Pondering Good Faith in Publishing

Book publishers have long seen themselves as the gatekeepers of literary culture. But when they’re not looking, the truth has a way of being left at the door.

Last week Henry Holt & Company stopped printing and selling “The Last Train From Hiroshima,” about the atomic bombing of Japan, because its author had relied on a fraudulent source for a portion of the book and possibly fabricated others.

This is not the first time a publisher has been humiliated by an author’s unverified work. But this instance has occurred at a time when the publisher’s traditional role is under economic and technological stress.

Full article in the NYT


Former Book Designer Says Good Riddance To Print

A recent blog post by Craig Mod, a self-titled computer programmer, book designer and book publisher, offers a thoughtful and distinctive perspective on the move of books from paper to interactive devices like Apple’s iPad.

Mr. Mod summarizes his argument in the subtitle of his post: “Print is dying. Digital is surging. Everyone is confused. Good riddance.”

Mr. Mod divides content broadly into two categories: content where the form is important, such as poetry or text with graphics, and content where form is divorced from layout, which he says applies to most novels and non-fiction.

This kind of thinking makes a key point: instead of arguing about pixels versus paper, as many book lovers tend to do, it is more useful to focus on whether the technology is a good match for the content.

Full article at the NYT Bits Blog

Disclaimer in book

Small piece of publishing history: (On page 205 of "The book publishing industry" by Albert Greco)

Houghton Mifflin published Leonard Shatzkin's In Cold Type: Overcoming the Book Crisis, an intelligent critique of the marketing and distribution of books in the United States. This book was so contentious it contained a disclaimer from the publisher, an exceptionally rare event in the world of publishing; even Mein Kampf (also issued by Houghton Mifflin) does not contain a disclaimer from the publisher.

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10 Takeaways from the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference for Librarians

10 Takeaways from the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference for Librarians
Earlier this week Sue Polanka attended the O’Reilly Tools of Change (TOC) Conference for the first time. Over 1250 attendees gathered in New York City to discuss and network about issues and trends in publishing, in particular, digital publishing. While much of the information presented was for the publishing industry, she did manage to find several great ideas and concepts that relate to libraries. She'd like to share these with you, in no apparent order.

A Self-Publishers Tale: The Disadvantages of Amazon's Advantage Program

Dennis Danziger writes: "I am the world's worst Jewish businessman. I don't understand why I'm so bad with money. It can't be genetic. My brother is a professor of economics. My cousin Leilah, a college dropout, created a company that trades on the NY Stock Exchange. And I am very good at three-point shots.

Not only am I inept at everything money-oriented, but I am unorganized and have no patience for details. So self-publishing my novel, A Short History of a Tall Jew, a dark, romantic comedy set in Los Angeles, was something most of my friends and family warned me against.

I could have hired an on-line self-publishing company to do the work. They're fast and inexpensive, but I got all snobby and didn't want a name on my book's spine that would instantly identify my work as a vanity production.

So I farmed out the cover art, the page lay-out and the web design to a place where skilled craftsman earn a fraction of what they're actually worth - Cleveland - my wife's hometown.

And before my website was up, I astonishingly received an order from the Amazon Advantage Program.

More from The Huffington Post.

Scott Brown Plans Book

You gotta have a book. And the man with the truck will soon be the man with a book.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), the party's hottest elected official, has decided to write a book that combines memoir and inspiration (of what sort I wonder...).

Gail Gitcho, his new Senate communications director, tells POLITICO, “Senator Brown is honored and humbled to be approached by many people who want him to tell his inspirational personal story about his life leading up to his election as a United States senator from Massachusetts. He will tell his story in a book in hopes of providing insight and encouragement to others and also to ensure that the record is complete and accurate.

"Part of the book proceeds will be donated to charity," Gitcho continued. "Senator Brown will work with a collaborator so he can continue to focus fully on his service to the people of Massachusetts, which is, and always will be, his first priority.”

Brown has hired Williams & Connolly's Bob Barnett, the city's leading counsel to politician-authors, to help him through the process.

Casper the Commuting Cat to be Immortalised in New Children's Book

Dewey was a great one, but he will not be the only cat to be remembered in a book. Such a fellow was Plymouth U.K.'s Casper, who sadly was run over by a car while crossing the road to queue up for his daily bus ride last month.

Casper was an amazing cat who fancied himself a daily commuter. His life on the buses came to international attention last year. It turned out that for four years he had been riding the no 3 bus, passing the Devon city's historic dockyard and naval base, en route. He tended to curl up on a seat or sometimes purr around fellow passengers' legs, all the way to the final stop, stay on and make the return journey. Drivers got used to letting him off at the correct stop.

Owner Susan Finden, 65, said she would be donating any money she makes from the book to animal charities. She said: 'It's lovely to think he will go on in memories - and with this book his story will live on forever. The book will be published by Simon & Schuster next summer.

More on Casper in The Guardian and The Bookseller UK.

Retailing Pressure and Emergence of the ebook are Threatening the Future of Authors and Their Work

Political espionage author and journalist Henry Porter solemnly points out: "To begin to write a book these days seems more than the average folly. Publishing appears to have been hit by a storm similar to the one that tore through the music industry a few years ago and is now causing unprecedented pain in newspapers We are told that fewer people are reading, that book sales are down, that the supermarkets which sell one in five copies of all books care more about their cucumber sales, that the book is shortly to be replaced by the ebook and electronic readers sold by, among others, Amazon, which seems bent on reducing publishers to an archipelago of editorial sweatshops and the writer to the little guy stitching trainers in an airless room.

Publishing seems to be one of the great mysteries of commerce. Despite the large numbers involved – a total of £1.752bn was spent on 235.7m books in 2009 in the UK, that's nearly four books for every man woman and child – the business today is a testament to self-deprecation, with only a few people willing to assert the unique value of books and their content."

More from the Guardian Observer.

Amazon & Macmillan - Monday Update

From today's Shelf-Awareness: "The Macmillan ban went beyond Amazon's website: reportedly without notice to Kindle owners, Amazon went into the devices and removed Macmillan titles from wish lists and removed sample chapters of Macmillan titles. This move was reminiscent of the retailer's quiet pulling last year of some e-titles whose copyrights were in question (Shelf Awareness, July 19, 2009)."

The wild weekend of Amazon and Macmillan

Commentary by publishing industry consultant Mike Shatzkin


Now I swear all this is true. As everybody knows, a very serious food fight broke out between Amazon and Macmillan late Friday night. All weekend Michael Cader led the way in ferreting out additional useful information and I spent most of today (Sunday) trying to write an analytical blogpost. I got it just about finished in the early afternoon, and the bottom line to what I’d written was “Amazon will not be able to sustain this.”

I decided to hold the post until after going to see Crazy Heart this afternoon and, when I came home, Amazon had already folded. But I had written a post that provided a lot of useful information, even if events had stolen my punchline.

So I’m giving it the once-over to edit it for the reality that Amazon has already announced that they will not continue to boycott Macmillan books.


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