Publishing

What I was thinking when I said that wild stuff

At our Publishers Launch Conference on the Wednesday of BEA, Michael Cader and I introduced a new feature we think will become regular at our events: a candid 1-on-1 conversation between us. It went well.

In fact, it went so well that what reads like a pretty damn accurate verbatim account of much of it constituted a story for Ed Nawotka at Publishing Perspectives. So, now, thanks to Ed, much of the world knows that I made a number of pretty bold forecasts, probably the boldest of which is that we’ll see the US market boil down to one dominant trade publisher over the next 10 years.

There are a lot of unexpressed assumptions in that calculation. And, in the “predicting the future” part of my business, when I say 10 years I don’t count myself “wrong” if it takes 15. So, with thanks to Ed for reporting me accurately, it seems worthwhile to elaborate a bit more on what I said last week.

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Why Book Publishers Are Still Dragging Their Heels on Selling You E-Books

Some of the problem stems from tradition. The people drawn to publishing as a professional are, by and large, book lovers, and as such, often as attached to books’ physicality as to their text. More is paranoia: unlike music, whose digital age developed largely in response to an already thriving pirate industry, book publishing has held back, waiting for reliable DRM that seems unlikely to materialize.

On some levels, their reluctance is pragmatic. The technology of digital publishing is awkward and inconsistent. The closest thing to a single file standard, e-pub, is still far from platform-agnostic and notorious for destroying formatting elements, which limits what writers and designers can do structurally if they’re planning for digital.

Full piece here.

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Scientific Articles Accepted

But they found out the hard way that they were wrong. The prestigious, academically sanctioned conference they had in mind has a slightly different name: Entomology 2013 (without the hyphen). The one they had signed up for featured speakers who were recruited by e-mail, not vetted by leading academics. Those who agreed to appear were later charged a hefty fee for the privilege, and pretty much anyone who paid got a spot on the podium that could be used to pad a résumé.

“I think we were duped,” one of the scientists wrote in an e-mail to the Entomological Society.

Park Slope Parents Say Library Has Too Much Technology

"It’s not so easy to peruse the stacks because the tables with the computers are right there," Skaller said. "There's not a lot space away from those screens... For the 3-year-old, there's an immense opportunity to discover new things to read, and anything that's pulling her away from that gets in the way of the purpose of the trip to the library."

Ebooks Growth is Up, Both Traditional and Self-Published

In book news, a recent report shows that book publishers received nearly 23% of their revenues from sales of ebooks (versus paper books) during 2012. That’s up from 17% the year before. That comes from full-year data by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The AAP includes 350 publishers, including large ones such as Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Harper Collins, as well as independents like Sourcebooks.
http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/04/ebooks-growth-up.html

Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too)

The scientists who were recruited to appear at a conference called Entomology-2013 thought they had been selected to make a presentation to the leading professional association of scientists who study insects.

But they found out the hard way that they were wrong. The prestigious, academically sanctioned conference they had in mind has a slightly different name: Entomology 2013 (without the hyphen). The one they had signed up for featured speakers who were recruited by e-mail, not vetted by leading academics. Those who agreed to appear were later charged a hefty fee for the privilege, and pretty much anyone who paid got a spot on the podium that could be used to pad a résumé.

Full article

Scott Turow: The Slow Death of the American Author

New York Times Op-Ed on how new legislation on imported copies of American authors works affects issues of copyright.

LAST month, the Supreme Court decided to allow the importation and resale of foreign editions of American works, which are often cheaper than domestic editions. Until now, courts have forbidden such activity as a violation of copyright. Not only does this ruling open the gates to a surge in cheap imports, but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors won’t get royalties.

This may sound like a minor problem; authors already contend with an enormous domestic market for secondhand books. But it is the latest example of how the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams. It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.

Macmillan Afraid Anyone With A Library Card "never have to buy a book again"

Worries about the effect of libraries on the book trade are not new. But digital devices, which allow books to reach readers with ease and speed, intensify them. As Brian Napack, president of Macmillan, a big publisher, put it in 2011, the fear is that someone who gets a library card will “never have to buy a book again”.

Sci-Fi's Underground Hit

Authors are snubbing publishers and insisting on keeping e-book rights. How one novelist made more than $1 million before his book hit stores.

Excerpt from article: In a highly unusual deal, Simon & Schuster acquired print publication rights to "Wool" while allowing Mr. Howey to keep the e-book rights himself. Mr. Howey self-published "Wool" as a serial novel in 2011, and took a rare stand by refusing to sell the digital rights. Last year, he turned down multiple seven-figure offers from publishers before reaching a mid-six-figure, print-only deal with Simon & Schuster.

"I had made seven figures on my own, so it was easy to walk away," says Mr. Howey, 37, a college dropout who worked as a yacht captain, a roofer and a bookseller before he started self-publishing. "I thought, 'How are you guys going to sell six times what I'm selling now?' "

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U.S. ISBN Monopoly Denies Threat From Digital Self-Publishing

LOOK inside any book published since 1970 and you will find a number. But perhaps not for much longer. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN), invented in Britain in 1965, took off rapidly as an international system for classifying books, with 150 agencies (one per country, with two for bilingual Canada) now issuing the codes. Set up by retailers to ease their distribution and sales, it increasingly hampers new, small and individual publishers. Yet digital publishing is weakening its monopoly.

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