In the piece below, Weldon is on the money and authors should keep that in mind:
He thinks publishing a new book is a bit like running a startup company, or – in an analogy closer to this horse-racing enthusiast – a flutter at the track, where “relentless optimism” is blended with controlled risk-taking.
Interesting piece by Stephen Page of Faber in The Bookseller:
Publishers and other media companies have always been as singular as those who invest directly with talent to license properties. This is changing. Netflix’s House of Cards demonstrates that players further down the value chain are trying to expand their role to include investment in intellectual property. Alongside this, the transformation of self-publishing has demonstrated that those upstream from larger scale publishers are also able to exploit copyright. We are all part of one continuum, and will co-exist to the benefit of readers and writers alike.
Sandy Hall, a teen librarian from Hawthorne, New Jersey, posted A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT to the Swoon Reads site in November 2013. Within weeks, the manuscript was rated “Five Hearts” by the Swoon Reads Community and considered to be one of the most “Swoonworthy” on the site. This brought it to the attention of Jean Feiwel, Publisher of Swoon Reads, and the rest of the Swoon Reads Board. One e-mail and two phone calls later, Sandy Hall signed her first book deal for World rights.
Very good piece looking at the competing fortunes of Quercus and Waterstones. I’d add a small amount of caution here. Firstly, the Waterstones figures are for the year up to April 2013 whereas the Quercus figures are more up to date. Even so you can follow the logic through from April 2013 until today, in many ways that makes sense because the impact of the kind of policies highlighted here would be more dramatic on publishers in the key Christmas Trading period than at any other time:
Now, cash management is closely related to stock management, so it should come as no surprise that Waterstones’ stock has come down as their cash has grown. I have no knowledge of the state of Quercus’ stock management, but it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ve got too much stock, probably of extremely good titles, sitting in a warehouse, intended for those big orders that never came from the retailers with those challenging conditions.
For independent publishers to remain independent, and sadly it looks as though Quercus will not, we need a relentless focus on cash management and cash generation. Our businesses and the titles and content that make them need to be profitable, and we need to use the digital print and e-book technologies that enable us to hold the lowest stock possible. Easy to say, and probably pretty obvious, but if we don’t hold it as a top priority we can easily be caught out.
I wrote a piece for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s FAQ magazine this quarter about whether or not there was an impact being felt amongst traditional publishers in Ireland from the presence of large tech companies who have made Dublin and Ireland a base of operations in Europe:
The web forms a core part of their businesses in a way that is not yet true of traditional publishers. While they are growing their e-book segments, the latter still do most of their business in paper and print. This crucial difference might be the reason why traditional publishing has not felt much direct impact from the tech firms. Most traditional publishers have little interaction with them and, while the newer and smaller innovative publishers might use their platforms, services and tools, there is not much they can give the tech giants and not much the tech giants can give them.
‘I don’t see that the presence of the large new media and tech companies has had any particular impact on the domestic publishing industry,’ says Ivan O’Brien from The O’Brien Press. ‘They don’t really interact with us, and they inhabit a multi-national space, generally dealing with companies with a whole lot more money than we have!’
An interesting piece by Baldur yet again. In lots of ways touching on the dangers of innovation and change to incumbents:
Building up in-house digital product development is risky and expensive, especially at the start when you have to build up the necessary expertise and tools to do the job and change your organisations implicit value network.
The problem is that changing an organisation’s value network is next to impossible without firing everybody (yourself included) and replacing them with different people. Adding individuals who have different values from those prevalent in your organisation won’t change the value network. It’ll just make your new hires miserable before they quit or get fired. Which means that building a top notch, in-house digital product development team is going to be difficult for most publishers.
There is, as ever much to enjoy in reading Rebecca Smart’s analysis over on The Bookseller. One thing that stands out for me though is the ease with which she talks about topics that rarely get flagged up in publishing discussions, things like working capital and cash flow, critical elements in the world of books, physical or digital that perhaps more often than makes sense get relegated to the back room while the cool topic like art, literature and the rest get all the attention and discussion:
The current trade publishing sales process means that money and time are invested in 15 to 18 months’ worth of books at any given point. If we could reduce the length of the pipeline for most of the books we publish we would be able to invest more in each book – and the fact that the business of publishing would become less working capital-intensive would improve its chances of survival and therefore of continuing in its important role of finding and developing talent.