Bookview, January 2006

Even the seemingly endless holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s hasn’t dulled the urge to move:

Jeff Abraham, Executive Director of BISG, has been appointed President, Random House Distribution Services, a new position. John Groton, VP, Client Relations, and Kevin Mailloux, Director, Operations Distribution Services, will report to him and he will report to Josh Wright, VP Operations.

Jennifer Pasanen, formerly VP Marketing and most recently Franchise Manager at Scholastic has been named VP Group Director at Verso Advertising. She will supervise major accounts including Harper Children’s and Bantam/Dell.

Pocket Books VP Publicity Director Hillary Schupf is leaving to join Sirius Satellite Radio as Senior Director, Public Relations in charge of Howard Stern, Martha Stewart and all entertainment talk channels.
Gary Urda has been named VP, Associate Publisher of Atria. Anne Zafian will replace Gary as VP, DSRM sales.

Colleen Lindsay, Assistant Director of Publicity at Ballantine, has been laid off. She may be reached at 917.312.1612.

Lee Miller is leaving Globe Pequot Press to become the new product Development Director for Waterford Press, one of Pequot’s distribution clients. Meanwhile, Maureen Graney has been named Editor-in-Chief of GP’s Lyons Press line. She was at The Taunton Press.

Emma Sweeney has left Harold Ober to open The Emma Sweeney Agency.

Steven Schragis has been named Editorial Director at Travel Savvy Magazine. He had been national director at The Learning Annex, and had owned Carol Publishing.

Craig Herman is going to Running Press as VP Marketing and Publicity. He was most recently at Spier NY and S&S. At another Perseus imprint, Public Affairs, Whitney Peeling has joined as Director of Publicity. She was Assistant Director at Houghton Mifflin.

Kylie Foxx has left Marlowe & Company/Avalon. . . . Katie Blough has left AAP, where she was Director of Public Relations and Promotions. . . . Paul Crichton, recently departed Publicity Director at Regan is back at work, now in Simon Spotlight’s publicity department.

Maggie Kneip will join Abrams (HNA) as VP, Marketing, on January 9, 2006, reporting to Michael Jacobs.

Scholastic has announced that Michael di Capua will bring his imprint to Scholastic effective January 2006. Michael di Capua Books was launched at FSG in 1987, moved to HarperCollins in 1991 and then to Hyperion Books for Children in 1999.

Colin Robinson who left The New Press because of “differences between Diane Wachtell, the Executive Director of the press, and myself.” Colin may be reached at [email protected]

ICM agent Jud Laghi will join Larry Kirshbaum’s start-up agency LJK Literary Management. Laghi’s projects include this year’s bestselling Why Do Men Have Nipples?

Riverhead Co-Publishers Julie Grau and Cindy Spiegel left Penguin’s Riverhead at the beginning of December to take up similar roles at Doubleday.

After leaving HarperCollins as the Publisher of Collins Design, Laurie Rippon has set up shop as an illustrated book consultant and packager. She can be reached at [email protected]


Patrick Nolan has been promoted to VP Paperback Sales at Penguin.
Krista Lyons-Gould has been named publisher of Seal Press, an imprint of Avalon. She continues as VP Editorial.

Promotions at Warner: Caryn Karmatz-Rudy to Executive Editor, Jaime Levinegoes from editorial director of Warner Aspect to Senior Editor, reporting to Beth de Guzman. In publicity, Jimmy Franco to deputy publicity director, after 12 years at Warner; Tanisha Christie to publicist, for Warner Forever and in-house liaison for Warner Business.

Little, Brown also has announced a number of promotions: Reagan Arthur and Judy Clain have both been named executive editors; Liz Nagle is now an editor; Michael Mezzo is an associate editor; and Heather Fain has become deputy director of publicity.

At Abrams, Steve Tager, VP of Sales and Marketing has been promoted to SVP, Sales and Distribution and will oversee the publishing operations group.

At Jean Naggar’s Agency Alice Tasman has been named senior agent, Mollie Glick agent and contracts manager, and Jessica Regel also becomes an agent.


The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2006 “Eat, Drink & Be Literary” program kicks off January 12 with Kurt Anderson‘s interview with Gish Jen. On January 26 Anderson takes on Julian Barnes. Jonathan Safran Foer is scheduled for February 23 and his wife, Nicole Krauss, gets her turn on June 1. For a full listing go to the National Book Foundation, BAM’s partner in this series, at www.


Publishers are being asked to join the effort to help revitalize The New Orleans Public Library in the wake of the Katrina disaster, following the lead of HNA (Harry N. Abrams). On December 9th, HNA held a New Orleans-themed Holiday party and invited its staff as well as authors, artists and others to donate books that would be matched by HNA. More than 1000 books are expected to be shipped to the New Orleans Public Library. Hardcover and paperback books for people of all ages may be sent directly to the following address: Rica A. Trigs, Public Relations Department, New Orleans Public Library, 219 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70112. Phone: 504/ 421-7055 or [email protected]

DM reports this month about Audible’s new ad campaign that revolves around the slogan “Don’t Read.” The ads, created by, are a tongue-in-cheek play on the ALA’s “Read” campaign, featuring various characters listening to Audible programs on their MP3 players. A digital audio player built into the ad, lets users listen to 28 audio clips directly from the unit. Users can also send the clip to a friend by e-mail or text message. The ads have been prominent on sites like (see p.5) this week.

Although Michael Korda only claims to be slowing down and not retiring, S&S paid tribute to his “extraordinary career” by taking over the Grill room of the Four Seasons for much of the evening and a no-holds-barred event. Speakers included colleagues and his authors Henry Kissinger, David McCullough and Mary Higgins Clark as well as Bob Gottlieb (who is getting around these days, see below). Among the first industry superstars to arrive were Jason Epstein, Liz Smith, Mort Janklow and Bob Loomis.


Longtime publishing executive and editor Leona Nevler, 79, died suddenly on December 10. Nevler was a senior editor at Berkley Books, an imprint of the Penguin Group. For much of her career she was an executive at Fawcett Books. At the memorial tribute, speakers included Bob Gottlieb—who painted a brief nostalgic portrait of publishing “then” and Nevler’s influence on paperback publishing at that time, for the younger generation which was present in substantial numbers—Susan Kennedy, Jonathan Dolger and Arlene Friedman as well as Nevler’s two children.

Synergy Scores: Magazine and Book Publishers Ramp Up Those Multi-Media Platforms

This June when F+W Publications was sold to private equity firm Abry Partners for a sum in excess of $500 million, more than a few eyebrows were raised. Aside from the price tag, there was the fact that the company was transferred from one private equity firm (Providence Equity) to another, even though it had been mainly marketed to magazine companies looking to expand. More important, the sale highlighted the effectiveness (and desirability) of a multi-platform publisher whose divisions — magazines, books, book clubs, trade shows, websites, and education programs — work together in synergy, cross-marketing, cross-selling, and cross-developing content to cut costs while enhancing its consumer base. At the time, it was said in the press that F+W’s sales were expected to hit over $280 million this year (although this number is being currently questioned in court) — with more than half of the revenue reportedly coming not from F+W’s 3,000 books, but from their nearly 60 special interest magazines and other non-book business. Many hadn’t even heard the name F+W before the sale — nor did they realize that the publisher of Writer’s Digest and Deer & Deer Hunting were one and the same, and that the company also owned the International Gift & Collectible Expo, as well as graphic design powerhouses ID and Print magazines. Even with legal proceedings afoot, most would agree that Bill Riley created a model of synergy that few publishers have yet to mimic – although many are in the process of elaborating on their models in order to try (see chart on page 6).

A License to Print Money

There are as many models of synergy as there are multi-platform publishers. Some companies embrace full integration (Rodale, and Meredith on the large side, Cook’s Illustrated and AARP on the more focused side), while others operate under a partial integration model that keeps magazines and books close, but more or less separate from other corporate arms (Time Inc., Hearst). Others, such as Morris Communications, heretofore one operation in name only, have made recent strides to integrate their publishing group, Globe Pequot, with the rest of the company.

Like F+W, Morris defines itself in terms of niche category groups rather than by platform — The Outdoor Group, for example, publishes Gray’s Sporting Journal. There’s also a “Gray’s Sporting Journal, Television” on the Outdoor Life Network, and Globe Pequot and Lyons are known for their outdoor and sporting titles.

With holdings in newspapers, magazines and books, radio stations, and computer services, Morris’ latest move is into visitor guide publications. (Morris purchased Globe Pequot in 1998 and has since continued their expansion into travel and visitor guides including Guest Informant – hardcover city guides that are delivered in-room at hundreds of hotels across the country, and Where Magazine.)

Having made this massive entrée into the hotel travel market, Morris is now poised to actively cross-promote between its book, magazine and visitor guide divisions, utilizing these cross- divisional resources to place magazines and books in targeted locations for maximum exposure and sales. Morris has positioned itself as a dominant player in the regional travel and outdoor recreation (fishing, hunting, rock climbing) arena, and with roughly one-quarter of their book sales coming from their book distribution lines (Mobil, Woodall, Bradt, Thomas Cook, etc.), their status is only reinforced.

Linda Kennedy, President and Publisher of Globe Pequot said, “We’re looking forward to reaching travelers from hotel rooms as well as bookstores, thanks to partnering possibilities with our Morris sister divisions.”

At Meredith, book and magazine involvement “ranges from 0 to 100%,” according to Linda Cunningham, Editorial Director of Meredith’s book group. “Some books, like the Better Homes & Gardens recipe book, are taken straight from the magazine, while others are completely original.” Cunningham said that cooking, decorating, and gardening books tend to come straight from the magazines, while with others, like the BH&G DIY plumbing book “we just take the brand and run – they don’t tell you how to fix your plumbing in Better Homes & Gardens,” she said.

Better Homes & Gardens, Meredith’s oldest and most identifiable brand, just published the 75th anniversary edition of the BH&G cookbook. “We tend to sell anywhere from 400,000 to 1 million copies a year,” Cunningham said. “It’s the second bestselling book next to the Bible. Every time we print a new edition, it’s basically a license to print money.”

For Jacqueline Deval, Publisher of Hearst Books, “Books are a natural extension of magazine brands and content. There are lots of advantages for a book publisher working with a magazine publisher, but the business relationship only works well when the book and magazine people work closely together in planning new book concepts and in planning their launch.” Hearst Books is a division of Sterling through a licensing arrangement: Hearst approves publication of the books (proposed by Hearst magazine, Hearst Books, and/or Sterling editors) which are subsequently produced, published and distributed by Sterling.

The bottom line, Deval says, is this: “Magazines are a terrific source of content — of photography and of ideas — and offer a tremendous platform to launch a book, through exposure in the magazine and also by the lift that the familiarity of the brand name delivers in the marketplace.”

Elizabeth Carduff, M.E. of Cook’s Illustrated books, talked about the “instant credibility” her books receive when people see the Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen logos. America’s Test Kitchen, the overarching company and actual kitchen in Boston that tests the recipes for the books, runs two magazines — Cook’s Illustrated and the less-than-a-year-old Cook’s Country — as well as a cooking show on PBS, also known as America’s Test Kitchen.

“Our book and magazine programs are very integrated,” Carduff said. “We run editorial separately and distinctly, but the assets of each entity come together in certain products in certain ways. We draw from years of archives, and there are numerous different ways that the material is carved up and used.” Up until now, Cook’s Illustrated has been doing 4-6 books a year, but Carduff said that going forward they ultimately plan on producing 15-20. Although many of the books are collections of recipes that have appeared in the magazines that year (or, like Cook’s Illustrated Annual, simply bound editions of the magazine) others, like the Best Recipes series have new recipes that were created entirely for the book division.

Beyond the brand itself, other publishers fortify crossover success by highlighting columnists and editors from their magazines — nearly every Time Inc. book has “By the Editors of (People, Life, Essence…)” displayed prominently on the front page. At AARP Books, Managing Editor Allan Fallow said, “What we’re trying to do with the book division is build on the success of the magazine. We look toward the magazine to identify ideas, trends, proposals.” He offered the example of a piece Sid Kirchheimer did for AARP The Magazine entitled ‘17 Ways To Avoid Getting Ripped Off.’ Since Kirchheimer’s regular column for the AARP Bulletin, Scam Alert, generates the highest volume of mail from subscribers, and is immediately recognizable to AARP’s 35 million members (AARP Books’ target audience), Fallow — along with Hugh Delehanty, Publications Editor in Chief — decided to expand it into 300 or 400 tips for a book. They presented the idea to Kirchheimer who did all of the legwork himself. Fallow and AARP edited it, and then their publisher Sterling took on the production, manufacturing, distribution, and promotion. “That sort of integration is what we’re counting on for the success of the book program,” Fallow said.

What The Subscriber Base Wants

When conceiving of book ideas, Meredith Books’ editorial staff draws upon one of its parent company’s assets: one of the largest consumer databases in the country that offers them anywhere from 300-1,000 data points on 80 million homes or, as Cunningham pointed out, “2/3 of all American households.” Cunningham emphasized that the book group has its own marketing department that uses the research database to make decisions on everything from concepts to editorial choices, covers and cover lines to price points. Focus groups can be easily assembled, and the input plays a large role in tailoring the books to fit their target demographic. “We’re very good at getting the book at where the consumer is — special markets, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Linens ‘N’ Things, Auto Zone,” Cunningham said. “With American Chopper, for example, we got the book into Hot Topic. We know where America shops, and it isn’t on Madison Avenue.”

However, Cunningham said, “We don’t use magazine readers as stand-ins for book buyers. We only talk to book buyers about what they’d like.” The crossover from magazine readers to book readers depends on the subject matter, and is difficult to measure.

Cook’s Illustrated’s Carduff said, “We reach out to our subscriber base to do surveys about possible books since a good portion of our books are bought by subscribers to the magazine.” The surveys revolve mainly around questions of possible features, topics and titles for the books, and not around price point. “We have some software where we can bring in focus groups, and ask things like, ‘Are color photos important to you? Timelines? Grocery lists?’ We can get qualitative info about what the subscriber base wants.” Carduff noted that they don’t only contact magazine subscribers, they also reach out to people who subscribe to the website, and watch the television show.

At Rodale, the book group draws upon Rodale magazine research, as well as research from other divisions to make editorial decisions. Rodale’s Consumer Marketing Database contains 55 million consumer files, including more than 1 million e-mail addresses. Although the trade book group doesn’t conduct research through the magazines (surveys, etc.) they do query people who have already consented to be on editorial panels for other divisions.
Fallow said that AARP does run polls, as well as distribute questionnaires and surveys, “But for the most part, we have so much on-going, day to day contact with our readers – who are constantly calling, e-mailing and writing other branches of AARP — that we have a good idea of what their hot-button issues are,” Fallow said. “We don’t solicit. We just absorb.”

Active Cross-Promotion

Although, because of AARP’s non-profit status, AARP The Magazine and the AARP Bulletin can’t run ads for the books, every book is allowed one editorial mention. “But one mention means one mention in four separate publications,” according to Fallow, including AARP’s combined Spanish-English Segunda Juventud, and the National Retired Teacher’s Association publication Live and Learn. “When the AARP Crash Course in Estate Planning came out last January, we ran a mention on page 23 of the AARP Bulletin, and the book immediately jumped to number three on” AARP offers a link to on its website.

Wenner Books recently had a two-page spread in Wenner-owned US Weekly to promote US Weekly branded books like Secrets of Celebrity Style: A Crash Course In Dressing Like the Stars, and also prominently displays book titles on their various magazine websites. TW’s Southern Living created a Tupperware-type party plan business, which sells some Oxmoor House books through its agents. Time Inc. sends e-mail blasts to all of Time Inc. owned magazines’ subscribers telling them about new book offers, and offering them discounts on the books, and opt-in opportunities in a three-books-a-year mini-continuity.

Meredith advertises their books in Meredith magazines in pay, remnant and editorial space. “It depends on how interested the editor in chief is,” Cunningham said. “We present the materials, and they’re more than predisposed to run an excerpt if they like.” In return, Meredith has put subscription cards for their magazines inside their books, along with questionnaires. “We’re an actively cross-promoting book group,” Cunningham said. “For example, we did a book with the Today’s Show kitchen, and there was an interview with Katie Couric in Ladies Home Journal, a reference to the book and a few recipes.”

Often magazines go to third parties for book deals, though expectations have to be managed says Parachute Publishing’s Susan Knopf, who worked on Seventeen Magazine’s branded books, published by HarperCollins. “A circulation of 4 million doesn’t translate into sales of 4 million or even 4 hundred thousand. The books need to find their own audience and prove themselves over time.” She added, “The cross-sell is much more difficult than cross-promotion.”

ABPA Package or Perish

On November 9 the American Book Producers Association hosted its annual conference at the Player’s Club, and 120 people attended a day that began with a keynote from PW’s Sara Nelson (who proudly announced that PW had won first prize for editorial in the Publishing/Journalism category at the recent Folio Awards), and ended with a panel titled “What’s Next? Future Trends and Strategies for Success.” While there were many packagers (or as they prefer, ‘book producers’) in attendance, more than half the group were from large and small publishers.

The early sessions offered packagers and publishers practical workshops, and the presenters, which included Jim Becker (becker+mayer!) on P&Ls, Parachute’s Susan Knopf, Stonesong’s Judy Lindon and Rodales’s Zach Schisgal on “proposals that sell,” as well as several other well-versed pros, delivered useful nuggets of hard won experience. Susan Knopf told the audience that Stonesong founder Paul Fargis had once warned her that proposals submitted in 8 1/2 ” x 11″ “fall to the bottom of the In Box,” and should be avoided at all costs. Jim Becker explained why, despite the enormous outlay, cash flow — as well as profits — improve when packagers deliver finished books. At a later session Nancy Hall and Perseus’s J. McCrary divulged useful information on selling to display marketers (if possible, do it before selling the project to a publisher), finding custom publishing clients, and preparing for international editions.

The final panel of the day brought together Perseus CEO David Steinberger, Scholastic Book Fairs and Trade President Lisa Holton, Chronicle President and CEO Jack Jensen and DK Publisher Carl Raymond in a lively discussion about the future of the industry and how each participant viewed the opportunities available to his or her company. Steinberger defended his model of small publishers clustered around a distributor (CDS) by theorizing that “size is the enemy of creativity.” He admitted that, when he first came to Perseus and looked at growth options, owning a distribution company presented a clear opportunity. Jack Jensen talked about Chronicle’s aggressive move into direct-to-consumer sales, both online and with its two stores. He and Lisa Holton agreed that having retail interactions with consumers helped the editorial process. Carl Raymond talked about the many ways in which DK is modifying its original mission, including developing product specifically for the US market, extending successful travel series into lifestyle areas, and doing more “book plus” projects. As each panelist presented, fellow panelists were seen jotting down notes, and following the session, spent time on the stage with follow up questions to their colleagues.

PT’s Lorraine Shanley moderated the ‘Future Trends and Strategies’ panel.

Watch Your Backlist

Publishers and Booksellers Re-Assess Their Backlists, Stocking Deeper, While Printing Less, Plus: Looking Beyond the Shelf

Backlist has always been a cash cow for those willing to milk it. Publishers have long tried enticing booksellers with annual promotions, Buy-Now-Pay-Later deals, Just In Time Inventory and the like – all with the hope of boosting their backlist cushion. And yet, invariably, attention wanes as focus shifts back to the frontlist, and the backlist is neglected, until the cycle flips anew.

In the era of the Long Tail, the ease with which a title can be published and then kept in print has resulted in a staggering 450,000 English language titles flooding the global market in 2004. Technology has intensified this torrent, even as it has created methods – think Google, Amazon, Lightning – to navigate it.

As Josh Marwell, President of Sales at HarperCollins said, “The challenge for the industry is to make sense of how to organize, sell and merchandize these titles. A lot of booksellers just throw their hands up and say forget it, unable to make sense of it all, but it’s much more profitable to figure it out.”

The Backlist, Essentially

Nearly four years ago, John Rubin – coming out of a 10 year stint as a management consultant – went into his mother’s independent bookstore in Chicago to help her manage her cash flow. It was there, after coming to the realization that his mother’s store was operating “in a vacuum” that he began working on Above the Treeline, a web based, sales organization tool for the independent trade, Christian and university booksellers. Rubin established the company under two premises: 1) To provide booksellers with the tools to help them better manage their titles, and 2) As a way in which to link independent stores by allowing them to see what was selling not only in their own stores but elsewhere. The program works by mining stores’ point of sale data, and loading it onto a central server, according to Rubin. The data is then organized and can be used to create buy and return lists, view publisher’s core lists, create sales goals, see what categories are selling in both one’s own store and others, etc. There are also plans in the works that will enable bookstores to buy directly on the Above the Treeline site through both distributors and publishers.

“Seventy-five of the larger independents and small chains are already signed on, including Tattered Cover, Powells, Northshire and Harry Schwartz,” Rubin said. ATL isn’t just for buyers and stores, but for sales reps as well, boasting partnerships with publishers such as Random House, Harper Collins, Penguin, S&S, Norton and Wiley among others.

“We’re providing the program as a conduit for their sales reps,” he said. “It’s easier to identify what’s going to move, and make suggestions. Backlist can be so big, it’s difficult to sift through it. We enable stores to manage their backlist.”

Above the Treeline also works with 150 stores in the CBA market along with Christian publishers Thomas Nelson, Tyndale and Zondervan. It was through Zondervan that HarperCollins first became aware of ATL technology, and began investigating a possible relationship of their own. The result, the HarperCollins Essential Backlist program that began beta testing at the end of September, and goes live the first week of November (

An incentive program that rewards retailers for taking different levels of stock of their core backlist, Essential Backlist has discount categories that range from small cuts for stores that stock 25% of core titles, all the way up to a significantly larger price slash for stores who stock up to 75% plus.

According to HC’s Marwell, titles in the promotion were compiled through a composite of information – “These lists are notoriously difficult to create,” he said. “We were careful not to put remainders on the list, to make a very real list with titles that resonate.”

Daniel Goldin, a buyer at Harry Schwartz Bookstores said that they are participating in Essential Backlist through ATL. “We are very supportive of publisher efforts to find our backlist holes,” Goldin said. “We have been using Above the Treeline with several publishers to fill these holes without any more reward than successful sales increases.”

Chris Morrow, co-owner of Northshire Books, also uses ATL which he says makes it “much easier to identify backlist titles which we should be paying attention to.” Northshire, where 70% of books are six months or older, is currently waiting to talk to HC about their program.

Publishers working with ATL are also pleased with the program. Bill Rusin, VP, Trade Sales, WW Norton has been working with ATL for a couple of months, and thinks they’re “absolutely fantastic.” Rusin said that Norton isn’t launching a new backlist incentive program with ATL, they’re just folding the information gathered from the program into their backlist promotion plan – “which we’ve continually tweaked over the past 20 years.” What makes ATL work, according to Rusin, is the fact that it gives on hand inventory and rate of sale which allows reps to nudge buyers for a re-order. The prevailing assumption that accounts will reorder when they note changes in inventory or sales rates, is “incredibly unrealistic” since accounts have so much on their plates – so having a program that shows the publisher all of the sales data account by account is a real boon.

Carlo De Vito, former publisher of Chamberlain (an imprint of Penguin) and Running Press, agreed. “As often as I’ve been upset with one buy or another, the fact of the matter is, any buyer is completely overwhelmed. As a buyer, it’s not your responsibility to keep pushing someone’s backlist if they are not. It’s just a sad fact of the jungle.”

Mike Shatzkin, whose Idea Logical Company helps publishers increase their sales through the analysis of inventory and sales patterns, agrees: “Between the need to cover the frontlist and monitor the movement of backlist, most buyers are maxed out on time and bandwidth. But a lot of improvements can be made by minor adjustments on titles that are under the old-fashioned radar, but which stand out when the searchlights are trained on them.”

The Shelf Gets Short Shrift

As frontlist titles proliferate, and backlist titles are vigorously resurrected, the question remains – just because a store has a deeper backlist stash, will the books necessarily ever see the shelf space, or get the staff attention, necessary to sell?

Most publishers complain that although booksellers always want to have more backlist titles on hand, they have become reluctant to give those titles the shelf space they need.

“The whole drive behind backlist is twofold: One, is to put books back on the shelf that may have fallen off, and two is to find books that are underrepresented on the shelf and turn spine outs into face outs, etc,” said Matty Goldberg, VP Sales and Marketing Perseus, “But shelf space only goes so far, you can only have so many face outs, so it turns into making it worth the bookseller’s while.”

Since the competition for shelf space is so fierce, some publishers are skipping the struggle entirely, and reprinting and repackaging books whose second incarnations are never intended to see the shelf. Rather, the books, exhibited in special displays throughout the store act as reminders, directing customer attention to other titles that may be tucked away. De Vito, for example, worked on the Wiley’s Dummies Series mini books, which were placed on spinners near the check out. He sold Wiley on the idea, by pushing not only the books themselves, but the fact that they would act as publicity for the regular sized Wiley books – mini-ads that customers would be sure to see, and revenue generators to boot. The books not only sold themselves but redirected customers back to the original series. De Vito also repackaged Signet Classics with DVD’s of movie classics for Chamberlain, which were also sold on special displays.

“We had a tremendous response, especially from the independents, for the Signet/Chamberlain Bros. classics,” De Vito said. “We created a 12-copy pre-pack, which was quite successful on the laydown.” De Vito said that the spinner for Dummies minis also had a 24-copy pre-pack with header, and that both were hugely successful, selling hundreds of thousands of copies a piece.

Another Penguin packaging invention, Hot Shots, launched at the end of September, serves the similar function of a miniature ad – displayed on floor stands throughout stores. The line features the short work (between 96-128 pages) of six authors that has previously been available only in anthology/collection form. The super-low $2.99 price point is set to mimic i-Tunes and the idea of “sampling” individual works – with the sought after end result being to fuel future purchases by the same author in their more expansive (and expensive) forms. Originally the books were intended for supermarkets and mass merch stores, but have since expanded to include bookstores as well. As PW reported, Penguin is encouraging stores to carry the titles in floor displays rather than vie for and take up shelf space. Penguin will also just do one print run for the titles – in an effort to keep inventory and therefore returns to a minimum. (It’s been reported that the estimated print run for each of the titles will be in the mid-six figures).

On the pricier end of the spectrum, Maureen Donnelly, VP Director of Publicity, noted another recent Penguin backlist promotion – the Penguin Essential Editions. The series is taking bestselling titles from across imprints (ten titles are currently in the works such as The Secret Life of Bees, The Stone Diaries, The Kite Runner, The Bluest Eye) and buffing them up into a high end trade paperback with a $16 price point. “They’re beautifully designed, with a gifty look and it’s working,” Donnelly said. “They’re selling as nicely alongside the other editions.”

“Good publishers consistently find ways to reinvent their backlist – through promotions or repackaging – which gives the bookstore buyers and managers reason to help you,” De Vito said. Every year, reprints and new editions account for about 7-9% of the total number titles published in the US, according to Bowker.

Along with the numerous repacking and reprinting at Penguin to fluff up the backlist, Patrick Nolan, Marketing Director, says that they do offer “generous stock up options throughout the year,” although there isn’t an equivalent to HC’s Essential Backlist to date.

At Random House, Senior VP Director Sales and Marketing Anthony Ziccardi said, “We’re looking at Essential Backlist closely and waiting to see what happens.” At present, the ratio of backlist to frontlist at RH is about 60/40 according to Ziccardi. “There have been increased backlist sales this year over the last two,” he said. “Trade paperback has really grown, which is the biggest factor in the overall growth, even though mass market is down.” Ziccardi mentioned some other factors, as well, including the fact that the Da Vinci Code is now backlist.

To increase backlist sales, Ziccardi mentioned numerous initiatives. “We’re engaged in chain-driven value promotions with BN and Borders, running low price points, like $4.99, using mixed displays, general promotional opportunities, reading groups, spinner racks that come free when stores buy 72 books.” Unlike De Vito’s displays, he noted that most of RH’s displays do involve co-op dollars.

Perseus’ Goldberg said “In terms of marketing, I’m seeing ways in which we will begin to promote the backlist as a whole in more aggressive ways.” According to Goldberg, Perseus did traditional backlist stock offers for a long time, but then moved away from that model since they found that they weren’t rewarding sell-through in the stores. “Like Harper, we’re looking into various forms of incentive policies – like Essential Backlist, looking at the merge and purge, programs where we get printout of a stores holdings and tell them what they might be missing – how they could fill in the gaps,” he said.

The Infinite Shelf

“The basic difference between Brick and Mortar vs. an online venture is that it is incumbent upon Brick and Mortar stores to get as much out of backlist as they can. It behooves everyone to work that space as best they can,” Goldberg said. “The beautiful thing about Amazon is that the shelf space is infinite.”

Richard Davies, PR Manager of, an online marketplace of over 70 million new, used, rare and out of print books, said, “Over the past decade, the Internet has breathed life into countless titles that could have faded away into true backlist obscurity. Once the marketing behind a book drops away, the Web becomes the ideal method to ensure sales tick over.” He continued, “The term ‘backlist’ simply does not apply in the world of online bookselling.”

Random House’s Ziccardi also touted the success of the internet, “I think that Amazon is doing an especially good job in promoting trade paper backlist.” The reason lies not only in the infinite shelving as Goldberg pointed out, but in the instantaneous ease with which one can search that infinite space.
Ziccardi notes that publishers selling direct to consumers through their websites would be a possible vehicle for emulation. “We’ve delicately entered into direct to consumer, but it’s still very quiet at this point. We’re not doing anything to market it.”

And what of print on demand previously hailed as the savior of all inventory controls? Ingram‘s Lightning is reprinting thousands of OS titles for most major publishers (including Perseus who found it was no longer cost effective to operate their own Docutech machines). Yet the selling and marketing to consumers of this elusive piece of the backlist has yet to happen.

For RH titles that are POD, Ziccardi says that they let “key customers” know that they are available (i.e. retailers) but in turn the retailers don’t actively market them. “It’s more if someone comes in and specifically asks for them,” he said. However, once a direct to consumer venture is more firmly established, it could offer an opportunity for publishers to market POD titles to the general public. “We obviously wouldn’t tell them that they’re POD, we’d probably say ‘a rare, limited book’ but we’d be able to promote them,” Ziccardi said.

Regardless of all of the Long Tail inspired emphasis on the future of backlist sales residing in ether, many booksellers contend that their stores are just as full of backlist browsers as ever. City Lights’ buyer Paul Yamazaki said that backlist sales are at an all time high with much of the increase coming from university presses and independent press fiction. All of the 14 staff members regularly discuss backlist books they think deserve more attention or should be aquired.

Roxanne Coady, Founder of RJ Julia, echoed Morrow’s sentiment, “We find we’re a strong backlist store, generally about hand selling, and staff recommendations which may or may not be of current titles.” RJ Julia is using Above the Treeline (“a big help” according to Coady) and is getting involved with HC’s Essential Backlist. “I think that in times where there aren’t a lot of frontlist titles, everyone in the industry immediately looks to backlist as a way to keep interest up among readers,” she said. “It’s a cycle.”

New York May Have Been Book Country, But Texas Is Book Capitol

Many of you may have missed the literary event of the month as it took place in a red state (albeit in a blue town). To kick off the 10th Annual Texas Book Festival in Austin, David McCullough, Salman Rushdie, Liz Smith, and Alexander McCall Smith were on hand for the black-tie gala to raise money for the Texas Public Libraries.

Oddly so was the FBI, accompanying Alberto Gonzales on the day of Scooter’s indictment; as well as two cabinet secretaries, former Texas Governor Ann Richards, author Myla Goldberg, and newsman emeritus Dan Rather.

Better still almost 1,000 very rich Texans showed up to shell out $350 a plate—and it wasn’t the food and authors they were after—it was the silent auction, which boasted much Texas literary paraphernalia, including what looked like the Elephant Folio edition of James Michener‘s Texas, and a complete 12 volumes of Lemony Snicket signed by himself.

But we went to bed early, since at the crack of dawn all rose to begin the free-to-the public part of the Festival which includes some 150 authors taking over the entire Texas state capitol building for two solid days. (And it’s some building, Renaissance Revival, built in 1988, done in sunset red granite, and built on 22 acres right in the middle of the city—worthy of any northern architecture snob). Alexander McCall Smith presided in the Senate Chamber in his McCall tartan kilt; and Bill Clinton held court in the House chamber across the hall.

Rumor has it that Clinton found himself corralled by the Festival’s founder while on Air Force One headed to the Pope’s funeral in April. First Lady Laura Bush was determined to pull out all the stops for the 10th Anniversary of this Austin event of which she is the honorary chair.

And while Smith and Clinton were at it almost 100 people showed up to hear Myla Goldberg speak at the same moment, and thousands more to watch Lemony Snicket strut his stuff down at the historic Paramount Theater. Followed during the weekend by Eli Wallach, Ted Allen (from Queer Eye), Gary Wills, Mark Bittman, Sandra Cisneros, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jane Smiley, and Simon Winchester to name but a few.

Then there’s the local literature that is celebrated at this event. Texas is the only state that can rightly claim its own literature (if not culture) and it was proudly on display in Austin. From Kinky Friedman, to Roy Blount Jr., a panel on Weird Texas and a host of small press authors.

Readings were followed by long orderly lines at the autographing tents run by Barnes & Noble, the primary book sponsor of the event since its inception. Crowds usually run to over 25,000 people at the two-day festival and this year’s star-studded anniversary event had them all smiling in perfect weather.

For my money, the Texas Book Festival, and the Texas Library Association Convention held in April every year, are two of the most underrated book events of the year. Texas IS bigger than France, and may be even bigger hearted about its libraries. The festival has raised over $1.8 million at this event over the past 10 years.

PT thanks Robert Riger, VP Associate Publisher Barnes & Noble Educational Publishing, for sharing his Lone Star State adoration.

International Bestsellers: More for Your Messe

Corpse Bride (and Groom), Travels With Democracy
From Boxing to Bassoons

While many eyes in Hall 8 at the Frankfurt Book Fair were ogling Google, international publishers were juggling a flurry of deals on the heels of a rather upbeat year for most. Here is a sampling of some of the most prominent and promising wares on display at the rest of the Messe.

From the agent who brought you the international sensation, Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind, comes The Penultimate Dream, by a relative newcomer from Colombia, Ángela Becerra. Awarded this year’s Azorín Prize in Spain and named Best Colombian Fiction Book of 2005 by the Booksellers Association of Colombia, the novel begins when two strangers (who later learn they are brother and sister) are asked to identify a pair of corpses which turn out to be their parents wearing their old wedding clothes, who have committed suicide in an ancient apartment in Barcelona. The novel splits into two different plots, reconstructing the lives of the deceased and revealing that their love story began in Cannes in 1939 where she, the daughter of a wealthy Colombian, meets a Spaniard who immigrated to France where he earned his living as a waiter. As their story is unveiled, a very special relationship blossoms between their children. Rights have been sold to Editorial Notícias / Casa das Letras (Portugal), Corbaccio/ Longanesi (Italy), and Blanvalet/RH Group (Germany). Contact Antonia Kerrigan at the eponymous literary agency (Spain).

Political discourse is rarely shied away from at the Buchmesse, and the Gyldendal stand was no exception. This year’s hot new creative nonfiction release, The Suicide Mission, features “two Danish beanpoles,” Nielsen and Rasmussen, who crossed the border into Iraq on January 1, 2004, carrying only a metal case with the inscription “Democracy: Destination Iraq.” The narrator speaks from Baghdad in the year 2025 with an omniscient view of the weeks in 2004 when the two visited Iraq, following Americans from the Kuwaiti border to the Sunni triangle, through Basra into Baghdad. Hailed as a “chilling eyewitness report” and “among the best political art to have been accomplished both here and abroad in recent years,” the book explores the debate on democracy and Iraq and Europe’s role in the new millennium. A sample English translation is available and rights are on offer from Pernille Follmann Ballebye at Gyldendal (Denmark).

Renowned German novelist and playwright Hartmut Lange, whose prose “lets things pass by and allows life to be lived – in all its mundane monstrousness,” has garnered critical acclaim for his latest novella within a novella, The Wanderer. Matthias Bamberg is a successful novelist, whose latest work, also entitled The Wanderer, leads him on a winding personal adventure. Bamberg suspects his wife Anita is having an affair, a fear legitimized when she moves out of their apartment. He books a flight to Cape Town, where he hopes to find his wife and her lover. “A story of disturbance, in which reality begins to evaporate and the world of appearances starts to solidify into substance,” Lange’s tale travels to a bewildering and foreign world and expresses that life “cannot be explained, but must simply be endured.” Lange is published by El Acantilado (Spain), Fayard (France), Voland (Italy), Inostranka (Russia), Best Seller (Brazil), and Mintis (Lithuania). Rights are available from Susanne Bauknecht at Diogenes (Switzerland).

It’s 1973 and a small newspaper in Patagonia is celebrating its 50th anniversary by inviting each section of the paper to report on an event that took place in 1923 in Seconds Out of the Ring by Argentina’s Martín Kohan. Sports editor Verani and cultural reporter Ledesma choose their respective themes: the controversial boxing match between Argentinean Luis Firpo and US champion Jack Dempsey in New York, and a guest performance that year in Buenos Aires by the Viennese Philharmonic of Mahler’s First Symphony, conducted by Richard Strauss. Though the two events hardly seem related, they suddenly become linked by a note that Verani finds in the margin of a newspaper in the archives. On the night of the boxing match, it turns out, a dead body was found in a hotel on the same floor where members of the Viennese orchestra were staying. Is there a connection? Kohan brings in a surprising and amusing twist, producing a “perfect mosaic” of seemingly disparate events. Rights have been sold to Seuil (France) and Suhrkamp (Germany) and are available from Jordi Roca at Ray-Güde Mertin Literary Agency (Germany).

“Continuing the twentieth century’s great tradition of metropolitan novels,” Germany author Reinhard Jirgl paints a portrait of Berlin in 2002 as the meeting place of two men battered by personal and historical events in Renegade: A Novel From a Nervous Age. One is a journalist and recent divorcé in Hamburg who travels to Berlin to meet the love of his life, while the other, recently widowed, had been a border guard for the East German regime at Frankfurt Oder on the border of Poland. The latter falls for a young Ukrainian woman and helps her and her brother escape to Berlin illegally. The city of Berlin emerges as the third protagonist in the novel: “the city as a consuming monster and as [the] machinery which puts small people through the [ringers] before curing them.” Jirgl has been published in France (Quidam), Spain (RD), and Russia (Kolonna) and rights are held by Friederike Barakat at Hanser (Germany).

In Israel, debut author Agur Schiff has penned a cinematic plot which flows “from historical fact to local legend, from sultry Tel Aviv to cool London, from the agony of destiny to the triumph of coincidence.” In Bad Habits, Elimelech Ben-Zion, a former member of the notorious underground resistance movement, has brought his son Amiram from Israel to a London hospital for a liver transplant. Manning the tollbooth in the hospital’s parking garage is former adversary George Lilly, a veteran of the British secret police in Palestine. The two aging enemies embark on an adventure through the streets of London, reliving their reckless days at the end of the British Mandate in Israel and meeting a rag tag cast of characters along the way, including a “hapless, homeless and sometime philosopher,” Annabel, and a liaison officer at Scotland Yard who moonlights as an amateur Shakespearean actress. Contact Ines Austern at The Deborah Harris Agency (Israel) for rights.

Finally, our round-up would not be complete without a mention of amiable French auteur extraordinaire, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, who enchanted us all as guests of Albin Michel at Frankfurt’s Alte Oper with a reading of his latest book My Life With Mozart. It was accompanied by readings of translated editions by his foreign publishers, and even a rendition of a piece composed by Mozart at the ripe old age of 5 that was nothing short of charmant. Contact Solène Chabanais at Albin Michel (France) for rights.

Bookview, November 2005

Big moves this fall, with the news that FSG’s Editor-in-Chief John Glusman is stepping down at the end of the year, and that Annik LaFarge will move to Bloomsbury to become Publishing Director, starting November 14. Her position at Crown has been filled by Heather Jackson, who leaves Rodale after 2 years.

HarperCollins announced the appointment of Tina Andreadis as VP, Director of Publicity, for Harper Trade. She was formerly Deputy Director of Publicity at Warner Books. Elizabeth Viscott Sullivan has been named Senior Editor for Collins Design, and imprint of Collins. She reports to Marta Schooler, VP and Publisher.

Liate Stehlik is joining Avon as SVP Publisher — she was Associate Publisher at Pocket Books.

Ann Jackson, erstwhile of Time Inc., has been named CEO of WRC Media, parent of Weekly Reader. Emily Swenson resigned as President of Weekly Reader last month and Neal Goff has taken her place.
Lifestyle public relations firm Susan Magrino Agency has hired David Thalberg, former SVP at the book publicity agency, Planned Television Arts (PTA), for the newly-created role of Executive Director. Thalberg will report to agency President, Allyn Magrino.

Will Lippincott has resigned from Booz Allen – where he was editor of their publication strategy + business effective January ‘06 – to assume his agency duties full time at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin & Co. A search is underway for his replacement.

Jean Feiwel, Senior VP and Publisher has left Scholastic after 22 years with the company. Trade Sales Director Jack Perry (jackwperry38@,who came to Scholastic from Sourcebooks last year, has also left, as has former Director of Marketing, Jennifer Pasanen.

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] He will be consulting part time with erstwhile Running Press colleague John Whalen in a new publishing venture, Cider Mill Press to be distributed by Sterling.

Ken Brooks has been named VP Global Production and Manufacturing Operations at Thomson Learning. He had been running his own company Publishing Dimensions.

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.

John Loudon has been named executive editor for religion books at Rowman & Littlefield and its Catholic imprint, Sheed & Ward. He was previously with HarperSan Francisco for 27 years. Meanwhile, the company has bought the assests of M. Evans & Co., one of the last remaining independent New York publishing houses.

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 now ‘Collins Literary’ and ‘McCormick & Williams’, with Leslie Falk and PJ Mark as part of the latter’s team.

Mary Ellen Curley, most recently Associate Publisher of the former Harper Information Group has been named Director of Development for English literature and composition at Longman Publishers, a division of Pearson Education. She may be reached at maryellen.curley@

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.

Bob Wallace has resigned as head of the Wenner Books line to “pursue other opportunities.”

James Benjamin former Senior Vice President Operations has left Baker & Taylor and may be reached at [email protected]

Although apparently not announced, some time last summer Chris Capen closed down his Tehabi Books packaging imprint, unable to find needed investment.


Dedi Felman has been promoted to Executive Editor at OUP filling Tim Bartlett‘s position who went to RH.

Barb Burg was named SVP, Executive Director of Publicity and Public Relations, and Theresa Zoro was promoted to Director of Publicity at Bantam Dell. Susan Corcoran has resigned effective year-end after fifteen years in publicity.

At St. Martin‘s: Christina Harcar, Director of Rights, has been named a new VP; Monique Patterson is now Senior Editor; Jennifer Enderlin has been promoted to Associate Publisher for Griffin trade paperbacks and continues as Associate Publisher of mass market; Matthew Baldacci is now VP and Director of Marketing and Publishing Operations; and Joseph Rinaldi moves up to Director of Publicity for Thomas Dunne Books and Associate Director of publicity for St. Martin’s.

Jodi Harris has been promoted to executive editor in charge of Harper Kids Entertainment.

Roy Lipner has been named to head Kaplan Publishing, a new division that combines Kaplan’s existing trade publishing operation with its test prep operation, which was previously part of a joint imprint with S&S. Lipner was President of Kaplan’s existing publishing operation, Dearborn, and will continue to run it. Kaplan Publishing’s two divisions, test prep and now, trade, will be run by Maureen McMahon and Cynthia Zigmund respectively.

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 have been consolidated under Wendy Lefkon, now Editorial Director. And Victoria Saxon has been promoted to Executive Editor. All three will report to Disney Children’s Editor in Chief Brenda Bowen.

Joe Bulger has been named VP, Client Management & Business Development in the newly created Distribution Client Unit at Simon & Schuster reporting to Joe D’Onforio. He was VP Business Operations in the Supply Chain department.


The Mercantile Library‘s Fall Benefit Awards honoring James Purdy and Nan Talese takes place at The Century Club on November 8th. For information call 212.755.6710.

“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 Perseus CEO David Steinberger, Chronicle‘s Jack Jensen and Scholastic‘s Lisa Holton. For information go to

On November 10 the Goddard Riverside Meet-the-Author Dinners take place at homes in and around New York. On November 18 the Book Bash takes place, and on November 19th and 20th the Book Sale runs. Go to for details.

The National Book Awards take place on November 16 at the Marriott Marquis (see Calendar page 8). Included in the list of honorees and presenters is Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Garrison Keillor, Joan Didion, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ed Doctorow.

The Small Press Center‘s 20th Anniversary Celebration and Benefit will take place on November 30th . This year’s recipient of the Ben Award will be given to Peter Workman, by Steve Riggio. CBS‘s Mario Bosquez is the evening’s host. Meanwhile, the Eighteenth Independent and Small Press Book Fair will take place December 3-4 at The Small Press Center, 20 West 44 Street. There will be workshops, panel and readings. Publishers can still register to exhibit. For information email [email protected] or go to

Following the immensely entertaining and successful event last year, CLMP is holding its Second A(nother) Good Spell benefit Spelling Bee at 7pm on November 14th. The event will take place at Exit Art, 475 10th Avenue. Register online at


Mazel Tov to former editor of PT, Jeff Byles, on the November release of his first book, Rubble: Unearthing the History of Demolition (Harmony). Byles will be reading at the Center for Architecture, 536 Laguardia Place, on November 22, at 6:30pm. For more information call: 212.968.1961

A Fair to Remember

Frankfurt. London. BookExpo. Cape Town? The triad of must-attend book fairs may become a quadrumvirate next year after the innauguration of Barcelona and Cape Town’s own. With equally idealistic mission statements, the Saló del Llibre and the Cape Town Book Fair will finally happen after ten years and two years of planning respectively. However, claiming a few days out of the already crowded calendar of international book fairs might prove to be a quest more quixotic than realistic.

Catalonia has been the publishing industry’s darling lately and last month’s announcement that Spain’s autonomous community will have the spotlight at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2007 did not shock many. The region also held the privileged position at the Guadalajara International Book Fair last year. The Guild of Catalan Editors and the Guild of Catalan Bookstores appear to be taking advantage of the hype by holding its own fair in November. The Saló del Llibre boasts a lineup of 400 activities over four days with 13,000 square meters available for the more than 220 exhibitors. All the major Spanish publishers, including Random House Mondadori, Grupo Planeta, DeBolsillo, and Círculo de Lectores, along with virtually every Catalan counterpart will host stands, but international publishers are conspicuously absent from the schedule. For the past 25 years, the Catalan publishing industry has been making up for the time lost during the 40 years of Franco’s dictatorship when speaking and writing Catalan was prohibido and book publishing suffered under strict laws of censorship. Organizations like the Catalan Publishers Association, established in 1978, hope to spread the word that Catalonia is a major publishing center and has been for over 500 years. By all counts their work is paying off. In 2003, books published in Catalan comprised roughly 10-15% of Spain’s output.

Although English-language books have long dominated Cape Town’s publishing industry, there are ten other official languages in South Africa and books in all of them will be featured at the Cape Town Book Fair, a joint venture between the Frankfurter Buchmesse and the Publishers Association of South Africa. The fair will take place in June, only a month before the 22nd Annual Zimbabwe International Book Fair. Organizers of the Harare event fear the new fair will overshadow the smaller one, but with Cape Town shaping up to have a “business” focus and Zimbabwe traditionally being more “cultural/regional,” many say the events are dissimilar enough to avoid competition. In fact, many say the Zimbabwe fair is on the way out. At a time when book fairs are booming, a dozen others are ready to take its place.

International Bestsellers: Bienvenidos Audiolibros

Audiobooks Go Global, Competition Rises In Germany,
Yoshi Mixes Tunes in Japan

As PT continues its foray into the audio delivery of the word, we leave behind the car-loving Americans who drive twice the distance at a third of the cost, for the land of the TGV, the U-Bahn and the AVE. A land where audiobooks on cassette and CD failed to garner a substantial audience, because people spend less time behind the wheel. With the transfer to digital download, however, expansion is on the horizon, sure to mimic the post-Pod US market explosion. But, for the time being, Europe — with the exception of the UK and Germany — has yet to catch the audio bug.

Turning to Spain, past attempts to launch “audiolibros” into the market by Alfaguara in 1996 and Círculo de Lectores have notably failed. Representatives from major publishing houses gathered in April 2004 to discuss the state of Spanish audiobooks. While opinions on the future ranged from pessimistic to positive, all seemed to agree that the lack of specific audiobook in-store displays in key retailers as well as the consumers’ unfamiliarity with the spoken word concept were impeding its success.

Nevertheless, Pedro Huerta, marketing director at Random House Mondadori, spoke hopefully of a possible massive campaign to promote and sell audiolibros in all formats in Spain that, according to optimistic estimates, could arrive in time for Christmas this year. The unpredictable audiobook climate in Spain might be one of the reasons Urano, the publisher of the Spanish language version of The Da Vinci Code, decided not to release it in audiobook format. Instead, they licensed the worldwide rights to Fonolibro, a publisher based in Miami that sells Spanish audiobooks exclusively. They also threw in Angels and Demons. Spanish speakers may now purchase the 19 CD’s of The Da Vinci Code online for $39.95. Whether or not El código Da Vinci will take off in the Spanish-speaking American market where there already exists a place for it beside the English bestseller is yet to be determined.

A similar story is told in Italy, where a few publishers are splashing around the audiobook pool but not making any waves finding their market confined by a limited distribution. Some organizations commission audiobooks for the blind, but attempts to bring audiobooks into the mainstream have failed. Publishing powerhouse Mondadori launched a series of audiobook titles in the 1970’s. The idea never took root and fizzled out after a year. As in Spain, in store display issues were given as an excuse for failure. In both countries newsstand kiosks are popular printed-word pushers (along with edibles and trinkets) — visited on a daily basis by millions — and in both countries this lucrative retail venue was ignored. In addition, there is still resistance among Italian publishers who consider the audiobook as a competitor to its printed predecessor.

Audible has staked its claim in France, the UK and Germany where sales have grown exponentially over the past few years. Although comprising a minor fraction of the overall German book trade, audiobooks are the industry’s fastest growing segment. The upward swing began as far back as 2001 when the nation’s largest audio publisher, Hörverlag, saw its sales grow by a staggering 88%. As the audiobook market grew 14.7% to 140 million Euros last year, sales for the publisher reached 16.5 million euros (an impressive increase of 25% over 2003). Bookstores are still the main distribution channel, and the number of booksellers who offer audiobooks has doubled since the 1990s. Similar to the US, publishers have just reached the tipping point between cassettes and CDs. Still, Hörverlag predicts that with the rise of digital download, only 60% of their sales will go through bookstores five years from now.

Much of the appeal of audiobooks in Germany is that unlike books in print, there are no legal price restrictions on sound media. (It is unclear whether this exception to retail price maintenance exists in France and other European countries where it applies). It is not unheard of for a discounted audiobook to cost less than the hardcover copy of the same title. It’s no wonder so many German language publishers are throwing their hats into the ring. One of them, Swiss-based German language publisher Diogenes, will launch a line of six audio titles this October, including Paulo Coelho‘s latest, The Zahir.

In yet another demonstration of the power of the audiobook, American author T.C. Boyle traveled with German narrator Jan Josef Liefers during his most recent reading tour of Germany for his novel The Inner Circle. Harry Potter titles (in both German and English language editions) have broken audio sales records across the board. Some German publishing companies are now producing English-language CDs of world literature classics, and John Updike, was recently commissioned by Marebuch, a publisher that specializes in water-related titles, to read his maritime-esque poems for a CD to accompany a printed collection of the same!

Though Audible still leads the pack in digital audio, as in the US, competitors are springing up to Most notably, a new site is set to be launched at next month’s Frankfurt Book Fair by Focus Magazin Verlag and Hörverlag (which still doesn’t have a deal with Audible), called, an online portal for downloading audio content. And with industry audio sales up 18.5% for January through May of this year compared to last, with no sign of stopping, Audio. Libri has launched a wholesale service for publishers and internet retailers. Participating publishers register their audiobooks in a centralized database, where they are converted into MP3 files and embedded with a watermark to prevent corruption. Publishers also receive comprehensive sales reports through the service.

Traveling 8,932 kilometers to the east, we arrive in Japan, where audiobooks have met with a cool reception, despite last month’s launch of the iTunes Music Store — a venture that brought the downloading public access to 10,000 audiobooks, including works by Japanese authors. There are a few historical novels and language learning audiobooks, but tiny mobile type is more in vogue thanks to author Yoshi (see PT, April ’04), whose first novel paved the way for books on cell phones, and who has received more than 20 million hits on his website. In the spirit of a multi-media experience, Yoshi’s new novels, which rank at the top of this month’s Japanese bestseller list, are accompanied by theme music, an original CD with lyrics written by the author created to be listened to while reading the books – an audible twist, Japanese style.

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, 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 (

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 (

Farah Miller, Manager of New Media at Knopf, created, 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 “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 — 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 “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.”