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Article in the New York Times:
Book publishers and booksellers are full of foreboding — even more than usual for an industry that’s been anticipating its demise since the advent of television. The holiday season that just ended is likely to have been one of the worst in decades. Publishers have been cutting back and laying off. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced that it wouldn’t be acquiring any new manuscripts, a move akin to a butcher shop proclaiming it had stopped ordering fresh meat.
Bookstores, both new and secondhand, are faltering as well. Olsson’s, the leading independent chain in Washington, went bankrupt and shut down in September. Robin’s, which says it is the oldest bookstore in Philadelphia, will close next month. The once-mighty Borders chain is on the rocks. Powell’s, the huge store in Portland, Ore., said sales were so weak it was encouraging its staff to take unpaid sabbaticals.
Well, it's had a good long run, nearly 600 years. But...is it the 'end of the book'?
Here's an opinion piece by Tom Engelhardt in the LA Times. He has worked in publishing for more than three decades and is currently the editor of TomDispatch.com, where a longer version of this article is published.
From the article:
Worlds shudder and collapse all the time. There's no news in that. Just ask the Assyrians, the last emperor of the Han Dynasty, the final Romanoff or Napoleon -- or Bernard Madoff. But when it seems to be happening to your world, well, that's a different kettle of fish.
Two weeks ago, a close friend in my niche world of book publishing (at whose edge I've been perched these last 30-odd years) called to tell me that an editor we both admire had been perp-walked out of his office and summarily dismissed by the publisher he worked for. That's what now passes for politeness in the once "gentlemanly" world of books.
His fault, the sap, was acquiring and editing good books. The sort of books that might actually make a modest difference in the universe but will be read by no less modest audiences -- too modest for flailing, failing publishing conglomerates.
From Shelf Awareness: One publisher's mistake; young readers' bonanza.
Komenar Publishing goofed on a print order and wound up with "200% more product than intended." As a result, Komenar is donating 1,000 copies of the trade paperback edition of Heroes Arise by Laurel Anne Hill, an illustrated sci-fi novel involving "a quest across an alien landscape," to public libraries that have bookmobiles for underserved people or programs to bring books into schools.
For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call 510-444-2261.
Since 1903 RR Donnelley, the world's largest commercial printer, has created a book to be given to customers and employees during the holidays.
The 2008 book is "Jailed for Freedom" by Doris Stevens.
Because the books are not sold but are given away as gifts the way to find out about what the new book is each year is by watching eBay. The RR Donnelley website does not seem to update the list of Lakeside Classics until well into the next year. Currently they show a list of all the Lakeside Classics from 1903-2007.
Here is a copy of "Jailed for Freedom" on eBay.
Video on YouTube about the Lakeside Classics.
Douglas: "What happens when people start putting books up on bit torrent and publishers go from making $50,000 to $100,000 on a mid-list author to making less than $10,000—my guess is they cut back the number of authors they sign, which is already low.
My longstanding idea for putting advertisements in an eBook might start looking like a better idea to them."
I know this story is going to get some readership once people notice the word FREE. Publishers Weekly reports:
Ben LeRoy, publisher of Bleak House Books, a division of Big Earth Publishing, thinks nobody, no matter how dire their economic circumstances, should be deprived of gifts this holiday season so during the month of December, Bleak House Books, and its sister company, Intrigue Press, will give away more than 100 frontlist and backlist titles (mysteries) to readers, who, hopefully, will pass them on to others.
“As I listened to a piece on NPR about shopping being down, and people stressing about not being able to give presents, it struck me: we’re ahead of projections, and this is one way we can help out. I can’t stuff [readers] with cash, but I can help them get books,” LeRoy said.
Anybody who’d like to take Bleak House up on their offer can do so by ordering books from the company's website. Wish list books will be shipped from either Big Earth Publishing’s fulfillment center in Colorado or from Bleak House’s Madison, Wisc. offices, either directly to the shopper or to a designated recipient. Postage and handling ($6-$8) are the responsibility of the shopper, and checks/credit card orders must be received by December 11.
Facing a downturn in book buying, and competition from online e-books, publishers are increasingly turning to cell phones. No, they're not publishing new books on phones, as they obviously should. They're trying to market paper books via cell phones.
The publishing world is still trying to absorb this week's bad news: Several publishing houses announced layoffs or salary freezes, and a major reorganization at Random House left two major players in the business without jobs. All this comes as booksellers head into the holiday season — when 25 percent of all book sales occur.
No one thought that publishing would be spared from the current economic turmoil. But when the fallout from the Random House reorganization was announced on the same day that Simon & Schuster and the Christian publishing company Thomas Nelson announced layoffs, it stunned the book world, says Sara Nelson, editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly.
The University of Minnesota Press has announced a new initiative to reissue virtually every book published by the press since its founding in 1925. The project, Minnesota Archive Editions, was unofficially launched six months ago in partnership with Amazon.com, Google, and BookMobile, a short-run printing company specializing in POD and bound galleys.
Ziff Davis Media announced Wednesday that it was ending print publication of its 27-year-old flagship, PC Magazine, and would take the title online only.
It is the latest of several magazine publishers to drop a print edition, as advertising plummets and the cost of printing a paper version rises.
“The viability for us to continue to publish in print just isn’t there anymore,” Jason Young, chief executive of Ziff Davis, said in an interview.
While most magazines make their money mainly from print advertising, PC Magazine derives most of its profit from its Web site. More than 80 percent of the profit and about 70 percent of the revenue come from the digital business, Mr. Young said, and all of the writers and editors have been counted as part of the digital budget for two years.