Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Who Said Print Publishing Is Not Flourishing? An Example of Immense Growth


John R. Austin, Writer and Blog Researcher

Tonight’s post will examine one area of immense print publishing growth and reveal a little of just how it is being accomplished. From initial scouting for markets, setting up contacts/relationships, nailing down actual agreements all the way to setting up distribution channels, etc.

And where is this occurring? In South Korea in their English-as-a-second-language (ESL) educational course programs and children’s books.

Two key excerpts:

‘South Korean publishers have descended on the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) in Mexico in a bid to tap into the potentially vast Latin American ESL market.’

‘The Korean Publishers Association is present at the FIL, heading a delegation of two educational publishers keen to expand into Latin America with English and Chinese-language learning textbooks.’

Come have your eyes opened a bit on how print is flourishing/expanding in other countries 🙂


This researched and reported by Adam Critchley in the Growth Markets section of Publishing Perspectives:


South Korean Publishers Eye Latin America’s Vast ESL Market

The South Korea stand at the Guadalajara International Book Fair

South Korean education publishers see Latin America as a potential growth market for their popular English-as-a-second-language learning materials.

South Korean publishers have descended on the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) in Mexico in a bid to tap into the potentially vast Latin American ESL market.

The Korean Publishers Association is present at the FIL, heading a delegation of two educational publishers keen to expand into Latin America with English and Chinese-language learning textbooks.

Angie H Roh

“Our priority is to target countries where English is needed as a second language and there is market demand for children’s English education. We know Mexico is one of the countries with the highest demand, for example,” Angie H. Roh, marketing manager for Caramel Tree, told Publishing Perspectives.

Caramel Tree is a children’s imprint of JLS, a Seoul-based educational company with offices in Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver.

“We provide textbooks for children from kindergarten to elementary school level learning English as a second language,” Angie said.

“We have international clients and we provide partial customization of books if required. We have 200 for elementary children and publish between 20 and 30 new titles every year. As well as export we have more than 100 ESL schools in South Korea, and therefore our print runs are high for our captive market.

Outside South Korea, other Asian countries such as China, Singapore and Thailand are our biggest markets, and we’re in talks with distributors in Brazil, Peru and Mexico.

“We definitely think there is a lot of potential for us in Latin America.”

The firm either imports directly to distributors, currently in 10 countries, or strikes up partnerships with publishers that bring out its books under license, and sells physical and ebooks via Amazon.

“Our books are written by English, Canadian and American children’s book authors, and we buy exclusive rights,” she said.

Kim Eun Hee


Kong & Park is the other textbook publisher hawking its wares in Guadalajara in a bid to expand its catalog of Spanish-language books into countries such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.

The Seoul-based publisher, which also has offices in Schaumburg, Illinois, is also looking to distribute Spanish-language books for learning Chinese characters in Latin America, according to the firm’s president Kyung-Yong Kong.

“We had yet to establish a relationship with Latin America, and so we have come to Guadalajara to allow our publishers to expand into new markets,” Korean Publishers Association international project development director Kim Eun Hee said.

“It’s a potentially huge market and we want to open it up. There are many readers but we have yet to see what they are interested in, whether it’s just picture books and textbooks, or also South Korean literature.”

South Korean publishers’ biggest markets for educational books are China, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand, she said.

Despite having an 84% Internet penetration rate, one of the world’s highest for a country of nearly 50 million people, the ebook has yet to take off, Kim said.

“Many people still like to read paper books, and with children, many parents are reluctant to let their children read on electronic devices.”

Readers’ love of books is evidenced by the country having more than 31,000 registered publishing companies and more than 13,000 libraries.

Also present at the FIL is the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, which provides translation and publication grants for South Korean writers.

The KLTI has formed an alliance with Toluca, Mexico-based publisher Bonobos Editores to produce books by authors from each country for translation and publication in Mexico and South Korea.

South Korean poet Keong Ho-Seung (b. 1950) presented his book Morir después de amar at the book fair, published by Bonobos in Spanish translation earlier this year.


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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The Intra-Publishing Civil War

Print and Digital Media “Going At It”

What is the intra-publishing civil war, you ask?

It is the stress, fighting and positioning going on between the newer digital publishing aficionados and their legacy print publishing brethren. 

E-book authors still often hear “So, you don’t write real books?”  And money? The majority is still being brought in through print medium.

But, the e-books are pulling in more and more money and increasing their percentages in all areas — resulting in the newcomers brashly asserting that old publishing is dead. More importantly, digital publishing has opened the door to new very successful genres thought unprofitable before by traditional publishers.

This publishing intrigue has been in play in varying degrees for a while, lets watch some of the latest progress as reported by Aleksandr Voinov  in USA TODAY:

Publishing is dead — long live publishing

No day passes without yet another skirmish in what could be seen as a kind of intra-publishing civil war, where the newcomers brashly assert that old publishing is dead and traditional publishing refuses to die. Meanwhile, old publishing continues to account for the majority of all books sold in brick-and-mortar stores, and e-book authors still face the “So you don’t write real books?” questions when they go to conventions and interact with friends and family, most of whom were exposed to e-books only when they received an e-reader last Christmas.

We are in flux. I’m saying “civil war” because here, too, the lines are messy, sides change all the time, and so do positions. Thankfully, there’s less bloodshed, but the implications for the publishing industry and how we write, read, market and interact with each other are enormous. It’s not tidy, it is at times exasperating, and nobody can predict where it’s going — only that e-books are growing, authors are making a good living off e-books, the books on offer are often more colorful and sometimes weirder and “uncommercial” when compared with legacy publishing, and e-books are heralding the creation of whole new genres that legacy publishing, in its necessities of scale, had never truly been able to support.

For example, 10 years ago, I was told that gay romance was unsellable, and was strongly advised by several agents and print acquiring editors to not waste my talent in a niche without a future or financial viability.

Ten years later, I’m not only a writer of gay/bi/trans fiction, but I also part-own Riptide Publishing, a hot young start-up selling GBLTQ stories with a focus on romance. A gay historical romance, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, recently won the 2012 Orange Prize for fiction (and, predictably, faced the critical derision our genre seems doomed to). One of Riptide’s own titles, Stars & Stripes, recently made it into the Barnes & Noble sitewide Top 100. Riptide Publishing is celebrating its first anniversary this month, and already, half a dozen or more of our authors are earning a living off their royalties. So much for gay romance being “unsellable.”

Where many see dangers and change, and some large players are frankly still in denial or trying to turn back the wheel by deliberately making e-books unattractive or too expensive or too hard to find in worldwide markets, other authors and start-ups are creating facts. Being more nimble and more in tune with our readership, small e-book-first presses such as Riptide back genres and books that others find unviable. Overhead is lower, processes are less entrenched, and staff are often younger and steeped more thoroughly in the digital culture. They follow their passions, even when those passions are unlikely to appeal to a mass market. They take risks.

Read and learn more

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‘The Week Magazine’ Proves Print Power Still Exists

Print Magazine Success!

When most print magazines have been devoting more and more effort to digital operations to save their very skins … The Week magazine has been growing print subscriptions and advertising sales like it was the glory days of the 1960’s. 

How are they doing this, you ask? 

I asked too … and found this incisive article by Matt Kinsman, Executive Editor of FOLIO magazine

Print Power

How The Week continues to grow print revenue (and profits) in a dotcom world.

Mobile content and community brands dominated the media category of the 2011 Inc. 5000, which recognizes the 5,000 fastest-growing privately-held companies in the U.S. (The number one company in the media category: GoLive! Mobile, which “creates and packages content, including videos, games, and social media, for consumers to access on their mobile phones”, as well as offers consulting services to companies that want to create their own mobile content.)

But “traditional” publishers made the list as well, including two Felix Dennis-owned publications: Mental Floss, ranked #50 in the media category with three-year revenue growth of 52 percent to $3.1 million in 2010, and The Week at #51 in media with three-year growth of 49 percent to $38.4 million in 2010. Unlike many of the other publishers on the list, The Week continues to flourish as a print enterprise.

Here, president Steve Kotok talks to FOLIO: about how The Week continues to boost print revenue and profit, why readers are the brand’s best way of gaining new subscribers and why The Week is waiting until 2012 to finally jump into the app race.

FOLIO: The Week recently made the Inc. 5000 as one of fastest growing media brands. Where is the growth coming from?

Steve Kotok: I would say the growth is coming equally from subscription and advertising. The subscription growth is coming from our ability to raise price, that’s the biggest thing. According to ABC, our price is up 40 percent, and as measured by us as net-net it’s doubled.

On the ad side, it’s going from selling print ad pages to engaging with these larger brands. The number of ad packages we’ve sold at $500,00 or more since 2008 went from one to three to 10, this year it should be 15. The vast majority are combining print, digital, and events. We wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, it’s coming from print ads or digital ads.’ It’s coming from our ability to offer larger packages to the advertising brands and serve them if they want to make a splash in D.C., to serve them digitally, to serve them in multiple ways.

There is stuff we put in buckets for accounting, but when really looking at our biggest sales, we may say $600,000 of this goes to print, $400,000 goes to digital, and $50,000 goes to an event fee. We wouldn’t be able to sell any of it without the other.

FOLIO: Are packages coming from existing advertisers or new advertisers?

Kotok: It’s a combination. Every year you start new, some are existing advertisers, a lot of them are new…it’s definitely breaking a lot of new business but that’s not really a distinguishing factor. Every year we make our best shot at them.

FOLIO: Please talk about current revenue ratios (print versus digital versus other channels). What is it today and how has that changed in recent years? What does it need to be going forward?

Subscriptions and print advertising are more or less equal with Web ads being 15 to 18 percent of the revenue generated by print ads. However, print and Web ads combined exceed subscription revenue.

FOLIO: Do you see that changing going forward?

Kotok: I don’t now if we will see a huge change. A few years ago we may have thought that ads were going to grow faster than subscriptions but our ability to grow subscription revenue and keep it growing has surprised us. I don’t think we’ll start doing more digital advertising than print advertising.

We’re going on the Kindle, Nook and iPad in January and that’s all circulation revenue. I don’t see the mix radically changing, although we still see our print subscriptions and our print ads growing. Web ads are growing faster but at 15 percent of print revenue, it’s not a massive shift—we may go 80/20, 75/25, print to digital in the future. We have a good business. We’re aware of the trends. Even before digital, there were trends to follow. We’re not embarrassed of print.

Read and learn more

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Tablet, E-Reader Addicts Also Want Print

Printed Books Still Desired

This is not surprising to me at all … I have posted many times RE the NON-demise of the printed word.

John’s Note: I tried to link to all past posts on ‘printed word’ or ‘print’ but WordPress is giving me trouble tonight! Just go to the “search this site button” at top of this page and enter ‘print’ for my past discussions. 

Oh, the printed word has definitely gone through changes … but, think about it … these changes were brought about by what? Why, the ‘printed’ word itself, of course … only in a different format (digital), that’s all.

A study on this very issue is presented in an article for FOLIO Magazine by Executive Editor Matt Kinsman:

Study Says Tablet, E-Reader Users Haven’t Given Up Print

Few magazine apps in the App Store don’t have at least one reviewer clamoring for a subscription package that bundles print and app, and now a new study from GfK MRI suggests that rather than abandoning old media, tablet and e-reader users might still be print’s best audience.

John’s Note: By the way GfK means ‘Growth from Knowledge’ and MRI means ‘Mediamark Research and Intelligence’

According to the study, tablet owners are 66 percent more likely than the average U.S. adult to be heavy users of printed versions of magazines, while e-reader owners are 23 percent more likely to be heavy print users.

The study also says men are more likely to own tablets while women are more likely to own e-readers (although I still dig my Kindle and I’ll arm-wrestle anyone at GfK MRI or Yudu who makes fun of me).

Read and learn more

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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 



Publisher Says Print Not Dead Yet…Elsewhere, Publishing Wars Heat Up: Apple Offering Kindle on iPad

Two intriguing topics today re Apple, publishers, Kindle and other e-readers:

By Ross Marowits of Canadian Press: Transcontinental (TSX:TCL.A) says the print medium isn’t dying even though digital media is forcing Canada’s largest printer to adjust to rapid transformation in the communications and advertising business.

“We see print and the new media co-existing for a very, very long time,” chief executive Francois Olivier said in an interview Thursday following the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

The Montreal-based company said that the printing, newspaper publishing and marketing firm will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of customers.

While printed flyers will remain a primary way for advertisers to reach customers, book publishing faces dramatic challenges.

“We believe that things like the Kindle (and) iPad are probably going to take anywhere from five to 20 per cent of the printed market away . . . in the next couple of years, so it’s a big big big thing for us,” Olivier said.

The impact would be significant, he cautioned, but it won’t mark the end of printed books. The market already has overcapacity and will lose further volumes.

Transcontinental recorded $150 million in book printing revenues in 2007, the last year it was broken out separately from magazine and catalogue revenues.

Transcontinental continues to see rapid growth of new media but Olivier is cautious about pursuing dramatic changes to its operations.

“We’ve got to be careful because sometimes we and our customers get carried away,” he said.

The company has created a new sector that is focused on one-to-one advertising and new digital communications such as email-based marketing, e-flyers and custom publishing.

Digital media generated about $150 million last year, less than seven per cent of total revenues. But the sector grew by 30 per cent in each of the last two years. Its email marketing business has doubled its sales annually.

Olivier believes new media will increasingly be used to complement flyer printing, which remains popular and well-read.

Next month, Transcontinental will launch a web version called for English consumers and in French.

The goal is to help retailers get more bang out of their advertising dollars while giving consumers another venue to search for and compare shopping deals.

It will also give the company a further window to changes in marketing spending and allow it to adjust to any impact on its traditional business.

Founder Remi Marcoux, who has endured several recessions, said change is inevitable but there will always be printing.

“Transcontinental was born out of change,” Remi Marcoux told shareholders.

“We will continue to evolve in pace with our customers, whether businesses or consumers, to meet their new needs and new expectations.”

Transcontinental acted quickly to counter the effects of the recession by closing plants and shedding 2,000 workers. The moves will trim $110 million in annual costs, including $80 million in savings last year. More jobs could be lost as the company shifts work to more efficient operations.

It also plans to dramatically reduce its U.S. footprint by agreeing to sell its direct marketing business. It remains the leading direct marketer in Canada.

The company expects its key printing sector will continue to grow slowly with a gradual recovery of advertising, which directly or indirectly drives more than 80 per cent of its business.

“What we have seen so far in the beginning of the year is no further deterioration but so far we don’t have a whole lot of growth,” he said at a news conference.

While Olivier said Transcontinental is willing to consider acquiring a portion of Canwest Global Communication’s (TSX:CGS) newspaper assets, it has no interest in becoming a daily newspaper publisher.

“We have no interest if the assets are sold as a block. If they are sold as a piece there might be a few pieces of the Canwest assets that we might be interested in,” he said.

Transcontinental is Canada’s leading publisher of consumer magazines and the second-largest community newspaper publisher. Its digital platform delivers content through more than 120 websites.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, its shares gained 10 cents to $12.67 in trading Thursday.

And in other publishing circles:

By Chris Seabury of Financial Amazon and book publishers have been having heated discussions about how to sell the different e books using Kindle. At the heart of this issue, was the overall amount that would be charged to access the different e books. In the case of Amazon, the fee was determined to be $9.99 (which is to low according to the publishers). In a move to offer e books on the i Pad, Apple opened independent negotiations with publishers. The company agreed to sell e books through Kindle for: $12.99 to $14.99.

What this shows, is that various ebook readers are becoming a common feature that will be offered with different electronic devices. The news from Apple is significant, because they have been known as an innovator in technology over the last ten years. As a result, it would not be surprising to see similar deals that Apple made with publishers, involving Kindle in the future with key competitors.

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