Month: December 2008

The Final 2008 Numbers

Eoin Purcell

So much for our angst
The figures for week 52 of 2008 are in and the good news is that the Irish Consumer [books] Market crushed the 2007 figure both in volume and value terms.

In 2007 the total value of sales for the year was €153 Million. That figure for 2008 was €165 Million (give or take a few 100k). That is a stonking 7.8% year on year increase in market value. I’m pretty sure that is an unexpected result for most publishers. It seems the 20% of voters who thought the market would beat 2007 were on the money.

The fly in the eye of these figures though is volume which is up even more than the value figure with an increase of just under 15.5%. I’ve some digging and calculations to do but that means the Average Selling Price per book is well down.

Enjoying the break!

Links of Interest (At least to Me) 19/12/2008

Eoin Purcell

Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat …

Please look at these two “books every X must read” lists. Both interest both fun and both hopelessly aspirational (though the female version considerably less so than the male). [Hat Tip Editorial Ass]
Here (male) & Here (female)

A rather angry but rather good post on the Huffington Post about how publishing is engaged in a self fulfilling Prophecy that dictates that men don’t read.

O”Brien Press sell’s Celine Kieran’s Moorehawke Trilogy to Little, Brown for UK/US publication. Of course no one noticed the book until those rights sold even though the German and other rights were pretty big deals in themselves. Funny place my native land.

The Bookseller highlights the massive discounting in the UK, we have that here but I hardly have the time to do the sums!

Damn I’m tired!

Quick Poll – The Irish Consumer Market Up/Down/The Same

Eoin Purcell

As a little add on to my post on the publishing recession. This is a total guessing game but it is worth a shot.

There are three weeks left in the year. Two of those weeks will be big pre-Christmas weeks and one might as well be a non week though given the pre-Christmas sales it could be a big one for volume if not for value.

The market is standing just over €140 Million (thanks for the pointer there Walter, should have made it clearer) in value terms right now. We will have figures on 16, 23 and sometime around 30 December.

So based on this, answer the poll question below. Feel free to add your own guesses as to the total.

Let’s see what ye all think!

Eoin’s Christmas Recommendation – Non-Fiction

Eoin Purcell

First Things First
So I’ll get the shameless self promo out of the way from the get go. I heartily recommend my own addition to the Food & Drink genre, Our Grannies’ Recipes. It is a wonderful collection of recipes gathered and collated from and set beautifully in a hardback b-format for the relatively decent price of €14.99 (I hear H&H are selling it at €12.99). Whatever price you get it for, Age Action Ireland will get €1 for each and every copy sold. That’s good news I like to think. Not much chance of it getting to you by post so drop into your local bookstore and buy it there.

Our Grannies' Recipes

Our Grannies' Recipes

Other Great Ideas
Given the tumultuous times publishing is passing through I thought it might be nice for those who enjoy books and the bookish life to read Gabrieal Zaid’s So Many Books. It is a great read and well worth the tiny amount of time and effort you will expend reading it. So Many Books is a really nice company whose slogan is, Publish Few But Wonderful Books. There is a lesson in that for us all!

So Many Books FCP

So Many Books FCP

I have a weakness for Niall Ferguson so I could hardly write this post and not mention his rather great looking,The Ascent of Money. I think they rather smartly retooled the TV series to make this appear a far more skeptical tome than had originally been envisage, but I’ll wait until I have read the text to judge that.

The Ascent of Money FCP

The Ascent of Money FCP

I read and loved Adam Zamoyski’s Warsaw 1920. It is a really excellent book that in a short few pages paints a picture of a forgotten conflict that might have had much further reaching effects were it not for the cataclysmic World War Two. Alternatively you could conceivably make the case that the world would be different for the better now but I hesitate to suggest that, the Europe of 1920 was hardly ready for a war with Russia the like of which it would have had to face had Poland succumbed to the ALMOST unstoppable juggernaut.

Warsaw 1920 FCP

Warsaw 1920 FCP

A smaller list than normal this year. The sheer volume of good material made me lean in the direction of the truly great stuff. I hope no one minds.

Fiction tomorrow,

The Publishing Recession

Eoin Purcell

Troubled Times
There is little point denying it, we are in the middle of some big changes in global publishing. It’s moments like this that remind you why working and living in what some might see as backwater, has its advantages. That said we are not immune to it here either.

The Irish Story
Sales have been a bit sluggish and while we need only €12 million in sales over the next three weeks to match 2007 figures (that’s a target of just over €152million sales according to Bookscan) there are only two pre-christmas weeks left and while volume is boyant, average selling price is taking a hammering in the last few weeks.

The Publishing Crunch
It is not just that many of the largest American publishers have decided to lay off staff (there are SoManyStoriesIJustDon’tKnowWhichOneToPick). Even Newspaper companies chimed in with bad news Tribune Co. went into bankruptcy and New York Times Co. announced that they would mortgage their office block to reduce debt. There is a real sense that publishing is entering some kind of crisis.

Is There Any Good News?
The New York Times pointedto the strong year that Hachette has had in the US but paired that story with the uttery depressing tale of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt which is depressing enough on its own.

So Just What IS Going On?
For perhaps the most coherent explanation of what kicked the US element of this off, read this post by moonrat over at the Editorial Ass blog:

In October, bookstores returned so many books that most publishing companies had more coming into them than going out of them. For some companies, the incoming number was more than several months’ outgoing.

Although bookstores are suffering (and how), it was the publishing houses that had to absorb the cost of this cash flow creator. This is why Impetus, a relatively new indie company without the history to survive this shock, folded. Some houses lost so much money in returns in October that profits from the entire rest of 2008 have been negated.

Where Does This Leave Us?
Publishing cautiously is the only answer I have. It’s a bad time for small publishers and mid-list authors. Bizarrely new or debut authors might just have a punt, acquiring new authors tends to be cheaper and if the work is right, marketing it can be easier too. That makes sense in a poor market, just as publishing known entities with solid histories does. I’ll add some more thoughts when I have them!

Refreshed from my Chicago trip but only defrosting now!

CBI Seminar

Eoin Purcell

With thanks to Flickr user ulle.b & cc

With thanks to Flickr user ulle.b & cc

Sensible decision?
I was going to write a post in the CBI Seminar on Children’s Publishing, but I think, David has it covered and rather than split the discussion I thought I’d direct people to it from here!

I’ll say these few things though:
1) I thoroughly enjoyed it
2) There is an awful lot of passion in Ireland about Children’s publishing
3) No one holds out any hope for picture books which distresses me enormously but is a reality
4) We have got to break open new markets (however we do that!) or our market will shrivel and die!

Feeling a bit more rested, definitely more energized and exciting about the forthcoming holiday (Chicago for a week! Whoop!)

Houghton Mifflin publisher resigns

Eoin Purcell

In what can only be described as the biggest unsurprise of the year, the acquisition pause @ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt brought about a departure at leadership level, (the AP has the story as does the NYT).

From the AP:

Saletan, ironically, had initially benefited when Houghton purchased Harcourt last year. Formerly publisher of adult trade books at Harcourt, she was promoted to head the combined adult trade divisions, winning out over Houghton publisher Janet Silver.

From the NYT:

Literary agents who knew Ms. Saletan were upset by the news of her departure. “I think that Becky is a woman of extraordinary integrity and had quickly become a terrific publisher,” said David Black, whose clients published by Houghton include the cookbook author Dorie Greenspan, the journalist Earl Swift and the sports columnist Ian O’Connor. “It’s a significant loss because I think that they need strong leadership now.” He added: “They now need to find leadership. They had it, they lost it.”

I’m beginning to think we are watching the prelude to the decline if a huge publishing house. Hopefully I’m wrong but I cannot see this ending well. Strikes me the only happy outcome now is a sale to another trade publisher. Otherwise HMH will limp along damaged by the “Freeze” and this new departure until it fails even more spectacularly.

I really do hope I’m wrong,