Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

07/11/2013

The World’s First Truly Global Trade Book Publishing Company?


The Penguin Random House merger comes with costs you won’t find on a price sticker

‘A wave of consolidation has snapped what made imprints distinctive.’ – Boris Kachka

Does everyone really know just what the hell an ‘imprint’ is?

Is it a ‘bought’ company that now comes under the management and rules of the ‘buyer’ company but can still fly its own flag over its published works (sort of like a consolation prize for selling out)?

Or, as WikiAnswers defines it: it is the ‘ “brand name” under which a book is published. Most major publishers have at least a few imprints. Some of these imprints are organized as subsidiaries, or “companies within a company,” with their own editorial staffs, release lists, etc. Others are strictly brand names slapped on a book purchased and edited somewhere in the corporation. (According to Wikipedia, Random House, the world’s largest English-language trade book publisher, has more than 50 imprints.)

While the above definitions may be partially accurate (?) Wikipedia probably has the ‘most’ accurate idea of a publishing house imprint simply because it is the most complicated (like all things Re legacy publishing) 🙂 :

‘In the publishing industry, an imprint can mean several different things:

  • A piece of bibliographic information about a book, it refers to the name and address of the book’s publisher and its date of publication as given at the foot or on the verso of its title page.[1]
  • It can mean a trade name under which a work is published.[citation needed] One single publishing company may have multiple imprints; the different imprints are used by the publisher to market works to different demographic consumer segments. In some cases, the diversity results from the takeover of smaller publishers (or parts of their business) by a larger company. This usage of the word has evolved from the first meaning given above.
  • It can also refer to a finer distinction of a book’s version than “edition“.[citation needed] This is used to distinguish, for example different printings, or printing runs of the same edition, or to distinguish the same edition produced by a different publisher or printer. With the creation of the “ISBN” identification system, which is assigned to a text prior to its printing, a different imprint has effectively come to mean a text with a different ISBN—if one had been assigned to it.
  • Under the UK Printer’s Imprint Act 1961,[2] which amended the earlier Newspapers, Printers, and Reading Rooms Repeal Act 1869, any printer must put their name and address on the first or last leaf of every paper or book they print or face a penalty of up to £50 per copy. In addition, under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, any election material – including websites – must show the name of the promoter of the material and the name and address of the person on whose behalf it is being published.’

Actually though, imprints (and how they are or are not allowed to operate) have a greater affect on readers and writers when publishers consolidate as just happened with Random House and Penguin.

After consolidation, some companies prevent their imprints from bidding against one another for manuscripts. This results in not only lower advances for writers — ‘but also fewer options for writers to get the kind of painstaking attention — from editors, marketers and publicists — that it takes to turn their manuscripts into something valuable.’

Boris Kachka writes these details in The New York Times:

Book Publishing’s Big Gamble 

“IT’S official,” Alfred A. Knopf Sr. tweeted last week. “We’re now #PenguinRandomHouse.”

Mr. Knopf — or rather his ghostly avatar, the actual publisher havingsold his namesake firm to Random House in 1960, died in 1984 and rolled over many times since — was celebrating the largest book-publishing merger in history.

The mergerannounced last October and completed on July 1 after regulatory approval, shrinks the Big Six, which publish about two-thirds of books in the United States, down to the Big Five. HarperCollins has reportedly been flirting with Simon & Schuster, which would take it down to four. (The others are Hachette and Macmillan.)

The creation of Penguin Random House (“the world’s first truly global trade book publishing company”) is partly a response to unprecedented pressures on these “legacy” publishers — especially from Amazon, which came out on the winning end of an antitrust lawsuit over the setting of e-book prices. It is also a way to gain leverage and capital in an industry that has been turned upside down. This endgame may be inevitable, but its consequences can’t be ignored.

Consolidation carries costs you won’t find on a price sticker. Dozens of formerly independent firms have been folded into this conglomerate: not just Anchor, Doubleday, Dutton, Knopf, Pantheon, G. P. Putnam’s Sons and Viking, which still wield significant resources, but also storied names like Jonathan Cape, Fawcett, Grosset & Dunlap, and Jeremy P. Tarcher. Many of these have been reduced to mere imprints, brands stamped on a book’s title page, though every good imprint bears the faint mark of a bygone firm with its own mission and sensibility.

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03/31/2013

How a Book is Born: The Publishing Process – A Video Series


Ever wonder about all the actual steps involved in creating and publishing a book? I have — and often wonder if I left out steps in my planning 🙂

Well, tonight’s post introduces a free, informative and entertaining  video series put together by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver and Harper Collins. Go behind the scenes and follow the book publishing process from start to finish in a seven-video series for book lovers, students, and aspiring writers.

This series covers:

Episode 1:
Developing the Idea

Episode 2:
Writing the Story

Episode 3:
Editing the Book

Episode 4:
Creating the Art

Episode 5:
Proofing the Story

Episode 6:
Printing the Book

Episode 7:
Reading the Book

Hope you enjoy the series and learn something new — Click here for videos

01/10/2013

Publishing – Using Technology To Get Away From Technology


CEO Perspectives - FOLIO MagazineArianna-HuffingtonSay what? — Isn’t that an oxymoron? 

You might think so at first, but it is actually a very astutely worded observation by Arianna Huffington in her vision of 2013 publishing/media trends — She postulates three trends, to be exact, that are off the beaten path but truly hit the nail on the head — in this writers opinion 🙂

Arianna’s three 2013 media trends (as well as 8 other publishing leaders’ forecasts) are presented in CEO Perspectives from the December, 2012 FOLIO magazine (the magazine for magazine management):

CEO Perspectives/Arianna Huffington (President and editor-in-chief, Huffington Post Media Group)

When I look ahead to what 2013 holds for the media industry, three trends stand out. First, the shift from presentation to participation means that the days of the Media Gods on Mt. Olympus telling us how things are have ended. People are tired of being talked to; they want to be talked with. Our new global conversation has allowed media to engage with readers in totally new ways. The success of brands in the future will depend upon understanding this new relationship.

If the first trend is a Garden of Eden blooming with engagement and self-expression, the second trend is the snake in the garden: The temptation to fetishize the social and viral for their own sake and lose ourselves in technology. Fortunately there is a powerful, countervailing force using technology to get away from technology, reflected in apps and features like Freedom, Do Not Disturb, and HuffPost’s GPS for the Soul—which we’ll be unveiling at CES in January. I realize there’s a paradox in the idea that an app can help deliver us from technology, but the solution to tech overload isn’t no technology, but better technology.

The third trend is the shift from searching for information to searching for meaning. People are using technology to connect with others not just around similar passions and interests, but around the causes and values that most resonate with them. And the shift isn’t confined to individuals. More and more, brands are identifying with a cause, and making that identification a central part of their ethos.

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12/20/2012

Some Publishing ‘Easy Buttons’ (Samhain Publishing, PubMatch, CoreSource)


a worldwide community for the publishing industry that encourages the creation of business relationships and the worldwide spreading of ideas.

a worldwide community for the publishing industry that encourages the creation of business relationships and the worldwide spreading of ideas.

A few publishing industry tidbits for those who might not know or may be in need of reminding.

Tonight’s post is loaded with informative links 🙂

From Publishers Weekly:

Samhain Uploads 2,000 Titles To PubMatch

Samhain Publishing has uploaded over 2,000 titles to PubMatch, complete with full descriptions and EPUB files so that users can view partial contents of each book. The titles were uploaded via Ingram’s CoreSource. While people can view these titles, if they want to contact Samhain for any purpose, they need to be a member of PubMatch.

Currently, the American Library Association is in the process of uploading their last two years of publications via CoreSource, as well. PubMatch is the book-publishing and rights database founded by Publishers Weekly and Combined Book Exhibit.

 

11/07/2012

Obama and the Publishing Industry


Obama tinkering with publishing?

Tonight a little fun publishing prognostication tied to the 2012 never-ending presidential campaign and final election. 

What are some of the plausible impacts to the publishing industry resulting from Barack Obama’s reelection?

Jason Pinter, bestselling author of thrillers, writing on Huff Post Blog, throws out some immediate and longer term Obama publishing industry influences:

How Barack Obama’s Reelection Will Affect the Publishing Industry

No doubt the reelection of Barack Obama as President of the United States will have tremendous impact on numerous industries. Here are my predictions as to how Obama’s second term will impact the book publishing industry, which Nate Silver has said are 90.9 percent accurate. (OK, maybe not, but I’m pretty certain of at least most of these guesses.)

1) Obama the Moneymaker. With his reelection, Obama has solidified himself as a self-sustaining cash cow. Obama’s first two books, Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope, have sold well over four million copies. A second term means his books will continue to backlist strongly, whereas a defeat would have made his books more of a curio as the country shifted to a Romney presidency. It also means that, when Obama leaves office, he will do so having served eight years, and depending on how his second term plays out, permanent devotion from a large portion of the country. Jimmy Carter, the Democrat’s last one-term president and frequent GOP punching bag, has published numerous bestsellers since leaving office, including a novel (!), and it’s safe to say that if a post-presidency Obama wants to stay in the public eye as an author, he’ll see strong success and sales. He is already rumored to be writing his next book with cherished Jewish activist Elie Wiesel.

2) The New Blood. With eyes already looking towards the 2016 election, a bumper crop of (relatively) new Republican faces will likely publish books as primers on their positions and sales tools for their backers. Depending on their individual ambitions, I would expect new books by Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal among others to hit shelves in advances of the 2016 primaries in order to make cases for their next prospective office. On the other side, with a new Democratic candidate needed for 2016, I wouldn’t be shocked if we see books from possible frontrunners Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Cuomo, Antonio Villaraigosa, Deval Patrick and even stalwarts Hillary Clinton and possibly… Joe Biden?

3) Conservative domination. There’s always been more money in opposition rather than the status quo, and Obama’s first term brought massive sales from books by conservative political pundits. Glenn Beck and Mark Levin broke the million-copy barrier with their respective releases, while Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Dinesh D’Souza all had their own #1 bestsellers. And Bill O’Reilly has reinvented himself as political historian, with Killing Lincoln breaking a million copies and Killing Kennedy well on its way. Books by the opposition always sell well regardless of president, case in point Michael Moore’s huge #1 bestseller Stupid White Men and Al Franken’s Lies, both published during the George W. Bush presidency. Even comic behemoths Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert saw their newest releases, published under the Obama administration, fall far short of their tallies during the Bush years. Though Beck’s sales have dropped since moving from his television perch at Fox, it can be expected that these same commentators and more will continue to garner support from the loyal opposition at the cash registers.

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10/31/2012

New York Publishing Blown Away By Hurricane Sandy


Hurricane Sandy Devastates NY Publishing

Let’s pull our head out of the digital publishing world for a bit and take an insightful look-see into what happened to the three-dimensional physical publishing world after hurricane Sandy came crashing through New York on 29th October 2012. 

This takes you right through the flooded streets and publishing offices in New York and lets us peek into a little decision-making RE The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal among others.

Adweek article by Lucia Moses:

Publishing World Muddles Through Storm

Sandy wreaks havoc on city’s dailies

It was a storm even the most prepared media companies couldn’t totally anticipate. Hurricane Sandy stymied efforts by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal this morning to deliver to Manhattanites who still prefer the ink-on-paper version (assuming customers even had light to read it by), while the storm’s aftermath disrupted many of the major publishing houses.

The storm’s timing, along with road, tunnel and bridge closures, prevented the Times from getting into Manhattan from its College Point, N.Y., plant, although deliveries were made to parts of Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn.

The Times gets about one-third of its circulation from New York state, or some 236,842 copies.

“We are making every effort to distribute as transportation issues improve,” a spokeswoman said.

There was no home delivery of the Journal in Manhattan and only a limited number of single copies made it to newsstands, a rep there said.

Those with Internet access could still get information online from the Times as well as The Wall Street Journal, which lowered their paywalls today for the second day in a row so readers could get storm and recovery information. A Journal rep said WSJ.com would be free again on Wednesday.

The storm has had varying effects on other publishing houses, which remained closed or advised employees to work from home for the second day in a row today.

Dennis Publishing’s The Week had to set up shop in a conference room at a Residence Inn across the street from its offices in order to meet its Wednesday press deadline. “Our entire edit team had to hand-carry their computers and servers down five flights of stairs,” president Steven Kotok emailed. “We rebuilt the servers in the hotel conference room.”

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10/11/2012

What is a Global Publishing System ?


Harper Collins is going to implement such a grand system — and goes into the generalities in the following reference — BUT, the details that would tell us just how this system would deliver the touted results are conspicuously absent, as far as I am concerned.

You tell me.

You know, sometimes I feel the older I get the dumber I get — That’s why I need things explained to me like in the ‘Blah Blah For Dummies’ series 🙂  

Excerpt: “It is our responsibility to provide our authors with the broadest possible reach through our global print and digital publishing platforms, regardless of where their books originate and what format they take,” said Larry Nevins, Executive Vice-President, Operations. 

This offered in Publishers Weekly:

Harper To Implement Global Publishing System

Harper Collins is to roll out a new global publishing system, which it claims is “one of the largest undertakings of its kind to be implemented by a trade publisher.”

Developed in partnership with Publishing Technology and built on its advance platform, Global Product Manager will enable the unifying of editorial, marketing and business data around the world, widening the reach of HC’s print and digital publications in its core target markets. By integrating systems and assets across the globe, the new system will provide the company with the long-term infrastructure needed to maximize its extensive catalogue of books, ebooks and apps, empowering HC staff to explore current and future content delivery types and business models, while enabling better metadata management to improve discoverability.

The system will be rolled out first in the US, followed by the UK and subsequently Canada and Australia, as well as to the Christian Publishing Division through 2013.

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10/05/2012

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.

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02/12/2012

Publishing 2011 & 2012: Some Business Trends and Surprises


Publishing Industry Mergers Equals Growth

Media M&A (mergers & acquisitions) were up in 2011. 896 deals were done representing $47 billion dollars in value (damn, who says publishing is dying?). When M&A is up in an industry I believe it is indicative that value and growth is trending positive and money is flowing and churning!

Bottom line: publishing is NOT hurting. Some think it is because these figures don’t come close to the banner year of 2007 ($104 billion in deals done!) … Sounds like a bunch of spoiled greedy bastards to me 🙂   

But, the publishing industry (including, of course, digital) is growing and trending positive and the outlook for 2012 looks to be even better according to JEGI (Jordan Edmiston Group Inc.) , a leading independent investment bank for media, information, marketing services and technology.  

This insight (with charts breaking out the industry sectors) is from FOLIO Magazine by Bill Mickey

Overall Media M&A Up 9 Percent in 2011

Marketing and interactive services drive growth with 32 percent of total value.

The media M&A market saw its third year in a row of growth, closing out 2011 with a 9 percent increase in total value over 2010, according to a year-end report by The Jordan, Edmiston Group.

There were 896 deals done, says the investment bank, 15 more than 2010 and more even than in the blockbuster year of 2007. Total value, however, still hasn’t come close to that year. In 2011, the deals represented $47 billion in value, up $4 billion from 2010, whereas 2007 saw $104 billion in deals done.

A key trend in 2011 was marketing and interactive services, which represented 32 percent of total deal value and accounted for 17 of the 32 biggest deals, and a third of total transaction volume.

And while expectations remain high for private equity, strategic buyers were decidedly more acquisitive. Out of the 32 largest deals (more than $400 million), 24 were done by strategics.

Sector by sector—JEGI tracks 10—exhibitions and conferences recorded a 249 percent increase in deal value over 2010. There were 32 deals totaling $451 million. JEGI points out that the fourth quarter marked quite a bit of activity from strategic buyers, with UBM, Bonnier, Diversified Business Communications, PennWell and Reed Elsevier making deals.

Consumer magazines also had a busy year with 32 transactions valued at $3.2 billion, a huge jump over 2010’s $214 million deal value.

B-to-b media was comparatively quiet, recording only 14 deals and $50 million in value—a 62 percent and 91 percent decline from 2010, respectively. B-to-b online media and tech, however, spiked appreciatively in value. The year’s 63 deals were 2 more than 2010, but value jumped 132 percent to almost $6 billion.

Interestingly, mobile media and tech declined slightly in volume with 72 deals done in 2011 versus 77 in 2010, but value jumped 37 percent to almost $2 billion.

John’s Note: Before I send you to the parent article I want to define a couple business/investing terms for those that may not readily recollect them for convenience and better understanding:

EBITDA – Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization

Strategic Buyer – A buyer in the same line of business who wants to buy and hold.

Financial Buuyer – A buyer (usually from a Private Equity Group [PEG]) that wants to buy low and sell high.

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09/01/2011

Print’s Alive, but Publishing Still in Trouble? (Actually it’s NOT)


 

Is Publishing in Trouble or Not?

Apparently, a main theme coming out of the July 2011 Yale Publishing Conference was that ‘fear’ was at the center of all the chaos in the modern publishing world.

This is true … But, duhhhh, who didn’t already understand that! Of course it’s fear of change that is holding publishing back from being all it can be.

Fear of change and the unknown (or not understood) has always been a prevalent weakness for most Homo sapiens. 

Stefanie Botelho, writing for FOLIO Magazine, covered the conference:

If Print Isn’t Dead, Why is Publishing Still in Trouble?

Reasons why explored at Yale Publishing Conference.

At the Yale Publishing Conference, which took place last month in New Haven, CT, big names in magazine publishing were in attendance, both as students and teachers.

The session began with Richard Foster, senior faculty fellow at Yale School of Management and managing partner with the Millbrook Management Group, LLC. He philosophized about the term “creative destruction”, focusing its various implications in correlation to the publishing world.

Subsequent sessions led by Michael Clinton, president and marketing/publishing director of Hearst; president of Dwell Media Michela O’Connor Abrams; and Glamour editor-in-chief Cynthia Leive ran the gamut of print, digital and staffing challenges.

But the biggest theme, prevalent in how speakers addressed the crowd and the audience pressed the presenters for immediate solutions to admittedly complex problems (the transition to digital, etc.), was not listed in the printed program.

It was fear.

And that may be the largest issue the publishing industry is facing today: fear of the present, fear of the future, fear of the audience and, perhaps the most crippling, fear of change.

While not as easily palpable in the speakers (who each provided case study after case study of success within their companies), both lecturers and audience members rippled with it. Age jokes were dropped at a noticeable rate (O’Connor Abrams quipped she and only one other staffer are over 30) and tales of staff let go because of unwillingness to convert to the digital age (and assist in the bevy of products unrelated to actual print issues) were some of the most poignant of the day. The message was clear: get onboard or get out, because there are plenty of others to take your seat at the publishing table—many of them young enough to still be crashing with Mom and Dad.

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