Distribution ‘Route Map’

Last month PT surveyed the bulging book-bags of client distribution players in the US, and a report to be released this month from the British Publishers Association indicates that a bundle of business from across the pond may well be coming their way. The US Book Market: A Survey and Route Map for UK Publishers, commissioned by PA International Director Ian Taylor with the support of Trade Partners UK, declares distribution the best route to the American market in light of a number of challenges facing US-bound British publishers. Dual English language rights, for example, have become ever trickier to enforce in what the UK considers its “home” markets of Europe and Asia, as the global supply chain leaks US editions into those formerly “exclusive” territories. Meanwhile, co-edition sales quantities are hurting from just-in-time inventory practices, cutting the numbers UK publishers can sell to the US. The upshot? “As a result, many UK publishers are shifting their attention from rights and co-edition sales to distribution, either with US publishers or dedicated distributors,” the report finds. “The distribution option, properly managed, offers UK publishers a solid platform for sustained market development and growth.”

That would seem to be good news for growing companies such as Trafalgar Square, the US distributor for about 45 British publishers including Random House UK and new client BBC Books. According to Managing Director Paul Feldstein, sales were up 6.5% in 2002, with sales for the first six months of this year up an even stronger 14%, aided by the company’s first million-dollar month in January (Feldstein was unavailable to comment for last month’s distribution article). Unlike many distributors, Trafalgar Square buys all titles on a nonreturnable basis, replenishing them via weekly air-freight shipments from Heathrow. Tellingly, perhaps, Trafalgar has long distributed for the UK divisions of what are now global conglomerates, such as Random, HarperCollins, and Time Warner. So much for synergy, eh? “Trying to distribute through their sister companies is much more difficult than anyone would think,” Feldstein says. “There’s no one on this side of the Atlantic at the sister company who’s driving the business for the UK company. No one backs that portion of the list. Whereas for us, it rises right to the top.”

Indeed, penetrating the American market can be a surprisingly rocky road for even the largest of UK publishers. A distribution-based strategy in the US “represents a long term commitment and investment,” the PA’s report cautions, noting that database-driven buying models and the highly agglomerated marketplace can be deadly for publishers who think they can just ship titles over and forget about them. Attention must be lavished on meeting the exacting standards of chain booksellers, of course, and UK publishers should have extra cash on hand for marketing and publicity. “Scale talks in the US,” the report adds. “Any publisher looking to enter the market needs to align themselves with a partner who has sufficient size to offer leverage in the trade.”

Scale, needless to say, is the prime attraction of the US market. Five times the population means five times the sales, right? If only, sigh distributors. Expectations of the US market can be vastly overblown, spurring catastrophic returns if stock levels are not keenly managed. In addition, the “route map” counsels, an array of distribution options are available for specific markets, such as Baker & Taylor’s academic specialty unit Yankee Book Peddler, which purchases books through its UK subsidiary Lindsay & Howes. “You have to be flexible,” Feldstein points out. “There are some books where a rights sale will make more sense, and there are some books where a distribution arrangement will make more sense. Hopefully your distributor would be helpful and honest in that regard.” (The PA report is available to UK publishers only. For more information, email Mandy Knight at [email protected].)

On a related distribution note: To clarify a point in last month’s article, Holtzbrinck’s distributed clients are served by dedicated national account managers, not a separate field sales force. Holtzbrinck’s two national field sales forces sell all of its publishers, including distribution lines, to independent bookstores, regional chains, and other accounts.

Columbia’s Go-Go Grads

If it’s August, it’s — yes — time to catch up with this year’s crop of 100 stupendously accomplished Columbia Publishing Course graduates. As in years past, we’ve captured their collective chutzpah in the composite biographical sketch below (all achievements are taken from actual student biographies). Live dangerously and see them for yourself at Columbia’s Career Day, to be held August 4 at the Time Life Building in New York; call (212) 854-8047 or email [email protected].

To her parents’ surprise, Ms. Student did not become a bull-rider like her brother, but instead self-published her first book at age seven using a recycled diary, stickers, and Crayola markers. According to her town librarian, she set a record for borrowing books at age five, and at fifteen, she took that early love of reading to The Associated Press where she became the AP’s youngest-ever book reviewer. Having composed her college application in rhyming verse, she entered Yale with a limited worldview yet graduated with a thesis focusing on linguistic cross-dressing in three of Shakespeare’s comedies. Ms. Student also hopes to translate Shakespeare into Mandarin as part of her Fulbright scholarship to Taiwan. As a senior, she interned for a literary agency and was named Query Guru and Goddess of Photocopying. Writing about collective memory and the architectural landscapes of Paris and studying Francophone literature over cappuccinos at the Sorbonne fueled Ms. Student’s desire to embrace a career in the alchemy of language and culture. While working as a consultant and technical writer in the drinking water industry, she pursued a freelance writing career, studying creative writing under Ann Beattie; her prose includes “So Not Kosher,” exploring the physiognomy of her Ashkenazi nose. She has also illustrated a German children’s book, which was exhibited in the WorldExpo2000 in Hannover. After leaving her job as a video game publicist and interning at the Howard Stern Show, she wrote one line of an episode of Family Law, a CBS series cancelled last spring. Despite a vocal injury, she still sings jingles and once auditioned for Star Search, but now dedicates most of her free time to Ashtanga yoga, metal smithing, and syncretism. Our munificent student has also recently competed in a fundraising Iron Chef tournament. Still donning sneakers in a world of Manolos, she has mountaineered in the Grand Tetons and was raised to appreciate a good horse.

Book View: August 2003

People
Mary Albi has been named VP Sales & Marketing in the New York office of the Continuum International Publishing Group. She was most recently VP Sales & Marketing at Phaidon Press . . . Roy Levenson has been named VP Finance & Operations at Barnes & Noble Publishing, reporting to Alan Kahn. He was previously at Hearst, S&S, and Time Warner.

Stephen Morrison, Senior Editor at Penguin, is leaving for Bloomsbury USA, where he will be Rights Director/ Executive Editor of Paperbacks, beginning on October 1. He will handle domestic and foreign rights (working with Ruth Logan in the London office) and will run Bloomsbury’s growing paperback list. . . Ann Godoff, President and Publisher of The Penguin Press, announced that Tracy Locke has been appointed Associate Publisher, responsible for marketing and publicity, but with “involvement in all aspects of the publishing program.” Her appointment is effective September 2. Locke was Associate Director of Publicity at Holt.

Lesley A. Martin has been named Executive Editor at Aperture Books. She was most recently at Umbrage Editions and had previously been Managing Editor at Aperture. She will report to Aperture Foundation’s Executive Director, Ellen Harris.

Following on the termination of 75 people (more than 100 positions were eliminated when unfilled positions are taken into account), S&S has made a hire: Michael Burkin from Hyperion to be VP, Director of Field Sales and Distribution Client Services. He replaces Roger Williams, who may be reached at [email protected]. And former GQ Managing Editor Martin Beiser has joined the Free Press as a Senior Editor. Meanwhile, Marie McCullough, one of those terminated, had been Subsidiary Rights Manager. She may be reached at (212) 779-7657 or [email protected]. Also on the termination list was Al Talisse, VP, Operations (along with “several of my managers”). He may be reached at (917) 751-7347. And Marcela Landres, who handled the Libros en Espanol line, can be contacted through her website: marcelalandres.com.

Amanda Mecke is taking the early retirement package at Bantam Dell. Sharon Swados is taking over the department as VP, Director of Sub Rights. Mecke will be working with Clear Agenda, a company that does strategic communications and branding projects for nonprofits. She may be reached at [email protected]. Little Random’s Deborah Aiges has also taken the package, effective immediately.

It must be in the air: Wiley announces that Carole Hall, Editor-in-Chief of African American interest books, has “retired to pursue independent publishing ventures.”

Deborah Baker has left Little, Brown, and is taking a sojourn in India.

Former NAL Executive Editor Audrey LeFehr has been named Editorial Director of Kensington. And Lynn Bond, formerly of RH Value, has been named Director of Sales and New Business.

Still no word, according to David Naggar, on a replacement for Christine McNamara, who moved from Publisher of Random Audio to VP, Director of Sales for Random House Information Group, Adult Audio, Value and Large Print divisions.

Promotions
Liz Perl has been promoted to Associate Publisher of Perigee/HP Books and Associate Publisher of Riverhead Trade Paperbacks. She has worked at the company since January 1994. Since then, she has risen from Publicity Director to Vice President, Executive Publicity Director and in 2001 she was also named Marketing Director. In other announcements, Denise Silvestro and Gail Fortune were each promoted to the title of Executive Editor of Berkley.

As announced elsewhere, Susan Weinberg has been named to the newly created position of Publisher of the HarperCollins imprint and will also serve as Co-Publisher of trade paperbacks companywide along with Morrow Avon Publisher Michael Morrison. David Roth-Ey, recently of Bookspan, reports to the pair as Editorial Director of Perennial, Quill, and the new suspense line Dark Alley. Alison Callahan was promoted to Senior Editor. In other promotions, Carie Freimuth will be both Publishing Director of ReganBooks, reporting to Judith Regan, and Group Publishing Director of the Harper General Books Group. Carrie Kania moves up to Associate Publisher of the HarperTrade division. Freimuth has announced that Ana Maria Allessi has been promoted to Associate Publisher of HarperAudio and Harper Large Print, succeeding Kania. Jean Marie Kelly has been promoted to Group Marketing Director.

Duly Noted
The Bookseller reports that the UK Office of Fair Trading has warned Frankfurt exhibitors to “read the small print” before signing up to book fair directories, after more than 236 companies found themselves unwittingly committed to a three-year advertising contract. The company that hoodwinked them, Construct Data, refers in its letter to “your existing free line-entry,” in their Fair Guide, but charges €971 a year and — as the owners of Publishing Trends have found out — they are dogged in their efforts to collect. The UK Directories & Database Publishers Association has urged publishers not to pay up, even when faced with threats (which include verbal abuse, according to our well-placed sources). The official FF website (www.frankfurt-book-fair.com) contains a warning about directory fraud, as well as a legal letter that may be copied and sent to the company.

On the day of its publication party for Wall Street financier Eddie Gilbert, Texere, in which Swiss Re had a majority ownership, announced its sale to Thomson’s South-Western division. Myles Thompson, Texere’s founder, has joined South-Western as Publisher.

• Steven Sorrentino was the Director of Publicity for HarperCollins. His first book, Luncheonette, has been sold by agent Stuart Krichevsky to ReganBooks. It is the story of four years in Sorrentino’s life when he was forced by his father’s illness to return to run the family business. “So much for the high life in Manhattan,” says Krichevsky’s letter to editors. “Sorrentino would instead spend the next four years behind the counter at Clint’s Corner, serving up breakfast and lunch to the locals at the joint that had been his father’s watering hole (and the center of small town civic life in West Long Branch, New Jersey) for as long as Steven could
remember. . . . Clint Sorrentino may have been confined to a wheelchair, but he would never lose his optimism, his determination, or the opportunity for a good wisecrack. Seemingly oblivious to the constant medical setbacks that would have stopped a lesser man in his tracks, Clint Sorrentino would manage to further his career in local politics, becoming the town’s first Democratic mayor in 56 years, and was eventually elected to four terms as the beloved ‘Mayor on Wheels.’”

The August issue of Fast Company features an article (with pics) entitled “Books that Matter.” Some are pretty predictable: Larry Johnston, the Chairman and CEO of Albertson’s, likes Execution. Bob Nardelli, President and CEO of Home Depot, favors The Experience Economy. But then things get fun: Chuck Williams was on a buying trip for Williams-Sonoma in 1959 when he came across Les Recettes de Maple, about simple French cooking, and the rest is culinary publishing history. Maureen Egen read GWTW when she was 11, and it “put me on my career track.” James Billington, the LC’s Librarian, chose Dostoyevsky: “I can’t say that I’ve ever been surprised or shocked by any political developments in the real world, because I met most of them during my sophomore year of college in The Possessed.”

The San Francisco Chronicle writes that Louis Borders, co-founder with his brother of the eponymous retailer (and founder of the now-bankrupt Webvan), is at it again: he just launched KeepMedia.com, a site that aims to make money by charging a monthly subscription for access to the archives of 140 magazines and newspaper columns, going back 10 years.

Remaking the Regionals

Regional Bookseller Trade Shows Strive to Get Their Groove Back

The nine major regional bookseller trade shows are, in a perfect world, where manna falls from heaven. From Portland, Oregon to Jekyll Island, Georgia, that’s where finished fall titles are grabbable for the first time; where an independent bookseller can actually catch the eye of a sales manager; where orders are written, and those already written are upped. It’s where booksellers and reps have collegial tête-à-têtes, while authors sign copies for gaga bookstore clerks. It’s where buzz builds for fall and starts for spring. And saliently, for the nation’s hardscrabble booksellers, it’s not a costly convention in New York or Los Angeles. “It’s a way to do good solid business without having to incur the high cost of BookExpo America,” as one publisher sums up. “It’s sort of where the rubber meets the road.” (See Calendar for fall show dates and details.)

Yet those Pirellis have been hitting some cold, hard, asphalt lately. While some regional groups are keeping traction in a lousy economic climate, others have been socked with bookseller attrition, slumping ad sales for their holiday catalogs, and what they perceive as a jilting from large publishing houses. “We’re seeing some increases in small presses,” says Thom Chambliss, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, “but with the conglomeration of the industry, we’re getting less participation from the majors on a regular basis. They’re cutting back in every way they can.” And he’s not the only one feeling the pain. “In the past three years our number of exhibitors has gone down,” says Lisa Knudsen, Executive Director of Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association. “All the regional associations have suffered financially from the consolidations in publishing.”

Crux of the Catalog

When it comes to publisher support, the regional sine qua non is buying advertising in the winter catalogs — the major revenue source for most regional groups, and a key marketing piece that booksellers pitch to customers over the holiday season. MPBA prints 500,000 copies of its version, with as many as 10,000 given free to each member store, plus inserts in The Denver Post and The Bloomsbury Review. The problem, however, is not merely conning publishers into taking ads; the real trick is to get them to take the right ad. “Many times, marketing departments are not even thinking regionally at all,” Knudsen says, and they’ll put blockbuster titles in catalogs across the board — the same titles that are heavily discounted at the chains. “If the books that are advertised are not the ones our booksellers can sell, the whole thing is an exercise in futility.” So last spring the group got 25 booksellers to suggest better titles to publishers; the strategy worked, and some titles publishers had intended to advertise were pulled and replaced with bookseller suggestions. It may be a tough battle, however, as publishers such as Hyperion, which used to carefully pick books for each region, now buy space across all the catalogs for just a couple of key titles, according to former Sales Director Michael Burkin (who will now head up field sales and client distribution at Simon & Schuster).

Indeed, “everybody’s budgets are tight right now,” says Susan Walker, Executive Director of the Upper Midwest Booksellers Association. “We have publishers who have advertised with us year after year, and this year they are telling us they cannot do it.” The UMBA prints 310,000 catalogs, with distribution directly to store customers and inserts in regional copies of the New York Times. Meanwhile, UMBA’s “Midwest Favorites” program offers reduced ad rates to regional publishers or to midlist titles from large houses. UMBA has also been deploying more sophisticated tools — Bookscan data and Book Sense regional bestseller lists — that help persuade publishers to pitch in. “We had 19 books that were in the catalog that were all on the bestseller list during the time that the catalog was active,” Walker says. “It was awfully nice to go to the publishers and say, ‘See, it worked!’”

Beyond the catalog, groups such as the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association are working hard to keep show numbers from slipping. “This year is the first time in a few years that we’re seeing new exhibitors come onto our trade show floor,” notes Executive Director Eileen Dengler. “We’re getting newer, smaller presses, and this year we’re expecting we might even be sold out.” The show will highlight bookstore events that can be held to market titles without necessarily having the author on hand (Joe Drabyak of The Chester County Book & Music Company will roam the halls, daring any publisher to suggest a title they think can’t be promoted without an author), as well as profitable store sidelines. Dengler says membership has jumped by at least 100 to about 300 stores since she took over in early 2000, partly due to bolstered renewals, plus initiatives including the author tour program, which clusters bookstores in geographic zones that authors can feasibly hit in a two-day blitz.

As cash-strapped booksellers abandon BEA, adds Jim Dana, Executive Director at the Great Lakes Booksellers Association, “the regionals are getting to be more important for them in terms of their one trade show for the year.” Meanwhile, Dana has taken a radical approach to keeping his stores on the map. “Publishers kept asking me what was happening in the stores,” he explains. “It was very clear to me that in New York a lot of those people don’t see many stores outside of the East Coast.” So for three years now Dana has escorted a group of booksellers on a week-long trek to New York City, visiting publishers for brief presentations about their stores that frequently turn into mini-focus groups. “There have been some great success stories,” Dana says, “with booksellers from pretty out-of-the-way places now being sent authors and having ongoing relationships with publishers that didn’t exist before — and would probably never have existed had they not had that personal experience.”

Some larger publishers say their commitment to regional shows hasn’t wavered. “The regional shows have been something that all the publishers that I’ve worked at have always taken very seriously,” says Josh Marwell, SVP Sales at HarperCollins. “We have a full booth at all of them.” As do other large publishers, Harper sends telephone sales reps to the shows — in addition to marketing, publicity, and other sales staffers — where they gain face-to-face time with front-line bookstore buyers who would not normally attend the larger national convention: “It’s a benefit that has year-long positive effect,” Marwell says. “Over the last five years we’ve had the same level of participation,” adds Kathy Smith, VP Sales Administration and Operations. “We do have authors going to every single show. We do have advance readers and galleys to give away. We participate in all of the regional holiday catalogs.” Executives at other large houses privately admit to cutting back on the catalogs — $2,000 for an entry can mean no marketing — and argue that buying space does not influence orders. And at smaller houses, budgets are even more barren. “Our advertising budgets are just not big enough to participate in as many holiday catalogs as I would like,” says Hilary Reeves, Managing Director of Milkweed Editions. “But we have elbow grease, and we use it to maximum effect. To a certain degree these regional shows are big-time elbow grease.” Of course, for some publishers, manna does still fall from heaven. Stranger in the Woods, self-published from Michigan–based Carl R. Sams II Photography, got its start at GLBA and other regional shows and hit #1 on the New York Times Children’s Picture Book list last December (it was also #4 on the Book Sense National Bestseller List; the title’s millionth copy is currently on press). “That first year we actually bought cover positions on some of the bookseller association catalogs,” Sams tells PT, “and they’re the ones that put us on the national bestseller list.”

From a rep’s perspective, the regionals still pay off — at least in goodwill. “I haven’t really noticed the larger publishers pulling back from the regional shows, at least not ours,” observes Ted Heinecken of Heinecken Associates. He says the regionals have been putting more pressure on membership to actually buy titles in the catalog and display them in stores. “I keep thinking that there might be a way to combine this with Book Sense,” he says — possibly in the form of a national Book Sense catalog — and adds that he does track orders and calculates the profit or loss on attending the show. “At this point, I’m happy if we can show that we’re breaking even with these calculations. Then the profit would be more likely to show up in terms of goodwill.” Others note that the regionals could benefit from some conglomeration themselves, perhaps combining forces (NEBA with NAIBA, UMBA with Great Lakes) for greater heft and store diversity.

Don Sturtz of Fujii Associates concurs that freight and travel costs can be hard to recoup on show orders. “If the membership is not able to support us by writing orders, maybe we should rethink the exhibition portion of the shows,” he says. Sturtz — who works with UMBA, Great Lakes, and Mid-South, and will support all three shows this year — would also like to see educational programming on nuts-and-bolts issues that include local reps, rather than higher-level publisher-to-bookseller chats about financial management or selling Spanish-language titles (take note, Random House, which finances many of these sessions). “The stores need to communicate better to the reps what we’re doing right and wrong,” Sturtz observes. “And we need to communicate to the booksellers what we need them to do to make it profitable for both of us to show up at their doorstep.”

The nine major regional bookseller trade shows are, in a perfect world, where manna falls from heaven. From Portland, Oregon to Jekyll Island, Georgia, that’s where finished fall titles are grabbable for the first time; where an independent bookseller can actually catch the eye of a sales manager; where orders are written, and those already written are upped. It’s where booksellers and reps have collegial tête-à-têtes, while authors sign copies for gaga bookstore clerks. It’s where buzz builds for fall and starts for spring. And saliently, for the nation’s hardscrabble booksellers, it’s not a costly convention in New York or Los Angeles. “It’s a way to do good solid business without having to incur the high cost of BookExpo America,” as one publisher sums up. “It’s sort of where the rubber meets the road.” (See Calendar for fall show dates and details.)

Yet those Pirellis have been hitting some cold, hard, asphalt lately. While some regional groups are keeping traction in a lousy economic climate, others have been socked with bookseller attrition, slumping ad sales for their holiday catalogs, and what they perceive as a jilting from large publishing houses. “We’re seeing some increases in small presses,” says Thom Chambliss, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, “but with the conglomeration of the industry, we’re getting less participation from the majors on a regular basis. They’re cutting back in every way they can.” And he’s not the only one feeling the pain. “In the past three years our number of exhibitors has gone down,” says Lisa Knudsen, Executive Director of Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association. “All the regional associations have suffered financially from the consolidations in publishing.”

Crux of the Catalog

When it comes to publisher support, the regional sine qua non is buying advertising in the winter catalogs — the major revenue source for most regional groups, and a key marketing piece that booksellers pitch to customers over the holiday season. MPBA prints 500,000 copies of its version, with as many as 10,000 given free to each member store, plus inserts in The Denver Post and The Bloomsbury Review. The problem, however, is not merely conning publishers into taking ads; the real trick is to get them to take the right ad. “Many times, marketing departments are not even thinking regionally at all,” Knudsen says, and they’ll put blockbuster titles in catalogs across the board — the same titles that are heavily discounted at the chains. “If the books that are advertised are not the ones our booksellers can sell, the whole thing is an exercise in futility.” So last spring the group got 25 booksellers to suggest better titles to publishers; the strategy worked, and some titles publishers had intended to advertise were pulled and replaced with bookseller suggestions. It may be a tough battle, however, as publishers such as Hyperion, which used to carefully pick books for each region, now buy space across all the catalogs for just a couple of key titles, according to former Sales Director Michael Burkin (who will now head up field sales and client distribution at Simon & Schuster).

Indeed, “everybody’s budgets are tight right now,” says Susan Walker, Executive Director of the Upper Midwest Booksellers Association. “We have publishers who have advertised with us year after year, and this year they are telling us they cannot do it.” The UMBA prints 310,000 catalogs, with distribution directly to store customers and inserts in regional copies of the New York Times. Meanwhile, UMBA’s “Midwest Favorites” program offers reduced ad rates to regional publishers or to midlist titles from large houses. UMBA has also been deploying more sophisticated tools — Bookscan data and Book Sense regional bestseller lists — that help persuade publishers to pitch in. “We had 19 books that were in the catalog that were all on the bestseller list during the time that the catalog was active,” Walker says. “It was awfully nice to go to the publishers and say, ‘See, it worked!’”

Beyond the catalog, groups such as the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association are working hard to keep show numbers from slipping. “This year is the first time in a few years that we’re seeing new exhibitors come onto our trade show floor,” notes Executive Director Eileen Dengler. “We’re getting newer, smaller presses, and this year we’re expecting we might even be sold out.” The show will highlight bookstore events that can be held to market titles without necessarily having the author on hand (Joe Drabyak of The Chester County Book & Music Company will roam the halls, daring any publisher to suggest a title they think can’t be promoted without an author), as well as profitable store sidelines. Dengler says membership has jumped by at least 100 to about 300 stores since she took over in early 2000, partly due to bolstered renewals, plus initiatives including the author tour program, which clusters bookstores in geographic zones that authors can feasibly hit in a two-day blitz.

As cash-strapped booksellers abandon BEA, adds Jim Dana, Executive Director at the Great Lakes Booksellers Association, “the regionals are getting to be more important for them in terms of their one trade show for the year.” Meanwhile, Dana has taken a radical approach to keeping his stores on the map. “Publishers kept asking me what was happening in the stores,” he explains. “It was very clear to me that in New York a lot of those people don’t see many stores outside of the East Coast.” So for three years now Dana has escorted a group of booksellers on a week-long trek to New York City, visiting publishers for brief presentations about their stores that frequently turn into mini-focus groups. “There have been some great success stories,” Dana says, “with booksellers from pretty out-of-the-way places now being sent authors and having ongoing relationships with publishers that didn’t exist before — and would probably never have existed had they not had that personal experience.”

Some larger publishers say their commitment to regional shows hasn’t wavered. “The regional shows have been something that all the publishers that I’ve worked at have always taken very seriously,” says Josh Marwell, SVP Sales at HarperCollins. “We have a full booth at all of them.” As do other large publishers, Harper sends telephone sales reps to the shows — in addition to marketing, publicity, and other sales staffers — where they gain face-to-face time with front-line bookstore buyers who would not normally attend the larger national convention: “It’s a benefit that has year-long positive effect,” Marwell says. “Over the last five years we’ve had the same level of participation,” adds Kathy Smith, VP Sales Administration and Operations. “We do have authors going to every single show. We do have advance readers and galleys to give away. We participate in all of the regional holiday catalogs.” Executives at other large houses privately admit to cutting back on the catalogs — $2,000 for an entry can mean no marketing — and argue that buying space does not influence orders. And at smaller houses, budgets are even more barren. “Our advertising budgets are just not big enough to participate in as many holiday catalogs as I would like,” says Hilary Reeves, Managing Director of Milkweed Editions. “But we have elbow grease, and we use it to maximum effect. To a certain degree these regional shows are big-time elbow grease.” Of course, for some publishers, manna does still fall from heaven. Stranger in the Woods, self-published from Michigan–based Carl R. Sams II Photography, got its start at GLBA and other regional shows and hit #1 on the New York Times Children’s Picture Book list last December (it was also #4 on the Book Sense National Bestseller List; the title’s millionth copy is currently on press). “That first year we actually bought cover positions on some of the bookseller association catalogs,” Sams tells PT, “and they’re the ones that put us on the national bestseller list.”

From a rep’s perspective, the regionals still pay off — at least in goodwill. “I haven’t really noticed the larger publishers pulling back from the regional shows, at least not ours,” observes Ted Heinecken of Heinecken Associates. He says the regionals have been putting more pressure on membership to actually buy titles in the catalog and display them in stores. “I keep thinking that there might be a way to combine this with Book Sense,” he says — possibly in the form of a national Book Sense catalog — and adds that he does track orders and calculates the profit or loss on attending the show. “At this point, I’m happy if we can show that we’re breaking even with these calculations. Then the profit would be more likely to show up in terms of goodwill.” Others note that the regionals could benefit from some conglomeration themselves, perhaps combining forces (NEBA with NAIBA, UMBA with Great Lakes) for greater heft and store diversity.

Don Sturtz of Fujii Associates concurs that freight and travel costs can be hard to recoup on show orders. “If the membership is not able to support us by writing orders, maybe we should rethink the exhibition portion of the shows,” he says. Sturtz — who works with UMBA, Great Lakes, and Mid-South, and will support all three shows this year — would also like to see educational programming on nuts-and-bolts issues that include local reps, rather than higher-level publisher-to-bookseller chats about financial management or selling Spanish-language titles (take note, Random House, which finances many of these sessions). “The stores need to communicate better to the reps what we’re doing right and wrong,” Sturtz observes. “And we need to communicate to the booksellers what we need them to do to make it profitable for both of us to show up at their doorstep.”

International Fiction Bestsellers, August 2003

He Who Laughs Last
Fontanarrosa Grabs Guffaws, Shades of Scorsese in Italy, And Germany’s Answer to Oprah

Pull up a barstool and lend an ear to the simply Seinfeldian comic strip artist and author Roberto Fontanarrosa, whose latest book, You’ll Never Believe Me, is stirring up all manner of giggles and guffaws in Argentina this month. A mix of colloquial charm and universal wit likened to that of Mark Twain — even dubbed, if you can believe it, a “pastiche of the style of Gabriel García Márquez and the Reader’s Digest” — this collection of 22 short stories is written in the style of an excitable sort who arrives at a party and exclaims, “You’ll never believe what has just happened to me!” There are the two angry bourgeois parents who reprimand their young son for having stolen a toaster from a supermarket — but have a miraculous change of heart when they discover that he also inadvertently swiped a handbag stocked with cold, hard cash. Then, in the title story, there’s an amateur soccer scout, confident that he has found a future sports legend, who learns that the boy has, in fact, run off with the circus. In another story, amid the turbulent shipwreck of a transatlantic cruise liner, a millionaire passenger spends some quality time in the ship’s library, choosing three books to read on the desert island where he surmises they will land. Fontanarrosa, with three novels, nine volumes of short stories, and forty volumes of daily cartoons (some of which have appeared in US newspapers) to his credit, is a hit just about everywhere in Latin America and has been published in Spain (RBA and Alfaguara), as well as Italy (Feltrinelli). Contact Daniel Divinsky at Ediciones de la Flor for US rights and see Ángeles Martín ([email protected]) for Europe.

Also in Argentina, Rosa Montero concocts an aphrodisiacal cocktail of fact and fiction in her uncanny, category-busting latest, Madness in the Attic, which also appears at #1 on the non-fiction list in Spain and which has received high praise from such notables as Mario Vargas Llosa. A torrid history of the love affair between Montero and her own imagination, the book is essentially her spin on the origins of fiction and on the presence of fantasy in even the most documentarily proven biographies. While undertaking a trip to her own interior (and revealing juicy details of an early affair with an actor), Montero tells reputed tales and curiosities of some of her personal heroes, including Goethe and Tolstoy, incorporating fictitious variations along the way. In a book in which the imagination is the protagonist, Montero turns out a perfect soufflé of biography, autobiography, and novel, declaring that “all autobiography is fiction and all fiction is autobiography” and leaving it up to her readers to tell the real from the surreal. Adding to the author’s mystique is the adaptation of her book The Cannibal’s Daughter by director Antonio Serrano in his hit film Lucia, Lucia — “a crafty marriage of detective genre and feminist liberation parable” which details an author’s search for her missing husband and which claimed Mexico’s third highest box office opening on record earlier this year. Rights have been sold to Portugal (Asa) and France (Metailié), with negotiations under way with Frassinelli in Italy and with more offers expected from her usual publishers in Brazil, Germany, Holland, Greece, and Poland. English rights are available for all of her works; contact Carmen Pinilla at Carmen Balcells.

Dateline New York, 1903: Cousins Diamante and Vita (aged 12 and 9) arrive at Ellis Island from a minute village in the province of Caserta in Southern Italy in Melania Mazzucco’s novel Vita, which is said to share the ambience of Martin Scorsese-directed Gangs of New York. Trekking to number six on the Italian list, this winner of the prestigious Strega Prize details the frustrations experienced by immigrants in a new world, where 12,000 foreigners disembarked daily (the cousins are just two of 1,500 on their ship who are under the age of 25) and where newcomers were often the victims of xenophobic threats. Deemed “picaresque” and “imaginative,” the book is based on the harsh reality of Mazzucco’s own grandfather’s arrival in New York, and is said to unite “individual destinies and collective phenomena” in a darn near polyphonic and multinational city. The title has yet to be sold in the UK and US, but will be published in France (Flammarion), Spain (Anagrama), Holland (Moura), and Israel (Schocken). Contact Giovanna Canton at RCS-Rizzoli.

In Germany, the word is this: move over, Oprah. The nation’s own television personality/book guru Elke Heidenreich is doing her part to shape the bestseller list with her no-nonsense, yet refreshingly objective style on the new ZDF television program, Lesen! (“Read!”) A bestselling author herself, nearly all of the books she has recommended in her first two shows have appeared almost immediately on Der Spiegel’s bestseller list. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s book Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran went straight to the top spot after it was featured, followed closely by Jakob Arjouni’s short story collection Idiots: Five Fairytales, which was highlighted on the second episode. (Though Arjouni has been published in the UK, US/UK rights are still available to his latest. Contact Susanne Bauknecht at Diogenes.) “I’ve only got thirty minutes. Should I use that time to tell people what they shouldn’t read?” says Heidenreich, a former sitcom star. Featuring guests like talk show host Harald Schmidt and literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki (who, incidentally, recommended Undine Gruenter’s seasonal sensation Summer Guests at Trouville; see last month’s PT), the show garnered an audience exceeding two million in its first broadcast. Publishers have been rushing to order additional print runs when they find out that one of their books is scheduled to appear on the show, and bookshops have set up special displays for her recommendations. Even those featured titles that do not immediately jump on the bestseller lists experience a noticeable surge in sales. Sound familiar? As a case in point, Max Aub’s historical novel Bitter Almonds, set during the Spanish civil war, sold fewer than 10,000 copies between the novel’s publication date in April and the first show on June 10. But in the week following Heidenreich’s endorsement, 6,500 additional copies were quickly vacuumed off the shelves. (Carmen Balcells holds world rights on behalf of Max Aub’s estate.)

Finally, please take note that rights to Unni Lindell’s The Night Sister, covered in last month’s issue, are held by Bengt Nordin.

‘Real World’ Launches at Pratt

While young achievers crack open their coursebooks at the Columbia Publishing Course (100 students strong), and NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute uncorks the champagne (for its 25th anniversary), publishing scholars hail another milestone this summer as Pratt Institute launches “Publishing for the Real World,” a certificate program its creators describe as a vigorously hands-on education for publishing veterans looking to hop the next career hurdle, as well as for those just learning the ropes. “We’re very practical,” says Chuck Münster, Director of Pratt’s Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. “Pratt was founded on imparting skills to people so they could go out and begin a career. We believe this program will be unique in the market because of that mission.”

Well known for its program in Electronic Publishing, Pratt rolls out the new certificate with one course this fall: Publishing 101, a ten-week survey of the “art and business of publishing” that covers everything from acquisition and editing to trade shows and video games, with an emphasis on “presenting the business side of publishing to creative, non-financial students.” (Additional courses will be added in subsequent terms.) Unlike the M.S. offered in Pratt’s School of Information and Library Science, the publishing certificate is a credit-free program, tailored for on-the-run executives. “If there’s a specific course or area that a student is pursuing, they can get in and out,” Münster says. Individual classes are packaged into the certificate for those seeking a full-meal-deal. Depending on the type of course, prices range from $385 to $815. Take a test-drive at the free kick-off seminar on Tuesday, July 8 from 6-8 pm at Pratt’s new Chelsea campus (144 West 14th Street) including St. Martin’s Sally Richardson; Walker’s George Gibson; Hyperion’s Robert Miller; AOLTW’s Jean Griffin; and savant-about-town Kurt Andersen. They’ll tackle the big book questions (Manga? What’s that?) as well as topics in magazine, game, and multimedia publishing. RSVP at (212) 647-7199 or [email protected].

Meanwhile, over at NYU’s Center for Publishing, the school’s book and magazine tracks have been consolidated into its Certificate in Publishing, according to Associate Director Heidi Johnson. The program now requires five courses (instead of six) and offers concentrations in book, magazine, or electronic publishing. Tuition for current courses ranges from $420 to $1095 (the latter sum for “Web Page Development with HTML”), with 40 different courses on offer throughout the year. “People can mix and match courses depending on their interests,” says Johnson, adding that NYU also offers certificates in Editing (“very popular with people in publishing”), Business-to-Business Publishing, and the six-week Summer Publishing Institute for recent college grads, in addition to its M.S. program in publishing. Finally, the school has added new one-day seminars, such as the recently offered “Advertising Sales: Client and Agency Perspectives.”

International Fiction Bestsellers

In a semiological send-up worthy of a Roland Barthes essay, Christine Orban falls head over heels into the gap between le geste and la parole as her latest novel The Silence of Men takes aim at the bestseller list in France (it’s currently at #12). Described as a marvel of “intense, concise writing” full of “musical phrases like those of Duras,” the book is a lit-crit lover’s take on pillow talk, exploring the stereotype that women always need to verbalize their feelings, while men just clam up. The scenario: Idylle has the hots for the epically reticent Jean, a paragon of brooding magnetism. But his lips are predictably sealed when it comes to matters of the heart, and Idylle vents her exasperation in rambling emails to pal Clémentine. Delving into the perplexities of the feminine soul, Idylle realizes that what counts is the language of love as much as love itself, and confronts the ultimate amorous stumper: “What if men simply don’t have anything to say? And if the charm, precisely, is in their silence?” Accomplished novelist Orban — who keeps a portrait of Virginia Woolf close at hand for inspiration — lets wordplay fly in her heroine’s quest for a happy medium between mindless babble and monosyllabic retorts. The book has sold more than 40,000 copies in France, with rights sold to Germany (Pendo) and Turkey (Varlik Yayinlari). Contact Lucinda Karter at the French Publishers’ Agency for US rights.

Chick lit fans are also rousingly occupied this month in Germany, where journalist Ildikó von Kürthy hits the list with Dial Tone. Annabel has suffered the same boyfriend for years — and the same hairdo. Having just traumatically turned 31, she embarks on a seven-day, pick-me-up trip to loopy aunt Gesa’s lair in Mallorca, hitting town on a Sunday morning. By that night she’s already snared a handsome new beau, but Tuesday rolls around and with it a svelte young babe with bedroom eyes for Annabel’s new hunk. After gnashing her teeth in lovers’ limbo, Annabel (and this can be safely revealed without giving away too much) resolves to sport a revolutionary new hairdo. Rights have been sold to Holland (Bruna), Hungary (Mora), and Sweden (Wahlström). Von Kürthy’s previous novels (including Late Night Rate, a love story in the style of Ally McBeal which was made into a movie released by Senator Film) have sold in eleven countries including France (J’ai Lu), Italy (RCS), Russia (Ultra-Kultura), and Korea (Bookhouse). Contact Ariane Fink at Sanford Greenburger for US rights.

Also in Germany, Undine Gruenter evokes the transporting power of place in the posthumously published collection of fifteen short stories, Summer Guests at Trouville. Deemed the author of “some of the most graceful and melancholic books in modern German literature,” the Cologne-born Gruenter (she moved to Paris in the 1980s) depicts the annual migration of eccentric Parisians to the beaches of Brittany and Normandy. More than 100 years after Monet captured the pristine Trouville beaches on canvas, Gruenter concocts a “mysteriously strange and strangely familiar” world with a roving cast of artists, hucksters, and idlers including an eighty-year-old dowager who returns to Trouville every year (greeted by the same taxi driver) and a girl who uses a shady summer house for her first erotic experiments. Though the parasols of the Belle Epoque have long since folded up, Gruenter’s nostalgia for summers by the sea is sustained with “great narrative finesse.” Over 40,000 copies have been sold to date, with rights currently being auctioned in France. A previous book, Night Blind, was published in France by Seuil; see Anne Brans at Carl Hanser for rights.

A jigsaw puzzle of legitimate clues and useless hearsay litters The Night Sister, the fourth book in Unni Lindell’s hugely popular crime series featuring sagacious law enforcer Cato Isaksen. Topping the list in Sweden this month, the book reportedly “glides in, almost like a shot into a vein,” as 14-year-old Kathrine Bjerke disappears from a road leading to the bustling Oslofjord Tunnel on a late February evening. Only one of thousands of passing drivers witnesses the abduction, and police detective Isaksen tackles the case. Following the success of Old Ladies Don’t Lay Eggs, Lindell weaves her most intricate narrative to date, in which a whole lineup of dodgy characters is suspected in Kathrine’s disappearance — her stepfather, boyfriend, reclusive uncle, plus a grandmotherly member of a local club for the elderly — as well as for the possibly related murder of her 75-year-old grandmother. Published originally by Norway’s Aschehoug in the fall of 2002 (it’s sold more than 90,000 copies), the book has been sold to Sweden (Piratförlaget), Denmark (Lindhardt og Ringhof), Finland (WSOY), France (Stock), Germany (Scherz), and Holland (Bruna/Signature), among other nations. Film/TV rights for the four novels have gone to Denmark’s Nordisk Film, which will start shooting in the very near future.

Finally, in Italy, the husband-and-wife journalist team of Bice and Nullo Cantaroni (writing under the nom de plume Sveva Casati Modignani) offers the upscale Harlequin of the moment in 6 April ’96, in which a woman is attacked and brutally beaten in St. Mark’s Church in Milan. Though few clues are left at the crime scene (a key; a London tube ticket), a tattered black-and-white photo provides a window into the stories of three generations of women — Agostina, Rosanna, and Irene, each with a steamy love story to tell. With an initial print run of 110,000 copies, the book aims to follow in the footsteps of the couple’s previous work, which includes 15 novels selling over 10 million copies in 14 languages, among them German (Weitbrecht), Russian (Eksmo), Hungarian (Ifusagi Lapes), and Czech (Euromedia). Shooting starts July 8 for a Spanish/Italian film version of their 14th novel, Vanilla and Chocolate (in which a husband and wife reflect on 18 years of marriage after their relationship starts to sour), to be directed by Ciro Ippolito and distributed by Warner. No translation rights have yet been sold; contact Paola Bagnaresi of Sperling & Kupfer.

New Day for a New Age at INATS

“Not your father’s New Age,” trade rag New Age Retailer’s current marketing tagline, was the message being touted at the 2003 International New Age Trade Show (INATS) West on June 28-30 at the Denver Merchandise Mart. What began as a metaphysical and jewelry show in 1996 has grown three times in size to its current 320 exhibitors, with 1,400-1,500 attendees, where you can find just about anything. This year’s show size is “right on track with the 2002 show, a positive sign in light of the sluggish economy,” explains Andrew Toplarski, INATS Director of Show Production.

In fact, New Age is growing out of its category in so many directions that it’s hard for publishers to agree on one classification. “Mind-Body-Spirit,” “Conscious Living for a New Age,” and “Spirituality/Metaphysical” are just a few of the monikers being thrown at the segment. What’s clear from publishers who attended INATS is that, despite a slow year in general, they see increasing opportunity in the New Age category from mainstream America. Publishing powerhouses such as Penguin, HarperCollins, and Barron’s Educational Series put a stake in the INATS ground several years ago. And word has it that Random House is looking to attend INATS-East next January.

So why now? Stress and uncertainty in the US market — not to mention world politics — continues to take a toll on mainstream consumers who don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, according to INATS-West Marketing Director Aubin Wilson. “9/11 brought the world’s struggles to our home soil, and we’re seeing a whole re-evaluation of peace, the meaning of life, the family, and home as reflected in the abundance of spiritual ‘how-to’ books and home accessories now available.”

It’s no coincidence that Hay House had the most successful month in their history right after 9/11, and their inspirational/self-help category sales have increased 33% year-over-year in the past five years, according to Publicity Director Jacqui Clark. Perhaps a bigger factor in warming up mainstreamers to New Age — young adults in particular — has been the proliferation of supernatural-focused TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, not to mention the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. Once-taboo topics such as Wicca, Pagan, and Tarot are now sold in adult-version kits at your local Target, Sam’s Club, or Costco. “People want to take more control over their lives and they want to find all the answers in a single product,” explains Llewelyn Vice President Gabe Weschcke.

Penguin sees the New Age segment as a way of identifying new accounts for such cross-category megasellers as The Secret Life of Bees as well as to promote backlist, according to Marketing Manager Christine Duplessis. Likewise, Barron’s Sales Rep Don Rausch notes that sales of “middle-of-the-road” spirituality series to New Age distributors have been extremely strong — 2002 sales with New Leaf Distributing were up 35% over 2001, due to increasing acceptance of backlist titles such as The Book of Spells. New Leaf CFO Santosh Krinsky states that he’s “very happy” about mainstream interest in New Age, as it “prepares the ground for more people wanting to go to the next level.”

Red Wheel•Weiser•Conari President and CEO Michael Kerber agrees that there’s a benefit to the big and small outfits playing together in the New Age market. “For frontlist titles, we rely on the chains to establish the new titles; then we rely on the independent stores to keep the new titles alive over the longer term,” Kerber says. “Our most successful independent booksellers are marketing interactive workshops and/or reinventing themselves as ‘lifestyle resource centers,’” a development that’s consistent with the all-in-one approach consumers are demanding today.

We thank Denver-based freelance business writer Kelly Roark for contributing this report.

Distribution Derby

Random Redux, Freese Helms PGW: Client Distribution Biz Jostles and Grows

Don Fehr, nearly a year into his tenure as Director of Smithsonian Books, needed a distribution fix. The august publishing concern (formerly Smithsonian Institution Press) was gunning for trade sales growth — aiming to reverse its mix of 80% academic and 20% trade-bound titles — and outstripping the reach of fulfillment partner Books International and a road-weary sales force of independent reps. “We weren’t able to grow at the pace we were being asked to grow by the Smithsonian,” Fehr explains. The company, of course, was a plum for those publishers vying for the profitable business of distributing other publishers’ books. “Holtzbrinck, Penguin, Harper, they were all interested,” Fehr says, what with the blockbuster brand (studies say close to 90% of Americans know the Smithsonian name). The lucky winner? Norton. “Aside from the fact that they gave me a great deal, they had representation in the academic marketplace as well as the trade,” Fehr says. Moreover, the Smithsonian’s nascent line of books for young adults filled a niche Norton was eagerly eyeing. Sweetening the deal, Fehr notes, Norton affiliates are handled by a special marketing staff, and topping it all off was the palpably excited Norton sales team when they found the backlist bonanza in the bags of Fehr’s former reps: “When they looked at our backlist, they were like kids in a candy shop.” Advance print runs will now hit as high as 20,000 copies, where they previously had peaked at 6,000. Bottom line: “We’re looking at possibly a 25% increase in sales this year,” says Fehr. “It’s a good shot in the arm.”

‘The Age of Distributors’

With Random House back in the client distribution biz — which it had all but abandoned in 1999 — and the announcement last week that former Motorbooks CEO Rich Freese would take the helm of Publishers Group West, what you might call the “competitive metabolism” of the book distribution business seems to be getting booster shots all around. As PT’s survey of selected distributors shows (see chart), despite languishing overall book sales and ever-jostling competition, many distributors are grabbing double-digit sales growth — and they’re bullishly predicting a profit-filled future. “The market for distribution in the book business is so strong, and the arguments for working with distributors are so compelling that there’s enough room for everybody,” Freese tells PT, as he shoves off for the Bay Area. “CDS is starting to grow. Consortium is starting to grow. There are so many publishers that need these services and the economies of scale these services represent. This is the age of distributors. I think it’s only going to get stronger.”

Word on the street can be almost surreally cheery, with so much growth one feels one’s stepped through some book-world looking glass. “As of the end of last month we’re up well over 25%,” reports Curt Matthews, CEO of Independent Publishers Group, “and unless the world goes to pieces we’re going to be up a bunch for the year.” Matthews’ total number of clients is stable at 300 — core larger publishers number about 50, and the largest client kicks in between $4 and $5 million in sales — but those clients are building business by the minute. “A lot of them are just simply growing,” he says. “They’re just plain publishing more books and getting better at what they do.” A dozen in-house sales and marketing staffers handle major accounts, augmented by 23 commission reps, all of whom are profoundly grateful for the growth of smaller houses. “It absolutely continues,” Matthews says about the burgeoning small presses (see PT, 4/03). “The little guys are taking market share from the big guys. It’s a fact.”

Like IPG, National Book Network is looking to boost revenues among its existing clients, says Miriam Bass, VP Marketing and New Business Development, while being “much more careful” about reeling in new customers. The majority of NBN’s 85 active clients fall into the $500,000 to $1.5 million range. Despite the emphasis on internal growth, the distributor is delving into the children’s market, taking on publishers such as Child & Family Press. Meanwhile, NBN division Biblio continues to barnstorm though the small press world, now at 575 clients and counting. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up signing 150 publishers as a result of BEA,” says Director of Sales and Marketing Jen Linck, who adds that Davida Breier has been brought on as Marketing Coordinator. Unfortunately, Linck reports, some clients have been shocked to learn that they’ve initially racked up negative sales with Biblio, because booksellers sitting on unsold copies have been only too happy to return them for an NBN credit. Nonetheless, sales are on track to more than double this year, with the 1,000th-client mark on the horizon.

Even in the face of downshifting chain bookseller orders, business is swell, says Aaron Silverman, President of SCB Distributors, which services an eclectic mix of 60 clients from its Gardena, CA distribution center. “We grew 25% last year,” he says. “More books are being sold, even if the chains say their business is anemic.” Borders’ category management initiative, he notes, effectively boosted SCB’s sales at the chain; fewer titles are being purchased, but quantities are up on those that sell, like the Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter (SCB has shipped 53,000 copies). Though Silverman receives up to 1,000 submissions every year, he lets only half a dozen in the door. “We’ve always been very cautious about taking on new publishers,” he explains. “This is not a quick dollar.”

Strong internal growth may soon be followed by a notched-up public profile at Midpoint Trade Books. “Our biggest clients have been producing wonderful growth in sales year in and year out,” says President Eric Kampmann, whose revamped booth at BookExpo America drew raves from clients, particularly after a lackluster show last year. For Midpoint, where gross sales stand at $12-$13 million, the successful BEA can be read as a bid to join the big leagues. “We have been really quiet about who we are and what we do,” Kampmann says, “and that’s going to change very shortly. We think we’re ready to be considered seriously along with PGW, IPG, and NBN.” Midpoint aims to seamlessly integrate a number of core services (what Kampmann calls “in-sourcing the out-source,” or simulating distribution services as if they were done by the publishers themselves) and its stripped-down sales philosophy — selling chiefly to national accounts — and “extremely competitive” pricing are pitched as a sensible solution at a time when clients rule the bargaining table. “The publishers are more in the driver’s seat in terms of demanding and getting better pricing and better service,” he says.

Price sensitivity is also a key concern for CDS, which is now up to 35 clients, according to COO Stephen Black. “Given the difficult economic times, people are really looking at their operating costs. We are extremely competitive in our pricing, and that’s given us an opportunity to talk with people.” Black says sluggish sales have been offset by the explosive “manga” and “anime” segments. “We’re probably the largest provider of graphic novels, and that business is going through the roof,” he says. “Marvel and TokyoPop are really leading the way.” TokyoPop has been growing at least 200% each year for three years running, according to Steve Kleckner, TokyoPop’s VP Sales and Licensing, who adds that the growth may be slowing but it ain’t over yet: “We think we’ll double again this year.”

Throwing another option into the ring is Baker & Taylor, which opens next month with the first client for its new Distribution Solutions Group, according to VP John Phillips, who says he’s spent the past 18 months developing a suite of “value-added” services for clients — everything from printing a book to freight management. The latter service is a typical B&T forte, Phillips says. “We do over $30 million a year with UPS. Since we do the volume, we’re able to create a revenue channel for publishers within the shipping and handling area.” A key selling point is the program’s “à la carte menu” of services; sales representation is available via independent rep groups, but the option to use one’s own sales force is pitched as a competitive plus. “If you go with NBN or PGW, you’re really locked into their sales force,” Phillips says. “With DSG, your inside sales team can handle 90% of your business, and rep groups can cover the rest.” The division targets clients with at least $750,000 in sales, aiming to sign on six in the first year: “We’re looking over the long term to make this a significant chunk of Baker & Taylor’s income.” (They’ll be battling Random House Distribution Services, where there’s capacity for the taking — 1.8 million square feet of it — and the gamut of supply-chain services. Still, Random’s keeping the door open to offer sales as well. “Random House sales support for a prospective client’s book is an option which we’ll offer to the right fit among prospective clients,” a spokesman says.)

For most publishers, the distribution truism is this: if the right client complements what you’ve got in your bag, it’s a no-brainer. “We’re always looking for new client publishers,” says Lynne McAdoo, Director of Client Publishers for Andrews McMeel Publishing, specifically houses topping the $1 million mark in sales who jive well with the Andrews McMeel forte: gift and other special markets (the last catalog mailing went out to 14,600 accounts). Book clients include Carlton and Welcome, with a number of others on board for calendar distribution. Fulfillment comes via Simon & Schuster’s Bristol, PA distribution center. “For our distribution clients, it’s the best of both worlds,” McAdoo says. “They enjoy the one-on-one personal relationship with Andrews McMeel, but then they also enjoy the state-of-the-art distribution facility that Simon & Schuster offers. They’re getting a lot of bang for their buck.”

That’s certainly how S&S would put it, as they boost their own distribution biz. “We’re very committed to this business,” says spokesman Adam Rothberg. “It’s a major source of income for us. We’re absolutely on the lookout for new clients.” Simon & Schuster handles full-service distribution for 10 clients including National Geographic and Reader’s Digest, while offering back-office services to the likes of AMP and Millbrook. Next year S&S adds Hodder Headline’s US operation, according to Larry Norton, President of S&S’s Sales and Distribution Division. “We do want to leverage our infrastructure and we do have some capacity,” Norton says, cautioning that clients must meet a minimum sales threshold. Distribution at S&S logged double-digit growth last year, as it did at Holtzbrinck, according to Patti Hughes, VP Sales and Marketing for Distributed Publishers. Her eight clients include Rizzoli and Rodale, and Hughes oversees a staff of 10 supporting distribution clients. “We focus actively on the distribution lines,” Hughes says. “We will definitely look to grow the business, selectively and intelligently.”

Even in the museum world, players such as Yale University Press are moving to beef up relationships with key distribution clients and bring on new ones when they find the right fit. “We’ve expanded the number of museums we’re working with on an exclusive basis,” says Publishing Director Tina C. Weiner, noting that Yale’s 14 such partners include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s National Gallery. While Yale has previously worked with many museums on a single-book basis, its growing roster of exclusive deals is a full-service program. “We’re doing the whole package,” she says. “Sales, marketing, fulfillment, publicity, and promotion.” Illustrated book distributor D.A.P., meanwhile, just added the Guggenheim to its list of 100 active clients (200 total), and recently had a year of 70% growth (chalk it up to MoMA’s Matisse Picasso, among other titles), says VP Trade Sales Director Avery Lozada, who adds that average growth over the past five years has been about 15%.

For an extremely selective take on distribution, there’s Sourcebooks, which recently signed as its sole client startup Reed Press. Publisher and CEO Dominique Raccah explains point-blank: “We are not in the distribution business, nor do we want to be. The only time we look at distribution is when it has real strategic impetus.” Hence Reed Press, whose access to 120 Reed Business magazines fit well with Sourcebooks’ reference business (i.e. the U.S. News Ultimate College Directory), expanding Sourcebooks’ library and specialty retail business, while taking Reed into the trade channel. Reed Press Publishing Director Nicholas Weir-Williams notes that Sourcebooks’ special sales force has already been a boon: “Our first book, Oscar Fashion, is being looked at by Costco and Target and a whole range of catalogs that most book sales forces don’t reach.”

Book View, July 2003

PEOPLE


Rich Freese has been named President of Publishers Group West, reporting to Kevan Lyon, EVP for Distribution and Publishing Services at AMS. Freese, who will relocate to the San Francisco area, succeeds Charlie Winton, founder and former President and CEO of PGW, and now Group Chairman and CEO of Avalon Publishing. Another publisher on the move is Karen Kreiger, Rich Freese’s wife and currently VP Custom Publishing and International Sales of Creative Publishing. She may be reached at [email protected]. Meanwhile, earlier in the month Winton announced that Neil Ortenberg had been named EVP, responsible for the New York publishers and reporting to Susan Reich. Avalon also announced that Herman Graf, Publisher of Carroll & Graf, would assume the role of Editor-at-Large and that Will Balliett would succeed him as Publisher, reporting to Ortenberg.

Martin Levin is moving to The Van Tulleken Company as a partner, and will be working on transactions. He tells Publishing Trends that he will continue to “maintain a relationship” with his old law firm, Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman. The firm recently announced the addition of Jeremy Nussbaum, formerly a partner at Kay & Boose.

Courtney Muller has resigned as Executive Director of New York Is Book Country, to return to her former employer, Reed Exhibitions as Divisional Vice President. She will continue to consult with the staff and board through the 25th anniversary events in the Fall. A successor will be named shortly.

Howard Weill, formerly SVP Deputy Publisher at Random House, is consulting full time for Bookspan, overseeing Current Member Marketing. As reported elsewhere, Victoria Skurnick was named Editor-in-Chief, BOMC, continuing to report to Larry Shapiro, who is now VP, Editorial Director. Kathy Kiernan, Editor-in-Chief of Book Development, will now report to Brigitte Weeks, VP and newly named Editorial Director overseeing Crossings, Science Fiction Book Club, Black Expressions, and Outdoorsmen’s Edge. Sharon Fantera and Patricia Gift have also been named Editorial Directors. And congrats to Mary Idoni, known to many as the guardian of the manuscript department, who celebrates fifty years at the clubs this summer.

Meanwhile, back at RH HQ: Barbara Marks is leaving Crown to start her own pr/marketing company. She has been with the company for 22 years. As of late July she may been reached at (203) 571-8103 or via email at [email protected]. . . Linda Kaplan has just gone to Crown as group Subrights Director. She was most recently at Hyperion. . . And Larry Weissman has left Random, where he worked for Richard Sarnoff investing in companies like Xlibris and Audible.com. He may be reached at larryweissman@ earthlink.net. . . No word yet on a replacement for Christine McNamara, who moved from Publisher of Random Audio to VP, Director of Sales for Random House Information Group, Adult Audio, Value, and Large Print divisions. . . In the latest RH sales reorg, Madeline McIntosh and Joan DeMayo head up the new Adult and Children’s sales forces, respectively.

Angela Baggetta has joined Goldberg McDuffie as Publicity Manager. She was previously at Basic Books and had been Publicity Director at Doubleday’s religious line. . . As reported elsewhere Emily Loose has joined The Penguin Press as Senior Editor. She was previously at Cambridge U.P. She reports to Ann Godoff. And Bernadette Malone goes to Penguin to head up the new conservative line, under Adrian Zackheim. She was previously at Regnery.

Jonathan Weiss, VP Business Development, is leaving Oxford U.P. in August. . . Editor Andrea Heyde and Senior Editor Katie Hall have both left Harcourt. (Heyde after one year, Hall three months.) In a reorganization of the sales deparment, Chris Barnard, VP Director of Sales, has left PGW. She may be reached at [email protected]. . . Maron Waxman has retired from the American Museum of Natural History, spurred on by AMNH’s layoff of as many as 60 people. The Publications department has been closed down.

Chris North will move from his position as General Manager of electronic publishing at Harper to the newly created job of COO at HarperCollins Canada, reporting to David Kent. . . For anyone not in the extensive address book of HC’s just retired Larry Ashmead, he may be reached at [email protected].

DULY NOTED


Words Without Borders, the “Online Magazine for International Literature,” has launched its new site. Though it’s not all in place yet, check it out at www.wordswithoutborders.org.

And another good site for publicizing independent literary publishing is Literary Landscape at www.literarylandscape.com.

• Broadway’s Charlie Conrad tells PT that Invisible Eden: the story of the Christa Worthington Cape Cod murder “has taken off like a rocket: on sale Tuesday and already seven printings for a total of 51,000 in print. It’s really great that a literary author like Maria Flook is succeeding like this.” Seven printings?

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Selling Out: a Textbook Example” opens with the following: “James Williams received his letter last fall. ‘Dear Professor,’ it began. The form letter went on to offer him $4,000 for reviewing an introductory history textbook. “I thought, ‘That’s an interesting amount of money,’” says the associate professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University.” The story goes on to outline in detail how textbook publishers — from North West Publishing, which offered the amount cited above, but also involving behemoths like Pearson — are finding ways to get the attention of university professors and their departments by offering money, royalties, and other incentives. As with the above, the payola is often in the guise of a fee for “reviewing” a book or writing a portion of a customized textbook. Go to http://chronicle.com/weekly/v49/i42/42a00801.htm.

It’s hard to find publishers who want to talk about what they’re reading, for fear of offending those whose books they’re not reading. Two industry execs who do are both reading the same book: Bob Iger, ABC honcho to whom Hyperion reports, and Phyllis Grann, who says she’s on a “nonfiction kick,” are reading An Unfinished Life, Robert Dallek’s biography of JFK, published by Little, Brown. Iger is also reading Sinclair LewisBabbitt, and Grann just finished When Hollywood Was King, about her late boss Lew Wasserman.

PARTIES


The reopening of the downtown Borders — a block east from its original location at the World Trade Center on Broadway — was well attended by almost 1000 publishers, and reports are that it felt like a real shot in the arm for the industry, a feeling echoed by all. Gift certificates offering a 20% discount were handed to guests with proceeds going to the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund. The WTC branch had worked closely with the restaurant and held numerous events there and chose this as the charity partner for the opening. A quick check on who was buying what indicated that most of the publishers’ purchases were CDs!

180 people attended CLMP’s fundraiser at the Paula Cooper Gallery coinciding with the launch of Jack Macrae and Paula Cooper’s 192 Books, lit by the glow of Dan Flavin’s florescent sculptures on June 19th. Poet Kimiko Hahn spoke, opening with: “Without independent literary publishers there would be no poetry in America.” Guests included Adam Haslett, Peter Mayer, Nan Talese, Jill Bialosky, and Gerry Howard, and a “mountain of books and mags for people to mine in the center of gallery included Open City, Bomb, FuturePoem, Soft Skull Press, Feminist Press, and many many more” our correspondent tells us.

IN MEMORIAM


Sara Ann Freed, the much respected Editor-in-Chief of Mysterious Press and Senior Editor at Warner Books, died on June 25 after a brief battle with leukemia. A memorial service is scheduled for September 17, her birthday.