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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Can Publishers Prevent Extinction?

Traditional Publishers
Playing In Their Fantasy
Stephen S. Power, Senior Editor at Wiley and HuffPost blog contributor, has some suggestions that might help publishers, especially trade publishers, from becoming extinct.

The suggestions are basically common sense but go against the grain of traditional publishers' ancient OS or legacy business practices.

These suggestions are also good for indie publishers (like you or I wanting to sell our own book/s).

Stephen S. Powers suggests:

Three Ways Publishers Can Avoid Extinction

In his blogpost The Incredible Resilience of Publishing Fantasy, author Michael Levin responds to a piece in the Atlantic by former Random House editor Peter Osnos.

Osnos makes the case that books will survive, while Levin makes the point Osnos avoids saying: trade publishers might not, having "lost the two things that made their business model work: the hammerlocks on distribution and marketing that the Internet has utterly destroyed."

Levin's correct, but I also agree with Osnos that trade publishers are resilient and adaptive. They haven't stuck "their heads in the sand," as Levin puts it, "and hope[d] that the whole Internet thing will go away." They want to adapt, they're flush with ideas for doing so, and they've tried to exploit the rapidly changing book market. Problem is, they're hindered by legacy business practices. Their experiments are like patches to failing software or new programs that don't work well with their ancient OS.

Instead, publishers need a new OS. Here are three core features that would make it work:

Publish the e-book first

E-books are quickly moving towards 50% of a title's sale and could go as high as 75%. So publishers need to bite the bullet and make the first edition the ebook. This would let them go from manuscript to ship in only twenty weeks, half the time it usually takes to produce a print book.

This change would force publishers to rethink the many practices built on the 40-week schedule: sell-in, which now occurs 6 months before pub; initial marketing, which relies on bound galleys; and catalogues, which wedge lists into seasons. In exchange, publishers would gain publicity immediacy and more flexible lists.

A print edition would follow 3-5 months later, but there may not need to be one. Just as paperbacks are cheaper, lighter weight versions of hardcovers, an ebook is even cheaper, weighs nothing, and contains the entertainment or information the reader wants. So what function does print serve?

Answer: Print books are fashion accessories; whether you display them on your coffee table or on your lap, you are what you read. Print books can be given and collected. They need no batteries, you can get them wet, and you don't have to turn them off during takeoff and landing. You can "have" a print book, whereas an ebook is just a license. Print books are, ultimately, luxury items. The decision to publish them should be made with these factors in mind, and their packaging should promote their tangibility.

E-book packages, that is, their thumbnail covers should become more iconic, even animated, so they can act as badges for the reader, something they can pin to social media site, to be sent as a hotlink as a recommendation, to be collected and displayed on an author or publisher's site as proof of fandom. They are the consumer's laminate to a book's community.

Create communities
In a recent post, Penelope Trunk wrote: "There is no publishing industry fan page that is good enough to sell books. No one goes to fan pages for publishers because publishers are not household brand names. The authors are. That's how publishing works." The first three sentences are, but the last assumes they must always be true.

Publishers can't work this way anymore. The only way they can survive in a world where self-publishing is easy and without stigma, especially for those with followings likes Penelope's, is if they create communities around themselves, make the strength and reach of their communities a reason for authors to sign with them, especially those authors without followings like Penelope's, and listen to these communities and respond with better acquisitions.

Read and learn more 

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Total 2011 Book Sales = $27.2 Billion -- A Breakdown of All the Numbers

Book sales for 2011
all the numbers
Interesting numbers for the four major segments measured by BookStats: k–12, higher education, professional/scholarly and  trade (trade includes fiction & nonfiction).

Which categories are up, down or flat? The reasons why, etc., etc.

How did digital and print books fare? How did one affect the other?

Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly provides these analytics:

Industry Sales Pegged At $27.2 Billion

With print declines offsetting digital gains, total sales slipped in 2011

Total book sales fell 2.5% in 2011, to $27.2 billion, according to the latest figures released by BookStats. Revenue was down in three of the four major segments measured by BookStats—k–12, higher education, and professional/scholarly—and up slightly in trade.
Within the trade category, the juvenile fiction segment had the strongest performance in 2011, with sales up 11.9%, to $2.78 billion. The increase was led by a huge jump in e-book sales, which rose 378.3%, to $220.3 million, and a solid performance in the hardcover format, where sales rose 14.8%, to $1.29 billion. Sales in juvenile nonfiction fell 2.1% in the year as a 223.9% increase in e-book sales was offset by a 3.3% drop in trade paperback sales. Still, the combination of fiction and nonfiction sales made the juvenile category the fastest-growing segment last year with total sales up 9.4%, to $3.30 billion.

Total adult sales fell 2.6% in the year, to $9.21 billion. Sales of fiction declined the most, off 6.1% in the year, to $4.29 billion, while nonfiction sales dipped 0.6%, to $4.92 billion. Although sales of fiction e-books soared in 2011 to just under $1.3 billion, sales in the print segments declined, with mass market paperbacks and hardcovers particularly hard hit, with sales off 31.8% and 23.1%, respectively. The decline in fiction was due to higher sales of lower-priced e-books, as well as a drop in units, which fell 6.5% in the year. The less severe decline in nonfiction sales was due in part to a drop of less than 1% in units, and while e-book sales rose 136.4%, to $468.2 million, the declines in the major print formats were much smaller compared to fiction: hardcover sales fell 5.9%, and trade paperback sales were off 3.8%.

The religion segment, which BookStats classifies as trade, had a good 2011, with total sales up 7.3%, to $1.45 billion. The segment benefited from a 136% increase in e-book sales as well as a 14.5% increase in hardcover sales. Unit sales in the segment jumped 37%, helped by the huge success of Heaven Is for Real.

Read and learn more

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Fanado = An Online Event and Marketing Space for Writers and Publishers

Margaret Atwood, famed poet and writer, has created a digital place where publishing professionals will now be able to create live meet and greet events for their authors and other artists, anytime and anywhere, engaging and expanding their audiences while promoting new works.

This is a beta site that has a lot of promise, in my humble opinion. It is a very innovative idea that marries a traditional marketing concept with new technology to produce an instant virtual/digital event palace for mingling with fans, publishers and other industry professionals, expanding your base and marketing your works.

And Fanado has some very impressive industry sponsors on board.

'Audible.com, Wattpad, Random House, Inc. are among those companies that supported Fanado’s indiegogo fundraising campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/fanado) with a commitment to a one-year exclusive event stage on the Fanado beta site.'

PRWeb press release in SFGate has more details:

Fanado Announces its First Publishing Industry Sponsors

Fanado, the online video conference and signing service founded by acclaimed author Margaret Atwood, is now joined by seven major providers and promoters of publishing in the digital age including Audible.com, Wattpad, and Random House.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) July 13, 2012

Fanado, the online video conference and signing service founded by acclaimed author Margaret Atwood, is now joined by seven major providers and promoters of publishing in the digital age.

Audible.com, Wattpad, Random House, Inc. are among those companies that supported Fanado’s indiegogo fundraising campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/fanado) with a commitment to a one-year exclusive event stage on the Fanado beta site. These innovators will now be able to create live meet and greet events for their authors and other artists, anytime and anywhere, engaging and expanding their audiences while promoting new works.

Audible (“engaging millions of listeners with stories told”) will conduct their first Fanado events from the floor of ThrillerFest (NY) on Friday, July 13. Beth Anderson, EVP & Publisher of Audible, Inc., says, “The Fanado channel will give authors more opportunity to connect directly with people who devour books through their eyes and ears. I know that our Audible listeners will love being able to meet their favorite authors and to have a personalized, autographed memento of that meeting.”

Also this week, Wattpad (“Unlimited Stories”) accompanies Margaret Atwood to Comic-Con, where she will interview SciFi author Rob Reid about his new novel, Year Zero, on a Fanado online stage. Allen Lau, CEO and Co-Founder of Wattpad, where Atwood is currently publishing original poetry and judging the Wattpad poetry contest aptly dubbed the “Attys”, explains: “There’s such a natural fit among everything that we do and everything Margaret does.”

Read and learn more

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

E-Books Are Alive ! And Posing As 'Big Brother'

We Know What You Read     
 Whether the ability of digital books to "drill down" analyze how a reader reads a book is good or bad (I'm sure it's great for marketing strategy) --- I am uneasy with a 'Big Brother' reading me as I'm reading something --- Scary as shit, know what I mean?

Privacy is a wondrous thing, and, I'm afraid, taken way too much for granted. We're losing it big time --- Actually, we're throwing it away in our pursuit of the glitter of new gadgets offering immediate gratification and convenience.

Damn if I want someone or something analyzing what I highlight in a book or how I mark it up or notes I make in the margin.

Give me the good old privacy of a printed book or should I say 'print privacy'.

In fact, in the future, this just might be one of the things that will reinvigorate the relevance of the printed word.

Alexandra Alter writes this insight in the WSJ:

Your E-Book Is Reading You

It takes the average reader just seven hours to read the final book in Suzanne Collins's "Hunger Games" trilogy on the Kobo e-reader—about 57 pages an hour. Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: "Because sometimes things happen to people and they're not equipped to deal with them." And on Barnes & Noble's Nook, the first thing that most readers do upon finishing the first "Hunger Games" book is to download the next one.

In the past, publishers and authors had no way of knowing what happens when a reader sits down with a book. Does the reader quit after three pages, or finish it in a single sitting? Do most readers skip over the introduction, or read it closely, underlining passages and scrawling notes in the margins? Now, e-books are providing a glimpse into the story behind the sales figures, revealing not only how many people buy particular books, but how intensely they read them.

For centuries, reading has largely been a solitary and private act, an intimate exchange between the reader and the words on the page. But the rise of digital books has prompted a profound shift in the way we read, transforming the activity into something measurable and quasi-public.

The major new players in e-book publishing—Amazon, Apple and Google—can easily track how far readers are getting in books, how long they spend reading them and which search terms they use to find books. Book apps for tablets like the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook record how many times readers open the app and how much time they spend reading. Retailers and some publishers are beginning to sift through the data, gaining unprecedented insight into how people engage with books.

Publishing has lagged far behind the rest of the entertainment industry when it comes to measuring consumers' tastes and habits. TV producers relentlessly test new shows through focus groups; movie studios run films through a battery of tests and retool them based on viewers' reactions. But in publishing, reader satisfaction has largely been gauged by sales data and reviews—metrics that offer a postmortem measure of success but can't shape or predict a hit. That's beginning to change as publishers and booksellers start to embrace big data, and more tech companies turn their sights on publishing.

Barnes & Noble, which accounts for 25% to 30% of the e-book market through its Nook e-reader, has recently started studying customers' digital reading behavior. Data collected from Nooks reveals, for example, how far readers get in particular books, how quickly they read and how readers of particular genres engage with books. Jim Hilt, the company's vice president of e-books, says the company is starting to share their insights with publishers to help them create books that better hold people's attention.
The stakes are high for the company as it seeks a greater share of the e-book market. Sales of Nook devices rose 45% this past fiscal year, and e-book sales for the Nook rose 119%. Overall, Nook devices and e-books generated $1.3 billion, compared to $880 million the previous year. Microsoft recently invested $300 million for a 17.6% stake of the Nook.

Read and learn more

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Publishing 'The Girl From Ipanema' Put Exotic Brazil On The Map

Dark-haired, green-eyed Heloísa
Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, the 5'8"
teenager who inspired 'The Girl From
Ahhh 'The Girl From Ipanema', sung by Astrud Gilberto around 1962, inspired visions of erotic sensuality in my mind back then --- Imagine an earthy, tall, tanned girl swaying down a Brazilian beach in a bikini "just like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gently".

Not only did this song inspire erotic, exotic overtures in the back roads of my mind, but, it also 'pretty much put an entire country's music and ethos on the map.' The country was Brazil and the music genre was the bossa nova.

'The Girl From Ipanema', especially as sung by Astrud Gilberto, was immediately atmospheric and uniquely exotic and elusive --- a seductive tropical cocktail, indeed.

Astrud Gilberto - Sang 'The Girl
From Ipanema'
A game changer song for sure. And one that has endured and endured.

On the song's 50th anniversary, Thomas Vinciguerra, the Wall Street Journal, details the history of the song, the original artists and the girl, Heloisa, who was the inspiration (also has a video of the song performance):

The Elusive Girl From Ipanema

The endlessly covered Brazilian song turns 50 this year. What explains its quirky endurance?

Before 1962, if John Q. Nobody gave any thought to South America at all, it probably didn't range much beyond banana republics, fugitive Nazis and Carmen Miranda. That changed 50 years ago this summer when a tall and tan and young and lovely goddess was born.

She was "The Girl From Ipanema."

Like a handful of other international crossover hits ("Day-O" from Jamaica, "Down Under" from Australia), "The Girl From Ipanema" pretty much put an entire country's music and ethos on the map. In this case, the land was Brazil, the genre was bossa nova, and the atmosphere was uniquely exotic and elusive—a seductive tropical cocktail "just like a samba that swings so cool and sways so gently," as the lyrics go.

At the time, bossa nova wasn't exactly unknown in the U.S., as shown by the Grammy-winning success of "Desafinado" from the 1962 album "Jazz Samba" by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd. But "The Girl From Ipanema" ("Garota de Ipanema" in the original Portuguese) was something else altogether. Not only was it one of the last great gasps of pre-Beatles easy listening, it was an entire culture in miniature.

"To the layperson, 'The Girl From Ipanema' sounds like 'a nice song,' " says the Brazilian-American guitarist and musical director Manny Moreira. "But to the trained ear it is perfection."

Read and learn more