Quickly Rising

Robert Allen and Kathleen Spinelli established Brands-to-Books as a literary agency specializing in representing brands seeking publishing deals. They can be reached at [email protected]

For anyone who didn’t get the memo that branded books have changed from publishing’s embarrassing cousin to suddenly its favorite child, here’s an update. Not only are publishers and retailers looking at them with new enthusiasm, but they can even pass the ultimate snob test. Branded books can be honored by the foodie community.

This May, the James Beard Foundation awarded its prestigious Kitchen Aid Cookbook of the Year prize to The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. The packaging of the book has all the same elements publishers are apt to shy away from: the product’s logo dominates the front cover, and an author’s name is nowhere in sight. Yet it became one of the most celebrated books of the year. How did a branded book earn such respect?

It starts and ends with the brand. King Arthur Flour has a devoted cult following with bakers, making it the third bestselling flour in the country. The 214-year-old company, based in Norwich, Vt., sells its product in grocery and specialty stores to home bakers, and through wholesalers to professionals. But it’s more than their product that inspires devotion. It’s delivering their brand promise of baking expertise matched by their commitment to quality interaction with the customer. Want the flour delivered directly to your door? Order it from The Baker’s Catalogue, King Arthur Flour’s mail order and website resource, along with exotic ingredients (like Vietnamese cinnamon) and specialty gadgets (ceramic ginger graters). The catalog is published roughly every month, and has a 7.5 million annual circulation. Baking crisis? Call their Baker’s Hotline. Want recipes? Subscribe to The Baking Sheet, a bi-monthly newsletter of recipes developed at the King Arthur Flour test kitchens. Sharpen your culinary skills at the Baking Education Center, with classes for beginners and professionals. The oldest food company in New England smartly uses the Web to bond with its customers. Besides its online catalog, consumers can join the Baking Circle to exchange recipes and tips with fellow bakers, and sign up for emails featuring recipes (with convenient links to purchase ingredients).

In the early 1990s, King Arthur Flour paired with fellow Norwich-based Countryman Press for a collection of recipes celebrating the company’s 200th anniversary and enjoyed modest success. When Kermit Hummel arrived as Editorial Director at Countryman (now a division of WW Norton), both companies discarded the idea of a revised edition in favor of “a top-to-bottom bible of baking.” The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion ($35, 640 pages, Sept. 2003) shares the recipes and techniques honed in their famous test kitchens. The more than 150 employees of King Arthur Flour developed the content, and this collaboration was honored by not naming a single author for the cookbook.

As they were developing the book, “we kept asking ourselves, is the book living up to the brand?” remarked Toni Apgar, KAF’s Consumer Marketing Director. “We made sure we put the same passion and quality that goes into our brand into the book.” Hummel says of their partnership, “King Arthur Flour delivered the trust consumers have in them, and we brought the national distribution and national exposure they couldn’t reach on their own.” The cookbook now has over 100,000 copies in print.

Direct from Vermont — the advantage to having too many cooks in the kitchen. The latest collaboration, The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, goes on sale in November.

Festival Sprawl

Leave it to the rookies to shake things up. Ann Binkley and Edward Nawotka were hardly new to the book biz — Binkley most recently PR director at Borders, and Nawotka an editor at PW — but they were admittedly novices at organizing book festivals. So, they thought, why don’t we ask the pros? At the recent BEA, the two (she now runs New York is Book Country and he is program director for the Texas Book Festival) hosted a “Best Practices” roundtable for book festival organizers. Expecting about a dozen attendees, they were shocked to find a packed room of about 80 — including representatives from Little Rock, Ark., Honolulu, and Jamaica. A sort of literary glasnost was born, and they are already in discussions with BEA to expand it next year. Ironically, as book festivals proliferate, stats suggest Americans read less and less.

The concerns voiced at that meeting ranged from questions about how the smaller, non-profit festivals could draw popular, nationally recognized authors (Nawotka says one answer is to try to coordinate with authors that are already on tour in the region), to how to attract wider audiences (have panels that link books with other pop culture interests such as film and fashion) to very basic how-tos. With some exceptions like the LA Times’ Festival of Books, most of the festivals are nonprofit, and so don’t have large budgets to pay the authors. So, “publishers have to be willing to supply authors,” Nawotka says, adding that it’s to their benefit as well. “We do sell a lot of books. Some authors sell 400 to 500 books per event.” It’s also important for festival organizers to “satisfy local interests and needs, as well as expose them to nationally known authors. You have to bring [the latter] in because it’s something that’s otherwise not available” for readers who don’t live in major metropolitan centers.

No matter how important a book festival is to its community, none is immune to budgetary restrictions. Around the same time the community of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was celebrating its first Ann Arbor Book Festival this April, the board of directors for the 10-year-old Northwest Bookfest was deciding it couldn’t afford to operate in the red any longer, and called 2003 its last. There’s certainly a lot of change in the air, and for every Northwest story, there’s another, more heartening tale. In recent years, we’ve seen the advent of DC’s annual National Book Festival, Laura Bush’s baby which will celebrate its fourth year in October. We’ve also heard success stories like the burgeoning Key West Literary Seminar, which will hold its 23rd annual event next January. Unlike most other festivals, this one requires attendees to pay per event; but despite this, it draws a large attendance and big-named authors, and is sold out a year in advance. Next year’s theme is “Literature of Humor,” and guest writers include Billy Collins and Calvin Trillin. In holding the roundtable at BEA, Binkley and Nawotka wanted to hear some of these success stories.

When he started what is now known as the Miami Book Fair International back in 1984, ABA President Mitchell Kaplan looked to New York is Book Country (NYIBC) as a model. Now, in a flattering act of mimicry, Binkley studied Miami to reinvent the New York festival, which had outgrown its street fair roots. Referring to the expansion of this year’s NYIBC, which will be Oct. 2-3 (the same weekend as the annual celebrity-laden New Yorker Festival), Binkley says, “It’s not a street fair anymore; it’s a literary festival. When it started, this book festival was wonderful. It really hasn’t grown.” The “totally different festival” will include over 150 authors and take place in Washington Square Park and on the adjacent New York University campus, including readings and panels in university lecture halls. “True book lovers want to meet the authors, and this will be the first time they can do that here,” Binkley said. For the first time there will be a Graphic Novels Pavilion, and a large Children’s Pavilion will include the Target-sponsored reading stage with high-profile authors like Jamie Lee Curtis and Lemony Snicket. The publishers and merchandise booths, which used to line Fifth Avenue, will now be in the park, and just on Saturday.

Sufficiently pleased to hear NYIBC looked to his festival for inspiration, Kaplan offered, “In some ways, it’s harder for a festival to distinguish itself in a place like New York. But, I do think they’ll do it.” NYIBC has more competition, with the New Yorker Festival, not to mention year-round readings and literary events at the city’s myriad bookstores, universities and cultural institutions.

Kaplan thinks budgetary problems top most festivals’ list of woes — no matter how big or established. If he had one word of advice for new or struggling festivals, it would be to partner with one or more organizations, such as the Miami festival’s relationship with Miami-Dade Community College. “Those fairs that try to do it alone are having more difficulty,” he said. The college was one of his festival’s founding organizations and has continued to not only financially support it, but houses it and promotes it. “The college has shouldered most of the funding burden that we’ve had. We’ve lost some state funding over the years, and we’re looking to ease some of the burden placed on the college,” Kaplan explained. Plus, the college community is a natural starting point for a reading audience, though Kaplan is proud of the fact that people come from all over the state. Calling it a “beautiful, seamless, public-private affair,” he attributes the Miami festival’s popularity to the diversity of its programming. “We cast a very wide net. We try to have the fair reflect the diversity of the community. We have author programs in Spanish, and writers from the Caribbean and Latin America come. We also have exhibitors from those areas.”

As Nawotka takes the Texas Book Festival into its 9th year, he is trying to balance an obvious literary agenda with satisfying a variety of audiences — a model that has proved popular in Miami, LA and New York. Hence, this year’s planned Tolkien panel will cater to the “big, geeky computer games population,” and the Western wear panel (incorporating Gibbs Smith books on designer Nudie and the history of the western shirt) will draw the stereotypical Texans, and a couple of panel discussions at a local movie theater will highlight Austin’s budding film industry and bring in filmmakers Peter Bogdanovich and Ken Burns. As for the events that used to cost upwards of $100 to attend, such as the “Bon Appetit, Y’All” panel and dinner, the festival has lowered the cost and is having it in a larger venue.

Book View, September 2004

People

Maureen O’Neal has left Ballantine and can be reached by email at [email protected] Elizabeth Dyssegaard is also leaving at the end of the summer.

Katherine Beitner to HarperCollins as Associate Publishing Director. She was Director of Publicity for Harmony and Shaye Areheart Books.

In children’s books there is more movement: Last month Diana Blough left Random House Children’s, where she was Director of Marketing, for the same position at Bloomsbury. She has hired Debra Shapiro as Senior Publicity Manager. Shapiro was Publicity Manager at Holt children’s. Marketing Director Sharon Hancock has also left Holt’s children’s division to be Executive Marketing Director at Candlewick. … Kenn Goin has gone to the Korean-based children’s publisher Bearport — a translation of Woongjin into English — as President and Publisher. He was Editorial Director at Learning Horizons, part of American Greetings. Finally, Jackie Carter has been named VP, Publisher — Children’s Press & Franklin Watts. She was previously at Disney and will join Scholastic as of September 7.

Joyce Stein is joining Hylas Publishing as Director of Marketing and Public Relations. She was most recently with Kingfisher. … PW reports that Gene Brissie, most recently President of the James Peter Associates Agency, has been named Editor-in-Chief of Kensington’s Citadel Press.

Speaking of agencies, two new literary agencies are joining the fray: Mary Hall Mayer has formed The Hall Agency, which represents literary and licensing projects. The address: 69 Fifth Avenue, 11th floor, NY 10003. Tel: (212) 675-6259 or email [email protected] Larry Weissman recently launched the eponymous agency and may be reached at [email protected]Manie Baron is leaving William Morris and may be reached at [email protected]

Jake Morrissey returns to book publishing from the licensing world (he worked for United Media, after stints at Harmony and Scribner), as Executive Editor of Riverhead. … Andrew Mandel will join FSG as EVP and Deputy Publisher on September 20. He was General Manager at Workman and before that, was at HarperCollins. Workman does not plan to fill the position at this time.

Adrian Sington, previously with E-Substance and Macmillan/Boxtree, has acquired a minority shareholding in Virgin Books and is joining as Executive Chairman of the board. Ray Brash has also joined the company as COO from The Economist Intelligence Unit, where he was Finance Director. KT Forster remains as Managing Director.

Randy Charles, SVP of Customer Relationship Marketing since February 2003 is leaving the company. His position will not be filled, but Bill Ostroff, who comes from EMI and to whom he reported, will oversee this area. He is President, Rodale Interactive, and Chief Marketing Officer.

Ron Longe has been appointed Director of Publicity at Stewart, Tabori & Chang. He was previously Director of Marketing and Publicity for Routledge, and has worked in publicity at Viking Penguin, HarperCollins, and St. Martin’s.

Brenda Segel has two new people in the Rights Department. Margaret Pai joins HarperCollins from Bulfinch, and was previously at Little, Brown, Macmillan and Knopf. Sandy Bontemps Hodgman joins HarperCollins from the Kathy Robbins Agency.

Last month all the publicity jobs changed hands. This month, it’s the sales departments’ turn:

Jack Perry has left SourceBooks and Sean Murray has been promoted to National Sales Manager Trade Group. . . . At Little Brown the sales department hired Celeste Risko, formerly a buyer at Borders, as National Accounts Manager to replace Jennifer O’Donohue, who went to Penguin. … Pamela Smith has been named VP, Sales for Ingram Library Services. She was previously Chief Marketing Officer at Baker & Taylor. … Sharon Huerta joins Abrams as Trade Sales Manager. She was most recently a Special Sales Representative at Penguin Putnam. … PGW’s Kim Wylie announces the hiring of Sue Ostfield as National Accounts Director in NY, replacing Kevin Votel as he leaves to becoming VP, Marketing for PGW in California. Ostfield comes from Holt where she was Associate Director of National Accounts. … Pat Rozell has left Motorbooks where she was Trade Sales Manager, to go to Readers Digest.

At Quarto, Richard Green has been hired as Publisher of Marshall Editions. He was head of publishing for Children’s Learning at BBC Worldwide.

Phaidon Press announced that Chris North has become MD, working out of its London headquarters. North was most recently at HarperCollins, first in New York and later in Toronto as COO of HarperCollins Canada.

Magali Veillon has gone to Abrams as Group Publishing Manager. She was in charge of international rights and sales for Black Dog and Leventhal.

Todd Doughty has moved from Random House to Warner Books, as Assistant Director of Publicity.

Promotions

Marisa Bulzone has been promoted to Executive Editor at Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Last month Debbie Yost joined the company as Senior Editor, Lifestyle Books. PublicAffairs Publicity Director Gene Taft is getting the additional title of Assistant Publisher and Lisa Kaufman, Director of Marketing adds the title of Senior Editor. Roger Freet has been named a Senior Editor for Harper San Francisco. Kate Travers has been promoted to Editor of Harper Perennial.

At S&S, Jen Bergstrom has been promoted to Publisher of the Simon Spotlight Entertainment and Simon Spotlight imprints.

Book Now For These Events

AAP’s Committee for Smaller and Independent Publishers hosts “2005 And Beyond,” on September 10 at American Conference Center, 780 Third Avenue. Topics include “New Internet Opportunities,” “Mining the Library Market,” and “Getting Media Coverage.” Presenters and panelists include AAP CEO Pat Schroeder, John Crutcher, Publisher of Bloomberg Press, Erick Goss, Senior Manager of Book Buying at Amazon, USA Today’s Deirdre Donahue, NPR Producer Melissa Eagan, MPI’s Constance Sayre and NYTBR’s Sam Tanenhaus. For information contact Kathryn Blough, at 212 255-0200 or [email protected]

• American Book Producers Association presents “Making Books Happen: Book Producing Today” on October 26 at The Players Club, 16 Gramercy Park South. Panelists include Walker Books’ George Gibson, publishing veteran Jason Epstein, B&N’s Alan Kahn, and the apparently ubiquitous Sam Tanenhaus. Email [email protected] for more info.

Duly Noted

Legendary publisher Oscar Dystel will be inducted into the 2005 Life Hall of Fame at the Books for a Better Life gala on February 28. The event, which benefits the National MS New York City Chapter, takes place at the Millennium Broadway 145 West 44th Street in New York. The Event Chair is Steve Murphy, President and CEO Rodale.

• Sally Wood, President of Pearson Education’s Family Entertainment Network, tells PT about a book publishing event that is taking place online, with more than a million children reading the fictional journal of a 7th grader in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal, at Funbrain.com, FEN’s education site. The journal, which is written and illustrated by online game designer and comic strip author Jeff Kinney, was launched on May 20 and does not yet have an offline publisher. In September, Funbrain.com will relaunch Diary of a Wimpy Kid and run it one day at a time, corresponding with the actual days of the school calendar.

Memoriam

Celebrate the life of Roger W. Straus on Wednesday, September 29, 2004, at 3 p.m. at The Unterberg Poetry Center at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA, 1395 Lexington Avenue in New York.

Just Add Lemonade

Doing its part to promote an old-fashioned, relaxed summertime, The New York Times launched its Great Summer Read novel-serialization program in July. Part public service, part self promotion, the program seems to have succeeded on both fronts, as the eye-friendly inserts have been popping up everywhere from Metro North compartments to midtown Starbucks.

Though it’s too early to say if the program is improving the paper’s circulation figures, Alyse Myers, Times VP of marketing services, did offer anecdotal evidence. Many readers have admitted they are buying more than one copy per household to accommodate commuting schedules, vacationing teenagers, etc. And, she says, “I’m absolutely positive we’re selling more books,” referring to the coinciding reading events at Borders that have sparked sales (James McBride drew 300 people to the Columbus Circle store, which sold 100 copies of The Color of Water). Daryl Mattson, area marketing manager for Borders, said all its Manhattan stores sold four times the amount of the selected titles during the week they ran in The Times, compared to the previous week. “It’s been fantastic — and nobody really knew what was going to happen. It’s just such a smart and clever idea. You know, New York struggled with that one-city-one-book idea, because it’s so diverse — this is a great alternative to that.” (The Great Summer Reads selections so far have been, besides McBride’s, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, and Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.)

Booksellers aren’t the only ecstatic ones. Adam Rothberg, VP, corporate communications for Simon & Schuster, said, “While we certainly wouldn’t measure the success of the NYT program strictly by immediate sales — there are ancillary benefits like advertising for other Scribner titles, as well as extended exposure of Gatsby itself to a million-plus readers — “sales in July 2004 were more than 25% greater than July 2003. Bookscan reported 4,400 copies of the trade paperback were sold during the week that ended July 18 (the week it ran in The Times), though some of these are due to the normal influx of school orders this time of year. “I’ve heard from several people that they read the excerpts and were so delighted to retouch base with the book — and have been inspired to buy another classic to read this summer,” said Michael Selleck, S&S VP, executive director, marketing. Myers said that some other publishers have called to say they would like to participate in future programs. This was to be expected: Even in the program’s early stages, the rights process was “not difficult” because the publishers and the paper “felt like there was a benefit for both,” she says.

What’s next? Myers anticipates an expanded program, which may include a children’s book. The Times might reach wider next time by including the national edition, and it is considering other seasons when people might slow down to take a novel with their morning paper.

Alive and Kicking Aussie Government Breathes Life into Book Biz

Back by popular demand, Australia’s second annual Books Alive promotion — a two-week, federally-funded, book-buying bonanza — kicked off last month as Australian Minister for the Arts and Sport Rod Kemp officially pronounced the campaign’s motto: “lose yourself in a book and find yourself in a bookstore.” During the two week period ending August 15, Aussie bibliophiles lined up to bring home one of six bestselling books (chosen by a panel of retailers, publishers, and government officials) for just A$5, with the purchase of any book from a participating bookstore. For the indecisive at heart, Books Alive issued a keepsake booklet listing 50 Books You Must Own. “We want to make sure that everyone buys a book during Books Alive and this booklet provides great ideas to help readers take advantage” of the offer, said Books Alive chair Sandra Yates. As an added bonus this year, Kmart and Target stores doled out copies of Gabrielle Lord’s classic Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing for free to customers who purchased her latest psychological thriller Spiking the Girl. In a move to reach new readers, 50 cents from every Books Alive book sold was donated to the Smith Family literacy programs, student2student (which helps to develop the literacy skills of disadvantaged children by providing them with books and learning support) and Books For Christmas (an initiative that provides books to disadvantaged children at Christmas time). With more than 90% of all book retailers participating (that’s approximately 800) and more than 7,000 people in attendance at 90-plus Books Alive-related public events, Project Director Brett Osmond is pleased with how the campaign went overall. Still, he admitted that there is room for improvement. “The impact on sales is not as evident as we would have liked. This may be a factor of the range of books on offer. It also may be an indication that the offer itself is not compelling enough to motivate customers to enter the category.” He added that the amount of high-profile publicity in the press could be improved. “Advertising alone is not usually enough to motivate consumers to buy a book; they need that third-party recommendation that positive publicity provides.”

Moving on, in the mythical yet vividly real Tuscan village of Colle (reminiscent of Gabriel García Marquez’s iconic locale Macondo), the stories of two very different families unfold and eventually intertwine against a backdrop of violence and oppression in Ugo Riccarelli’s 2004 Premio Strega-winning novel The Perfect Sorrow. First he follows the anarchist actions of the Maestro, who arrived from Sapri in the late nineteenth century, and of his children and grandchildren who have names evocative of the revolutionary milieu in which the book is set, like Liberty, Ideal, and Mikhail. The accompanying story is that of the Bertarellis, a family of animal traders who, for generations, have borne the names of Homeric heroes and whose favorite pastime is reading The Iliad and The Odyssey by the fireside. Caught up in a frantic quest for wealth and power (with the exception of the narrator, Annina), the Bertarellis fall victim to the tragedy of epidemic, and the brutality of WWI as well as the eventual Nazi occupation. This “fascinating blend of chronicle and fairytale” forms a “great fresco which tells the story of life,” a life which Annina characterizes as filled with nothing but “perfect sorrow.” Rights have been sold to Hanser (Germany), Plon (France), Maeva (Spain), De Arbeiderspers (Holland), Kastaniotis (Greece), and Hakibbutz (Israel). Contact Emanuela Canali at Mondadori.

Budding Czech author Petra Hulová explores a family tree with more than a few knots in the bark in her first novel Memory of My Grandmother. A family saga told by various female narrators in the first person, the book depicts the trials and tribulations of members of a family of herdsmen in Mongolia (a locale of personal significance to Hulová, who traveled there several years ago). At the heart of the story is Dzaja, who describes a childhood spent in the Gobi desert doing odd jobs, taking care of her younger sister, and riding on horseback with her sisters and father Tüleg. When their grandmother dies, Tüleg tells his daughters about her pure Mongolian roots and formally asks his eldest daughter Magi to name her first-born daughter Dolgorma, after her grandmother. Dzaja and her other sister Nara look on as their father grows closer to Magi, and it is only a matter of time before they discover that they are not his biological daughters. Born from passionate affairs between their mother and a Chinese man, followed by a Russian door-to-door sardine salesman, Dzaja and Nara are soon condemned as mongrels by the pure Mongols who bully them at school and in their community. Following a fatal horseriding accident involving Magi, the two girls are shipped off to relatives and eventually find themselves laboring in a family-run house of ill repute. Dzaja finds herself pregnant and the story resumes when her daughter, Dolgorma, describes her own account of alienation from her family. “An impressive novel” with a “strong element of surprise,” Hulová’s debut has been sold to Europakiado (Hungary), Editions d’Olivier-Seuil (France), and Prometheus (Holland). Contact Edgar de Bruin at Pluh.

Dubbed “the next queen of crime” in Sweden, Camilla Läckberg has created a gem of a mystery “on par with Liza Marklund” with her second book The Preacher. Early one summer morning, a young boy sets off to play at King’s Crevice in Fjällbacka. The fun doesn’t last long as he happens upon the body of a naked lady staring up at him. The real mystery begins after the police rule the death a homicide, when they find beneath the body the skeletons of two women who had disappeared in the 1970s. Packed with “great psychological insight,” the book has been sold to People’s Press (Denmark) and Gyldendal Norsk (Norway).

Also in Sweden, Anna Jansson, a nurse with a knack for composition (her accomplishments include setting the poems of Nils Ferlin to music) examines the dangers of online chatting in her latest book, Dreams from Snow. A 14-year-old girl disappears on her way home from a late night at school and her body is found in the forest the next day. Detective Maria Wern is assigned the unpleasant task of informing her father, who is a priest in Kronviken. When another girl disappears, panic spreads and the town begins to look for scapegoats, setting their sights on a suspicious young man who had visited the vicarage and who has been seen following the girls when he’s not cruising cyberspace. Jansson has been published in Denmark (Fremad), Finland (Gummerus), Germany (Rowohlt), Holland (Van Buuren), and film rights are being negotiated. Contact Bengt Nordin.

Team Work

Facing ‘Oblivion,’ University Presses
Rally ‘Round New Distribution Models

Deep in a dark closet in the bowels of the University of Chicago Press’ main building resides whatmay be the answer to all university presses’ distribution woes. On a computer server, dubbed the BiblioVault, sit 5,000 books in digital format from close to 30 university presses. Assuming everything goes as planned, BiblioVault will hold 12,000 titles from about 40 presses by June 2005, and continue to grow. Any scholar with a Web connection can search entire texts on BiblioVault (www.bibliovault.org), and then link to a publisher’s website to buy a book; at the other end, the publisher electronically manages its list, requesting from 5 to 300 copies from the on-site Edwards Brothers short-run printing facility when a book is purchased (in the future, they may be able to send their electronic files to any vendor). Not just another digital pipe dream, BiblioVault is one example of how budget-strapped university presses are banding together to cut distribution costs and fend off obsolescence. And, more often than not, this means turning to digitizing content for short-run offset printing, digital print on demand, and in some cases, electronic distribution to keep themselves and their backlists afloat.

Nearly universal among university presses is a lament for the decreasing sales of scholarly titles. With fewer independent booksellers to peddle academic material and college library purses pinched during the past few years, there’s just no shelf awaiting the scholarly monograph. Those presses that mingle academic lists with trade-bound books tend to fair a bit better, with the latter supplementing the poor sales of the former. Even technology is proving a Catch-22: as more and more scholarly monographs and journals are available in electronic formats, libraries and scholars are buying fewer hard copies, which in turn forces small presses to re-evaluate their print run sizes and warehousing. However, according to American Association of University Presses’ (AAUP) executive director Peter Givler, there is some hope. Estimated book sales for its 125 members were $455 million in fiscal 2003, up from $444 million in 2002. Most of the presses reported being in the black in fiscal 2004. “And returns were down. It wasn’t a terrific year, but at least people are on budget,” he says. Consolidation is the new name of the game, he added. “There is a gradual trend for the smaller press to get a larger press to distribute for them. Warehousing is one of those functions where economies of scale really do come into effect.” Another cost-saving measure is Internet-based distribution, which he says is “a lot further along in the university presses than in the commercial realm.”

Doug Armatto, director of the University of Minnesota Press and the new president of AAUP, is one of the biggest fans of BiblioVault. With 250 titles in the repository, nearly 20 of which have already been reprinted, UMP has incorporated it into its regular distribution work flow, even adding front-list titles. UMP is also working with IBT to do 10 first print runs digitally. “The real advantage [to BiblioVault and other digital databases] is that it makes for one seamless process. We don’t have to set up a whole new distribution chain each time, but can make a decision through our main distribution warehouse. Same with out customers — they can go to one place,” he enthused. In addition to BiblioVault’s print-on-demand capabilities, the CDDC also makes it possible for client presses to order short runs. “The beauty of marrying the short-run printing facility with the warehouse is that marketing people no longer have to do research to look at sales patterns every time a book goes out of print. Now they can do that once, and then instruct the computer to print when inventory is low,” adds Paula Duffy, director of the University of Chicago Press. Like many university press executives, Duffy migrated from trade (S&S’s Free Press). She touts two basic differences between the two marketplaces. First, “commercial presses would never keep a book in print if it wasn’t performing, and university presses are obliged to,” says Duffy. Second, due to the less competitive non-profit environment, university presses openly share industry information. “They realize the future will need to be a joint venture. No one body can do it on its own,” she added. Though they operate under the same antitrust laws prohibiting pricing discussions, university presses will share just about any other tips with each other. It’s a learning environment, so to speak.

Several university presses trumpet this spirit of free flowing dissemination of information: MIT Press has contributed to an institution-wide initiative, the Web-based OpenCourseWare (free notes, texts, tests — including the answers — and sometimes even streaming video footage of lectures), which MIT administration calls “intellectual philanthropy.” Though not yet on the bandwagon, Anna Bullard, director of sales and new business development at the University of California Press, admitted open courseware is all the buzz and may be the way of the future. Meanwhile, National Academies Press (NAP) publishes more than 170 books a year, simultaneously in print and PDF formats (the latter is available for free on its website, though the one-page-at-a-time viewing format makes for a frustrating read, and studies show, ultimately contribute to NAP’s annual sales of 400,000 print books, said director Barbara Kline-Pope).

Giving it away for free may seem extreme, but one thing is certain: the familiar distribution model used by university presses for years is currently being challenged. Richard Abel, director of the University Presses of New England (UPNE), a consortium of five university presses that share an editorial office and warehouse, said the changes are mostly results of the Internet. “We’re in a transitional stage right now, where the traditional distribution models are still around — by that I mean, we’re still selling to bookstores and libraries. But many of our buyers are individuals now. The end product hasn’t changed very much, but the electronic means has — it has changed a lot,” he explains. “We are broadening our marketing efforts, and increasingly looking to ways to find special interest groups (such as listservs and websites). We’re trying to be much more inventive to let the end user know that a book exists. Distribution and marketing are very closely related.” UPNE, which saw sales increase by 22% from fiscal year 2003 to 2004, is in discussions with Northeastern University Press to “see whether them joining would be a good fit for both.”

Johns Hopkins University Press is doctoring up the distribution of another core university press property: the scholarly journal. Project MUSE is an online subscription-based database that contains the full text to about 250 scholarly journals from 40 different publishers. Yet another collaborative is the investigative stages at Oxford University Press, where Project TORCH, or The Online Resource Center in Humanities, plans to revolutionize distribution of the scholarly manuscript. Initially funded by the Mellon Foundation, the project pays for the digitization of clients’ content, which is between $50-$200 per title. To ensure TORCH remains a beacon, executive director Phil Friedman said, “We’re taking a lot of advice from presses, libraries and scholars. There’s real value to be gained from digitizing scholarly content,” such as linking to other sources and searching across a database of books. “Given the state of the scholarly manuscript in print … this may be a way to reinvigorate the monograph as a way of scholarly communication, despite the decline in sales.”

Even when their Ivy League parent institutions scrimmage for the best reputation and top students, the presses are more often joining hands in peaceful accord. Four years ago, Yale University Press, MIT and Harvard University Press built a joint warehouse in Rhode Island, which is now up and running. Tina Weiner, publishing director at Yale, said it is in the position to take on new client publishers, if it finds the right match. “We’ve been expanding over the past five years. We built with an eye to the future. There’s even room to build more, if we need to,” she says.

Using a more traditional mode of distribution, the University of Toronto Press offers a simple solution for crossing into the frozen north to Canada. All a publisher has to do is get its books to the warehouse in Buffalo, N.Y., where the press makes daily pickups and takes care of all the border-crossing paperwork. Though it doesn’t offer sales and marketing, it takes care of everything else, with state-of-the-art online information and is EDI compliant.

The university press used to be a bit more carefree, and less concerned with the bottom line. But, let’s face the facts, the non-profit world is under pressure to at least break even these days. According to Columbia University Press CFO Rebecca Schrader, one of the main financial hurdles pushing more presses to rely on the big players for distribution is that they can’t afford the five-digit investment in software upgrades that are becoming essential in the evolving marketplace. Columbia is currently considering taking on some domestic publishing clients, despite a history of serving only foreign houses. “We’re seeing more demand in the marketplace, and we think we have an asset. We’re looking at several prospects, and they’ve all come to us,” Schrader said. “As a result of the severe crisis we’ve been through, university presses have had to become more aware and alert about business than they used to. There’s so little insulation between the small university press and oblivion.”

Teachers’ Pet

Teachers’ Pet

This year’s 100 latte-lapping Columbia Publishing Course graduates have bedazzled us once again with their chronicles of caffeine-fueled overachievement. As in years past, we offer you a sneak peek at publishing’s next generation in the composite biographical sketch below (all content has been taken from actual student biographies). Columbia’s New York Career Day when the nouveaux literati will be unleashed on Manhattan publishers is set for Monday, Aug. 2, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Time-Warner Building. For more information, call (212) 854-1898 or email [email protected]

A descendant of bootleggers and sheep thieves and the youngest of eight children, Ms. Student once told her father that she wanted to be a backhoe operator. However, wishing to emulate the polymaths who taught her, she eventually sought diversity in her education, studying philosophy, poetry, neurobiology, game theory, semantic logic, and French (she also speaks fluent Spanish and broken Portuguese). After a youth misspent writing dissatisfied letters to teen magazines, she learned to intelligently critique the media and the zeitgeist behind it, earning the title “most likely to discover the meaning of life” in her high school newspaper. Though her roots go back to a commune in rural New Hampshire, where she and her family resided as practicing Buddhists, she spent summers interning at a major public relations firm, where she was ostracized as “nerdy” for reading books during her lunch break.

An independent woman with a passion for print — whether it is milk cartons or manuscripts — she has written a gothic novel about a traveling circus (while her friends watched the circus, she interviewed the elephant handler backstage), as well as articles on organic beef and dietary fiber for EatingWell magazine. After studying the Divina Commedia, this former nursery-school talent show coordinator and vitamin salesperson realized that she hated heaven and adored hell. She learned the delicate art of interpersonal relations through dealing with countless diva drag queens as co-organizer of Drag Ball, Oberlin College’s largest student event.

Before graduating, she celebrated her appreciation of Nietzsche’s philosophy and her love of hip-hop in an essay recognized for academic excellence. In her free time, she researched dolphins in New Zealand as well as the history of the fish stick for her advisor. She backpacked the Andes Mountains from Argentine Patagonia to the Colombian Caribbean and rode horses through the Inner Mongolian steppe, before setting off to work in a converted chicken coop on a Tuscan hillside. Ms. Student spent last summer interning at the Wylie Agency, where, in the midst of a love-hate relationship with the copy machine, she kept her cool with a little help from Julia Child, who once said: “Learn to handle hot things, keep your knives sharp and, above all, have fun.”

Mad at the NEA?

Chart-topping Bill Clinton and David Sedaris are probably too busy counting royalty checks to be upset with the NEA for its recent dismissal of literary nonfiction. But there are plenty of others in the literati who think the “Reading at Risk” survey made a big mistake to “only cover poetry, fiction, and drama at a time when the whole country was completely ga-ga for nonfiction of all kinds — memoir, history, travel, and so on,” says Ted Genoways, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Unintentionally hammering home the idea repeatedly expressed in the survey — that more people are turning to the Internet during what could be a reading hour devoted to the classics — Genoways made that observation on the CLMP literary magazine listserv. Astutely taking issue with the NEA’s methodology, the obviously well-read editor listed the books he and his family read in 2002 that would not have been counted in the part of the survey devoted to “literature.” His list included Crossroads to Freedom, Masters of the Senate and Evolution’s Workshop — clearly, all titles that would lead to an active mind and a better engagement in our democratic process.

When PT questioned Chairman Dana Gioia on the NEA’s chosen methodology, he apologized to anyone in the publishing industry he may have offended. “We meant no disrespect to John McPhee or Andrew Solomon. And if we had to do it again, we would add literary nonfiction.” However, he doubted that would add much of a positive spin to the survey results. “If you added the literary nonfiction, it is my opinion that it would add 5% or 7% to the numbers,” he said. Gioia refered to the part of the survey that asked the 17,000 participants if they had read any book at all. Only 56.6% said yes. “The total number of books being read is going down among every region, every race, and both genders. And that includes the Bible and diet books,” he said. “I wish I were wrong, but I believe that most of the people reading literary nonfiction are also reading other types of literature.”

Finally, he said, even though the biggest drop in reading is among young people, it is falling in every age group, and he thinks adults need to look inward, not point fingers. “If people want to know how to solve the problem, they should look in the mirror.”

Get Out the Vote

German Media Guru Kicks Off Literacy
Campaign With a Little Help From Friends

With many of our overseas contacts on summer holiday, we thought we’d bring you a special report from Germany, where the Oprah-esque German media guru Elke Heidenreich is pulling out all the stops in her latest and most far-reaching attempt to get more of her compatriots to read more often, kicking off a nationwide literacy campaign inspired by, but also quite different from, the BBC’s The Big Read.

Conceived by the television station ZDF, the campaign was launched on the July 6th episode of Heidenreich’s immensely popular Lesen (Read), in which she and Michael Naumann, the current publisher of Die Zeit and, of course, a familiar name in the New York publishing world as erstwhile CEO of Henry Holt, presented 38 book recommendations, along with clips of German celebrities recommending their favorite titles. The audience was challenged to spend this summer reading the books so they could vote for their favorite title online or on special postcards only available in bookstores. More than 1.57 million viewers tuned in to the inaugural show (that’s 8.4% of the market share) so it is no surprise that ZDF received a whopping 7,000 email votes and 3,000 postcards the day after the broadcast. Ten days before the deadline, more than 90,000 people had voted for a favorite book and the website had registered more than 3 million hits. Many bookstores — which are plastered with large posters encouraging customers to vote — have already run out of voting postcards, and more than one German bookseller noted that suddenly there is a demand for titles that had only recently been available on special order.

Though the campaign is entitled Our Best: The Big Read, many books on the list are translations and quite a few are translations from English, running the gamut from Mark Twain to Siri Hustvedt. As Riky Stock of the German Book Office rightly points out, “It is a fact that in Germany most of the books on the bestseller lists are translations,” yet there is certainly no shortage of German greats on the list, including Hermann Hesse, Max Frisch, and Bertolt Brecht.

While it is too early to speculate about the show’s long-term effect on book sales, there is little doubt that the promotion is already a huge success in its attempt to electrify the reading public, as the list of favorite books is growing by the hour. Diana Gabaldon, Dan Brown, Frank Schätzing, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón are among the leaders of the pack, and three of John Irving’s books inhabit the top ranks. Thomas Mann’s tome The Magic Mountain has received its fair share of votes and juvenile books are also well-represented by Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart, the Harry Potter series, and classics by Astrid Lindgren and Erich Kaestner. German schools are jumping on board, thanks to the organizers of Stiftung Lesen (a nationwide initiative similar to One City, One Book) who sent out 11,000 letters to teachers and librarians to inform them of the campaign. The project has also won tremendous support from the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (the German Booksellers’ and Publishers’ Association).

Along with the books recommended on the show, ZDF drew up its own list of 200 titles for readers to choose from, and readers do have the option of writing in titles (fiction or nonfiction) when they vote. The initiative will culminate on October 1st with the TV special Best Read, featuring a presentation of the 50 most popular titles, hosted by one of Germany’s most popular anchormen Johannes Kerner, who counts Bill Clinton among his recent interviewees. As an added incentive, a lucky voter will be chosen at random to attend the show (others will be entered into a drawing for gift certificates to the department store Kaufhof.) Newpapers are rife with reminders about the vote and, prior to the October show, ZDF will broadcast several trailers with more celebrities presenting their favorite books.

Heidenreich’s reputation does precede her, and her recent recommendation of Hector’s Journey by François Lelord catapulted the book from 27th on Der Spiegel’s list to fifth place. Italian author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa fared even better as his novel The Leopard shot from 23rd place to number one after it was featured on her show.

It is this successful track record that leads Jutta Willand, Director of Foreign and Domestic Rights at Eichborn to believe that the campaign will have “extremely positive effects for books in general.” She noted that the final vote tally will determine which publishers will most immediately benefit, and added that it is “likely that the print runs of the first ten to twenty rankings will rise significantly.” Several original German titles on the big list have already seen a significant increase in sales, including Robert Musil’s classic The Man Without Qualities and C.W. Ceram’s landmark survey of ancient culture, Gods, Graves, and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology, which has sold more than 1.8 million copies since its initial publication in 1949 and has been translated into 25 languages (both have been published in the US by Knopf, and Vintage has published a paperback edition of Ceram’s book). Marianne Sparr, who handles foreign rights for Rowohlt, the German publisher of both books, said that July sales of the titles have already reached numbers “corresponding with figures we usually have for half a year.”

At least two German audiobooks made the list and German author Rolf Vollmann also made the cut with his “novel on novels” Wonderful Counterfeiters. At 1080 pages, the book includes a “subjective and brilliant” ode to more than a thousand European and American novels written by more than 300 novelists, both famous and little known, between the years 1800 and 1930, the period which he values as the height of this genre. All rights to Vollmann’s book are still available from Jutta Willand.

The mission of choosing the best book of all time — and not just the most popular book of the moment — is no small task, and it is unlikely that this campaign will be repeated in the exact same format next year, but given the overwhelming response to Heidenreich and the program in general, it is hard to imagine that something similar won’t spring up in its place.

PT thanks Riky Stock, with Sybille Fuhrmann from Börsenblatt, Christoph Schaefer from Stiftung Lesen and Werner von Bergen from ZDF, for contributing to this article. See www.zdf.de, for the complete list.Get G

Queuing Up in Hong Kong

Droves of wide-eyed children queued up outside the Hong Kong Convention Center on the eve of the July 21st opening of the Hong Kong Book Fair in the hopes of having first dibs in the fair’s famed comic book section. The grown-ups weren’t far behind, as this year’s fair drew a record crowd of 503,396 people — 70,000 more than the previous record set in 2002. The Trade Development Council, which organizes the six-day book event, attributes the boost in attendance to the improving economy, the introduction of a discount for mainland visitors, and an extension of evening sessions.

A new exhibit called the “International Cultural Village” featured books from far and wide, notably Poland, Egypt, Canada, Malaysia, and Singapore. Though France was the only country in the village to bring out authors (including Jean-Michel Sourd), they drew little attention from the local population. The convention organizers said the performance of the Village exhibit would be reviewed, and there is a strong possibility it will be back again next year.

Some topics cross East-West cultural boundaries: Attendees couldn’t get enough of the latest celebrity autobiographies and books detailing diet secrets. Parenting books also flew off the tables, as did books printed on the mainland with simplified Chinese characters. Low prices, an improvement in print quality, and a wider selection of titles all contributed to the rise in sales at this year’s fair.

Over the past four years, the festival has expanded to include seminars by writers and intellectuals from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Chinese mainland — many of whom see the fair as an opportunity to discuss Chinese culture and issues that can’t be aired as openly in other regions. Local poets were invited to recite their work at the fair for the first time. The readings included performances in Arabic, Cantonese, English, French, Mandarin and Portuguese, with the US represented by Madeleine Marie Slavick and Stephen Richards. “The fair can create a platform for creative Chinese people to share their vision and share their views about the publishing industry, cultural issues and Greater China,” said Lorna Lai, webmaster of Hong Kong-based Joint Publishing.

Another massive noteworthy change this year was the establishment of a web-based copyright exchange, which allows publishers who want to buy the copyright for a book to translate it into English or Chinese to send their contact information to another publisher anytime or anywhere. The online copyright exchange can be found at http://bds.hkbookfair.com/ chi/book_enquiry/copyright/book_search.asp.

Though the festival draws quite a local crowd, representatives of the Shanghai-based Big Apple Tuttle-Mori agency haven’t attended for a number of years. As executive director Luc Kwanten points out, “By and large, it’s a fair during which publishers, especially the Taiwanese, liquidate their warehouses. It is also a sales fair and attendance is massive.”

But, for most of those who were present, it was worth the wait in line, and you better expect there will be droves next year.

PT thanks Lorna Lai for contributing to this report.