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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Publishing Espionage, Continued

Ahhh, the dark world of publishing espionage is getting downright dizzying!

After filing a lawsuit against McGraw-Hill (refer to my post of 9/28/10 More on Publishing Espionage), Reed Business Information publishers (RBI) has had a lawsuit filed against itself for "misconduct" by another construction information publisher, BidClerk Inc.

Even more from FOLIO magazine's Jason Fell:

The proverbial table has been turned for Reed Business Information. Following a suit its Reed Construction Data unit brought against rival McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge, the publisher is now facing a lawsuit brought against it by construction information service provider BidClerk Inc.

According to the complaint, filed in Minnesota U.S. District Court, BidClerk alleges that a series of “denial of services” attacks were directed against its online system, flooding it with “millions of page views.” It also alleges that a “click fraud’” scheme aimed at BidClerk’s paid advertisements generated “hundreds of thousands” of invalid clicks and impressions on its ads.

BidClerk claims the attacks originated from an IP address belonging to RBI. Meanwhile, RBI denies BidClerk’s allegations that it, or any of its employees, “intentionally engaged in internet activity designed to harm BidClerk.” It says it will “vigorously” defend itself against these claims.

Read more http://alturl.com/zodtu

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

IMG Worldwide - a Literary Agency PLUS!

A little insight into the inner management and the movement of managers within the magazine, book and media industries.
For those of you who have not heard of IMG (International Management Group) Worldwide, I am introducing you now.

IMG is the world's largest sports talent and marketing agency, operating in some 30 countries. They also are a top modeling agency...handling some of the world's top models such as Giselle Bundchen and Liv Tyler...BUT, guess what? They are also a literary agency, represent corporate clients and are involved in real estate and golf course design, etc, etc...

What brought IMG to my attention was reading that Tom Florio, who just left Conde Nast's Vogue magazine as Group Publisher after 25 years, was hired by IGM as senior advisor for fashion to the chairman, himself.

Nat Ives, AdAge.com, wrote this for Cain's New York Business:

Tom Florio lands at IMG Worldwide

Former Vogue publisher will seek new ventures for IMG's fashion operations.

It's not the chief executive position he said he was seeking when he left his post as group publisher at Vogue last June, but Tom Florio does have a new job: IMG Worldwide, the sports and media giant, has named him to the newly created post of senior adviser for fashion to the office of the chairman.

IMG's fashion operations include producing events such as Fashion Week in New York; publications such as The Daily, which covers Fashion Week in New York; and the modeling agency IMG Models.

In this post, Mr. Florio will be tasked with identifying new, "high-margin" products across IMG's fashion-related businesses, according to the company. "Tom has outstanding credentials and a proven track record of taking businesses and creating high growth opportunities around them," IMG Chief Executive Ted Forstmann said in a statement.

Read more http://alturl.com/gjimp

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More on Publishing Espionage

I initially posted on the espionage lawsuit filed against McGraw-Hill by Reed Construction Data publishers on 11/25/2009: McGraw-Hill Fights RBI’s Espionage Lawsuit and again on 12/16/2009: Reed Expands ‘Espionage’ Lawsuit Against McGraw-Hill

Here's the latest intrigue unfolding in this publishing business drama.

Folio Magazine's Jason Fell, who has been following this espionage court case, updates his initial reports:

Court Dismisses Three Counts in Reed ‘Espionage’ Case Against McGraw-Hill Construction

A New York U.S. District Court judge has ruled in favor of McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge to dismiss three of the counts brought against it last year by competitor Reed Construction Data alleging corporate espionage, among other things.

Specifically, the ruling dismisses the counts alleging violation of the New York General Business Law consumer fraud statute, violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to violate RICO. The ruling was filed on September 14. The litigation concerning the remaining eight counts is ongoing.

“We are very pleased with the judge’s ruling dismissing the RICO claims and state law consumer fraud claim and remain confident that we will prevail on the merits with respect to the remaining counts in the litigation,” McGraw-Hill Construction says in a statement e-mailed to FOLIO:.

Read more http://alturl.com/t3tt5

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ingram Book Distributors to Expand to Australia

Ingram...one of the world's largest, privately-owned book distribution companies... contains 11 companies (that I know of) under it's umbrella. These companies manufacture, market and distribute books and magazines in all formats for all devices, including mobile.

Ingram operates internationally and will have five plant locations after the Australian opening. Locations are in La Vergne, Tn; Allentown, Pa.; Milton Keynes near London; and Maurepas, France.

Randy McClain, Business Editor of the Tennessean Dot Com, reports this on the Ingram Content Group:

If I can trust my push-button, online Australian slang handbook, let's just say that Ingram Content Group has come up with some good oil Down Under.

Translation: The La Vergne-based company with an expanding global reach has come up with a good idea for the book market in Australia. It's one that should mean revenue growth for Ingram and more sales for its primary customers — book publishers worldwide with which Ingram does business.

Under the flag of its Lightning Source division — an on-demand print-manufacturing outfit — Ingram plans to open a book manufacturing and distribution center in Australia by next summer. The exact location is still a matter of research and crafting satisfactory lease terms.

But it's likely that a sprawling warehouse-like space similar to Lightning Source's La Vergne campus will be up and running by June. Inside will be all manner of computers, high-speed line printers and book binding gear designed to speed on-demand production of everything from novels to academic tomes.

The idea is to help publishers get books to market Down Under quicker — even small orders. Lightning Source's average print run, which can be for a publishing house or the corner bookstore, is 1.8 books per order. But sales add up when you have 4.4 million titles stored digitally for immediate use.

Read more http://alturl.com/sfijz

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Book is Not Just Business - It's a Cultural Identity!

France has a network of over 3000 independent bookstores and they are protected from going out of business.

Why, you ask? Simply because they don't want a limited range of literature. France wants to promote diversity in books by ensuring the market isn't too dominated by best-sellers, big publishers and large chain stores.

Not a bad idea! You know, only selling so-called "best-selling" books for the fast buck may be the cause of America's "dumbing down" and narrow-mindedness...hmmmmm.

Max Colchester wrote this revealing article for the Wall Street Journal about France's approach to protecting and expanding things literary:

For 30 years, Thierry Meaudre's family bookshop has been protected from competition from big retailers, thanks to a law that bars heavy discounting on books. Now he is hoping the French government will protect him from a new threat: the electronic book.

"I have been having nightmares about digital books for years," said Mr. Meaudre, 50 years old, surrounded by piles of colorful art books. "It's not just looming on the horizon. It's slowly becoming a reality."

While independent bookstores and small publishers in the U.S. are left to the mercy of market forces, those in much of Europe are protected. The U.K is the only large European economy that allows retailers to discount books freely, says Anne Bergman-Tahon, the director of the Federation of European Publishers.

In France a 1981 law prohibits the sale of books for less than 5% below the cover price, a move to protect independent booksellers from the narrow profit margins that big chains could absorb if they discounted books heavily. But e-books, not covered by the 1981 law because it refers to "printed volumes," typically sell for 25% less than printed works.

Now France is considering how best to stop big Internet retailers, such as Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc., from hurting smaller bookstores and publishers with heavily discounted offers on e-books. Sen. Jacques Legendre this month proposed a law that would allow publishers to set the retail price of e-books.

Read more http://alturl.com/7whcy

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hearst Publishing Introduces 'culture of innovation'

Hearst Publishing has come up with a novel idea that I thought was around since the beginning of good business...Mainly that of seeking and listening to good ideas from your own employees!...And, most importantly, rewarding those personnel with good ideas properly.

Great track to be on...funny Hearst is just discovering this innovative concept!

Jason Fell reports this in FOLIO magazine:

One of the biggest players in consumer magazine publishers is looking inward for inspiration.

As Hearst gears up to launch its mobile application think tank the App Lab, the publisher Thursday announced the creation of Hearst Innovation—an internal, company-wide effort aimed at creating new business ideas and improving communication.

According to Frank A. Bennack, Hearst’s vice chairman and CEO, the initiative “creates a pathway for us to discover, develop and reward great new business ideas from the best source available—our own employees—while supporting a company culture of creativity and collaboration.”

Read more http://alturl.com/ze99h

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is the Print Party Ending?

I personally don't feel print media will ever disappear completely and I have said as much previously on this blog...In fact, I believe print will have a rebound attributable, again, to technology. But, more deeply, because there are some things people just want in a more preservable, 3-dimensional format...You know, one you can read when the digital "gadgets" fail for whatever reason.

Marion Maneker, in an article for BNET (The CBS Interactive Business Network), has this take on print media's demise that he has deduced from three recent occurances in the publishing industry:

Will the Last Book Publisher Please Turn Out the Lights?

We’re reaching the end of the party for print – it’s going to go out with a whimper. We might just have even seen the last flickers of fun go out in three relatively small stories in the New York Times late last week and today. Here’s the list: the announcement that Newsweek’s Howard Fineman is moving to the Huffington Post; a brief profile of a near outsider’s hiring for a plum job in the book business; and the ever-sillier spectacle of the Barnes & Noble (BKS) proxy fight. Taken together, they suggest there’s no turning back.

The most important of the three stories is actually the Barnes & Noble takeover fight. Chairman Len Riggio’s intransigence in the face of forces that want to reform and re-energize the company — even as physical book sales continue to evaporate — make it clear that he is incapable of put the best interest of the company ahead of his own and his family’s interests. Here’s Riggio complaining to the New York Times as his company’s stock has dropped nearly 30%:

“I find it almost repulsive I have to be put in a position to defend myself,” Mr. Riggio said last week in Barnes & Noble’s corporate offices, leaning forward to press his point. [...] Barnes & Noble’s new chief executive, William Lynch, is paid $900,000 in salary, while his predecessor, Stephen Riggio, who was also vice chairman, was paid $800,000. Stephen, Mr. Riggio’s younger brother, remains vice chairman and now earns $400,000.

Mr. Riggio — who reduced his salary this year to $100,000 from $300,000 — made no apologies for what he said were necessary costs for hiring good executives. “I’m significantly undercompensated,” he said. “Steve is undercompensated.”

When a controlling shareholder in a company suggests he has to be paid a lot to stay with the firm, you know there’s conceptual disconnect. Riggio’s tortured logic, however, is the least of Barnes & Noble’s problems as a company.

B&N has an interesting history. It transformed the marketplace for books in the era of big box retailing. In the process, B&N added scale and efficiency to the modern publishing industry which in turn allowed publishers to achieve bigger and bigger sales. From the early 1990s, when B&N took the Superstore concept wide — other stores had invented it — until just recently, the sales of the top hardcover titles have increased geometrically.

Where books selling millions of copies was once a generational phenomenon, today it is the norm. Success breeds transformation and the rise of the mega-book attracted new retail outlets like Walmart (WMT), Costco (COST) and Amazon (AMZN) to the book business. These sales channels proved even more efficient — and offered greater discounts — than B&N. They did to the book chains exactly what the chains did to independent stores. Already weakened on that front, and further imperiled by the financial crisis and the damage it has done to all retailing, B&N faced a second front fighting off digital distribution of books.

Read more http://alturl.com/6b2rn

Monday, September 20, 2010

Barnes & Noble's Fight for Control Moves to Round Two

My 9 September 2010 post, Fight Still on to Control Barnes & Noble , introduced Mr. Ron Burkle, Chairman of the Yucaipa Investment Companies, and told of his attempt to have himself and two associates elected to B&N's board of directors...against the desire of B&N's company Chairman, Leonard Riggio, who fears for his control of the company.

Good stuff, eh?

Tonight we see this fight going into round two.

These details were reported by the Associated Press and carried in Crain's New York Business:

ISS endorses Burkle slate in Barnes & Noble fight

Institutional Shareholders Services Inc. recommended shareholders vote for Mr. Burkle's slate of three—including Mr. Burkle himself—to replace the three directors on the board.

A second proxy firm has weighed in on Barnes & Noble's proxy fight with one of its largest shareholders, billionaire Ron Burkle, this time favoring Mr. Burkle's slate of directors a week before shareholders meet and vote.

Institutional Shareholders Services Inc. said in a report Monday that shareholders should vote for Mr. Burkle's slate of three—including Mr. Burkle himself—to replace the three directors up for election or re-election Sept. 28.

Last week, another proxy advisory firm, Glass Lewis & Co., recommended voting for Barnes & Noble's slate of directors, which includes Chairman Leonard Riggio.

Read more http://alturl.com/wvv73

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Marketing: Why Digital Booking is Better than Bricks-and-Mortar Booking

I don't ever want to see physical bookstores disappear...and I don't feel they will completely. But, having said that, we as writers need to understand some basic dynamics to survive.

To understand why digital processing of books is completely dominating the book publishing, marketing and selling world, you have to understand what happened in the demise of giants like Blockbuster and Barnes and Noble and the rise of companies such as Netflix and Amazon.

Randall Stross , writer of the NYTimes Digital Domain column, gives us a good insight to changing business models and, in my opinion, how and why they can affect us as writers:

Why Bricks and Clicks Don’t Always Mix

NOT so long ago, in 2005, Blockbuster seemed invincible. However you preferred to rent movies — in stores or online — the company was ready to accommodate you.

At the time, Netflix could offer only one way of obtaining a movie (the mail) and one way of returning it (the mail). It was clicks, with no bricks.

Of course, we now know that Netflix has done just fine. In January 2005, its shares traded in the $11 range. On Friday, they closed at $140.46, giving the company a market capitalization of $7.35 billion.

As for Blockbuster, which was spun off from Viacom in 2004, it’s now a penny stock, and its woes are as visible as the “Closing” banner in the window of a store in your neighborhood. The company recently warned that it might file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Last week, its chief financial officer resigned. (A spokeswoman for Blockbuster declined a request for an interview with a company representative.)

Blockbuster’s experience shows that executing a bricks-and-clicks strategy entails a high degree of difficulty, managing not just two very different kinds of businesses, with dissimilar domains of expertise, but also a third challenge: integrating two separate systems. An online-only service can remain a best-in-class operation because its executives focus, focus, focus on just the online business.

In the handicapping of likely winners and losers in 2005, Netflix seemed unlikely to survive, let alone thrive. Netflix is “not a sustainable business,” Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, told SmartMoney that year. In his view, successful Internet businesses tended to “have a bricks-and-mortar component.” That is, retail stores.

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

Friday, September 17, 2010

Some Icons in Transforming Publishing

I just read about 12 game changers in publishing that gives some good backstory into the rapidly changing publishing industry and just had to pass it on.

This article by Jason Pinter in the Huffington Post :

So the Huffington Post recently published their list of 100 Game Changers, but to my chagrin, outside of a few reality show stars they didn't list any authors--or editors or publishing visionaries. I'm hoping to remedy that. Below is my list of Game Changers in the world of publishing. Now, please keep in mind that this is a highly subjective list. There are certainly many more game changers in this industry, and I invite you to add your own game changers in the comments section. There are many brilliant publishing professionals or aspects of the industry that slipped my mind for whatever reason (cough, old age, cough, dementia). So this is about celebrating those who have changed the game, pushed it in a new direction, or added something new and different to the conversation. Again, these are far from the only 'Game Changers' in publishing--so hopefully commenters will add their picks to the discourse below.

Andrew Wylie
For years, the literary agent Wylie was known primarily for two things: his nickname ("The Jackal") and his incredible list of iconic award-winning and bestselling authors including Dave Eggers, Elmore Leonard, Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie. This summer, however, Wylie made a different kind news by opening the doors of Odyssey Editions: an independent e-book venture that would publish many of esteemed clients' backlist titles exclusively on the Kindle. The ensuing furor forced a dialogue about the future of digital rights in an ever-changing landscape. Random House countered by refusing to acquire any new books from Wylie--however a truce was reached in August as Wylie shuttered Odyssey. Still, the controversy over digital rights to works published long before mobile devices were ever conceived rages on--and no doubt more shops like Wylie's will be coming in the near future.

Dawn Davis
Davis, who was recently promoted to Publisher of the HarperCollins Amistad imprint and Executive Editor at Ecco, has published an incredibly eclectic range of authors, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward P. Jones, The Pursuit of Happiness by Chris Gardner, controversial 'Video Vixen' Karrine Steffans, tennis champion Venus Williams, and media personality Steve Harvey (whose Think Like a Lady, Act Like a Man has spent over 60 weeks on bestseller lists).

J.A. Konrath/Seth Godin/Pete Hamill
In May, Konrath announced he would publish the seventh book in his Jack Daniels mystery series through Amazon Encore. In August, New York Times bestselling author and media guru Seth Godin announced he would no longer publish traditionally, selling his future books via his popular blog and website. In the same month, Little, Brown announced that bestselling author and journalistic icon Pete Hamill would release his next book, They Are Us, a tome about immigration, exclusively in digital. These three authors couldn't write in more diverse areas, but they collectively represent a shift in the way publishing works: established authors forgoing print for digital. Whether the Konrath/Godin/Hamill model can work as successfully for other authors is to be determine (the first two have substantial direct-to-reader platforms, and Hamill has the backing of a major publishing house), no doubt there will be others following their model--and more traditional publishers experimenting with straight-to-digital books.

Read more http://alturl.com/9duws

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jersey Woman Revives Her Publishing Dream

A little inspiration in tonight's post. I have always admired single-mothers who not only carry on in life after mistakes or bad times, but do so magnificently while overcoming all obstacles!

Mary Jo Kalchthaler (pictured at left in picture) is one strong and determined writer who is a survivor and debunks all the fictional garbage about Jersey women portrayed on TV in "Real Housewives of New Jersey" and "Jersey Shore."

Here is her story as told by staff writer Deborah Walsh (no link for this writer) in NorthJersey.com:

A group of Jersey women involved in online book publishing would like people to know there’s a lot more to women from the Garden State than what is seen on "Real Housewives of New Jersey" and "Jersey Shore."

It all started when Mary Jo Kalchthaler resurrected her passion to become a writer. She had an 800-page typewritten manuscript that she didn’t quite know what to do with – securing an agent was not something she wanted to do. Mary Jo latched onto Amazon’s e-reader, Kindle, which opens a whole new realm of possibilities to all the frustrated writers of the world.

"I came across the virtual world. It opens a whole new world to new authors and Amazon’s Kindle has the largest virtual library," said Mary Jo.

The first task for Mary Jo was to find a way to turn her 800-page manuscript into a computer document. Mary Jo admitted that she had limited computer savvy. What better way to find out about the art of book publishing than to visit the institution that has the largest collection of books in town? Mary Jo took her manuscript to the Kinnelon Public Library where she encountered Tanya Lenkow at the circulation desk.

Mary Jo explained to Tanya that she needed to transform her manuscript into a computer document. Tanya put Mary Jo in touch with Carol Sventy, who has experience publishing brochures for the Friends of the Library and Center for Lifelong Learning. Carol also teaches youngsters computer skills at the Kinnelon After School Enrichment Program.

Carol said, "I love a good challenge, especially a computer challenge. So when I met Mary Jo and she explained that she needed to get an 800-page typewritten document onto the computer, I jumped at the opportunity."

Now that she captured the right computer and editing smarts in Carol, Mary Jo realized she needed some artistic help for the creation of illustrations for her Kindle books. So she visited Kinnelon High School (KHS) and was put in touch with Alice Kivlon and Jacqueline Castro, teachers in the fine arts department. They recommended Melissa Slade, now a junior at KHS, for her expertise in graphic arts.

Read more http://alturl.com/h3ed7

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Blood Author Releases New Novel Exclusively Through Kindle

Kindle makes another coup. David Morrell, author of the book that spawned the Rambo movies has released his new work The Naked Edge through Kindle as an eBook.

Ebooking is gaining strength and stature!

Lauren Coker of CelebrityCafe says:

The New York Times bestselling author of First Blood, the novel that inspired the Rambo movies starring Sylvester Stallone, David Morrell recently released his latest novel.

The Naked Edge is exclusively available for Amazon's Kindle electronic reader on Tuesday, according to AFP. The new novel is available in the Kindle store for one year, along with nine of Morrell's previous works, for $9.99 or less.

"Publishing these 10 books in the Kindle Store is a great opportunity to explore how electronic publishing enables me to give my readers additional, unique content," Morrell said in a statement.

Read more http://alturl.com/cmpnd

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Readers Digest Morphing into 24 New Products

Readers Digest, one of my all-time fave magazines, just emerged from bankruptcy last February and has struggled somewhat. Now RD is moving forward while at the same time going back to it's roots as a content distiller. RD has just finished a restructure that will get it into the world of websites, mobile apps, newsletters and a new book imprint.

This is exciting stuff for RD and I'm looking forward to viewing the finished products.

Here is more by Matthew Flamm from Crain's New York Business:

Reader's Digest will be going back to its roots—and saving money—with a redesign that will launch in January and turn the 88-year-old magazine into a distilled version of mostly repackaged content, said company executives who unveiled their plans for the flagship brand of the Reader's Digest Association on Tuesday morning.

The company, which emerged from bankruptcy in February, will launch a new website, called the Reader's Digest Version, as well as a daily e-mail newsletter and a book imprint, both under the name Best You, presenting health and wellness information targeted exclusively to women. The company published several test issues of Best You as a magazine in the last year before pulling the plug.

Reader's Digest will also step up its newsstand-only publications, adding five new special interest magazines for a total of 13 in 2011, and launch one new mobile application each month. The apps will be built around familiar Reader's Digest elements like humor and home repairs.

Altogether, the brand will be introducing 24 new products over the course of the next year. The announcements coincided with the company moving its headquarters into midtown Manhattan from its longtime home in Pleasantville, N.Y., as part of the consolidation that followed the bankruptcy.

“What people need is selection,” said Daniel Lagani, president of Reader's Digest Media, at Tuesday morning's event. “It's a return to the brand's role as the original curator of content.” He added that the many different elements launching next year will be treated as “one entity” and pitched to advertisers as “brand centered, not platform centered.”

Read more http://alturl.com/pgk62

Monday, September 13, 2010

Top 4 Stocks In the Publishing–Books Industry

Here is a good peek into the best performing stocks with the highest dividend yields.

While we are striving to get published, we might as well make some money off the best performing publishing companies!

If they won't publish you...buy um...hehe.

Lisa Levin writes this for Benzinger:

Below are the top publishing-books stocks on the NYSE and the NASDAQ in terms of dividend yield.

Courier Corporation (NASDAQ: CRRC) has a dividend yield of 6.20%. CRRC's shares closed at $13.52 on Friday.

The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc (NYSE: MHP) has a dividend yield of 3.10%. MHP's shares closed at $30.24 on Friday.

Pearson Plc (NYSE: PSO) has a dividend yield of 2.70%. PSO's shares closed at $15.32 on Friday.

John Wiley & Sons Inc (NYSE: JW-A) has a dividend yield of 1.60%. JW-A's shares closed at $39.00 on Friday.

Read more http://alturl.com/e4tvs and get related news.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Writers Descent into Madness--Froggy's Fairwell

I read about Mr. F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre (also known as "Froggy") today in the New York Times. What a multifaceted, interesting but very sad figure.

The most imaginative writer you could ever dream up could not create any more of an enigmatic, oxymoronic figure than the real life "Froggy".

God bless him and I sincerely hope he now has all the answers to his questions...I just had to relate his story.

From the New York Times by Corey Kilgannon:

The F stood for Fergus. That was how neighbors in his working-class neighborhood in deep Brooklyn knew him: a bearish pariah holed up in a fetid apartment stuffed with a lifetime of newspapers, books, belongings and all sorts of trash, who worked nights as a printer in Manhattan and ranted about his horrid childhood.

The F also stood for Froggy. That’s what fans in the rabid science-fiction world on the Internet called him: a witty and eloquent man prone to using obscure words and coining new ones, who published numerous books, articles and short stories to great acclaim and spun fantastic tales about his travels.

Both were vaporized June 25. In a dramatic farewell that could have come from Froggy’s pen, Mr. MacIntyre, according to fire officials, methodically set ablaze the contents of the apartment in Bensonhurst where he had lived for a quarter-century. First the flames consumed a lifetime of possessions; then they feasted on his weary flesh, ending his painful 59-year earthly existence. Born in Scotland, raised in Australia — or so he said, in his impeccable British regional accent — he now lies unclaimed in a Brooklyn morgue.

“We have to conclude that this was Froggy’s last story,” said Darrell Schweitzer, a writer who was an editor and agent for Mr. MacIntyre. “Froggy lived a life of suffering, and he was an enigma. He was an insoluble mystery, and it’s possible he’ll be remembered for that mystery.”

Read more http://alturl.com/korz3

Friday, September 10, 2010

Apple to App Developers: Screw You RE Guidelines!

The supposedly new guidelines (some say with 'relaxed' restrictions) for app developers for use in the App Store are anything but. Essentially Apple is saying: "submit your new apps to us but we will decide if you cross any lines (undefined by us) and will reject at will."

For software developers, the new ability to use third-party frameworks and toolkits is a good thing...But, from a content writers point-of-view, Apple may be positioning themselves to reject ideas as well as just bad code.

This excellent analysis by Scott Rosenberg, author of Say Everything and Dreaming in Code, is from his Wordyard blog:

For all of you out there in media-land who still think that the iPad represents salvation for old business models and who welcome the App Store as a new platform for distributing content, I recommend a reading of Apple’s new App Store Review Guidelines as helpfully summarized by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber. (It seems you have to be a registered Apple developer before you can actually read the guidelines in full, but they’re available at Gizmodo.)

Discussion of these guidelines in the tech press initially framed the move as a “relaxation” of Apple’s policies, because the company will now allow developers to use third-party frameworks and toolkits. But view the guidelines from the perspective of content publishing and “relaxation” is not the word that will spring to mind.

This item stands out:

We will reject Apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. And we think that you will also know it when you cross it.

Read more http://alturl.com/y7oqk

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fight Still on to Control Barnes & Noble

Who said there was no intrigue in the publishing and bookselling industries? Phooey, it's loaded!

Ron Burkle, Chairman of the Yucaipa Investment Companies (possibly a preditor group at times), owns a 19% share of B&N and wants to get himself and two associates on the B&N board of directors...But, B&N company Chairman, Leonard Riggio, wants to stay in control by limiting Burkle's involvement and has been campaigning shareholders to beware of Mr. Burkle, who he believes is trying to seize control of the company.

Matthew Flamm has more details in this article from Crain's New York Business:

The battle for Barnes & Noble just got noisier.

In a letter to shareholders on Thursday, the board of directors of the largest brick-and-mortar bookseller raised the volume on its shouting match with Ron Burkle, chairman of Yucaipa Cos., who is engaged in a proxy fight to put himself and two associates on the Barnes & Noble board.

“Don't be fooled by Mr. Burkle,” the letter states, and urges shareholders to “stop what we believe is Burkle's thinly veiled attempt to seize control of Barnes & Noble.”

It asks shareholders to support the board's nominees, company Chairman Leonard Riggio, David Golden and David Wilson.

Mr. Burkle, who has a 19% stake in the bookseller and argues that its share price has been hurt by mismanagement, has been fighting Mr. Riggio for control of the company for most of the last year. He recently lost a court fight aimed at overturning a poison pill provision that has kept his stake from going above 20%.

Read more http://alturl.com/qt22s

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's Up With Wattpad? Interesting!

Wattpad was launched in 2006...AND, I never really heard of it (or if I did I forgot about it) until yesterday! But, I miss a lot sometimes, maybe even more than sometimes...

This revealing report comes from Publishing Perspectives by Edward Nawotka:

In August, Wattpad published usage analytics for downloads and readers of the company’s ebooks. The report covers desktop usage, as well as some 1,000 different phone models from 600 carriers in 160 countries (excluding China).

• While English-language books and readers using smartphones remains the strongest segment, growth among Southeast Asian readers using Java-based feature phones is nearly as good and, argues Wattpad co-founder Allen Lau, has even more potential.

Canadian e-publisher Wattpad “aspires to be the YouTube of ebooks,” and has some 600,000 stories or e-book chapters available on its site, says company co-founder Allen Lau. In late August, Lau released statistics analyzing which devices its readers use to read Wattpad’s self-published ebooks, covering usage on desktops and some 1,000 different phone models from 600 carriers in 160 countries (excluding China, where traffic to the company’s site is blocked). The report covers traffic through the second quarter of this year, from April through June.

“We know it’s not 100% representative of the market,” said Lau, “but is an interesting snapshot, particularly for the younger demographic. We have users from teenagers to writers in their 70s, but 80% are under 25 and most of them are female.”

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad offers ebooks via it’s website www.wattpad.com, a mobile site (http://m.wattpad.com) and through Wattpad’s proprietary application that can run on Apple iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, and Java-enabled phones. According to its own data, the company delivers approximately one million downloads per month and has amassed nearly half a million readers since its launch in 2006.

The majority of Wattpad titles are downloadable as single chapters, typically of between two to twenty pages in length. The majority are written by self-published authors, though some traditional publishers have also begun experimenting with distribution through the site, which now include Macmillan’s sci-fi imprint Tor (available for the Android app) and Choose Your Own Adventure publisher Chooseco, among others.

The company is also in partnership with Smashwords.com and Lulu.com to provide marketing solutions to their authors in the US, and with Bubok.es, to do the same for its Spanish-speaking contributors.

To date, the most popular single title on the site has Dinner with a Vampire by Abigail Gibbs, which is available in more 50 chapters, which have been read in aggregate some eight million times (representing approximately a half a million total readers).

A majority of titles are in English, though there are hundreds of titles available in languages including French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Malaysian, Romanian, Turkish, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Korean, Japanese and several others. The company is ad-support and advertising, through agreements with partner companies in the relevant countries, appears in the language native to where the book is being downloaded or read.

Read more http://alturl.com/9buch

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

75 Yr. Old Yankee Magazine Lives on Subscription $$ Over Ad $$

The venerable old Yankee magazine has always stayed ahead of the power curve and continues to do so in this cluster-muck era in the publishing industry.

Contrary to it's old-fashioned image, Yankee adopted online content way back in the 1990's and was one of the first, if not the first, consumer mag to offer monthly podcasts back in 2000.

James Sullivan of the Boston Globe offers this picturesque account of Yankee magazine:

Yankee Ingenuity

Robb Sagendorph was a classic Yankee. Frugal and self-sufficient, committed to tradition — and more than a little cranky — he personified the New Englander he hoped to reach when he founded Yankee magazine in 1935.

The tall, dour Sagendorph, who died in 1970, wasn’t exactly prone to fits of laughter. Today, however, there is plenty of good cheer in the halls of the old red barn that still houses his magazine, across from town hall and the hilltop flagpole in this picturesque hamlet.

With its September-October issue, Yankee is celebrating its 75th anniversary. More importantly, the staff is buoyed by the feeling that it is better poised than most magazines to weather the publishing industry’s uncertain future.

In contrast to its old-fashioned image, Yankee was an early adopter of online content, way back in the 1990s. For the 75th anniversary year, the magazine has been publishing a favorite feature from its archives on its website every weekday.

And its inverted business model — the magazine has always relied on subscription fees more than advertising dollars — finds it once again ahead of the curve, as others struggle with dwindling ad sales.

Still publishing features on getaways, design, and home cooking, Yankee has moved away from the historic yarns and short fiction that once defined it.

More readers are now browsers than cover-to-cover types, said Jamie Trowbridge, 50, chief executive officer of Yankee Publishing (and Sagendorph’s grandson).

“We’re still literary, but we don’t print literature,’’ he said.

“People are always saying print is dead. In fact, it hasn’t declined much. What is declining is advertising support.’’

Read more http://alturl.com/wukw4

Monday, September 6, 2010

Random House and Harper Collins Publishing Earnings Up!

The five largest publishing houses are enjoying increased earnings over the past six month period compared to the same period last year.


See if you can figure it out after reading the following report from Publisher's Weekly by Jim Milliot:

There is no better example of the cyclical nature of book publishing than the six-month results of the nation's five largest trade publishers. Four of the five houses reported significant changes in their operating performance in the first half of 2010 compared to one year ago, with big books, or the lack thereof, playing a major role in the shifts.

Random House and HarperCollins, which both had declines in revenue and earnings in the first half of 2009, posted gains in both areas this year. Simon & Schuster, which had a steep drop in sales and earnings in the first half of 2009, had a small dip in sales again this year, but a big rebound in earnings. Of the major publishers, Penguin Group has been the most consistent, posting a solid increase in sales in the first half of 2010 after recording a double-digit gain in the January-June period in 2009. Revenue and earnings at Lagardère Publishing, parent company of Hachette Book Group, had the expected decline as the company found it impossible to match the sales volume generated by the Stephenie Meyer books in 2009. The good news for Lagardère was that despite declines, it still had the highest operating margins among the big houses.

While the cooling off of a blockbuster series led to a decline in results at Hachette, the continuing sales surge for the Stieg Larsson trilogy was key in boosting results at Random House, with 6.5 million copies (hardcover, e-book, audio) of Larsson's works sold in the U.S. and Germany. Sarah Palin's Going Rogue played an important role in turning around the sales fortunes at HC. Released late in calendar 2009, the book's sales carried through for much of the first six months of 2010. One thing keeping S&S from returning to the sales levels of 2008 is that it has not had a blockbuster of the magnitude of Rhonda Byrne's The Secret, but that could change. Byrne's The Power, just out this summer with a one million–copy first printing, has become an immediate bestseller. S&S was able to show a dramatic improvement in its bottom line this year, despite a sales dip, because of improved operating efficiencies and cost cutting. S&S took restructuring charges of $1.7 million in the first half of 2010 related to severance costs; in the same period in 2009 it took $2.9 million in charges.

Read more: http://alturl.com/buppa

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Update on the Brown Publishing Bankruptcy

The intrigue surrounding Brown Publishing gets more and more debacle-lized (this word is not in the dictionary, but it sounds good) as more details reach us common folk.

This update from the Mansfield News Journal by Thomas Palmer (no good link for this writer):

Uncertainty remains the only constant as the Brown Publishing bankruptcy continues to unfold.

In July, a bankruptcy court declared an insider's group, Brown Media, the successful bidder for all but three of the chain's newspapers. However, documents filed with the bankruptcy court in August revealed the group was unable to complete its purchase when its lender withdrew. The same paperwork reported debtors were negotiating to sell the remaining operations to financial giant PNC, the second-highest bidder, on or before Sept. 2.

On Thursday, Editor & Publisher reported a sale to PNC was imminent. On the same day, a source at Brown Publishing said employees were informed the sale has been finalized and there would be a new owner for the chain's remaining properties.

On Friday, the court issued an order approving the sale of assets to Ohio Community Media, a company owned by six financial institutions, including PNC. A separate sale approved at the same time means that Dan's Papers, the largest newspaper in the lucrative Hamptons area of Long Island, was not included in the Brown-Ohio Community Media agreement. The new owner's name replaced that of Brown Publishing on the chain's local news websites Friday, and a possible new corporate website appeared at http://www.ohiocommunitymedia.com/.

Read more http://alturl.com/wnp2o

Friday, September 3, 2010

Something Fishy in the State of Brown Publishing?

I don't trust banks, their motives and their hidden (or otherwise) fees. And when I hear that a group of "lenders" have formed a company to buy a bankrupt company (in this case Brown Publishing) that is a debtor to them, after Brown company employees tried to buy their company, something just HAS to be wrong!

Don't ask me what, I just don't know enough about the inner workings of this deal, BUT, it seems awfully fishy...Legal, no doubt, but stink-emitting nonetheless.

This from Business Courier of Cincinnati:

After a bid from company insiders fell through, Cincinnati-based Brown Publishing now will likely be sold to a company formed by its lenders.

The Dayton Daily News Reports that attorneys for Brown Publishing filed papers this week that indicate that Brown newspapers would be transferred to a company called Ohio Community Media Inc. for about $22 million.

The company is owned by a group of lenders that includes PNC Bank, Prudential Insurance Co., Wells Fargo Bank, Allied Irish Bank, AIB Debt Management, Brown Brothers and Harriman, and Huntington National Bank, according to the report.

A group formed by Brown Publishing CEO Roy Brown, CFO Joe Ellingham and General Counsel Joel Dempsey had been attempting to close on a $22.4 million bid for the Cincinnati-based publishing firm.

But according to court filings, the group disclosed last week that it could not complete the buy because the lender had withdrawn. The lender wasn’t identified.

John's Note: What you want to bet this unidentified lender is one belonging to the newly-formed, successful-bidder company: Ohio Community Media Inc.?

Brown Publishing, which filed for bankruptcy in May, operates a chain of small-town newspapers and business weeklies. It owed about $105 million to creditors when a liquidity squeeze prompted it to file for bankruptcy protection, according to the company’s court filings. The book value of its assets at the time was about $94 million.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Publishing is Finally a Democracy; and Guess Who Has the Power?

It's no secret that technology has leveled the publishing playing-field AND empowered writers/authors. I, for one, have followed and written on the publishing revolution since 2008.

But, I just love the following article by Keith Ogorek, the Senior VP of Marketing for Author Solutions. His visualization of publishing as an old dictatorial aristocracy, where an elite few held the power, being democratized and the power spread more fairly is simply excellent:

The democratization of publishing

Since its inception the publishing industry has operated like an aristocracy. An elite few held the power to essentially determine if an author’s work would be allowed in the public square. It was publication without self-determination for authors. For no matter how passionate or motivated an author was about his or her work, the fate of the book rested entirely with a few publishing houses. Those days, however, are over. Everything has changed.

Publishing becomes a democracy thanks to technology
In the mid-1990s, the convergence of three emerging technologies laid the groundwork for a revolution in publishing. First, desktop publishing replaced traditional typesetting, which meant an individual could design a book more quickly and cost effectively. Second, the debut of print-on-demand (POD) technology meant copies of a book could be printed individually at costs comparable to traditional, large offset runs. Third, the internet became a retail distribution channel. This leveled the playing field for authors who wanted to distribute their books broadly and cost effectively. These technologies, all developing at the same time, meant the elite no longer held the power. Authors now had it.

Read more http://alturl.com/5ih67

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Textbook Market: Not a Free or Fair Market

I hate scammers! And the textbook publishing industry has been scamming students for far too long.

Textbook publishers seem to be able to dictate to teachers and college professors what books they have to use and what inflated prices the students have to pay.

This I fault the professors for; they should have stood up long ago to help the students, who are overburdened in the first place. Shame on the educators!...Do you suppose they (or the learning institutions who employ them) are receiving kick-backs from the publishers at the students' expense?

Zach Ammerman, Opinion Co-Editor for the Indiana Daily Student, wrote this analytical piece:

Textbooks: Held captive by publishers' prices

College textbooks are expensive.

University students are a captive market for textbooks. At a regular bookstore, if a book is too expensive, it likely won’t be bought. At a college bookstore, however, students are required by their professors to purchase books for their classes regardless of the exorbitant price tag that may be printed on the back of the book.

They either have to dig into their wallets and pay an inflated price for a book that isn’t worth half of what it costs or not buy the book and suffer educationally.

Students don’t have a choice but to be ripped off.

Students need protection from textbook companies taking advantage of them. Unnecessary textbook industry practices are designed precisely to make them pay more than they need to for books that they are required to purchase.

In short, we’re all being scammed.

On average, textbook companies come out with a new edition for every textbook they offer every three years.

Many of these revisions are entirely unnecessary, adding no new information to textbooks in fields like geography or mathematics that have had few or no developments since the last edition.

It is highly doubtful Antarctica has moved too much since the last edition of an atlas came out, and yet atlases are updated about once every three years along with other college educational materials.

With every new edition of a textbook, publishing companies increase the cost of the book by an average of 45 percent over the cost of the older version of the same textbook, even if no new information has been added.

If these revisions were actually adding information from new developments in the fields these textbooks address, these expensive revisions might at least have some benefit.

But more than 75 percent of university faculty surveyed nation-wide in 2004 indicated that they found these revisions unjustified and unnecessary at least half of the time.

Basically, we’re paying more for the same old information in the last book.

Another questionable tactic that publishing companies use to force college students to pay more for their required educational materials is the process of “bundling” expensive extras like DVDs and CDs with their textbooks. More than 50 percent of college textbooks in the United States are “bundled” in this manner.

Read more http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=76574