Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

03/19/2016

Did the Cuban Sanctions Ban the Export/Import of Books?


havana_books

Books in Havana

Did the U.S. REALLY ban all book exchanges between Cuba and the United States? Not completely, it seems — Oh, and I, as well as many other regular, uninformed citizens, I suspect, did not even realize that books were a part of any such sanctions!

At any rate, researching this article (when the headlines caught my attention) uncovered a few informative tidbits:

One, that OFAC stands for the ‘Office of Foreign Assets Control’ and is part of the Department of the Treasury, which administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions. How about that?

Two, there is an information exception in the Cuban sanctions, called the Berman amendment, that states that the import of books from, and the export of books to, Cuba is permitted and may not be forbidden by OFAC.

Three, the group of publishers who petitioned the U.S. Government to “End the Book Embargo Against Cuba.” should have hired a professional writer to research the sanctions and word the petition in a clear, concise manner!

More details Re amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, movie, television and record companies and how they are now allowed to go hog-wild in Cuba, hiring Cubans to work on “filming or production of media programs (such as movies and television programs), the recording of music, and the creation of artworks in Cuba,” (leaving book publishers behind in the dust?) can be found in the following article from Lexology. Lexology collaborates with the world’s leading lawyers and other thought leaders to deliver tailored updates and analysis to the desktops of business professionals worldwide on a daily basis:

End Book Publisher Illiteracy on Cuba Sanctions

 

 

 

 

09/20/2015

Are Book Awards and Book Sales Related? How Representative is the Authors Guild?


           The Book Publishing Landscape

The publishing landscape has changed so much that past things of importance and impact are no longer – fizzled out like a spent firecracker sparkler.

Examples are the Man Booker award in the U.K. and the National Book Awards in the U.S. – Oh, these awards still have a sentimental value to some, but, apparently, do not generate any large increase in book sales, notoriety or the economic bottom line for authors as they may have done in the past. And what about authors who don’t receive awards?

Recent surveys by the Authors Guild have exposed a 30% loss in author income since 2009 – But, these losses represent authors under the umbrella of traditional publishing. Most (not all) are not even making a living wage.

So, how do we explain the thousands of self-published authors (again, not all) who are making quite a good living wage? Let’s find out.

Tonights research article comes from WUWM Public Radio in Milwaukee, WI., written by

Key excerpts:

Washington Post critic Ron Charles reviews the kinds of books that get nominated for literary awards. These are not the blockbusters, the books written by the likes of Stephen King and Nora Roberts that make millions.”

“Robinson says the landscape for writers has changed in many ways. They have to do more self-promotion, sometimes even offering their work for free online. The Authors Guild blames the decline in writers’ income on a combination of factors: online piracy of digital material, consolidation within the publishing industry, which has led to more focus on the bottom line, the dominance of Amazon and the rise of self-publishing which has cut into the market for traditional publishers.”

“Eisler is a self-publishing advocate who says the Authors Guild doesn’t represent all writers. Its membership skews older and it is mostly interested in maintaining the status quo of traditional publishing. Self-publishing may not be for everyone, he says. There is no question writers have to be more entrepreneurial. But he says it also offers them a choice when it comes to money and control — and the end result isn’t really all that different from traditional publishing.”

” “Yes, it’s absolutely true that most self-published authors aren’t able — at least not yet — to make a living from their writing,” he says. “But that’s also absolutely true of legacy publishing. It’s always been true.” ”

Read the entire article titled: “When It Comes To Book Sales, What Counts As Success Might Surprise You

 

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03/28/2012

Association of American Publishers: Book Sales Up in January :) Get the Numbers


Book Industry Growing Today

The AAP (Association of American Publishers) has some good news for the book industry. Random House sales were up in 2011 and overall book sales jumped in January 2012.

The two main reasons for this profit growth were cost-cutting and increased sales of e-books.

Matthew Flamm , Crain’s New York Business, reports these inside numbers:

Good news for the book industry

The book industry got good news on two fronts on Wednesday. Profits were up in 2011 at Random House Inc., parent company Bertelsmann reported. And book sales spiked in January, according to the Association of American Publishers.

At Random House, the world’s largest trade publisher, earnings before interest and taxes rose 7%, compared to the prior year, to $246 million. The gains came from cost-cutting and increased sales of e-books, which have better margins than physical books. Revenue for the year fell 4%, to $2.3 billion.

George R. R. Martin’s five-volume fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire also helped, selling 8 million copies in North America.

For the industry, overall trade book sales in January spiked 27%, to $504 million, compared to the same month in 2011. Among the fastest growing categories were children’s hardcover books, which were up 69% to $57 million; adult hardcover, which increased 22% to $70 million, and e-books, which grew 49% to $100 million.

The January figures marked the debut of a new methodology for the Association of American Publishers, which is now tracking 1,149 publishers, up from an average of 75 to 90 in the past. The newly added publishers have contributed year-ago numbers so that the comparisons are on a like to like basis.

Read and learn more

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08/20/2011

Coming: Legal Deposition RE E-Book Pricing, Economics of Digital Publishing and Inner Core Operations


Deposing Core Elements of the Agency Model

Class action lawsuits are growing against five major publishers plus Apple RE the infamous “agency model” (where the publisher sets the book/e-book price versus the traditional wholesale/retail model where the price is set by the sellers/retailers (?) … at least I think I have that right) 

Per publishing consultant, Mike Shatzkin, who writes the great IdeaLog Blog,  the “agency” model is based on the idea that the publisher is selling to the consumer and, therefore, setting the price, and any “agent”, which would usually be a retailer but wouldn’t have to be, that creates that sale would get a “commission” from the publisher for doing so.

Or, put another way by the ABA (The American Booksellers Assoc): Under the agency model, a publisher sets a retail price for a specific book, which establishes a level playing field for all resellers.

 I have posted on the agency model several times back when it was first named … and damned if I don’t seem more confused about it now!

At any rate, the lawsuits … mostly claiming that e-book prices are being artificially inflated … and their associated costs are spiraling upward!

These details in Publishers Weekly by Andrew Albanese:

More Lawsuits Over Agency Model

A class action lawsuit over e-book pricing filed against five major publishers and Apple has begun to sprawl, with four new “copycat” lawsuits filed last week. Two suits, filed in Manhattan, add Random House as a defendant, while a third suit, also in Manhattan, adds Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Another suit was filed in Oakland, Calif. The claims and assertions of fact in each suit are nearly identical to the original suit, filed August 9 by the firm Hagens Berman: that the simultaneous introduction of the agency model by the major publishers reflects an illegal conspiracy to “artificially inflate” e-book prices.

The filing of copycat suits is very common in consumer class actions. “It is more the rule than the exception,” one class action attorney told PW. If a case is perceived to be a good one, there will be multiple filings by different firms in different courts, and the firms will then compete to see who will become lead counsel. In the coming months, the cases—and there could be more coming—will be organized, and the defendants will seek to have them moved to one court.

According to the filings, the price-fixing conspiracy occurred as Apple negotiated terms with publishers in anticipation of the 2010 iPad release. On January 27, 2010, when asked by reporters how Apple’s e-bookstore would compete with Amazon’s $9.99 price, Apple’s Steve Jobs responded that the prices “would be the same.” That public pronouncement, one suit alleges, “was a signal to Publisher Defendants that each of them had agreed to join the conspiracy.” The following day, January 28, Macmillan CEO John Sargent told Amazon of its switch to the agency model. “This would have been irrational if Macmillan had not expected its primary competitors to follow suit,” the lawsuit notes. “Acting alone, no individual publisher would be able to sustain the supra-competitive prices.” The agency model, the suit notes, effectively ended “retailer discretion” for e-book pricing.

Read and learn more
 

 
 

 

08/17/2011

Amazon Publishing – Print is Thriving – And Other Insider Information


Awesome Amazon ???

Amazon’s business makes publishers nervous because it’s finally allowing the online retailer to cut publishers out of the loop entirely. Amazon is making more of its own books, and it’s got the authors to sell them.”

Amazon is adding more writers and renowned authors to its own company’s publishing imprints to produce new books directly for the reading consumer and bypass other established ‘publishers’ entirely. 

Gaining control of the online digital book retail business just seemed to whet Amazon’s appetite to gobble up more control in the bigger publishing business (in disruption due to the new tech transition) … including print, which is doing just fine right now, thank you very much. 

These interesting details provided by Anthony John Agnello , consumer and technology writer for InvestorPlace:

Amazon Publishing Continues to Boom With New Exclusives

Traditional publishers being pushed out of the picture

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) frightens book publishers. Not because electronic books are going to replace print by September. Far from it. Print is thriving, and while e-book sales have grown 1,300% in the past three years, they still represent only a fraction of overall revenue in the publishing industry. Amazon’s business makes publishers nervous because it’s finally allowing the online retailer to cut publishers out of the loop entirely. Amazon is making more of its own books, and it’s got the authors to sell them.

A Tuesday report in The New York Times said Amazon has made its latest promising acquisition in an ever-growing stable of authors producing original books for the company. Timothy Ferriss, the self-help author behind the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, will release his new book The 4-Hour Chef exclusively through Amazon Publishing imprint.

4-Hour Workweek has spent 84 weeks on the Times‘ Advice bestseller list. That book was published by Crown, an imprint under the Bertelsmann-owned Random House. Ferris never entertained a counteroffer from his previous publisher after talking with Amazon because they would not have been able to match what Amazon was offering as “a technology company embracing new technology.”

This is just the latest major publishing effort from Amazon since editor Laurence Kirshbaum came on as head of Amazon Publishing in May. Imprint Montlake Romance, an all-romance branch of Amazon Publishing, opened for business in May. Connie Brockway’s The Other Guy’s Bride will be the imprint’s first book out this fall. Brockway’s previous books were distributed under the Dell Publishing mass-market imprint, another house under the Random House banner.

Read and learn more

Related post: Is Amazon a Danger Lurking in the Publishing Industry?

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05/19/2011

Despite E-Book Popularity, Traditional U.S. Print Title Output Increases


Traditional Print Publishing is Not Going Anywhere...Just Yet

I have touched on this subject several times in the past…Who the hell said print is dead? Because the figures damn sure don’t back up that postulation!

 
This even fresher evidence comes by way of the Bowker bibliographic information database as reported via press release in the Sacramento Bee:
 
Print Isn’t Dead, Says Bowker’s Annual Book Production Report
Traditional publishing grows a modest 5%, while POD sends print total over a record 3 million 

Bowker, the global leader in bibliographic information, released its annual report on U.S. print book publishing, compiled from its Books In Print® database.  Based on preliminary figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker is projecting that despite the popularity of e-books, traditional U.S. print title output in 2010 increased 5%.  Output of new titles and editions increased from 302,410 in 2009 to a projected 316,480 in 2010. The 5% increase comes on the heels of a 4% increase the previous year based on the final 2008-2009 figures.

The non-traditional sector continues its explosive growth, increasing 169% from 1,033,065 in 2009 to an amazing 2,776,260 in 2010.  These books, marketed almost exclusively on the web, are largely on-demand titles produced by reprint houses specializing in public domain works and by presses catering to self-publishers and “micro-niche” publications.   

“These publication figures from both traditional and non-traditional publishers confirm that print production is alive and well, and can still be supported in this highly dynamic marketplace,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services for Bowker. “Especially on the non-traditional side, we’re seeing the reprint business’ internet-driven business model expand dramatically. It will be interesting to see in the coming years how well it succeeds in the long-term.”

In traditional publishing, SciTech continues to drive growth

Continuing the trend seen last year, science and technology were the leading areas of growth as consumers purchased information for business and careers.  Major increases were seen in Computers (51% over 2009, with an average five-year growth rate of 8%), Science (37% over 2009, with an average five-year growth rate of 12%) and Technology (35% over 2009, with an average five-year growth rate of 11%).  Categories subject to discretionary spending were the top losers, perhaps still feeling the effects of a sluggish economy.  Literature (-29%), Poetry (-15%), History (-12), and Biography (-12%) all recorded double digit declines.  Fiction, which is still the largest category (nearly 15% of the total) dropped 3% from 2009, continuing a decline from peak output in 2007.  Religion (-4%) fell to 4th place behind Science among the largest categories.

Top book production categories:

Read and learn more 

   

05/07/2011

The First Ultimate Online Book Site Has Arrived!


Bookish.com will be the ultimate site for all things literaryThree major publishers…Penquin, Hachette Book Group and Simon & Schuster…have committed to financing a one-stop book marketing and selling site.

The site will be called Bookish.com and will be operational late this summer.

“The site intends to provide information for all things literary: suggestions on what books to buy, reviews of books, excerpts from books and news about authors. Visitors will also be able to buy books directly from the site or from other retailers and write recommendations and reviews for other readers.”…Julie Bosman , NYTimes.

From Julie Bosman:

Publishers Make a Plan: A ‘One Stop’ Book Site

Publishers have spent a lot of time and money building their own company Web sites with fresh information on their books and authors. The trouble is, very few book buyers visit them.

In search of an alternative, three major publishers said on Friday that they would create a new venture, called Bookish.com, which is expected to make its debut late this summer. The site intends to provide information for all things literary: suggestions on what books to buy, reviews of books, excerpts from books and news about authors. Visitors will also be able to buy books directly from the site or from other retailers and write recommendations and reviews for other readers.

The publishers — Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group USA and Hachette Book Group — hope the site will become a catch-all destination for readers in the way that music lovers visit Pitchfork.com for reviews and information. The AOL Huffington Post Media Group will provide advertising sales support and steer traffic to the site through its digital properties.

“There’s a frustration with book consumers that there’s no one-stop shopping when it comes to information about books and authors,” said Carolyn Reidy, the president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster. “We need to try to recreate the discovery of new books that currently happens in the physical environment, but which we don’t believe is currently happening online.”

Read and learn more

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06/21/2009

John Austin Answers Phelicia Brown:


To answer your question: I don’t know if saying your true story is fiction and using other characters is better or not. You see, you would still be a relatively unknown author; whether the story is fiction or nonfiction. AND, a lot of people like to buy a story especially if it is true, even if they don’t know the author…How many times have you bought a book in a store because the cover looked good or the synopsis on the cover sounded interesting and you never heard of the author? Many times…You think everybody who buys books KNOWS all the millions of writers who have books published? Hell no. We just have to get our foot in the front door by meeting the right publisher or learning marketing of self-published books well enough to get them in front of the right audiences…

I will be discussing some of these things in more detail in future posts to my blog. Spread the word on my blog to others who may be interested.

Keep studying publishing and marketing your books and always seek to polish up your writing skills…and before long you will get there. I am detailing my first self-publishing experience on my blog for entertainment, analysis and to hopefully help some others, too.

10/24/2008

Information Overload on Writing, Agents and Publishing!


Welcome to my blog! My name is John R. Austin and I’m a writer. I am starting this blog because of the info overload “out there” relating to writing, getting literary agents and the state of the publishing industry in general!

Check these stats from an article by Walt Shiel. Are they true or not?

The “Hard Truths” About Book PublishingArticle by Walt Shiel

Let’s consider some of the “hard truths” about the publishing industry.If you’re at all serious about publishing, whether self-publishing or not, you really need to be aware of some basic statistics about the industry. They aren’t pretty and may tend to be discouraging. But would you rather jump into these treacherous waters with a head full of platitudes and myths… or with a clear-eyed view of how things really are?I think you are far better off understanding what’s really going on and what you, as an author and would-be self-publisher, are really up against.

So, without further belaboring the point, here goes.Book publishing in the U.S. has exploded over the past few years. Here are the number of new English-language titles published per year in the U.S., as reported by R. R. Bowker (the keeper of U.S. ISBNs and publisher of Books-in-Print):

195,000 titles in 2004
295,000 in 2006 (a 51% increase in two years)
411,000 in 2007 (a 39% increase in only one year)

In 2004, there were just under one million books in print (new and backlist). Last year, there were almost three million in print. Offset printing (the traditional method using the large roll- or sheet-fed printing equipment that is cost-effective for larger print runs only) accounted for only about 1% of the 411,000 new titles printed in 2007; the rest were printed using digital printing technology (print-on-demand) that is only cost-effective for short print runs.Why do you suppose the number of new titles more than doubled in three years? Can you spell subsidy publishing (in the guise of the plethora of self-proclaimed “self-publishing companies”)? Three decades ago, there were only 357 publishers with books listed in Books-in-Print. Today, there are only six major (New York) publishers, maybe 400 mid-size publishers, and almost 100,000 small publishers (which includes the large number of self-publishers). More than 10,000 new (mostly small) publishers go into business each year. Of course, many of those small publishers fail every year, too, but that’s common in most businesses (lots of new start-ups quickly fail).The six major New York publishers are Random House, Penguin Putnam, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck, Hachette (formerly Time Warner Books), and Simon & Schuster. Of those, only Simon & Schuster is still American-owned. Ever wonder why more and more foreign authors are being published by major “American” publishers? Now that you know how many new titles are published and how many publishers are publishing them, you might wonder how many are being sold? That is a far more difficult question to answer reliably, since publishers are notorious for overstating actual book sales. However, we can turn again to Bowker for some statistics:

93% of all titles sell less than 1,000 copies
Overall average sales for all titles is about 500 copies
7% of titles account for 87% of sales (mostly from the big NY publishers)

So, where are those books actually sold? If you guessed mostly in bookstores, guess again. Here’s the breakdown (the ranges are because it depends on what source you rely on):

Chain bookstores account for 25-33%
Independent bookstores (including used book stores) account for 3-10%Online book retailers account for 21% (almost all Amazon.com)

That means 36-52% of all book sales come from non-bookstore outlets. What’s a non-bookstore outlet? Gift shops, grocery stores, drug stores, “big box” stores (Wal-Mart, Costco, etc.), book clubs, back-of-the-room sales, direct-to-consumer sales, and on and on. The opportunities are limited only by your imagination and marketing efforts.You can choose to self-publish and compete in the bookstores for that 28-43% of the total market, which means you’re competing against Random House, Simon & Schuster et al who can afford to buy those end-cap and front window display locations. Or you can choose to compete primarily in the online and non-bookstore markets that represent the remaining.The choice is yours and should be driven by your detailed marketing plan for your book. You do have a detailed marketing plan, right? Trying to sell books without a marketing plan is like taking a long trip into unknown territory without a map — you might reach your destination but the odds are against you.If you don’t really know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? Or when you’re way off course?
7:44:00 PM
by John Austin
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