Crossing Over

Lines Between the Christian and Trade Markets Continue to Blur With Growth on All Fronts

As the entire world raptly parses the papacy, smack in the middle of an overtly faith based presidency, it should come as no surprise that religious books have achieved double-digit growth every month for the past few years. Evangelical viewpoints in particular have surged into the mainstream. As Christian based books, movies and other media have found their way into the mass market, the once solid barrier dividing Christian audiences and their mainstream counterparts is eroding, allowing for a new generation of crossover successes to take their place. After years of trying to break into the CBA market, major trade publishing houses are developing their own Christian divisions (eg. Warner Faith), as well as signing authors (e.g. Penguin, S&S, Warner Books, HarperCollins). Similarly, religious books, once relegated to CBA markets, have been steadily moving into trade, and now comprise 11 percent of trade sales, bringing in $1.9 billion dollars annually. And it isn’t just a one-way street: Penguin recently signed a multi-million dollar deal with Strang Communications for distribution into CBA stores, thereby closing the distribution circle. And author and editor Greg Tobin notes that the CBA seems more open to Catholic titles – “an encouraging economic ecumenism.”

Since 1992, the religious marketplace has seen a compound growth rate of 14.5%, over double that of adult net sales, exploding by 50% between 2002 and 2003 alone. For the general public, references to Christian bestsellers usually evoke inspirational titles (Rick Warren‘s The Purpose Driven Life), apocalyptic adventures (Jerry Jenkins‘ and Tim LaHaye‘s Left Behind series) or – if one is a little more old school – historical romance novels (Janette Oke‘s multiple variations on the sweet-farm-girl-meets-chaste-hunky-preacher theme) but such cornerstones of the Christian literary marketplace are only the tip of the evangelical iceberg – well known figureheads at the crest of a wave that is spilling out of the CBA and onto the banks of popular culture both here, and – increasingly – abroad.

CBA Stores Torn Asunder

“Five years ago, the assortment of Christian titles that a general market retailer carried would have been limited to key bestsellers and a couple of Bibles,” Jay Echternach Senior Director of Sales at Multnomah Books, said. “Due to demand for these products now, those same retailers are carrying assortments that rival a small Christian bookstore.”

The mass-marketization of the industry can be traced back to the mid-1990’s when Christian publishers began forging relationships with big box stores like WalMart and Costco. Today, these stores are invaluable resources for an increasingly sophisticated market. So much so, that a recent search for books on using the keyword “Christianity” came up with 60,000+ hits. Because of this increased distribution in big box and mass-merch stores “we’ve seen hemorrhaging in the CBA,” Rolf Zettersten, Publisher of Warner Faith, said. “I’ve been in meetings with retailers who have said, ‘we’re going after the CBA market’ and I think it’s a deliberate and calculated business move.”

As sales at independent Christian stores decline, and business disperses, they are compensating by providing more of what big-box and mass-market chains don’t – ancillary products like key chains, bible covers, screen savers, and a slew of other inspirational trinkets. According to Christianity Today, books now account for about 25% of sales in CBA stores, while ancillary products account for upwards of 70%, with specialty gifts and music leading the way. “The real tension,” Andy Butcher, editor of Christian Retailing explained, “is between the Christian retailers and the Christian publishers. You know it’s ‘Great news! Christian books are selling at WalMart’, and ‘Bad news! Christian books are selling at WalMart. Christian retailers want to see their category sell as broadly as possible, but they don’t want to hurt their own sales either.”

Still, as with the ABA, Christian publishers insist that the CBA plays an important role in sales. “CBA stores are critical to our success, and to the health of our backlist,” said Stephen Cobb, President and Publisher of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House. “They will carry many more of our core titles than a general market chain or big box store.” Jenny Baumgartner, fiction acquisitions editor at WestBow Press (Thomas Nelson) says, “The Christian stores can hand sell books, getting to know their customer’s interests, while also speaking to the Christianity in the books. We sell about 50/50 – CBA to ABA/mass.”

According to Scott Bolinder, Executive VP and Publisher, Zondervan‘s sales also showed a 50/50 split between CBA and ABA/mass/on-line, while Thomas Nelson’s 2004 annual report showed a slightly different breakdown with a third of its $222 million income ($74 million) coming from CBA stores, while combined ABA and mass market sales came to $63 million.

Although most agree that CBA stores will continue to lose business to mass-market retailers, they agree that one of the largest remaining avenues for growth for Christian independents is the opportunity to actively pursue sales through churches and individual pastors. Nancy Guthrie, CBA Media Relations, said, “Stores are returning to focus on church customers, finding innovative ways to reach the average person who sits in a pew.” Such an angle may prove to become more lucrative as the congregations of popular pastors become stadium rather than basement sized. Many of the Christian best-selling authors, like Rick Warren and Max Lucado, are pastors themselves, and have an extensive reach into both their in-person congregations (16,000 show up each week, with over 50,000 on the Saddleback Church roster for Warren, and 3,500 congregants appear each week at Lucado’s Oak Hills Church) as well as the hordes that log on daily to their stylish websites.

“Prairie Romances In Deepest Africa”

Another burgeoning avenue for growth is international sales. At the moment according to Butcher, “US based Christian publishing tends to dominate,” with mainly niche fiction along with select Christian chick-lit titles selling abroad, primarily in Europe. “Prairie romances in deepest Africa don’t go down particularly well,” he added.

But as the industry moves from the tame romances of Janette Oke to the edgier contemporary fiction of Melodie Carlson, international audiences seem to be responding. Bolinder highlighted increased international and Hispanic market sales as a consumer trend that will have an impact on growth in Christian publishing over the next five years.

Tyndale Rights Director Dan Balow explained that there are two parts to this growth: “First, the market for Christian books in areas where we export them is growing faster than in the US. There are a couple of factors at work – increased interest in Christian books and the weakness of the US dollar make our products more competitive.” He continued, “Second, in virtually all continents, sales are growing faster than the US. Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), and simplified Chinese are seeing very healthy growth. For exports, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, and even Nigeria are growing quite fast.”

Bolinder agreed, and added India to the list. Mirroring domestic trends, Christian publishers are selling into both trade and religious markets abroad. “We are seeing some secular general market publishers taking some [religious] books – it is happening in select countries – South Africa and Australia are particularly big,” Zettersten said, “We just got a deal yesterday from Spain.” Bolinder noted that the different markets are usually dictated by language, “For English titles, we sell through Christian distributors and trade distributors depending on the channel of distribution – much like we do in North America,” he said. “When we sell foreign language rights, it is most often to a Christian publisher.”

One foreign scout suggested that if Christian literature is growing abroad, it is only due to the fact that people are reading it for a behind-the-scenes-what-the-hell-are-those-Americans-thinking look into our increasingly faith based activities. “People think that Americans are so crazy, so fundamentalist,” Elizabeth Gold, a Senior Editor at Guideposts, added. “They want to find out what it’s all about.”

Haven’t had enough? E-mail us at: [email protected] and say, “I want to know more about Crossing Over!”

Biting the Publisher That Feeds You

For the last decade, college stores have been paranoid about publishers going behind their backs to deliver electronic content directly to students. Although it’s still not a reality that’s come to pass, it may eventually, and when it does “stores won’t offer much value here. Insofar as they ‘collect’ students and shovel them over to publishers’ websites to purchase content, bookstores will get a small ‘click-through’ but nothing like the margins they enjoy on printed books – not to mention used textbooks,” one college publisher (who preferred to remain anonymous) explained.

The paranoia is understandable given the pressures on independent college stores represented by NACS, who continue to lose ground to large chains like Barnes & Noble and Follett. Because of this, NACS has established a large DC lobbying presence to protect its own interests.

Recently, however, the paranoia got out of hand when NACS sent out a press release accusing publishers of gouging students with book prices. Their website – through a series of FAQs on used books, college textbooks, and “bundles” – echoes the general sentiment of “distrust and frustration” students feel, complaining that college stores are the ones who are called upon to “justify the price differential [between publisher’s textbook prices in the states and abroad] even while they are unsure why the price differential exists.”

The site also vents about how the existence of alternative products in a free market economy should decrease prices in a product category, although college stores’ seemingly selfless offering of used books in order to better serve their students has done no such thing. (Somehow in the shuffle the little aside about how used books are a cash cow for NACS member stores got left out).

With NACS finding it necessary to announce that they are working with publishers to address these issues “in appropriate and legal ways,” you can bet that this year’s CAMEX will be more than just a merchandising trade show – though as one publisher tells us from the convention floor, “The blood isn’t running down the aisles, yet.”

PT thanks Jim Lichtenberg’s investigative eye for helping to track down the turmoil.

Talking Grape Fruits, Thinking Grisham

Gift Cards Break Boundaries and Emerge as the New Consumer Currency of Choice

This summer, when the sweltering (remember?) sun drives you into Key Food for a sixpack, stop by the CoinStar on your way out, pop in your pennies and watch the new Harry Potter pop out. The little green machine recently announced that consumers will soon be able to receive gift cards in exchange for their change, including gift cards to bookstores.

Not since Barbie has such a small piece of plastic caused such a large amount of hoopla. According to the National Retail Federation, gift card sales reached $55 billion last year, with $17.3 billion being spent in the holiday season alone. Nearly 75% of all shoppers bought at least one gift card during the holidays, and the average gift card buyer bought 3.2, up 20% from the year before. What’s more, by the end of last year, over 80% of all American adults had received at least one gift card, with 90% of them classifying their gift card experience as “very positive.”

But while gift cards are rapidly emerging as the pre-payment option of choice, accounting is struggling to keep up – trying to figure out what they are and where to record them. As it stands, until the cards are redeemed, retailers record gift card sales as liability, and not revenue. Since gift cards sold during November and December are usually cashed in during January, accounting is helping to bolster an otherwise sluggish month for retailers. But card recovery is never complete, and by the end of January of this year only 61% of gift cards sold during the 2004 holiday season had been used, leaving an estimated $9 billion floating on unused cards. The cards, on average, have a non redemption rating of 16%, according to a Nielsen Report, which many (mistakenly) assume to mean an extra cushion for retailers. Unlike the UK, where gift cards were born (see below), unspent amounts remain a liability, and are therefore subject to escheat laws that allow states to claim that liability as “unclaimed property” for themselves. As a result, retailers are focusing on getting customers to redeem the card, even as they extend unlimited expiration dates. When they finally do, it often takes two store visits, and consumers overspend the card’s face value by 40%.

Independents Get Creative

In the world of gift cards, “booksellers have been as successful if not more so in terms of merchandising,” said Daniel Horne, retail and marketing professor at Providence College, commonly referred to as the “Gift Card Guru” for his continued involvement in the field. Although, mega-retailers Barnes & Noble and Borders come immediately to mind at the mention of gift cards, it is actually the little guy who is doing the most innovation as of late.

Established in October 2003, the American Booksellers Association‘s Book Sense gift card program — which now has more than 300 stores participating in the program and saw sales increase by 256% last December over December 2003 – is emerging as a front runner in developing new ways to sell, market and promote gift cards, including innovative display ideas, flashy packaging, and publisher promotional deals. Working with publishers was “something we always had in mind,” Jill Perlstein, Director of Marketing at ABA, said. “We try to work with the publisher to find something that’s going to benefit everybody.” In the first of such deals, Book Sense created a gift card that displayed a William Faulkner quote (as well as Vintage‘s logo) in honor of their 25th anniversary. Earlier this year, another more complex campaign involved a promotion from Hyperion in which gift cards emblazoned with the title and jacket art of its new book, Cecelia Ahern‘s PS, I Love You were given free of charge to the ABA for distribution in their member stores before Valentine’s Day. The ABA then handed them out, but left the stores to decide what they wanted to do with them. Harry W. SchwartzBookshops, in Wisconsin, elaborated on the Hyperion promotion by loading $3 onto the PS, I Love You card and offering it as a gift to customers who purchased the title, as well as those who purchased other Cecelia Ahern books.

“We’re always talking to everybody,” Perlstein said. “Basically we throw the deal out to everybody and see who’s interested.” Other promotion deals include one with Random House, which is issuing a display to each store, and “Greetings from Mitford” cards which feature pictures from Jan Karon‘s books Shepherds Abiding and Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader (Viking/Penguin). Large chains such as Barnes & Noble and Borders also have a variety of both licensed character gift cards (such as the B&N Eloise card) and single title deals (such as the Border’s Polar Express card). Although Book Sense cards are currently only dealing with specific promotions, like the recent Hyperion deal, Perlstein says that she thinks the ABA will soon be branching out, “working with publishers to come up with cards that are occasion specific rather than a specific title so that they can have more shelf life.” And the gift card push isn’t confined to in-store activity alone. “Booksellers are using them as a way to get their name out,” said Perlstein, citing an anecdote about an ABA member who handed out gift cards loaded with $5 on them at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, rather than business cards. “It gets the people into the stores, and they’re almost always going to spend more than what’s on the card.”

From Milliners to Mega Stores

Gift Card Guru Horne places the inception of the gift certificate (paper sister to the gift card) around the beginning of the last century, when it was used by milliners like Stetson. The first comprehensive and sweeping national certificate campaign began in 1932 with the Booksellers Association‘s development of book tokens in the UK. The tokens, stamps in actuality, were affixed to a paper card at purchase, and could be redeemed indefinitely by the holder in a variety of different BA stores throughout the UK and Ireland. The national multi-vendor voucher program (which made the switch from stamps to paper certificates in 1997) is still in place today, often running alongside its more successful, modern equivalent: the plastic, stored-value gift card booming at international retailers such as Borders.

Although surpassed in sales, book tokens retain an important place in the voucher community, representing open-system cards that are redeemable with a variety of vendors. Stuart Matthews, Managing Director of Book Tokens Ltd., explained that when a book token is sold, the bookshop pays 87.5% of the token’s face value to the National Book Tokens (NBT) where a “liability” is created in order to cover the cost expended by the exchanging store. The remaining 12.5% is considered a “sales commission” of sorts that goes to both the original bookseller for driving the sale, and to the NBT for making the transaction.

In an interesting turn of events, Sainsbury‘s (the UK chain that now sells books in about 350 of its 721 stores) recently became the first supermarket to join the Booksellers Association. Sainsbury’s hasn’t begun selling book tokens to date, but Publishing News notes that if book tokens are eventually sold at Sainsbury’s, “it will be a considerable boost for all bookshops, since the vast majority of book tokens bought in Tesco or Sainsbury’s are unlikely to be redeemed in supermarkets.” Matthews agreed adding, “If they did agree to sell, then I would be very pleased, for they would, in my view, start selling NBTs to persons who might not normally visit bookshops, thereby expanding the number of NBTs in circulation” – an interesting multi-vendor structure in which Sainsbury’s would receive, in essence, a commission for driving consumers into traditional bookstores.

Although supermarkets in the US are yet to be granted access into the ABA (and no one is holding their breath), they similarly act as shopping shepherds by selling the gift cards of a variety of vendors, including bookstores. Last fall, Barnes & Noble signed with Safeway, allowing their gift cards to be sold in stores such as A&P, Stop & Shop, Lowes, and Price Chopper among others, as well as in CVS, Eckerd Drugs and Radio Shack.

With a torrent of cross-marketing channels emerging, the opportunities for multi-venue gift card deals seem endless.

Surveys show that consumers are spending more while shopping at fewer stores, and with shoppers now seeking out gift cards as first-choice gifts rather than as last-minute fillers, consumers are going to places like CVS for the express purpose of buying gift cards to stores like Barnes & Noble. And although most of the cards being sold in multi-venue locations are big-name retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster and Home Depot, others, such as Virgin and Napster music download gift cards, are starting to break into the scene as well. To give gift card recipients even further choice, Safeway stores also offer the “My Choice Card” which is exchangeable for any of the cards that Safeway carries.

Selling gift cards in kiosks and check-out aisles won’t be the end of it, either. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see boxes of Apple Jacks having a Barnes & Noble gift card in them,” Horne remarked.

Good Job. Have a Gift Card.

“People will continue to come up with innovations as to how to merchandise [gift cards],” Horne said. “B2B sales, reward and recognition programs, [for example] Borders will partner with an incentive company – say a UPS driver doesn’t get in an accident for 100,000 miles, maybe he gets a gift card for a $100.”

Indeed, in a study commissioned by ValueLink last year, it was found that 40% of the 460 corporate incentive program decision makers interviewed said that they used gift certificates as incentive items in the last year, second only to cash. Companies can either use their own cards (e.g. Barnes & Noble giving an employee a Barnes & Noble card), or others (Sephora giving their company a Borders card). And whereas cash incentives have to be reported, gift card sales do not (necessarily), which makes incentives difficult to track, although it is estimated that the incentive industry pulls in about $30 billion a year.

Numerous B2B incentive programs have cropped up as advertising schemes and marketing deals as well, with Penguin recently offering a $250 salon-of-your-choice gift card to the winner of a contest revolving around their new book So Super Starry by Rose Wilkins. Schools also use gift cards as incentives, as well as for fundraising and charity opportunities. The Scrips program, for example, generates money for schools when they buy scrip (or negotiable gift cards) from retailers (such as Barnes & Noble and Borders) at a discounted price, and then resell the cards to students and parents at face value to raise the percentage difference. Scholastic Book Fair Gift Cards have cropped up to target kids whose parents cannot attend book fairs. And in higher education, many college stores (including both independents and Barnes & Noble affiliates) now offer gift cards as well.

Another phenomenon in plastic pre-payment, open-system cards, are co-branded credit cards like the Borders and Waldenbooks Platinum Visa card that uses a gift card as well as reward points in order to draw people into buying it. When purchased, the customer automatically receives a $20 gift card redeemable at Borders and Waldenbooks, and subsequent $5 store rewards certificates (exchangeable for merchandise in the same stores) for every 500 points collected – with double the points being received when the card is used in either Borders or Waldenbooks.

Now that gift cards are ubiquitous, retailers are looking for ways to encourage long-term gift card use in order to more thoroughly exploit direct marketing advantages of being able to track customer spending (such as where and when a specific title was purchased).

Some merchants offer reload incentives, such as increased stored-value, when customers refill their gift cards – (e.g. registering a $60 reload as $70), and advertising campaigns are now specifically aiming at gift card holders to drive up redemption rates.

“I think that they’ll continue to stretch these products out into all kinds of incentives. There’s still another good 10 years in it, and who knows what technology will bring next,” said Horne.

School of Hard Knocks

Argentinian Aristocrats, More DaVinci,

Writers with Good Noses

As if high school reunions don’t already conjure up enough fear and trepidation, Dutch author Simone van der Vlugt (best known for her YA novels) has brought this confluence of teenage angst to a whole new level in her first foray into adult fiction with The Reunion. Sabine’s life is suddenly turned on its head when she receives an announcement about her reunion. She isn’t worried about how she looks, or how successful (or not) her life has been, but instead hones in on an event of her youth that continues to haunt her — the disappearance of her classmate Isabel. Once her best friend, Isabel morphed into the most popular girl in the school, and dropped Sabine like a sack of potatoes. But it’s Sabine who still feels guilty because she knows Isabel would not have vanished if she had cycled home with her that fateful day. Now, 10 years later, the gnawing feeling of guilt continues to grow as multiplying fragments of memory come back to her. Sabine roots around in the past and comes closer and closer to the true, terrifying story behind Isabel’s disappearance. “ “ A hugely exciting literary thriller, presenting intriguing themes, such as the suppression of traumatic events, the competition between teenagers, and also between colleagues, love, and above all, friendship.” “An asset to the Dutch thriller genre, Van der Vlugt certainly measures up to Nicci French.” Contact Chris Herschdorfer at Ambo/Anthos (Holland).

Also in Holland, a brother and sister author duo who famously dislike each other’s work, have teamed up to write “two books in one” in Murder & Manslaughter.In Doeschka Meijsing’s half, Andrea is visiting her brother Timbeer, whom she hasn’t seen for years, on the peninsula of Ortigia in Sicily. The brother and sister are the middle children in a family of five in which sibling rivalry is the rule. Much like the authors, Timbeer and Andrea are also both writers and thus an even more potent rivalry has developed between them. Holed up in Timbeer’s apartment for days on end, Andrea stews about a solemn childhood pledge she made to kill her brother, while Timbeer works furiously writing a book about a homicide case in the north of Italy (call it the OJ trial of its day). Andrea’s short visit will lead to a surprising and unpredictable development in her relationship with her brother. In Geerten Meijsing ‘s half, Manslaughter, he refutes everything that his sister has written about him. Fascinated by another family, in which a woman is the sole suspect in the murder of her child, Timbeer tries to prove her innocence from afar. The press has offered high praise for Geerten as a “writer with a good nose, a heart and amazingly beautiful penmanship,” while Doeschka was nominated for the Libris Literature Award for her previous novel, 100% Chemistry, “a short, sparkling chronicle of four generations of women,” which is under option in France. Contact Floortje Jansen at Querido (Holland).

The shifty-eyed Mona Lisa makes another grand entrance into the literary world in Mart ín Caparr ós’ Argentinian Planeta Award-winning novel Valfierno. As if we haven’t heard the name enough, Da Vinci’s famous lady has disappeared from the Louvre in 1911, and the police are hunting through every nook and cranny of France to catch the culprit. The story revolves around the prime suspect, the Marquis of Valfierno, an Argentinian aristocrat “with a criminal mind that is both warped and brilliant.” The product of an impoverished childhood, he is unjustly accused of being the ringleader of an anarchist bombing attempt and is sent to prison. After his release, he takes up employment at a brothel where he meets the Frenchman with whom he plots “the heist of the century.” Caparr ós paints a portrait of an indelible character who “creates and recreates himself with a succession of disguises, infiltrating a high-society world to which he does not belong, and inventing a prestigious though entirely bogus name for himself.” Rights have been sold to Planeta (Brazil) and Ripol (Russia). Contact Thomas Colchie for US rights and Mercedes Casanovas (Spain) for all other rights.

Also in Argentina, a recently married Agostino leaves Italy at the end of the nineteenth century for the faraway city of Buenos Aires in Griselda Gambaro’s “breathtaking story,” The Sea That Brought Us. Once on solid ground, he meets Luisa, a washerwoman who falls in love with him and bears him a daughter, Natalia, who turns out to be as strong as the current that brought her father to his new land. Suffering and deprived, she hardens her spirit until she changes her own fate, but pays a high price in the process. Family ties are put through the the ringers of the political storms of the time, the fervor of anarchists and of striking workers. In her latest novels, she pierces the “luminous and urgent center of…the most definitive truths about love, forgetfulness, tenderness, the sick body, and the loss of recognition.” Contact Gabriela Adamo of Letras Argentinas for more information.

Society and its discontents are also on the march in France this month. Meet Rudy. He’s not quite thirty and he works at a plastics plant with Dallas (who has grown so accustomed to her nickname that she’s forgotten her given name). Both of their lives are thrown into a tailspin when the plant closes down in G érard Mordillat’s epic, The Living and the Dead. Woven through this ambitious account of fifty or so characters is the love story of a young couple carried along in the stream of contemporary history. Battered by passion, insurrection and tumultuous revolts, Rudy and Dallas harbor secrets and struggle to survive in a town where hardship has torn families apart, set neighbor against neighbor, and crushed private, social and political norms. The scramble for financial survival prevails over human compassion as Mordillat gives a voice to those who normally are denied the right to speak. Awarded the Prix RTL-Lire at the Salon du Livre, the novel is an attempt by Mordillat (who is a film and documentary maker) to occupy the territory, which in his opinion, has almost entirely been deserted by television and cinema – that of dire realism. Rights are with Charlotte Riegl of Calmann-Lévy (France).

Finally, following up on the controversy involving the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and its attempt to censor works from the six countries currently under trade embargo (see PT, 4/04), Arcade has published Strange Times, My Dear, the PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature despite the risk of fine and imprisonment. After teaming up with PEN, the AAP, and the AAUP to file suit against the US government, Arcade was issued a “general license” to “freely engage in most ordinary publishing activities” involving countries on America’s “enemies list,” but never received a direct response to the lawsuit. We salute them.

Salon du Vivre

The word salon is equally defined as a room, such as a drawing room, used for receiving and entertaining guests, or as a periodic gathering of people of social or intellectual distinction. With this in mind, the perennially chic Salon du Livre celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, continuing a very French mélange of book fair meets leisurely living room. Although the event has long outgrown its original home at the Grand Palais, the opening night retained the same bustling atmosphere of fairs gone by, with guests balancing champagne flutes and gingerly handling hors-d’oeuvres. The art in question seemed less that of literature, and more that of meeting and greeting, with the success of each publisher’s books reflected in the quality of drinks and petit fours served at their respective stands. The Veuve Cliquot of Denoel‘s booth served as the perfect apéritif for the first-rate tomes of La Suite Fran çaise by Irène Némirovsky and A Very Long Engagement by Sébastien Japrisot, whereas a run of the mill bottle of Bordeaux mirrored the less illustrious success of the National Museums‘ latest publications. Some booths looked simply miserable in comparison, armed only with orange juice, but the always-effervescent Bureau International de l’Edition Fran çaise (BIEF) threw a private party with its own bartenders and waiters to advertise to the world the prosperity of the French publishing scene.

Never before had the Salon been open to such a wide variety of foreign influence, highlighted by the Cosmopolivres special section, touting 300 publishers with the literature of over 25 countries. A single look at the schedule took the visitor on a trip through Africa, Algeria, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and India, and celebrated writers like Bukowski and Jules Verne.

The fair also paid a special tribute to Russian literature, bringing in approximately 40 guest authors. By the end, over 18,000 books from the Russian booths were sold, a quarter in the original language.

A 15% decline in the number of paying visitors (down to 165,000) was optimistically attributed to the unseasonably sunny weather and the large number of free invitations issued, but balanced by the increase in the number of attending scholars, which topped 12,000.

PT thanks Armelle Weisman, a journalist for the French magazine Topo for contributing to this article

Don’t Right Them Off Yet

The slide has been slow, but inexorable:  Subsidiary Rights, once one of the biggest profit centers in publishing, has retreated over the years to a marginalized — though still essential — role in most houses. leaving foreign rights as the focus of many departments. With this reconstitution and reconfiguration, those in the business are finding that flexibility is key. Hyperion rights director Jill Sansone says her tanle at London or Frankfurt is as busy as ever, but she and her department fill any spare time they may have running their audio and calendar program. She’s also responsible for all the movie tie-ins that come to them via Disney’s Tocuhstone Pictures for which they always have world rights.

Meredith is another publisher who is focusing on foreign rights, but not because of any falloff in its domestic rights. Instead, says Editorial Director Linda Cunningham, its purview is broadening in response to a list that travels better abroad, and to efforts to increase its presence in foreign markets. Successful television shows like American Shopper, which is now launched in the UK, haven’t hurt (even though, in this case, rights belong to Haines).

The picture isn’t exactly rosy, even in foreign rights,as sales are down, especially to European publishers. Weak markets in places like Germany, resentment of US foreign policy and the rise of nationalism are all mentioned as possible causes. Meanwhile, more literary agents are holding on to these rights, giving publishers less to sell. (This is less true with illustrated books, which still need their foreign co-editions to make the numbers work on their U.S. edition.) And in a developing mini trend, some foreign rights departments are moving out of the US, to the publisher’s UK office when that option exists. Rodale moved its foreign rights to London several years ago and two academic publishers have indicated that they will do so in the next year.

The reconfiguration began in the early ’80s, as publisher consolidation eroded the rights market for paperbacks and by the mid-’90s book club consolidation squeezed those dollars too. At its height in the ’70s, sales of a book like Ragtime, or book club rights to The World According To Garp could bring in seven figures. Today’s paltry book club deals sometimes dip below a mere four figures, and most books are published in paperback by the original hardcover publisher. True there are exceptions, like James Patterson’s seven figure deal with Bookspan or Scribner’s sale to Harcourt of Temple Grandin’s ANIMALS IN TRANSLATION for significant six figures.

Even the smaller publishers, who would have auctioned their paperback rights in the past, are negotiating joint ventures with their paperback publishers in order to keep their authors happy. Walker shared Dava Sobel with Penguin and Harcourt has a relationship with MacAdam Cage, Audrey ( Time Traveller’s Wife) Niffenberger‘s publisher.

In fact, says Nina Hoffman, President of National Geographic Books and Education (and once a rights director) sub rights is an ever-decreasing profit center, to the point where now “It’s a marketing function as much as a sales function,” promoting authors and their books through serial sales and the like. At NGS the domestic sub rights department, along with special sales and custom publishing, reports into the sales department.

Susan Peterson at Baker & Taylor (also a former rights director) said that she sees the subrights market as increasingly being audio, large print and foreign rights. But even there, audio and other electronic rights are now migrating to distribution deals, handled by the sales department or an electronic publishing division.

Others agree that the distinction between the sale of the physical book, and the sale of an intangible – the right to recreate an ebook or allow the downloading of an audiobook (or some part thereof) – is quickly dissolving. One academic publisher, for instance, is folding its domestic rights into to its electronic database division. S&S now sells its audiobooks – including digital downloads – through its sales department.

Random ‘s Claire Tisne says that “the rights world is changing, but not necessarily getting smaller; it’s repositioning itself.” As the role of rights changes, Tisne seized upon the importance of looking at rights as an “extension of editorial” and emphasizing the importance of “tightening” the relationship between rights and editorial as much as possible. For Free Press EVP and Publisher Martha Levin (yet another ertstwhile rights director), it’s the relationship between the rights department and publicity that she considers important, especially on serial rights where co-ordinating them with the book’s publicity campaign is key.

At the end of the day, though, says Houghton Mifflin’s Debbie Engel, there are still many rights that still have to be sold. Book club advances are lower but the books still have to be submitted and can still earn the same money over time. Permissions has become a bigger source of revenue (see PT September 2004), and children’s rights continue to be very strong. Determined to make its rights processing efficient, and its records complete, HM invested in Nextance, an electronic contract and rights management system, which went live in late November in the trade and reference division. The other divisions will follow at some future time.

Book View, April 2005


The latest changes under PW’s new management include the departures of Jeff Zaleski, John Mutter, and two other staffers. This follows the arrival of Karen Holt as Deputy Editor mid-month.

Ivan Held has been named President of Putnam. Held, who was most recently VP Associate Publisher of Warner Books, will begin his new position on April 4. According to Susan Petersen Kennedy, he will “work very closely with the newly established Executive Board of G. P. Putnam’s Sons,” including Neil Nyren, Dan Harvey, Marilyn Ducksworth, and Catharine Lynch. “They will help guide the future publishing strategy of the imprint and contribute new acquisitions to the imprint.”

Robin Corey has left S&S Children’s. Jen Bergstrom will temporarily assume some of her Simon Spotlight responsibilities. Earlier in the month it was announced that Anne Schwartz, who left S&S for Random House in February, has been joined by Lee Wade, also from S&S, and has launched a new imprint, Schwartz & Wade Books.

Peter J. Dougherty , Group Publisher for social sciences at Princeton University Press, has been named Director of the Princeton University Press, effective July 1. He succeeds Walter Lippincott, who plans to retire after almost twenty years at the press.

Jackie Cantor , VP and Executive Editor at Bantam Dell, is leaving the company. . . . Anne Kostick has left STC, where she had been a Senior Editor. . . . Knopf Sales and Marketing Director, Amanda Kauff has resigned to follow her husband, who is being relocated to London. . . . Cheryl Pientka is leaving Barbara Tolley to be Subrights Manager and an agent at the Joy Harris Agency.

Jonathan Burnham has left Miramax to become Publisher of HarperCollins, and followed by Kathy Schneider as Assoc iate Publisher. Meanwhile Rob Weisbach has gone to Weinstein/Miramax as Editor. Weisbach has been relatively quiet since he signed on as an S&S editor-at-large almost three years ago.

Meg Kearney , Associate Director of the National Book Foundation has left the organization, and there are no immediate plans to replace her. Executive Director Harold Augenbraum tells PT that publishers guidelines for the National Book Awards will be going out mid-April. 

Tom Grady , long time Editorial Director at Harper San Francisco and subsequently a literary agent, has been named Publisher of Ave Maria Press at Notre Dame.

Ann Binkley has been named Executive Director The Quills Literacy Foundation. She was formerly Executive Director of New York is Book Country.

Andrea Pinkney will step down as publisher of the Houghton Mifflin children’s book group April 8. Pinkney chose to leave following a decision by management to relocate the publisher’s office from New York, where she was based, to Boston.

Sarah Burnes from Burnes & Clegg has gone to David Gernert and may be reached at: (212)838-7777 or by email at: [email protected]

Rodale news: Stephanie Tade has gone back to being a literary agent. Randy Charles who left Rodale late last year has been named EVP/Chief Marketing Officer of the Health Sciences Division of Elsevier.

Seth Radwell , who oversaw the day-to-day operations of Bookspan‘s marketing and editorial group, has left to run e-Scholastic, the publisher’s online information and e-commerce division. Carole Baron, who left Dutton earlier in March, has gone to Bookspan in a part time position, working three days a week. Bookspan recently moved down to 15 East 26th Street. The new phone number is 212-651-7400.

Vista ‘s longtime senior executive John Wicker has left the company. Former CEO Brian Gibson, who had stepped down to serve as consultant to the company in November, will become CEO for North America.

Kim Hadney has joined ReganBooks as Marketing Director. Hadney most recently held the title of Director of Advertising and Promotion for Dutton and Gotham Books. Lynn Grady, whose place she takes, has left Regan to become Associate Publisher at WilliamMorrow, HarperEntertainment and Eos imprints. Speaking of leaving Dutton, Senior Editor Jerry Brozek has left NAL.

Liz Kessler has joined Spark Educational Publishing as Managing Editor. She comes from Scholastic where she was also Managing Editor working on corporate and government sponsored education programs for teachers. The incumbent ME, Vince Janoski has been named Business Manager for the Spark Group which now includes the Barnes & Noble Classics.

Laura Nolan is leaving Barnes & Noble Publishing where she was an editor. She can be reached at: (212) 633-3268.


Libby Jordan has moved over to Collins as SVP, Associate Publisher where she will be responsible for overseeing the division’s marketing and direct-to-consumer initiatives.

Jordan was SVP, Associate Publisher of Morrow/Avon as well as Associate Publisher for Morrow Cookbooks. Matthew Benjamin has been promoted to Senior Editor, Collins. In this role, he will be acquiring original manuscripts in reference, as well as helping develop the Smithsonian co-branded book program. Benjamin has been with HarperCollins for 6 years.

April Events

The Open eBook Forum presents “eBooks in Education Conference” on April 14 at the McGraw-Hill Auditorium, 1221 Avenue of the Americas. The keynote address will be presented by Craig D. Swenson, the Provost and Senior VP for Academic Affairs at the University of Phoenix. Dr. Swenson will present “How Professionals Learn Today-Intentional Learning and the Irrelevance of Textbooks”. The conference runs from 8 am to 5 pm. The price for the day, which includes breakfast and lunch, is $99, or $49 for Open eBook Forum members. Conference information is available at

• Small Press Center Presents the 1st Annual NYC Round Table Writers Conference on April 29 – 30, at its 20 West 44th Street location. Pitched as an opportunity to “Meet the Movers & Shakers,” the list of panelists includes Mary Higgins Clark, Patrick McGrath, Michael Connelly, Meg Wolitzer and a raft of publishers and agents. Price: 2-days: $295, one-day: $195. Go to for details.

The Humber School of Creative and Performing Arts hosts a conference in Toronto on April 14 and 15 entitled “The New Face of Publishing.” Guests include Michael Cader of Publishers Marketplace; Mike Shatzkin of the Idea Logical Company, Kevin Smokler, author of the forthcoming Bookmark Now (Basic Books); and Michael Smolens, Founder of On Demand Books LLC. Cynthia Good, who had been President of Penguin Canada and is now Director of Humber’s Creative Publishing program will be co-hosting.

• NYU’S Third Management Forum for Independent Publishers will be held on April 15-16. Among the speakers in this useful, nuts and bolts program are Nielsen BookScan‘s Jim King, Bookspan‘s Larry Shapiro, Perseus‘s David Steinberger, and Ingram‘s Phil Ollila. The price is $950 or $855 before March 18. Call 212 992 3236 or

Duly Noted

As of September 8, 2005 National Geographic will be distributed by Random House, until then we’re still with Simon and Schuster. They made us an offer we just couldn’t refuse.

Julie Merberg announces the launch of Downtown Bookworks Inc. (285 West Broadway, suite 600 New York, NY 10013). Merberg, who comes from Roundtable Press, is joined by Patty Brown, who had been with John Boswell and, most recently, at Roundtable; and Sara Newberry, who came to publishing via culinary school.

One time publisher of Kodansha and longtime Women’s Media Group member Gillian Jolis passed away on March 25, after several months of illness. A memorial service took place on March 29. Contributions in her memory may be made to The Group for the South Fork, P. O. Box 569, Bridgehampton, NY 11932-0569.

Congrats to Liate Stehlik, Assoc Pub Pocket Books. Liate had a baby boy, John Gallagher, 8 lbs. 2 oz. born on February, 23rd. Everyone is healthy and fine.

Politics and Prose

This story was contributed by Efrat Lev, Foreign Rights Director at the Harris/Elon Literary Agency in Jerusalem. She participated in this year’s Editorial Fellows Program at the Jerusalem International Book Fair.

Those of us living in this country and region know that everything in our lives is political; and those attending this year’s lively Jerusalem International Book Fair experienced first-hand that even a book fair can be influenced by the complicated situation in the Middle East. It was obvious that the increase in the number of attendees at the Fair should be attributed to the relative calm and the current cautious optimism felt here after the change of the Palestinian leadership. The opening ceremony of the Fair was a good indication of this, when the head of Israel’s Publishers’ Association discussed in his address the recent cease-fire negotiations. He was followed by the esteemed novelist David Grossman, who talked about a writer’s life in Israel during these difficult years, and the hopes for change in light of recent developments.

Politics proved dominant in many events at the Fair, from a panel discussion with foreign journalists who have written books about the Middle East, to the most exciting event of all–the literary exchange between Israeli, Arab and Middle Eastern writers, which took place at the Sheikh Hussein Bridge connecting Israel and Jordan. The 48 fellows of the twentieth Editorial Fellows Program, editors and agents from fourteen countries, were also greatly exposed to the politics in Israeli life, in listening to the guest speakers or in their tour of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The Bridge event, sponsored mainly by the von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, was planned and organized by Deborah Harris of Israel’s Harris/Elon Agency, who realized over the years that there has been no dialogue between Israeli and Arab authors at the Fair. Over 300 participants, including the fellows and other international publishing professionals, local and foreign press and writers and poets gathered on a beautiful sunny day to discuss literature together, trying to leave behind-if not forgetting–political differences. The atmosphere was relaxed and the discussions were held in good spirit, moderated by Michael Naumann, former German Minister of Culture. The topics of discussion were “How Does Language and Place Affect Your Identity as a Writer” and “Can Writers Change the World”. The authors and poets who participated in the discussions and readings were speakers of Hebrew, Arabic, French, English, Dutch & Turkish. To an inquiry about whether there are any real political benefits to such a meeting, noted Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua replied, “This is another drop of engine oil in the wheels of peace…for me, this may be yet another meeting of many that took place already and will continue to take place–but I will never tire of such events.” The happy faces and the extraordinary human connections made that day indicated that indeed there can, and should be a link between literature and politics.

A more industry-oriented event at the Fair was the International Buzz Forum, moderated by PW‘s Daisy Maryles, at which editors and agents presented current projects. Some of the titles discussed were Charles Lambert‘s Fern Seed (Isobel Dixon at Blake Friedmann, UK), The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers by Delia Falconer (Fran Bryson, Australia), Chosen: The History of An Idea, An Anatomy of An Obsession by Avi Beker (Scott Mendel, U.S.), and Julie and Julia: 365 days/524 recipes/One crappy apartment kitchen by Julie Powell (Wylie). The Israeli authors who created interest among the editors this year were Sayed Kashua (Harris/Elon), Etgar Keret (The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature), and newcomers Alon Hilu (Harris/Elon) and Maya Arad (Xargol Publishers).

Join the Club

Book Clubs Reinvent the Digital World

If the term ‘book club’ evokes a muddled mélange (if not somewhat terrifying dream) of Oprah covering Tolstoy in gold stickers, growing legions of like-minded enthusiasts discussing scrapbooks or maybe even booksellers in Kabul, classes filled with Scholastic catalogs offering Shrek 2 tie-ins, while exclamation-point-laden mailers emblazoned with “6 books for a dollar!” fall from the sky, well, join the club.

This increasingly bloated term now refers to a variety of disparate categories – from reading groups to the recommendations of the Today Show and Oprah. Exacerbating the confusion, book clubs’ individual identities became obscured in the 2000 joint venture between Bertelsmann and AOL Time Warner that formed Bookspan, the 40-club-strong Goliath of the industry. The new name constantly provokes misunderstandings, either because it is confused with VNU’s Bookscan, or because the corporate entity acts as a stand-in for its discrete parts (Bookspan as Book-of-the-Month Club, or the Literary Guild, Bookspan as all of the Doubleday clubs combined).

With such disheveled semantics, it is difficult to pin down, what exactly people are rallying against when they vow (as a particularly vehement blogger did recently) never to join a book club, “short of being in prison, living in some remote country, or being socially isolated in the extreme.” In a recent survey of middle-aged readers, it was clear that the surveyees didn’t distinguish between discussing books in a group or paying for monthly shipments — but they didn’t want either.

Reading groups, however are going gangbusters (to use a favorite phrase of Bookspan honcho Markus Wilhelm) and layoffs and “reorganizations” to the contrary, book clubs may yet have some life left in them. What is dying is the definition of just what that is.

The New Clubs on the Block

Throughout decades of expansion and proliferation, book clubs remained anchored in their “value propositions” as Ruth Stevens, president of e-marketing strategies and veteran of BOMC and Time Life, described them: editorial selection, the bribe (X number of books for $1 when you join), and the convenience of direct shipments. By the late ‘90s the first and third value propositions had been hijacked, and only the bribe was left to seduce an increasingly savvy and wary public.

But once again, the equation is shifting, as publishers become online retailers, on-line booksellers begin to offer memberships (Amazon Prime), as well as on-line reading groups (B&N’s ) and everyone gets into the continuity biz. Audible has been the most obviously successful (investor lawsuits to the contrary) by offering some 400,000 users a flat fee membership that buys them audio books at an average of $10 a pop.

Bookspan’s latest endeavor is Zooba, which, though still beta testing, dramatically differs from the original club’s model, and offers the venture a real shot at a sustainable model. Similar to Time-Life continuities, Zooba members pay $9.95 a month to receive the hardcover book of their choice, until they cancel their subscription. Exclusively on-line, the snazzy site — replete with bestsellers, and a virtual host that welcomes you and then follows your cursor with her eyes — advertises its affiliation with Bookspan, by splaying “Brought to you by Book-of-the-Month Club” across the top of the screen, even while asserting independence. Another Net-Flix style venture, also developed in 2000, is Booksfree, the on-line, membership-based book rental site. “We bring the library to your home,” says Doug Ross, president and CEO of the company. Although comparatively small in size, Booksfree’s membership base is double what it was just two years ago. Supplied by distributors Ingram and Baker & Taylor, Booksfree also rents out audio books via snail mail (like Audio Queue, Recorded Books, Simply Audiobooks, and ZDag), but is the only company that currently has such a concept with books. “One of the benefits of our service…is the ability of members to try new authors without losing any money as they would if buying the books,” Ross said. The resurfacing of rentals as a way of saving money by erasing commitment is akin to the used book market where readers are in possession of books for a certain amount of time before earning their money back through reselling.

In the virtual world of the spoken word (where Audible has rapidly expanded since becoming Apple iTunes‘ audiobook partner) Media Bay, a company similar to Audible that got its start when Book-of-the Month sold off its Audio Book Club, is just now segueing from selling hard goods primarily via mail order to “digital distribution via wireless and internet downloads.” On March 1 the company announced that it will offer downloads of S&S Audio titles through its partnership with the MSN Music service. Meanwhile, a new generation of legal P2P file-sharing networks are also becoming vehicles for audiobooks, such as LimeWire (where users pay a flat rate for an unlimited lifetime membership) and Wurld Media‘s “Peer Impact” beta site, where members pay for individual songs, and soon other media, but then receive credit for file sharing.

What remains to be seen is whether, as media converges into a few sturdy subscription models, where paper and ether are interchangeable and credit card billing is the standard, the arcane distinctions between royalty deals and retail discounts, between exclusive and nonexclusive deals, and between retailers, clubs, publishers and file-sharing networks will persist. “I’ve been saying forever, if the book clubs become like an on-line bookseller, why should they be getting things any cheaper?” asked Michael Cader, founder of Publishers Marketplace. For now, precedence presides, and until the publishers pull the plug, or online retailers begin to demand similar deals, precedence rules, even as the clubs break away from the models that came to define them

History and Hysteria

History and Hysteria : Vampire Invade europe, Japan’s Humbert Humbert, French Firefighters Go Macho

Just as it seemed the somnolent retail toy market was perking up, with strong late-December sales and words like “optimistic” floating through the press, this year’s lackluster Toy Fair served as a reminder that it’s going to take more than a nuzzling T-Rex to bring the industry out of its slump.

The largest to date, boasting 1600 exhibitors from 31 countries, attendee registration for “Play Meets Profit” was reportedly up 18%, and although the miles of snaking line dividers seemed to suggest that organizers had planned for a descent of the hordes, the absence of people waiting in lines called into question where exactly that 18 percent was hiding.

The newest addition to the fair was the Reading, Writing and Rhythm section that grouped all of the publishers – from industry giants Scholastic and HarperCollins to unknown independents Knowing and Growing and ee publishing – in one aisle. The section also attempted to cash in on the booming children’s audio market, an endeavor that might have been successful had the aisle of choice not been aisle 3000, located in what turned out to be the Jersey of the Javits, (which, in a year filled with talk about experimental marketing, and the importance of product placement in innovative venues, was ironically ineffective).

Apart from Scholastic and Klutz, which were buzzing near the entrance, Time Warner, Disney, HarperCollins, Silver Dolphin (the AMS imprint), Wiley, Evan Moor, Random House, Harcourt and Candlewick were all empty. In some cases, not even the exhibitor was present, and the stands were left to fend for themselves. Although Usborne’s distributor EDC (also empty) said they didn’t notice a large difference in crowd size after being subsumed by RW&R, other publishers were more pessimistic, noting that not only was attendance sluggish, but that buyers who did manage to wend their way to the far end of the fair were doing much less on-the-spot buying than in years past.

Not withstanding the above, Reyne Rice, Toy Trends Specialist for the Toy Industry Association, said that they had received a “very good response” to the Reading, Writing and Rhythm section, and that it “will be back next year.” But to the casual observer, publishers who opted out of the RW&R conglomeration – like publishing newcomer University Games (with their enormous right-at-the-front-door spread), Lisa LeLeu Puppet Show Books, and Soft Play – seemed much more pleased than those who didn’t. One vendor near the back wall managed to put a positive spin on things, however, as he sat eating chocolates in his empty booth. “It could be worse,” he said. “I’m just happy I’m not across from the guy with the washboard ties.”

KAGOY is the Word

“Kids are getting older younger” or KAGOY (as the sassy industry acronym goes) was the catch phrase of the moment, after high tech toys for tots offered a sunny respite from an otherwise gloomy overall retail decline. According to The NPD Group electronic learning and youth electronics toy sales in the infant/preschool and learning/exploration categories were up 10% to 19% respectively, putting a spotlight on the diaper demographic.

“Pre-School is hot,” said Chris Campbell, SVP Marketing at Publications International, emphasizing what has long been known to be a pillar of licensing activity. “Kids are constantly exposed to progressively more sophisticated, interactive opportunities,” he said, “and if you look at product going forward, the majority will have some level of interactivity with an electronic component.”

With 90% plus market share in the sound books business, PIL has a slew of interactive books for young kids. Their hallmark product, the Story Reader, is a portable electronic case that holds refillable books, and automatically recognizes the page that the child is on, reading out loud accordingly. After selling 1.5 million units since it debuted in 2003, PIL has plans to crack the even younger market by introducing a My First Story Reader aimed at children six months to age three (and featuring Sesame Street, Winnie the Pooh and Baby Einstein) this fall.

One of the most exciting PIL sound books, however, was the Sponge Bob cash register book that will come fully equipped with a scanner that scans barcodes inside the book and then posts the total on the attached cash register’s LCD screen. The register acts as a calculator as well, with a functional money-filled drawer that pops in and out. For those shopping-savvy toddlers who know that plastic is the way to go, the book also comes with a credit card that keeps track of purchases, allowing the child to learn the joy of addition and subtraction by racking up debt.

KAGOY doesn’t just mean trickle down high-tech, however, and already a “pendulum swing toward low-tech products” can be seen as well, Rice pointed out. Anticipating the stress that such a frenetic techno-gadget world can induce, parents are jumping the gun and buying low-tech to counteract the onslaught, snatching up yoga videos from Kids Musical Yoga and relaxation CDs from Joy Stories for their newborns to three-year-olds.

Now, if only Starbucks would come on board with chai flavored breast milk…

Can You Say Buen Negocio?

As an aside, Spanish was everywhere at this year’s fair, from product lines (1/3 of PIL’s line now has Spanish language equivalents) to the chatter in the aisles. In one of the newest successful developments in the growing English/Spanish asociación, Baby Einstein was licensed by Disney to AMS’ Silver Dolphin for distribution in Mexico. According to Jeanne Mosure, Disney’s VP Global Retail Markets and Sydney Stanley, AMS’ VP Product Development, the joint venture, Silver Dolphin En Espanol, launched with 12 titles in 2003, followed by 8 more in 2004, and was hugely successful (fueled, no doubt, by Costco’s growing presence south of the border). This early success prompted AMS/Disney to test distribution for the same Spanish language titles in the US via PGW. Plans for this year include expanded distribution to Chile and Argentina.