Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Print Gaining Popularity with Twenty-Somethings; Digital with Septuagenarians! Say What?

2013 Tokyo International Book Fair — Where Young People Preferred Print!

Interesting survey by BookLive Co with revealing numbers. Could be what I suspected for some time, that print would not only not degrade to zero but would actually experience a rebirth of sorts in time, may be coming to fruition.

And the underlying reasons are perfectly understandable. The survey and resulting data came from this year’s Tokyo International Book Fair (TIBF) and can be extrapolated globally.

Why wouldn’t older folks welcome lower unit book costs, lighter weight, adjustable text for failing eyes and greater choice from one device?

Is print prancing again? Could be.

More details and numbers by Edward Nawotka (and Dennis Abrams) in Publishing Perspectives:


Japanese 20-yr-olds Favor Print, Septuagenarians Like Digital: Why?


A survey conducted at this year’s Tokyo International Book Fair revealed a surprising fact: more seniors than young people are open to using electronic books.

The Japan Times reports that close to 70% of Japanese in their 20s prefer traditional paper to digital books, while less than 50% of those in their 70s feel the same way, according to a survey conducted by BookLive Co., an ebook arm of Toppan Printing Co.

The results, according to the Times, also suggest that more seniors are ready to switch to ebooks if they see a clear advantage to them, such as lower cost.

When asked what they want from e-books, 52.5% said low price. And among those who have already taken the leap into ebooks, 70.4% wanted to have a greater range of titles available.

But the statistics can be deceiving. First, the survey looks at ebooks — not manga and comics — which dominate the digital market. Japanese consumers turned to digital manga for a very good reason, and it’s not one you might expect: the most popular titles are typically published in print in large, thick compendiums. The book is cumbersome to read, particularly for a commuter. The emergence of the digital manga made it much more convenient and easy to read these very popular editions.

Other books, such as novels, on the other hand, are typically printed in small, light, beautifully produced pocket-sized editions (often on beautiful paper, I might add). The books are appealing and easy to carry and read. This, coupled with no particular price advantage (ebooks are typically priced at 70% to 80% of print prices) means that print still hold much of their appeal.


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Bookboon = Free Ad-Supported Textbooks ! (On Track to Biggest E-publisher on Earth?)

The Biggest E-Publisher in the World ?

A Denmark enterprise called Bookboom is helping students to free downloadable textbooks in the Scandinavian countries, Germany, the UK and expanding globally. Their current growth rate is 500%. 

Thomas Buus Madsen, co-founder and COO of Bookboon, is the son of a publishing family — his parents own Ventus Publishing, a respected Danish textbook and dictionary publisher.

What a worldwide boon to students this model will be (free textbooks) ! — and to those who will pay for the books: advertisers and prospective employers who want to brand themselves to students 🙂 

This background and enlightening details from Publishing Perspectives by Edward Nawotka :

Is Denmark’s Bookboon the Biggest E-publisher on Earth?

COPENHAGEN: “I don’t think it’s immodest to say it, but I believe we’re the biggest e-book publisher in the world,” says Thomas Buus Madsen, co-founder and COO of Danish e-book publisher Bookboon. “To give just one reason why, over the last weekend in February we registered 970,000 downloads from Friday through Sunday, which was our single biggest weekend so far. In 2011, we had a total of 11 million downloads in all and there’s no reason for us not to hit 50 million by the end of 2012.”

The secret of Bookboon’s popularity: “All our books are free, of course.”

The son of a publishing family — his parents own Ventus Publishing, a respected Danish textbook and dictionary publisher — Madsen was inspired to start Bookboon after watching a fellow student at university take the one copy of a textbook for a particular class out of the school library, make 50 photocopies and start selling them in front of the classroom. “I’d spent my whole childhood packing physical books for my parents, but once I saw that, I knew textbook publishing didn’t have a long-term perspective.”

Working with his brother, Madsen launched the company in 2005, initially focusing providing academic textbooks and business books for the Danish market. The business model was simple: provide free e-books and pay for them by embedding advertising every three to five pages in the book. The two had previously worked on the launch of the free newspaper METRO in the Danish market and were confident it could work. Sales teams were established across Europe and managed to attract advertisers keen to reach students.

The range of titles focused on specific verticals, including accounting and economics, IT and engineering, and management and personal development. This helped with advertising: “We’re not doing fiction,” says Madsen, “these are factual books that have a lot of readers who are potential employees for companies. So, we are are looking at advertisers who are trying to brand themselves to students. Some, like Dell, want to sell them a computer, others, like the London Business, promote their graduate and executive education programs.” (The company says it will not take ads for alcohol, gambling, pay day loans or similar activities that will “ultimately diminish the seriousness of the books.”) Advertisers include several top commercial brands, such as UBS, IKEA, Accenture, Volvo, Maersk and Ericsson, to name just a few.

So far, model has proven a success. In 2006, Bookboon expanded to Sweden, and then to Germany and the Netherlands in 2007, but it wasn’t until their move into the UK and English books in 2008 that growth truly exploded, “English is the universal language — it is everywhere,” says Madsen. The company was helped by a timely feature on the BBC last year and since then the site has been doubling in traffic, with downloads growing at a rate of 500%.

The current catalog totals 1,000 titles, and Madsen expects to add another 300 this year.  Authors are recruited by the company to write books in their local languages — “we don’t translate,” says Madsen, “because something is always lost” — and the writers are paid based on the advertising revenue generated by the book and the number of downloads.”

Read and learn more

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Is New York’s Hold on Publishing Smothering It?

Oh, New York, New York!

No denying, New York is the publishing center of America … And, it might even have been a good concept at one time under older business models that were more horizontal and where grouping tangental businesses in close proximity was desirable for expediency.

But, todays publishing landscape is everywhere, instantly … So, why does New York still have such a hold over the publishing industry? 

Good question … Reluctance to change. Old habits are hard to break. Old power brokers don’t want to give up power (although it’s been steadily seeping away), etc., etc.

Anyway, here is a good insight on this subject by Edward Nawotka in

Is Publishing Too New York-centric?

New York’s outsized influence on publishing is felt across the US, but is it good for the other 99%?

The outsized influence New York, and Brooklyn in particular, has on the current literary scene is undeniable.  It is the center of publishing in the United States.

But is it good for the other 99% of the country?

New York publishers have been accused of publishing books for each other – and the writers, for writing for each other. Has a kind of group-think has set in where people — consciously or not — are perhaps working to impress each other rather than a wider audience?

You often hear publishing personalities and literary journalists on the coasts moan that “the rest of America” doesn’t read books. To this I say, the rest of America does read, they just don’t necessarily want to read the books New York sometimes publishes. How many novels can someone in, say, Chicago or Atlanta, read about a twenty-something Manhattan editorial assistant, junior Wall Street trader, or cupcake shop owner in Cobble Hill looking for love?

But isn’t some of this our own fault. After all, with the end of the year lists, how is it that book critics in Denver, Minneapolis, Kansas City and San Diego all manage to come up with basically the same “top ten” book lists? Shouldn’t they be looking at more worthy regional titles? Nah, cause if they don’t weigh in on the big important books of the year, they won’t be taken seriously by their more-influential colleagues in New York.

Read and learn more

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Publishing Acquisitions Faulty Strategy: ‘I Love You, Now Change.’

"If you change, I'll love you"

“What makes a small publisher’s books interesting is usually the first thing that disappears when being acquired by a larger company.”

Why is that? Instead of expounding the acquired publishers’ unique successes, the acquiring firm often wants to immediately make it over in its own image…an image which is often suffering and in need of the spark that attracted the acquiring firm in the first place!

More insight by Edward Nawotka of Publishing Perspectives :

Why Do So Many Publishers Say “I Love You, Now Change”?

“I love you, now change,” is something we’ve all heard before in relationships. It’s likely that instead of actually being in love with the person as they are, you’re in love with the person as you imagine them to be. The desire to shape them into the perfect creature is not unreasonable.  Illusion is, frankly, a part of love.

The same goes with publishers. In the micro sense, they often covet a writer (and poach them) or, in the macro sense, they covet a publishing house and merge them. Publishers are by nature in love with the possibility of something, instead of something as it is. Sometimes they can genuinely improve on a writer’s work and career, but just as many times they can radically alter an author’s career path for worse. The same goes when publishing houses merge and absorb a smaller firm. Often, what makes that smaller firm’s books interesting in-and-of themselves — perhaps it’s branding, perhaps it’s an eclectic list — is the first thing that disappears into the larger entity. Does it have to be this way? Of course not. But as with today’s feature story about the rumors swirling around the merger between Aufbau Verlag and Eichborn Verlag in Germany, things can get sour fast.

Read and learn more 

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Transmedia? What the F—!

What the Hell is Transmedia?

There is a whole alternative universe out there materializing for publishing. Getting to the portals that let you into a smattering of understanding may be a bitch for some of us older farts. If we accidently get positioned close (through new wave education or just blind stumbling upon) to one of these damn portals…we will have to go through a debriefing and reprogramming chamber before we can even enter through the damn thing…

At least that’s the way the vast-publishing-information-overload-tsunami that keeps crashing over us again and again (as if it had a self-perpetuating life of it’s own) makes us feel! New technology and knowledge are reproducing at the speed of light!

Will we ever be able to keep up?

So, back to the title of this post; just what is transmedia? Basically it’s a format of other available formats (they’re reproducing fast) combined into one presentation. I have paraphrased from several sources…so beware.

Wikipedia discusses transmedia storytelling…please read the link to get through portal one of the alternative publishing universe (APU).

Then proceed to Which Transmedia Practices are Best Suited to Traditional Publishing? by Edward Nawotka in Publishing Perspectives for a debrief/reprogram seance for entrance through portal two of the APU…

Good luck in the “What the F—!” universe…

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