Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


An ‘Old-Fashioned’ Publishing Story!

Lately, stories about eBooks and digital publishing models and platforms have been rampant…So, it was a little refreshing to read a story about the firing of a top executive from a large traditional publishing house (Simon & Schuster, to be exact), his mulling over and re-thinking of publishing career directions AND his eventual hiring by ANOTHER large traditional publisher (Penguin, to be exact) as a top executive in a newly created department.

David Rosenthal (pictured) is the publishing exec who fell from the sky but landed on his feet.

Leon Neyfakh of The New York Observer writes this account:

David Rosenthal Puts on His Penguin Suit

The problem with losing your job when you’re a high-level executive in contemporary book publishing is that your options are basically to become a literary agent or do something vague and most likely super-boring involving e-books. So one could have forgiven David Rosenthal for feeling a little gloomy this past summer after being fired abruptly from Simon & Schuster and being replaced by Jonathan Karp, a guy 10 years his junior, at the head of the CBS-owned publisher’s flagship imprint.

This week Mr. Rosenthal is celebrating a happy landing. On Tuesday morning, it was announced that come January he will be running his own boutique imprint at Penguin Group USA, arguably the healthiest of the big New York houses as well as home to a number of the 56-year-old’s former colleagues. Once he gets going, Mr. Rosenthal—whose roster at Simon & Schuster included Bob Woodward, David McCullough, Bob Dylan and Jim Cramer—will be on charge of a small but full-fledged operation at Penguin, with dedicated publicity and marketing muscle and a list totaling somewhere between 24 and 36 books per year.

Over lunch on Tuesday at the Half King in Chelsea, Mr. Rosenthal said Penguin president Susan Petersen Kennedy reached out to him shortly after his firing, and had been “aggressive and enthusiastic” in their talks. He is stoked to go work for her, he said: “People at Penguin don’t bitch about their place of employ nearly as much as people elsewhere. Everybody says, ‘The only person you ever want to work for in publishing anymore is Susan.'”

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British Publishers Ink Deals with Apple

More intrigue in publishing with the iPad’s coming-out party in England…Some previously committed publishers to Apple delayed final acceptance until the last minute! Talk about a last minute prom date…

Four big English publishers finally signed with the iPad agency pricing model and had ebooks in the Apple iBookStore today at the iPad overseas launch…

This report from by Catherine Neilan:

Hachette UK, Penguin, HarperCollins and Pan Macmillan are the only British publishers to have inked deals with Apple, with e-books produced by all companies appearing on the iBookStore this morning (28th) and available to UK book buyers.

The four represent five of the original global publishers who signed with Apple before its US launch in April—only Simon & Schuster is currently missing. Between them, they account for roughly 36% of the UK books market.

Man Booker-winner Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate), David Mitchell’s number one The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (Sceptre) and Stephen Gately’s The Tree of Seasons are available to buy with prices ranging from £11.99 to £9.99 for hardbacks and £6.99 to £3.99 for paperbacks.

Prices are in the main more expensive than the equivalent print versions available on For example, the paperback of Wolf Hall is £3.60 on Amazon, but £6.99 on the iBookStore. Thousand Autumns… is £11.99 via Apple, but Amazon is charging £9.41 for the hardback.

However, readers can download more than 100 pages of Wolf Hall for free, with an option to buy it while reading the sample. Nearly 100 pages of Mitchell’s novel can also be downloaded for free.

Tony Parsons, Jeremy Clarkson, Chris Evans and Frankie Boyle are all among other authors appearing on the virtual bookshelf. Currently, Evans’ memoir It’s Not What You Think is number one.

Freelance writer Ben Johncock, who already owns an iPad, said: “There is a huge selection on here, with titles from all the genres – there is a really good sample of work available.” He added: “I was a bit worred there would be nothing on here but there is actually quite a bit.”



Penguin Publishers Make Innovations Again

Filed under: iPad apps,iPad content,paperback books,Penguin,Penguincubator — gator1965 @ 4:02 pm

I did a post about Penguin Books a week ago titled “Penguin’s U.S. Publishing Unit Is Profitable!…Bucks Industry Trend.” Penguin Publishing is indeed a unique company…so much so, I’m doing another post today that reveals a little more history and future of Penguin:

This from Adam Richardson on a blog from Frog Design called Matter/Anti-Matter:

Penguin, the fabled English publisher, is plunging head first into the world of iPad content. Not iPad books, exactly, as these things are not recognizable as books in the normal sense–they are closer to games and full-fledged apps. Even in the case where they are adapting existing print books, there is enough new stuff going on where it diverges significantly from what we normally think of as “book”. A Kindle e-book, these are not. Check out the video above for an intriguing peep into what they have planned.

Dan Nosowitz at Fast Company observes:

[P]enguin doesn’t even think these things are books. I know that because Penguin intends to sell this digital content in the app store, as individual apps, not in the iBooks bookstore. There’s nothing wrong with that–these apps look great, and the prospect of enriching the definition of “book” is exciting–but as companies take advantage of the iPad, the publishing industry is going to have to expand in ways we don’t quite understand yet.

This is actually not the first time that Penguin has taken such a radical view of books. In fact, the company was founded 75 years ago on an innovative approach to book publishing and distribution. I talk about it in my own book, as it is a terrific early example of disruptive innovation.

Penguin Books came into existence because of a realization on a train platform. Penguin’s founder, Allen Lane, was returning from a weekend with the famous mystery writer Agatha Christie, and looked in the train station’s book stall for something to read on his journey back to London. Finding only popular magazines and poor-quality, luridly written novels, he wondered why there was not anything for the reader who wanted some good-quality fiction at a low price.

Penguin Books began with a range of biography, crime-writing, and novels, all by contemporary authors and selling for a fifteenth of what hardback books usually sold for. Within a year, Penguin sold three million paperbacks by satisfying a need that traditional book publishers saw as off-limits. They were focused on a more upscale category, and assumed readers were warmly ensconced in a drawing room with plenty of time to spare.

Penguin even experimented with a purpose-built dispensing machine for train stations, wonderfully named the Penguincubator (since penguins lay eggs), which, sadly, seems lost to the mists of time.

Adam Richardson is the director of product strategy at Frog Design, where he guides strategy engagements for Frog’s international roster of clients, envisioning and creating new products, consumer electronics, and digital experiences. Adam combines a background in industrial design, interaction design, and sociology, and he spends most of his time on convergent designs that combine hardware, software, service, brand, and retail. He writes and speaks extensively on design, business, culture, and technology, and he runs his own Richardsona blog. Adam is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET.

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