Bookview, May 2006

PEOPLE

Betsy Groban has been named VP Publisher of Children’s Books at Houghton Mifflin. She had previously been at WGBH and prior to that, at Little, Brown. Earlier this month Linda Magram was promoted to the new position of Director of Marketing for the entire children’s book group, adding responsibilities for such imprints as Kingfisher and Clarion. And Joe Monti, B&N‘s buyer for Young Readers and Teens joined HM as Children’s National Account Manager.

Oxford University Press announced that EVP, COO Barbara Wasserman, VP Publisher Ellen Chodosh ([email protected]) and VP Chief Sales Officer Michael Burkin ([email protected]) are leaving the company, following a restructuring that puts academic and trade under Niko Pfund. A new department responsible for all sales and marketing activities in OUP USA excluding Higher Ed) will be created, and a new Sales and Marketing Director appointed, according to the announcement.

Weldon Owen Publishing, newly acquired by Bonnier Publishing, has appointed Christopher Davis, formerly Publisher at Dorling Kindersley, as its Publisher-at-Large to help grow its international co-edition business.

In the AMS musical chairs, Gary Rautenstrauch has been named President and CEO, replacing Bruce Myers, who left last month. He was replaced as CEO at Blackwell by Susan Peterson, who was most recently running her own firm, Strategic Team Partners, and previously Baker & Taylor and Lightning Source.

Following Tami Booth‘s resignation from Rodale Books, and VP Publisher Liz Perl‘s assumption of her duties, Perl has also been given oversight of the international trade books and rights business. President of Rodale International, Gianni Crespi, has left the company.

Jennifer Griffin has left Workman, where she was Executive Editor, for a position as a literary agent at the Miller Agency. . . . Elisa Petrini joins InkWell Management after two years at Vigliano Associates.

Karen Mender has joined the group working with the Quills Literacy Foundation and on this year’s Quill Awards. She was most recently at Atria.

Triumph Books, recently sold to Random House Group, will continue to be based in Chicago. Jeff Rogatz has been named President, reporting to Bill Takes, who was just promoted to SVP, Executive Director, Business Operations and New Business Development.

At Scholastic, Elizabeth Whiting joined the company at the beginning of the month as national account manager for Borders and Walden. She was at Perseus.

John Siciliano has been named Editor of Penguin Classics. He was an associate editor at Vintage/Anchor, where he also acquired classics for the Everyman’s Library. Elda Rotor was recently named Executive Editor of Penguin Classics. She had been most recently Senior Editor at Oxford University Press.

Barrie Rappaport has left Ipsos and is now Director of New Product Development – Consumer Data RR Bowker, LLC.

Michele Jacob has left Free Press to become Director of Publicity at Basic Books following Jamie Brickhouse‘s departure. Meanwhile, ex-VP, Assistant Publisher, and Director of Publicity at PublicAffairs, Gene Taft has relocated to Washington, DC and set up his own public relations firm, GT/PR. He may be reached at [email protected]

Peg O’Donnell
has left NBN, to go to Chelsea Green Publishing, as Sales Director. Beau Friedlander also recently joined Chelsea Green Publishing as Marketing Director. He was most recently at ReedBusiness.

Robb Pearlman has been hired in the position of Senior Editor, calendars, children’s books, and licensing at Rizzoli. Pearlman was Associate Director, licensing and brand management at S&S.

Earlier this month Hachette Book Group announced various moves: Jill Cohen left Bulfinch, where she had been Publisher. Bulfinch and Springboard are now part of HBGUSA; David Ford, Publisher of Little, Brown’s children’s division resigned “to follow his dream of returning to London.” Associate Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Megan Tingley has taken Ford’s position. Andrew Smith went to LB children’s from Candlewick, taking over from Bill Boedeker as VP of Marketing and Associate Publisher.

Following Scott Watrous‘s move to Globe Pequot as President and Publisher, he has named Michelle Lewy as VP Sales. Lewy had been acting Sales Director. Meanwhile Adams Media announced changes following Watrous’ departure: Sara Domville, President of the book division of F+W, named Gary Krebs, Karen Cooper and Jeanne Emanual to a three-person executive team.

Laurie Chittenden joined Morrow as Executive Editor, reporting to Lisa Gallagher. She was previously at Dutton.…Sarah McGrath was appointed VP and Executive Editor of Riverhead Books. She was Senior Editor at Scribner. Also leaving Scribner is Lisa Drew, who started her own imprint at Macmillan/ Scribner in 1993. She retires June 30.

Elissa Altman has resigned as Senior Editor at Clarkson Potter to focus on freelance food/gardening/lifestyle editing and writing. She can be reached after May 25th at [email protected]

Gregg Sullivan has been appointed Director of Marketing and Promotions for ReganMedia/HarperCollins. Sullivan, who came from St. Martin’s, reports to Judith Regan. Suzanne Wickham of Wickham-Beaird Public Relations has taken the position of Director of Publicity, Los Angeles for ReganMedia, following the departure of Justin Loeber (who has taken a PR job out of publishing).

This BEA, marks Lance Fensterman’s debut as Show Manager. He had been the store manager at R.J. Julia Booksellers in New Canaan, CT and reports to Courtney Muller, Group VP at Reed Exhibitions.

Earlier this month Farrin Jacobs was named Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, working mostly on teen fiction for Elise Howard. She was most recently at Harlequin and is autographing her new book (with Sarah Mlynowski) See Jane Write at Quirk’s booth at BEA.

Also at HC, May Wuthrich has joined the HarperMedia group as Editor. Greg Chaput, formerly at HC, has joined SparkNotes as Editor, reporting to newly promoted Editor in Chief, Laurie Barnett.

Kara LaReau joined Scholastic as Executive Editor, Scholastic Press. Most recently, she was a Senior Editor at Candlewick Press. Stacey Lellos rejoined Scholastic as Director of Licensed Publishing, reporting to Ellie Berger, SVP, Trade. Julie Amitie has joined Scholastic as Director of Retail Marketing and Brand Management. Most recently, Amitie was Director of Marketing for S&S Children’s Publishing, At S&S Children’s Mark Von Bargen was hired as Director of National Accounts. He had previously been Director of Merchandising for children’s books at Baker & Taylor. David Carroll also has joined S&S as Director, Distributor Sales and Retail Marketing, reporting to Anne Zafian. Most recently he was VP of Sales at Media Bay‘s Radio Spirits division. . . . Carol Lazare has been named Director of Subsidiary Rights at Other Press, working part-time. She was previously Director of Subsidiary Rights for Doubleday/Broadway.

PROMOTIONS

New Press has promoted Ellen Mastromonaco Adler to Publisher, and Mark Favreau to Editorial Director.

With John Glusman ensconced at Crown, Eric Chinski has now officially been named as the new editor-in-chief at Farrar, Straus. He has been an executive editor there since 2003.

Kathryn Court announced the promotion of Ali Bothwell Mancini to Editor for Penguin and Plume. She reports to Stephen Morrison.

Cecily Kaiser is moving from Scholastic Book Clubs to Scholastic Trade Publishing, effective May 15th, to become Executive Editor for Cartwheel Books and the Licensed Publishing Group, reporting to Ken Geist, Vice President, Editorial Director, Cartwheel Books and Orchard Books.

Many HC promotions: Adrienne DiPietro has been promoted to VP, Director of Marketing Avon Books. Carolyn Bodkin has returned to HC as Manager of Foreign Rights, reporting to Juliette Shapland. Rachel Bressler has moved from Morrow to National Accounts Manager for the Harper, Ecco, San Francisco, Amistad and Perennial imprints selling to B&N. Lynn Grady has been promoted to from Marketing Director to VP, Associate Publisher for the HarperEntertainment, Eos and Morrow Cookbooks lists. Jill Schwartzman has been promoted to Editor. She was previously Associate Editor, Michael McKenzie has been promoted to Director of Publicity of Ecco. Tracey Menzies has been promoted to VP, Creative Operations. Marjorie Braman has moved over to Morrow, acquiring for Morrow and Harper Entertainment and reporting to Lisa Gallagher.

Sue Fleming-Holland has been promoted to VP, Executive Director Consumer and On Line Marketing at S&S. She was VP, Marketing Director. At Scribner, Brant Rumble has been promoted to senior editor.

JUNE EVENTS

June 15th is the postmark deadline for Entry Form for the 2006 National Book Awards. Go to www. nationalbook.org for more information.

DULY NOTED

More than 135 million adults visited American public libraries last year, and students made 1.5 billion visits to school libraries during the school year, according to the first-ever “State of America’s Libraries” report from the ALA, released during National Library Week.

Among other findings: Almost 90% of Americans surveyed in a poll report are satisfied with their public libraries. Some 62% of adult Americans have library cards, and circulation of public library materials has climbed every year since 1990.

Bookview, March 2006

PEOPLE

On the heels of news that Emily Loose has left Penguin Press to become a Senior Editor at The Free Press comes news that Ray Roberts is retiring from Viking, after 40 years in the business. Meanwhile, Executive Editor Michael Millman is leaving Penguin, where he focused on Penguin Classics. He may be reached at [email protected] Caroline White, also at Penguin Classics, left in January.

Ex-Penguinites Julie Grau and Cindy Spiegel hired Michael Mezzo, from Little, Brown, as Editor, and Chris Jackson away from Crown, to be Executive Editor. Sean Desmond is going to Crown as a Senior Editor. He was at Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin‘s….And Jason Pinter has left Warner to become an editor at Three Rivers Press.

Roger Cooper has been named VP Publisher of CDS Books/Perseus. He was EVP at iBooks/Byron Preiss Visual Publications.

Carole Baron has entered into an agreement with Knopf to acquire and edit books for the company while continuing as SVP and Publishing Director of Bookspan.

Leah Spiro has left HarperCollins where she was a Senior Editor specializing in business books. She may be reached at [email protected] . . . Michael Broussard has joined ReganMedia as a Senior Editor, reporting to Cal Morgan and Judith Regan. He had been an agent at Dupree/Miller & Associates.

In children’s, lots of changes: Ken Wright, VP Editorial Director at Scholastic, is leaving as of March 10 and may be reached at [email protected]. . .Little, Brown Marketing Director Bill Boedeker went to Africa for 3 weeks and “had some time to think/reflect.” The result is that he has quit his job and will travel in Australia and volunteer in Africa, and return at some indeterminate time, possibly to “grown-up books.” Following Jean Feiwel‘s recent move, Liz Szable has been named VP, Editor-in-Chief of the new, unnamed children’s unit at Holtzbrinck. She had been Editorial Director at Scholastic Press since 1998. Holtzbrinck also announced it is creating a merchandise sales division under Steve Kleckner, who will hold the new position of VP, Director of Merchandise Sales, reporting to Alison Lazarus. Kleckner has been at TokyoPop. . . . Scholastic will start an audio program, run by Publisher Jennifer Feldman, who reports to Alan Waldman, SVP and GM of Interactive Products. Feldman was previously VP Publisher BBC Audiobooks. . . . . And Tracy van Straaten will join Scholastic at the end of March in the new position of VP, Trade Publicity, reporting to VP Trade Marketing, Suzanne Murphy. Von Straaten has been Executive Director at S&S Children’s. . . . Robin Corey has gone to Random House as a VP of her eponymous imprint. She was previously an EVP at S&S’s Children’s…

In other news, Elizabeth Sheinkman has been named senior agent and Director of the book board at Curtis Brown. She had worked at the Elaine Markson Agency and most recently in London. . . .Laura Mazer has been name ME of Seal Press/Avalon. . . . Michele Matrisciani has joined HCI as Editorial Director. She was previously an editor at McGraw-Hill Trade. And Andrea Gold has joined HCI as an editor. She was previously an editor at LRP Publications, also in Florida.

NYT publishing reporter Ed Wyatt is leaving with his wife, Jennifer Steinhauer for LA, raising the periodic question of who publishers will have to educate next.

Julie Merberg announced Pam Abrams has joined Downtown Bookworks as SVP. Most recently, she was VP/Editor in Chief of Parent and Family Publishing at Scholastic. Merberg, who had formerly been a partner at Round Table Press, started Downtown last spring.

Trish Lande Grader has joined Touchstone Fireside as Senior Editor. Most recently she had been Executive Editor at Morrow. . . . Clarkson Potter hired Chris Navratil from Chronicle as Editorial Director of Potter Style. Doris Cooper went to Clarkson Potter as Editorial Director in January.

OUP announced that Laura Brown, President of the US division, has stepped down and will be succeeded by Tim Barton, who has been MD of Oxford’s Academic Division since early 2004. He will continue his previous responsibilities.

With Chris McCabe leaving, Courtney Muller will oversee BEA until she names McCabe’s successor. She has been named a Group VP at Reed Exhibitions, and will once again be working with hubby Roger Bilheimer, who took over many of Tina Jordan‘s duties when she left for the AAP. He remains a consultant to Reed.

The Association of Booksellers for Children has hired Kristen McLean as Executive Director, taking over from Anne Irish. McLean was Marketing Manager for Houghton Mifflin‘s Kingfisher Publications.

David Moench has joined Ballantine as Publicity Manager for Del Rey. He had been a senior publicist at Holtzbrinck‘s Tor, Forge, and Starscape imprints.

Heather Drucker has been named to the newly created position of Publicity Director at Bookspan. She was at Kodansha America.

Zoe Fishman has been named Foreign Rights Director at Lowenstein-Yost Associates. Fishman was previously at Atria and Pocket Books as Subsidiary Rights Associate.

Irv Myers joined PGW as COO/ EVP. Most recently he was EVP and COO for Rowman Littlefield Publishing Group and NBN.

Jericho Communications, the PR agency, is closing its doors. Greg Mowery and Maryann Palumbo will continue working from their respective homes.

Rich Kelley has left his position as Director of Marketing and Membership for the New York Academy of Sciences and may be reached at RichKelley@ nyc.rr.com.

PROMOTIONS

At Harcourt, Editor-in-Chief Becky Saletan has been given the additional title of Associate Publisher.

Marion Maneker has been named VP and Publisher of Collins Business.
Group SVP and Deputy Publisher Libby McGuire has been made Publisher of Ballantine, continuing to report to group President and Publisher Gina Centrello. Director of Marketing Kim Hovey becomes Associate Publisher at Ballantine. Nancy Miller has given up her title as Editor-in-Chief of Ballantine, and now has the title of SVP, Executive Editor for the Random House imprint, reporting to Dan Menaker.Villard will now be part of the Ballantine list and Bruce Tracy and Caroline Sutton are now Executive Editors at Ballantine, reporting to McGuire. Random House Associate Publisher Tom Perry, moves to Ballantine, and now reports directly to Centrello. Sally Marvin becomes Publicity Director for the Random imprints, and Brian McLendon becomes Publicity Director for Ballantine both reporting to Perry.

Penguin announced that Paul Slovak has been named Publisher of Viking. He was previously VP and Associate Publisher. And Wendy Wolf has been named Editorial Director of nonfiction, while Molly Stern has been named Editorial Director of fiction. Both retain their roles as executive editors. All three will continue to report to Clare Ferraro.

VNU Business Media
has announced the promotion of Kelly Roman to Sales Director of VNU US Literary Group. Roman will oversee marketing and sales efforts for VNU’s Kirkus and The Book Standard properties. Roman will report to MD Jerome Kramer.

Jane Dentinger has been promoted to Editor-in-Chief, Mystery GuildCarol Mackey has been promoted to Editor-in-Chief, Black Expressions.

At PGW, Eric Kettunen has been promoted to VP of Marketing, focusing on current client publishers and catalog production. Heather Cameron has been promoted to Director of Marketing, reporting to Kettunen, as will Directors of Marketing Tracy Fortini and Sarah Rosenberg. Kevin Votel was promoted to VP, business development, reporting to Rich Freese.

MARCH EVENTS

March 2006 is the tenth anniversary of Small Press Month and is co-sponsored by the Small Press Center and PMA, The Independent Book Publishers Association and CLMP. Additional support has been provided by Book Sense and ABA. For details go to www.smallpressmonth.org.

Book Tech‘s Conference and Expo takes place March 20-22 at the NY Hilton. For information, go to booktechexpo.com

DULY NOTED

From the Chicago Tribune: Gallup finds only 9% of Internet users say they frequently read blogs, with 11% reading them occasionally and 66% never reading them. Those numbers put blog-reading last among Gallup’s measures of 13 common Internet activities. E-mailing ranks first (with 87% of users doing so frequently or occasionally), followed by checking news and weather (72), shopping (52) and making travel plans (also 52).

Crains New York reports that Bookspan agreed to pay $680,000 to settle charges that it made telemarketing calls to tens of thousands of people on the National Do Not Call Registry. The FTC said that Bookspan and companies it hired made more than 100,000 calls to consumers on the national registry from October 2003, when the law went into effect, and August 2004. Bookspan typically made the unwanted phone calls to current or former book club members, attempting to sell them products or re-enroll them in clubs from which they had dropped out, according to the FTC.

The Course that Ate the Textbook & Other Adventures in Educational Publishing

In olden days, a faculty member huddled with a publisher’s sales rep and picked a new textbook, which eventually resulted in its purchase by a student. Today, every link in that chain is under reconsideration – some might say under attack.

A group of education industry investors gathered in Miami recently to hear about new business models and technology formats that are transforming the $3.5 billion textbook business (estimated by some to be closer to $10-$13 billion with the inclusion of K-12 and Higher Ed). In place of textbooks and a library, the biggest player in for-profit education, University of Phoenix (UOP), offers rEsource, a portal of digital content licensed from leading educational publishers such as Pearson, Thomson, McGraw Hill, and John Wiley. In fact, because of UOP’s centralized curriculum, it has quickly become one of the largest customers for textbooks. Beth Aguiar, head of Apollo Publishing, the parent of UOP, noted that the rEsource strategy has brought the cost of textbooks down from an average of about $400 per student to about $170. And in place of the linear, text-only book is a fully searchable, digital reference source that integrates interactive elements such as simulations, and can also be easily updated. For content outside of textbook formats, Google‘s Book Search has opened the door to the ultimate desktop library, with the added benefit of an option to purchase books direct from the publisher or other booksellers. The result is also an important new marketing platform for publishers, says Tom Turvey, head of Google Book Search partnerships. Google can provide deep marketing intelligence to its publishing partners, including the ability to test price points and subscription models with newly launched features for Google Book Search partners. Google Book Search returns search results with books and points to publisher’s and retailer’s websites, which has the potential to give new life to those elusive but important backlists – the so-called “long tail” effect. Turvey argued that within Google’s normal Google Book Search experience, its digital rights management tools protect authors and publishers since the books are limited in their usage (they cannot be printed, for instance, and no more than 20% of a book can be viewed in a month). The argument that browsing leads to buying is fundamental to the Google pitch to publishers, just as it has been for Barnes & Noble superstores for years. Offering something for free also underlies the success of Barnes & Noble’s popular SparkNotes. Dan Weiss, head of Spark Publishing, noted that content ubiquity is the ultimate goal, as young readers will consume content on the desktop, on iPods, on cell phones, and still continue to purchase books that they have read as bit and bytes in other formats. Spark Publishing has expanded into each of these formats, and also offers test prep and college admissions information to its young audience. The highly trafficked website is supported by ad sales as well as sales of content.

What does this mean for textbooks and publishers? Other universities have yet to embrace UOP’s undeniably efficient centralized curriculum development and content portals. Custom publishing and flexible course packs have not exactly pushed print textbooks off the shelf. And the publishing industry – education and trade – continues to struggle with the shift to consumer-controlled content, just as the recording industry has. So far, same old, same old. But if rEsource and Spark Notes and Google Book Search are bellwethers, the moral of the story is that content will continue to build value for authors and publishers – but content will reach its audience through different channels, and will look awfully different when it gets there.

PT thanks Ann Kirschner, head of Comma International, for helping us to continue our current obsession with all things digital. Kirschner attended the Education Industry Investor Conference in Miami from March 21-22. She consults for universities and media companies, and is most recently the author of Sala’s Gift (Free Press, Fall 2006).

eLusive eStats

Digital Publishing Goes Mainstream. PT Attempts To Make a Meal Out of the Proverbial ePie

This month we decided to tackle the Sisyphean task of coming up with eNumbers – stats for the digital side of the biz. For the Book Publishing industry, eBooks are the most literal digital translation – books, in every sense of the term, simply supplanting paper with screens. The past seven rollercoaster years however – with the steady vacillation between eBooks as savior and eBooks as failed hype – have left publishers with a collective stomach ache. Ever device-conscious, eBooks are once again on an upswing with the Sony Reader dancing on the horizon, but publishers have learned to temper their enthusiasm.

“I avoid the word eBook like a plague,” Meg Fisher, Director of Domestic Rights at Oxford University Press said during an eBook panel at Book Tech. “I like to call it digital media.” Fisher’s viewpoint – moving away from looking at eBooks as the digital publishing market to looking at eBooks as comprising a part of the digital publishing market – is one that more and more publishers are starting to share. Digital audio, PDF downloads, online reference, mobile licensing, pay-per-use, monetized search, podcasts, chunking – the digital publishing market as a burgeoning profitable force is just warming up.

“When it comes to the delivery of digital content, the industry is still at the blind man and the elephant phase,” says Lightspeed‘s Jim Lichtenberg. “eBooks? Online Journals? Part of the problem is that nobody really owns it as a whole – it’s springing up in different ways and everyone is looking at different parts of the beast.”

Disparate definitions breed specious statistics and reports vary widely as to digital publishing’s pull. Ask any publisher in the digital media division to talk about their slice of the industry and they all start off the same way – “We’re still really new…what did everyone else say?” Take eBooks for instance: Current estimates of the overall eBook market range from $3 million to upwards of $30 million. Officially, Nick Bogaty, Executive Director of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), estimates the eBook market to be between $12-$15 million, with eBooks defined as downloadable DRM-ed complete books encrypted by the publisher and functioning similar to an i-Tune.

Vincent Janoski, Business Manager at SparkNotes, ventures a higher estimate, placing the industry around $21 million based on a 40-50% growth rate (generally cited as the estimated increase of both revenue and offerings) from $10 million in 2003. According to Janoski, limiting the market to DRM-ed eBooks narrows the field quite a bit by excluding non-encoded PDF downloads like SparkNotes Literature guides, downloadable directly from both their website (www.sparknotes.com), and partner sites like MBS. “Our PDF downloads are fast approaching $500,000 in sales,” he said. “In the context of a $15-20 million market, that is a pretty big share that is not captured in the IDPF stats.” Going even further, if one were to expand the definition of eBooks to include the more loosely defined eDocument (or eDoc) numbers would dramatically increase, at least in terms of units and titles (Amazon has over 1 million eDocs up for sale).

Digital Audiobook downloads comprise another well-publicized and growing piece of digital publishing. Again, overall revenue is difficult to track, but according to the Audio Publisher’s Association, downloadable audio (or eAudio, as some publishers are referring to it) accounts for about 6% of the overall audiobook market that currently hovers somewhere around the $1 billion mark.

While eBooks and eAudio are the most obvious manifestations of print media in a digital age – whole “books” sold through the e-equivalent of traditional retail channels – other parts of the digital publishing market, like online reference, represent the growing trend of “chunking” information – breaking it apart and allowing consumers to become the architects, rather than leaving construction to publishers. Since consumers don’t buy chunks in the same way they buy whole content (although up-and-coming programs like Amazon Pages, and Random House’s initiative to monetize individual pages are testing this fact) other models such as subscription, rental, pay per view, and ad-supported content have cropped up.

As business models shift and settle, one of the most difficult dividing lines to draw in order to estimate the overall digital publishing market is the line between monetization and marketing, according to Lichtenberg. “Since the market is in its infancy and on a quest to convert print consumers into digital consumers, business models are still emerging,” he said. For now, marketing and merchandising spill into each other – free Podcasts advertising pay audiobooks, Holtzbrinck‘s up-and-coming RSS-delivered Chapter Feeds enticing customers to buy both print and digital, the innumerable bundled digital incentives educational publishers are using to gain leverage.

Offically, no one collects statistics about the overall digital publishing market. Unofficially, we’ve attempted to clarify the emerging market, in order to begin to define the digital pie, the pieces of the elephant, the elusive estats. Take a look.

Dominoes and Superheroes: Graphic Novels Pressing Forward

2006 is promising to be another banner year for graphic novels. Marjane Satrapi‘s PERSEPOLIS (Pantheon) was named this year’s featured work in the Seattle Reads series and Alan Moore’s V FOR VENDETTA (Vertigo), which opened as the No. 1 movie in the U.S., brought the original graphic novel to No. 9 on Barnes & Noble.com’s Hourly Top 100 that weekend. “Having backlist titles reactivate is an important source of strength for the graphic novel category,” says Milton Griepp, president of pop culture publishing and consulting company ICv2. “The biggest opportunities are for the media tie-in titles.”

In 2005, the U.S. and Canadian graphic novel market reached $245 million in retail according to ICv2. Although the rate of growth declined in comparison to the previous two years, there was still more than an 18% increase in sales from 2004’s $207 million in retail. “The market is maturing,” says agent Bob Mecoy of Creative Book Services. “But what was significant for me was that there was not a single standout title last year, and despite that, the market rose in the double digits.”

There are three important contributors to the rising popularity of graphic novels according to graphic novelist Matt Madden, (whose 99 WAYS TO TELL A STORY: EXERCISES IN STYLE was voted one of The Village Voice’s 25 favorite novels of 2005): Hollywood franchises of superhero properties boost comic book sales in mainstream bookstores, literary comics – Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, Joe Sacco, Marjane Satrapi – are gaining a higher profile and bringing in a wider variety of book readers who don’t normally read comics, and manga has brought in a deluge of young readers, most significantly, girls. This strong growth has caught the attention of major houses, many of which are starting graphic novel imprints.

Recently, HarperCollins announced a partnership with manga distributor Tokyopop to publish co-branded manga titles. Beginning this June, the arrangement will give the News Corp. publishing division distribution rights for all Tokyopop books in North America.

This month, Roaring Brook is launching First Second, its new graphic novel imprint which Editorial Director Mark Siegel believes will have an impressive range of readers – a key to future sales growth. “With THE LOST COLONY [a graphic novel about a mysterious island in nineteenth century America], we are getting incredible feedback from not even yet 10-year-old girls. One of them carries it around. Another sleeps with it under her pillow. Then 40 and 50-year-old men are reading it and finding that there is this incredible subtext about racism and slavery at this other level. You could compare that to The Simpsons. A graphic novel has the ability to be read at many levels. That’s something that First Second is very much dedicated to providing.”

Author Madden says that First Second’s program “is the most ambitious project to capitalize on the growing mainstream popularity of comics.”

While literary comics are building a reputation reaching the widest range of readers, James Killen, buyer for B&N, reports that “the bestselling genres are still manga and the superhero related graphic novels. Manga has turned into a genre that dominates the category bringing in a younger audience. With the older, more male-centric readership superheroes remain strong.”

With continued success from imprints like Pantheon and new players like First Second, competition to publish high-quality graphic novels is rising. “Production, art direction, and editorial are three practical ways we are working very hard to upgrade,” Siegel said. “Over many seasons, I hope we’ll be setting the bar a little higher, not in terms of making things more slick, but in terms of the artistry and the quality of the story.”

Mecoy said, “I think that there is something happening here that is going to endure, because what you are seeing with manga and with deeper penetration into the market, with the feed into games and movies, is a new vocabulary. It’s visual narrative.”

While fingers are crossed for a breakthrough title that will place graphic novels permanently in the mainstream, the real news is that graphic novels are a steadily growing market worth the financial investments required to publish these works. It will take more than a movie blockbuster or single-title campaign to bring the genre to its full potential audience. “It’s a slower thing that’s going to do that,” Siegel says. “We are going to try everything we can on the marketing end, but it’s ultimately about content. Persepolis has opened doors for a lot of people, because you have someone who is clearly a true author; she just happens to be working in this medium. The more that those kinds of works get out, the more people will get the idea.”

“What we have had are little tipping points, dominoes falling one after another,” says Mecoy. “We are only just now getting to the point where we can rise up and look down and see all those dominoes form a pattern that’s as large as traditional publishing.”

As publishers consider investing more of their resources in graphic novels, they might be motivated by Killen’s experience in the market. “We continue to reevaluate the business and after the last few years I still ask myself ‘how high is the sky?’ Whenever I think I’m ready to see a ‘peak’ in the business something like V FOR VENDETTA happens and sets off a whole new wave of attention, press, and sales.”

Domestic Issues Abroad

Not So Foreign Family Problems Fill the Lists

The bright blue and red cover of YOU’RE JOKING, MONSIEUR TANNER (l’Olivier), French author Jean-Paul Dubois‘ most recent bestseller, shows a man on hands and knees who’s painted himself into a corner. This is Paul Tanner, a wildlife documentary filmmaker who suddenly inherits the grand family manse, but finds himself more cursed than blessed by the windfall. The short novel (198 pages) with brief snippets of chapters follows, with aplomb, Dubois’ previous phenomenon, A FRENCH LIFE, which won the Prix Femina in 2004 and sold an astounding 400,000 copies. As Monsieur Tanner embarks on his first journey into home renovation, he hires a group of oddball workers each with his own crazy set of personal tics that sets off all the others. The roofers, Pierre and Pedro, insist on bringing their ferocious dogs to the worksite while Astor, the flamboyant fashionista painter, works through the countless neuroses that keep him from concentrating on the job at hand. Igor, the Russian Catholic electrician, clashes with the boys who post the Pirelli calendar too close to where he prays. Amidst the turmoil, the house falls deeper and deeper into ruin in this French facsimile of The Money Pit. Dubois, a novelist as well as journalist (he’s currently the American correspondent for Le Nouvel Observateur) writes in the vein of Philip Roth and John Updike with similarly melancholy and disheveled male protagonists who are often attracted to more mature women and find themselves in existential predicaments. Since publication in January, the title has sold 141,000 copies. Korean rights have been sold to Balgunsesang. Contact Jennie Dorney for rights (jenniedorney@ seuil.com).

Inheriting the family home is bittersweet as well for Austrian Philipp Erlach, the protagonist of Arno Geiger‘s WE”RE DOING WELL (Hanser). His grandmother’s old house in suburban Vienna similarly falls into the lap of this passive and ambivalent 36 year-old writer. Grudgingly, Philipp begins to sort through the heaps of mementoes, heirlooms, and documents left after his estranged father, Peter, tosses much of them into the trash. As Philipp digs through the remnants, the story dips in and out of the present, moving back to 1938 when Philipp’s grandparents experience the rise of the Nazis, the annexation of Austria by the Third Reich, the death of their son, and the estrangement of their daughter, Ingrid, who insists on marrying Peter despite their wishes. Woven among the parallel stories is Ingrid’s struggle to be a successful doctor as well as maintain a household in 1950s Austria with no support from Peter or her alienated parents. Often frustrating and always flawed, the protagonists slip around each other with only the occasional, but touching moment of contact. The tightly knit storylines result in an intimate family portrait of historical events and daily life in twentieth-century Austria. Released in August, WE”RE DOING WELL recently won the German Book Prize for best novel in 2005 and has spent months on the German bestseller lists, including an unprecedented streak at number one on the Austrian list. With over 150,000 copies out, rights have been sold to Norway (Aschehoug), Netherlands (Bezige Bij), France (Gallimard), Italy (Bompiani), Spain including Catalan rights (Grup 62) and Denmark (Huset). Friederike Barakat is handling rights ([email protected]).

Despite the title, a king is only symbolically killed in THE REGICIDE (Gyldendal), a novel set in the elite “whiskey belt” north of Copenhagen during a tumultuous turnover in the government and an even more turbulent situation in the home of the losing Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gert, and his wife, Linda. The provocative title alludes to the novel’s focus on gender inequality and power imbalance, issues representative of the work of Danish author and international women’s rights advocate Hanne-Vibeke Holst whose literary work has earned her the Danish national book award and whose humanitarian efforts have qualified her to serve on the Board of Governors of the Danish Family Planning Association, UNESCO National Commission, and Face to Face. In THE REGICIDE, Holst examines the nature of power and presents an often thrilling portrait of “the mechanisms that bind assailant to victim in mutual dependence.” It is national election night in Denmark and as the results come in, it becomes clear that the Social Democratic Party will be ousted from power for the first time since 1920. In her pristine Copenhagen home, Linda bitterly watches the returns on television, drinking more Smirnoff as she realizes a humiliating political loss as well as a violent, perhaps deadly beating from her outraged husband are imminent. As she watches the concession speeches, she sees her husband grimace at the now deposed Prime Minister in the way he does during his most merciless attacks on her. The hateful grimace marks the start of not just a struggle for power, but a political blitzkrieg among current and former officials that upsets the scaffolding of Danish government and society. Part Thelma and Louise, part political thriller, THE REGICIDE seems to strike the right balance between a “spell-binding” plot and strong social commentary as it’s been at the top of the Danish bestseller list for months and sold over 75,000 copies since publication last Fall. THE CROWN PRINCESS, its predecessor, was recently launched as a TV serial in Denmark and Sweden. Rights to THE REGICIDE have been sold to Sweden (Bonnier), Norway (Piratforlaget), and Holland (Archipel). Contact Esthi Kunz for more information (Esthi_ [email protected]).

Another well-known European women’s rights activist and journalist, Maria Stella Conte, has also written a provocative novel focusing on domestic violence and its repercussions. A journalist for LA REPUBBLICA, the Italian writer covers national news linked to the reality of children, teenagers, and women. Contrary to the title, THIRD PERSON SINGULAR (Baldini Castoldi Dalai) is written in the first person from the perspective of a young girl who creates a fantasy world full of fairies, dwarves, and angels to separate herself from the physical abuse she and her mother suffer at the hands of her father. Although they escape their hostile home, mother and daughter keep finding themselves in even more abusive situations until the protagonist, at thirteen, meets an almost thirty year-old police officer with whom she falls in love. Her mother breaks them up, but the girl spends years searching for him while trying to reconcile her fantasy world with reality. As one critic says, the language is “flat, without jolts, and neutral” in a way that emphasizes the girl’s naiveté. All rights are still available for Conte’s first novel. Contact Laura Molinari (laura@ bcdeditore.it).

Bookview, April 2006

PEOPLE

Brian Napack has been named President of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. In the newly created position, Napack will share general management responsibilities with CEO John Sargent over all of Holtzbrinck’s divisions, including both trade and educational operations.

Steve Sorrentino, most recently an author (Luncheonette) has gone to B&N as Director, Author Promotions & Special Events working for Brenda Marsh.

Ken Wright, Associate Publisher of Scholastic has left the company and may be reached at [email protected] Meanwhile Alan Smagler moves to Scholastic on April 10 as VP Trade Sales. He was previously Publisher of the children’s book group at Houghton Mifflin. Smagler takes over from Gray Peterson, who will be reassigned to a senior sales position, reporting to Smagler.

At Penguin, Laurie Chittenden has left Dutton. Kendra Harpster has moved to the house as Editor. She was an associate editor at Doubleday. Kristen Weber starts next month as a Senior Editor at NAL, overseeing their mystery list and acquiring in other areas. She had been an editor at Warner, overseeing the Mysterious Press imprint. Joshua Kendall will join Viking next month as Senior Editor. He was an Editor at Picador.

Also leaving Picador is Amber Qureshi who will join Free Press as Editor on April 24. . . .Spiegel & Grau have hired away Gretchen Koss as publicity director. She has been Associate Director of Publicity at Viking.

Herb Schaffner has been named Publisher for business books at McGraw-Hill, reporting to Jeffrey Krames, VP Publisher, Business books. Schaffner was a Senior Editor at Collins Business. Don Fehr has left Smithsonian/ HarperCollins as the role of Smithsonian Books publisher has been eliminated. Elizabeth Dyssegaard will run the Smithsonian Books editorial office in New York, and Smithsonian Business Ventures has named Carolyn Gleason to the Washington, DC-based post of Director of Smithsonian Books. Tim Brazier has left HarperCollins to join Basic Books as Publicity Manager.

Virgin has hired Mary Albi to run the their US Sales & Marketing operation. She was most recently at Continuum. And David & Charles MD Sara Domville has been appointed President of the Book Division, following the retirement of Budge Wallis. She will continue responsibility for David & Charles UK, commuting from F+W‘s headquarters in Cincinnati. . . .Amy Collins has founded Cadence Marketing Group. She had been Specialty Sales Director at F+W Publications.

Judy Sjo-Gaber has joined Bloomberg Press as Director of special markets and corporate sales. Most recently she had been at Weekly Reader Publishing and was previously at Prentice Hall. Also joining Bloomberg Press is Janet Coleman as Senior Developmental Editor. Most recently she had been a freelance business writer and editor. Prior to that she worked for several publishers, including Harvard Business School Press.

Courtney Hodell is moving to Farrar, Straus as Executive Editor. She has held the same title at HarperCollins.

Meredith has hired Lisa Berkowitz as Executive Editor, reporting to Linda Cunningham. . . . Vintage has hired Furaha Norton as an editor. She had been at Oxford for the past five years, most recently as Associate Editor. She succeeds Anjali Singh who went to Houghton. . . . at Disney, Simon Tasker has been named Director of Global Retail sales. He was previously Director of National Accounts at S&S.

E-publishing veteran Elizabeth Mackey has moved to wireless content provider Motricity as VP and General Manager of their e-book web site eReader. Mackey has been VP for content business development Audible. . .iUniverse has hired another publishing vet, Judy Klein as a sub-rights consultant. Klein has worked at FSG and in book clubs.

Jay Henry has been hired as Director of Marketing at Abrams. He was Senior Marketing Manager at DK for the past six years. Lisa Sherman-Cohen takes over as Director of Publicity for Abrams and Stewart, Tabori and Chang. Most recently, she worked on buzz marketing at Buzztone. Kerry Liebling joins the company as Trade Marketing Manager. She was a Client Services Manager at CDS/Perseus Book Group. All three will report to vp of marketing, Maggie Kneip.

Lisa Benenson has been named Editor-in-Chief of Hallmark magazine. She had been editorial director at Rebus Media since June 2004 and was previously Editor-in-Chief of Working Woman and Working Mothers.

PROMOTIONS

Lots of popping champagne corks in children’s books: Josalyn Moran has been promoted to VP, Children’s Books for B&N. At Disney Publishing Jeanne Mosure has been promoted to SVP and Publisher, Global Children’s Books. Following the departure of Tracy Van Straaten, Paul Crichton has been named Director of Publicity of S&S Children’s Books. He has been acting as interim director of publicity for Simon Spotlight Entertainment and was most recently at ReganBooks. He’ll report to S&S Children’s publisher Rubin Pfeffer. And Jennifer Zatorski has been promoted to Associate Director of Publicity. . . .Karen Frangipane has been named Associate Director of Trade Marketing, she was formerly Marketing Manager, Trade.

Jess Michaels has been promoted to Director of Publicity at Penguin Young Readers Group. . . . Josh Weiss has been named Vice President, Publishing Operations for HarperCollins Children’s Books.

At Little, Brown children’s division Liza Baker has been promoted to editorial director of LB Kids, the novelty and licensed book imprint . . . Cindy Eagan has been promoted to Editorial Director of their new teen chick lit paperback imprint. . . . Andrea Spooner has been promoted to Editorial Director of core trade hardcover and paperback lists.

David Rosen newly appointed Editorial Director, has also been named Publisher of Abrams and the new Image imprint. Eric Himmel, Editor in Chief, Abrams, will launch a new, to be named imprint, whose first books will be published in the Winter/Spring 2007. Additionally, he will oversee the recently launched Abrams Studio and will continue to serve on the Pub Board and Management Committee for HNA. Deb Aaronson is promoted to the newly created role of Executive Editor, Abrams.

At Houghton Mifflin, VP and Director of trade sales Ken Carpenter has moved to the adult editorial department to take over as Director of trade paperbacks. . . . Kate Tentler has been promoted to SVP, S&S Digital.

St. Martin‘s Executive Editor Jennifer Weis has been given the additional title of Manager, Concept Development, and will “develop non-traditional book concepts.” Including “book/movie development” creating custom publishing programs with companies, branded publishing, and other special projects.

Mark Tavani has been promoted to Senior Editor at Ballantine Random House Publishing Group.

APRIL EVENTS

BISG‘s Making Information Pay takes place on Thursday April 27, 8-12 at the Millennium Broadway Hotel. Wired’s Chris Anderson is the keynote speaker. For more info contact [email protected] or call 646 336 7141.

NYT Managing Editor Jill Abramson will talk on April 18th at the General Society Library, at 20 West 44th Street. Later in the month the Second Annual New York Round Table Writers’ Conference takes place. The event, also at the Library, takes place on Friday and Saturday, April 28-29, 2006. For details go to www.smallpressorg.

EARLY MAY EVENTS

Literacy Partners celebrates An Evening of Readings on May 1 at the New York State Theater. Liz Smith will help MC, and authors Augusten Burroughs, Michael Cunningham and Nora Ephron will be on hand as well. For more information call 212 573 6933.

The UJA-Federation Publishing Division dinner takes place on May 9th, and honors Henry Hirschberg, President of McGraw-Hill Education. In addition, there will be a special celebration of the life of Byron Preiss, whose widow, Sandi Mendelson, will accept the Harry Scherman Lifetime Service Award in Byron’s memory. Peter, Paul and Mary will provide the musical entertainment. For information, call Marcy Fink at 836 1448.

DULY NOTED

The Mercantile Library has announced the creation of the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize. The award is supported by members of the Sargent family, in recognition of John Sargent Sr.’s work as President and CEO of Doubleday. The annual prize will carry with it a $10,000 cash award and will be presented for the first time on November 6, 2006 at The Mercantile Library’s Annual Gala Awards Dinner. The short-list will be announced August 2006.

Syndication Stagnation?

Has Online Syndication Killed the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg?

Back in the day, syndication not only sold papers, but was a booming business that built up audiences for everything from columnists’ and comic strip-pers’ books (with excerpts) to television audiences (with Gemstar numbers and listings). And, of course, the syndicated columns and strips could then be collected together and published. Today, book excerpting is all but dead, and no one under the age of 30 has ever heard of a Gemstar number. Many columnists and cartoonists retain enthusiastic followings, but as newspaper space continues to shrink along with ad dollars, and content continues its steady migration onto the web, syndication – as it was once known – is a dying form. The local newspaper, where a third party sources information, has given way to the idea of the “personal newspaper” with people using blogs, RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication– something of a misnomer), and search engines to aggregate content in what Michael Cader of Publishers Lunch refers to as “viral syndication.”

“Online services have not produced big revenues for most newspaper syndication products,” David Hendin, former SVP of United Media/United Feature Syndicate, and current literary agent for a few syndicated cartoonists and columnists, said. “Although newspaper syndicates are still selling features, and licensing product, they’ve lost a lot of their other business.”

Still, the major players remain the same (see chart on page 6), and are looking at creative ways to drum up revenue and redefine the business. Until now, syndicates have been inextricably tied to print media, but many recent innovations are beginning to build on that relationship. Unable to generate advertising? Barter. Newspapers outmoded? Deliver cartoons to cell phones. Undaunted, there are even some new syndicates that see the current flux not as a deterrent, but as an opportunity to get into the game.

The Way Things Work.

Traditionally, newspaper syndication went like this: newspapers acquired a property (be it a comic, column, or puzzle), put it under an exclusive contract, and split the net with the author 50/50. In the case of Miss Manners, written by Judith Martin (one of Hendin’s long-term clients) and syndicated by United Feature Syndicate (the syndication arm of United Media), Martin now owns all of her content. This wasn’t always the case. Over the last 15-20 years ownership has shifted from the syndicates to the writers themselves. Whereas many syndicates used to have a blanket copyright, now the syndicate is often listed as a distributor.

Every week, Martin writes a Miss Manners column for the Microsoft network (on an exclusive basis, not to be syndicated), and three for UFS which are syndicated into about 250 newspapers. Martin holds all of the non-syndication rights, including all electronic rights, except for the e-rights to online newspapers which remain with the syndicate. She has written eleven Miss Manners books, most recently an updated version of MISS MANNERS’ GUIDE TO EXCRUCIATINGLY CORRECT BEHAVIOR (WW Norton, April 2005). Syndicates with publishing divisions (e.g. Andrews McMeel) usually have first option for book deals, but – as with everything in the new order – it depends.

The contracts differ for each creator, but in general, the relationship between syndicate and creator remains the same – creators produce and syndicates manage and promote (and on a dwindling basis, edit) the work. John McMeel, Chairman & Founder of Andrews McMeel’s Universal Press Syndicate, refers to his company as a “talent provider” managing the content, and exploring new arenas for syndication beyond newspapers such as online and mobile carriers.

Randy Cohen, who writes The Ethicist, a weekly column for the NY Times Magazine, is currently syndicated into 48 papers. Officially a freelance writer for the NYT, Cohen owns the rights to his work. “Since I’m freelance, I’m free to take the column anywhere,” he said (provided that it appears in the NYT first – syndicated papers can run the article either simultaneously or anytime after the fact).

Cohen was syndicated through the New York Times Syndicate for about three or four years before switching over to Universal two years ago. “For me, it was how effectively and aggressively they’d go out and sell the column,” Cohen said. “Syndication money is free money – I mean, it’s nice that a check comes in, but it’s not exactly lifestyle changing. It’s more about the audience building.”

With approximately 1.67 million people reading the Sunday NYT every week alone, there’s a fair amount of familiarity with both The Ethicist as a brand (which is owned by the NYT) and Cohen himself. In 2002, when Doubleday published Cohen’s THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE DIFFERENCE : HOW TO TELL THE RIGHT FROM WRONG IN EVERYDAY SITUATIONS, Cohen’s alter ego was prominently displayed.

Cohen said the most he makes off of a single syndicated piece is (maybe) a couple hundred dollars a week, but that some pieces bring in as little as $10 (depending on circulation). Universal compiles the money each month and then cuts a single check. “At the end of the year I could maybe buy an economy car,” Cohen said. “A nice economy car, but still.”

David Hendin said that for lesser known syndicated columnists, and especially cartoonists, the take is even less. “A lot of cartoonists’ total salaries [including syndication] are in the $50K a year range,” he said.
“The funny thing about the 50/50 price split is that it’s a real anachronism,” Cohen said. “When distribution was a daunting task it made sense, but now I can e-mail cc 48 people…Today syndicates get 50% because historically they’ve gotten 50%.”

Increasing automation has caused some new syndicates to pop up, despite purported syndication stagnation. Dan Calbrese, Editor-in-Chief of the North Star Writers Group a small business that started last fall, said that internet technology makes it much easier to distribute to newspapers nationwide than it would have been 10 or 15 years ago. “We can get material in front of 4,000 editors in a matter of minutes with virtually no distribution cost,” Calabrese said. “So the initial investment is not daunting.” As for newspapers cutting back and putting content online, North Star saw the shift as an opportunity, providing they could be costcompetitive. “Our lowest per-item rate is only $8, and we charge that for all papers [with a circulation] under 60,000,” he said (North Star also adheres to the traditional 50/50 split). So far, the most receptive papers have been community weeklies who want opinion pieces but can’t afford staff columnists. In addition, North Star provides intensive editorial support, a department that many of the larger syndicates downsized as they cut back.

Apart from writers like Cohen (who writes for a major paper, and is subsequently syndicated), and Martin (who writes directly for a syndicate) some content providers cut out syndicates entirely, and go straight to newspapers and other outlets as well. Last year, Newmarket Press inked a deal with the NY Daily News to syndicate the Sudoku puzzles from their bestselling BIG BOOK OF SUDOKU series.

Esther Margolis, President of Newmarket, said the deal came about through personal relationships between the publisher and the paper. “We knew that they knew they should have [sudoku],” she said. “Michael Cooke‘s wife was berating him about it. She used to leave a copy of the Post open for him every morning, because she had become a Sudoku addict.”

Rather than cut a standard syndication deal on a pay-per-puzzle basis, Newmarket decided to go for a non-exclusive barter deal that included daily promotion of the book in the paper (with a halfpage ad) and on the website (with a cover shot of the book and a click through link to BN.com). “The alternative was for them to pick up other syndicated puzzles for $50 a week.”

The idea of bartering through cross-promotion has been around forever according to Margolis, but the difference now is that it’s often the special sales departments handling the deals rather than sub-rights. She pointed to numerous examples where Newmarket has done similar cross-promotion with 2nd serials, coming out of the promotion and publicity departments rather than sub-rights and syndication. Since syndicated content is usually a fixed cost, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to generate advertising that pays the freight, the barter/promotional deal is a useful sidestep. Similarly, many writers and cartoonists aspiring to syndication work out barter deals with participating papers, where the paper will run a ten line bio about them, in lieu of a flat syndication payment.

Hundreds of Heads Books, a San Francisco publisher, gathers and compiles stories for their Hundreds of Heads series through a network of “headhunters” who conduct hundreds of interviews on various how-to topics a year. The first book in the series, HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR, launched in spring 2004, and there are now ten titles in print, and five more slated for fall. Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services (KRT – a “content service partnership” between Tribune Company and Knight Ridder) began syndicating a weekly story based on content from the Hundreds of Heads books as part of it’s “News2Use package” last year. Available both on an à la carte and subscription basis, it’s distributed through the KRT wire service. At the beginning and end of each column, there are plugs for the various Hundreds of Heads books listing their price point and the company’s website. Mark Bernstein, Publisher, defines the deal as a “license to distribute.” He said that the articles are running in hundreds of papers across the country and although it’s hard to track the exact effect of the increased exposure, the relationship has been a great benefit to Hundreds of Heads’ brand building efforts.

Why Pay When You Can Get It For Free?

Universal Press Syndicate’s online division uclick was started in 1995 as an offshoot of the newspaper syndicate. According to Chris Pizey, uclick’s President and CEO, the company was one of the first syndicates to move their print model online by providing both online newspapers and other sites with syndicated content. After a few bumpy years, uclick expanded into webhosting, developing a service that allowed web publishers to brand content so that it is fully integrated into their site. “It was revolutionary,” Pizey said. “After that, the whole thing just took off.”

There are a series of different models that uclick uses when syndicating content online, from fixed licensing fees to advertising, Pizey said. Since overhead costs are still a bit higher for online production, delivery and maintenance, syndicated content online generates less of a profit for creators.
As The Ethicist’s Cohen said, “Online syndication money makes syndication money look plush.” Cohen’s column is syndicated online to the OpEd section of Yahoo! News, among other places, but he can’t remember ever receiving a check.

Pizey explained, “We still view online syndication as ancillary. Over time, I think that will change, and we’re in the process of exploring new formats like mobile content and animation.” Currently mobile content is the fastest growing sector at uclick, and Universal overall. Go Comics, Universal’s mobile syndication division was started in late 2003. “We got involved in mobile fairly early,” Pizey said. Go Comics offers numerous downloads for cell phones including character branded wallpaper, animations, games and daily comics. The character branded downloads and features are not licensing deals, Pizey points out, but syndicated products developed by uclick.

Although all of the top, major-market newspapers are signed on, uclick only works with a fraction of the online divisions of the newspapers they service in print, since the smaller ones are still not in a position to justify the cost. Overall, he says, online syndication is “definitely profitable” though uclick is currently only just breaking even since so much money is still being reinvested into the format.

According to market researcher Nielsen Net Ratings, roughly 30 million unique readers visited humor sites in 2005 (which include comic strips) a 20% increase over the previous year. Since people don’t “subscribe” to free websites, and are generally less willing to pay for online content vs. print – revenue to support the content is ad based, and artists are paid based on individual traffic (measured in clicks) against overall site traffic.

As for the syndicate websites, some offer the bulk of their content for free, while others require a subscription. At Creators.com (the website for the independent Creators Syndicate – which reps every opinion from Bill O’Reilly to Molly Ivins), all syndicated content is updated and searchable. At United Media, content is subscription-only access. Both have their advantages – while free sites offer more widespread exposure, subscription sites are better able to monitor reader response. Lisa Wilson, SVP General Manager at United, said that the biggest advantage of the web is that it allows them to test new formats and even new artists in a way that print never did. “We get metrics that show page views for the individual strips,” she said. “We now have data that proves popularity. Newspapers can pick things that have been previously vetted with an audience.” At the time of registration, United collects basic demographic info like sex, age, and location. “We know who is reading the top 15 comics out of the 90 we have posted online,” Wilson said. Out of those 90, about 10-15% are web-only comics with an option for possible print syndication. “The web allows us to be open to new ideas,” she said. “I think it will actually grow the world of cartooning.”

Pizey doesn’t see a conflict between content being available for free in some places and not in others, or even both online and in print. “In local newspapers, content is really specific to the area,” he said. “The web breaks down physical barriers, but people still tend to visit fairly small sets of websites.” To that end, uclick has focused on creating a strong presence on large sites people are likely to use as their home pages, such as Yahoo!, AOL, and MSNBC.

Jon Rosenberg, a web-comic artist at goats.com – a site that reaches approximately 300,000 people a month – strongly disagrees. “Syndicates are dead,” he said. “Print is basically merchandising web comics. You don’t need syndicates or middle men anymore.” Rosenberg said that the web eradicates the need for syndication because you can target niche audiences, leverage word of mouth, and gain indie street cred just by posting free content. Beyond the web, Rosenberg self publishes as a way to turn a profit since he already has the built-in audience. “I can do a small print run of 2,000 at $3 a book, turn around, sell them for $12 and keep a majority of the money,” he said. “The major syndicates just don’t understand the model. Free content plus merchandising. If they want to monetize content, how can they compete?”

Whether or not syndicates understand the importance of free content, merchandising through character licensing continues to be a major source of revenue. Online, licensing for affiliated ancillary products is one way syndicates are picking up the slack. Syndicated cartoonists from Universal, United Media, King Features, and others have teamed up with CaféPress.com to present users with a variety of caps, mugs, and sweatshirts emblazoned with characters and strips.

In another licensing deal, last month it was announced that Universal Press Syndicate’s Cathy Guisewite (creator of Cathy) and United Media’s Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert – which appears in 2,000 newspapers in 65 countries and is translated into 19 languages) are producing seven and eight monthly comics respectively for the United States Postal Service (USPS). The cartoons will be featured in a monthly postcard campaign reaching out to 120 million residential and 10 million large and small business customers. Cathy features information geared toward customers – mentioning things like the availability of stamps in ATMs and stores – while Dilbert is more business focused. Natch.

Pearson and Foreign Affairs Ink Custom Deal

Pearson Custom Publishing and Foreign Affairs have teamed up to create a searchable on-line database of select Foreign Affairs’ articles that professors can navigate and cherry pick to create their own personalized textbooks for International Relations courses. Pearson has been building custom textbooks for about four years (part of a growing trend – McGraw Hill’s Primus is similar), but none centered around a relationship with an outside magazine/journal. According to Pearson Marketing Manager Kathy Kourian, sales have been increasing every year by 30-40% – “There’s been a great response,” she said.

The books – with the umbrella title Among Nations – come with standardized covers but can be personalized and purchased for print runs as small as 25 copies. An editorial board (comprised of three professors and Gideon Rose, managing editor at Foreign Affairs) compiled the core material, including optional pedagogy, and assembled four general templates for what they believe to be good starters for subjects like “The Middle East” and “Foreign Policy.” Professors can trim, add, and rearrange content at will, or create their own books entirely from scratch. Although the majority of the content must come from the core articles, up to 20% can come from outside sources (Pearson will work through all of the permissions if necessary).

The books take 6-8 weeks to be delivered, but professors receive an advance proof which they can tweak until satisfied. Once the books are created online, an individual ISBN is assigned so that college bookstores can order it just like any other title.

Both Pearson and Foreign Affairs are running cross-promotions. Foreign Affairs is specifically trying to increase their college student subscriber base (overall circulation is 140,000), and make them familiar with the Foreign Affairs brand, while Pearson is interested in the material, and bundling the book with other Pearson textbooks at a discounted price. For more information go to www.amongnations.com.


New York is More Avengers

THE SOUSSOL JAVITS WAS PACKED FROM FEB. 24-26 FOR THE 1ST Annual New York Comic Con with loads of comics, books,
toys, video games, posters, artists, retailers and fans. Fans
canvassing the aisles for rare comics and autographs. Fans wearing
corsets and pleather pants and Jedi gear. Fans that give new
etymological emphasis to their root – fanatics.

The “comics” ranged from standard classic (Archie; the
extended Justice League crew) to Manga (including the up-andcoming
“theologically sound” Christian manga – there was even a
panel on spiritual values in comic books), to Graphic Novels to art
books. Merchandise spilled forth. Many booths offered free
books, posters and pins, and even more had dollar entry raffles
with original signed art as the prize. Beyond the dollar a pop,
exhibitors collected the far more valuable contact information
(name, e-mail, telephone number) of the hundreds who signed up.

This networking finesse tied in directly to the extensive multichannel
marketing and merchandising taken on by nearly all of the
artists and publishers in attendance. Frank Beddor author of
THE LOOKING GLASS WARS (Penguin Fall 2006) was one artist
whose mini-empire embodied the advantages of a thorough
attack. The whole concept originated as a novel, but in a twist
Beddor introduced a spin-off character from the novel in comic
book form before the novel itself was released. In the US, the first
comic HATTER M, came out in December 2005, and the second is
due in March. In all, four will be released, all before the novel.
“Every reviewer who writes about the comic book mentions the
novel as not being available, which makes everyone only want to
talk about the novel,” Beddor said. In addition, Beddor created an
elaborate website, original music (a CD will be released at the San
Diego Comic Con), and video book/comic trailers running viral
on the web (25,000+ people downloaded the videos over the
weekend). “It’s really about offering content,” Beddor said.
Publishers, Rags, & Wookies vs. Captain America

The NY Daily News was in attendance (offering a $.99/week
subscription along with a free cartoon covered umbrella in hopes
of upping circ) and Publishers Weekly was giving away their “PW
Comics Weekly” – a full color 8-page newsletter that seemed like a
fair special, but is actually a permanent, free e-newsletter available
to PW subscribers.

From the exhibitors, the overwhelming consensus was that the
event was much more highly attended than anticipated. Although
the scene is still nowhere near as large as the San Diego con (which
one exhibitor said snakes on for a solid mile plus) there was
already chatter in the aisles about next year’s expansion. As for
larger trade publishers, DK attended due to their heavy licensing
activity, showing off classics like Pink Panther and Spider Man
branded books. Pocket Books (S&S) emphasized their CBS
affiliation with CSI and MTV branded books, while Abrams
drew attention to their graphic novels and art books – especially
MOM’S CANCER (Brian Fies) which Abrams picked up when it was
still in web comic form. In another web comic pick-up, Holt is
publishing Laura Weinstein‘s graphic novel GIRL STORIES this
spring. Originally published on gurl.com, a sequel is already in the
works. Weinstein, who is used to the “DIY aspect of promoting a
book,” now has the industry heft behind her, focusing on all of
the larger retail channels, while she continues to fill in the gaps
with smaller comic book stores and independents. She said that
Comic Con was great for exposure with the fans as well as a
chance to meet various industry contacts – specifically foreign
publishers who were roaming the aisles looking to acquire.

Conversely, some foreign publishers at the fair expressed
difficulty at getting their books picked up by American houses. A
representative at Actes Sud BD (the stunning graphic novel
division of the French publisher known primarily for its literature
and art books) said that although traffic had been steady and the
books garnered a good response, they have yet to sell many of the
rights in the US. For more information, contact Michel Parfenov
(m.parfenov@ actes-sud.fr).

HarperCollins
and Abrams used the New York event as
hometown leverage to get into the game and show off their
growing graphic novel titles (HarperCollins had the largest
traditional publisher booth spread), while many of the others like
PaperCutz (publisher of the graphic novel Nancy Drew and
Hardy Boys books), SLG, Dark Horse and Tokyo Pop added
New York onto the San Diego affair they already attend on a
regular basis.

The biggest difference between the two? “California is much
more Star Wars,” the DK booth attendant said, “New York is
more Avengers.”