Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Mix Newspapers + Digital + Metered Paywalls and Shake Well! – Hot Mixture or Not?

Newspapers have danced with ups and downs in the past few years. But, as I have posted on periodically in the past, this segment of publishing was one of the first to analyze its options in the new tech environment, embrace change, initiate appropriate training and launch new business models that have included digital and associated mobiles, etc.

This brought about a big learning curve (that is still active) – but, what has shaken out thus far looks promising and has resulted in positive growth in digital circulation and stopped the bleeding in print circulation and even turned print around a little.

Now, let’s drill down and get into some numbers provided by AAM (Alliance of Audited Media) that will tell us for sure if the ‘newspapers + digital + metered paywalls’ mix is a hot mixture or not.

Matthew Flamm reports on the semi-annual newspaper AAM numbers for Crain’s New York Business:


New York Times overtakes USA Today as No. 2

The Grey Lady gains 18% in circulation in the past year as metered paywall pays off. The Wall Street Journal jumps 12% in the much-anticipated semi-annual industry audit.

The New York Times has moved into the No. 2 spot in newspaper circulation, ahead of USA Today, as the addition of more than 300,000 digital subscriptions gave the paper an average weekday circulation of 1.9 million print and digital copies in the six months ending March 31.

The number marked a nearly 18% circulation gain compared to a year ago, with digital gaining enough to more than offset print losses, according to the Alliance of Audited Media, which released its semi-annual newspaper survey on Tuesday.

The alliance includes in its digital count subscriptions to the online paper distributed to tablets, iPhones and through its website. 

The Wall Street Journal, in first place, was up 12% in combined weekday circulation, to 2.4 million print and digital copies. Both papers relied on digital circulation for growth. The Journal‘s print edition fell 5% to 1.5 million copies, while the Times‘ slid 6% to 731,000. 

USA Today dropped 8%, to 1.7 million copies, of which only 250,000 were digital.

On Sundays, the Times remains the clear No. 1, with total circulation of 2.3 million copies, up 16% from a year ago. Its print edition slid less than 1% to 1.25 million copies.

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Is the Ebook Juggernaut Slowing ?

Ebook Sales Falling ?

Matthew Flamm, senior reporter for Crain’s New York Business, wrote the following article today, and, although I get the overall gist of it (I think), I’m left confused by parts of it 😦  

I interject questioning comments in the body of the text. I welcome informative comments to help me out.

E-book sales growth is slowing  by Matthew Flamm:

‘The Justice Department’s lawsuit charging publishers with conspiring to fix e-book prices isn’t the only headache the industry has right now. Insiders say there are concerns that the e-book juggernaut is slowing down.

“It’s not growing the way it was a year ago,” said an executive at a major publisher. “And Barnes & Noble is ordering fewer and fewer books.” Senior execs at the house had been counting on rapid growth in digital sales to make up for the expected erosion of physical book sales, and are now worried about meeting their projected budgets for the year.

In January—the most recent month for which numbers are available—e-book sales spiked 49%, to $100 million, compared with a year earlier, according to the Association of American Publishers. For all of 2011, e-book sales grew 117%, to $970 million. (John’s Note: So far so good)

It was expected that coming off a larger revenue base, the monthly percentage increases would grow smaller (Why? What does this mean?), but executives fear that sales are starting to plateau. Experts say the lower bar of entry for e-book publishing may be a factor (What lower bar of entry for ebooks? What exactly does he mean by this?). “Bigger publishers are starting to lose market share to independent publishers and self-publishers,” said consultant Jack Perry (Does this mean then that the ebook juggernaut is NOT slowing for indies and self-publishers?).’

What do you think ?

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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.

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Did the Book Industry Take it on the Chin in 2011? Inside Some Numbers

Print or digital, books are still books

It’s really hard to tell by the analytical parameters that the old book industry trackers (such as Nielsen BookScan) has set up to take the measurements. BookScan doesn’t even track e-books yet! What the hell are they waiting for? You have to get e-book numbers through other sources such as the Association of American Publishers (AAP).  

Let me say now that books are books …  regardless of the media they are presented in. And they should be included in any analysis of the overall health of the book publishing industry.
But, this bit of industry analytical dabbling in the following article from Crain’s New York Business by Matthew Flamm does provide an interesting insight:
No happy ending for book industry
Book sales in 2011 dropped 9% overall, with mass market paperbacks seeing the biggest declines. Adult hardcovers—the industry’s biggest moneymaker—saw a 10% drop.
The book industry took it on the chin in 2011, though e-book sales continue to offer the promise of better times to come.

Through Dec. 25, total unit sales of physical books fell 9% to 640.6 million, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks 75% of the market. That compares to a drop of 4% in 2010, and 3% in 2009.

Some categories were hit particularly hard. Sales of mass market paperbacks, a category that has been hurting for years, fell 23% to 82.2 million copies. More troubling, perhaps, was the 10% drop, to 164.1 million units, in the adult hardcover category, which is the industry’s biggest moneymaker. Trade paperbacks proved the most resilient of the major formats, with a 6% sales decline, to 351 million copies.

Among subject groups, adult fiction suffered the most, with an 18% plunge to sales of 160.3 million copies. Commercial fiction tends to sell particularly well as e-books. Adult non-fiction was down 10%, to 263 million copies.

(John’s Note: By the way, how many know the definitions of (or differences between) the following categories: adult fiction, commercial fiction, mass market paperbacks, trade paperbacks, adult hardcover?)     

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B&N’s Nook Tablet to Compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire

"Take That, iPad!"The Amazon and Barnes & Noble e-reader market is morphing into the tablet computer market … and bringing with it advances and features that should have Apple iPads shaking in their digital boots! … AND at a lighter weight and cost!

I just love it when the competitive intrigue goes exponential in a new industry market 🙂

This from Crain’s New York Business by Matthew Flamm

Barnes & Noble plays with Amazon’s Fire

The bookstore chain will introduce a new Nook tablet to compete with the e-tailer’s Kindle Fire. The new device will be available on Nov. 15.

The battle for the e-reader market isn’t over yet. Little more than a month after Amazon Inc. announced the launch of the Kindle Fire, its souped-up tablet that becomes available Nov. 15, archrival Barnes & Noble Inc. is getting set to roll out its new Nook.

The Nook Tablet, which will show movies in addition to displaying magazines, newspapers and books, will be introduced to the press on Monday morning at the Barnes & Noble Union Square store. It will be priced at $249, making it $50 more than the Fire, but will offer twice the memory of Amazon’s tablet, according to tech blog Engadget, which posted details about the new device and other updates to the Nook family of e-readers on its site Thursday evening.

In addition to its new tablet, Barnes & Noble has enhanced its Nook Color to include access to the subscription video hub Hulu Plus, and cut its price by $50 to $199. The touch-enabled Nook that launched last May with a price tag of $139 has been renamed the Nook Simple Touch and will be priced at $99. That makes it slightly more expensive than the $79 Kindle, but unlike Amazon’s device, the Nook won’t display ads.

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Related article on Amazon’s Kindle Fire

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Poignant International Newspaper ‘The Guardian’ Opens Office in U.S.

One of my favorite and intellectually incisive international news resources has been the British newspaper The Guardian … I love it!   

The new American soil version, , debuted yesterday and I welcome it wholeheartedly. 

The Guardian‘s original website had more than 10 million unique visitors in the U.S. in August, according to comScore.
These details by Matthew Flamm in Crain’s New York

The British are coming: Guardian hits U.S.

The left-leaning British newspaper has unveiled, the beginning of an effort to carve out a footprint in American cyberspace. To come: writers, technologists and “American expertise.”

The Guardian has launched its U.S. website, marking the left-leaning British newspaper’s latest attempt to expand its footprint in the American market and score advertising dollars out of its substantial U.S. readership., which went live Tuesday morning, is just “the beginning of our efforts, not the reveal of a finished product,” wrote Janine Gibson, editor in chief of Guardian US, in a blog post.

Based in New York, the new outpost has hired former New York Times writer and editor Robert Mackey and will bring on a team of other writers, technologists and editors. The aim is to “combine the Guardian‘s internationalist, digital journalism with American voices and expertise,” and draw on the paper’s reporters around the world, Ms. Gibson wrote.

The Guardian‘s website had more than 10 million unique visitors in the U.S. in August, according to comScore. In 2007, parent Guardian Media Group launched the Guardian America website, which had more of a U.S. focus than the current effort, but it failed to catch on.

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Amazon Moving Into New York Publishing Neighborhood…Right on ‘Print’ Street

Random House Park Imperial in NY

Amazon quit being just an e-book seller and entered into digital publishing with the creation of two digital publishing imprints: Montlake Romance for romance novels and Thomas & Mercer for mysteries and thrillers.

Now they are jumping into the role of a full throttle, traditional publisher with the opening of a New York publishing house that will publish both print and e-book formats…Seems Amazon wants to enter into the perceived world of legitimate ( I wonder how legitimate its bowels really were/are) traditional publishing, even if it’s a backward entry.

But, why would they even bother? Could be they realize print, as I have expounded on in previous posts, will never die…but in fact will experience a sort of rebirth of interest and growth when the current gadget-craze wave breaks and washes into a more natural and realistic level…the level that will be created by the true and heavy-hitter readers.

My previous post on this blog  Despite E-Book Popularity, Traditional U.S. Print Title Output Increases proved that print is, indeed, still alive…Evidenced by Bowker’s annual report on U.S. print book publishing, compiled from its Books In Print® database. 

This from Matthew Flamm of Crain’s New York launching NY book publishing firm

The Internet heavyweight hires industry veteran Larry Kirshbaum to lead the unit, which will publish both print and e-books.

After having dipped one toe after another into the pool of book publishing, online retail giant will go all the way with the launch of a New York-based publishing house this summer. The yet-to-be-named imprint will publish in both print and e-book formats.

According to newsletter Publishers Lunch, which broke the story Monday morning, Amazon has picked industry veteran Larry Kirshbaum to head the operation. The former chairman of the Time Warner Book Group, 67-year-old Mr. Kirshbaum has been running a literary agency in recent years, but is still a high-profile figure in the industry with close relationships to many authors.

Amazon has lately been launching digital imprints for genre titles, like Montlake Romance for romance novels and Thomas & Mercer for mysteries and thrillers. But the new imprint will be a general interest trade publisher that will put out literary and commercial fiction and non-fiction, according to a note Amazon Publishing Vice President Jeff Belle sent to literary agents Sunday night.

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Amazon Tries to Muscle into Traditional Book Publishing

Amazon Trying To Move On Traditional PublishingAmazon is trying to beef up its Kindle offerings with new anticipated blockbusters…Itching to grow away from mostly backlist offerings (and these aren’t bad, mind you!).

Amazon’s first foray into traditional publishing came when they entered the bidding for Amanda Hocking’s four, self-published best-sellers in competition with other big houses…AND, even though Amazon brought the highest bid, Amanda and her agent decided to go with St. Martin’s Press instead…due to traditional publishing reputation, stability, depth and breadth, blah, blah, blah.

A little publishing politics and intrigue here, I’m sure…For one thing, Amazon demanded ebook exclusivity rights in the deal and Amanda’s agent thought that represented a loss of potential revenue.   

More details provided in Crain’s New York by Matthew Flamm pushes into book publishing

The online retailer recently participated in the auction for best-selling novelist Amanda Hocking, making its most aggressive move yet into traditional publishing territory., the online bookselling behemoth that has sometimes rubbed publishers the wrong way, has just put its big foot someplace new.

In its most aggressive move yet into territory traditionally occupied by the major New York houses, the Seattle-based e-retailer took part last week in a heated auction for four books by self-published bestselling novelist Amanda Hocking. Executives at several houses said they knew of no other instance in which the company had competed with major publishers for a high profile commercial author.

Amazon has done deals directly with authors and agents in the past, but usually for backlist titles or specialty projects. It has used those exclusive offerings to distinguish its Kindle e-bookstore in an increasingly competitive digital market.

It’s believed that Amazon would have seen Ms. Hocking as a natural fit because of her roots in the e-publishing world, where she has sold more than a million copies of her nine titles in the category of young adult paranormal romance.

An Amazon spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

To beef up its offer, Amazon brought in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which would have published the print editions of Ms. Hocking’s books, according to insiders. Part of a company that has gone through two debt restructurings in recent years, the venerable trade house would also have lent Amazon the aura of a traditional house.

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Reader’s Digest Takes Center Stage with New Products

Readers Digest (RD), having emerged from Chapter 11 last February, is rolling out new print AND online products to grow and , hopefully, prosper in the 21st century!

Read my previous posts on the RD dilemma for background: RD Morphing into 24 New Products, RD Association(RDA) Emerges from Chapter 11 and RD, Playboy and Others Miss Rate Base

Readers Digest is 88 years old (that’s even older than I am!) and it’s editorial insight and expertise is unsurpassed! Not to mention the extremely relevant cutting edge humor. I wish them all the success in the world…and then some…

Matthew Flamm, writing for Caine’s New York Business, has these details:

Reader’s Digest gambles on new products

The venerable company is rolling out several mobile products next month, as well as a new brand, Best You, which will target women over 35 with e-mails, magazines and books.

The 88-year-old brand, which previewed a coming overhaul in September, will debut a slew of new online and print products next month. First up is Best You, a brand launching Jan. 6, the New York City-based Reader’s Digest Association Inc. announced on Tuesday.

Best You, which will target women 35 and older, will include a free daily e-newsletter, a series of newsstand-only magazines and a new book imprint, all focused on health and wellness subjects. The imprint’s first title will be Le Personal Coach, by French trainer Valerie Orsoni.

Reader’s Digest had initially planned to roll out a Best You magazine last March, but cut back on plans for that title and others following the continued weakness of the economy and the company’s bankruptcy filing last summer. The publisher emerged from bankruptcy in February.

A new Reader’s Digest will also debut next month when the redesigned magazine hits newsstands Jan. 18. In a money-saving strategy that the company describes as going back to its roots as a content curator, the 10-times-a-year title will mostly consist of stories that have already appeared elsewhere.

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