Future of Publishing

Go Read This | The unevenly distributed ebook future | Studio Tendra

Baldur Bjarnason (@fakebaldur) is in the middle of a writing spurt, which is good news for anyone who is interested in thinking about books, digital, readers and publishing. He’s a good thinker on these things and while I don’t always agree with him, I do enjoy reading his material and the thinking it generates. I also wish that I had the discipline to write a series of posts, there’s a lot on my mine.

Anyway, several of the posts have really interested me greatly, but I like very much this section and have quoted him wholesale:

The publishing industry has bought into this idea wholesale. Some publishing markets are, according to this worldview, further ahead on the progress timeline than others. It also implies that advancement along the timeline is inevitable, even if it progresses at varying speeds. Romance and other genre fiction tend to dominate ebook sales and so must have more ‘future’. Non-fiction less so and must therefore have less ‘future’ and more of that crippling ballast called ‘past’. Big mainstream titles hit the ebook market in seemingly unpredictable ways. Some garner decent ebook sales while others seem to sell only in print. There, the ‘future’ seems to be randomly distributed, like a stress nosebleed over a term paper.

This, obviously, implies that the ebook will either eventually dominate universally or at least capture the same large percentage uniformly across the market.

I don’t think that’s going to happen.

The various publishing markets differ in fundamental ways that won’t be changed by ebooks. As others have said, ‘ebooks are terrific and haven’t changed a thing’.

Some will switch entirely to ebooks. Some partially. Some almost not at all.”


via The unevenly distributed ebook future | Studio Tendra.

Go Read This | Fast-Paced Best Seller: Author Russell Blake Thrives on Volumes – WSJ.com

There’s so much in this piece I have to take two extracts. This quote in particular is incredible:

“Being an author is like being a shark, you have to keep swimming or you die,\” he says. “People don\’t want to wait a year and a half for the next book in the series, they want instant gratification.”

But there’ lots more, like this section:

To ward off the sloppiness that inevitably comes with such speed, Mr. Osso pays two editors and a proofreader to comb through his books for errors and typos. His content editor, Dorothy Zemach, a freelance editor who used to work for Cambridge University Press, says it can be taxing to keep up. “There are evenings when my husband says, ‘Don’t check your email, there will be another book from Russell,’ ” she says.

via Fast-Paced Best Seller: Author Russell Blake Thrives on Volumes – WSJ.com.

The trend towards author services is so unstoppable now that it I becoming increasingly important that those providing the service are accredited and capable. This has got me thinking lots again about the author/publisher/agent triangle and how things might change in the years ahead.

 

Go read This | Macmillan Acquires Cookstr, with Schwalbe In Expanded Role

Cookstr is smart, acquiring Cookstr is smart. All told, this is a really interesting development:

Macmillan has acquired cookbook and recipe Web site Cookstr. Founded in 2008 by Katie Workman and Will Schwalbe, Cookstr has reached as many as eight million unique visitors a month via its own consumer-facing recipe web site, as well as powering recipe searches in partnership with other organizations. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

via Macmillan Acquires Cookstr, with Schwalbe In Expanded Role.

Go Read This | Bookish Acquired by Zola

Interesting piece of news this:

Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette, said the founding publishers “never intended to run Bookish forever,” and that their objective of starting a first-class recommendation engine has been achieved in the current Bookish version. Despite the problems, and costs, of getting Bookish off the ground, Pietsch said the founding publishers would tackle the venture again. “We saw a need for a great discovery engine and that is what we created. We are happy to see it move to Zola where we expect it will thrive.”

With Bookish, Zola will be able to expand on existing elements of its social networking capabilities. Chiefly, the acquisition allows Zola to incorporate Bookish\’s book recommendation technology into its site. (That technology is a proprietary algorithm pairing users with content.) Regal said this is “the most exciting aspect of the Bookish opportunity. ” The recommendation engine Bookish has built will be incorporated into Zola’s site and this, Regal thinks, “is going to be really significant.” While Regal could not share details about how the Bookish algorithm would be added to Zola, he said it will happen “in the months to come” and he could explain more once “we have more insight into their technology.”

via Bookish Acquired by Zola.

Go Read This | Publishers do need to sell direct, but here are five things they should at least be started on first – The Shatzkin Files

In many ways this issue highlights both the complex decision-making processes that lie behind things that are highlighted as faults among large publishers (and in so doing offers if not a defence, then at least an explanation for seemingly bizarre decisions) and the core problems of these publishers (that they are at once too large to move easily and too small to challenge their existing partners on tech or ecommerce grounds).  There’s much to ponder in this post as you would expect with Mike:

Because Random House didn’t have that blind spot, they were, first of all, aware that their conversion rate on clicks to Amazon was very high, much higher than they would expect to get themselves if they tried to encourage consumers to buy direct. So the capture of more margin per sale would be at the expense of losing many sales. But, in addition, the extra margin can get burned up pretty quickly with the costs of running a direct-sale operation. One that provides solid user experiences, customer service, and other now standard eCommerce practices anywhere near today’s customer expectation is expensive — more so when it isn’t your primary business. eCommerce is a huge distraction, especially when it is executed by the folks who are also your digital marketers! That, or additional head count (which further lowers margins), would constitute a publisher’s choices.

via Publishers do need to sell direct, but here are five things they should at least be started on first – The Shatzkin Files.

Go Read This | 2014 Publishing Predictions

Jane Little’s 2014 predictions list is wide-ranging and fascinating throughout. One point that I believe warrants mention is below and relates to online communities. One curious feature of the list is that Amazon seems to have got there already with a few points. Perhaps there is a danger of us all-seeing the future of books the same way Amazon see it. That would be unhealthy. In any case, there’s so much in there you’d be best reading it yourself.

Penguin and Random will buy a large reading community.  Right now other than streamlined distribution services, the merger hasn’t resulted in much of a change. Each publisher has its own sales, marketing, editing, and acquisition teams. But data about readers is more important than ever and so is the issue of discovery. Traditional publishers need a community of readers already built. They don’t have the time to create it from the bottom up and their efforts like Bookish and Book Country have been failures.  Their best option is to buy Wattpad or Scribd and given that Wattpad is venture capitalist-backed, Wattpad is the more viable candidate.

via 2014 Publishing Predictions.

Go Read This | Format wars

A great piece by Brian O’Leary on the opportunity to grow:

Forget about tablets, apps, physical or digital formats: every issue, nearly 8 million people receive a copy of Game Informer. That\’s 2.6 million more subscribers than Reader\’s Digest. That\’s more than twice the number of copies sold by People magazine.

A generation ago, there was no Game Informer. Today, its circulation makes it the largest magazine circulated in the United States, delivered to an audience that most publishers think won\’t read.

Implicit in the \”high cost, small market\” assessment are two corrosive beliefs: people will only pay what they have paid in the past (if not less); and the market is static, or shrinking. Those untested assumptions lead us to look at a new platform – in this case tablets – as fundamentally an extension of what we\’ve done in the past.

via Format wars.