Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

03/24/2013

The Publishing Industry Will Never Be The Same – What Say We Make It Better! – Or Seeking Literature’s True Business


Make Publishing Better Than It Ever Was

Excellent idea! And one also fostered by +Jon Evans — an author (whose novels have been praised by The Times, The Economist and Washington Post), journalist, software engineer and TechCrunch weekly columnist — whom I recently discovered and, must say, admire. I admire his wit and intelligence — and especially for introducing me to +Richard Nash — another deeply accomplished,  independent publishing entrepreneur, VP of Community and Content of Small Demons, founder of Cursor, and Publisher of Red Lemonade plus much more.

Jon’s outlook as excerpted: “For the last five years, in the face of this spreading transformation, the publishing industry has been caught in a tawdry and depressing spiral of denial and decay, constantly attempting to reject new media, new technologies, and new business models until they can fight back no more…That’s why Nash’s essay is such a breath of revolutionary air. The publishing industry will never be the same, but why can’t it be better? Why can’t a whole new model of publishing be created, rather than this false dichotomy between “published” and “self-published”?”

Richard’s outlook as excerpted: “You begin to realize that the business of literature is the business of making culture, not just the business of manufacturing bound books. This, in turn, means that the increased difficulty of selling bound books in a traditional manner (and the lower price point in selling digital books) is not going to be a significant challenge over the long run, except to free the business of literature from the limitations imposed when one is producing things rather than ideas and stories.

A business born out of the invention of mechanical reproduction transforms and transcends the very circumstances of its inception, and again has the potential to continue to transform and transcend itself—to disrupt industries like education, to drive the movie industry, to empower the gaming industry. Book culture is in far less peril than many choose to assume, for the notion of an imperiled book culture assumes that book culture is a beast far more refined, rarified, and fragile than it actually is. By defining books as against technology, we deny our true selves, we deny the power of the book. Let’s restore to publishing its true reputation—not as a hedge against the future, not as a bulwark against radical change, not as a citadel amidst the barbarians, but rather as the future at hand, as the radical agent of change, as the barbarian. The business of literature is blowing shit up.”

“The business of literature is blowing shit up.” — I like this thesis and it bears repeating.

I know the theme of my post tonight will make some of my past commenters happy 🙂

Let’s explore this issue more (and be introduced to numerous cool links as a byproduct) in this dissecting TechCrunch article by Jon Evans:

 

“The Business Of Literature Is Blowing Shit Up”

If you love books–heck, if you even like ‘em–run, don’t walk, and read this magnificent, magisterial essay by Richard Nash on their past, present and future. It’s long. Don’t be frightened. But even if the Internet has shredded your attention span, at least scroll down to its epic final paragraph. Go on. I’ll wait.

It’s been a rotten decade for book publishers, newspapers, and anyone else clinging to that 15th century technology called the printing press. Marc Andreessen has advised the mighty New York Times to “burn the boats” and shut down their presses. His partner Ben Horowitz claimed last year that “babies born today will probably never read anything in print.”

Meanwhile, Borders is deadthe tablet is killing the e-reader, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook has gone from investor darling to dead-weight albatross. The “Big Six” publishers may seem to be surviving nicely, but check out this graph:

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01/25/2013

Self-Published Authors To Traditional Publishers: “You had your chance.”


“You should have treated us better”

Today Traditional publishers (TPs) are actively seeking self-published authors who come with their own following and fan base — a complete 180 degree turnaround from just a few months ago (or is it a few years ago now?)

But, due to freedom-from-hassle and time-saving publishing platforms on scene today, many writers are actually turning down the TP publishers after they DO proffer a contract deal — Too much loss of newly acquired control I would say 🙂

Could it be the big publishing houses are now beginning to lose some of their established contract writers due to diminishing operating budgets? And, if these last vestiges of revenue-generating talent do leave — what the hell would the TPs do ? They better develop a constant stream of incoming new talent  — but, if the new talent is beginning to flip them the finger for past abusive policies (not to mention their new, tech-endowed power), the talent stream will dry up and the TPs will just fade away.

They had their chance.

, a contributor to the Good E-Reader blog, posted these insightful thoughts on this subject:

The Self vs Traditional Publishing Debate Continues 

While authors and industry experts on both sides of the table have almost come to a consensus that there are benefits to both self-publishing and traditional publishing, it almost feels as though some more hardcore fans of either side still won’t lay to rest their original sentiments about the other camp. Publisher’s Weekly took note of a recent promotion by Amazon of a traditional-turned-indie author, what some in the industry are now referring to as a hybrid author, and the tone of the original announcement by Amazon is almost inflammatory.

Amazon posted the publishing journey of author Vincent Zandri, who admittedly had a rocky start in what was almost an illustrious traditionally published career. After being promised a $250,000 advance, a number so high compared to some advances now that it’s almost laughable, his novel never went where he thought it would because of cost-cutting in the traditional publishing industry, especially within the major publishing houses. His book was published with little fanfare, and the sequel was never even released in hardcover.

Amazon’s post went on to explain how the Kindle Direct Publishing option became a lifesaver for Zandri, who met up with a smaller publisher who bought the rights to both of his books and republished them via Kindle. And while this story has a happy ending for Zandri and his writing career, it ultimately feels like more of the finger-pointing that once kept self-publishing and digital-only published authors away from the cool kids table in publishing.

Now that the traditional publishing industry is beginning to embrace self-published authors, seeing them as a talent pool of writers who come complete with their own firmly established followings and fan bases, it almost feels like the self-published authors want nothing to do with the industry they once couldn’t join. While acknowledging that a high number of hybrid authors are still hoping to be “discovered” and picked up by a traditional publisher a la Amanda Hocking or Tina Reber, it’s beginning to look as though the self-published authors are collectively telling the industry that once wouldn’t let them in: “You had your chance.”

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12/17/2011

How To Strengthen Indie Booksellers – And Why We Should!


Strand Bookstore in NY -Still Surviving

More intrigue RE Amazon! AA doesn’t stand for Alcoholics anonymous here (although a drink wouldn’t hurt) … it stands for ‘Aggressive Amazon’.

Since Amazon is gutting the publishing industry by selling e-books (and e-book versions) at or below cost just to sell their other products … it is becoming glaringly clear that something has to be done to stop this future monopoly-in-the-making from becoming the lord and master of writers and publishers.

After all … Amazon’s core mission is NOT the art of writing and publishing … it is selling digital products [that merely deliver the true gold]! Let’s not get the true artists, creators and drivers of this  fine industry back to the slaves they were under the old exploitative traditional publishing system … just with a new digital master. The cart has been before the horse for far too long!

Now there are some out there who think the current developing digital publishing field and Amazon, in particular, is just fine because of the new emerging advantages that have been kind to some … But, BEWARE, if Amazon becomes the complete monopolistic monster it is striving for, the present advantages will vanish.

We must develop and strengthen multiple sources for the selling and distribution of our works.

Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly has this to say:

The Amazon Workaround

The best way to blunt the e-tailer’s clout is to support a diverse marketplace

Fear that Amazon will come to dominate the bookselling market is nothing new in the publishing industry. But last week, as booksellers continued to decry the company’s price check app (which could be used to access prices on booksellers’ sideline items, like toys and DVDs) and as information about Amazon’s aggressive demands to publishers regarding co-op and retail discounts surfaced (PW Daily, “Is Amazon Pushing Publishers to Brink on Terms, Co-op?” Dec. 15), some insiders began suggesting that the time had come to actively explore ways to lessen publishers’ dependence on the e-tailer. With this in mind, PW asked a number of people in the industry what the best course of action would be. The consensus was that developing and supporting initiatives that would create a more level the playing field would be the best approach to ensure a diverse marketplace.

Publishers readily acknowledge that, after the collapse of Borders, independent booksellers have become more important, and while the indie segment has shown signs of revival this fall, booksellers will still need to work closer with publishers to develop more profitable relationships. The changes that need to be made can’t be around the edges, but need to address the fundamental selling model between publishers and bookstores, something ABA CEO Oren Teicher called for in an address at BookExpo America this spring. Some experiments are already taking place, including extended dating. This would allow booksellers to keep titles on shelves longer and give them a chance to build an audience while helping them improve their always tight cash flow.

Selling books on consignment is another method that some independent publishers are trying, but consignment sales haven’t caught on yet with the larger publishers.

Windowing—offering print books for a period of time before e-books go on sale—while enticing is seen as impractical since it is unlikely that publishers will return to a practice they have already given up. Moreover, there is some thinking that publishers could start charging a premium to customers for e-books before the print book is released, something a sizable portion of consumers said they would like.

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02/27/2010

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.

MARKUS DOHLE

CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF BERTELSMANN AG

February 25, 2010

TO EVERYONE AT RANDOM HOUSE, INC.

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

PRESIDENT

SALES, OPERATIONS AND DIGITAL

February 25, 2010

TO EVERYONE AT RANDOM HOUSE, INC.

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 randomhouse.com, 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 suvudu.com, 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.

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