May 6 2010
Cover Cafe ballot for the best and the worst covers of 2009 is up and ready for your votes.
RWA is going to Disney! Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort will be hosting the 2010 RWA Conference due to the flooding in Nashville. The rooms are super reasonable: $149 for two AND free in room high speed internet access (bring your own wi fi router folks). That’s a $10-$15 feature. It almost makes me want to go this year. Almost but not quite.
Barnes and Noble is now offering Free Express Shipping (books shipped in 1-3 days) for $25 a year. It competes with the Amazon Prime membership for which you pay $75 per year, but from Amazon you can order everything from groceries to furniture under and have those items shipped for free under a Prime membership. Still, it’s nice to have that choice.
There are four earning statements for the first quarter of calendar year 2010.
Harlequin: Harlequin profits are up (10%) even though revenue from sales was down. Part of this is due to the fluctuating value of the Canadian dollar. Direct to consumer ebook sales grew but that growth was tempered by a decline in the retail and overseas sales meaning print book sales in bookstores and other venues isn’t bringing in as much money.
In Q1 revenue from digital sales worldwide was $6.9 million and represented 6.1% of total revenue. This represents an increase of 61% from Q1 of last year.
Author Maya Reynolds has a great summary of the Harlequin Q1 earnings.
HarperCollins: HC showed operating income growth due to higher sales in the Children’s and General Books division (which must be the reason that they are trying to buy more YA). There was a 13.5% increase in sales and operating income was $4 million to the good versus the $8 million loss of the previous year. HC had 47 books on the NYT list including four that reached the number 1 spot. The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith and a reprint of a formerly out of print Evanovich title were two books helping HC have a good quarter.
Simon & Schuster: While digital sales are really strong, growing to $12 million from less than $4 million from the previous quarter, Simon & Schuster suffered a decline of sales of 6%.
Digital sales more than tripled in the first quarter and represent a growing share of our overall Publishing revenues.
Publishing revenue decreased $10 million because of “the continued softness in the base retail market.” This soft market doesn’t explain the increase of sales for other publishers, particularly Penguin as you will see below. The folks at CBS, parent corporation of S&S, said that Q1 was traditionally their weakest quarter.
Earnings Call Transcript (pages 3 & 4 mainly discuss the publishing. the rest is about tv shows and Outdoor Radio?)
Penguin: It’s battle with Amazon won’t show up until Q2 and it may not affect Penguin one bit. Pearson, the parent company of Penguin, saw an increase of 7% in the first quarter. Pearson executives, like S&S, see Q1 as their weakest and expect the increase of revenues to continue and possibly grow in the upcoming quarters. There were no specific numbers for Penguin only a mention that it “has made a good start to the year, particularly in the US< the UK, and at Dorling Kindersely.”
NY Times says that the stigma of self publishing has abated and been replaced with the label of “small and crafty.”
And self-published books are not just winning in terms of numbers but also making up ground in cachet. As has happened with other media in this heyday of user-generated content, last century's logic has been turned on its head: small and crafty can beat big and branded. As IndieReader, an online source for self-published books, puts it, "Think of these books like handmade goods, produced in small numbers, instead of the mass-marketed stuff you'd find at a superstore."
This is the Etsy like feel of publishing. I love Etsy and there is no question that there is a ton of horrific crap on Etsy but there is also some gorgeous and creative stuff on Etsy. The key, always, is finding the great stuff and pushing aside the dross.