Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Random House + Politico = Real Time E-Books on 2012 Campaign

Instant E-Book News & Instant Gratification

A traditional publisher (TP) is teaming with the crackerjack website Politico to produce four, definitive, book-length e-books in real time RE the 2012 presidential campaign. Quite an experiment … AND a large step forward into the present publishing world by one of the biggest TPs … Random House.

All this is coming this Fall.

Just imagine, four book-length instant books detailing the in-and-outs and behind the scenes intrigue, as it unfolds, in a presidential election fiasco! Instant adventure, intrigue, con manship and lying as it comes to life!

Details in the book section of the Christian Science Monitor by Husna Haq:

Politico, Random House will team up on instant e-books

It’s an odd marriage, a May-December romance, but a youthful partner may be just what the publishing industry needs.

Yes, Random House is teaming up with the high-octane, whip-smart political news site Politico to publish a series of four e-books about the 2012 presidential campaign.

The books will tell the story of the 2012 presidential election in real time and will be available only in electronic format, with the first one to be released this fall. Each book will be between 20,000 and 30,000 words, written by Mike Allen, Politico’s chief White House correspondent, and former Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas. (Former Newsweek editor-in-chief Jon Meacham, who became executive editor and executive vice president at Random House, will edit.)

It’s a completely new venture in publishing and political reporting – and a bold one, too.

Generally, post-election tell-all accounts from inside presidential campaigns emerge long after elections are over. Politico, however, is hoping to bring its rapid-fire reporting to e-books and be the first to create detailed, definitive accounts of the presidential race in real time.

“The digital format gives us the opportunity to do what we have not been able to before – release our titles almost instantly. This publishing partnership will give readers a seat on the campaign bus,” said Gina Centrello, president and publisher of the Random House Publishing Group, in a statement.

It seems even books, long the domain of patient souls, are responding to the short attention spans and instant-gratification culture of an audience that’s been fed a steady diet of 24-hour news, Twitter, Facebook, and mobile updates on breaking news. (Remember insta-books, like the ones written 48 hours after bin Laden’s death and before William & Kate’s marriage?)

Read and learn more

This blog available on Kindle here


Random House and Marketing Books Directly to Consumers

When you know who is looking for something to download, you can make suggestions directly to that person! Right on. AND, when you know that the download device is a new eReader, you know what that person wants…EBOOKS!

Simple enough concept, even for me.

Well, Random House has used this simple concept to come up with a delightful, functional and FREE marketing device for the holidays helpful to us consumers.

Julie Bosman, New York Times, has the details:

A Christmas Morning Spree

This year, the book publishing industry has its own version of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. It’s called Christmas Day.

On that day, hundreds of thousands of consumers are expected to unwrap new e-readers that they received as gifts, and quickly begin downloading books to read.

Random House, the publisher of Stieg Larsson, John Grisham and Stephen Sondheim, is hoping to be there to make a few suggestions. It has prepared a free e-book, “The eBook Insider,” that is full of recommendations, reviews and book excerpts directed squarely at consumers who have just received e-readers.

“With so many people receiving an e-reader for the first time on Christmas, one of the things they’re going to want to do is go looking for the books they want to read,” said Anne Messitte, the publisher of Vintage/Anchor, a division of Random House. “And we think it’s an ideal moment to really begin helping a reader curate the collection of e-books that they want.”

Unlike the traditional holiday book advertising that takes place in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the promotion for “The eBook Insider” is scheduled to begin on Dec. 25, first with social media messaging and then with Google ads and also print ads in The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker.

Read and learn more


Random House and Harper Collins Publishing Earnings Up!

The five largest publishing houses are enjoying increased earnings over the past six month period compared to the same period last year.


See if you can figure it out after reading the following report from Publisher’s Weekly by Jim Milliot:

There is no better example of the cyclical nature of book publishing than the six-month results of the nation’s five largest trade publishers. Four of the five houses reported significant changes in their operating performance in the first half of 2010 compared to one year ago, with big books, or the lack thereof, playing a major role in the shifts.

Random House and HarperCollins, which both had declines in revenue and earnings in the first half of 2009, posted gains in both areas this year. Simon & Schuster, which had a steep drop in sales and earnings in the first half of 2009, had a small dip in sales again this year, but a big rebound in earnings. Of the major publishers, Penguin Group has been the most consistent, posting a solid increase in sales in the first half of 2010 after recording a double-digit gain in the January-June period in 2009. Revenue and earnings at Lagardère Publishing, parent company of Hachette Book Group, had the expected decline as the company found it impossible to match the sales volume generated by the Stephenie Meyer books in 2009. The good news for Lagardère was that despite declines, it still had the highest operating margins among the big houses.

While the cooling off of a blockbuster series led to a decline in results at Hachette, the continuing sales surge for the Stieg Larsson trilogy was key in boosting results at Random House, with 6.5 million copies (hardcover, e-book, audio) of Larsson’s works sold in the U.S. and Germany. Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue played an important role in turning around the sales fortunes at HC. Released late in calendar 2009, the book’s sales carried through for much of the first six months of 2010. One thing keeping S&S from returning to the sales levels of 2008 is that it has not had a blockbuster of the magnitude of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, but that could change. Byrne’s The Power, just out this summer with a one million–copy first printing, has become an immediate bestseller. S&S was able to show a dramatic improvement in its bottom line this year, despite a sales dip, because of improved operating efficiencies and cost cutting. S&S took restructuring charges of $1.7 million in the first half of 2010 related to severance costs; in the same period in 2009 it took $2.9 million in charges.

Read more:


Random House Retains Digital Rights Over Wylie Agency

Filed under: authors' rights,digital rights,publishing,Random House,Wylie Agency — gator1965 @ 5:32 pm

On 26 July 2010, I posted about the esteemed Wylie Literary Agency getting into the publishing field by publishing the digital versions of old classics by their own writer clientele through Amazon.

You see, the old, original publishing contracts with Random House (and a few others) did not include “digital rights”…They didn’t exist at the time.

It now seems that Random House, who published most of the original print versions of the subject Wylie titles, has wrestled the digital rights from Wylie.

Even though I previously commented on a concern over a Wylie Agency conflict of interest with their authors, I would still like to see the wording of those original Random House contracts…that evidently held up rights that didn’t exist at the time. Rights I believe belong to the writers/authors to assign as they wish.

What do you think?

Anyway, here is a Wall Street Journal report written by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg giving more details.


Authors Have Real Power in the Wylie/Random House Fiasco

Filed under: Andrew Wylie,authors have power,e-books,Random House — gator1965 @ 12:03 pm

Let’s talk, again – but from a different perspective, about the Wylie literary agency entering the publishing business with their Odessey Editions e-book publishing deal with Amazon.

The air is thick with high-stakes suspense and intrigue in the publishing world!

And what is at stake in this standoff?…Publishing rights, that’s what. And who initially owns ALL rights? Neither the agents nor the publishers! The authors (creators) do. So, it seems to me they are the ones who hold the true position of power…And authors are the one common denominator with both publishers and agents and the entity that drives their money-making capability!

So, why is all the publicity and hoopla concerned with Random House and Wylie and only secondarily with the authors they both supposedly “represent”?

I’ll tell you why, because writers are not organized as well as a business industry/force to be reckoned with. Oh, there’s the Authors Guild, but they are weak as water and came out with a statement RE the Wylie/RH fiasco to this affect:

“publishers have brought this on themselves.” …Well, DUH!

The only thing at odds here is who owns the digital publishing rights before they came into existence. The authors owns ALL rights to their work unless they sell or contract them to others…And they cannot sell or contract any right that does not exist at the time of the contract or transaction.

I suggest all authors go back and review the exact wording in contracts with their agents and publishers and between their agents and publishers…I think they will find they can sell this new publishing right to whomever they desire.

Read this insightful article: Agent vs. Publisher: Could the Andrew Wylie/Random House stand-off happen in Canada? by Mark Medley in the Canadian National Post


E-book Digital Rights to Past Published Books Belong to Who?

My opinion is that contracts with publishers prior to the advent of digital e-books do NOT cover or include any rights to non-existent media at the time of said contract…John R. Austin (that’s me).

That’s this writers opinion for what it’s worth…Which means I believe that all rights to publish digitally remain with the writer NOT the print publisher.

Alison Flood of, and Ed Pilkington in guardian’s New York office, reported this ground-beaking news:

Publishers rage against Wylie’s ebook deal with Amazon

Wylie Agency’s deal to bypass conventional publishers for digital sales is sending shockwaves around the industry.

Fear and loathing among the movers and shakers of America’s publishing industry have reached new heights with both Random House and Macmillan denouncing the literary agent Andrew Wylie’s move into digital publishing.

Home to 700 authors and estates ranging from Philip Roth to John Updike, Jorge Luis Borges and Saul Bellow, the Wylie Agency shocked the publishing world yesterday when it announced the launch of Odyssey Editions. The initiative has been set up to sell ebook editions of modern classics – including Lolita, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Updike’s Rabbit tetralogy – exclusively via Amazon’s Kindle store, leaving conventional publishers out of the picture.

The move provoked an immediate reaction from Random House, which publishes in print several of the authors involved with Odyssey Editions. The publisher fired off a letter to Amazon “disputing their rights to legally sell these titles”, which it said were “subject to active Random House publishing agreements”.

It went further, threatening that “on a worldwide basis”, it “will not be entering into any new English-language business agreements with the Wylie Agency until this situation is resolved”. It said the agency’s decision to sell ebooks exclusively to Amazon “for titles which are subject to active Random House agreements undermines our longstanding commitments to and investments in our authors, and it establishes this agency as our direct competitor.”

A Random House spokesman, Stuart Applebaum, told the Guardian that the severing of relations with Wylie would relate only to new book deals, while titles already in the pipeline would still go ahead. He accepted there was a risk involved for Random House, but argued that the stakes were higher for Wylie and his authors who would potentially lose a lucrative outlet for their work.

“It is not a decision that Random House reached lightly, but one that is unanimously agreed by our senior publishing colleagues in the US, Canada and the UK,” Applebaum said.

Wylie’s impressive client roster – which includes Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie as well as the estates of Hunter S Thompson, Norman Mailer and Evelyn Waugh – makes this a huge step for Random House, but one the publisher clearly felt was necessary.

At issue is who holds digital rights in older titles published before the advent of ebooks. Publishers argue that the ebook rights belong to them, and authors and agents respond that, if not specifically granted, the digital rights remain with the author.

Read more at original article here:


What’s So Hard To Understand About Random House’s Strategy?

Does Random House (RH) have the right approach to establishing digital content pricing, especially eBooks? RH is successfully moving the digital pricing needle from the retailer to the publisher…where it probably belongs and will be more beneficial to writers and other creative people…Just this bloggers opinion.

Mike Shatzkin, The Shatzkin Files, has his usual intelligent analysis on this subject:

Since Apple made its iPad announcement last January, five of the Big Six publishers have been featured participatants. That not only means they’re making content available for the iPad “form factor” (color and connectivity like the iPhone, screen size like the Kindle) but also that they’re buying into the new “agency model” for sales. As anybody who cares about this stuff already knows, under the agency model the control of pricing to the consumer moves from the retail point of contact to the publisher.

In return for that control, the publisher lowers the “established retail price” and, although the stated margin to the retailer is reduced from 50% to 30%, the effective margin rises because the retailer sells at that publisher price, not something substantially less. And the publishers going to agency are happily accepting less for each book sold to gain that pricing control and price stability across all retailers.

Random House has been prominent by its absence from the group. And some people, including some who are really well-informed about publishing, wonder “why?”

I wonder why they wonder.

Although it is certainly possible that iPad book sales will be startling right out of the box, that’s not really likely. Unlike the Kindle, which is purchased by consumers solely for the purpose of reading books, the iPad will attract customers for all manner of reasons and, actually, reading books would be pretty far down the list for most people. Although there are pockets of skeptics, I’m sure most publishing people accept that the iPad can grow into a very robust bookselling channel but it isn’t clear how long that will take or whether narrative text will be as much a beneficiary of the device as books that are more complex presentations of words and pictures.

In the short run, which from this seat looks like some months, if not a year, Kindle and Amazon are still likely to be the leader in ebook sales, and other established ereader platforms that are optimized for text (Nook, Sony Reader, the new ereader from Kobo) will remain important. By holding themselves out of the new channels, continuing the current policies of “wholesale” discounting, and allowing the retailers to set prices, Random House will be maximizing their short-term sales and profits. Assuming they maintain their publisher-established prices near their current levels (and why would they not?), Random House will collect more money for each ebook sold than their competitors do while the public will will pay less for each Random House ebook they buy than for comparable titles from other publishers.

That’s a pretty significant short term advantage. Why wonder why somebody would do that?

Of course, most publishers hope — if not believe — that the proliferation of new devices and platforms combined with the more widespread use of the agency model setting retail prices will disperse the ebook market among many more players. Will Apple or any other player hold it against Random that they were slow to make the change if they decide to join the party after it really gets going? My hunch is “no.”

And that may be Random House’s hunch too. They may be making a perfectly conscious and rational gamble that the sales they’ll lose in the short run by not being on the iPad will be more than compensated for by margin they’ll make through higher wholesale prices and greater sales through lower retail prices than any of their Big Six competition in the still-dominant Kindle channel.

And if Amazon is willing to retaliate against a publisher’s print business over dislike of their ebook policies, wouldn’t they also be likely to favor the books of a big publisher that cooperates with them when everybody else doesn’t? Couldn’t that add a further incremental edge to Random House in the short run while the iPad book-reading audience is still ramping up?

I have read nothing to tell me whether Apple would or wouldn’t accept Random House books on the wholesale model. (The other publishers embraced the agency model; they didn’t need to be talked into it.) If they do, Random House could persist with this strategy for a long time, even when they start putting books on the iPad. Even though their “listed” ebook prices would be considerably higher than their competitors’, the prices at which they’d be offered to the public could be lower.

If this all works the way the agency publishers envision, we’ll have a multi-platform, multi-retailer, price-stable ebook market before too long. If that happens, Amazon may tire of paying more for Random House books, whether they sell them for less or not, and the wholesale model with retail price reductions is not a palatable combination for publishers. But that’s not imminent and for the foreseeable future, all the Random House position means to them is more revenue per copy and lower prices to the consumer.

There is a school of thought that ebook consumers are very sensitive to price. Starting with the appearance of the agency model next week, ebook prices to the consumer for (usually author-) branded frontlist titles are going to rise. It will be interesting to see if the IDPF (International Digital Publishers Forum) reports of sales show any change in the trend line starting with the reports of sales in April.


Inside Random House’s New Digital Transition Team

Ever wonder how the BIG publishing houses are organizationally structured to deal with everyday publishing tasks? Especially in the present upheavel and transition turmoil? Good preview for those who want to enter the more formal publishing industry. John’s editorial note: This writer sees the publishing industry as becoming de-centralized and more individual-empowered.

Today’s post gives an insight into Random House’s (RH) personnel structure and decision-making process through two high-ranking memos.

Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly, reports on the memos:

In memos distributed to Random House employees Thursday, chairman Markus Dohle and Madeline McIntosh, president of sales, operation and digital, detailed new plans for the publisher’s digital operation while also announcing new homes and leadership for the audio and information group units that had been part of the old Crown Publishing Group.

Random House Audio Publishing and the Fodor’s Travel Group will now report to Nina von Moltke who has been promoted to v-p digital publishing development, a newly created position. Amanda D’Acierno publisher of RH Audio, and Tim Jarrell, Fodor’s publisher, will report to von Moltke. RH’s large print operations and Living Language brand will be overseen by D’Acierno. The other parts of the information group–The Princeton Review, Sylvan Learning and Prima Games–have become part of the Children’s Book division. Tom Russell, head of TPR and Sylvan, and Debra Kempker, head of Prima, will report to children division president Chip Gibson.

In explaining the moves, Dohle said TPR, Sylvan and Prima “share a core consumer base” with the children’s group and will benefit “from the educational orientation and consumer-marketing focus” of the children’s group. Moving RH Audio and Fodor’s under von Moltke will let them continue to further develop their digital capabilities.

Von Moltke’s appointment to v-p of digital development is one of three appointments made by McIntosh to create a senior leadership team that will direct new digital units that will support digital initiatives within the Random House publishing groups. In addition to von Moltke, Amanda Close has been named v-p ditgital sales and business development. She will lead a team that will establish strategy, terms, policy and programs relative to new business models, identify new business opportunities and mange existing digital relationships with different partners. Pete McCarthy has been appointed v-p, online marketing charged with developing online methods to fulfill his mission to “partner with our sales reps, our publishers, and our retailers to ensure we’re maximizing our ability to convert consumer interest to incremental purchases.” All three report to McIntosh.

Matt Shatz, who as v-p of digital had been a primary spokesperson for Random’s digital efforts, has left the company to join Nokia.

The memos, which contain a number a new appointments, are printed below.




February 25, 2010


We want to share with you today our next steps forward in accelerating the company’s transition to digital, growing our physical book sales, and increasing the efficiency of our customer- author- and publisher-support services. To best position ourselves to accomplish these strategic priorities we are making a number of changes and appointments in our Sales, Operations and Digital areas under Madeline McIntosh, which she presents in accompanying memos. We also have completed the new lines of reporting we began undertaking in December for the Audio division and for the businesses that have comprised the Information Group.

Madeline is announcing the formation of new teams that will be fully dedicated to digital-content development, digital sales development, and online marketing. I am very excited about these moves and about the additions she is making to her senior leadership team. Their mandate is to create and to catalyze publishing and entrepreneurial opportunities, both self-starting and in partnership with our publishing divisions. The e-publishing and online marketing activities originated and executed by the Crown, Knopf Doubleday, Random House, and Random House Children’s Books Publishing Groups will be indispensable to our authors and to our creative and commercial growth, and I am confident that the new support provided to those groups at the corporate level will be key ingredients in ensuring our success during and after the digital expansion.

Among Madeline’s new executive team, I have worked most closely with Nina von Moltke, who has reported to me as Vice President, Corporate Development. Nina’s new responsibilities as Vice President, Digital Publishing Development, are a natural progression from her previous role in which she applied her tremendous understanding of the evolving digital-publishing financial models to evaluating new corporate and divisional business opportunities. Aside from her new task of supporting the development of our digital content offerings across the divisions, Nina will also oversee the Random House Audio Publishing and Fodor’s Travel Groups. Both groups provide excellent models of successfully transitioning from analog to digital businesses, and I know that they and our traditional trade publishing groups will benefit by having them integrated into the corporate-level digital publishing team.

Amanda D’Acierno, Vice President, Publisher, Random House Audio, Books on Tape, Random House Large Print, and Tim Jarrell, Vice President, Publisher, Fodors, will continue to run their respective businesses, setting and implementing their publishing priorities and choices, reporting to Nina. We will further integrate the publishing activities under the Living Language brand into the digital content group, reporting to Amanda D’Acierno.

We also foresee expanded opportunities for The Princeton Review, Sylvan Learning, and Prima Games imprints as we bring them into the Random House Children’s Books division. Tom Russell, who leads TPR and Sylvan, and Debra Kempker, who heads Prima, will report to Chip Gibson. The former two businesses will complement and benefit from the educational orientation and consumer-marketing focus of Chip’s publishing teams. Prima and the Children’s Group share a core consumer base as well as a like focus on brand management and strong license partnerships. The combination of this considerable expertise will benefit them both.

Children’s Books will further expand to include the Tricycle Books young readers publishing program under Nicole Geiger, currently part of Crown’s Ten Speed Press. Tricycle now will be a Berkeley-based imprint of Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers and its frontlist and backlist will continue to be sold by Children’s Sales.

These new homes for Audio, Fodor’s, The Princeton Review, Prima, Sylvan Learning, and Living Language; our newly established digital-development teams; and Madeline’s appointments in Sales and Operations will help us grow sales and foster greater collaboration internally and with our authors, customers, and readers. I thank you for your support of these growth initiatives and for all our colleagues who will implement them.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________MADELINE MADELINE McINTOSH



February 25, 2010


Since returning to Random House in December, I have had the great experience of re-engaging with many of my former colleagues in Sales and Operations. I’ve been gratified to learn more about the ways in which the teams led by ANDREW WEBER, Senior V.P., Director, Operations and Technology, JOAN DEMAYO, Senior V.P., Director, Children’s Sales, and JACI UPDIKE, Senior V.P., Director, Adult Sales, have risen to the various marketplace challenges presented in the last few years. Of those, one of the greatest has been to create new systems, policies and programs to harness the opportunities presented by the explosive growth of the digital channel.

While everyone in my group has played a part in “managing digital” over the last year, the time has come to be more explicit regarding those individuals to whom we will look for digital business leadership in the future. The great news is that, in working with Andrew, Joan and Jaci to map out our needs for our digital and physical businesses, we have found that the people we need are already here at Random House: we have been able to realign our group to provide the resources required to ensure healthy digital growth while also continuing to invest in maintaining our leadership position in the print marketplace.

It is in this context that I’m delighted to announce the new leadership structure for Random House Sales, Operations and Digital. Andrew, Jaci and Joan continue in their current roles. Joining them as my direct reports are: NINA VON MOLTKE, V.P., Digital Publishing Development; AMANDA CLOSE, V.P., Digital Sales and Business Development; and PETE MCCARTHY, V.P., Online and Digital Marketing. Their new roles and departments are detailed below. A number of related changes within Andrew, Joan and Jaci’s departments are described in a following memo.

Digital Publishing Development

As V.P., Digital Publishing Development, NINA VON MOLTKE will have two key areas of responsibility: partnering with our publishing divisions to help accelerate and broaden their own digital programs, and oversight for those Random House, Inc. publishing lists for which digital distribution and web-enabled commerce are already the core business.

Reporting to Nina will be ANDREA SHEEHAN, formerly V.P. & Director, Digital Strategy and Business Development at the Random House Publishing Group, now in the newly created position of V.P., Digital Publishing and Product Development, which she will take on upon her return from maternity leave. In Andrea’s time in the Random House Publishing Group, she has provided critical leadership in the area of digital product innovation: together with her team, Andrea has spearheaded various initiatives around e-book format development, e-only content, IP development, redesign of online presences and mobile applications for major brands and authors, and innovations in digital marketing tools.

A Random House hallmark and point of pride has always been our decentralized approach to publishing entrepreneurship, and that will not change for our expanded digital mandate. By acting as facilitators and catalysts, Nina and her team’s role will be to help each publishing division bring its own unique vision to market as successfully as possible. Initial examples of services to be provided by this team include: strategic support in driving digital growth for key content categories; expertise in alternative business models (such as serializations, subscriptions, and advertising), content bundling or disaggregation; and start-up support for original digital publishing programs. The team will also be responsible for the ongoing backlist conversion project.

Also reporting to Nina will be AMANDA D’ACIERNO, V.P., Publisher, Random House Audio, Books on Tape and Living Language; TIM JARRELL, V.P., Publisher, Fodor’s Travel Publishing; FABRIZIO LAROCCA, V.P., Creative Director; and SUSAN LIVINGSTON, newly appointed as Director, Digital Business Management and Planning. All four are crucial “digital veterans” who will now be able to share their expertise more broadly.

To ensure that our digital efforts receive the appropriate publicity support and that we communicate effectively to our internal and industry stakeholders, SHEILA O’SHEA is named Director of Publicity, Digital Initiatives, reporting to Nina. She will work closely with the publicity departments across the divisions, as well as coordinate publicity efforts for the Fodor’s Travel group. Stuart Applebaum will continue to be our main media contact for any major corporate announcements and inquiries.

Digital Sales and Business Development

AMANDA CLOSE, currently V.P., Group Sales Director, Crown Publishing Group, will now become our V.P., Digital Sales and Business Development. Amanda earlier served as our V.P., Online Sales, and she stepped in with great agility when Jaci and I asked her to coordinate the cross-functional team evaluating Apple’s new e-book program. Her expertise, infectious enthusiasm, and astute analytical, technological, and product instincts will be invaluable in maintaining our position as the market leader in digital sales.

Reporting to Amanda will be JEFF WEBER, formerly Associate Sales Director, Amazon, now Director, Digital Sales; RANDI ROSENKRANZ, Senior Manager, Digital Channel Development; and LILLY KIM, Account Manager, Digital Sales.

This team’s responsibilities will include: establishing strategy, terms, policy and programs relative to new business models; identifying and prioritizing new opportunities for sales or licensing; connecting potential partners with the appropriate internal stakeholders; developing expertise in activities in other media categories that might apply to our own; and crafting programmatic merchandising support for our publishers’ new lists of original digital content.

They also will manage the overall digital relationships with our existing partners, including Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Google, Ingram Digital, Overdrive and Sony. Selling and merchandising our publishers’ lists will continue to reside within Jaci and Joan’s existing Online Sales departments, thus providing our publishers and accounts with sole points of contact at the product level. By focusing entirely on the opportunities and challenges of the digital channel, Amanda’s team will ensure we are maximizing volume and profitability, embracing innovation, and learning from our experience.

Online and Digital Marketing

PETE MCCARTHY, V.P., Online Marketing has been leading Random House’s corporate consumer online marketing efforts for the past two and a half years. During this time, he and his team have partnered with divisional marketers and with Chris Hart’s Applications Development group to create increasingly innovative approaches to reaching consumers online. While his department was originally created to explore direct-to-consumer sales, they have found their greatest success in driving consumers directly to retailers’ shopping carts – whether on the web or in bricks & mortar. Their recent work with Doubleday on the “second wave” campaign for Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol is an excellent example of the sales magic that can be created by combining corporate technology and analytics expertise with the publisher’s stellar creative campaign.

To be successful in connecting our books with the largest audience possible, it is exactly this type of innovative, retailer-aligned approach that we believe will help to set Random House ahead of our competition. Therefore, we are now formally repositioning and expanding this department. As a member of our digital senior management team, Pete’s mission will be to partner with our sales reps, our publishers, and our retailers to ensure we’re maximizing our ability to convert consumer interest to incremental purchases.

Newly reporting to Pete will be CHRISTINE MCNAMARA, currently our V.P., Director, Adult Sales, Borders Group and Books-a-Million. Taking on the newly-created role of V.P., Partnership Development, she will be fully dedicated to integrating our online marketing efforts with those of our retailers and vice versa. We can look forward to having her bring her deep understanding of sales and publishing (as well as her excellent sense of humor) to bear in these new efforts.

Continuing to report directly to Pete is CHELSEA VAUGHN, Director, Online Marketing Operations. Chelsea will oversee the project management and analytics components of the campaigns in which her highly creative team, which includes Senior Managers Erica Curtis and Joanne Korn, is involved and ensure the dissemination to marketers throughout the company of any new techniques or tools created or discovered at the corporate level. Her team has continually helped us improve our ability to precisely and efficiently spur frontlist and backlist sales.

Pete’s department will continue to have oversight for, corporately-managed e-mail marketing lists, and our activity on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere on the web. They will be working to further develop category-based online communities such as, the highly successful science fiction & fantasy site launched last year. Making all these efforts possible are CAMILLE COLLETT, Director, Web Production and JINNY KWON, Creative Director, newly transferring from Crown online marketing.

As with Nina von Moltke’s digital publishing department, Pete’s team will act as incubators and catalysts, adding extra creativity and support to the excellent title and category marketing programs that will continue to be anchored at the divisional level.

As you may already know, Matt Shatz, until now V.P., Digital, has accepted an exciting new opportunity as Head of Strategic Content Relationships at Nokia, where he will be working to develop and grow Nokia’s digital content business. Matt has been instrumental in advancing the Random House digital strategy and initiatives since 2007. While all of us are very sorry to see him go, we do take comfort in the fact that we’ll be able to work with him as a partner as he establishes Nokia’s publishing related initiatives.

Please join Andrew, Jaci, Joan and me in congratulating Nina, Pete, Amanda and their teams on their exciting new responsibilities as we expand and advance our digital-publishing opportunities.


E-books Spark Battle Inside the Publishing Industry

Publishers want to maintain their disproportionate profit margins, writers want a larger share of revenue and readers want plentiful books at cheaper prices! A large order but one that is being brought into focus by the coming of the digital age and e-books.

Washington Post Staff Writer, Marion Maneker, nailed the archaic publishing industry in her article on 27 Dec 2009:

The evolution of publishing from print to digital has caused a schism in the reading world. There are now two constituencies: readers (and writers) on the one hand, and the publishing world on the other. And they don’t want to hear each other.

Readers want books that are plentiful and cheap, publishers want to preserve their profit, and authors want a larger share of revenue. The conflict has created a strident internecine battle inside the publishing industry. At issue are the price and timing of e-books, and who owns the rights to backlist titles. While publishers, agents and bicker, there is little time for conceiving new content that satisfies customer demand. If the book business doesn’t tune in to that demand, it could wind up as a transitional source for the e-readers.

We know that readers want content, because it’s clear they’re not dazzled by the device. Consumers have made Amazon’s limited and rudimentary device a hit, which speaks to their desire for books that are cheaper and easier to obtain. It surely isn’t the device’s design or functionality. Both are closer to the computer aesthetic of the 1980s than today’s digital world. The Kindle may have lots of titles available — but good luck using the device to decide what to read next.

But publishers have ignored this demand. In response, several conglomerates have aggressively moved to protect their legacy. Macmillan recently announced a plan to delay the publication of e-books and offer enhancements that will justify a higher price. This tactic is aimed at Amazon’s policy of trying to set $9.99 as the expected price for an e-book. Most are priced much higher — but that’s beside the point. Amazon and publishers are fighting over this fiction, not the reality. Because Amazon’s customers have made it clear that $9.99 is still too high for their taste. Most titles in the company’s list of top 100 Kindle bestsellers are priced below $9.99, and the most popular price point is $0.00. But publishers can’t hear this, because they’re a little distracted right now.

The New York Times recently played up friction between publishers and agents over the electronic rights to backlist books. Random House has sent a letter to literary agents claiming to hold these rights even though it lost a court case on the subject. But agent, e-book publisher and blogger Richard Curtis puts the issue in perspective when he points out that few books are actually at stake here, because electronic rights became a contractual standard in 1990.

The real battle here is not over who controls the backlist rights but what royalties the publisher will pay. Stephen Covey caused a lot of consternation at Simon & Schuster last week when it was announced that he was taking his best backlist titles and publishing them with RosettaBooks, the e-book publisher that tangled with Random House on the issue and won. RosettaBooks is offering Covey half of the publishing proceeds, not the 25 percent or less he’d get from Simon. Publishers want these backlist books to add dollars to their bottom line; authors want to get a higher royalty for the backlist titles because the publisher doesn’t need to make any further investment to generate sales. There’s not a lot of room here to meet in the middle.

The stalemate ignores an important shift that digital publishing accelerates. The success of the book business over the past two decades was about expanding the supply of books. Growth came through increased volume, more titles and more title availability. That’s the story of the six big conglomerates and the growth of the superstores. But digital publishing inverts that formula — its magic is in the way it meets demand efficiently.

Barnes & Noble discovered that recently when the first of its Nook devices landed in the hands of reviewers. David Pogue and Walt Mossberg have both judged it a dud. The device seems to be a great packaging concept (dual-screen reader) marred by sloppy execution (slow navigation and refresh rates) that may leave them forever playing catch-up. Just building a device is not enough to capture sales. Amazon’s advantage is its customer base and brand loyalty. BN’s was going to be better functionality. If the books-and-mortar giant cannot make the breakthrough, more devices are coming to market — and one of them will make a meaningful move forward.

This doesn’t need to mean the end of book publishing. Publishers can no longer be vast containers of intellectual property distributed in paper form to bookstores, supermarkets and warehouse clubs. But they don’t have to be: They can become highly selective distributors to bookstores, supermarkets and price clubs. That’s the lesson of the television, music and movie businesses.

But if the publishers want a role in the e-books business, they’ll need to get over it and get on with it, embracing lower-priced e-books with higher author royalties. That seems unlikely. Because it’s now clear that publishers just don’t want to listen to what their customers are telling them.

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