Nielsen Convenes its Kids’ Book Summit

Nielsen’s second Children’s Book Summit took place on September 16th at the Forum at Convene – a handsome downtown space east of Wall Street.  This year (the first Summit took place in December 2014) the emphasis was on publishers’ customers, both booksellers and readers, and to that end there were three live panels of adult YA readers, indie booksellers, and teens.

NielsenBookSummit2015headerThe YA group was surprisingly label-agnostic, in that they read what they wanted without worrying about how it was categorized.  One male panelist suggested that, instead of YA, it be renamed YAH – young at heart.  The booksellers were full of practical suggestions, mentioning that having reps meet with their staff was a big win, as was (of course) having authors come to their stores.  They also mentioned that more showers are being thrown for first time grandmothers, and that books they will be reading to their grandchildren are being given to them as presents.  The teen group had a range of books that they were excited about, many of them movie tie-ins but also some backlist titles that they had discovered, including Judy Blume, Catcher in the Rye – even The Lovely Bones, which they considered YA.

Nielsen Books SVP and Global MD Jonathan Stolper hosted the Summit with Director of New Business Development, Kristen McLean, and several other senior Nielsen executives, delivered presentations whose purview was – literally – global.  Jonathan Nowell talked about opportunities and potential problems in the market, specifically focusing on pricing issues, and how many factors have to be taken into account when determining the price of a book in any market.  This came up several times during the day, notably when Kempton Mooney, who heads Nielsen Books’ research, talked about how to weigh social media data against demographic and sales data to determine the ideal price (or price elasticity) in any given age range, format and/or genre.

Nielsen SVP of Insights and Analytics Julanne Schiffer talked about what’s important to an author’s brand, especially relative to celebrities in other media.  Likability and dependability are both very important, and in children’s, so is humor.  VP, Multicultural Growth and Strategy Courtney Jones made a great argument that publishers note the demographic shifts that have already impacted them:  in the 9-and-under age range, a majority of the US is already non-white.  So, she argued, the shift that will affect the work force in 2040, has already affected schools and children’s media.

The day, which balanced practical information with analysis of trends and data, ended with a look at how to position authors to maximize their audience – a fitting way to wrap up a day that delivered thoughtful and actionable advice to a very receptive group of publishers.

People Round-Up, Mid-September 2015


Lorena Jones rejoined Ten Speed Press as VP, Publisher of an unnamed imprint for cooking and lifestyle books. Most recently, she was Publishing Director, Food, Drink, and Lifestyle and was Publisher of Ten Speed Press before that. She will also service as Editor-at-Large for Crown’s illustrated publishing program.

Additionally, Liz Esman joined Crown/Broadway/Hogarth/Tim Duggan Books as Senior Publicist. She was most recently Publicist at HarperCollins.

Quarto will launch a new children’s imprint, Seagrass Press in Fall 2016, overseen by Josalyn Moran. Moran was most recently VP, Publishing at Albert Whitman and Children’s Publishing Director at Chronicle Books.

Jesse Baker will join Audible this fall as Senior Director, Ellen Horne as Executive Producer, and Martha Little as Senior Producer. Baker was Executive Producer of NPR’s Ask Me Another, Horne was Executive Producer of WNYC’s Radiolab and Little was Executive Producer of America Abroad Media.

Margaret Harrison joined Ingram Content Group as Director of Product Metadata, Brette Dorris as Senior Sales Representative for public school libraries in the Midwest and Ed Spade joined as Senior Content Acquisitions Manager. Harrison was previously Ebook Global Supply Chain Manager at Oxford University Press. Dorris was previously Sales Representative at Brodart and Book Wholesalers and Spade was Director of Digital Publishing at Nickelodeon.

Bernard A. Barton Jr. joined the Library of Congress as Chief Information Officer. He was formerly CIO and Deputy Administrator at the Defense Technical Information Center. In January, James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, will retire and President Obama will appoint his successor.

Ralph Munsen is now Managing Partner and Global Head of Development of GroupM, which is the media buying division of advertising company WPP. He was previously CIO at Hachette Book Group, where his successor has not yet been announced.

Wendy Jacobson joined Martingale as Director of Sales. She was previously Account Executive at Quarto.

Richard Lowe is retiring from his position as Senior Account Manager at National Book Network in mid-September.

Sue Berger Ramin is now Associate Publisher at David R. Godine, Publisher. She was previously Director of Business Development at Bibliomotion.

Michael Ballanco will become SVP, CIO at Hachette at the end of September. He was previously CIO at the Warner Music Group. Andy Dodds joined Grand Central as Associate Director of Publicity. He was most recently Associate Director of Publicity at William Morrow. Sarah Clayton joined Hachette as International Sales Manager, Middle East and North Africa. She was previously Senior Buyer at Virgin Megastore Middle East.

Matt Wise was named Director of Publishing of Blumhouse Books, the publishing venture by Blumhouse Productions and Doubleday. Wise was Agent at Foundry + Literary Media.

Mike Towle joined Brown Books Publishing Group as Editorial Director. He was previously General Manager and Editor of the Sumner County Publications at Nashville Tenessean.

Stephanie Hawkins joined Abrams as Contracts Manager. She was most recently Contracts Director at Simon & Schuster. Jonathan Yu joined as Business Intelligence Analyst. Additionally, Patricia McNamara joined Abrams Children’s as Digital and Social Media Marketing Associate. She was previously Senior Editor at Girl’s Life magazine. Additionally, Caitlin Miller joined as Associate Publicist. She was most recently Publicity Assistant at Penguin Young Readers.

At university presses, Alisa Plan is now Editor-in-Chief at University of Nebraska Press. She was Senior Acquisitions Editor at Louisiana State University Press. . . Meanwhile, Kristen Elias Rowley, formerly Acquisitions Editor at University of Nebraska Press, is now Editor-in-Chief at The Ohio State University Press. . . Gene Taft will become Publicity Manager at Johns Hopkins University Press, succeeding Kathy Alexander when she retires in October. . . Jeff Dean is joining Harvard University Press as Executive Editor for Physical Sciences and Technology. Previously, he was Senior Publisher of Focal Press, an imprint of Taylor & Francis. . . Brendan Coyne has joined Pennsylvania State University Press as Director of Sales and Marketing. He was previously Associate Sales Director at Johns Hopkins University Press.

At agencies, Nicole Tourtelot is now Agent at DeFiore and Company. She was Agent at Kuhn Projects. . . Sandy Harding joined Spencerhill Associates as Agent. She was most recently Senior Editor at NAL. . . Albert Lee will join Kuhn Projects and Zachary Shuster Harmsworth as Agent in November. He was previously Executive Projects Director at Wenner. . . Caitlin McDonald joined Donald Maass Literary Agency as Agent. She was previously Associate Agent at Sterling Lord Literistic.

Emily Angell is now Editor at Thomas Dunne Books. She was Editor at Portfolio/Current/Sentinel.

Kate Gales Schafer joined William Morrow as Publicity Manager. Previously, she was Senior Publicist at Simon & Schuster.

Annie Mazes joined Workman as Adult Library Marketing Manager. Previously, she was Senior Library Marketing Associate at HarperCollins.

Amy Webster joined Frankfurt Book Fair as Associate Partner, Rights and License. She was Head of New Business at Edinburgh TV Festival, where she worked at the London Book Fair.

Andy Le Peau announced that he will retire as Associate Publisher for Editorial at InterVarsity Press in February 2016.

Lynn Klika joined St. Benedict Press as VP, Sales. She was Director of Sales at Ascension Press.

Sarah Salomon joined House of Anansi and Groundwood Books as Print Production Manager, Cross-Media.

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In Case You Missed It…PT Picks: Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars by Samuel I. Schwartz and William Rosen

PT Picks: Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars by Samuel I. Schwartz and William Rosen (PublicAffairs, 2015)

streetsmartFrom Lorraine:
Sam (Gridlock Sam) Schwartz was NYC’s longtime traffic commissioner and now runs an eponymous consulting firm with offices around the country.  So he’s got the purview and experience to tell us how car came to dominate our American lives and – more importantly – how and why this will be less true in the coming years.  Thank ride- and car- sharing startups like VIA and Zipcars, urban planners in cities like Vancouver and Charleston, and fans of active transport, like Millennials.

What makes Street Smart an enjoyable read is Schwartz’s anecdotes about NYC’s hydra-headed public transit system, which managed to survive both Robert Moses and Hurricane Sandy, as well as stories about consulting on projects from India to N. Korea.  William (Bill) Rosen, his co-author (and erstwhile publishing executive) has done a great job of bringing even the driest stats to life.

Beginning in the early 1970s, Schwartz takes his readers through his own life and how it intertwines with the fall and rise of New York, keeping us entertained by the politics, technology and changes in attitudes towards transportation over the ensuing forty years.

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 9/7-9/11

number_5_redEvery week, we recommend 5 publishing articles/blog posts that supplement the major news for the week. Whether data or industry commentary, we hope these 5 links will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

Should Michael Derrick Hudson’s poem have been removed from the “The Best American Poetry” collection for being submitted under an Asian name?

How does a promising literary author’s career lose traction in the US?

Do bookstores need to buy the majority of a book’s first print run to compete against online retailers?

Is there really a connection between reading literature and increased intelligence?

How have reader habits changed as consumers have embraced ebooks and digital discovery?

Vertical Horizons: Online Courses

In 2013, Magnolia Media Network (formerly Future of Ink) listed online courses among its top ten digital publishing trends. That same year, the Independent Book Publishers Association mentioned Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in its Independent magazine as a rapidly growing industry. The article went on to suggest that publishers embracing online education were likely to see less disruption in their textbook sales. And then again in 2014, Digital Book World’s Ten Bold Predictions for Ebooks and Digital Publishing mentioned verticals in general as a viable way for publishers to become known for specializations.

For those who need a reminder, “verticals” refers to vertical markets, which are business models that allow publishers to use their existing content and expertise to create new revenue streams in an effort to further engage their current community while reaching a new audience.

An online course is only one example of a vertical, but it’s one that has become increasingly more common. Shambala started offering online multi-week courses in October 2013. Simon & Schuster launched its online class website,, in January 2015. Rodale launched Rodale U in March 2015. Hay House launched Hay House Radio, which airs live seminars, in 2005, and later launched videos on its website, Wiley also offers online courses for some of its titles. F+W offers webinars and courses through its Craft University and Artists Network TV.

The difference between a webinar and a course, F+W President Sara Domville clarified for me, is the length of time. Webinars are generally 60 minutes and offer an introduction to a subject while courses are more in-depth and for a longer period of time, e.g. multiple sessions over a 4-8 week period at F+W.

Thought Industries CEO Barry Kelly told Publishing Executive that he believed publishers began developing online learning programs because their access to the content, the credible sources, as well as the built-in marketing and distribution channels made it an obvious plan for success. Even more importantly, the program ensures that “learners are engaged longer and are getting a high-quality experience with the brand, publisher, or even a product,” thereby boosting the reputation of the author and publisher.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 8/31-9/4

number_5_redEvery week, we recommend 5 publishing articles/blog posts that supplement the major news for the week. Whether data or industry commentary, we hope these 5 links will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

Publishers Weekly took an in-depth look at the educational ebook market.

How did Graywolf Press become a heavy-hitter in the industry?

Is there enough diversity in diverse books?

Is it bad for readers when authors publish new books very often?

Will Amazon’s new Underground service disrupt app and ebook pricing?


Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 8/24-8/28


Every week, we recommend 5 publishing articles/blog posts that supplement the major news for the week. Whether data or industry commentary, we hope these 5 links will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

Does Authors United have an argument for an antitrust case against Amazon?

How can map publishers find success in a technological world?

How can publishers generate more traffic on their websites?

Will the flat design continue as a trend for book covers moving forward?

What should publishers be doing to connect more directly to their consumer?

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 8/17-8/21

number_5_redEvery week, we recommend 5 publishing articles/blog posts that supplement the major news for the week. Whether data or industry commentary, we hope these 5 links will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

Are e-reading apps helping children learn in the classroom?

Could interstitial publishing bring new readers to the market?

What are publishers of illustrated books doing in order to maintain their physical book sales success?

Should data influence the editorial process for some books?

Is the design of a cookbook more important than the recipes?


In Case You Missed It…Publishing Trends Picks: Rise by Karen Campbell

We’re all big readers here in the Publishing Trends office; so today we’re happy to announce a new feature on Publishing Trends, In Case You Missed It. Whenever we read a great book that we think might be flying too low under the radar, we’ll share it with you here. Our interests are wide so we can’t wait to share a variety of books with you.

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In Case You Missed It…Publishing Trends Picks: Rise by Karen Campbell (Bloomsbury, 2015)


From Amy:
I happened on to this title due to a good NYT review and a strong predilection for fiction by Scots. (Don’t ask.) Though Campbell has written a number of earlier books, this is the first to be published here and it’s accomplished, original, moving…all around terrific. A bit hard to categorize as there’s an element of suspense and threat but I think the appeal will go well beyond genre readers. Campbell’s protagonists are sympathetic, distinctive, and believable and she writes with a strong sense of irony that lends dark humor to the story.

Imagine a very contemporary drama set in a small, inbred town in remote Scotland.  Wonderful writing rounds out the many pluses of Rise.

Justine is on the run from her old life, and Michael and Hannah relocate in an effort to repair their broken marriage, landing all three of them in remote Kilmacarra, Scotland. An accident brings them all together, and Justine’s past might have consequences for all three of them.