Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

08/26/2011

Publishing as Manufacturing and the Tribalism of Literary Communities.


Richard Nash - Publishing Entrepreneur

Publishing needs to return to the basic concept of connecting readers with writers … and get away from selling book products to bookstores.

I like this concept! …  And, it is one discussed in an interview titled Revaluing the Book with publishing entrepreneur Richard Nash by Matt Runkle in the Boston Review.

Richard Nash “has created a social-networking platform called Cursor, which allows writers to form literary communities and post their manuscripts for members to read and react to.”

The interview:

Revaluing the Book

Richard Nash, former head of Soft Skull Press, insists that book publishing needs to return to the simple task of connecting readers and writers. He has created a social-networking platform called Cursor, which allows writers to form literary communities and post their manuscripts for members to read and react to. Nash also helms Red Lemonade, Cursor’s first imprint, which publishes work selected from its site. Matt Runkle spoke to Nash recently about publishing as manufacturing, the closing of Borders, and the tribalism of literary communities.

Matt Runkle: There’s a lot of worrying about the disappearance of the book as an object. Do you see the printed book in the same state of flux as the publishing industry?

Richard Nash: If people want something, why do they think it’s not going to exist? Not to get all sort of laissez-faire capitalist about this, but I’m going to have a moment of laissez-faire capitalism here and note that if people want to read the book in its printed form, then I predict there are going to be ways in which they can ensure that they will continue to get it in printed form because people are going to be willing to pay for it.

I mean the reality is that soon enough—even right now, technically—anyone will be able to get a digital version of a book and go and get it made into a physical printed book if they want. I mean right now, whether you’re using the espresso machine or—goodness gracious—3D printing, which is very, very, very much in its infancy, any kind of manufacturing over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years is going to be able to be done as a hobby. So if you want a printed book, you will be able to get a printed book.

It has been a fascinating phenomenon in the discussion around publishing how adversarial people get around other people’s choices. So if someone says “I like an ebook,” a person will respond “Ohhh, I can’t believe—how can you do that?” It’s like that obnoxious person who you don’t want to go out to dinner with anymore because they can’t just order what they want, they have to comment on what you’re eating as well. What’s been epidemic in this discussion is that when both camps talk about their own preferences, they have to malign other people’s preferences too, and make grandiose extrapolations about the consequences of other people’s preferences for their own. If they like printed books, they should be buying the damn things instead of whining about other people’s preferred mode of reading. So I’m tremendously optimistic about the future of the book as an object. I think the worst years of the book as an object have been the last 50 years. 

What we have witnessed over the last 50 years is the progressive shittification of the book as an object.

MR: Why?

RN: When I started at Soft Skull in 2001 we were printing on 55-pound paper. By 2005, we were typically printing on 50-pound paper. By 2008, half our books were on 45-pound groundwood. And that’s because our print runs were going down. And even with publishers whose print runs weren’t going down, they were trying to save money. Because when the book’s primary purpose was not to be an object, but rather to be a mass-produced item for sale in big-box retail, then there’s going to be downward pressure on costs. And so what we have witnessed over the last 50 years is the progressive shittification of the book as an object—a process that is not external to publishing as it was practiced over the last 100 years, but has in fact been at its fore.

If you’ve got a manufacturing supply chain, then the dictates of manufacturing are going to be the ones that drive the business. And there’s certainly going to be some ad hoc occasional efforts not to do that: certain independent publishers will try to focus on quality, and certain individual books from other publishers might be tarted up for one reason or another, for marketing purposes. But those are the exceptions. Basically, when you’ve got an industry that is pushing out $25 billion worth of physical products into a supply chain, the vast majority of businesses are going to try to cut costs and increase revenues. And the simplest way to cut costs is going to be on the production side. So if the core of the business is no longer a supply chain, but rather the orchestration of writing and reading communities, the book is freed of its obligation to be the sole means for the broad mass dissemination of the word, and instead become a thing where the intrinsic qualities of the book itself can be explored.

MR: How did you come up with the idea for Cursor?

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10/31/2010

Marketing Books Today


I have discovered a new literary group: BISG (Book Industry Study Group)…and they have culled some new marketing savvy from their webcast last Wednesday where 80 publishing professionals tuned in.

Some (or all) of this marketing intelligentsia you may have discovered for yourself already, but there are gold nuggets in here for those that are still seeking and learning about book marketing in today’s digital environment.

Lynn Andriani of Publisher’s Weekly reports this:

It’s All About the Social Network
BISG webcast covers marketing books in a digital world

Nearly 80 publishing professionals tuned in to a BISG-sponsored webcast, “Marketing ‘Books’ in a Digital World,” on Wednesday. The hour-long discussion covered a range of tactics publishers are taking to get their books into readers’ hands, but the topic that loomed largest was socia networking.

Rob Goodman, director of online marketing at Simon & Schuster, revealed a battery of impressive figures about how social networking influences consumer buying habits, among them: consumers are 67% more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter, 51% more likely to buy from a brand they fan on Facebook, and 79% more likely to recommend brands and products they follow on social media. The other speaker, Peter Milburn, digital products marketing manager at Wiley Global Finance, called Facebook (which has 500 million users), Twitter (125 million users), YouTube, and LinkedIn “the new retailers,” an idea moderator Jim Lichtenberg, president of the management consulting practice Lightspeed, confirmed when he noted, “You go to Facebook, hear about a book, then go to a retailer and buy it—so at that point the retailer’s just fulfilling your desire.”

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09/08/2010

What’s Up With Wattpad? Interesting!


Wattpad was launched in 2006…AND, I never really heard of it (or if I did I forgot about it) until yesterday! But, I miss a lot sometimes, maybe even more than sometimes…

This revealing report comes from Publishing Perspectives by Edward Nawotka:

In August, Wattpad published usage analytics for downloads and readers of the company’s ebooks. The report covers desktop usage, as well as some 1,000 different phone models from 600 carriers in 160 countries (excluding China).

• While English-language books and readers using smartphones remains the strongest segment, growth among Southeast Asian readers using Java-based feature phones is nearly as good and, argues Wattpad co-founder Allen Lau, has even more potential.

Canadian e-publisher Wattpad “aspires to be the YouTube of ebooks,” and has some 600,000 stories or e-book chapters available on its site, says company co-founder Allen Lau. In late August, Lau released statistics analyzing which devices its readers use to read Wattpad’s self-published ebooks, covering usage on desktops and some 1,000 different phone models from 600 carriers in 160 countries (excluding China, where traffic to the company’s site is blocked). The report covers traffic through the second quarter of this year, from April through June.

“We know it’s not 100% representative of the market,” said Lau, “but is an interesting snapshot, particularly for the younger demographic. We have users from teenagers to writers in their 70s, but 80% are under 25 and most of them are female.”

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad offers ebooks via it’s website http://www.wattpad.com, a mobile site (http://m.wattpad.com) and through Wattpad’s proprietary application that can run on Apple iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, and Java-enabled phones. According to its own data, the company delivers approximately one million downloads per month and has amassed nearly half a million readers since its launch in 2006.

The majority of Wattpad titles are downloadable as single chapters, typically of between two to twenty pages in length. The majority are written by self-published authors, though some traditional publishers have also begun experimenting with distribution through the site, which now include Macmillan’s sci-fi imprint Tor (available for the Android app) and Choose Your Own Adventure publisher Chooseco, among others.

The company is also in partnership with Smashwords.com and Lulu.com to provide marketing solutions to their authors in the US, and with Bubok.es, to do the same for its Spanish-speaking contributors.

To date, the most popular single title on the site has Dinner with a Vampire by Abigail Gibbs, which is available in more 50 chapters, which have been read in aggregate some eight million times (representing approximately a half a million total readers).

A majority of titles are in English, though there are hundreds of titles available in languages including French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Malaysian, Romanian, Turkish, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Korean, Japanese and several others. The company is ad-support and advertising, through agreements with partner companies in the relevant countries, appears in the language native to where the book is being downloaded or read.

Read more http://alturl.com/9buch

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