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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Publishing Acquisitions Faulty Strategy: ‘I Love You, Now Change.’

What makes a small publisher’s books interesting is usually the first thing that disappears when being acquired by a larger company.”
Why is that? Instead of expounding the acquired publishers’ unique successes, the acquiring firm often wants to immediately make it over in its own image…an image which is often suffering and in need of the spark that attracted the acquiring firm in the first place!

More insight by Edward Nawotka of Publishing Perspectives :

Why Do So Many Publishers Say “I Love You, Now Change”?

“I love you, now change,” is something we’ve all heard before in relationships. It’s likely that instead of actually being in love with the person as they are, you’re in love with the person as you imagine them to be. The desire to shape them into the perfect creature is not unreasonable. Illusion is, frankly, a part of love.

The same goes with publishers. In the micro sense, they often covet a writer (and poach them) or, in the macro sense, they covet a publishing house and merge them. Publishers are by nature in love with the possibility of something, instead of something as it is. Sometimes they can genuinely improve on a writer’s work and career, but just as many times they can radically alter an author’s career path for worse. The same goes when publishing houses merge and absorb a smaller firm. Often, what makes that smaller firm’s books interesting in-and-of themselves — perhaps it’s branding, perhaps it’s an eclectic list — is the first thing that disappears into the larger entity. Does it have to be this way? Of course not. But as with today’s feature story about the rumors swirling around the merger between Aufbau Verlag and Eichborn Verlag in Germany, things can get sour fast.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Authors' Approach to the Publishing Craft - Do New Authors Take it Seriously?

Not today. Not in this new era of empowered publishing. Everyone is running to just get their “baby” published and get their name out there in web-land.

And, of course, their are the usual carnival barkers just trying to sell something through print.

The serious self-publishers today (and they are in the minority) do strive to learn all they can about the publishing craft…INCLUDING traditional publishing standards and guidelines RE editing, copyediting, layout, design, etc…

More details at Publishing Perspectives.com by Justine Tal Goldberg :

200 Million Americans Want to Publish Books, But Can They?

Some 200 Million Americans say they want to publish a book, but lack of attendance at the IBPA’s Publishing University at BEA suggests a disregard for the craft of book publishing.

It’s often said the book fairs are no place for writers. But what about at a conference organized specifically to help writers publish?

According to writer Joseph Epstein, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.” That’s approximately 200 million people who aspire to authorship. Excluding those who want and never do, and those who do but never publish, we’re still looking at millions of folks hungry for the literary limelight. In light of recent trends in publishing — the fact that self-published titles have dwarfed traditionally published works nearly 2:1 — one would expect that the Independent Book Publishers Association’s 27th annual Publishing University, a concurrent event with BookExpo America at New York City’s Javits Center this week, would have been swarming with author-publishers on the prowl for a much-needed literary education. Strangely, it wasn’t.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Digital Growth Surpasses Print Decline

Digital revenue growth has overcome print advertising revenue declines for the first time at Future Publishing, home to 'Total Film' and 'Classic Rock'.

Could this smashing news at Future Publishing be a forecaster for the future of all publishing?

This from Mark Sweney of Guardian.co.uk :

Future reaches digital 'tipping point'
Stevie Spring (pictured), Future Publishing Chief Executive, speaks of 'big story' as digital growth outstrips print decline for first time

Future Publishing chief executive Stevie Spring has claimed the magazine company reached a "tipping point" after digital revenues growth outstripped its print advertising income decline.

Future Publishing, home to Total Film and Classic Rock, reported its first growth in UK ad revenues in four years on Friday, up 2% to £13.3m in the six months to the end of March this year.

The publisher said it marked the first time online advertising revenues had outpaced the decline in print income. Its digital operation also made a profit for the first time, with online revenue up 30% to £7.9m.

"This is the tipping point for us," said Spring. "Seriously, to be able to stand up and say when print revenues – especially advertising – are in further decline [that] online grew faster ... that is to us a very big story."

Newspapers and magazines have struggled to address the downward spiral of traditionally high-priced print advertising revenue with internet revenues – a financial problem referred to as "analogue pounds versus digital pennies".

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Solving Every Publishers Paywall Problem

This post deals with monetizing publishers' online content and a super simple paywall system that allows this to happen quickly with ease!

From my Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue Blog:

How about a super simple program that allows you to set up a flexible content monetizer (paywall) that allows readers to pay for one article for an hour or access archieves for a week or gain access to the entire site for a month or year!

That super simple program is Tiny Pass (A real Mighty Mouse!)

“For example, the Huffington Post could use Tiny Pass to make users pay $.05 to be able to read an article by Arianna Huffington for an hour or $.25 to read her entire archives for a week. Or it could charge $5 to gain access to the entire site for one month.”

More details at the Business Insider by Noah Davis:

This Startup Just Solved Every Publication’s Paywall Problem — And It Is Using The Huffington Post As Proof

Suppose you are a web publisher who wants to institute a pay wall. You could spend millions on developing one like The New York Times.Or you could call Tiny Pass.

The latest project from Hudson Media Ventures is a micropayment platform that allows publishers to indicate the content they want to charge users for, how much they want to charge, and how long the access will last. It then delivers said content after users simply and quickly pay for the privilege.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Copyright Clearance Center: Lack of Rights Management Systems in the U.S. Publishing Industry

I've been running around like a chicken with it's head cut off! Time is again short this morning...but, I felt I had to get this out today.

This intriguing info from Charlotte Abbott writing in Publishing Perspectives:

Publishing’s Paper Problem and How to Future-Proof the Industry

There’s an urgent need for publishers to update legacy rights management and content creation systems, according to speakers at BISG’s (Book Industry Study Group) “Making Information Pay” conference.

Though the idea of publishing as a data-driven industry may still be anathema to its old guard, the Book Industry Study Group’s 8th annual Making Information Pay conference hammered home once again that gathering and managing the right data is critical to “future-proofing” the industry. The key is using data to improve content and product development, book discovery and rights management, as well as customer loyalty and profitable growth, said Book Industry Study Group chair Scott Lubeck in his introduction to the ten presentations packed into last Thursday morning’s meeting at the McGraw-Hill auditorium in New York.

Rights Management Systems Are Out-of-Date

The big jaw-dropper was BISG’s joint survey with the Copyright Clearance Center on the fundamental lack of rights management systems throughout the industry in the U.S. — described as “a vast problem.” The conference, which tends to focus on improving supply chain, operational and technical infrastructure, also went further than in the past in outlining how the adoption of new data-driven mechanisms will affect marketing and even editorial functions within publishers.

The crux of the industry’s rights management problem, as articulated by Heather Reid of the Copyright Clearance Center, is that while digital publishing in the new global marketplace offers new licensing opportunities not just for books, but also for fragments of books, publishers are not equipped to respond promptly to rights requests. The nine publishers and six vendors in the survey said the problem is rooted legacy rights management systems created in the 1960s. Largely made up of paper records and in some cases PDFs of legal contracts, these old systems fall far short of the well-structured data storage necessary for fast access and to build the automated processes needed to exploit new markets.

The paper problem is endemic, said Reid. One vendor reported that 50% of the publishers it deals with, including big ones, have rights contracts filed in paper. Publishers themselves said that their inbound rights records were inaccessible and outbound rights transactions take so long to process that rights querents often give up and move on to other content providers. The sole publisher in the survey who had transitioned to a structured rights data system reported “a 100% increase in licensing revenue when we started responding faster to rights requests,” according to Reid. However, this publisher also admitted that moving to the new data system was “arduous.” To turn the industry around, Reid called for standardized terms to optimize business processes, and the alignment of rights management systems within and between publishers and vendors. To that end, BISG is crafting a taxonomy it hopes will become the foundation of data modeling for the next generation of industry rights tools.

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Book Buyers Shifting from Culture of “Ownership” to Culture of “Access”

The future of the printed book is looking more dire than ever. The increases in the percentages RE digital book sales have surpassed all expectations...this has fostered a shift in consumers culture of book ownership to book content access.

What the hell, access to digital IS ALSO ownership, though, is it not? You have to pay for that access; and you can always convert it to print (for those who still desire).

Me thinks people make far too much brouhaha over written content formats...

I have posted often before that I feel the printed book will never go away completely...and it won't...It just will not be the only kid on the block anymore AND it will wear a different suit of cloths (a different business model for getting into print and distributed).

These interesting details on The Future of Books provided by L. K. Sharma in the Business Standard

As the great new digital wave dawns upon them, publishers ponder over the challenges and opportunities.

The London Book Fair last year was held under the shadow of the volcanic ash. This time it was gripped by existential fears about the future of the printed book and of the fair’s venue, Earls Court exhibition centre, which faces demolition and development. The dire forecasts of the death of the printed book and the physical book shop were dismissed by some experts who tried to calm the fears sparked by two ‘e’ words — ‘e-publishing’ and ‘e-retailing’. The developing e-environment in publishing has excited the device and platform developers and the digital natives. This in turn made the publishers talk of new “challenges and opportunities”.

A related issue that is more likely to be discussed by an NGO rather than at an industry fair is whether the people could let their digital future be controlled by powerful corporations. Ordinary book readers also have stakes on how the digital publishers’ dispute with public libraries will be resolved. In the US, library e-book downloads have been shooting up and some digital publishers are refusing to sell to libraries.

The tipping point
The future of the printed book and of independent booksellers has been a topic of seminars for some years but this time experts at the fair agreed that the tipping point has been reached. E-books have arrived. One-third of publishers say they would get more than 10 per cent of revenue from e-books next year. As a result of the advances in digital and communication technologies and the appearance of new platforms and devices, e-books already account for 10 per cent of the book sales in the US. That country now boasts of 40 million e-readers and many of them come in the category of core readers — those who buy more than 12 books a year. Some e-books had a 50 per cent share of total sales during the first few months of publication. Thus a US publishing executive did not hesitate to call it “a watershed moment for the trade”. A British executive referred to the decline of physical book retailing. In Britain, e-books account for 5 per cent of book sales but the latest research shows that it will also see exponential growth in the number of people buying e-books. What the US does today, some countries are bound to do tomorrow.

Some turmoil in the book business has also been caused by the growing stronghold of the mega retail chains and the overall decline in the book sales because of the current economic situation. Individual booksellers have been hit hard. The trend of the closure of distinctive small bookshops has accelerated so much that many towns in Britain will be left without any bookshop. It is not that the mega chains can rest on their laurels. With heavy book buyers preferring to buy digitally, even their brick-and-mortar outlets are under siege. Borders of America could not survive in the UK. Ottakar’s, James Thin and Dillon chain have disappeared from the British high street, though Waterstone’s is still in business, holding on to some 30 per cent of the book market.

Naturally, the thought of future haunted the book fair participants. Companies tried to buy and sell future. Many participants were keen to attend workshops and seminars on FutureBook! The Digital Pavilion attracted larger audiences than the Russian book market on which the fair had focused this time. The optimists tried to boost the morale by talking up the market but it was hard not to notice the undercurrent of anxiety.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Don't Feel Sorry for Lagardere Publishing (U.S. subsidiary, Hachette Book Group)

Lagardere Publishing's earnings fell to 390 million euros in the first quarter! Damn, how in the hell will they ever get by?

They apparently lost about 10% over this time last year due to a particular popular book series (Twilight) that came to the end of a good run.

Well, Lagardere, go get another good series to publish! I would suggest to you that there are plenty of great content just waiting to be picked up floating around out there in the new digital atmosphere...It has never been more accessible!

This from Publishers Weekly (Financial Reporting Division):

Sales at Lagardere Publishing fell approximately 10% in the first quarter to 390 million euros. The company attributed the decline to tough comparisons to last year’s first quarter in which the Twilight Saga titles were still experiencing strong sales, particularly in the U.S. Somewhat offsetting the decline of Twilight in Lagardere’s U.S. subsidiary, Hachette Book Group, was an 88% rise in e-book sales and e-book sales accounted for 22% of revenue at HBG in the quarter. E-book sales are expected to remain strong for the year, although growth will slow slightly and account for 15% to 20% of revenue at HBG for the full year.

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