Publishing Companies

Making Things Happen: The IPN Premium Annual Report On Irish Publishing

This series is designed to talk about some of the things I’ve been lucky/crazy/happy to get shipped (as Seth Godin might put it) in the last few months. The first post talked about The Irish Story’s first five Apps. This post is going to talk about the IPN Premium Annual Report On Irish Publishing. It might be a little long.

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Where it came from
I suppose I should say that IPN Premium is the paid for imprint of Irish Publishing News, the industry website I run that covers Irish publishing news, features and stories. The idea behind the site was to create a resource for the Irish publishing community. I have another post coming about the site itself, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

IPN Premium then comes from a realisation that Irish publishing, as distinct from other industries, is poorly served by business intelligence and business advice. There is little in the way of market resources with the exception of Nieslen’s impressive but flawed Bookscan service for the Irish Consumer Market. I say flawed because while the most comprehensive analysis available, it covers a debatable portion of the market from 60-75% depending on whose figures you accept. I wanted to change that.

The Irish bookselling industry is worth somewhere in the region of €200 million and has sales of around 18-20 million units a year. That’s not small beer, the industry shouldn’t be relying on guesses, educated or not, about industry information.

What’s more, with the approach of digital publishing and the likelihood that a portion of those sales will shift online into purely digital form over the next five years, it would be crazy not to have a dedicated source of professional information for publishers, booksellers and authors to work from.

The Report itself
So I set to creating the first product, the IPN Premium Annual Report on Irish Publishing which is, at over 30 pages, longer than I intended and filled with more information than I realised it could possibly hold.

It is also reasonably priced because while all that I’ve said above remains true, many smaller publishers don’t have large resources available to them to buy reports.

If you haven’t bought it, and you find publishing interesting you can do so by clicking here.

Over the next few years, the report will gain features, and several aspects of it will change, but I’m very pleased with the first iteration and I hope those who have bought it are too.

There is much more to come from IPN Premium and indeed from Irish Publishing News itself, but for now, I’m just enjoying the sales as they come and hoping that those who buy it, find it as useful as I intend.
Eoin

Still True: It Only Matters That It Sells

The debate about ebooks and digital being the future IS over.

Sometimes in the whirl of debate, discussion and faux innovation that has surrounded the shift to digital, you can forget fundamental principles. Something about the tone of the discussion at the moment got me thinking about where we are and what it means.

That brought me to something I wrote just under four years ago:

Which of course is no major deal. Why on earth should publishers worry? Does it really matter if a book is sold as a paper product, as an audio CD, as a downloadable eBook or as part of a subscription based updatable online book, or indeed some combination of these?

NO. IT ONLY MATTERS THAT IT SELLS.

If anything they should be jumping in this direction as quickly and rapidly as possible. They should agree a format that is cross industry and cross device. They should look for attractive price points and better reading devices. Publishers in short should be looking for ways to grab the market and sell more books

I get the sense that most publishers at least in the UK, USA, Canada and Germany and probably in France, having tasted the sweet ambrosia of digital revenue and seen the impressive growth of ebook sales, are there now.

Maybe they don’t admit it too loudly, but I’m sure most senior level publishers have looked at the numbers, and they like them.

What does that mean?
Of course the flip side of what I said four years ago is this:

You can see then book publishers face a problem like print publishers. EBooks do not attract high prices. That is to say that I think most people feel that an eBook is less valuable than a real live (dead in Jeff Jarvis’ world) paper book. If an e-reader appears that quickly changes the market and shifts content online and into digital form as rapidly as music sales have shifted, traditional publishers will be faced with enormous difficulties. Their print runs will need to slide, their high costs need to be removed and eventually some books will simply no longer be printed in books and will remain exclusively as eBooks.

Print runs sliding and high cost cutting will not be fun. In fact it will be unpleasant for pretty much everyone in the industry, but make no mistake, if the first part of the prediction is true, then the second part is inevitable. The structure of the industry MUST change if it is to adapt (that forgoes the obvious strategic issue of whether survival in a digital world IS possible for now. There’s some discussion of this over at Mike Shatzkin’s blog recently).

The debate about ebooks and digital being the future IS over. What’s going on now is the shake out of how publishers change and adapt. I get the feeling that, for many people, this will be far more painful.

Beautiful morning here in Dublin, almost makes me hold back in posting this!
Eoin


Image with thanks to Flickr user Cloudsoup and CC

Wordpress Books Tag Page

Links Of Interest (AT Least To Me) 01/07/2010

Wordpress Books Tag PageI’ve been doing some fascinating reading the last few week and thought I’d share the ones that stuck with me. You may have noticed a few reblogs appearing in the stream. I’ve been using WordPress’s reblog button and loving it very much! These are non-reblogged though. Also impressed by their much improved tag pages. Like this one, for books.

An excellent open letter by Brian O’Leary to Scott Turrow about piracy, data and good and bad decision making.
Here

A very fine article over at Slate (Thanks to SarahB for the tip) on ebooks and paper and why one will not replace the other. Agree or disagree, the writing is solid.
Here

A nice find in general, Slow Media, one I was directed to by the excellent blog Casual Optimist.
Here

James Long over on Speculative Horizons has a great list of four upcoming titles by four of my favourite fantasy writers.
Here

Smashing line for literature at the Kilkenny Arts Festival this year.
Here

Philip Jones points to the clash in perception of the future for books in the digital age between Jeff Bezoz and Hachette UK’s George Walkley. Nicely done too.
Here

With the Russian spying scandal in the US, Yale University Press talks spies! Well worth the read and considering a new book purchase too.
Here

Despite a tough market, Barnes & Noble have been very upbeat about the future in terms of digital and print sales. I hope they are right.
Here

The summer seems to be rolling in this year (when does it not), but at least it’s been a good one so far!
Eoin

One Thing EVERY Publisher Should Do (and doesn’t cost a penny)

Lots of publishers have been rolling out new media and social media strategies and yet they are failing to do really basic things. There are some VERY simple things that can improve your site immeasurably and help you promote your company and your website. The crazy thing about these are that Big and Small publishers all fail to do them. And they are effectively free!

This one though has been annoying the hell out if me recently. And it’s so easy!

Have A News Page, Make Sure That Page Has An RSS Feed, USE THE NEWS PAGE*
You could set your news page up as a blog and allow commnets, but even if that isn’t for you, it is non-sensical to have a news page without an RSS feed. News that you post to a static news page just sits there waiting for people to come to it. An RSS feed sends it OUT to people in the place they have decided to READ It. That’s a wonderful permission tool. They are LOOKING for your news when they subscribe to your news RSS.

The Mercier Press News Page is a good example of using an RSS feed to a) let people know what’s coming up and b) getting pictures and news out about book launches and pretty much anything else. If they do anything wrong it’s that they don’t TELL people you can subscribe, I’d change that.

My idea of perfection for this is Little Brown’s UK website where they have an RSS Feed for their News & Events page AND they promote it!

That is all!
Eoin

* For New Pages, read Press Release or Update or whatever you prefer to call it!

Amazon Creates Translation Publishing Imprint: AmazonCrossing

In many ways this is a fairly sensible move from Amazon:

Similar to AmazonEncore, Amazon’s first publishing imprint, AmazonCrossing uses customer feedback and other data from Amazon sites around the world to identify exceptional books deserving of a wider, global audience. AmazonCrossing will acquire the rights and translate the books and then introduce them to the English-speaking market through multiple channels and formats, such as the Amazon Books Store, Amazon Kindle Store, and national and independent booksellers via third-party wholesalers.

It does go to show though how much power Amazon has gained for itself through hard work and enterprise. Owning the relationship with readers is enabling them to leverage their other capabilities and to relatively rapidly create imprints. Right now they seem small enterprises and mant dismiss them, but as I have pointed out before (and been shown to be correct) small things can grow!

Some questions arise here:

1) Will agents see the value of this outfit?
2) Will authors prefer more established houses?
3) Will their sales data and reader feedback advantage give Amazon a clear advantage over traditional houses in the rights acquisition field?
4) How will publishers react?

That last question is by far the biggest and strategically important. 2010 has really seen a ramping up of Amazon’s publishing enterprises. Beside this new imprint and a fairly large increase in the numbers of titles published under the Encore brand, they also announced this week that they had acquired a pretty mainstream writer. Publishers surely must see the danger that Amazon presents when it pursues actions like these!

Intrigued by all this!
Eoin

Amazon Encore Signs JA Konrath

Shaen By J. A. KonrathAmazon Encore the publishing imprint of the internet retailer has signed a deal with JA Konrath to publish his next ‘Jack’ Daniel title, Shaken.

This is pretty big news, as Mike Shatzkin points out:

this is a significant jolt to conventional publishing economics. Sales of Konrath’s $2.99 ebook will deliver him about $2.10 a copy (Konrath says $2.04; not sure where the other six cents is going…), as much or more as he would make on a $14.95 paperback from a trade publisher, and significantly more than he’d make on a $9.99 ebook distributed under “Agency” terms and current major publisher royalty conventions.

I noted here and elsewhere how Authors will drive change and pointed specifically to Konrath. It is very interesting that this deal is with Encore whose efforts I have also been watching warily for some time.

Publishers who didn’t see this coming, having been warned that such moves were on the horizon and in the aftermath of a series of similar deals really only have themselves to blame. I wonder what the reaction will be.

Print may wither much sooner than we expect!
Eoin

Things Publishers Fear: #2 ~ Google

The second part of my series about modern publishing over at EoinPurcell.com:

The database brings the reality of competition with EVERY SINGLE BOOK EVER PUBLISHED into sharp focus for publishers as new books face increased real challenges from books published 10, 20, 300 years ago and in every conceivable context, on a phone, laptop, desk computer, iPad, iPod, wi-fi enable device, anything that connects to the cloud and has a screen (not to mention an increase in POD).