Our Ebooks, Ourselves: What’s Happening with Our Ereader Data?

In October of last year, news broke on The Digital Reader that Adobe Digital Editions was taking a significant amount of user data and sending it back to their servers. Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) is a program that allows readers to put ebooks onto their reading devices from retailers and libraries alike. The program’s terms and conditions don’t mention anything about the extra data logging, and there was some outrage. Users were concerned that Adobe was getting data from every single page they read.

It’s understandable that ADE users were upset that their data was being taken in a way that they hadn’t agreed to. However, tracking how a reader engages – or doesn’t engage – with an ebook is only going to increase. Retailers like Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and others all track usage data from the ebooks they sell. It’s not just retailers that do this either, Oyster and Scribd also track actions of their subscribers.

So what’s being tracked when we read a book on a Kindle or open up the Oyster app? Retailers and subscription services track how far you’ve read in a book, where in the book you stopped reading it, how quickly you read it, and how you came across that book, among other data.

Say the data for This Book shows that most people who stop reading the book before completion quit in chapter 7. The fear is that the editor of This Book will ask the author to make some changes to chapter 7 to hopefully increase the number of readers who read all of the way to the end. Buzzfeed Reporter Joseph Bernstein mused on this idea: “Excuse me, Mr. Joyce, you’re losing a lot of Kindle Fire readers here in this third section. Maybe tighten it up a smidge?” All jokes aside, there are some who aren’t concerned at all. Bernstein interviewed Claudia Ballard, an agent at WME who said “…people have been picking up books and not finishing them for a long time. At the end of the day a unit sold is a unit sold.” Of course, that’s not strictly true with ebook subscriptions.

Since users of a subscription service pay one monthly fee for unlimited books, royalties to authors are calculated differently. Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, has openly told the press how each payout schedule is structured for both Oyster and Scribd. It’s no surprise that both payout systems are tied to engagement. Coker spoke to GoodEreader about Oyster’s payment structure for Smashwords authors saying, “As a Smashwords author or publisher, you’ll earn 60% of your book’s retail list price whenever an Oyster subscriber reads more than 10% of your book, starting from the beginning of the book forward.” Coker also spoke to Fast Company about Scribd’s payout system, “The first 10% of every book from page one forward is available as a free sample. If readers read an additional 20% more, the author and publisher get credit for a full sale of the book, 60% of the list price. Scribd will also pay in cases where the reader reads more than the first 15% of the book, but less than 30%. In that situation, the author gets a ‘browse credit.’ For every 10 browses, they get credit for a full sale.” It should be noted that these payment structures are for Smashwords only. Oyster and Scribd are both fairly quiet about how their payments work, but it’s clear that it’s based, at least in part, on engagement data per book. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 2/2-2/6

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 stories will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

Why have people been reading less fiction since 2008?

The announcement of Harper Lee’s sophomore novel has led to much controversy in the media this week.

Will Americans ever want to read books in translation to the same degree as other countries?

Despite last year’s backlash for lack of diversity, Book Expo America announced an all-white children and young adult author line-up.

How many books are published per capita per year in European countries?


Literary Agent Contact Sheet 2015

We’ve updated our Literary Agent Contact Sheet for 2015. This contact sheet is one of our largest and most extensive. The 2015 list has contact information for hundreds of literary agents and agencies across the United States. To conserve space, the word “agency” has been omitted from most listings. Those agencies doing business under a single last name are listed alphabetically, with the agent’s first name in brackets (e.g. [Jane] Smith). The contact information listed for each respective agency is how they would prefer to be contacted.

Publishing Trends Literary Agent Contact Sheet 2015

Click the image above for the full PDF of the Publishing Trends 2015 Literary Agent Contact Sheet.


People Round-Up, Early February 2015


Mitchell Klipper will retire from his position as CEO, Retail of Barnes & Noble in May.  He will continue to act as an advisor to the company moving forward.

Michael Siglain is now Director, Creative Franchise at Lucasfilm Publishing.  Formerly, he was Executive Editor at Disney Book Group.

Steve Quinn joined Perseus Book Group as Assistant Director, Specialty Retail Sales. Previously, he was Specialty Sales Manager at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Rakesh Satyal is now Senior Editor at Atria Books.  He was most recently a Freelance Editor.  He started his career in the editorial departments at HarperCollins, Doubleday Broadway, and Random House, before briefly moving to California to work in marketing.

Jordan Hamessley joined Adaptive Books as Editorial Director.  Formerly, she was Editor at Egmont USA.

Christine Swedowsky joined Penguin Random House as Director, International Marketing and British Commonwealth Sales.  She was previously Associate Director, International Marketing and Publicity at HarperCollins.  Meanwhile, Rick Pascocello left his position as VP, Executive Marketing Director. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Jocelyn Hale will step down from her position as Executive Director of Minneapolis’s Loft Literary Center in August after eight years in the position.

Andy Hunter and Elizabeth Koch announced publishing startup Catapult, which will launch in fall 2015. Catapult will “celebrate powerful voices, breakthrough narratives, and extraordinary storytelling experiences.”  Hunter, who will act as Publisher, is Co-Founder of Electric Literature and Koch, the CEO, is Founder of Black Balloon Publishing.  They have hired Pat Strachan to be Editor-in-Chief.  She was most recently Senior Editor at Little, BrownJulie Buntin is Associate Editor and Community Manager, Leigh Newman is Editor-at-Large, and Jennifer Abel Kovitz is Publicity and Marketing Director.  Buntin was most recently Director of Programs & Strategic Outreach for the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. Newman is Editor-at-Large at Black Balloon Publishing and Deputy Editor at Oprah.com. Abel Kovitz was Director & Founder of 45th Parallel Communications.

Andrew Wheeler left his position as Marketing Manager at Wiley after seven years with the company.  He can be reached at [email protected].

Alexander Czik is now Data Market Analyst at Crown Publishing Group.  Previously, he was Analyst, Strategy & Analysis at DigitasKarin Schulze’s position of Associate Director, Foreign Rights at Crown Publishing Group has been eliminated.  After February 6th, she can be reached at [email protected]Lisa Tauber is now Editor at Clarkson Potter.  She was previously Associate Editor at Chronicle Books.

Viniita Moran joined Chronicle as Web Manager.  Previously, she was Online Store Assistant Manager at SF MoMA.

Sarah Smith is now Art Director at The Experiment.  She was formerly Senior Designer at Workman.

Sarah Falter joined Hachette Nashville as Publicist.  She was previously Publicist and Social Media Manager at History Press.

At literary agencies, Leslie Owen launched Leslie E Owen, Agent, LLC, which will specialize in mainstream genre fiction. . . Alex Glass launched Glass Literary Management, which will specialize in nonfiction, adult literary fiction, general fiction, and children’s fiction. He was most recently Agent at Trident Media Group. . . Heather Flaherty joined Bent Agency as Agent.  Formerly, she was Children’s/YA Scout at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. . . Allison Hunter is now Agent at Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency.  Previously, she was Agent at Inkwell Management.

Dean Smith is now Director of Cornell University Press. Formerly, he was Director, Project Muse at Johns Hopkins University Press.

Mary Anne Baynes joined Overleaf as Head of Sales and Marketing.  Previously, she was Sales Director and Solution Catalyst at Cenveo Publisher Services. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 1/26 – 1/30

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.

Ebook piracy is expected to rise to 700 million instances per year by 2018.

Is tumblr’s Reblog Book Club the future of online communities for readers?

DRM-free device sales are on the rise - even for used devices.

What are the implications for publishers of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Book Club?

How do risks and rewards play into an author’s happiness after publication of their book?

International Bestsellers, January 2015

Every month, Publishing Trends runs fiction international bestsellers lists from four territories–France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. This month, our four regular territories are joined by two more: Canada and Poland. Those books that have been published in English are listed with their official English-language title. All others are translated as literally as possible from the original. Where applicable, the US publisher is listed after the local publisher, separated by a “/”. The lists are taken from major newspapers or national retailers, which are noted at the bottom of each list.





BestsellerJan2015 Italy






Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 1/19-1/23

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.

How should the ebook sales data from Nielsen Bookscan be interpreted?

Book sales, especially print, rose in October, according to the AAP.

What are some of the lessons to be learned from the Macmillan and Springer merger?

Are future readers going to cultivate two separate personal libraries: print and digital?

What can the publishing industry take away from data being collected by ebook platforms?

People Round-Up, Mid-January 2015


Nathaniel Marunas was named Publisher at Quercus USJason Bartholomew, who is based in the UK, is Director in addition to his current role as Rights Director for Hodder, Headline, John Murray Press, and Quercus.

In children’s publishing, Michael Eisenberg joined Highlights in the newly created role of Director, Book Marketing.  He will report to VP Print and eBook Sales and Marketing Jack W. Perry. Eisenberg has been Consultant at Highlights for the past five years and was previously SVP and Co-Publisher of Children’s Books at Farrar, Straus & Giroux. . .Michelle Bayuk joined Quarto Publishing Group US in the newly created position of Associate Director Children’s Book Marketing, Publicity, and Social Media.  She was previously Associate Sales and Marketing Director at Egmont Publishing. . . Martha Rago will join Random House/Golden Books Young Readers Group as Creative Director in February.  She was previously Associate Creative Director at HarperCollins Children’s. . . Sandee Roston left her position as Publicity Director at HarperCollins Children’s and can be reached at [email protected]. . . Tim Ditlow joined Epic! as VP of Content.  He was most recently Associate Publisher, Children’s Audio at Amazon.

Rebekah Anderson joined Sasquatch Books as Director of Marketing.  She was most recently Supervisor, Customer Engagement Communications at Puget Sound Energy.

Ami Webster McConnell joined Howard Books as VP, Editor-in-Chief.  Previously, she was Senior Acquisitions Editor for Fiction at HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

Disney/Hyperion hired Kieran Viola as Senior Editor.  She was previously Editor at Alloy Entertainment.

Taylor Sperry joined Melville House as Editor. She was previously at Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Holly LaDue is now Acquisitions Editor at Prestel Publishing US, based in NY.  She was previously Freelance Editor for Rizzoli.

Sarah Carstens joined Rizzoli as Client Publisher Sales ManagerShe was formerly Sales Manager, Stationary & Calendars at teNeues Publishing.

At literary agencies, Camille Goldin joined Ann Rittenberg Agency as Agent while Penn Whaling has left. . . Andrea Hurst is retiring from the agency division of Andrea Hurst & Associates after 13 years.  She will continue to work as Developmental Editor and Consulting.

Kristi Pfeffer joined Timber Press as Senior Designer.  Formerly, she was Art Director at Lark Crafts.

Sharon Hancock is retiring from her position as Executive Director of Library Marketing and Outreach at Candlewick after more than 10 years with the company.  She can be reached at [email protected].

Frank Weihenig joined Gutenberg Technology as VP, Sales, US.  Formerly, he was Director Business Development-Prepress at codeMantra, LLC.

Katie Powell Bell joined Icon Media Group as Senior Publicist.  She was previously Senior Publicist at HarperCollins Christian.

Chila Woychik retired as Managing Editor at Port Yonder Press after 5 years with the company and can be reached at [email protected].

Bob Minzesheimer will work Part-Time at the Village Bookstore in Pleasantville, NY in addition to working as Freelance Book Critic.  He was previously at USA Today as Books Reporter.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 1/12-1/16

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.

Why are publishers so keen on ebook subscription services?

Is there a downside to teaching children to read at a young age?

Do publishers overestimate the importance of social media as a marketing tool?

Apple announced that the release of iOS8 and larger iPhones have driven sales in the iBook store.

Michael Cairns makes his predictions for trends in publishing this year.

DBW 2015: Data and Direct-to-Consumer Engagement

During the second day of the Digital Book World Conference, we attended two events about the future of publishing: Building the Trade Publishers of the Future: Trade Publishers Remaking Themselves and Gaming the Page: Book Publishing Meets Games.  Both of these sessions noted how traditional publishing is using trend information discovered through data collection and reader feedback to make informed decisions on their publishing program.

During the Building the Trade Publishers of the Future session, moderator Carolyn Pittis from Welman Digital introduced the panelists by saying that “some of the people here might not describe themselves even as publishers anymore.  I think what you’ll hear here are four leaders of businesses that are blending traditional publishing…with what is now required to sell content in all forms.”

According to Pittis, the way that the publishers can narrow down how to sell that content is through a utilization of data from readers (such as Bookscan numbers) to make informed decisions about acquisitions based on trends.  F+W President Sara Domville said “The book doesn’t necessarily come first.  The webonomics do.”  It was also pointed out, however, that while publishers should look at the trends to make informed decisions, at no point should this data eclipse a publishing house’s instinct to take on the projects that make their company unique.

Toward the end of the session, Regan Arts Associate Publisher and Executive Editor Lucas Wittmann predicted that live events and unique experiences that accompany the books – instead of just the writing – will be important to the future of publishing.

The Gaming the Page sessions also mentioned how publishers can use games to collect information for their books and reach their audience in a different format.

Scholastic, for example, has launched games to accompany its series The 39 Clues and Spirit Animals, among other.   Associate Producer Keith Fretz said of gathering feedback to improve the books, “We don’t always know the exact points that [readers] get confused, the exact points where they lose interest without asking them directly.” With games, publishers can answer these questions without asking, which makes the results more organic.  From there, the game, and by extension the books can evolve to better engage the audience.

Full Fathom Five Editorial Director Greg Ferguson said that his company is using a game based on the James Frey Endgame series as a way “to bring in a different audience that might not necessarily want to pick up the book, but after playing the game, might go back for the book” as well as for the audience already reading the series.  This sentiment was echoed by Fretz who said that the games are meant to be a social and gaming outlet for kids already interested in the original books, who are looking for more content that is familiar but not identical to the book so that both are standalone formats.

While the industry will always depend on publishers and game creators and other content developers to bring experience and intuition to the acquisition process, it is clear from this year’s DBW sessions that now that content creators have learned how to commune directly with their consumer, the wealth of analytical data that is available will be put to great use to ensure a receptive audience.