Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

09/10/2011

Publishers’ Why’s and Wherefore’s When Migrating to Digital (are all the damn apostrophes correct?)


Karina Mikhil - Publishing Executive

Indeed, when the current publishing upheaval began (it seems  just a little while ago in the scheme of things) and the conqueror ‘Digital’ came swaggering into the publishing world, publishers were at first completely devastated; then were bombarded by all kinds of options and questions for their very survival!

You can just imagine publishers’ mental angst deciding “Should I get out of this rapidly changing fireball of an industry or should I admit that the old ways are going down the drain and commit to learning a whole new process … dealing, perhaps, with an entirely new and separate tech industry?”

Karina Mikhil , a publishing executive with a Master’s in Publishing from New York University, has some excellent questions and analyses that will help these publishing execs and their firms reach a viable decision.

From Karina Mikhil in Publishing Perspectives:

Migrating to Digital Publishing? The Six Key Questions to Ask

Here are the six “Ws” you need to ask yourself before transitioning from the old to the new: why, who, what, when, which, and where.
 

The publishing industry is not generally known for being agile or quick to change, yet it is facing one of its biggest times of change probably since the invention of the printing press. At the heart of this is the migration to digital.

Prior to this migration, a time-tested process and structure existed for getting books printed: from acquisition, copyediting and typesetting, to author reviews and proofreading, to print. Although hiccups occurred and no two companies had the exact same workflow, the foundations were the same and ensured quality products got released in expected time frames.

Whether publishers are dealing with online content or e-books, digital only or both print and digital, publishers are now faced with more questions than answers as to how to incorporate the new with the old. Below I provide a framework for those questions, using the traditional 6 Ws: why, who, what, when, which, and where.

Why?

Of the six questions, this is the easiest to answer. No publisher can afford to ignore the digital any longer: the tipping point has come and gone; more and more e-books and e-readers are being sold weekly; and authors will begin demanding this, if they haven’t already. And traditional publishers need to offer all things digital to compete with the emerging “digital publishers.”

Who?

Even prior to the migration to digital, publishers would do one of two things to keep costs down: outsource as much as possible, keeping headcount down, or the reverse, which is hire talent to keep all services and costs internal. With digital, publishers have to make this decision anew. Should they invest in new talent from other industries (e.g., technology) or in educating existing talent, those who are eager to learn and have a background in publishing? Or should they turn to one of the many conversion and content solutions providers that exist in the market?

What?

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07/17/2011

Columbia Publishing Course Slow to Respond to Current Realities


I didn't know digital was the coming new wave

Who said the Ivy League colleges are the first with innovation and other learning prowess? A very debatable point, indeed (always has been since their birth, truth be known).

A case in point is illustrated in this article from the New York Times by Julie Bosman

E-Book Revolution Upends a Publishing Course

FOR decades, even after it was renamed and relocated from its original home at Radcliffe, the Columbia Publishing Course seemed unchanging, a genteel summer tradition in the book business, a white-glove six-week course in which ambitious college graduates were educated in the time-honored basics of book editing, sales, cover design and publicity. Not this summer.

With the e-book revolution upending the publishing business, Madeline McIntosh, the president of sales, operations and digital for Random House, stood at the lectern on the opening day in June, projecting a slide depicting the industry as a roller coaster, its occupants frozen in motion at the top of a steep loop.

“You might be wondering if this is the moment where we’re at,” Ms. McIntosh, a tall figure in a slim navy dress, said with a smile, as dozens of students with plastic name tags hanging around their necks watched raptly.

So the summer session began with a focus on “The Digital Future.” Students were schooled in “Reinventing the Reading Experience: From Print to Digital” by Nicholas Callaway, the chairman of a company that produces book apps for children. Managers from Penguin Group USA explained how to master “e-marketing,” and a panel of digital experts talked about short-form electronic publishing — not quite a magazine article, not quite a book — which is so new, the genre doesn’t really have a name.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Carolyn Pittis, the senior vice president of global author services at HarperCollins, told a packed room of students several days into the course. “So it’s very exciting for those of us who spent many years when a lot of things didn’t happen.”

As the students scribbled in notebooks and clicked on laptops, Ms. Pittis recounted some of the biggest developments in the industry so far in 2011. The proliferation of e-readers and the growing digital market share of Barnes & Noble. Amanda Hocking, a formerly self-published author, making a book deal with a traditional publisher. J. K. Rowling’s selling her own “Harry Potter” e-books online. Even the surprise success of “Go the — to Sleep,” a hilariously vulgar children’s book parody that rose to the top of best-seller lists after being widely pirated via e-mail for months.

In the past year, e-books have skyrocketed in popularity, especially in genre fiction like romance and thrillers. For some new releases, the first week has brought more sales of electronic copies than of print copies.

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12/27/2010

U.S. Publishers Dove Deeper Into Digital in 2010


This year big house publishers have experimented with video ebooks and complex content, digitized their older titles and made their new publications available in both digital and print.

They are accepting and learning to utilize digital e-formats instead of fighting the new trending technology…And, that’s good if they want to adapt, survive and ultimately thrive again!

As a result of this digital acknowledgment, U.S. publishers’ profits are up and looking brighter.

This report by Julie Bosman of the New York Times through the Stateman.com, an Austin, Texas news site:

U.S. publishers expanded digital offerings in 2010

Industry embraces electronic books, sees big jump in sales, but hardcover concerns linger.

The publishing industry used to be afraid of electronic books. In 2010, it embraced them.

Publishers expanded their digital divisions, experimented with video-enhanced e-books, worked on digitizing their older titles and made sure new books were available simultaneously in e-book and hardcover editions.

Now, having laid the tracks for digital growth, they are waiting to see what their efforts will bring in 2011.

“Is it going to be cause for celebration because it takes us to another level and makes books accessible and popular in new ways?” said Anne Messitte, publisher of Vintage/Anchor, a division of Random House. “Or will the story be different?”

E-books now make up 9 to 10 percent of trade-book sales, a rate that grew hugely this year after accounting for less than half that percentage by the end of last year. Publishers are predicting that digital sales will be 50 percent higher or even double in 2011 what they were in 2010.

January could be the biggest month ever for e-book sales, as possibly hundreds of thousands of people download books on the e-readers that they receive as Christmas gifts.

The anticipation of that jump in sales, and a feeling that the recession might have loosened its grip, has dissipated some of the death-of-print malaise that has lingered in the publishing industry for years — and helped soften the blow of a significant drop in hardcover sales this year.

“There’s definitely less doom and gloom,” said Peter Ginna, publisher and editorial director for Bloomsbury Press. “Most of us publishers have seen big gains from electronic books this year. We’ve seen some tailing off of the print sales, but for most companies, the growth of e-books has been so great that there’s a lot of revenue coming from that side that’s sort of gravy for us.”

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