Marketing Makeover

WOM’s The Word As Podcasts, Blogging, Buzz & Viral Go Mainstream

Although the book publishing industry as a whole has yet to go viral in the way of blockbusters or burgers (Have you “crashed” the Wedding Crashers trailer or Had It Your Way with Burger King‘s Subservient Chicken?), many in the industry say they’re not hooked on hype alone. Instead, they have a hankering for the new and potentially revolutionary idea that every book has a targetable market, and if it doesn’t, perhaps it shouldn’t be published.

“I get up every morning and what I think about is the reader,” said Carol Fitzgerald, co-founder and president of The Book Report Network, speaking on a panel at the recent Book Standard Summit. “How to get that book into the reader’s hand and what the reader wants to know.”

Sue Fleming, VP Marketing Director, Simon & Schuster said, “Before, most publishers felt that marketing focused on retailers — on book placement, book promotion in stores. In my experience, it’s turned into something else entirely. There are many more mediums within which to work, to use as tools, and the lines between each are grayer than they used to be.”

Behind the varied media strategies aimed at the increasingly distracted and scattered consumer, from viral, to buzz, to pyro, to word-of-mouth — see our glossary on pg.6 — lies a nouveau marketing movement hoping to discover and prime their target audiences. Finding out who and where the reader is requires research — research that has heretofore been too costly and time consuming for publishers to invest in. Now, however, with the immediacy of the internet and the regenerative word-of-mouth model, all of the steps are being sandwiched together — pre-marketing, post-marketing, market research — prompting publishers to acknowledge what marketing mavens like Bzz Agent and Seth Godin have been saying for years now: consumers are the best at selling the product they use, so get the consumers to do the marketing for you.

As Peter McCarthy, ex-VP, Executive Director of Online Marketing at Penguin put it, “There’s nothing like a rabid fan to market for you. They know the most about the product, and they’re the most likely to want to tell people about the product. It all just feeds upon itself.”

Toss in a Bikini and Watch Sales Skyrocket

A while back, Drill Team Media — a non-traditional marketing services firm — came to Farrar, Straus & Giroux to introduce themselves. When FSG was organizing the hardcover release last fall of Tom Wolfe‘s I Am Charlotte Simmons — a musing on the baser side of college life at a fictional Ivy League university — Jeff Seroy, VP & Publicity Director, remembered the encounter, and went to the company to collaborate. “The people who Tom writes about love to read about themselves,” Seroy said. “I thought that it would be an interesting opportunity to use Drill Team to reach college aged kids, since that’s what the novel is about.” Marketing measures involved a “Meet Tom Wolfe” contest, campus outreach, radio interviews, and niche advertising.

Although the book received a fairly tepid response from mainstream audiences, the collegiate market showed promise. When Picador took over for the paperback launch last month, they again hired Drill Team, but adopted a different strategy to get even closer to their college consumers. In the midst of the makeover, the title was removed completely from the cover, graphics were overhauled, and armies of frat boys and sorority girls were sent preview chapters from the book so that they could provide feedback and act as word-of-mouth promoters.

By awarding points (redeemable for prizes and rewards) to the frat boys for their feedback, they were able to generate reliable market research at a fraction of the cost.

“Each influencer has 20 plus friends,” Steve Kleinberg, CEO of Drill Team said, “So instead of spending huge amounts of time and money putting together focus groups, we can shoot out a list of questions in the morning and easily have 200 responses by the end of the day.”

Now, (influenced in part by the input of their targeted demo) the words “jocks,” “mutants,” “tailgating” and “sex” run down the left-hand side of TomWolfe.com, while “Win a Trip to Cancun” stands out in electric green on the upper right (which, when clicked, takes you to where “Bonfire of the Bathing Suits: Spring Break with Charlotte Simmons” is splayed across the screen in hot pink). After a brief nod to Wolfe’s new novel, as it relates to college in the form of “drunken hook-ups” and “going buck-wild,” they ask: “But what’s the fun in reading about the debauchery that takes place at Dupont without a little debauchery of your own?”

With the combined efforts, the book has outsold every other Tom Wolfe title at college bookstores across the country.

Although originally relegated to edgy trade paperback titles geared toward a younger, media-savvy set, new media marketing campaigns have begun to gain popularity with a more mainstream audience.

HarperCollins recently teamed up with Hype Council, an independant marketing firm similar to Drill Team, to promote Michael Crichton’s State of Fear. According to HC’s Suzie Sisoler, the pre-pub campaign included an on-line scavenger hunt, a contest, ‘forward-to-a-friend’ elements, a community message board for sharing clues, and a sweepstakes (stateoffeargame.com).

Author Patricia Cornwell worked with Penguin last month to prime audiences for the release of her latest novel Predator, by creating a blog, a video trailer, a contest, and an interactive “Forensic Challenge” on her website (patriciacornwell.com).

Farah Miller, Manager of New Media at Knopf, created JayneDennis.com, a personal website for one of the main characters in Bret Easton Ellis’s latest novel Lunar Park, along with a profile for Roby, Jayne’s son, on MySpace.com. “It took off in an alarming way,” Miller said. “The response has been terrific.”

“Web publicity is one of the most cost- effective ways of marketing books,” said Fauzia Burke, President of FSB Associates, an on-line marketer. “Our clients are thrilled to see that blogs and podcasts are now part of every publicity campaign.”

Fleming says S&S uses a variety of techniques and media: blogs, print ads, e-mail blasts, websites. “It’s hard to pinpoint one tool that we focus on more, or that is more important,” she said. “When we do it well, we’re marketing across all mediums, all working in tandem with one another, hitting the consumer from all possible angles…so that it’s impossible to ignore us.”

Just Bzzness As Usual

Perhaps the best known purveyor of word-of-mouth marketing is Bzz Agent, the agency founded by Dave Balter in 2001 that offers an array of services, all of which focus around spreading word-of-mouth (WOM) for their clients’ products. Rather than market to consumers, the genius of BzzAgent is that it facilitates conversations among consumers. “Fourteen percent of all conversations include something about a product or a service,” CEO Balter said. “We’re just harnessing an honest, naturally occurring medium.”

In the past four years, BzzAgent has come to include over 100,000 agents — all volunteers who have come to the company organically. Without ever placing a single advertisement, according to Balter, 1,000-2,000 new agents sign up each week (although a profile in the New York Times Magazine last year didn’t hurt). The process to set up an agent profile is simple, but before Bzz Agents can become involved in full scale Bzz campaigns, they are asked to build up a base number of points by filling out various quizzes focused on a variety of products from chewing gum to alcohol to books. The quizzes not only help BzzAgent to profile your likes and dislikes allowing them to forward you products that you are likely to use and enjoy, but your answers also help provide general market research. After going through the preliminary quizzes, Bzz Agents are offered the chance to participate in Bzz campaigns where they become educated about the product by sampling it ahead of time, using PDF info sheets and fast facts as guidance and selling points. The agents then buzz it to their friends, coworkers, family members, and anyone else who will listen. They finish by writing in-depth testimonials (which the client later has access to) about what their own product experience was, and the points that they tended to highlight when “buzzing” it.
In the end, the BIRDI results — Bzz Agent’s back end system that reviews and organizes the research results — are made available to the clients, in addition to the testimonials, allowing clients the opportunity to collect market research while marketing.

“That’s the great thing about BzzAgent, you can throw it over the wall and let them handle it,” McCarthy, who worked extensively with BzzAgent at Penguin, said. “To do the work that BzzAgent does internally would take months of preparation and research, and if it failed, you would’ve lost a lot. But paying BzzAgent one flat fee to give it a shot is market research while marketing, which is great.”

Since its first job ever (a campaign for Penguin), BzzAgent has worked on more than 40 books in total. According to Balter, they receive 3-5 inbound requests from publishers a week, with about 8-10 publishing campaigns, including a campaign for Lee Eisenberg‘s The Number (Free Press), and one for Subir Chowdhury’s The Ice Cream Maker (Doubleday), currently active.

“Publishers need to change marketing to fit with how consumers are talking,” Balter said. “The biggest thing that publishers need to learn is transparency. Right now they are concerned, for example, about who gets a galley, and who doesn’t — but the thing is that handing out samples for free is only fueling future purchases. Publishers are focused on a particular title, and fail to see the process and benefits as long term.

“Penguin is a great example,” Balter continued. “It’s still a very integrated process, and traditional media does still play a role, but the significant change that is occurring is the way they listen to consumers.”

Jesse Kornbluth, Head Editor and Founder of HeadButler.com — a suggestion and review site founded on the proposition that “there’s so much New Stuff you need help finding the Good Stuff” — warned however that viral marketing isn’t a cure-all. “Viral marketing is about enthusiasm, not about cynical calculation. If the book isn’t in and of itself mesmerizing, it’s not going to work,” he said. “You can’t viral boredom.”

Not Just the Pre-Game Show, but the Game Show, the Post-Game Show, and Next Season’s Coverage As Well

What’s next in the marketing world for publishers? According to some, a beta phase for books — sending a potential customer a sample of the product before it’s finished — could get big. The idea, similar to BzzAgent, is that by pre-releasing a product in development, customers not only provide feedback for improvement but generate buzz as well.

Since 2002, Carol Fitzgerald has been offering ARCs to readers of her Bookreporter.com. “We feel readers are huge, but oft overlooked, influencers,” she said. “These features offer us the opportunity to ‘tee-up’ a book and get early buzz going on it.”

In terms of the current marketing exodus from print to ether, one of the biggest benefits to marketing online is that not only is information passed along instantaneously, it remains there indefinitely. As Fitzgerald emphasized during a panel on readership, readers don’t usually find out about a book within days of its release, they may come across it 6 months or even years later — by Googling the author’s name after reading something else that they have written, or by hearing about it from a friend who read the book months before. With the internet, everything about that author and title will come up, whenever the reader calls upon the information — podcasts, videos, websites, interviews — but not the original print ads.

Chris Anderson calls this phenomenon “The Long Tail” (the seminal article first published by Wired is due out as a book in May 2006). The backlist, the B-sides, the independent films that flew under the radar before, are now not only easier to find (an Amazon recommendation might draw your attention to a book that barely made a blip 5 years ago, but that is completely relevant to your taste now) but more readily available because of digital files. Thus the future of bookselling lies in cost-effectively capturing the innumerable niche markets, rather than relying on one or two mega bestsellers.

“Beyond the targeted marketing to bloggers, and the podcasting, we’re also just trying to change our internal thinking about the online world,” said Jeff Gomez, Director of Internet Marketing at Holtzbrinck. “In the end, it’s all about getting the attention of a consumer, so that they know there’s a book that we’ve published that we know they’re going to want to read.”

International Bestsellers: The Mysterious Dame

Desperately Seeking Sister, Swede Picks Up Speed A Genealogical Guessing Game

A bevy of menacing women is tearing through the list in Argentina as Marisa Grinstein profiles fourteen femmes fatales who lay to waste the stereotype of the prim and proper lady in LadyKillers. Cheated out of their destiny and left bitter with baggage, each of these women embraces killing as a means of making an already desperate situation just a little bit worse. With the “passion of a criminologist” and the “objectivity of an inventory manager,” Grinstein, who covered national politics for the Argentine magazine Noticias, provides a catalog of aberration and deviance, and cites disturbing examples of the aggressive and criminal impulses of women scorned. A psychological investigation of the modes of violence employed, but not just a collection of personality profiles, Ladykillers delves into questions of gender stereotypes while investigating the reason why all fourteen murderers turned to knives, guns and acid over sugar and spice: they all hoped for something better. Rights are being handled by Daniela Morel at Sudamericana (Argentina).

An ominous feeling seeps under the skin of Emma van der Merwe when she goes to her sister Floor’s house and finds nothing but a doorway framed with piles of unread newspapers. Floor had been living alone since her husband died next to his mistress in a plane crash, and as Emma hunts through the eerily silent and empty house she can only expect the worst: that her sister has been gone for quite some time and that she left under the direst of circumstances. The reason for her unexplained absence is a conundrum for Emma, but the deeper she delves into her sister’s disappearance, the more her discoveries undermine and tarnish any certainties she had about their once seemingly strong relationship. The search leaves Emma floundering, as if trapped in quicksand, as she aims to discover the whereabouts of her sister and the villainous creature who has apparently done her wrong. The novel, Like Sand Through My Fingers, by Dutch journalist Tineke Beishuizen, has sold more than 25,000 copies in Holland. Contact Michele Hutchison at Arbeiderspers (Holland) for rights.

It’s no mystery why 30-year-old Swedish sensation Camilla Läckberg’s first three titles have sold over 400,000 copies in Sweden alone. PT revisits this marketing director turned author as her latest spine-tingler, The Stonecutter, chips away at the bestseller list. When one of Fjällbacka’s lobster fishermen finds a drowned seven-year-old girl named Sara, the locals initially believe her death to be an accident. The autopsy, however, reveals a much more nefarious scenario. Traces of fresh water combined with soap in her mouth lead to the conclusion that the girl was drowned indoors before she was thrown into the ocean. Enter Patrik Hedström, whose girlfriend Erica has just given birth to their first child, and who once again becomes the centerpiece of a complicated murder investigation with the help of his colleagues at Tanumshede’s police station. He uncovers an underworld of family conflicts, neighborhood feuds, and child pornography rings in the seemingly idyllic hamlet of Fjällbacka. Hedström must turn to incidents as far back as the 1920s to solve this present-day crime. “As fully packed with excitement as The Ice Princess and The Preacher. Rights to her latest novel have been sold to Gyldendal Norsk (Norway) and earlier titles have been sold to People’s Press (Denmark), Kiepenheuer (Germany), Ambo/Anthos (Holland), and Ari Utgafa (Iceland). Bengt Nordin of the eponymous agency (Sweden) is the rights holder.

Two women of different ages with two very different pasts come together to solve a question of family history in Minka Pradelski’s book, And then Came Mrs. Kugelmann, which was recently recommended by actress Iris Berben and Elke Heidenreich on the latter’s popular TV show Lesen! in Germany. When a young German woman, Zippy Silberberg, unexpectedly inherits a fish knife and fork from her recently deceased aunt Halina in Israel, she decides to retrieve the inheritance face-to-face (though her journey will take her far from her true love: frozen food, which she fears will be difficult to find in Israel.) When she arrives at the hotel, she encounters the chubby Bella Kugelmann, an elderly survivor of the Holocaust who persistently knocks on her door. Finally Zippy opens the door and Mrs. Kugelmann relays the story of her life as an immigrant in Israel. She listens attentively to tales of Mrs. Kugelmann’s childhood in Bendzin, Poland, of her family and friends and more jovial times. As her story begins to darken, a reference to the fish knife and fork awakens Zippy to the possibility that Mrs. Kugelmann’s stories of a long-forgotten world are the stories of her own family.

Also the daughter of Holocaust surivors, Pradelski, a sociologist and documentary writer, has written a “touching, humorous novel about an almost forgotten time and about the drift between generations: the generation which survived the Holocaust and the generation of their children.” The simplicity of Frau Kuglemann’s words provides a “most unusual, refreshing, and poignant treatment of a subject so complex and dark.” Rights are available from Elke Fuhrmann at Frankfurter Verlagsanstalt.

Finally, women aren’t the only mysterious creatures gracing our pages this month. In France, a homeless man with no name and no recorded past, steals a museum employee’s badge and makes the Louvre his new home in The Louvre Squatter, by Bernard Chenez, who was trained as a boilermaker before turning to writing. The vagabond spends his days picking up tourists and picking their pockets during regular visits to the coat check. As he looks for a cozy nook in which to snooze at night, we are offered a glimpse into the daily life of one of the world’s most recognizable and revered cultural institutions. “Against this highly irreverent and humorous backdrop,” the squatter learns everything there is to know about the museum and focuses on making it a home while feeding his desire to understand and appreciate art. Chenez is the author of many books of his collected editorial drawings for Le Monde, L’Evènement du Jeudi and L’Equipe (France’s daily sports paper). He brings to his first novel the same sharp, tender gaze that has made his visual art a success. He is famous in Japan where his drawings have appeared in the daily Asahi Shinbun. Contact Alice Tassel at the French Publishers’ Agency.

Bookview, October 2005

PEOPLE

Jean Feiwel, Senior VP and Publisher is leaving Scholastic at the end of October after 22 years with the company. Trade Sales Director Jack Perry, who came to Scholastic from Sourcebooks last year, is also leaving. Ann Marie Resnick has been hired for the new position of VP, Marketing and Promotion in the book club division. She was VP, Marketing at Columbia House.

Gene Brissie
has left Kensington, where he was Editor in Chief of Citadel Press, for The Lyons Press, where he is Associate Publisher. He may be reached at 203.458.4656 or [email protected]

Carlo de Vito has left Penguin where he founded Chamberlain Brothers, and may be reached at [email protected]

Garrett White has been hired as the new Programs Coordinator at the New York office of the American Academy in Rome. His responsibilities include managing Rome Prize Competition and the Publications Program, and overseeing the Academy website. White is the former Director of Publications at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

David Wilk, Senior VP of Client Services, has left CDS, following its purchase by the Perseus Books Group. He has been named VP of Strategic Business Development at Resolution, Inc. based in Vermont and will serve as Resolution’s liaison to the book industry.

Willa Perlman, who has left The Cheyenne Group, has announced the formation of a new firm, Ligature Partners, which will provide executive recruitment and consulting services.

The Collins McCormick Literary Agency is splitting up, with each principal going his or her separate ways. . . . Sophia Seidner has joined Judith Ehrlich Literary Management as an agent. She had worked for the erstwhile IMG Literary, and is the Managing Editor for Swink.

Martha Reddington has been named VP, Director of Sales & Marketing at Federal Street, a division of Merriam Webster. She has previously worked in special sales at HarperCollins and S&S, and most recently was a certified consultant for ACT!, a contact database management program.

BJ Gabriel has gone from S&S to Oxford U. Press as Director of Trade Sales, assuming the position vacated by Tom Willshire, who went to Continuum. Longtime Subsidiary Rights Manager Marjorie Mueller has left OUP and may be reached at Margie.mueller @gmail.com.

Bill Strachan has left Hyperion, where he was Executive Editor, and may be reached at 212.924.4885. Brenda Copeland has left Atria for Hyperion, taking the place of Mary Ellen O’Neill who went to Collins as Publisher of the Wellness and Lifestyle categories.

Elizabeth Viscott Sullivan will become Senior Editor for Collins Design, another Collins imprint, beginning October 24. She will report to Marta Schooler, VP and Publisher.

Lisa Herling, HarperCollins’ SVP of Communications, is leaving the company at the end of October, according to CEO Jane Friedman, who announced her resignation “with deep regret.” Herling has been at HC for seven years.

Rubin Pfeffer has joined Simon & Schuster as SVP and Publisher for Children’s. He was at Harcourt for 26 years and has been Chief Creative Officer at Pearson Education since 2001. Mara Anastas has moved to S&S Children’s as VP, Sales and Subsidiary Rights. She was Director of Sales at Harper Children’s, but has been at S&S previously. Both Pfeffer and Anastas report to Rick Richter. Also going to S&S Children’s from Harper at Mary McAveney, as VP Marketing, and Karin Paprocki, as Art Director at Aladdin.

Ileene Smith, formerly VP and Senior Editor at Random House, has been named Editor-At-Large at Yale University Press. . . . Amy Scheiber has left The Free Press for Counterpoint. . . . David Highfill joined Morrow as Executive Editor, reporting to Lisa Gallagher. He was previously at Putnam.

Daniel Slager has left Harcourt to become Editor in Chief of Milkweed Editions. He joins Managing Director Hilary Reeves at the nonprofit literary publisher. Before joining Harcourt, he was an editor at Grand Street.

UK packager Brown Reference has announced that Roe Hollander has joined the company as its US representative.. . . . The National Book Foundation has hired Leslie Shipman, previously Director of The Bronx Writers’ Center, as Senior Program Officer.

PROMOTIONS

Disney‘s Children’s Book Group has announced the following promotions: At Hyperion Books for Children, Executive Editor Donna Bray moves up to Editorial Director. The Disney Press and Disney Editions lines will be consolidated under Wendy Lefkon, now Editorial Director. And Victoria Saxon has been promoted to Executive Editor, overseeing feature animation and classic characters. All three will report to Disney Children’s Editor in Chief Brenda Bowen.

Following on Liz Perl‘s move to Rodale, Penguin announced that Craig Burke has been promoted from Director to VP of Publicity for the Berkley Publishing Group, NAL, Perigee/HPBooks, and Riverhead Trade Paperbacks, reporting to Rick Pascocello. Patrick Nolan has been named Marketing Director for Perigee/HP, PHP, Portfolio, and Sentinel, in addition to his current role as Director of trade paperback sales. And Rick Pascocello has been promoted to Marketing Director for Berkley/NAL and Riverhead Trade paperbacks. He was VP of advertising and promotion for Berkley/NAL.

Don Weisberg names Jaci Updike, a longtime, tremendously well-regarded Sales Group VP, the new Director, Random House Adult Sales, effective immediately.

Valerie Garfield has been promoted to Vice President Publisher, Simon Spotlight and Little Simon, with the oversight of the Simon Spotlight, Little Simon, Libros Para Niños, and Little Simon Inspirations imprints. She was formerly Vice President, Editorial Director of Little Simon & Little Simon Inspirations.

Warner Books has formed the Warner Wellness imprint and named Diana Baroni to head the unit as Editorial Director.

And at the NYTBR, longtime copy editor David Kelly has become a preview editor, working on some fiction and a wide range of nonfiction. Jennifer Schuessler will also join the group as a preview editor. She was at the Boston Globe, and will oversee the weekly back-page essay and cover such areas as philosophy, religion, economics, and fiction

NOVEMBER EVENTS

“Making Books Happen,” The American Book Producers Association conference, takes place on November 9 at the Players Club. This year’s MC and keynote is PW Editor Sara Nelson and speakers include Rodale’s Tami Booth Corwin, Perseus CEO David Steinberg, Chronicle‘s Jack Jensen and Scholastic’s Lisa Holton For information go to www.abpaonline.org.

The winner of the 2005 Thurber Prize will be announced in a ceremony at the Algonquin Hotel in New York on November 14. Finalists are Jon Stewart, Andy Borowitz and Firoozeh Dumas. For more information, contact Emily Swartzlander at Thurber House, [email protected], 614.464.1032 X. 11

The National Book Awards take place on November 16 at the Marriott Marquis in New York.

DULY NOTED

Morehouse Publishing and Living The Good News, both previously owned by Continuum Publishing International, have been sold to Church Publishing Incorporated, the official publisher of worship materials for the Episcopal Church in the United States.

HarperCollins Children’s Books announced that Joanna Cotler Books, an imprint of the company, will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a silent auction and benefit on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 at Housing Works Used Book Café in New York City.

The Truck Stops Here

It’s a well-known fact that an audiobook publisher’s most prized demographic is the commuter. Yet in focusing on those commuting to work, it’s easy to overlook those commuting as work, an entire population laden with audiobook aficionados: truckers.

A trucker working to the legal limit in the US can rack up to 3,432 driving hours a year — nearly 10 times that of the average New York commuter — or enough to listen to the unabridged version of Bill Clinton‘s My Life 77 times. With AudioFile‘s 2005 Format Survey showing that 53% of audiobook fans do their listening in the car or other transportation, and with travel plazas and truckstops comprising a $42 billion a year industry, it’s no wonder the Audio Publishers Association made a special mention of truckers at their annual conference this June.

The cab of a truck is only so big, however, and with some epic tales running into 20 and 30 cassette lengths, you may ask where the rambling roadie keeps her books. To satisfy the needs of those in Ohio one day and Idaho the next, numerous national, inter-chain audiobook rental programs have cropped up to meet the demand. The largest program established to fill the aural void for truckers is Audio Adventures (www.audioadventures.com), a rental club that allows customers to rent and return audiobooks at any of the 630 participating truck/rest stops in the US and Canada including Love’s Travel Shops, Petro Shopping Centers, Pilot Travel Centers, Sapp Bros., and Truckstops of America. Started in Boulder, Colorado in 1990, Audio Adventures has expanded over the past 15 years to include over 65,000 members with 7,000 titles available to rent, according to Brad Phillips, General Manager. The whopping annual membership fee of $5 is manageable for even the most frugal of travelers, the titles are available on both CD and cassette, and audiobook rentals can be kept for up to a week. Prices range from $3.90 for 3 hour-long books, to $13.50 for 18 hour sagas, and if there isn’t a truckstop in sight when you finish, the books can be returned Netflix style by mail as well.

Although some members may rent as little as one title a year, Phillips said that he was at a tradeshow in Texas this week where he met one roving reader who spends about $40 to $50 a week at Audio Adventures. “We have some hardcore audiobook lovers,” Phillips said.

Unlike the average listener who gravitates toward three or four hour abridged versions, most professional drivers want full length — which can mean up to 30 to 40 CDs for some titles — “Truckers are allowed to drive up to 10 or 11 hours a day and they want an audiobook that is going to take them door to door,” Phillips said. “They love our unabridged titles, they chew them up.”
Although their collection is geared toward the average trucker — which, according to Audio Adventures’ most frequently rented titles means fans of lengthy westerns, mysteries, suspense and sci-fi — Phillips made the point that truck drivers “come in all shapes and sizes, with various likes and dislikes” so he doesn’t exclude titles on the basis of genre or author. Audio Adventures is supplied by all of the major publishers across the board, in addition to smaller publishers, and a handful of self-published authors as well.

“We have a few truck drivers who have recorded their own audiobooks in their own hometowns,” Phillips said. To add even more variety, Audio Adventures also picks up titles from Landmark Audio, their sister company that supplies libraries with content, catering to a more mainstream demographic.

Similarly, other competitors like Cracker Barrel (see below) have succeeded because they are geared more toward the passing traveler than the professional driver, focusing on NYT bestsellers, and those less popular with the professional driver such as politcal, romance and self-help titles.
One of the complaints Phillips has heard about Audio Adventures is that although they carry 7,000 plus titles in their full library, each individual truckstop may have only 150 avaiable at any given time. “This week alone I’ve talked to over 300 professional drivers,” Phillips said, “and a lot of them were saying to me: I’ve read everything you’ve got! They can easily blow through 5 audiobooks a week, which adds up.” Phillips said that the future might mean having a download point at rental locations where users could access Audio Adventures’ complete library. Although there aren’t any plans in place yet, Phillips said, “I can picture a kiosk….”

Chicken Fried Steak, Twix Bars, Audiobooks?

Another rival rental program isn’t a truckstop at all, but the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel. Cracker Barrel’s “Books-on-Audio” program is similar to Audio Adventures in that travelers can rent any of the 200+ audio books available at one Cracker Barrel, and return it to any of the other 533 Cracker Barrels nationwide. Slightly different in rental technique, Cracker Barrel actually makes you “buy” the book from one store, and then refunds your money when you return it, minus $3.49 for every week you’ve had it out. Like Audio Adventures, they also now offer the majority of their titles on CD according to Bob Geistman, Senior VP, Interactive Media and Business Development at Ingram Entertainment. Supplying Cracker Barrel with audiobooks since 1997, Ingram Entertainment also supplies some truckstops with audiobooks, Geistman said, but Cracker Barrel remains their largest non-book retailer.

Jill Sansone, Director of Subsidiary Rights at Hyperion/Miramax, said, “We ship via Time Warner, our distributor, to Cracker Barrel through Ingram, and we hope to grow this market.”

For those wishing to set the literary tone for their travels before departure, www.crackerbarrel.com includes reviews (of everything from The Rising by Jenkins and Le Haye to E.B. White‘s Charlotte’s Web), as well as recommendations for children and adults, and interviews with authors and others in the audiobook business.

For a wider array of opinions for highway hounds, discussions of audiobooks are posted all around the net, with dedicated listeners sharing tips about where to rent and return on forums like RV.Net‘s “Open Roads Forum/RV Lifestyle” and on etrucker.com’s site which also includes “Trucker News Book Reviews.”

One prescient blogger made the point that truckstops (along with airports) are two markets screaming to be served by digital device rentals like iPods. Instead of renting individual audiobooks, he said, users could rent the iPods themselves with books and music already loaded in (along with ads to up the earnings).

Although the digital age has yet to hit the road, other established audiobook rental programs include AmBest Truck Stops “Books in Motion Club” where for a $5 lifetime membership fee, users can rack up points good for other AmBest items (like food and gas), and Flying J whose 168 truckstops/ stores are located in 41 states and three Canadian Provinces. And, if audiobooks aren’t enough, some Flying J stops even have WiFi. Chic and sleek, who says big rigs aren’t refined?

Bookview, September 2005

PEOPLE
It seems as though anyone who wasn’t on vacation or sabbatical this month was busy changing jobs:

Liz Perl has been named VP Publisher of Rodale, reporting to Tami Booth Corwin. She was previously Associate Publisher of Penguin‘s Riverhead, Perigee, HP, Portfolio and Sentinel lines and Director of Marketing and Executive Director of Publicity for Berkley and NAL. Meanwhile, Marya Dalrymple has also gone to Rodale as a Senior Editor for cookbooks, reporting to Margot Schupf. She was previously at Rebus.

Andrews McMeel named Kirsty Melville as Publisher, succeeding Tom Thornton, who steps down at the end of the year. Melville was most recently Publisher of University Games, and previously Publisher of Ten Speed Press. She reports to President and COO Hugh Andrews, and will start at AMP September 2.

Susan Weinberg was appointed Publisher of PublicAffairs, succeeding Peter Osnos, who announced that he would assume the position of Founder and Editor-at-Large. Weinberg was most recently Publisher of the HarperCollins imprint.

After 30 years at Transworld, Patrick Janson-Smith will be leaving at the end of September to join the Christopher Little Literary Agency. Bill Scott-Kerr has been promoted to the role of Publisher, reporting to Larry Finlay.

Mary Ellen O’Neill has been named VP, Publisher, Collins Wellness and Lifestyle. Reporting to her will be Kathy Huck, Toni Sciarra, and Greg Chaput. O’Neill was most recently Executive Editor at Hyperion.

And more HarperCollins news this month, starting with ex-Harperites Cathy Hemming and Stephen Hanselman, former colleagues who have launched an “author services agency” called LevelFiveMedia. Meanwhile, HC’s Children’s Books announced that Adriana Dominguez has joined the company as Executive Editor. She was the children’s review editor at Críticas, and will manage Harper’s Spanish language children’s publishing program, working with Rayo Publisher Putnam, Rene Alegria.

Andrea Chambers has been named Director of the MS program in Publishing at NYU. A veteran magazine and book editor who has worked for Time, People, and Penguin Putnam, Chambers is currently an interim editor for Fairchild Publications and will join NYU in January of 2006. Heidi Johnson will continue as Associate Director and Robert Baensch will now manage the Summer Publishing Institute and focus on the non-credit portion of the Center’s offerings.

John Cunningham, Associate Publisher at St Martin‘s has been named VP, Director of Marketing at DC Comics. Also moving to DC and reporting to him is Nellie Kurtzman, from S&S Children’s…Thomas Willshire has been named Director of Sales & Marketing for Continuum Publishing. He was previously Director of Trade Sales for OUP.

NYTBR‘s Sam Tanenhaus announced that Eden Ross Lipson will retire as children’s book Editor. Julie Just, the NYTBR Deputy Editor, will succeed Lipson, and Bob Harris will succeed her as Deputy. Dwight Garner has been promoted to Senior Editor.

The Los Angeles Times has appointed author and literary critic David Ulin as its new book Editor. David Kipen, book critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, was named Director of Literature at the National Endowment for the Arts. Kipen replaces former NEA literature director Cliff Becker, who died suddenly of a heart attack in May.

Sam Moore is moving up to chairman at Thomas Nelson and will be replaced by Michael Hyatt as CEO. He had been President and COO at Nelson. . . . Glen Moreno has been named chairman of Pearson replacing Lord Stevenson. He was CEO of Fidelity International.

Meredith is opening a NY office which will be headed up by Trade Editorial Director, Linda Cunningham, who is moving is back from Des Moines and will be working out of a Meredith office.

PW‘s Steve Zeitchik has moved to Reed‘s Variety, to cover media companies. And PW children’s book Editor Jason Britton has been hired to replace Allison Heiny at Barbara Tolley Associates.

Deborah Seager
has been named Director of Publicity at Grove Atlantic. . . . Claire McKinney has gone to Houghton Mifflin as Director of Publicity. She was formerly at Miramax.

Farrin Jacobs’ replacement as Editor at Harlequin‘s Red Dress Ink is Selina McLemore. She was at Avon. . . . Renée Sedliar, formerly of HarperSanFrancisco, has joined Marlowe & Company/ Avalon Publishing Group, as an editor working out of the Emeryville offices. Sedliar will report to Matthew Lore, Publisher and VP of Marlowe.

Ruth Pomerance has left IDT, where she was Executive Producer, and may be reached at [email protected] Marcy Goot has left Inner Ocean to join TOKYOPOP in charge of marketing.

Ingram Publisher Services
has named Kevin Moran, Sanford Hernandez, Edward Brazas and Mark Piasecki as Field Sales reps.

Doug Jones has gone to Putnam as VP, Marketing Director, for Putnam and Riverhead Books, part of the position recently vacated by Dan Harvey. He had been VP Sales Director at Random House, responsible for Crown Publishing Group.

Jennifer Perry has been named Editorial Director for Book Publishing at Sesame Workshop. And Kama Einhorn has been named Senior Editor of Sesame Street magazine. They were both at Scholastic.

Anna Stein who handled foreign rights for Donadio & Olson is joining the Susan Golomb Agency in the same position.

Danielle Chiotti has been named Senior Editor at Kensington, reporting to Gene Brissie, Editor-in-Chief of the company’s Citadel Press imprint. She was most recently Senior Editor at Adams Media.

PROMOTIONS

At Clarkson Potter Pam Krauss moves from VP to SVP and relinquishes Editorial Director duties to assume the role of Executive Editor, reporting to Lauren Shakely. She will continue in her present duties until a new Editorial Director is hired.

Rob Weisbach has promoted Kristin Powers to Associate Publisher. Powers had been Director of Production. Last month Judy Hottensen was hired as VP and Publisher. Hottensen was Director of Marketing & Publicity at Grove/Atlantic.

Gotham Books founder Bill Shinker has been promoted to President of the imprint (he remains its Publisher).

At the University of California Press, Sheila Levine was promoted to Associate Director and Publisher, and Anna Weidman and Deborah Kirshman were both promoted to Assistant Director. R. Jill Phillips has joined the press as intellectual property and subsidiary rights Manager.
Lest we go a month without a promotion over there, S&S Children’s Publishing announced that Michelle Nagler has been promoted to Senior Editor, Simon Pulse.

SEPTEMBER EVENTS

The Book Standard and Nielsen BookScan announce “Book Summit & Bestseller Awards 2005,” to take place on September 22 at The Roosevelt Hotel, in NYC. PT is a sponsor of the event.

Panel discussions will include “The State of the Book Industry: 2005 By The Numbers,” “The Big Debate: New Technologies Invade The Book World,” and “Reclaiming Readership: How To Get In Front Of Tomorrow’s Book Buyers … Today.” The day will end with The Bestseller Awards 2005, “the first-ever, Nielsen-data-powered Bestseller Awards Ceremony for books.” For details & online registration visit: www.thebook standard.com or contact Kelly at (646) 654-4643 or [email protected]

The Book Industry Study Group‘s Annual Meeting of Members takes place on September 28 and will include a preview of the new Used Book Study and an evaluation of Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) for the book industry. Go to www.bisg.org/ conferences/annual_meeting_ 2005.html for more information and for future updates on the agenda and program.

At its September 20 Luncheon, Publishers Advertising and Marketing Association (PAMA)’s guest speaker will be Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review. The time is 12:15 at Crowne Plaza Times Square, 1605 Broadway. Reservations by Monday, September 12, 2005, via e-mail [email protected] Space is limited.

DULY NOTED

John Mutter, who had been at PW for most of his career, and Jenn Risko have launched Shelf Awareness (www.shelf-awareness.com), a free e-mail newsletter focused on “books that are out or about to be published (and media for them), wholesaling, bookstores, nontraditional outlets, etc.” Unlike other industry publications, Mutter tells PT, this newsletter concentrates less on deals and publishing, and more on retailing.

Aural Fixation

Audible Braces as MediaBay and Amazon Enter, Growth Continues Across the Board

Talking to audio publishers is like walking into a small town where everyone knows everyone else and all of the competition is friendly — at this point everybody is so excited by the potential growth of the industry that they seem willing to supplant differences for the good of the team. Whether that jovial one-for-all attitude will endure as competition becomes fiercer is yet to be seen, but for now, the excitement is contagious, and inclusive.

“The industry has increased at a rate of over 10% a year, and digital downloads will only increase that growth rate” says Jeff Dittus, CEO of MediaBay.

Anthony Goff, Marketing Director at Time Warner and APA Conference Chair, shared Dittus’ excitement. “Time Warner Audio has been growing at mid to high double digits over the last couple of years,” he said. “We’re at the forefront of the highest growth of any division.”

Although the latest available numbers place the industry at around $800 million, most audio publishers agree that new numbers — being compiled this very moment by the APA — will top the $1 billion mark.

“The future looks very bright. Growth has been phenomenal,” said Mary Beth Roche, President of the APA and VP Publisher of Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck. “Audiobooks overall are in growth mode. Digital downloads are the fastest growing segment, but by no means the only growing piece.”

In fact, only about 3.5% of the $1 billion business comes from digital audio sales, even though unit sales are in double digits, according to publishers contacted by PT. Lower retail prices along with discounts due to subscription package deals contribute to this discrepancy.

“Any way you look at it,” Dittus said, “Digital audio allows for a huge possibility of growth.”

One industry insider went even further. “I would say at this point there is nothing going on in the world that doesn’t involve audiobooks.” She laughed, “At least it seems that way.”

Danielle Steel is a Tape. Jon Stewart is a Digital Download.

When PT last checked in on the audiobook industry two years ago, publishers were dragging their feet on the transfer of audio content to CDs, insisting that the cassette still reigned as format king. Now, in the midst of digitization, the majority of publisher content remains on CDs with aggregators like OverDrive, Audible and MediaBay handling the digitization and distribution of the content.

Even though the digital age is upon us, publishers are still recovering from the industry transfer from tapes to CDs. “The move from cassette to CD was glacial,” Roche said. “It took us 10 years to make the tape to CD shift” — ten years after the music industry which, because it has an early adopter constituency that doesn’t restrict its listening to drivetime, has already moved solidly to digital.

Now that CD is the dominant audiobook medium, Jill Sansone, Director of Subsidiary Rights at Hyperion said that for new titles, they would “most likely skip the cassette” and go straight to CD and/or digital. She did add that “specific audiences gravitate to certain formats, so women’s fiction might sell well in cassette, but a humor book by an edgy young comic we’d want on CD and/or in digital format.”

Goff agreed, “The only time we still put anything new on a cassette is if it’s a mega blockbuster, or is especially geared toward an older demographic — there’s an Elizabeth Taylor book coming out this fall, for example.”

Goff estimates that for Time Warner 30% of revenue in 2004 came from cassettes, down from 50% of the market in 2002. CDs on the other hand went from hovering at around 50% last year to comprising 70% of sales in 2004.

“You’d be surprised though — looking at the month of October, we’re still printing six figures worth of cassettes,” Goff said. Digital is a little harder to measure, but growth is rampant. “In terms of units, about 17% of what we sold was digital in 2004, while it was maybe about 4% in 2003.” He continued, “In terms of our overall revenue, however, digital comprises about 4.4% to date. With digital content growing, the number of hard units sold is going down -but the total profit is up considerably.”

Sales terms are becoming less complex as publishers treat their digital component as yet another format for their books, but will ether ever replace paper? “I will never make that prediction,” Dittus said. “I remember when Bill Gates was proclaiming the paperless office, which will never happen — I think if anything, we may see digital audio coming to comprise 30% or 35% of overall audio, but as of now there’s just too large an installed base for other formats. “We may see cassettes going the way of the 8-track, but I would be surprised if CDs were completely phased out. Not to mention the possibility of new hard formats arising.”

But for all the speculation, audio publishers agree that it is still too early to tell. “We won’t really have a good snapshot of the direction of the industry until this time next year,” Goff said, “but we’re poised and ready to see what takes place.”

An Audible Rivalry: The Fall Kick Off

Until now, Audible and downloadable audio were nearly synonymous. Industry growth in the digital download sector is calculated solely on the basis of Audible’s quarterly earnings, as the company has had a monopoly on digital distribution since the format was introduced to the publishing industry in the late 1990s. The era of Audible as a digital audio industry yardstick is about to change however as the field opens up with the entrance of two major competitors this fall: MediaBay and Amazon. [Despite repeated calls and emails, Audible refused to talk to PT once it became clear the issue of potential competition would be addressed.]

Although Amazon’s purported entrance has received the most attention after the retailing behemoth posted a solicitation on their site this summer that read: “Calling all publishers: Send us your digital audiobooks! Amazon is developing a new store to offer downloadable audiobooks to our customers…” the largest immediate rival to Audible is MediaBay, fellow distributor, content provider and home to the Audio Book Club. MediaBay teamed up with MSN last year to become its exclusive provider and producer of spoken-word audio – an alliance that set them squarely against Audible and their Apple friendly ways.

Audible’s alliance with Apple – outlined by a four-year exclusive contract set to terminate in 2007 – has been a major plus for the company, allowing them to act as the exclusive provider of spoken word audio content to Apple’s wildly popular iTunes store. At the end of 2004, Audible found revenue generated through iTunes to constitute 11% of their overall sales, although iPod customers can also buy directly from Audible. The catch in the agreement that is often overlooked is that Apple may convert the contract from exclusive to non-exclusive, if they give Audible 120 days prior written notice – a fact that makes future alliances difficult to prognosticate.

With Audible audiobooks working on both Windows and Mac supported devices, and MediaBay audiobooks working on only on Windows supported devices, some claim that incompatibility issues are going to hamper the growth of the otherwise booming digital download market. Microsoft’s Windows Media digital rights management (DRM) supports more than 60 devices, while Apple’s DRM supports only Apple products, yet the iPod has been such an enormous success (with more than 15 million units sold), that there seems to be a problem on both sides of the divide.

For now, MediaBay’s entrance is merely providing the user – and the publisher — with more options. “We have negotiated rights with every major publisher,” CEO Dittus said. “We have 45 deals signed.”

Audio Book Club went digital last month, and MediaBay plans to have their entire offerings available for download by mid-fall. Dittus said that MediaBay has currently digitized 95% of their audio titles, and that when they’re done, over 5,000 titles will be available, in addition to the 5,000 titles already available on tape and CD.

“Publishers send us the masters, usually CDs,” Dittus said. “We digitize [them] and then put them into our stores and partner stores. And we are then often asked to act as distributors of that same content for the publishers.” To date, some of MediaBay’s digital content partners include: BBC, HarperCollins, Penguin Group USA Audio, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Time Warner, Harper Audio, and Zondervan. Nearly all of MediaBay’s partnerships are non-exclusive since most major publishers currently have deals with Audible, as well.

Audible has had its own fair share of developments over the past year, including the delivery of wireless content in June, and a January 2005 deal with the NFL. With the exclusive Harlequin deal signed earlier this summer, it would seem that Audible is becoming more aggressive in securing exclusive digital audio contracts with publishers now that their digital domination is being challenged. “All of the digital providers are salivating at anything exclusive,” Goff said. Audible also recently signed a deal in which an “exclusive multifaceted strategic relationship” was formed with XM satellite radio, according to the press release, in which the two companies will co-market each other’s products, as well as create programming for one another. Beginning in 2006, Audible and XM plan to launch “Audible Ready/XM” devices which will allow purchasers to listen to XM satellite radio as well as download audiobooks and other spoken word audio from Audible. It was just announced that Sirius has plans to launch their own exclusive device this fall.

When Middle America Tunes In

As for Amazon’s entrée into the market, everyone in the industry is abuzz with speculation. The first question that arises is whether or not Amazon will continue to promote soon-to-be-rival Audible’s content once they go live. In 2000 Amazon acquired a 5% stake in Audible and Audible, in turn, agreed to pay Amazon $30 million over the subsequent three years to promote their content. Since then, visitors to the Amazon site have been directed to click through to the Audible.com site if they wish to purchase downloadable material.

Amazon declines to give details regarding their purported entrance, but the digital “store” is allegedly slated for a fourth quarter entry and could involve digital music service MusicNet (offering WMA-based downloads) according to the Wall Street Journal and other sources. Rumors began to circulate last fall that Audible was being eyed by Amazon as a potential buy-out, and now some are again raising this as a possibility, especially given its aggressive timetable for launch. The company is also rumored to be soon offering song-by-song downloads similar to iTunes, as well as a subscription service — similar to Audible. Although everyone has differing conjectures as to what exactly Amazon will offer and when, all agree that Amazon’s foray into the digital download market, will (as Goff put it) “totally put digital audio into the mainstream.”

“Once Amazon exposes Middle America to all of this, the digital download culture is going to explode,” Goff said. “It won’t just be this little subculture of iPods anymore. Audible was our sole digital stream before and they are still hugely important to us, but they are becoming one channel of many.”

The Passion of the Geek

Darth Vader, Green Lantern, Spiderman and Princess Lea Hang at Comic Con 2005

New York needn’t envy San Diego, which became the epicenter of the geek world last month when it hosted Comic Con International – because it will get its shot in 2006. That’s when its sister show, New York Comic Con (brought to you by Reed Expo and heavily sponsored by Diamond), will come to the Javits Center for the first time, letting East Coast locals experience first hand the Nirvana of the Nerds.

But we digress…More than 94,000 fans from all over journeyed to the 460,000 square foot California event to celebrate all things many consider to be best left in the dark: A Halloween night without the tricks, Darth Vader mingling with a Green Lantern, and Spiderman chatting up a Goth girl as she posed next to her Princess Leia as “slave girl” friend.

Nothing new for Comic Con, a stalwart show in its 36th year – yet, something new for the BEA going bunch, where Ben Franklin was the only full-costume character who popped up more than once. Comic Con is finally being recognized by industries across the board as the new focal point of pop culture. One movie studio flew out their A-list director from Australia (in the middle of shooting next year’s hopeful blockbuster Superman Returns) to speak to some 6,500 devoted fans. Video game companies, toy companies, cable channels (the Sci Fi Network had an impressive booth at the con) have jumped on the bandwagon to see if some of the excitement originally created by comic books, their creators and their fans, would rub off on them.

The latest industry to crane its head in the direction of Comic Con is the “mainstream” publishing industry. Although Del Rey picked up on the show years ago, at this year’s event publishers from Scholastic to Simon & Schuster Children’s Books exhibited, all getting on the graphic novel train. Comic Con should be a lesson for the staid publishing industry, as it is the only “trade show” that is aimed squarely at the fans, with some business being conducted on the side.

As one correspondent who is in the graphic novel industry, told PT, “Frankly I think that mainstream publishing may be so out of touch with the fans that I am not sure that the passion exists for these books, and maybe that’s the problem with publishing. We all talk to each other, to buyers, to marketing and we may even have some research to let us know who is reading our books. But these are numbers, not interactions with real people. This attention to the fan is what I believe has kept comics and will keep graphic novels alive, even in hard times.”

He continues, “Imagine if you will a BEA, open to fans, where publishing showcases their best and the brightest they have to offer. How many would show up? How many would dress up like their favorite characters? Is this the type of passion that needs to be ignited in publishing in order to survive the hard times and build for the future?”

There is hope for traditional publishers. Or, they must be doing something right: the same weekend as Comic Con convened, the latest Harry Potter was released and sold seven million copies. We’re beginning to think there’s a definite connection between costumes and cash flow…

PT thanks our secret Comic Con correspondent, He Who Wishes Not to Be Named, for contributing this piece.

Meetings of the Minds

The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Publishing Convention, Seminar, and Summit

In the golden years of the publishing conference, 400 people clamoring for access to a panel, summit or seminar, wasn’t unheard of. Some frequenters admit to going to upwards of 10 conferences a year in the late 1990’s techno boom, while others conversant in hot topics like virtual libraries, e-book distribution or the Tablet PC presented at just as many.

As one industry insider put it: “There was a time when you had to go to these things because everything was changing so fast, it was the only way to keep a scorecard of what companies were doing what and in which space – not to mention where everyone was working that month.”

By late 2001, everything had changed: other than a few perennials, conferences were nearing extinction. As companies retrenched after the dotcom meltdown and the aftereffects of 9/11, budget cutting struck both the hosting of conferences, and the attendance at them. Today, however, it looks like the conference is making a comeback for many industries, including publishing. Resounding successes such as The Book Industry Study Group‘s “Making Information Pay,” held last April, have reminded attendees that they can actually learn something, not to mention the networking benefits of spending a day with colleagues and competitors. “Despite everyone’s efforts to cut back on costs,” says one conference devotee, “there are tangible benefits to being able to see people face to face, and compare notes on the business climate.”

So attendance is on the upswing, and new conferences are slowly cropping back up — though the frenzy to book panelists before they commit elsewhere hasn’t yet materialized (organizers contacted for this article seemed downright laissez faire in their hunt for talking heads). This year, partnerships were the word, with AAP & PW, VISTA & BISG, and the upcoming VNU divisions, that encompass Bookstandard & Nielsen, combining forces.
We went to those in charge to see what’s in store for this fall as well as Spring/Summer 2006.

AAP General Annual Meeting & Meeting for Small Independent Publishers

Perhaps two of the most established conferences in the publishing industry, the AAP General Annual Meeting and the Meeting for Small and Independent Publishers, rocketed to popularity with Pat Schroeder‘s arrival as President in 1998. Following the star-studded cast of speakers in 1999 & 2000 (including Hillary Clinton, Michael Milken, Jeff Bezos, Dolly Parton, Bill Frist, Dick Gephardt, Al Franken and Anita Hill) the conference took a slight dip in popularity in 2001 and 2002, only to be revived in 2003 by Oprah‘s presence at the annual dinner, where she announced the launch of her classics book club.

Usually held in Washington DC, this year’s 7th annual Meeting moved to New York to be hosted in conjunction with the PW Summit (see below). Although response to the change was lukewarm, the AAP plans to remain in New York in 2006. The PW Summit ties, however, have been sundered.
AAP also hosts several other events throughout the year including Introduction to Publishing (one of their most popular, says Blough) and a seminar on Compensation and Personnel Policies. also In addition, they host a seminar through the Rights and Permissions Advisory Council, as well as a Tax seminar.

Audio Publishers Association Conference

The Audio Publishers Association Conference, which began in 1995, “has evolved as business has evolved,” said Mary Beth Roche, President of the APA. “In 2000, everyone wanted to talk about digital,” she said, referring to the 200 pre-registered and 100 at-the-door attendees clamoring to discuss the future of audio that year. “Then, last year APAC didn’t even have a separate digital panel, but then this year we did again. But, now that [the technology] has become a larger, more fully formed piece of the business, discussion has returned, and the level of conversation is more sophisticated.”
Roche said that although definitive plans were still in the works, APAC 2005 was so well received, that attendees can expect APAC 2006 to follow much of the same structure. One of the most popular forums at this year’s event, “The State of the Industry Panel,” provided a snapshot of the industry by highlighting the happenings in different channels of sale. Speakers on the panel included “a good cross-section” like Borders’ Pamela Promer, Barnes & Noble‘s Theresa Thompson, Audible‘s Beth Anderson, Ingram‘s Norma Lilly and The Chicago Public Library‘s Megan McArdle.

Joe Hatch, Executive VP Business Development at peer-to-peer network Wurld Media and an avid APAC attendee, said that this year’s event was one of the most productive and informative to date. “Too often trade events consist of merely speeches and presentations with little chance for interaction or dialogue,” he said. “Not only did they assemble the leading retailers and experts in the arena of audio publishing but they created an atmosphere of accessibility to those ‘in the know.'”

In terms of location (APAC usually tails BEA from city to city since the dates always coincide) Roche noted that there weren’t too many differences between hosting the event in New York as compared to DC or Chicago, although it seemed to be attended by a much broader range of staff when hosted in NYC. “2005 was very robust, very upbeat,” Roche said. “Now whether that was the vibe of being in New York, or the fact that business is going well, it’s difficult to say.”

PW Summit

One of the newer additions to the conferencing world, the PW Summit began in 2003 as an “informal but substantial meeting” according to the press.
“Our traditional role is connecting booksellers with the publishing trade,” said Bill McGorry, Executive VP and Publisher of Publisher Weekly’s parent company Reed Business. “More and more when you’ve got consolidation in an industry, it lends itself to getting key decision makers in a forum, in a room,” he said. “We have people who are conversant with the issues, and it makes sense to bring them together.”

Both McGorry and PW‘s editor-in-chief Sara Nelson have been at their posts for under a year, and it is unclear if changes may occur in Summit format and location in coming years. “In terms of a future direction, our role in the marketplace is to provide a voice in this industry, and the PW Summit is an extension of what we do in print and on-line,” Mc Gorry said. “We put forth issues on the table that the industry is interested in discussing.”

Although it depends on the event, PW is one of the few conferences (along with BISG and VISTA) that use sponsors to defray the attendance fee for their events. The lowered cost enables “the right people to attend” according to McGorry, who notes that “librarians, for instance, don’t have big budgets, and neither do booksellers, for that matter.”

Book Summit 2005

Advertised as a place to “share ideas, build relationships, uncover opportunities and help accelerate the growth of the publishing industry” the inaugural Executive Book Summit and Nielsen-data-powered Bookseller Awards will take place on September 22 (see calendar). Jerome Kramer, VNU U.S. Literary Group Managing Director and Editor in Chief of The Book Standard, described the event as an afternoon’s worth of programming, including 4-data-heavy panels, preceding the awards from 2-5:30 – followed by a cocktail party plus an “integrated awards ceremony.”
Relying heavily on Bookscan as well as “other experts and analysts” (says Kramer), the panels will open with a “State of the Book Industry: 2005 By the Numbers,” examining whether publishing is experiencing a “crisis or renaissance…in the face of emerging publishing, reading, entertainment and technology mega trends.”

Other panels will include a session on new technologies in publishing (“Are we heading into the Napsterization of the book world, or into an unprecedented period of opportunity to distribute content?”), a discussion of how to reclaim readership through alternative sales and marketing channels, and a panel on retail channels.

Kramer said that panelists will include many from the mergers and acquisitions side of the business. Mitch Kaplan, President of ABA and head of Books & Books, founder of Miami Book Fair, has signed on to the retail channel panel and Ingram‘s Phil Ollila will be on the readership panel focusing on alternative markets.

Summer in Stanford

At the Stanford Publishing Courses for Professionals that takes place at the end of July each year, more than 150 book and magazine publishers from around the world converge for 8 days of intensive workshops and presentations. Mike Shatzkin of The Idea Logical Company, who spoke for the first time this year on the future of distribution, was impressed by the dedication of those attending who were “willing to take time out of their work lives to network and learn.”

Other speakers included: Marcella Smith (B&N), John Kilcullen (VNU) on brands, Dan Farley (Harcourt). The curriculum was aimed at both book and magazine publishers, although there were specific courses and workshops for each and some of the talks were geared to the entire audience.

International Bestsellers: So, Do You Su Doku?

Logic Game Spurs Addiction, Israel Builds a Bridge to Turkey, Takako Takes a Walk

Crosswords are so 2004. The new fill-in-the blank fad? Here’s a hint: it’s six letters long (and five times as fun, according to some). Su Doku, the puzzle craze sweeping the world, from Japan to the Czech Republic, has created a new breed of addict. Seventy-one year old enthusiast Bernard Stay recently told BBC News, “If I don’t complete a puzzle before noon I get suicidally depressed for the rest of the day.”

Su Doku who? In its traditional form, Su Doku is a 9 x 9 grid in which select boxes are filled in with various single-digit numbers (the harder the level, the less frequent the fillings). To complete the puzzle, you must fill in the rest of the grid until every row, column, and 3 x 3 box contains the numbers 1 through 9.

Newmarket Press publisher Esther Margolis, who first heard about the puzzle phenomenon at a NYC dinner party, recently acquired US rights to THE BIG BOOK OF SU DOKU #1 and THE BIG BOOK OF SU DOKU #2 – both bestsellers just published in the UK by Orion Books – and is rushing to press with a first print run of 50,000 copies of each. Newmarket has also aquired rights to JUNIOR SU DOKU, designed for kids 8 and up, from Wizard, a British publisher specializing in fun books for brainy kids. The trend-oise puzzles are now invading the crossword pages of USA Today, the New York Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among others, with no fewer than seven publishers betting on Su Doku instant magnetism. Reporting on the craze, the LA Times noted that the puzzles are “causing commuters to miss their stops and students to skip their homework.” Puzzle collections are moving their way up the bestseller lists in Italy and Holland this month (landing at #11 in both countries) and have shot straight to the top of the nonfiction list in the Czech Republic. Sharpen your pencils and tighten your thinking caps!

More news from Turkey this month where the bestselling author in the country’s history, Ahmet Altan, now represented by the ever-expanding Israeli literary agency, Harris/Elon, has a new novel on the way. THE LONGEST NIGHT, slated for publication by Turkish publisher Alkim this month with a first print run of one million copies, tells the story of a woman who sets out to southeastern Turkey as a member of a group researching the origins of “honor killings” of women. Altan made the switch to the Israeli agency after an event held during this year’s Jerusalem Book Fair on the Sheikh Hussein Bridge between Jordan and Israel (See PT, March 05). Organized by Deborah Harris, the event drew Israeli, Palestinian and other writers from the Mediterranean region together for a day of intellectual exchanges. Altan was among the writers in attendance, “et voila, a bridge was built,” said the agency’s Managing Editor, Ines Austern. A press release adds that “though Altan is esteemed in his native country as an astute political and social commentator, it is through his fiction – delving into the human soul, the domain of love and jealousy – that Altan has proven himself as an heir to the classic European writers.” His previous book, BETRAYAL, published in 2003, which sold over 500,000 copies in Turkey alone, is now available in English translation. His political essays are published in leading European newspapers and his books have been published in France (Actes Sud), Germany (Fischer), Holland (Prometheus) and Greece (Livany) to name a few. Contact Deborah Harris for rights.

Our newly added Turkish bestseller list reinforces the popularity of author Burak Turna, perhaps best known for his controversial book, THE METAL STORM, co-authored with science fiction writer Orkun Uçar. Originally posted online as a PDF document, it garnered so much interest that a print version soon followed, selling 300,000 copies. The novel, set in May 2007, begins when Turkish troops deployed in northern Iraq to protect the ethnic Turkish community there, come under attack from US forces. A huge spin campaign launched by Washington has people thinking that the Turks fired first, while the true aim of the United States is to seize Turkey’s rich borax mines. Turkey’s major cities come under heavy fire, with huge loss of life, while Ankara, taken by surprise, turns to the European Union and Russia for help. The disturbing conclusion includes the detonation of a nuclear bomb in a park in Washington, DC. The book has drawn coverage from media outlets ranging from Al Jazeera, to the Christian Science Monitor, and Haaretz and more information is available from the publisher, Timas.

In Germany, author Inka Parei, the winner of the prestigious Ingeborg Bachmann Award who runs in the same literary circle as Judith Hermann, has written a new novel which led one critic to rave, “I feel as if I’ve heard literature for the very first time.” WHAT DARKNESS WAS is the story of an old man who lies in his bed near death, when he sees a suspicious-looking stranger in the stairway. The night seems interminable as each noise stirs up memories and fears. His observations throughout the gruelingly long night hint at his own life story, centered around his post-war guilt. Discovering the identity of the stranger in his house becomes the old man’s final mission in life. Parei, whose debut novel, THE SHADOWBOXING WOMAN has been called “an urban, vivid novel…displaying an almost criminologically precise appreciation of detail,” has been published in nine countries, including Italy (Instar), France (Rivages), Sweden (Norstedts), and China (Shanghai Translation). Rights are available from Kathrin Scheel at Schöffling (Germany).

Riku Onda sheds light on a great rite of passage for graduating high school students in Japan: the “walking festival.” In NIGHT PICNIC, students bond over the course of a 50-mile overnight walk, meeting characters along the way who casually join the herd, chatting about various topics, even confessing their feelings to their crushes. Takako has been keeping a secret for three years and knows that now is the time to reveal it. But will she be able to spill the beans before they reach their final destination? Onda is known for her ever-changing style and has written science fiction, horror, and mystery. A film version of her latest book is set for release in the fall of 2006. The rights to NIGHT PICNIC have been sold in Taiwan and Korea but English language rights are still available from Shinchosha.

Columbia Can Do: The Columbia Publishing Course Class of 2005

With New York swimming in sun soup, and all of Europe on vacation, it must be August, which means it’s time for another sneak peak at this year’s 100 staggeringly successful Columbia Publishing Course graduates. As in years past, we’ve compiled a composite biographical sketch of the ultimate superstar student, taken entirely from actual bios. See these publishing powerhouses in person at Columbia’s Career Day on August 1st at the Columbia Graduate School of Jounalism; call 212.854.3562 to RSVP, or e-mail [email protected] to post job openings. Now, pull the blinds down, sit on the air conditioner, and prepare to be humbled.

Born and raised in the postindustrial wasteland of Akron, Ohio, our student is often mistaken for a local in foreign capitals. Raised as a rising mathematics star by a Finnish atheist librarian and an Irish Catholic chef, she speaks in a flawless British accent. She grew up driving a particularly unusual bus on the farm of family friend Ken Kesey and was a four-time National Spelling Bee contestant, including two top-ten finishes. She picked an HBCU, Spelman (where she wrote two theses, one an original theory), over an Ivy League school, and chose unemployment over law school. She hated THE CATCHER IN THE RYE for its cynicism. In addition to researching gardens in Medieval Italian literature, this A-list tarot master and former beauty editor at Vogue Girl in Korea enjoys playing fiddle, cycling to Inner Mongolia, and scuba diving on submerged Ming Dynasty cities. She has also played several instruments, including piano, marimba, and a rusty fire extinguisher named Scubby, and was co-founder of a PR firm devoted entirely to the promotion of the legendary punkapella group Your Mom. After climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, she spent a semester in Prague, developing an affinity for Czech film, literature, and goulash. After a stint as a “tavern wench,” she produced a documentary about lobstermen, and then became an editorial assistant to a non-fiction author, discovering that talent and creativity do not necessarily coincide with organizational ability. The proud owner of a 10-year-old female Reeve’s Terrapin named Mort, our student helped promote Dave Eggers‘ stage adaptation of YOU SHALL KNOW OUR VELOCITY, completed a three-day solo in the woods armed only with a gallon of water and a pound of trail-mix, and composed an international humanitarian law with a visiting Cambodian diplomat. For seven years, she has worked in the customer service department of a local grocery store diplomatically answering questions like “Can I put this turkey on layaway?” and “Do you sell bicycles?” Having recently completed an obligatory tour of duty in the Swiss army, this Sex and the City-worshipping, Virginia Woolf-idolizing femme hopes to pursue a career in publishing that will capitalize on her love of movies, fashion, food, and travel. She now realizes that she is most content where the ocean meets the land, or, so to speak, where the creative and business sides merge. This is not to say that she is a beach person.