Books

For The Record | Consumers, Not Amazon, Were The Winners

I’m growing very tired of seeing the kind of sentiment below (my highlighting):

The company has all sorts of regulatory and competitive concerns, making for a minefield of possible conflicts of interest for the owner of The Post. Amazon has opposed states’ efforts to have e-commerce companies collect sales tax. It was the main beneficiary of the Justice Department’s successful pursuit of five publishers and Apple on antitrust grounds. It is locking horns with major companies like Walmart and I.B.M. And as it expands into same-day delivery of its products, it will come up against grocery chains and drugstores.

via Expecting the Unexpected From Jeff Bezos – NYTimes.com.

In an otherwise excellent piece the NYT continues to allow this spin to go unchallenged. The main beneficiaries are consumers. Yes, per consumer the benefit is small, but when it’s all considered together, it’s enormous!

It is important to acknowledge that because when you do, it reminds you that the biggest losers from Agency pricing was not Amazon, but readers! The consumer was screwed for the benefit of Apple and publishers, not Amazon, readers!

I know, I know, nobody wants to face that fact, but it’s the truth.
Eoin

The Gill Family Takes Full Control Of Gill & Macmillan

Gill   Macmillan   HomeSome of the most interesting news in Irish publishing for some time tripped across my phone line and email inbox last night. The Gill Family has bought out Macmillan’s 50% share of one of Ireland’s largest trade and educational publishers, Gill & Macmillan.

It’s a fascinating move on many fronts. Firstly it’s nice to see such a large element of the Irish trade firmly in local hands, that’s healthy for the Irish industry given how heavily exposed to outside publishers it already is. Secondly it indicates that Macmillan’s strategic interests no longer include holding such a complex position in a joint venture like G&M. Lastly it lays the ground for interesting years ahead as the newly focused Gill (no longer & Macmillan?) faces the challenge of Penguin Random House which controls a large chunk of Irish publishing.


See the full press release below:

RELEASE DATE [ Wednesday 14 August at 10am ]
PRESS RELEASE
Gill family takes full ownership of Gill & Macmillan
The Gill family and Macmillan Science and Education, joint owners of Dublin-based publishing company, Gill & Macmillan, have announced that the Gill family has taken full ownership of the company.

The new ownership structure will have no trading consequences for the business and the Gill family, alongside the company’s Management Team, looks forward to building on its current success. A change in name and branding will take place at a later stage.

Gill & Macmillan was founded forty-five years ago in 1968 when Macmillan acquired an interest in the long-established Irish company, M. H. Gill & Son Ltd. Since then the company has become one of the most prominent book publishing and publishing services companies in Ireland. Publishing educational content for Irish schools and colleges has been a major part of Gill & Macmillan’s activities since its foundation. The company is also Ireland’s largest trade publisher as well as providing distribution services to the majority of the country’s independent publishers.

This development marks the next chapter for the Gill family, whose name has been synonymous with books in Ireland for 180 years, since Michael Henry Gill was appointed printer to Dublin University in 1833. Six generations of the family have now been actively involved in management of the business.

Michael Gill, Chairman of Gill & Macmillan said: “This is a very positive development for the company. Now wholly Irish-owned again and continuing to employ more than 70 talented and energetic people here in Dublin, we are excited by the transformative power and many opportunities and challenges provided by the digital age, both in Ireland and worldwide”.

Annette Thomas, CEO of Macmillan Science and Education, said: “The relationship between Macmillan and Gill has, over many years, been a model partnership of collegiate cooperation and shared business interests in this successful company. Whilst the sale of our 50% holding fits within our greater strategic objectives, we are delighted to maintain the many close friendships which have been forged with our colleagues in Dublin.”

The financial details of the sale have not been disclosed.

-ends-
Contacts:
For Gill:
Teresa Daly, Communications Manager, Dublin, Ireland
+353 (01) 500 9521 / +353 (0) 86 838 3559; tdaly@gillmacmillan.ie
For Macmillan Science and Education:
Sarah MacDonald, Group External Communications, London, UK
+44 (0)20 7833 5672 / +44 (0)7714 916798; sarah.macdonald@macmillan.com
Notes for Editors:

About Macmillan Science and Education
Macmillan Science and Education, part of the Holzbrinck Publishing Group, is home to the Macmillan businesses which empower those with curious minds to achieve great things. Through the provision of high-quality content and services to scientists, educationalists, students and academics around the world, Macmillan is changing the way students learn, teachers teach and scientists discover. Operating in over 50 countries with some 5000 employees, the division consists of Nature Publishing Group (NPG), Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education, Macmillan Higher Education, Digital Science, Digital Education and Macmillan New Ventures. For more information, please see http://www.learndiscover.com.

About Gill
Gill & Macmillan is the most prominent book publishing company in Ireland. Drawing on more than one hundred previous years of tradition and experience, Gill & Macmillan publishes educational content for primary and secondary schools as well text books for university, college and further-education courses. Its trade division publishes widely in history, politics, current affairs, sport, entertainment and lifestyle. The company has met the emergence of digital communication by providing e-book versions its bestselling titles alongside a rapidly evolving range of digital resources and tools for teachers and students. The company also provides a comprehensive distribution service for the majority of independent Irish trade publishers. For more information, please see http://www.gillmacmillan.ie.

Go Read This | Why disruption goes unchecked | Studio Tendra

I see this everyday, small ways in which the old system has become undermined, at the margin. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is huge:

This has already begun to affect existing publishers in minor ways. I know of one example where what was in my opinion the most effective tactic for that genre (subscription website) was taken off the table before the conversation even started. Why? Because one of the authors was already running a subscription website in that niche and they were doing it much much better on their own than the publisher ever would have.

via Why disruption goes unchecked | Studio Tendra.

Go Read This | Will you be in the nine percent of publishers that survive? | FutureBook

It’s a funny thing, but over the last few years I have found myself, occasionally, thinking less radically about the future than I should be and I can’t help but think that this stems from the fact that I am working on building up/rebuilding a legacy publisher. I suppose all of us print dominated publishers are the same. Of course, when I notice it, I scare the hell out of myself and try and snap out of it, but it worries me all the same:

What’s more, even publishing insiders who have a phenomenal grasp of digital may end up still thinking within existing paradigms, cleaving to industry norms despite their best efforts. The same happened in journalism and it’s very hard to combat because we aren’t always aware of our own inbuilt biases and assumptions. To paraphrase journalist Steve Yelvington, human mothers only give birth to alien babies on SyFy.

via Will you be in the nine percent of publishers that survive? | FutureBook.

Go Read This | An Industry Pining for Bookstores | The Scholarly Kitchen

A fine post about bookstores, print and emerging ecosystems (I’ve written about before about this new emerging value web) by Joe Esposito over on The Scholarly Kitchen:

Trade publishers pine for bookstores.  Part of this is nostalgia, but part of this is an awareness that their businesses were built for one ecosystem and another one is evolving before their eyes.  People may clamor for print (which would reinforce the publishers’ historical position), but the marketplace is increasingly becoming reluctant to provide it.

The simple truth is that with one exception, every link in the value chain must be profitable or the entire chain breaks.  Bookstores are breaking and are taking the entire chain along with it.  Amazon’s hands are outstretched to receive the new customers, to play its dominant role in the new ecosystem.

The one exception?  Authors.  Most authors don’t now and have never been able to live on the proceeds of their work.  A few do, and do so spectacularly.  That spectacle draws authors in:  it’s not the prospect of a good and interesting job but the chance to win the lottery that makes a writer out of a normal human being.  When we express regret at the passing of the old print paradigm, don’t shed a tear for the authors.  Our sympathies should be with the booksellers, who held it all together.

via An Industry Pining for Bookstores | The Scholarly Kitchen.

Go Read This | Jeff Bezos Ate My Hamster | FutureBook

Of course Chris McVeigh is making lots of sense here:

The idea that Amazon’s raison d’etre is to destroy the publishing industry has been repeated so often that it’s almost become the accepted wisdom in some quarters and as so often, the accepted wisdom is wrong.

Amazon are interested in selling books as a retail commodity – plain and simple. There’s no philosophical or ideological element to their approach. Books were simply the first commodity Amazon used to establish themselves in the online retail environment – as such they probably still hold a special place in Jeff Bezos’ heart. To believe that books are the main drivers of Amazon’s business strategy is to vastly underestimate Amazon’s ambitions and to vastly overestimate the importance of publishing in the wider scheme of things. Amazon doesn’t even break ‘Books’ out as a separate category in its’ accounts, they are lumped in along with DVDs, CDs and Movie & Music downloads under the catch all title of “Media” 

via Jeff Bezos Ate My Hamster | FutureBook.

On Galbraith, JK Rowling & Debut Novellists

Cuckoo's CallingI can’t say I agree with this argument

But there’s another downside, which is the negative impact on thousands of writers the public has never heard of or, more importantly, had the opportunity to read. In that sense, it could even be argued that Rowling’s well-intended hoax has backfired, turning into yet another story about fame in the modern world.

via JK Rowling’s book ruse is a cautionary tale for unknown writers | Joan Smith | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

For one thing, readers always have the opportunity to read debut authors, though they may never consider them and they may choose not to read them, given that readers’ time is limited and the chances of getting a bad book are high, it’s understandable that they often pick authors they already know and like.

Secondly the publishing industry has always been hit driven, there’s some argument that it is becoming even more so with the bandwagoning effect of the internet, but that’s a question of scale rather than kind. New writers always struggle to get exposure in this environment. But even the hits start small until something or someone pushes them over an edge, that can be advertising spend, celebrity endorsement, top line publicity, word of mouth or just dumb luck, but even JK Rowling started at the bottom with Harry Potter, the initial print run for The Philosopher’s Stone was around 1,00 copies!

Finally no writer is entitled to success, just as no publisher or bookseller is entitled to it. We all have to work to reach readers and entice them to read book (hopefully our books). Sometimes that means publishing a few books before gaining a readership, sometimes it may mean a writer never gains that readership despite being talented. There’s no foolproof way to guarantee success, you just have to keep plugging away at it and finding good partners to work with and hoping you can do everything right so that if success comes, you’re ready.