Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/27/2013

The Publishing Industry is Just Experiencing Growing Pains – Not Armageddon!


Publishing Business experiencing growing pains

The change washing across the publishing industry has caused some, even some so-called pros within the profession, untold angst and driven them to overdose on Bromo Seltzer, declare an end to ‘literature’ and ALL things cultural, for that matter – It’s no f—ing wonder they haven’t jumped out of 30th floor windows like when the market crashed in ’29!

Just goes to show you that being learned in a profession does not immune you from stupidity when that profession experiences inevitable change/growth. We all enter the food chain at a specific snapshot in time — and having cut our teeth on and learned the ‘procedures-of-the-day’, resulting in income/rewards of varying degrees (depending, perhaps, on our karma), we think what we have mastered will never change and we will live in this snapshot in time forever after.

Bullshit! — Just as we age and change, so does everything else – including publishing.

Please read this post on my Writers Welcome Blog: James Patterson Wants Government to Bail Out Book Industry for a little background.

Relax, folks, the publishing industry is going to be just fine, literature is NOT going to disintegrate – in fact, it’s going to EXPLODE as never before for those that will come after us and books, both digital and print AND future formats, will live and thrive together. Bank on it.

This view by Brandon Barb as reported in The Spencer Daily Reporter:

 

The publishing industry is safe

The publishing industry is in the same boat as the newspaper industry. Both are dealing with digital formats that are quickly changing the way people read and consume content, but neither industry has quite figured out how to utilize that digital aspect to a full extent. When those formats are ironed out the industries will be just fine. Neither books nor newspapers are going to go away.

With that being said, successful author and writer James Patterson is calling for the U.S. government to bail out the publishing industry. For some background, Patterson’s books have sold millions of copies and he is on four New York Times bestseller lists. He isn’t exactly in need of a bailout, nor is the publishing industry.

Patterson called for the bailout in an advertisement placed in the New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly. It asks, “If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature?”

The same can be said for the newspaper business. If there are no newspapers or magazines, where will people read news that matters? Where will our news come from if not from editors and writers all over the world?

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05/20/2012

Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants


Measuring Emotional Response To Media Platforms

Time Inc. has performed a study (a biometric study, no less) that measured, in real time, the emotional responses and attention spans of viewers to content in various platforms: magazines, smartphones, radio, TV, computer, newspaper, tablets.

Guess which platform ranked the highest ?

But first, a little definition time:

Digital Native – Consumers who grew up with mobile and digital technology as part of their everyday lives.

Digital Immigrant – Consumers who encountered and used digital media later in their adult lives.

Biometrics – The process by which a person’s unique physical or emotional traits are detected and recorded by an electronic device or system (e.g. scanning of the human iris in identification or measuring degrees of emotional responses). 

Understanding the results of the viewing patterns, attention spans (and what can hold them) and emotional responses to media content experienced over different platforms can be valuable in successful publishing — Both for ad sponsored, recurring content media AND, by extension, for writing, marketing and selling books.

More detailed analysis by Bill Mickey of Folio magazine’s Audience Development Spring 2012 Report:  

Time Inc. Measures Consumers’ Emotional Response to Media

‘Digital natives’ switch media 27 times per hour, but emotionally tied to mags.

If publishers think they’ve been covering the bases with an anytime, anywhere content strategy, they might be shocked to learn the results of a recent Time Inc. study conducted with Innerscope Research. Digital Natives, defined as consumers who grew up with mobile and digital technology as part of their everyday lives, switch their attention between media platforms an astonishing 27 times per hour.

That was one of the key findings of the study, called “A Biometric Day in the Life,” which used biometric monitoring and point-of-view camera glasses to follow the media habits of 30 individuals during 300 hours’ worth of media consumption. Biometric belts measured their emotional responses to various media platforms and the glasses recorded what platform they were viewing.

The other half of the study group consisted of Digital Immigrants, people who encountered and used digital media in their adult lives, who, predictably, have a more mellow media consumption patterns.

“Technology is shaping so much of how people think about media, use media, combine media,” say Besty Frank, Time Inc.’s chief research and insights officer. “We’ve started to think about all of these changes in the media specifically as they impact the notion of storytelling. We felt that the biometrics would add a new dimension to what we knew about how people use media and what the implications are for how we run our businesses and how we and our clients communicate with consumers.”

The study was particularly interesting, adds Barry Martin, Time Inc.’s executive director of consumer research and insights, because of the ability to record a subject’s emotions as they consumed their media. “We’ve done a lot of biometric work in media labs, but we’ve never been able to do it as they were going about their daily lives,” he says.

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04/28/2012

Amazon vs. Publishers – Round Two


Amazon vs. Publishers STILL

Amazon still has mucho shelves full of print books for sale. And they want desperately to clean up that stock with their print on demand capability. But, the publishers are reluctant to allow Amazon to use POD.

Do you know the reason ? Can you guess ?

, Business Week, explains :  

Amazon vs. Publishers: The Book Battle Continues

There’s a glaring anachronism at the center of most Amazon.com (AMZN) fulfillment centers: aisle after aisle of old-fashioned books. Amazon stocks these volumes for the many customers who still favor the tangible pleasures of reading on paper. Yet the company is relentless about increasing efficiency and has at the ready an easy way to remove some of those bookshelves: on-demand printing. With an industrial-strength printer and a digital book file from the publisher, Amazon could easily wait to print a book until after a customer clicks the yellow “place your order” button. The technology is championed by those who want to streamline the book business—and it might turn out to be a flash point in the hypertense world of publishing.

The book industry isn’t eager to embrace any more wrenching changes. The introduction of the Kindle in 2007, and Amazon’s insistence on a customer-friendly $9.99 price for new releases, has set off a multifront fracas. Efforts by the largest publishers to sidestep Amazon’s pricing strategy attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, which recently filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple (AAPL) and five book publishers over their alleged collusion to raise e-book prices. (Three publishers have settled the lawsuit.) The issue of print on demand has taken a backseat as this e-book drama plays out.

Yet executives at major New York-based book publishers, who requested anonymity because of the legal scrutiny of their business, say Amazon regularly asks them to allow print on demand for their slower-selling backlist titles. So far they’ve declined, suspecting that Amazon will use its print-on-demand ability to further tilt the economics of book publishing in its favor. Asking publishers to move to print on demand “is largely about taking control of the business,” says Mike Shatzkin, founder of Idea Logical, a consultant to book publishers on digital issues. “It adds some profit margin, but it also weakens the rest of the publishing universe.”

Print on demand has been around for more than a decade. In 1997, the largest book wholesaler in the U.S., now known as Ingram Content Group, started a division called Lightning Source to serve publishers who wanted to print limited copies of certain books. In 2005, Amazon acquired a rival print-on-demand provider, BookSurge, and began offering publishers the option of supplementing inventory with print-on-demand copies when physical volumes of a title sell out. Now called CreateSpace, the Amazon subsidiary mostly caters to small publishers and self-published authors. The technology has gotten better over time, and print-on-demand books are now indistinguishable from most paperbacks.

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11/25/2011

A Popular App Based on a Book Drives Sales of Both


B1SKY1

The Solar App

Could the reverse be true? Could a book based on an app produce the same results?

This is the premise in an article by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in the Wall Street Journal … and it really caught my eye. The reason it grabbed the attention of this non-techie is simply this: I thought an app was nothing more than a computer language code that told software to do something … and I’m having trouble visualizing that into a book 🙂

Perhaps it’s a written code that translates the content of a printed book so it can go digital … But, if that is the case, isn’t that just an e-book and not an app? (Is an e-book itself an app?)

Maybe one of the more enlightened can educate me on this. I’m probably making this more complicated than it is. My mind suffers from tunnel vision sometimes. 

Jeffrey’s article follows:

Last year, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers Inc. learned that a popular iPad application based on a book could drive sales of both. Now the publisher will see whether the reverse works: a book based on an iPad app.

Black Dog this month published the print book “Solar System: A Visual Exploration of the Planets, Moons, and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun” by Marcus Chown. The 224-page book, priced at $29.95, is filled with space photos and graphics that track the planets as well as asteroids and comets.

It was originally published as an iPad app for Christmas 2010 as a joint venture between the U.K.’s Touch Press LLP and Faber & Faber Ltd. Priced at $13.99, the app has sold 75,000 copies globally, said Max Whitby, chief executive of Touch Press.

In addition to presenting an interactive experience with the solar system, it contains 30,000 words of text by Mr. Chown, a science writer. The partners subsequently licensed the U.S. and other print rights to Black Dog & Leventhal. The physical book is being published in the U.K. by Faber & Faber.

Black Dog will be watching to see whether the parallel effort does as well as Theodore Gray’s “The Elements,” published in 2009 originally as a physical book. Mr. Gray subsequently teamed up with Mr. Whitby to publish an app version of “The Elements” that went on sale in April 2010 at the same time that Apple Inc. launched its iPad. “We were in the app store on day one,” said Mr. Gray.

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09/23/2011

An 84 Year Old Surviving, Thriving Bookstore!


Benjamin Bass, founder, the Strand Book Store in NY

Who the hell said that bookstores are a thing of the past … emulsified in the wake of the digital storm?

I got news! There is an 84-year-old bookstore in New York that is not only still standing …  BUT, is thriving on the printed word …

Behnam Nateghi reports in The Voice of America:

Books and bookstores, have been having a hard time in the United States in the last few years.  Not long ago, large discount booksellers drove many small, independent book stores out of business.  Now,  those superstores are taking a hit from on-line and digital book sellers. Borders —  the country’s number two book chain — recently declared bankruptcy and Amazon says it is now selling more e-books than printed ones. But in New York City, there’s a family owned, independent book store that is still going strong.

Family owned business

The Strand Book store, in New York’s East Village, is surrounded by huge buildings belonging to New York University. It is more than 84 years old and is among the oldest cultural institutions in New York. It’s affectionately known for the row of tables outside, filled with one-dollar books.

Nancy Bass Wyden, Strand’s manager, is the granddaughter of the store’s founder, Benjamin Bass.  

Nancy and her father, Fred Bass, say the store owes at least part of its success to its location in New York City.

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05/28/2011

Espresso Printed Books…Instantly at Point of Sale!


I have posted many times RE my belief that the rapid developing new digital publishing technology would also spur new streamlined print technology tangentially.

One aspect of the new print tech is here and sold by On Demand Books.

Customers enter a brick-and-mortar store, or in some cases a library, and purchase any book from On Demand’s massive catalog of public domain and copyrighted titles, pay for the title, and walk out with a fully-bound, professional-quality paperback print copy of the book.”

You like printed books? Get yours here…And now…At your command.

This from Good eReader by Mercy Pilkington:

OnDemand Books Provides the Technology to Run Digital Publishing

Dane Neller, CEO of On Demand Books, which produces the software and machinery for the Espresso Book Machine, had a specific goal in mind for the BookExpo America 2011 event: to convince publishers that giving customers and book retailers the power to print any of its almost 7 million titles directly at the point of sale was a good idea.

“BookExpo was everything we hoped, it was a very promising three days. We met with a lot of publishers who are now on board with the idea of releasing their titles to our catalog for immediate sale to customers,” says Neller of On Demand’s presence at BookExpo.

It shouldn’t have been a hard sell. Customers enter a brick-and-mortar store, or in some cases a library, and purchase any book from On Demand’s massive catalog of public domain and copyrighted titles, pay for the title, and walk out with a fully-bound, professional-quality paperback print copy of the book. Yet there have been publishers who are reluctant to release their titles to print-on-demand technology, largely due to the relationships they maintain with their printing houses. Another hurdle to leap is the fact that publishers set a suggested retail price for books and the booksellers set the actual price’ On Demand simply makes the technology available without getting involved in the politics of setting price points.

But On Demand’s Espresso Book Machine is a win-win for publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers. The publisher chalks up another sale, the book store can push high-interest product without losing valuable shelf space to stagnant inventory, the author comes away with another happy member of his fan base, and the reader gets a great book.

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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:

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02/04/2011

Publishing Pother Makes No Dent in Professional Book Publishing


Professional book publishing; which includes the legal, medical, business, scientific and technical fields; has weathered the chaotic publishing field  transformation of late and has pretty much maintained a steady flow of publishing flurry…to the tune of approximately 13 billion in 2010!

New professional books have busily occupied actual shelf space in bookstores and libraries as well as staked out new real estate in the e-book and digital online world.

Simba Information, the leading authority for market intelligence in the media and publishing industry, spills some data from it’s “Global Professional Publishing 2009-2010” report that I picked up from a MarketWire press release:

Professional books, still a foundational reference source for most working professionals, grew 1.1% to $13.9 billion in 2010, an initial step toward a full recovery. Media and publishing forecast firm Simba Information’s latest report, “Global Professional Publishing 2009-2010,” details the resilience of professional books through the recession and the explosive adoption of electronic models.

After losing sales in 2009 due to contracted library budgets and decreased exports, professional book publishing, which includes the legal, medical, business, scientific and technical fields, has nearly regained its 2008 position. Although largely due to a recovering economy, new e-book strategies and products from large commercial publishers have helped libraries make the most of their budgets and shelf space. 

“Although publishers have dealt with electronic journals for years, producing electronic books as a viable publishing product is slowly taking hold,” said Dan Strempel, lead author of the report. “E-books are now gaining a prominent foothold within the professional and academic world at large.”

Historically vilified by the scholarly publishing world, search giants, such as Google and Yahoo!, have proven to be a boon to the industry, as added exposure has increased book sales. The report finds publishers are especially excited about Google Books, which allows users to browse sample pages before purchasing the full text or designated sections.

Read and learn more

08/22/2010

Are E-Readers More Sociable than Books?


A different take on the impact of e-readers. Some are saying that when one is seen reading an e-reader they seem more approachable and less “bookwormish” and isolated than when one is seen reading a printed book.

I’m not so sure if I buy into this concept totally because I never considered a person reading a book as unapproachable in the first place…Probably has more to do with personalities and backgrounds than anything else. For sure, the popularity of e-readers has made reading anywhere more common and accepted and therefore less “isolated”.

Austin Considine had this to say in the New York Times today:

E-Books Make Readers Less Isolated

VOLUMES have been written about technology’s ability to connect people. But burying one’s nose in a book has always been somewhat isolating — with its unspoken assertion that the reader does not want to be disturbed. So what about a device that occupies the evolving intersection between?

“Strangers constantly ask about it,” Michael Hughes, a communications associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said of his iPad, which he uses to read a mix of novels and nonfiction. “It’s almost like having a new baby.” An iPad owner for four months, Mr. Hughes said people were much more likely to approach him now than when he toted a book. “People approach me and ask to see it, to touch it, how much I like it,” he said. “That rarely happens with dead-tree books.”

With the price of e-readers coming down, sales of the flyweight devices are rising. Last month, Amazon reported that so far this year, Kindle sales had tripled over last year’s. When Amazon cut Kindle’s price in June to $189 from $259, over the next month Amazon sold 180 e-books for every 100 hardcovers.

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06/21/2010

Physical Books and Ebooks Are Not a Zero-sum Game



The hardcover, printed book will never go away…Too many people, from all demographics, enjoy them and want them around…Just that simple.

More news on indie booksellers from an article by Judith Rosen for Publishers Weekly:

Optimism greeted a presentation by former Perseus Books CEO-turned-bookseller Jack McKeown at last month’s BEA. He was discussing a survey that looked at how independent booksellers can recapture what McKeown calculates is $260 million a year in “leakage” (missed business) as well as examining the impact of e-books on an independent’s business. Booksellers like Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest and Ravenna, Wash., found it “reaffirming” to hear statistics that confirm what he and other bookstore owners feel in their gut—that book buyers want to shop in independents and that physical books and e-books are not a zero-sum game. “Out of the people who have been keeping us in business,” said Sindelar, “their habits don’t seem like they’ll be changing dramatically.”

The data from the survey, conducted in April, can be viewed at Verso Advertising (www.versoadvertising.com/beasurvey). It reflects a third drilling down (after two earlier studies) of the buying habits of those 18 and older based on 9,300 respondents from a pool of 110 million Internet users across 5,100 Web sites. Subsequent surveys will be conducted quarterly. At the ABA’s Winter Institute, McKeown had discussed findings from two earlier studies that indicated that 28% of the U.S. market, or 62.4 million people, are avid book buyers who read five hours a week or more. Two-thirds, or 41 million people, are part of the boomer, silent, and Eisenhower generations. More importantly, while 27.3% of avid buyers said they prefer to shop in independents, the market share for independents, lower than 10% according to most publishers, told a different story. In the new survey, McKeown identified three factors—discount, selection, and proximity—that could bring market share in line with mindshare, or the awareness of a brand—by helping to increase the number of store visits by avid readers.

As McKeown and Verso president Denise Berthiaume ready their own bookstore, a Books & Books affiliate to open in the Hamptons on July 1, McKeown says that the surveys “if anything, accelerated our decision to open a store. That and finding a location.” The surveys also reaffirmed his belief that e-books are not a displacement technology, particularly in the short term. Avid book readers who own e-readers are splitting their purchases among print and e-books, the survey found. As for growing market share at Books & Books Westhampton, McKeown says that he and Berthiaume are giving “strong thought” to discounting based on survey data that a 15% discount could produce a 4% bump in sales overall. The other two factors—selection and proximity—McKeown plans to address virtually by going after the 12 million indie customers the survey identified who want to give their e-mail addresses to independent booksellers. McKeown is planning to market books online on behalf of all five Books & Books stores and to create newsletters specifically tailored to different types of customers.

For Sindelar at Third Place Books, the survey provided fresh impetus for creating a frequent buyer program and for discounting a broader selection of titles that better reflect the store, instead of New York Times hardcover bestsellers. However, not everyone viewed the survey data as a call to action. “We’re not making any changes based on what McKeown said,” notes Geoffrey Jennings, corporate counsel at Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kans. “Capturing mindshare sounds attractive. It happens one customer at a time.” Jennings also questioned the notion of buying loyalty through discount.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher views the survey as a roadmap to a stable bookselling future, although he did note similarities to earlier ABA efforts under BookSense to close the gap on book buyers who identified themselves as independent book buyers but only bought four out of 10 books at an indie store. “The overarching message here,” says Teicher, “is that there are still people out there buying books and there are opportunities. In a world with doom and gloom there are ways in which our members can compete.”

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