Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 2/24-2/28

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. 

Statistics from VIDA reveal that books by men were reviewed more often and sold better than books written by women over the past five years.

Big Bang Press asks whether or not fan fiction can sell within traditional publishing models.

Will changes in format and pricing allow fiction of varying lengths to achieve commercial success?

Author Kerry Wilkinson began by self-publishing his hit crime novels, but says traditional publishing was what bolstered his sales and name recognition.

The editors of Simon & Schuster‘s new site dedicated to business books,, discuss their goals.

Partners’ Corner February 2014

Partners’ Corner is a place where the principals of Market Partners International can share their observations of the publishing industry for the month.

Publishing Trends attended the Publishers Weekly panel discussion entitled “Are Publishing Seasons Relevant?” (see PT’s PW Panel: Are Publishing Seasons Relevant? for details) and came away with some unanswered (and unanswerable?) questions and musings.

The short answer to the question is, yes, if you consider each new title to be the equivalent of a new product launch, then allowing 1 ½-2 years to position, plan a marketing campaign, and create the best product possible makes sense.

The excellent panelists (a retailer, a distributor, and a publisher) made a good case for the way business is done—i.e., much as it’s always been done—but might it be time to take a deeper look?

Realistically, is each book going to receive the sort of care and attention suggested by these seasonal schedules? And does the slow, methodical process that most all publishers employ help the average book find its market in a timely fashion?

Listening to the panelists, it was clear that the systems have evolved to incorporate “drop-ins” and “add-ons” but only so far; despite the considerable number, there are unresolved problems attached. Most notably, open-to-buy issues at accounts (not to mention the general chaos involved in making sure metadata and rationale are fully communicated) often result in these titles being skipped. So even if publishers adopt ways to create a more fluid publishing model, it will only work if retailers change as well.

Clearly, it’s daunting. So even though improved digital processes have dramatically decreased some of the original production reasons for the long time it takes to bring a book to market, and even though Edelweiss offers an efficient means of announcing titles instantly (goodbye print catalogs), the old ways prevail. Those of us who have spent our careers in book publishing understand why, while those on the outside with content they want to see in book form are shocked and dismayed at how long it takes.  Maybe a little more dismay on our side might nudge the schedule, at least a bit?

PW Panel: Are Publishing Seasons Relevant?

On Feb. 26, Publishers Weekly hosted its first discussion series of 2014 with a panel featuring Andy Laties, Store Manager at Bank Street Bookstore, Kim Wylie, VP Deputy Director of Sales at PGW, and Mary Beth Thomas, VP of Sales at HarperCollins. PW’s Jim Milliott moderated.

Bringing together a representative from retail, distribution, and publishing, the panel addressed questions related to the pros and cons of traditional seasonal lists from 3 different angles. In the end, though, the differences between the publisher viewpoint and the distributor’s viewpoint were negligible. Both Wylie and Thomas described the rhythms at their companies and expressed similar convictions that the extensive time to market ensures that a book is at its most ready—properly edited, positioned, packaged, timed, and ready to benefit from a coherent and well-planned marketing campaign.

Laties defined seasons and seasonality from a retail perspective, pointing out that, while the holiday season is clearly the most critical for many booksellers, those in vacation areas or coastal areas, might have very different peak selling seasons.  But when questioned as to whether publishers might spread out their titles more evenly throughout the year, he replied that one of the reasons the current structure works is that booksellers don’t have time to be making buying decisions all year long and it’s convenient that the heavy fall publishing lists are presented in early summer when store traffic is often light.

While the arguments for the usual practice of two or three seasons were convincing—and both Wylie and Thomas suggested that the seasonal approach created essential deadlines without which chaos would certainly reign—clearly the enormous increase in “drop-in” titles points to some frustration with the usual timetables. Wylie said about 5% of the titles they sell each year are drop-ins; based on a rough title count of 2000, that means 100 or so each year. Harper’s numbers were even higher; Thomas said they do about 1100 adult titles and 600 children’s titles each year and roughly 250 are what they call “add-ons.”  Read More »

International Bestseller Lists, February 2014

Every month, Publishing Trends runs fiction international bestseller lists from four territories–France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. This month, our four regular territories are joined by two more: Ireland and Israel.  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.







Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 2/17-2/21

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. 

Given the thin margins of Amazon’s profits each year, could raising the price of Amazon Prime be a huge mistake?

What are ebook subscription services like Oyster, Scribd, and Entitle learning about users’ reading habits?

In light of George Packer‘s lengthy exploration of Amazon, who is willing to speak publicly about Amazon, and why is everyone else so scared to?

Making authors into mega-brands can be a successful tool for book publicity, but it also poses dangers for readers who cherish diversity.

Why do authors face an onslaught of negative reader reviews after winning prestigious awards?

Second Screens and Customization: Digital Kids Conference at Toy Fair 2014

Article written with reporting from Kimberly Lew and Lorraine Shanley.

Books and toys often present licensing opportunities for the author or brand, but this year’s Toy Fair further proved how closely these industries are linked when it comes to selling to parents and children. This was also the first year that Toy Fair partnered with BEA to cross-promote the conferences to their respective trade attendees, and with more toys popping up in bookshops and special sales opportunities for publishers, this symbiotic relationship is only strengthening.

digitalkidscon2014-logo-final-w17-19-200x87Digital Kids Conference, an Engage Digital event co-located with Toy Fair, on February 18-19 also echoed many of the themes at the Launch Kids/DBW Conference in January. As with Launch Kids, a primary concern in the industry is reaching children in a way that is COPPA compliant while still profitable, as is an emphasis on personalization and customization. Finally, both the toy and publishing industries are grappling with how to keep the physical relevant in an increasingly digital world.

Technology has brought the cost and ease of customizing to a reasonable level for many physical and digital products. 3D printing now makes it easier for smaller companies to come out with digital products that can be made physical, as Alice Taylor of Makie Lab and Antoine Vu of Potatoyz discussed at length. JibJab is another company that has been doing customization for years, starting out with adult customized ecards but now moving into the children’s space with StoryBots, a subscription play world where kids can watch videos, read books, and play games with their own faces projected onto moving avatars.  The journalists on the last panel of the day, Tales from Toy Fair, urged game makers to use 3D to replace missing figures, dice, tiles, etc. When it came to what company  successfully combines tech and physical toys , everyone  still cited Skylanders (and by extension, Disney Infinity) as a good example of toys that kids can hold and form personal relationships with but that also have functionality and purpose within the digital space.

Second screens were also a big topic of conversation throughout the conference, with many panelists seeing a majority of kids owning their own tablets not only as a possibility, but an inevitability. After all, as Michael Cai of Interpret shared, 36% (Android) and 19% (iPad) of kids have their own tablets, and 17% named tablets their favorite gaming device, beating out other consoles like the Xbox 360 and PCs. Given those stats, there was also a lot of talk about apps. In the wrap up panel, Warren Buckleitner of Children’s Technology Review and the Dust or Magic conference, mentioned the iPad and its myriad apps as being his favorite showings from the fair, including the Furby apps. Other panelists liked the newest iteration of Monopoly, MyMonopoly, which combine physical and digitally customized components.  And several people throughout the day mentioned Rainbow Loom, a game that both boys and girls can enjoy that incorporates the physical with digital to allow kids to create their own projects. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 2/10-2/14

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. 

George Packer investigates the evolution of Amazon and its intentions for the book community.

How can dedicated readers find pattern-breaking literature in an algorithm-heavy, recommendation engine world?

The trend of “binge” consumption affects books too, as fans demand earlier publication dates for the next title in a series.

How effective is the comparison of self-published authors’ earnings to traditionally published authors earnings in light of Hugh Howey‘s Author Earnings website?

A new study shows that audiobook listeners’ minds wander while listening, making it harder to engage with the book intellectually.

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 2/3-2/7

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 should publishing companies build communities among authors and readers, and what benefits would those communities yield to the publisher?

Will celebrity cameos increase the visibility of book trailers?

In hopes of stabilizing its publishing industry, Slovenia passes fixed book price law.

Could Sony and Kobo’s recent deal be a model for Nook?

TechCrunch tracks shares-per-story for both old and new media outlets.

People Roundup, February 2014


Larry Kirshbaum will join the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency as a Senior Agent starting February 24, the WSJ reported. Scott Waxman says, “He’ll be an independent agent building his own list like every agent does.” Kirshbaum was an agent for his own firm, LJK Literary Management, between 2005 and mid-2011 before becoming President of Amazon Publishing. (His former colleagues at that agency reconstituted as the Einstein Thompson Agency when Kirshbaum left.)

George Coe has been announced as President and CEO of Baker & Taylor following the retirement of Arnie Wight.  He has been President of B&T’s Library and Education division since 2000.

Earlier in January it was announced that Bill Saperstein, Barnes and Noble VP for Digital Products Hardware Engineering “is no longer with the company.”  Jim Hilt VP and GM for Global Ebooks and MD of the international Barnes & Noble unit based in Luxembourg, was leaving as well.  Michael Huseby, former CEO of the Nook division, moved into the top CEO spot left by William Lynch, who has been hired as CEO of Savant Systems, a home-technology automation company.

Tim Bartlett has gone to Macmillan as Executive Editor at St. Martin’s Press. He had been an Editor at Oxford University Press, Random House, and Basic Books. Meanwhile, Macmillan VP, Director of International Sales Judith Sisko will retire after this year’s London Book Fair in April, after more than 22 years with the company. Prior to Macmillan, Sisko worked at Henry Holt, WH Smith and Simon & Schuster.

Namrata Tripathi will join Dial for Young Readers as Editorial Director, reporting to Lauri Hornik, helping to oversee the acquisition and development of Dial’s list in addition to editing her own projects. She was previously Executive Editor at Atheneum.

Nicole Melander has joined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as SVP, Digital Strategy, reporting to CEO Linda Zecher. Melander who was previously Chief Technology Officer at Achieving the Dream, will work closely with the company’s content, marketing, alliances, and technology.

Alexis Gargagliano has been named Executive Editor at Atavist Books. She was formerly Senior Editor at Scribner, and she will specialize in acquiring literary fiction and nonfiction manuscripts for her list.

Michelle Komie will join Princeton University Press as Executive Editor for Art and Architecture. She previously worked in the same position at Yale University Press. Anne Savarese is now Executive Editor for Literature at Princeton University Press.

Marisa Vigilante will join Rodale as Senior Editor, effective February 5. She was most recently an editor at PRH.

Beth Vesel has joined the Irene Goodman Literary Agency as a Senior Vice President. She previously ran the Beth Vesel Literary Agency for ten years, and before that was a Senior Agent at the Sanford J. Greenburger Agency for fourteen years.

Laurie Muchnick is joining Kirkus Reviews in February as Fiction Editor, following the resignation of Elaine Szewczyk. Muchnick has written and edited book reviews for more than 20 years, most recently at Bloomberg News, and currently serves as the President of the National Book Critics Circle.

Publishers Lunch reports that ICM Agent Heather Schroder left the firm recently to start her own agency, Compass Talent. Her first deal under the new banner is with Flatiron Books.

Brooks Sherman has joined the Bent Agency. Sherman was previously an Agent at FinePrint Literary Management.

Molly Barton, Global Digital Director at Penguin and founder of Book Country, has accepted a faculty position at Wesleyan University. She will also consult for publishing-related start-ups.

Jane von Mehren has joined Zachary Shuster Harmsworth as an Affiliate Agent after more than 25 years as an Editor and Publishing Executive, most recently as an SVP and Publisher, Trade Paperback at the Random House Publishing Group.

Justin Hargett has joined the Portfolio, Sentinel, and Current imprints as Senior Publicist. Previously he was a Publicist at Basic Books.

Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard LLP (CDAS)  announced the addition of publishing attorney Alex Gigante, formerly Executive Vice President for Legal Affairs for Penguin Group (USA), who has joined the firm as Special Counsel. Through October 2014, he also will continue his association with Penguin Random House in the part-time position of Senior Counsel.

Kelley L. Allen has been named Director of eBooks at Humble Bundle. Allen was formerly the Director of New Media at Random House and Director of eBook Acquisition at Sony, and she was most recently at Kobo. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 1/27-1/31

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. 

A breakdown of the differences in capabilities and sales expectations with ebooks, enhanced ebooks, and apps.

The 2013 holiday sales data is in, naming Mircosoft and Amazon the winners in the tablet market.

The Families and Media Project released a study stating that children between the ages of 2 and 10 read an average of 40 minutes a day.

As budgets for libraries get smaller and smaller, the need for libraries to go digital grows drastically.

Literary Agent David Godwin predicts that, with the influx of large publishing houses, India will become a “dumping ground” for American literature.