The Big Fix: European Book Markets Experiment with Pricing Policies

“Due to fixed book prices, we Germans have 25 spaghetti cookbooks, and you poor Americans only have three,” jokes Christian Sprang, lawyer for Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers). Even though US publishers might quibble, there’s no doubt that book pricing methods are controversial around the world, and will probably only get more complicated with further globalization. So, here’s an update on the various continental pricing policies, specifically focusing on the debate between fixed (retail price maintenance, RPM) and free pricing (no controls by either law or industry cartel). How do the industry’s contradictory assumptions of the two systems measure up to their known effects? The European Union seemed like a good starting point, since this spring’s addition of 10 countries to the trading bloc make it the world’s largest, with a population of 455 million

As a single economic unit, the EU may have thought it could legally dictate book pricing terms to its members — it can when it comes to the size of bananas — but cultural, historical, philosophical, and educational factors are conspiring against any neat solutions. Though there is hardly one unified system for book pricing in the EU, most members (excepting Finland, Sweden, Ireland, and England) have some variant of a fixed pricing system. And the number is increasing, despite the European Commission’s general suspicion of any national system that may hamper cross-border trading and the threat of proceedings against fixed pricing, which so far have had mixed success. Just last month, Slovenia announced plans to fix pricing starting in January, while Norway is stalled in negotiations over pricing issues. Veikko Sonninen of the Finnish Book Publishers Association, where they have had free pricing since 1971 and think fixed pricing is “old-fashioned,” says one’s attitude is based solely on which system is familiar. Each system has its nay-sayers — or, as the case may be, its discounters. The general philosophy behind fixed pricing is that it prevents the commoditization of books, maintains their cultural significance, and keeps in business a diverse selection of publishers and booksellers. Although it seems publishers have the upper hand in fixed price regions — they not only decide the price at which they will sell to the bookseller, but then tell the retailer what to sell it for, thereby, determining the retail margin — some sources say that’s not the issue. “It benefits smaller entities and hinders the big fish from eating the smaller ones,” Sprang argues. A small store with an eclectic mix has the same odds of surviving as a store that only stocks titles with mass market appeal.

In Defense of the French

For the most part, those countries who have a fixed system, love it. In France, publishers and booksellers alike are rather proud of their “loi Lang,” which has regulated book prices and prevented anything greater than a 5% discount for the past 20 years. “There is no polemic here — we all agree it is a fantastic law which has saved small, independent bookstores from disappearing. Such was the aim, and the challenge has been met,” says Anne-Solange Noble, Director of Foreign Rights at Gallimard. She adds, “constant and tiresome French-bashing in the past months have made Anglo-Americans very little receptive to French points of view. [Our system] is too often labeled by our opponents as ‘vile government intervention against the sacred free market.’ ” In fact, for some countries, the French are setting an example. In Poland, where there is neither a Lang-like law nor a Net Book Agreement (NBA), they find it works for the publishers to print the price on covers, in essence fixing the price. (Funny, it doesn’t work like that in the US!) “The question is still discussed,” says Regina Greda, Director of the Polish Book Chamber. “There is not one clear position of the publishers and booksellers association. In my opinion, the French system is very efficient and in our post-communist countries with a free market, we really need a very strong book policy of the state.”

Before 1995, England and Ireland operated under the NBA, a collective agreement between publishers and booksellers that granted the former the right to fix retail prices for books, but did not require them to do so. In 1995, they “denetted,” amidst huge controversy and dissension, and some industry experts say it’s all been for the worse. “Denetting seems to have screwed a lot of value out of bestsellers, which should be the lifeblood of the supply chain,” says British consultant Barney Allan. “Not many industries discount their bestselling product 40% or more on release. I think it has handed the initiative to the supermarkets and damaged both the publishers and the trade.” Also controversial in the US, discounted bestsellers are designed to be loss leaders, to get customers in the store and lead to other purchases. (Without Robertson-Patman controls, the Brits’ margins are even thinner.) In regard to the pricing of imports, Allan continues, “I think all British publishers should be really worried about the challenge from the US houses. If the US publishers can overcome their fear of flying, they will become the locus of the world’s English language book supply. Better cost structure, bigger runs, and a weak dollar all add up to a big headache for British publishers.”

Beating the System

Few can deny, however, that fixed pricing has its flaws. Plenty of countries with retail price maintenance find their publishers and booksellers looking for every chance to get around the law. Many countries allow discounting, but only a year or two after publication; so publishers are finding ways to circumvent even these restrictions. In the Netherlands, where an NBA-like system works well for independents because they compete on service and location instead of price, Rene Prins, senior buyer for B.V. Van Ditmar, a distributor of English and Dutch books, admits to some weak links in the system. “Publishers try to work around the system by producing ‘specials,’ special editions of an existing title produced to sell in supermarkets and gas stations or used for other b-to-b sales opportunities.” New houses are emerging intent on publishing for non-traditional outlets, but they add a separate imprint for the book trade to cover their tracks. One such player, Foreign Media Group, even recruits authors and editors from existing publishing houses.

Italy has also seen a rise in low-price special editions, with newspapers like La Repubblica repackaging novels from the likes of Isabel Allende and James Joyce, and selling them for about 5 euros. Other papers have followed suit, with some titles selling as many as 500,000 copies and initial print runs as high as 1 million. Because newsstands are a part of daily life, this has proved an effective marketing technique. (See PT, March 2003.)

Germany, whose book market has had a general malaise of late, made what used to be fixed pricing by cartel into law in 2002 to curtail any trouble from EU authorities. The first line of the law reads: “This law serves protection of the book as a cultural asset.” Germany allows discounting, but only 18 months after the publication date, but “everyone and his grandmother are circumventing [the fixed law] by issuing at a dizzying pace ‘special editions,’ and now the cat is really among the pigeons since the Süddeutsche Zeitung did a copycat of the La Repubblica success and issues 50 backlist classics (from Kundera to Ecco to Simenon) in hardcover at 4.90 euros each,” says German agent Michael Meller. This same book in paperback costs about 9.00 euros and more — much to the chagrin of paperbook publishers. The book mail order house and retailer Weltbild (with Weltbild Plus stores), which makes even Bertelsmann look small, has joined with BildZeitung to offer 25 modern classics at 4.90 euros. All a bookseller can do is refuse to deal with those publishers who supply that venture (most titles have been bought for sky-high prices in auctions). Like the US, remaindering is a market staple. “It now happens that a big chain store like Hugendubel offers on the ground floor a book at 6.95 euros, which on the first floor is still priced at the original 19.90 euros,” Meller explains, adding that publishers panic and declare mint condition titles as damaged returns to clear their balance sheets. “It can only be a matter of time till the cartel people declare the retail maintenance law as invalid due to the permanent sneaky violations.”

And here’s a lesson to others working the system: In the 1990s, the publisher Weltbild bought up illustrated books from packagers in huge quantities to sell them at bargain-basement prices. Other illustrated publishers entered the fray, and the illustrated book market in Germany collapsed completely. The final days of the NBA in the UK were characterized by a similar state of affairs: large numbers of mass market outlets (Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s) were buying non-returnable editions from packagers, also priced low for exclusive sale in their stores. In the absence of price controls, they now offer discounted regular and returnable editions from publishers. Could this be called a net gain?

In the end, books are not bananas and there’s probably no easy way to price them. As CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis author Marja Appelman argues in “The Future of Fixed Book Pricing” (2002), fixed pricing can actually lead to higher prices, and “in the Netherlands quite a few publishers and booksellers hardly contribute to the cultural objectives, but concentrate on commercially interesting bestsellers instead.” Go figure — seems that happens regardless of the pricing structure. Appelman defines the book as different from other goods because it is an “experience good” that can be valued only after consumption. Bengt Nordin, director of his eponymous literary agency in Stockholm, reports that sales in Sweden are much higher than other small European countries, with more than 100,000 copies of a popular book selling, compared to 10,000. “We believe the free price is one of the most important things behind this great result. Specially reduced prices get readers interested in buying books, like they buy other goods,” he argues.

This is the US market’s philosophy, as well. Notwithstanding the broad range of nontraditional book-selling outlets — very much a result of free pricing — units have been declining for a while. This has forced US publishers to increase their retail prices, possibly painting a rosier picture of the business than it deserves.

The Rights Stuff: Permissions Departments Get More Bang for Their Buck

Never known for its glamor, the permissions department has been getting a facelift and slowly gaining status as the legitimate, income-generating department it has always been. Its doing its fair share to boost the collective, otherwise sagging coffers of rights departments that have been hit by the retrenchment and subsequent mergers of book clubs as well as the globalization of publishers. Recent permissions increases — however moderate or hard to pinpoint — are partly attributable to technological advances. In-house databases with built-in contract templates and outsourcing to the incomparably efficient Copyright Clearance Center have streamlined the permission-granting process, which has led to more fulfilled requests, and in many cases, larger permissions income. “What we’re seeing now is incremental changes and experiments in automating permissions requesting and granting processes,” says Bill Rosenblatt of the digital rights newsletter, DRM Watch. “Once publishers recognize the positive effects of those changes, they’ll be more likely to invest more heavily in them, in terms of both process and infrastructure.”

Perhaps, but at this juncture this segment of publishing is hardly standardized. At most houses, each request requires many considerations: The author’s clout? Length of quoted material? Prestige of the textbook or anthology? Size of first print? Some big writers retain the right to say, “Nay.” As one rights executive explained, “Hemingway permissions are going to cost more than others.” And some requests are denied for no apparent reason.

In some houses, it may always be viewed as a Sisyphean task providing little reward. Off the record, one major publisher declined to acquire the pricey rights and permissions component when implementing an otherwise systemwide computer network. And at Random House, Tom Allen, Senior VP Finance, admitted that permissions have not yet been incorporated into the company’s new rights management system (RMS), which applies the company’s SAP programming language to the rights department’s workflow. Like many others, RH is using a decade-old database to sort its permissions, though it intends to incorporate permissions into the RMS in 2005. “Because permissions is still a high-volume, low-value area, it doesn’t have our biggest attention right now,” Allen said. “They will always be one-shot deals. And we’ve seen what people (trade publishers and colleges alike) want to pay for permissions go down, as budgets get squeezed.” Eventually, even permissions will be part of the streamlined RMS, which the company touts as so cutting-edge that other companies may consider buying it. “The beauty is that it works across the board, so we’re working with consistent information throughout the company,” says Teri Henry, Director of Rights Administration.

Most of the larger publishers began looking to technology to ease the laborious permissions process about 10 years ago. When Faith Freeman Barbato, HarperCollins Director of Permissions, began in 1993, she says, “Permissions were still being done manually. They were rolling contracts into typewriters, with multiple copies.” Shortly thereafter, the new database was up and running. “It will be 11 years on Sept. 15. I know because I’ll never forget that date. It changed our lives,” she says. The turnaround time for granting permission dropped from as much as six months to an estimated four to six weeks. Though the department must still do manual research for new titles or titles that have not previously drawn permissions requests, research is only done once per title; once it’s in the database, it’s there for good. The information is exported into the UK-based Bradbury Phillips’ rights database, and HC’s accounts department uses the BP system to record permissions receipts, chase for overdue monies, and export the monies to its Author Royalties system. (Yale University Press, Open University Press (McGraw Hill), Holtzbrinck Group and Time Warner also use Bradbury Phillips’ permissions system.) “Our permissions increases have been pretty steady. Not dramatic. Very occasionally we increase fees very slightly. And because of the efficiencies, the requests we can process has gone up,” Barbato says, adding that each request is still considered on an individual basis, taking many factors into account. “The exception is fees for educational photocopying, which are standardized, and are based on a per-page rate.” And for those who care, Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men is right up there with E. B. White for permissions requests.

A similar permissions database was created in the late-1990s at Oxford University Press, and shortly thereafter, in 2000, the rights and permissions departments were joined. “It makes much more sense to have them together. We are all bringing in revenue,” says Marjorie Mueller, Director of Subsidiary Rights. Oxford has seen a substantial increase in permissions, specifically from the textbooks and coursepacks, says rights and Permissions Operating Manager Bill Smith. But, thanks to its custom database, which stores all pertinent copyright and permissions contract information — from what rights the publisher retains (and those the publisher doesn’t own) to author splits — new contracts can be sent “without reinventing the wheel every time.” Oxford’s previous 90-day turnaround time is now more like three weeks. Jeff Corrick, who worked briefly in Doubleday’s permissions department and then freelanced for other big houses, combined that experience with his programming knowledge to make the database, which he calls an “idiot-proof way of not only storing rights data, but letting anyone clear a request.” If a request is made, and the publisher doesn’t have rights, the system refers the person to the right place. Corrick is the man behind Random House’s soon-to-be-obsolete database, as well as similar systems at Doubleday, Penguin USA and WW Norton, and he continues to update and maintain them on a freelance basis. “I built it to operate the way a permissions department functions, in a way they are used to,” he explains. One client company told him it would have had to hire more employees to deal with recent permissions increases, if it weren’t for the system. For publishers still living in the dark ages, Corrick is accepting clients ([email protected]).

Houghton Mifflin, which also uses a database to track permissions, has been hit with a lot more requests for children’s literature for the classroom during the past five to 10 years, and consequently, increased permissions income, says Debbie Engel, Director of Rights. Permissions Manager Ron Hussey has also noticed a rise in the request for electronic rights, which now make up about 15% of the requests. What’s high on the request list? Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. Engel points out that technology has played another key role: the use of the Internet has led to “greater amounts of information to more people, and it has made everyone more aware that copyright laws have to be followed,” she says, adding that high-profile cases, like the 1991 Kinko’s copy-shop case, brought the issue to the forefront.

On the other side of the fence, Robert Ravas, who clears permissions for Scott Foresman, also attests to an increase in children’s lit use, specifically in pre-K and elementary texts, a result of the “whole language” movement. His editorial colleagues have even been using literature to teach other disciplines — for example, poetry included in a science program and The Little House on the Prairie in a social studies text. Scott Foresman has also started a custom publishing division to produce textbooks for individual states. Each use (textbooks, CD-rom, and online programs such as their iText) requires its own clearance, thus representing opportunities for additional income.

The New Copy Shop

The Kinko’s case was just the beginning. This year alone, a dozen publishers have been involved in cases against copy shops catering to academics. An Austin, Texas-area case was settled in March with the defendants agreeing to pay damages to six publisher plaintiffs and, perhaps more importantly, promising to go through the Copyright Clearance Center ( The CCC is probably the largest online provider of copyright licensing and is a testament to the recent boom in permissions requests. The CCC manages the rights to over 1.75 million works and represents more than 9,600 publishers, and these numbers are escalating among educational and trade houses alike. “The process used to be so cumbersome that even though professors wanted to do the right thing, it was very time consuming. Now it’s easier,” Oxford’s Smith says, in praise of the CCC. “As textbooks get more expensive, professors are leaning away from textbooks, and making their own custom packets. It used to be a bunch of copies stapled together, but now they are going to custom publishers and packaging them very much like a regular book.”

Back at RH, Allen says it is important to get permissions up and running on its RMS, because it hopes the CCC will then automatically link with it, transferring all reports electronically. New permissions income is expected from such sources as ebrary, a licensor of content databases, and possibly Google, and these “are a big driver in why we want to automate our system with theirs.” Might technology and outsourcing mean the end of permissions departments? It’s unlikely, since publishing’s very essence is complexity — a trait no plastic surgeon can fix.

Quickly Rising

Robert Allen and Kathleen Spinelli established Brands-to-Books as a literary agency specializing in representing brands seeking publishing deals. They can be reached at [email protected]

For anyone who didn’t get the memo that branded books have changed from publishing’s embarrassing cousin to suddenly its favorite child, here’s an update. Not only are publishers and retailers looking at them with new enthusiasm, but they can even pass the ultimate snob test. Branded books can be honored by the foodie community.

This May, the James Beard Foundation awarded its prestigious Kitchen Aid Cookbook of the Year prize to The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. The packaging of the book has all the same elements publishers are apt to shy away from: the product’s logo dominates the front cover, and an author’s name is nowhere in sight. Yet it became one of the most celebrated books of the year. How did a branded book earn such respect?

It starts and ends with the brand. King Arthur Flour has a devoted cult following with bakers, making it the third bestselling flour in the country. The 214-year-old company, based in Norwich, Vt., sells its product in grocery and specialty stores to home bakers, and through wholesalers to professionals. But it’s more than their product that inspires devotion. It’s delivering their brand promise of baking expertise matched by their commitment to quality interaction with the customer. Want the flour delivered directly to your door? Order it from The Baker’s Catalogue, King Arthur Flour’s mail order and website resource, along with exotic ingredients (like Vietnamese cinnamon) and specialty gadgets (ceramic ginger graters). The catalog is published roughly every month, and has a 7.5 million annual circulation. Baking crisis? Call their Baker’s Hotline. Want recipes? Subscribe to The Baking Sheet, a bi-monthly newsletter of recipes developed at the King Arthur Flour test kitchens. Sharpen your culinary skills at the Baking Education Center, with classes for beginners and professionals. The oldest food company in New England smartly uses the Web to bond with its customers. Besides its online catalog, consumers can join the Baking Circle to exchange recipes and tips with fellow bakers, and sign up for emails featuring recipes (with convenient links to purchase ingredients).

In the early 1990s, King Arthur Flour paired with fellow Norwich-based Countryman Press for a collection of recipes celebrating the company’s 200th anniversary and enjoyed modest success. When Kermit Hummel arrived as Editorial Director at Countryman (now a division of WW Norton), both companies discarded the idea of a revised edition in favor of “a top-to-bottom bible of baking.” The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion ($35, 640 pages, Sept. 2003) shares the recipes and techniques honed in their famous test kitchens. The more than 150 employees of King Arthur Flour developed the content, and this collaboration was honored by not naming a single author for the cookbook.

As they were developing the book, “we kept asking ourselves, is the book living up to the brand?” remarked Toni Apgar, KAF’s Consumer Marketing Director. “We made sure we put the same passion and quality that goes into our brand into the book.” Hummel says of their partnership, “King Arthur Flour delivered the trust consumers have in them, and we brought the national distribution and national exposure they couldn’t reach on their own.” The cookbook now has over 100,000 copies in print.

Direct from Vermont — the advantage to having too many cooks in the kitchen. The latest collaboration, The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, goes on sale in November.

Festival Sprawl

Leave it to the rookies to shake things up. Ann Binkley and Edward Nawotka were hardly new to the book biz — Binkley most recently PR director at Borders, and Nawotka an editor at PW — but they were admittedly novices at organizing book festivals. So, they thought, why don’t we ask the pros? At the recent BEA, the two (she now runs New York is Book Country and he is program director for the Texas Book Festival) hosted a “Best Practices” roundtable for book festival organizers. Expecting about a dozen attendees, they were shocked to find a packed room of about 80 — including representatives from Little Rock, Ark., Honolulu, and Jamaica. A sort of literary glasnost was born, and they are already in discussions with BEA to expand it next year. Ironically, as book festivals proliferate, stats suggest Americans read less and less.

The concerns voiced at that meeting ranged from questions about how the smaller, non-profit festivals could draw popular, nationally recognized authors (Nawotka says one answer is to try to coordinate with authors that are already on tour in the region), to how to attract wider audiences (have panels that link books with other pop culture interests such as film and fashion) to very basic how-tos. With some exceptions like the LA Times’ Festival of Books, most of the festivals are nonprofit, and so don’t have large budgets to pay the authors. So, “publishers have to be willing to supply authors,” Nawotka says, adding that it’s to their benefit as well. “We do sell a lot of books. Some authors sell 400 to 500 books per event.” It’s also important for festival organizers to “satisfy local interests and needs, as well as expose them to nationally known authors. You have to bring [the latter] in because it’s something that’s otherwise not available” for readers who don’t live in major metropolitan centers.

No matter how important a book festival is to its community, none is immune to budgetary restrictions. Around the same time the community of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was celebrating its first Ann Arbor Book Festival this April, the board of directors for the 10-year-old Northwest Bookfest was deciding it couldn’t afford to operate in the red any longer, and called 2003 its last. There’s certainly a lot of change in the air, and for every Northwest story, there’s another, more heartening tale. In recent years, we’ve seen the advent of DC’s annual National Book Festival, Laura Bush’s baby which will celebrate its fourth year in October. We’ve also heard success stories like the burgeoning Key West Literary Seminar, which will hold its 23rd annual event next January. Unlike most other festivals, this one requires attendees to pay per event; but despite this, it draws a large attendance and big-named authors, and is sold out a year in advance. Next year’s theme is “Literature of Humor,” and guest writers include Billy Collins and Calvin Trillin. In holding the roundtable at BEA, Binkley and Nawotka wanted to hear some of these success stories.

When he started what is now known as the Miami Book Fair International back in 1984, ABA President Mitchell Kaplan looked to New York is Book Country (NYIBC) as a model. Now, in a flattering act of mimicry, Binkley studied Miami to reinvent the New York festival, which had outgrown its street fair roots. Referring to the expansion of this year’s NYIBC, which will be Oct. 2-3 (the same weekend as the annual celebrity-laden New Yorker Festival), Binkley says, “It’s not a street fair anymore; it’s a literary festival. When it started, this book festival was wonderful. It really hasn’t grown.” The “totally different festival” will include over 150 authors and take place in Washington Square Park and on the adjacent New York University campus, including readings and panels in university lecture halls. “True book lovers want to meet the authors, and this will be the first time they can do that here,” Binkley said. For the first time there will be a Graphic Novels Pavilion, and a large Children’s Pavilion will include the Target-sponsored reading stage with high-profile authors like Jamie Lee Curtis and Lemony Snicket. The publishers and merchandise booths, which used to line Fifth Avenue, will now be in the park, and just on Saturday.

Sufficiently pleased to hear NYIBC looked to his festival for inspiration, Kaplan offered, “In some ways, it’s harder for a festival to distinguish itself in a place like New York. But, I do think they’ll do it.” NYIBC has more competition, with the New Yorker Festival, not to mention year-round readings and literary events at the city’s myriad bookstores, universities and cultural institutions.

Kaplan thinks budgetary problems top most festivals’ list of woes — no matter how big or established. If he had one word of advice for new or struggling festivals, it would be to partner with one or more organizations, such as the Miami festival’s relationship with Miami-Dade Community College. “Those fairs that try to do it alone are having more difficulty,” he said. The college was one of his festival’s founding organizations and has continued to not only financially support it, but houses it and promotes it. “The college has shouldered most of the funding burden that we’ve had. We’ve lost some state funding over the years, and we’re looking to ease some of the burden placed on the college,” Kaplan explained. Plus, the college community is a natural starting point for a reading audience, though Kaplan is proud of the fact that people come from all over the state. Calling it a “beautiful, seamless, public-private affair,” he attributes the Miami festival’s popularity to the diversity of its programming. “We cast a very wide net. We try to have the fair reflect the diversity of the community. We have author programs in Spanish, and writers from the Caribbean and Latin America come. We also have exhibitors from those areas.”

As Nawotka takes the Texas Book Festival into its 9th year, he is trying to balance an obvious literary agenda with satisfying a variety of audiences — a model that has proved popular in Miami, LA and New York. Hence, this year’s planned Tolkien panel will cater to the “big, geeky computer games population,” and the Western wear panel (incorporating Gibbs Smith books on designer Nudie and the history of the western shirt) will draw the stereotypical Texans, and a couple of panel discussions at a local movie theater will highlight Austin’s budding film industry and bring in filmmakers Peter Bogdanovich and Ken Burns. As for the events that used to cost upwards of $100 to attend, such as the “Bon Appetit, Y’All” panel and dinner, the festival has lowered the cost and is having it in a larger venue.

Book View, September 2004


Maureen O’Neal has left Ballantine and can be reached by email at [email protected] Elizabeth Dyssegaard is also leaving at the end of the summer.

Katherine Beitner to HarperCollins as Associate Publishing Director. She was Director of Publicity for Harmony and Shaye Areheart Books.

In children’s books there is more movement: Last month Diana Blough left Random House Children’s, where she was Director of Marketing, for the same position at Bloomsbury. She has hired Debra Shapiro as Senior Publicity Manager. Shapiro was Publicity Manager at Holt children’s. Marketing Director Sharon Hancock has also left Holt’s children’s division to be Executive Marketing Director at Candlewick. … Kenn Goin has gone to the Korean-based children’s publisher Bearport — a translation of Woongjin into English — as President and Publisher. He was Editorial Director at Learning Horizons, part of American Greetings. Finally, Jackie Carter has been named VP, Publisher — Children’s Press & Franklin Watts. She was previously at Disney and will join Scholastic as of September 7.

Joyce Stein is joining Hylas Publishing as Director of Marketing and Public Relations. She was most recently with Kingfisher. … PW reports that Gene Brissie, most recently President of the James Peter Associates Agency, has been named Editor-in-Chief of Kensington’s Citadel Press.

Speaking of agencies, two new literary agencies are joining the fray: Mary Hall Mayer has formed The Hall Agency, which represents literary and licensing projects. The address: 69 Fifth Avenue, 11th floor, NY 10003. Tel: (212) 675-6259 or email [email protected] Larry Weissman recently launched the eponymous agency and may be reached at [email protected]Manie Baron is leaving William Morris and may be reached at [email protected]

Jake Morrissey returns to book publishing from the licensing world (he worked for United Media, after stints at Harmony and Scribner), as Executive Editor of Riverhead. … Andrew Mandel will join FSG as EVP and Deputy Publisher on September 20. He was General Manager at Workman and before that, was at HarperCollins. Workman does not plan to fill the position at this time.

Adrian Sington, previously with E-Substance and Macmillan/Boxtree, has acquired a minority shareholding in Virgin Books and is joining as Executive Chairman of the board. Ray Brash has also joined the company as COO from The Economist Intelligence Unit, where he was Finance Director. KT Forster remains as Managing Director.

Randy Charles, SVP of Customer Relationship Marketing since February 2003 is leaving the company. His position will not be filled, but Bill Ostroff, who comes from EMI and to whom he reported, will oversee this area. He is President, Rodale Interactive, and Chief Marketing Officer.

Ron Longe has been appointed Director of Publicity at Stewart, Tabori & Chang. He was previously Director of Marketing and Publicity for Routledge, and has worked in publicity at Viking Penguin, HarperCollins, and St. Martin’s.

Brenda Segel has two new people in the Rights Department. Margaret Pai joins HarperCollins from Bulfinch, and was previously at Little, Brown, Macmillan and Knopf. Sandy Bontemps Hodgman joins HarperCollins from the Kathy Robbins Agency.

Last month all the publicity jobs changed hands. This month, it’s the sales departments’ turn:

Jack Perry has left SourceBooks and Sean Murray has been promoted to National Sales Manager Trade Group. . . . At Little Brown the sales department hired Celeste Risko, formerly a buyer at Borders, as National Accounts Manager to replace Jennifer O’Donohue, who went to Penguin. … Pamela Smith has been named VP, Sales for Ingram Library Services. She was previously Chief Marketing Officer at Baker & Taylor. … Sharon Huerta joins Abrams as Trade Sales Manager. She was most recently a Special Sales Representative at Penguin Putnam. … PGW’s Kim Wylie announces the hiring of Sue Ostfield as National Accounts Director in NY, replacing Kevin Votel as he leaves to becoming VP, Marketing for PGW in California. Ostfield comes from Holt where she was Associate Director of National Accounts. … Pat Rozell has left Motorbooks where she was Trade Sales Manager, to go to Readers Digest.

At Quarto, Richard Green has been hired as Publisher of Marshall Editions. He was head of publishing for Children’s Learning at BBC Worldwide.

Phaidon Press announced that Chris North has become MD, working out of its London headquarters. North was most recently at HarperCollins, first in New York and later in Toronto as COO of HarperCollins Canada.

Magali Veillon has gone to Abrams as Group Publishing Manager. She was in charge of international rights and sales for Black Dog and Leventhal.

Todd Doughty has moved from Random House to Warner Books, as Assistant Director of Publicity.


Marisa Bulzone has been promoted to Executive Editor at Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Last month Debbie Yost joined the company as Senior Editor, Lifestyle Books. PublicAffairs Publicity Director Gene Taft is getting the additional title of Assistant Publisher and Lisa Kaufman, Director of Marketing adds the title of Senior Editor. Roger Freet has been named a Senior Editor for Harper San Francisco. Kate Travers has been promoted to Editor of Harper Perennial.

At S&S, Jen Bergstrom has been promoted to Publisher of the Simon Spotlight Entertainment and Simon Spotlight imprints.

Book Now For These Events

AAP’s Committee for Smaller and Independent Publishers hosts “2005 And Beyond,” on September 10 at American Conference Center, 780 Third Avenue. Topics include “New Internet Opportunities,” “Mining the Library Market,” and “Getting Media Coverage.” Presenters and panelists include AAP CEO Pat Schroeder, John Crutcher, Publisher of Bloomberg Press, Erick Goss, Senior Manager of Book Buying at Amazon, USA Today’s Deirdre Donahue, NPR Producer Melissa Eagan, MPI’s Constance Sayre and NYTBR’s Sam Tanenhaus. For information contact Kathryn Blough, at 212 255-0200 or [email protected]

• American Book Producers Association presents “Making Books Happen: Book Producing Today” on October 26 at The Players Club, 16 Gramercy Park South. Panelists include Walker Books’ George Gibson, publishing veteran Jason Epstein, B&N’s Alan Kahn, and the apparently ubiquitous Sam Tanenhaus. Email [email protected] for more info.

Duly Noted

Legendary publisher Oscar Dystel will be inducted into the 2005 Life Hall of Fame at the Books for a Better Life gala on February 28. The event, which benefits the National MS New York City Chapter, takes place at the Millennium Broadway 145 West 44th Street in New York. The Event Chair is Steve Murphy, President and CEO Rodale.

• Sally Wood, President of Pearson Education’s Family Entertainment Network, tells PT about a book publishing event that is taking place online, with more than a million children reading the fictional journal of a 7th grader in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal, at, FEN’s education site. The journal, which is written and illustrated by online game designer and comic strip author Jeff Kinney, was launched on May 20 and does not yet have an offline publisher. In September, will relaunch Diary of a Wimpy Kid and run it one day at a time, corresponding with the actual days of the school calendar.


Celebrate the life of Roger W. Straus on Wednesday, September 29, 2004, at 3 p.m. at The Unterberg Poetry Center at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA, 1395 Lexington Avenue in New York.

Just Add Lemonade

Doing its part to promote an old-fashioned, relaxed summertime, The New York Times launched its Great Summer Read novel-serialization program in July. Part public service, part self promotion, the program seems to have succeeded on both fronts, as the eye-friendly inserts have been popping up everywhere from Metro North compartments to midtown Starbucks.

Though it’s too early to say if the program is improving the paper’s circulation figures, Alyse Myers, Times VP of marketing services, did offer anecdotal evidence. Many readers have admitted they are buying more than one copy per household to accommodate commuting schedules, vacationing teenagers, etc. And, she says, “I’m absolutely positive we’re selling more books,” referring to the coinciding reading events at Borders that have sparked sales (James McBride drew 300 people to the Columbus Circle store, which sold 100 copies of The Color of Water). Daryl Mattson, area marketing manager for Borders, said all its Manhattan stores sold four times the amount of the selected titles during the week they ran in The Times, compared to the previous week. “It’s been fantastic — and nobody really knew what was going to happen. It’s just such a smart and clever idea. You know, New York struggled with that one-city-one-book idea, because it’s so diverse — this is a great alternative to that.” (The Great Summer Reads selections so far have been, besides McBride’s, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, and Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.)

Booksellers aren’t the only ecstatic ones. Adam Rothberg, VP, corporate communications for Simon & Schuster, said, “While we certainly wouldn’t measure the success of the NYT program strictly by immediate sales — there are ancillary benefits like advertising for other Scribner titles, as well as extended exposure of Gatsby itself to a million-plus readers — “sales in July 2004 were more than 25% greater than July 2003. Bookscan reported 4,400 copies of the trade paperback were sold during the week that ended July 18 (the week it ran in The Times), though some of these are due to the normal influx of school orders this time of year. “I’ve heard from several people that they read the excerpts and were so delighted to retouch base with the book — and have been inspired to buy another classic to read this summer,” said Michael Selleck, S&S VP, executive director, marketing. Myers said that some other publishers have called to say they would like to participate in future programs. This was to be expected: Even in the program’s early stages, the rights process was “not difficult” because the publishers and the paper “felt like there was a benefit for both,” she says.

What’s next? Myers anticipates an expanded program, which may include a children’s book. The Times might reach wider next time by including the national edition, and it is considering other seasons when people might slow down to take a novel with their morning paper.

Alive and Kicking Aussie Government Breathes Life into Book Biz

Back by popular demand, Australia’s second annual Books Alive promotion — a two-week, federally-funded, book-buying bonanza — kicked off last month as Australian Minister for the Arts and Sport Rod Kemp officially pronounced the campaign’s motto: “lose yourself in a book and find yourself in a bookstore.” During the two week period ending August 15, Aussie bibliophiles lined up to bring home one of six bestselling books (chosen by a panel of retailers, publishers, and government officials) for just A$5, with the purchase of any book from a participating bookstore. For the indecisive at heart, Books Alive issued a keepsake booklet listing 50 Books You Must Own. “We want to make sure that everyone buys a book during Books Alive and this booklet provides great ideas to help readers take advantage” of the offer, said Books Alive chair Sandra Yates. As an added bonus this year, Kmart and Target stores doled out copies of Gabrielle Lord’s classic Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing for free to customers who purchased her latest psychological thriller Spiking the Girl. In a move to reach new readers, 50 cents from every Books Alive book sold was donated to the Smith Family literacy programs, student2student (which helps to develop the literacy skills of disadvantaged children by providing them with books and learning support) and Books For Christmas (an initiative that provides books to disadvantaged children at Christmas time). With more than 90% of all book retailers participating (that’s approximately 800) and more than 7,000 people in attendance at 90-plus Books Alive-related public events, Project Director Brett Osmond is pleased with how the campaign went overall. Still, he admitted that there is room for improvement. “The impact on sales is not as evident as we would have liked. This may be a factor of the range of books on offer. It also may be an indication that the offer itself is not compelling enough to motivate customers to enter the category.” He added that the amount of high-profile publicity in the press could be improved. “Advertising alone is not usually enough to motivate consumers to buy a book; they need that third-party recommendation that positive publicity provides.”

Moving on, in the mythical yet vividly real Tuscan village of Colle (reminiscent of Gabriel García Marquez’s iconic locale Macondo), the stories of two very different families unfold and eventually intertwine against a backdrop of violence and oppression in Ugo Riccarelli’s 2004 Premio Strega-winning novel The Perfect Sorrow. First he follows the anarchist actions of the Maestro, who arrived from Sapri in the late nineteenth century, and of his children and grandchildren who have names evocative of the revolutionary milieu in which the book is set, like Liberty, Ideal, and Mikhail. The accompanying story is that of the Bertarellis, a family of animal traders who, for generations, have borne the names of Homeric heroes and whose favorite pastime is reading The Iliad and The Odyssey by the fireside. Caught up in a frantic quest for wealth and power (with the exception of the narrator, Annina), the Bertarellis fall victim to the tragedy of epidemic, and the brutality of WWI as well as the eventual Nazi occupation. This “fascinating blend of chronicle and fairytale” forms a “great fresco which tells the story of life,” a life which Annina characterizes as filled with nothing but “perfect sorrow.” Rights have been sold to Hanser (Germany), Plon (France), Maeva (Spain), De Arbeiderspers (Holland), Kastaniotis (Greece), and Hakibbutz (Israel). Contact Emanuela Canali at Mondadori.

Budding Czech author Petra Hulová explores a family tree with more than a few knots in the bark in her first novel Memory of My Grandmother. A family saga told by various female narrators in the first person, the book depicts the trials and tribulations of members of a family of herdsmen in Mongolia (a locale of personal significance to Hulová, who traveled there several years ago). At the heart of the story is Dzaja, who describes a childhood spent in the Gobi desert doing odd jobs, taking care of her younger sister, and riding on horseback with her sisters and father Tüleg. When their grandmother dies, Tüleg tells his daughters about her pure Mongolian roots and formally asks his eldest daughter Magi to name her first-born daughter Dolgorma, after her grandmother. Dzaja and her other sister Nara look on as their father grows closer to Magi, and it is only a matter of time before they discover that they are not his biological daughters. Born from passionate affairs between their mother and a Chinese man, followed by a Russian door-to-door sardine salesman, Dzaja and Nara are soon condemned as mongrels by the pure Mongols who bully them at school and in their community. Following a fatal horseriding accident involving Magi, the two girls are shipped off to relatives and eventually find themselves laboring in a family-run house of ill repute. Dzaja finds herself pregnant and the story resumes when her daughter, Dolgorma, describes her own account of alienation from her family. “An impressive novel” with a “strong element of surprise,” Hulová’s debut has been sold to Europakiado (Hungary), Editions d’Olivier-Seuil (France), and Prometheus (Holland). Contact Edgar de Bruin at Pluh.

Dubbed “the next queen of crime” in Sweden, Camilla Läckberg has created a gem of a mystery “on par with Liza Marklund” with her second book The Preacher. Early one summer morning, a young boy sets off to play at King’s Crevice in Fjällbacka. The fun doesn’t last long as he happens upon the body of a naked lady staring up at him. The real mystery begins after the police rule the death a homicide, when they find beneath the body the skeletons of two women who had disappeared in the 1970s. Packed with “great psychological insight,” the book has been sold to People’s Press (Denmark) and Gyldendal Norsk (Norway).

Also in Sweden, Anna Jansson, a nurse with a knack for composition (her accomplishments include setting the poems of Nils Ferlin to music) examines the dangers of online chatting in her latest book, Dreams from Snow. A 14-year-old girl disappears on her way home from a late night at school and her body is found in the forest the next day. Detective Maria Wern is assigned the unpleasant task of informing her father, who is a priest in Kronviken. When another girl disappears, panic spreads and the town begins to look for scapegoats, setting their sights on a suspicious young man who had visited the vicarage and who has been seen following the girls when he’s not cruising cyberspace. Jansson has been published in Denmark (Fremad), Finland (Gummerus), Germany (Rowohlt), Holland (Van Buuren), and film rights are being negotiated. Contact Bengt Nordin.

Team Work

Facing ‘Oblivion,’ University Presses
Rally ‘Round New Distribution Models

Deep in a dark closet in the bowels of the University of Chicago Press’ main building resides whatmay be the answer to all university presses’ distribution woes. On a computer server, dubbed the BiblioVault, sit 5,000 books in digital format from close to 30 university presses. Assuming everything goes as planned, BiblioVault will hold 12,000 titles from about 40 presses by June 2005, and continue to grow. Any scholar with a Web connection can search entire texts on BiblioVault (, and then link to a publisher’s website to buy a book; at the other end, the publisher electronically manages its list, requesting from 5 to 300 copies from the on-site Edwards Brothers short-run printing facility when a book is purchased (in the future, they may be able to send their electronic files to any vendor). Not just another digital pipe dream, BiblioVault is one example of how budget-strapped university presses are banding together to cut distribution costs and fend off obsolescence. And, more often than not, this means turning to digitizing content for short-run offset printing, digital print on demand, and in some cases, electronic distribution to keep themselves and their backlists afloat.

Nearly universal among university presses is a lament for the decreasing sales of scholarly titles. With fewer independent booksellers to peddle academic material and college library purses pinched during the past few years, there’s just no shelf awaiting the scholarly monograph. Those presses that mingle academic lists with trade-bound books tend to fair a bit better, with the latter supplementing the poor sales of the former. Even technology is proving a Catch-22: as more and more scholarly monographs and journals are available in electronic formats, libraries and scholars are buying fewer hard copies, which in turn forces small presses to re-evaluate their print run sizes and warehousing. However, according to American Association of University Presses’ (AAUP) executive director Peter Givler, there is some hope. Estimated book sales for its 125 members were $455 million in fiscal 2003, up from $444 million in 2002. Most of the presses reported being in the black in fiscal 2004. “And returns were down. It wasn’t a terrific year, but at least people are on budget,” he says. Consolidation is the new name of the game, he added. “There is a gradual trend for the smaller press to get a larger press to distribute for them. Warehousing is one of those functions where economies of scale really do come into effect.” Another cost-saving measure is Internet-based distribution, which he says is “a lot further along in the university presses than in the commercial realm.”

Doug Armatto, director of the University of Minnesota Press and the new president of AAUP, is one of the biggest fans of BiblioVault. With 250 titles in the repository, nearly 20 of which have already been reprinted, UMP has incorporated it into its regular distribution work flow, even adding front-list titles. UMP is also working with IBT to do 10 first print runs digitally. “The real advantage [to BiblioVault and other digital databases] is that it makes for one seamless process. We don’t have to set up a whole new distribution chain each time, but can make a decision through our main distribution warehouse. Same with out customers — they can go to one place,” he enthused. In addition to BiblioVault’s print-on-demand capabilities, the CDDC also makes it possible for client presses to order short runs. “The beauty of marrying the short-run printing facility with the warehouse is that marketing people no longer have to do research to look at sales patterns every time a book goes out of print. Now they can do that once, and then instruct the computer to print when inventory is low,” adds Paula Duffy, director of the University of Chicago Press. Like many university press executives, Duffy migrated from trade (S&S’s Free Press). She touts two basic differences between the two marketplaces. First, “commercial presses would never keep a book in print if it wasn’t performing, and university presses are obliged to,” says Duffy. Second, due to the less competitive non-profit environment, university presses openly share industry information. “They realize the future will need to be a joint venture. No one body can do it on its own,” she added. Though they operate under the same antitrust laws prohibiting pricing discussions, university presses will share just about any other tips with each other. It’s a learning environment, so to speak.

Several university presses trumpet this spirit of free flowing dissemination of information: MIT Press has contributed to an institution-wide initiative, the Web-based OpenCourseWare (free notes, texts, tests — including the answers — and sometimes even streaming video footage of lectures), which MIT administration calls “intellectual philanthropy.” Though not yet on the bandwagon, Anna Bullard, director of sales and new business development at the University of California Press, admitted open courseware is all the buzz and may be the way of the future. Meanwhile, National Academies Press (NAP) publishes more than 170 books a year, simultaneously in print and PDF formats (the latter is available for free on its website, though the one-page-at-a-time viewing format makes for a frustrating read, and studies show, ultimately contribute to NAP’s annual sales of 400,000 print books, said director Barbara Kline-Pope).

Giving it away for free may seem extreme, but one thing is certain: the familiar distribution model used by university presses for years is currently being challenged. Richard Abel, director of the University Presses of New England (UPNE), a consortium of five university presses that share an editorial office and warehouse, said the changes are mostly results of the Internet. “We’re in a transitional stage right now, where the traditional distribution models are still around — by that I mean, we’re still selling to bookstores and libraries. But many of our buyers are individuals now. The end product hasn’t changed very much, but the electronic means has — it has changed a lot,” he explains. “We are broadening our marketing efforts, and increasingly looking to ways to find special interest groups (such as listservs and websites). We’re trying to be much more inventive to let the end user know that a book exists. Distribution and marketing are very closely related.” UPNE, which saw sales increase by 22% from fiscal year 2003 to 2004, is in discussions with Northeastern University Press to “see whether them joining would be a good fit for both.”

Johns Hopkins University Press is doctoring up the distribution of another core university press property: the scholarly journal. Project MUSE is an online subscription-based database that contains the full text to about 250 scholarly journals from 40 different publishers. Yet another collaborative is the investigative stages at Oxford University Press, where Project TORCH, or The Online Resource Center in Humanities, plans to revolutionize distribution of the scholarly manuscript. Initially funded by the Mellon Foundation, the project pays for the digitization of clients’ content, which is between $50-$200 per title. To ensure TORCH remains a beacon, executive director Phil Friedman said, “We’re taking a lot of advice from presses, libraries and scholars. There’s real value to be gained from digitizing scholarly content,” such as linking to other sources and searching across a database of books. “Given the state of the scholarly manuscript in print … this may be a way to reinvigorate the monograph as a way of scholarly communication, despite the decline in sales.”

Even when their Ivy League parent institutions scrimmage for the best reputation and top students, the presses are more often joining hands in peaceful accord. Four years ago, Yale University Press, MIT and Harvard University Press built a joint warehouse in Rhode Island, which is now up and running. Tina Weiner, publishing director at Yale, said it is in the position to take on new client publishers, if it finds the right match. “We’ve been expanding over the past five years. We built with an eye to the future. There’s even room to build more, if we need to,” she says.

Using a more traditional mode of distribution, the University of Toronto Press offers a simple solution for crossing into the frozen north to Canada. All a publisher has to do is get its books to the warehouse in Buffalo, N.Y., where the press makes daily pickups and takes care of all the border-crossing paperwork. Though it doesn’t offer sales and marketing, it takes care of everything else, with state-of-the-art online information and is EDI compliant.

The university press used to be a bit more carefree, and less concerned with the bottom line. But, let’s face the facts, the non-profit world is under pressure to at least break even these days. According to Columbia University Press CFO Rebecca Schrader, one of the main financial hurdles pushing more presses to rely on the big players for distribution is that they can’t afford the five-digit investment in software upgrades that are becoming essential in the evolving marketplace. Columbia is currently considering taking on some domestic publishing clients, despite a history of serving only foreign houses. “We’re seeing more demand in the marketplace, and we think we have an asset. We’re looking at several prospects, and they’ve all come to us,” Schrader said. “As a result of the severe crisis we’ve been through, university presses have had to become more aware and alert about business than they used to. There’s so little insulation between the small university press and oblivion.”

Teachers’ Pet

Teachers’ Pet

This year’s 100 latte-lapping Columbia Publishing Course graduates have bedazzled us once again with their chronicles of caffeine-fueled overachievement. As in years past, we offer you a sneak peek at publishing’s next generation in the composite biographical sketch below (all content has been taken from actual student biographies). Columbia’s New York Career Day when the nouveaux literati will be unleashed on Manhattan publishers is set for Monday, Aug. 2, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Time-Warner Building. For more information, call (212) 854-1898 or email [email protected]

A descendant of bootleggers and sheep thieves and the youngest of eight children, Ms. Student once told her father that she wanted to be a backhoe operator. However, wishing to emulate the polymaths who taught her, she eventually sought diversity in her education, studying philosophy, poetry, neurobiology, game theory, semantic logic, and French (she also speaks fluent Spanish and broken Portuguese). After a youth misspent writing dissatisfied letters to teen magazines, she learned to intelligently critique the media and the zeitgeist behind it, earning the title “most likely to discover the meaning of life” in her high school newspaper. Though her roots go back to a commune in rural New Hampshire, where she and her family resided as practicing Buddhists, she spent summers interning at a major public relations firm, where she was ostracized as “nerdy” for reading books during her lunch break.

An independent woman with a passion for print — whether it is milk cartons or manuscripts — she has written a gothic novel about a traveling circus (while her friends watched the circus, she interviewed the elephant handler backstage), as well as articles on organic beef and dietary fiber for EatingWell magazine. After studying the Divina Commedia, this former nursery-school talent show coordinator and vitamin salesperson realized that she hated heaven and adored hell. She learned the delicate art of interpersonal relations through dealing with countless diva drag queens as co-organizer of Drag Ball, Oberlin College’s largest student event.

Before graduating, she celebrated her appreciation of Nietzsche’s philosophy and her love of hip-hop in an essay recognized for academic excellence. In her free time, she researched dolphins in New Zealand as well as the history of the fish stick for her advisor. She backpacked the Andes Mountains from Argentine Patagonia to the Colombian Caribbean and rode horses through the Inner Mongolian steppe, before setting off to work in a converted chicken coop on a Tuscan hillside. Ms. Student spent last summer interning at the Wylie Agency, where, in the midst of a love-hate relationship with the copy machine, she kept her cool with a little help from Julia Child, who once said: “Learn to handle hot things, keep your knives sharp and, above all, have fun.”

Mad at the NEA?

Chart-topping Bill Clinton and David Sedaris are probably too busy counting royalty checks to be upset with the NEA for its recent dismissal of literary nonfiction. But there are plenty of others in the literati who think the “Reading at Risk” survey made a big mistake to “only cover poetry, fiction, and drama at a time when the whole country was completely ga-ga for nonfiction of all kinds — memoir, history, travel, and so on,” says Ted Genoways, editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Unintentionally hammering home the idea repeatedly expressed in the survey — that more people are turning to the Internet during what could be a reading hour devoted to the classics — Genoways made that observation on the CLMP literary magazine listserv. Astutely taking issue with the NEA’s methodology, the obviously well-read editor listed the books he and his family read in 2002 that would not have been counted in the part of the survey devoted to “literature.” His list included Crossroads to Freedom, Masters of the Senate and Evolution’s Workshop — clearly, all titles that would lead to an active mind and a better engagement in our democratic process.

When PT questioned Chairman Dana Gioia on the NEA’s chosen methodology, he apologized to anyone in the publishing industry he may have offended. “We meant no disrespect to John McPhee or Andrew Solomon. And if we had to do it again, we would add literary nonfiction.” However, he doubted that would add much of a positive spin to the survey results. “If you added the literary nonfiction, it is my opinion that it would add 5% or 7% to the numbers,” he said. Gioia refered to the part of the survey that asked the 17,000 participants if they had read any book at all. Only 56.6% said yes. “The total number of books being read is going down among every region, every race, and both genders. And that includes the Bible and diet books,” he said. “I wish I were wrong, but I believe that most of the people reading literary nonfiction are also reading other types of literature.”

Finally, he said, even though the biggest drop in reading is among young people, it is falling in every age group, and he thinks adults need to look inward, not point fingers. “If people want to know how to solve the problem, they should look in the mirror.”