Archive for the ‘Publishing Business’ Category

Boycott Amazon?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Above: Button and coaster from Diesel Bookstore in Oakland, CA

The Huffington Post poses the question of whether consumers should boycott Amazon.

The company’s Price Check App, which offers a 5% discount to customers in exchange for scanning prices in bricks-and-mortar store, was introduced late last week. The American Booksellers Association immediately issued a strongly-worded statement against the promotion (even though the program does not apply to books).

As The Huffington Post notes, the new policy further angers retailers, publishers and politicians who are already upset about the company’s sales tax policies and over the Amazon Kindle lending library.

Of course, many libraries buy from Amazon, either when specific titles are not available elsewhere, or when prices are significantly cheaper.

We’d like to hear from you about whether you have stopped buying from Amazon and why. Please let us know in the comments section.

[More on "Occupy Amazon" swag here]

Random House Still Selling eBooks to Libraries

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Now that Random House is the only publisher of the Big Six that sells ebooks to libraries without restrictions (HarperCollins limits the number of circulations to 26), we thought it was a good idea to check in with them, to see if they are standing firm.

In response to our inquiry, spokesperson Stuart Applebaum replied, ”Random House, Inc. is maintaining our current position regarding digital sales of our books to libraries while actively reviewing our position.”

Now is a good time to show library support for RH titles. Early reactions about galleys can be a critical element in developing buzz. Publishers regularly hear from booksellers (particularly via the IndieNext program), but less so from librarians.

Here’s what you can do:

Get to know which titles RH is working to build buzz for. Read Random Revelations, the RH Library Marketing catalog and the Random Revelations blog. Pay particular attention to the debuts, such a Chris Pavone’s The Expats (Crown, March) or Thomas Mallon’s Watergate (Delacorte, Feb; more about it here; Digital review copies available from Edelweiss), and titles positioned as breakouts, like Defending Jacob, by William Landay (Delacorte, Jan; more about it here; Digital ARC on Edelweiss).

Let RH know what you think of specific titles, via comments on the blog, or by writing directly to the RH Library Marketing staff ( Tell them if reading a galley made you decide to order more copies, what audience you envision for particular titles, which ones you plan to use with reading groups. Give them quotes they can use in promo copy. This information is particularly helpful in the critical time before a book is published, the earlier, the better.

Random House, Inc. is a big company with many imprints and divisions. Get to know the players by studying the list on the RH site, which provides descriptions of each division and imprint, with links to their home pages.

Taking these steps will reinforce the point that libraries are key to building readership for books.

Paperbacks Arriving Earlier

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Good news for books groups. Publishers are speeding up the release of paperback reprints, which traditionally arrive a year after the hardcover, reports the New York Times. The wait for Room by Emma Donoghue took only eight months. Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! (Vintage Contemporaries) arrives in trade paperback this week, with new cover art, a mere five months after its hardcover publication in February.

When a book is doing well in hardcover, however, publishers still hold off. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest has been out for a year and is not yet in paperback. It was more than two years before The Help arrived in softcover.

Borders Going Out of Business

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Borders, the bookseller that invented the chain superstore concept, has not found a buyer and will ask for approval to liquidate its remaining 399 stores (at its height, Borders operated 1,300 stores), reports the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The company plans to be out of business by the end of September. Nearly 11,000 people will be laid off.

CEO, Mike Edwards, did not blame a history of swiftly changing management and direction, but “the rapidly changing book industry, [electronic reader] revolution and turbulent economy.” (Shelf Awareness published a more insightful analysis of Borders problems in February).

Reuters reports, however, that Books-A-Million may buy some of the stores (fewer than 50).

Amanda Hocking, from Self-Publishing to Major Book Deal

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

The poster girl for self-publishing, Amanda Hocking (her ten YA urban fantasy and paranormal romances have grossed around $2 million since she began publishing them through Amazon’s CreateSpace last year), was profiled in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.

But she recently abandoned her self-pubbed status for a major deal with St. Martin’s. Why? She tells the NYT Magazine that she wants “…to reach as many people as possible among the 85 percent or so of the population who don’t have e-readers yet. For me to be a billion-dollar author…I need to have people buying my books at Wal-Mart.” Also, there is a concern that major retailers will not want to stock books published by their competitor, Amazon.

St. Martin’s will publish Hocking’s Trylle trilogy (already in paperback by CreateSpace and on Kindle) in August, 2012. The original Watersong series begins Fall 2012.

Trylle trilogy

Switched 9781250006318; January 8, 2012 (currently available from CreateSpace, pbk, July 5, 2010; 9781453688939)

Torn 978125000632; February , 2012 (currently available from CreateSpace, pbk, Nov. 15, 2010, 2010; 9781456355791)

Ascend 9781250006332; April 2012 (currently available from CreateSpace, pbk, Jan. 11 2011, 2010; 9781456541286)

Watersong (exact pub dates not set for later titles in the series)

Wake 9781250008121; August 2012

Lullaby 9781250008107; (Fall 2012)

Tidal 9781250005663 (Winter 2013)

Elegy 9781250005670 (Spring/Summer 2013)

Yesterday, Amazon announced that another self-published author, John Locke, has joined their “Kindle Million Club,” for authors who have sold over 1 million paid copies in the Kindle Store. The author of mysteries and westerns, Locke publishes his paperbacks through self-publisher Telemachus Press and uses Kindle Direct Publishing for his ebooks.

If Amazon authors choose to do so, they can make their eBooks available to libraries through OverDrive; but neither Hocking nor Locke are listed on OverDrive’s database.

Shelf Awareness for Consumers

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Our friends and former colleagues at Shelf Awareness have launched a new publication aimed at consumers, Shelf Awareness for Readers. The twice-weekly email newsletter focuses on books, with a dozen reviews of both adult and childrens books as well as features, and some stories from the six-year-old trade publication, now called Shelf Awareness Pro. UPDATE: The reviews will be licensed; Ingram has already signed up.

One feature that readers advisors are sure to love is “Further Reading.” In this issue, it recommends books to extend the experience after reading Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder.

This new version of The Shelf is launching with an extensive marketing campaign, so you are likely to hear about it from your customers.

Amazon’s Major Publishing Move

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Amazon, which recently added publishing to its businesses, just made a major, attention-getting step by hiring Larry Kirshbaum, former long-time CEO of TimeWarner Book Group (now Hachette Books), one of publishing’s “Big Six” companies, to head up their publishing operations in New York.

Amazon began making inroads into publishing with AmazonEncore, launched in 2009 to identify strong selling digital titles, many of them self-published, to re-edit, market and distribute in both eBook and print format. They quickly added AmazonCrossing, to translate titles into English and just last week announced a two new imprints, Montlake Romance and Thomas & Mercer  mysteries.

These moves worry many in the business; one unnamed publisher told the Wall Street Journal, that Amazon has an unfair marketing advantage;  ”They can push their writers to the front and they have a decade of genre purchaser information.” Booksellers, who have long had issues with Amazon, have threatened boycotts of books by authors who publish through Amazon (thriller writer Joe Konrath’s takes strong issue with these tactics on his blog).

Will ebook versions of Amazon titles be available for library lending? Currently, that is a decision made by the authors; Konrath, for instance, recently made a deal to distribute 22 of his titles to libraries through OverDrive. One of the advantages of ebooks for libraries, says Konrath is that, “…unlike print, which wears out, an eBook is forever. It won’t get that crooked spine. You can’t rip the pages. The cover never needs to be replaced.”

Of course, some publishers and authors do not see that as an advantage.

Paperback Originals

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

“Publishing’s poor cousins” is how the Wall Street Journal describes some people’s view of paperback originals (we’re presuming they are talking about trade pbk originals) because,

1) reviewers see the format as a signal that the publisher isn’t expecting much from the book

2) unlike a title released in hardcover and subsequently in paperback, an original pbk gets only one shot at making it

3) because of the lower price, everyone in the pipeline, from author to agent, publisher and retailer makes less than if the book were published in hardcover

Occasionally, a paperback original does find success and becomes the exception that proves the rule. The WSJ explores the success of one such title, One Day by David Nichols, which took off, but only after it was announced that Anne Hathaway had been cast for the lead in the movie.

Tellingly, the follow up to One Day will be published in hardcover.

How THE GIRL Got Her Cover

Friday, July 16th, 2010

The Wall Street Journal investigates the process of designing the cover for the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.(with a slide show of 7 of the 50 rejected covers, including the one below).

The Fourth Stieg Larsson Manuscript

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

When Stieg Larsson died, he left an uncompleted fourth book in his Millennium series. Larsson’s long-time partner, Eva Gabrielsson, in a legal dispute with Larsson’s father and brother, has refused to make the manuscript available for publication.

The AP looks into what is know about the manuscript (not much) and its chances for being published (unclear).

An eBook Crash?

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

On AOL’s DailyFinance blog, Sarah Weinman surveys the many devices and formats for eBooks in “How to Navigate the Confusing E-Book Landscape” and warns,

…device makers must be on guard that the constant confusion and lack of consistency may precipitate a crash akin to the Great Video Game Crash of 1983. The e-book market may be a lot more mature than it was a decade ago, but it still has a long way to go before it fully grows up.

How the Media Covers Book Publishing

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

On the eve of Julie Bosman taking over as the publishing beat reporter for The New York Times (Motoko Rich is moving on to covering the economy for the Times), Sarah Weinman analyzes book publishing coverage in various newspapers.

Why Men Don’t Read Books

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

On the Huffington Post, writer and former book editor Jason Pinter argues that, contrary to the prevailing opinion, men will read, they’re just not being provided with the proper manly material (and, those ads for The Nook and The Kindle? They’d make any man run). Based mostly on anecdotal evidence, Pinter says the problem is that there are so many women in publishing (he says it’s “dominated” by women. That may be true in total numbers, but I’m willing to bet that an analysis of the numbers of women in top positions will show a different story. Among the “big six” publishers, for instance, Carolyn Reidy is the sole CEO).

On Salon, Laura Miller responds to the post and amusingly summarizes the 130 comments it brought. She accepts Pinter’s thesis and adds that men are not attracted to publishing because it “…increasingly resembles those ‘caring professions,’ nursing and teaching, where the joy of laboring selflessly on behalf of a noble cause — in this case, literature — is supposed to make up for the lack of profits and respect.”

You can’t help but wonder, though, over half the books on the NYT Fiction Best Seller list are written by men. Have they all been coerced by women editors into writing for the female audience?

Take a Minute for This

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

I love this video created by Dorling Kindersley in the UK.

Trust me, watch the whole thing.

PW Buyer Outlines Vision

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Proving the many nay-sayers in the press wrong, Reed Business has found a buyer for Publishers Weekly.

The new owner, George Slowik, is familiar to several on the PW staff; he was the publisher from 1990 to 1993.

Slowik outlined his vision for the magazine in interviews with Crain’s New York Business and the New York Times “Media Decorder” blog. He plans to digitize the PW archives, particularly the reviews (which now go back to 1997). The magazine licenses its current reviews to various companies such as Amazon and book wholesalers; he sees an opportunity in the older reviews when Google clears the way to publishing digitized OP titles. He also plans to sell versions of the magazine in other languages, using Google’s translation tool and some human intervention, to further reach the international audience.

He did not directly address whether the magazine would continue as both a print and digital publication, but presumably it will, since he said that all art and editorial staff will make the transition, as well as sales staff.

The magazine will be transferred to the new ownership beginning June 1 (UPDATE: The new ownership is effective immediately. Publishers Weekly will be moving to new offices effective June 1).