Jan 6 2010
For fun, someone has crafted a periodic table of fonts.
In not so fun news, Simon & Schuster has decimated its sales force, leaving only 7 sales representatives and replacing the void with a team of telemarketers. Shelf Awareness first tweeted this last night and had more details in today’s Shelf Awareness.
Simon & Schuster’s sales and marketing group has created a new telemarketing group that will operate from New York headquarters, serve more than 400 independent booksellers, distributors and educational wholesalers, and be in place by February 15. At the same time, the company is letting go about half of its field sales reps, and remaining reps will focus on regions where sales are strongest, “urban areas with a large base of key independent retail, wholesale and educational accounts.”
This is bad for indies and probably libraries who will now have to suffer telemarketing sales pitches for books. Can’t see how this won’t result in a decline in overall hardcover sales.
George Walkley is collating the 2010 predictions by various publishing consultants, observers and insiders. Most everyone is agreeing that enriched content will be important. (I have yet to see enriched content that I perceive has additional value). A couple of predictions that I agree with is “large publishers will cut back or consolidate” and authors with large platforms will start to resemble publishers ala the James Patterson style of co authoring or more.
Publishing Perspectives analyzes the global rank of publishers with Pearson claiming the top spot. Part of Pearson’s success is in the international education field. Pearson bought Simon & Schuster’s educational publishing arm and it is turning out to be a boon for the penguin. Bertelsmann, parent of Random House, has seen a dramatic decline in revenues from 2007 to 2008.
VJ Chambers, an author of YA thrillers, blogged about her self publishing experience and surprisingly, her lower cost digital offering at Smashwords outsold the Kindle. You can read the details of her costs and profit at her blog and an interview with Smashwords here. Chambers isn’t making a living self publishing but she’s experimenting with marketing her writing.
A much talked about editorial (at least on the loops I read) was the Jonathan Galassi op ed piece in the NYTimes. Galassi is the president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a house full of prestige and history. Random House published the print books of William Styron and his heirs have chosen to sell the digital rights to Open Road Media, likely because Open Road offered a better royalty deal. Galassi argues that Open Road Media and Styron’s heirs are benefiting from all the editorial and publishing work Random House put into Styron’s works. In Galassi’s argument is the thread that the publishing house creates a better work than the author alone and therefore deserves some kind of renumeration.
The author’s heirs hold the copyright to his work. But should another company be able to issue e-book versions of Random House’s editions without its involvement? An e-book version of Mr. Styron’s "The Confessions of Nat Turner" will contain more than the author’s original words. It will also comprise Mr. Loomis’s editing, as well as all the labor of copy editing, designing and producing, not to mention marketing and sales, that went into making it a desirable candidate for e-book distribution. Mr. Styron’s books took the form they have, are what they are today, not only because of his remarkable genius but also, as he himself acknowledged, because of the dedicated work of those at Random House.
Galassi’s position that the publisher holds some moral copyright to the published work is fascinating, full of breathtaking chutzpah, not based in any sound legal theory, but fascinating nonetheless. It’s interesting that Galassi positions Random House as the victim in this scenario, used and then discarded.
BusinessWeek and Sarah Weinman for Daily Finance both look at ebooks and how publishers are grappling with the economics of ebooks. The trend for pricing is downward and the message of Amazon is that increase in overall volume and reduction of costs will result in a positive for publishers. Publishers seem very uncertain in this market. Maybe at the end of 2010, they’ll have a better idea of what strategies maximize their profits without pissing off their customers. Maybe.
CNN apparently just discovered that there is ebook piracy. The article is very shallow and the reporter obviously has no real knowledge of the issue. In referencing J. K. Rowling’s decision to forego electronic editions, CNN fails to make it known that the Rowling books are all in digital format, illegally. In essence, J.K. Rowling has abandoned the field to the pirates who have made her works available in digital format within hours of the paper release. One of the best solutions to piracy is to ensure that there is a legitimate path for purchase.
Ana Maria Allessi, publisher for Harper Media at HarperCollins, told CNN, “we have to be vigilant in our punishment … but much more attractive is to simply make the technology better, legally.”
Alicia Condon, former Editorial Director at Dorchester is moving to Kensington to take the job left open by the death of Kate Duffy. Leah Hultenschmidt has been appointed the new ED at Dorchester.
Darlynne pointed me to an interesting fiction series called “History of Publishing 2010-2020.” This is a fictional retrospective look at the future of publishing and will be released in a series of blog posts.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show is going on right now and ebook news is starting to trickle out. Gizmodo is my go to place for all things tech and you can follow the posts about ebooks via the ebook tag: http://gizmodo.com/tag/ebooks/. Kindle Dx has gone international. There are new devices being displayed but I think the winner of the CES for ebooks will be any sub $200 color ebook reader.
Sam’s Club is launching a book club and will feature one book a month. This will likely have an Oprah like effect on that book.