. Would the novel that took so many months, or even years, to write be read, let alone chosen, by editors? Who could tell? Who knew what publishers were looking for?" ... Excerpt from Who Needs Publishers?

Ray Connolly, English author, journalist, script-writer, editor-in-chief and marketing chief extraordinaire, wrote this fine article (from which the above excerpt came) in http://www.guardian.co.uk/ that backs up what I've been preaching on this blog for some time:

You won't hear it said in many publishing houses these days, where those editors and managements who have survived the 10% cull in their numbers following the credit crunch now appear frozen in the headlights of the onrushing digital revolution. But from the point of view of authors, these are potentially exciting times.

Because, although advances have been slashed, and literary agents are wringing their hands at the difficulties in finding publishers for all but the most guaranteed fiction, change is on the way. With Apple's iPad recently joining Amazon's Kindle and the Sony Reader as devices for reading downloaded books, power in publishing might just be shifting in the authors' favour.

For as long as anyone has been writing books, authors' careers have rested on the judgments or whims of publishers. Would the novel that took so many months, or even years, to write be read, let alone chosen, by editors? Who could tell? Who knew what publishers were looking for?

This was bad enough when editorial departments had the authority to buy manuscripts themselves. But then came the endless rise of marketing departments, and soon novels were increasingly being selected according to which genre they fitted.

That situation largely continues, but with the news that Amazon now sells almost twice as many digital books as hardbacks in the US, it's clear that publishing is changing. And if publishers can sell their books online, why can't writers?

Actually, they can. It isn't difficult. Anyone who is computer savvy can become a publisher these days. I know, because I've just become one.

I'm now Ray Connolly, writer, editor-in-chief and head of marketing of Plumray Books, and any one of the 2 billion computer-owning people in the world who wants to read my new novel, The Sandman, can do so at the click of a mouse. It's being serialised chapter by chapter on my website where, over the next 10 weeks, it will build like a part-work. In the words of a friend, I'm "doing a Dickens".

What's more, it's free – although should any readers want to find out how the The Sandman ends before October, and hopefully quite a few will, they can download the entire book for less than the cost of a paperback. After that it will go on to Amazon.

Read more http://alturl.com/g5eev

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Booksellers' Evolving Strategies

Picture this: You're walking down the aisles of a bookstore looking at the vast shelves of books, stopping to pull one of interest down for a closer look, touching it, smelling the newness of it, flipping the pages and reading sections, holding it in your hands...Ahhh, you decide, this is the one I want...

Are these simple moves and stimulating teasers to your senses blowing away, soon to be Gone With The Wind ?

Julie Bosman of the New York Times writes an incisive piece examining the rapidly changing atmosphere of bookstores and booksellers' changing strategies to stay in business:

In the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” Tom Hanks played the aggressive big-box retailer Joe Fox driving the little bookshop owner played by Meg Ryan out of business.

Twelve years later, it may be Joe Fox’s turn to worry. Readers have gone from skipping small bookstores to wondering if they need bookstores at all. More people are ordering books online or plucking them from the best-seller bin at Wal-Mart.

But the threat that has the industry and some readers the most rattled is the growth of e-books. In the first five months of 2009, e-books made up 2.9 percent of trade book sales. In the same period in 2010, sales of e-books, which generally cost less than hardcover books, grew to 8.5 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers, spurred by sales of the Amazon Kindle and the new Apple iPad. For Barnes & Noble, long the largest and most powerful bookstore chain in the country, the new competition has led to declining profits and store traffic. After the company announced last week that it was putting itself up for sale, Leonard Riggio, Barnes & Noble’s chairman and largest shareholder, who has declared his confidence in the company’s future, hinted that he might make a play to buy the company himself and take it private.

For readers, e-books have meant a transformation not just of the reading experience, but of the book-buying tradition of strolling aisles, perusing covers and being able to hold books in their hands. Many publishers have been astounded by the pace of the e-book popularity and the threat to print book sales that it represents. If the number of brick-and-mortar stores drops, publishers fear that sales will go along with it. Some worry that large bookstores will go the way of the record stores that shut down when the music business went digital.

“The shift from the physical to the digital book can pick up some of the economic slack, but it can’t pick up the loss that is created when you don’t have the customers browsing the displays,” said Laurence J. Kirshbaum, a literary agent. “We need people going into stores and seeing a book they didn’t know existed and buying it.”

Read more http://alturl.com/b33s3

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Newsday is GROWING!

Good news for newspapers!...At least one newspaper. It appears the newspaper biz may be experiencing a resurgence in profitability just like the magazine sector has of late.

I'm happy for these type publishers turning the corner.

Matthew Flamm of Crain's New York Business reports this RE Newsday:

After several rounds of cutbacks and a battle with its union over a new contract, Newsday is hiring.

In a memo to the paper's staff Wednesday morning, Editor-in-Chief Debby Krenek announced that the Cablevision-owned daily would hire 34 new reporters over the next six months and add 2,600 pages of additional news annually, or about seven pages a day.

“I'm very excited to announce that we are making this significant investment in people and pages to provide more and stronger coverage for Long Islanders,” she wrote.

The hires are a surprise move at a time when few newspapers are hiring and many continue to cut back. It's particularly surprising that Cablevision is making this investment following bitter contract negotiations that ended in June with Newsday union members agreeing to wage cuts of from 5% to 10%.

The Dolan family, which controls Cablevision Systems Corp., paid $650 million for Newsday in 2008. By combining the paper with Cablevision assets, the Dolans were hoping to become the dominant player in Long Island news. They have been mainly preoccupied with cutbacks as newspaper advertising has plummeted.

In the second quarter of 2010, Newsday had revenue of $80 million, down 10% from the year ago period. The paper's operating loss narrowed to $1.3 million from $2.6 million.

Read more http://alturl.com/5hu8y

Monday, August 9, 2010

Digital Developers Imitating Traditional Publishers

Have you noticed that all the new, digital e-readers' format and style templates are designed to look like their print predecessors and even have digital pages that turn like a physical book, etc.?

Well, that is imitation of the old publishing designs and is a form of flattery...Is it not?

Robert Andrews of http://paidcontent.org/ thinks so and points out some other interesting facts in the following article:

It was pop-culture philosopher Marshall McLuhan who wrote: “All media come in pairs, with one acting as the ‘content’ of the other.”

That assertion is true once again, now that a range of developers is pushing out digital products that depend on paying homage to physical-media forebears…

On the web, where countless embarrassing “newspaper” blog templates have been available for years, sites like The Twitter Times and paper.li redeploy the aesthetic and lexicon of printed news - but not necessarily the content. Instead, they try to make “a daily newspaper” from stories linked to by fellow Twitter users.

It’s on e-readers where this format flattery is most pronounced, and where independent developers are incongruously following conventional publishers in the rebooted electronic “magazine” or “newspaper” goldrush...

The Early Edition RSS reader app for iPad reconstitutes what is usually a lifeless, date-ordered list of stories in something reminiscent of a morning rag, with front-page lead stories, distinct section layout and turnable pages. Rival app NewsRack, on iPhone, even displays feeds as though on a wireframe sidewalk stand.

The buzz about socially-organized e-magazines, like the Twitter examples above, grew to a short-lived fever pitch last month when Flipboard debuted its app for showing friends’ linked content in something like a page-turning fashion.

Read more http://alturl.com/z69v2

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Who's Winning the E-book War--Amazon or Apple?

We all know that Apple's iPad sold 3.3 million units since it's introduction in April. The purposefully cloudy reporting of Amazon's earning figures make their Kindle sales harder to discern (we don't want our competition to know type thing)...Hummmm, the whole Kindle reporting method seems cloudy to me, as well as Amazon's motives and agenda. But, their single-function Kindle is still selling like hotcakes and is on back-order for now...I just can't help but wonder, though, if it's days aren't numbered against the multi-functional iPads and future clones.

Randall Stross writes this for the New York Times:

THE Kindle from Amazon.com is designed to let us do one thing very well: read. To survive, it must excel at this, not only by jostling to stay a nose ahead of other e-readers, but also by maintaining an enormous lead over the Apple iPad and its coming competitors. The multipurpose iPad can do thousands of things very well; used for reading book-length texts, it doesn’t excel, but it’s passable.

Last month, Amazon introduced a pair of third-generation machines — smaller, lighter and with crisper text. One has a new, lower entry price of $139. “I predict there will be a 10th-generation and a 20th-generation Kindle,” said Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive. If that sounds a tad defensive, it’s probably because of the instant success of the multipurpose iPad: 3.3 million units sold since its introduction in April.

We know how many iPads were sold because Apple is straightforward about reporting the unit sales of all of its products. Amazon is a different story. We don’t know the size of Amazon’s Kindle business because the company is averse to disclosing details of its operations. When it reports its financial results, the company that sells just about anything that can be put in a box or sent electronically divides its businesses into just three categories: “media,” which lumps books, music and videos into one indistinguishable agglomeration; “electronics and other general merchandise,” an even larger, indistinguishable agglomeration; and “other.”

Read more http://alturl.com/q8kmb

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mass Market Publishing Going to E-Book/POD Model?

Many big house publishers are finding that mass marketing their books is becoming way too expensive for the decreasing returns. So many, like romance publisher Dorchester, are changing to the e-book/POD model to improve their margins.

Jim Milliot (I couldn't find a decent link for Jim who is a co-editorial director at PW) of Publishers Weekly has this to say:

Mass market romance publisher Dorchester Publishing has dropped its traditional print publishing business in favor of an e-book/print-on-demand model effective with its September titles that are “shipping” now. President John Prebich said after retail sales fell by 25% in 2009, the company knew that 2010 “would be a defining year,” but rather than show improvement, “sales have been worse.” While returns are down, the company has had a difficult time getting its titles into stores as shelf space for mass market has been reduced, Prebich explained. Dorchester recently let its field sales force of seven go, although Tim DeYoung remains with the company as v-p of sales and marketing. The editorial team remains intact, although Prebich said the number of titles released monthly will likely be reduced from over 30 to 25. He said the schedule for 2011 is set and Dorchester has books in the pipeline through June 2012.

Dorchester will continue to do print copies for its book club business and has signed a deal with Ingram Publisher Service for IPS to do print-on-demand copies for selected titles. According to Prebich, some e-books that are doing well in the digital marketplace will be released as trade paperbacks with IPS fulfilling orders; the company, however, will not do any more mass market paperbacks for retail distribution.

Prebich said Dorchester’s e-book business has had “remarkable growth” which he expects to double again in the next year. Still, digital sales accounted for only 12% of total revenue prior to the company making the transition to the e-book/pod model. Prebich conceded that Dorchester will have lower revenues, but he expects margins to improve. He said the company is working out a new royalty rate with authors that he expects to announce next week. Editors are talking to authors now about the changes. “We hope they’ll stay,” Prebich said. Dorchester’s e-books are available at most major vendors and compatible with most platforms at an average price of $6.99. Trade paperbacks will be priced in the $12 to $15 range.

On his decision to drop the mass market format Prebich explained: “These are like pioneer times in publishing. We felt like we needed to take some chances and make a bold move."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Unsatisfying State of Digital Publishing?

One of the great features of digital publishing is it's ability to engulf the reader in a three-dimensional world of related words, sounds and visual effects. This opportunity appears to have been missed by Rolling Stone, Apple and Zinio in the following example given by Lonnie Lazar in his article for Cult of Mac (http://www.cultofmac.com/):

Review: Apple, Rolling Stone and the Unsatisfying State of Digital Publishing

Rolling Stone‘s Special Issue of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time made its debut Tuesday on Zinio, a digital publishing platform that could spell the difference between “survive” and “thrive” for old-school media publications looking to keep the doors open in coming years.

With a stable of top-tier periodicals such as National Geographic, Esquire, American Photo, Car & Driver and many more, Zinio definitely leads the way in showing how paper publications might remain not only relevant but vital and attractive to a new generation of “readers” weaned on the sizzle and flash of gaming and 3D entertainment.

Publication is morphing into something beyond simple words and pictures, evolving into an immersive medium that both pushes ideas and information out to consumers — and draws them in with interactive features and activities that take one beyond the superficial layers of what an article or essay might seem to offer.

Thus, with such crucial stakes at hand, did Zinio, Apple and Rolling Stone produce something of a mixed scorecard with the 500 Greatest issue.
Zinio is available as a free app in the iTunes App Store (link) and supports all three of Apple’s mobile hardware devices, the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, in addition to offering cloud-based services accessible through a web browser on any computer connected to the internet.

Most magazines in the catalog can be purchased in-app by the single issue or by subscription — and these transactional nuts and bolts Zinio has down cold.

Not surprisingly, some of the more ephemeral aspects of this digital publishing game, such as delivering the content and handling the fancy interactive bells and whistles on offer, work best — and look best — on the iPad.

To begin with, the larger screen is far more suited to showcasing the visual media of traditional magazines, and the iPad’s core processor seems to deliver a faster, smoother user experience than either Zinio on the web or using the app on the smaller iPhone and iPod Touch. While the iPhone 4′s Retina Display enhances the visual experience on that device, downloading magazines on an older device is an opportunity to cultivate patience, at best.

Read more http://alturl.com/8i68n

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Condé Nast is Going Tech for Sure

Condé Nast has hired a big gun in digital publishing, marketing and management away from cable TV's Viacom...namely Joe Simon. His newly created and first-time-ever position at Condé is that of Chief Technology Officer.

The re-structured Condé Nast is diving into the digital survival waters following other magazine that are enjoying a revival of ad pages and profit margins.

For those that do not realize the extent of the Condé Nast high end, fashion, nutrition and luxury magazine empire, I will list all the magazines published by them here:

Nutrition Data
Teen Vogue
Architectural Digest
Golf Digest
Golf World
Vanity Fair
Bon Appétit
Condé Nast Traveler
Hotel Chatter
Vegas Chatter
Ars Technica
The New Yorker

Matthew Flamm, of Craine's New York Business, gives more details of the Condé Nast restructuring, the hiring of Joe Simon and what it means for the future of Condé Nast here http://alturl.com/qwpzh

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Authors, No Agent/Publisher? Get Social Media-It's Better and Free!

Non-famous, first-time writers...you know, the talented ones that actually write their own stuff...have been literally shut out by traditional publishing interested only in the fast buck for the more-than-recent-past!

But, technology has blown a lifeboat their way and one of the big oars that come with that lifeboat is social media...Social media can be their agent, book tour and publicist all rolled into one AND it's free!

Lori Culwell , a published writer and expert in Search Engine Optimization, posted this in the Huffington Post RE her own experience getting published for the first time (a wake-up read):

I think if there's one trait about me that has served me the best while at the same time annoying the most people, it is that I will absolutely not tolerate being told that I cannot do something. "No" is the one word that makes me almost pathologically have to find a way, if for no other reason than to go back to the original nay-sayer and proclaim "See! It could be done -- you just lacked the vision!"

Yes, it is richly ironic that I chose to be a writer and yet I find rejection so odious. I get it.

Now you're wondering how this applies to you.

A couple of years ago, I decided I was going to write a novel. Was I a celebrity, did I have a book deal, or did I once date Hugh Hefner?

No. I just wanted to write a novel. Is that so wrong? I had hope when I started. And yet, even before I was done, the chorus of "that's so hard" was upon me. "It's impossible for an unknown writer to sell a novel these days" turned into a cascade of rejection letters and emails from interns at agents' offices, then editors, publishers, even well-meaning writer friends. The manuscript was barely even done before it was finished, as they say.

But, here's the thing -- I knew the novel was good, and I knew it would sell, and even though I didn't relish the idea of self-publishing, by then I was on a mission, not only to put the book out, but to convince the world, one person at a time if necessary, that my book belonged on their summer reading lists.

Read more http://alturl.com/fbzkd

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Peek Into the Comic Book Publishing World

I used to love comic books when I was a kid; I've gotten away from them as I grew older, but they are BIG business even more today...as evidenced by all the smash money-making animation movies based on comic characters...as well as the Superman, Daredevil, Spiderman, and Green Hornet movies, etc...

Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly wrote this insightful article giving us a great peek inside the business and deal-making world of comic book publishing:

While major publishers/film producers like DC Comics and Marvel dominated the headlines at this year's San Diego Comic-Con International with blockbuster superhero films, mid-size independents, smaller presses, and even self-publishers still benefit from the Hollywood presence, as it gives them the chance to ink their own movie, TV, and licensing deals and use them to drive support for publishing books.

Oni Press, publisher of Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series, is the latest example of a small press property turned major media phenomenon thanks to the combination of a great book and a carefully managed movie deal (the sixth volume in the series has just sold through its 100,000-copy first printing). The first thing visitors at this year's show noticed was a mammoth promotional Scott Pilgrim mural clinging to the sides of the Hilton hotel. Image Comics, meanwhile, had its own public relations coup as its booth was mobbed by fans buying copies of Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead series in anticipation of the new AMC TV series, set to debut in the fall.

Old-school Comic-Con attendees lament the impact of Hollywood on the show, but the invasion of the studios is a measure of how critical Comic-Con has become to Hollywood and in turn shows off the importance of a film and TV relationship to an independent comics publishing program. The combination of tens of thousands of knowledgeable and passionate fans makes Comic-Con the promised land for generating media buzz and for film media and licensing deals of all kinds. For publishers big and small, meetings with agents, producers, and directors are now as much a part of the San Diego Comic-Con experience as the Eisner Awards or a visit to Ralph's.

Read more http://alturl.com/bivt2

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Are Books and Digital Publishing Mutually Exclusive?

Of course not. Books are books no matter what form they take. The media chosen for presentation doesn't change the story or content...and content is king!

The absolutely engaging children's book author, founder of new media publishing company Brand Nu Words AND a senior vice president of the Jamestown Project (a think tank focusing on democracy), Charisse Carney-Nunes, expresses some concern with newer media but shows an accceptance of the inevitable changes.

Charisse brings up some legitimate concerns in this article for NewsOne for Black America:

The bedtime story is one of the most sacred of childhood rituals. We curl up on our parents’ laps, snuggle up with our blankets and velveteen bunnies, as we listen, follow along with our fingertips, and eventually sound out the words of our favorite stories.

A famous publisher and author of children’s books, Emilie Buchwald, said that “children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” We know this to be true, because for generations, this is how we learned and taught our own children to read. When it was illegal to teach Black people how to read in this country, our forefathers and foremothers got their hands on books, by any means necessary, so that their children might learn to read and have a better life. How will the next and future generations adapt to this world of iPads, electronic media, and, yes, even blogs like the one you’re reading?

Read more http://alturl.com/bw7uz