Publishing

Standing Up to the Amazon Juggernaut

The UK's biggest publisher, Hachette Livre UK, is leading the charge against Amazon, which it claims is squeezing the market and demanding too great a share of sales. The Telegraph reports on the gathering storm.

Chair of the Society of Authors Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring, called for a strike against Amazon. She said: "To punish the author so publicly and so humiliatingly is really not on. I hope other publishers join Hachette and basically strike against Amazon to say there is only so far you can push us before you break us and we are not going to take it any more."

Small Publishers Feel Power of Amazon’s ‘Buy’ Button

Article in the NYT about Amazon shutting off the "buy" button for small publishers. This has been looked at on LISNEWS before, although this article focuses on what is happening in Europe in regards to this.
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Amazon, the online retailing giant with a fast-rising share of the consumer book market, has adopted the literary equivalent of a nuclear option for rebellious publishers who balk at its demands.

In the latest in a series of disputes over the division of revenue from online sales, Amazon has disabled the “buy now with 1 click” icon on its British Web site for hundreds of books published by the British unit of Hachette Livre, from back-list Stephen King novels to, naturally, “The Hachette Guide to French Wine.”

Full article here.

Publishers Push for New Rules on Unsold Books

For decades, the publishing industry has paid stores to return unsold books. The method forces publishers to gamble on the success of a given title, a risk many small presses can't afford. In a move seen to signal a possible industry change, a new imprint at HarperCollins will not allow stores to return unsold merchandise.
Listen @NPR.

Departure of HarperCollins CEO saddens, surprises industry

Jane Friedman, whose profitable and apparently joyous reign at HarperCollins abruptly ended this week, is not widely known to the general public. But the CEO's departure stunned, and saddened, an industry that regards her as the most energetic, optimistic and collegial of executives.

Penguin Sees Major e-Book Sales Spike

Penguin has reported that e-book sales from the first four months of 2008 have surpassed the house's total e-book sales for all of last year. According to the publisher, the spike is "more than five times the overall growth in sales, year-on-year, through April 2008." Penguin Group CEO David Shanks said he attributed the jump, in large part, to the growing popularity of e-book readers.

Full story at Publisher's Weekly

On-Demand Titles Drive Jump in Book Output

The production of traditional books rose 1% in 2007, to 276,649 new titles and editions, but the output of on-demand, short run and unclassified titles soared from 21,936 in 2006 to 134,773 last year, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by R.R. Bowker. The combination of the two categories results in a 39% increase in output to 411,422. Although it has tracked production of on-demand titles in the past, this is the first year the company has broken out the segment to better show the differences in the traditional categories (such as biography, fiction, juvenile) and the on-demand segment.

Full story at Publisher's Weekly.

But What About the Books, asks On the Media

This week's edition of the WNYC radio program On the Media is devoted to the humble book. Among other things, they discuss War and Peace, ebooks, Google Book Search, and the awesome power of Oprah. There are even a few great 12-word novels submitted by their listeners.

Non-Publisher Picked to Run Random House

WWBCD? (What would Bennett Cerf do?)

NYT report: Bertelsmann, the giant German media conglomerate, appointed Markus Dohle, the head of its printing unit, to run the company’s Random House division. Peter W. Olson, the current chief executive of Random House and one of the country’s most powerful figures in publishing, is stepping down from the post.

Peter W. Olson is stepping down as chief executive of Random House.
Mr. Olson will step down May 31 and is in negotiations for a “senior faculty position” at a university “nearby” to Harvard Square, according to a memo sent to employees Tuesday morning.

The appointment of Mr. Dohle, 39, an outsider to the publishing industry, is likely to rattle insiders at Random House and comes at a time when both Random House and the wider publishing industry are suffering from a slowdown.

Large Print Up Close

Technology's tight embrace gives us ample opportunity to read the fine print. In fact, we often have no choice, squinting into laptops in badly lit offices, in living rooms, on trains and even in cars; staring down at a BlackBerry or a Palm device as we wait for the first course; or trying to read the news crawl across the bottom of the TV screen. We do an awful lot of work with our reading, not to mention reading at our work. When it's time to read for pleasure, chances are that people, with eyesight already strained, might be on the lookout for a bigger picture.

Full story at Publisher's Weekly:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6561932.html

Publishers consider dropping old standby: the paper catalog

A publishing institution, faithfully mailed at least twice a year to thousands of stores and libraries for about as long as the industry has existed, may be on its way out: The paper catalog.

HarperCollins announced Monday that it was planning to make their listings of upcoming releases available only online, calling the current system both economically and environmentally indefensible.

"I think we are overdue. We produce thousands and thousands of catalogs, many of which go right into the wastebaskets," HarperCollins President Jane Friedman, who said the switch would likely begin by summer 2009, told The Associated Press. "It's such a waste of paper and so inefficient."

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