GW Cohort 9 Publishing eNewsletter

MPS in Publishing's eNewsletter for Fundamentals of E-Publishing PSPB6251

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Cohort 9, Issue 6, October 14

Global Publishing Boom
By Courtney Carroll

Each year, the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany becomes home to thousands of book publishers, small and large, and this year was no different.  However, this is the first year that publishers from Afghanistan attended and was praised.  The publishers broke ground for the first time at this event and will not stop there.  The owner and publisher of Afghanistan’s largest publishing company, Mohammed Ibrahim Shariti hopes “to tap into the international network of more than 7,000 exhibitors from around 100 countries … to show his country is back on the publishing map.”

Personally, I could not be happier.  I am a huge advocate for international relations and bringing a country that has been torn apart for decades by conflict back together with publishing is more than I could hope for.  Afghanistan peaked through in the literary market in 2003 with “Kabul-born, US-based writer” Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and followed in 2007 by his A Thousand Splendid Suns.

This is just the beginning of Afghanistan’s wonderful budding relationship with the publishing industry.  International publishing is important if we hope to keep the publishing industry alive and flourishing for several more decades and bringing together countries born of conflict is a great start.

Shariti also commented that “about a third of the population [in Afghanistan] still does not know how to read or right and the printing industry in Afghanistan is still problematic.”  I think that international publishing companies can work together to bring literacy rates up in these Middle Eastern and third world countries.  There are many other struggles that the publishing industry in Afghanistan is dealing with, but hopefully their presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair is the end to some hardships for the country.


Translating English-written Books for Spanish-speaking Readers
By Courtney Carroll

International publishing is dear to my heart.  I have spent almost ten years learning Spanish in High School, College, and on my own.  For decades, books have been translated into English for the majority of people to read, but for the first time, a publishing company will be translating English-written books into Spanish so people who speak the second most common language in the world can read books written in America.

Open Road Media will be teaming up with Barcelona Digital Editions to form Ciudad de Libros/Open Road Espanol.  This will be Open Road Media’s “first venture into the foreign-language e-book market.”

Does everyone realize how exciting this is?  I have been reading Spanish writers for years, but now, Spanish readers will be able to read English writers!  Most of the books that will be available through this new company will release its debut list in “the first quarter of 2014” and its goal is “to do a few hundred titles in its first full year of operation,” according to Open Road CEO Jane Friedman.

My gut always told me that in order for me to be more useful and successful in the publishing industry, I needed to hunker down and learn Spanish or another language.  I was right.  This company is hiring bilingual staff for editing and marketing and I could not be happier.  There will be titles in “popular fiction, literary fiction, and mysteries” that will be from authors that are Spanish, English, and more in coming years.  Literacy rates are sure to take off in Latin America, also.


E-books as Promotional Material
By Barbara Dickson

My attention was caught by a brief release on GalleyCat announcing that Vintage Books would be releasing an excerpt from The Power of Passage, part of Robert Caro’s biography series about Lyndon Johnson. The excerpt costs $1.99 and is titled Dallas, November 22, 1963.

This ability to chunk content and use it as promotional material is brilliant. As a reader, I may not be interested in reading thousands of pages about Lyndon Johnson, but I am interested in the Kennedy assassination—and this perspective (from Johnson’s point of view) is different than what’s normally seen. I’m willing to drop a couple of dollars to read more about the events of November 22, 1963. And who knows? I may find that I really enjoy Caro’s writing style and wind up paying for the entire book.

I’ve noticed a similar strategy with romance novels. Many romance novelists write series of books that follow families, or residents of a certain town. I’ve started reading some of these series through purchasing novellas that only cost a dollar or two (or are free) that provide side stories related to the rest of the series. It’s a small financial commitment and a small time commitment to see whether I enjoy the author’s writing and the characters.

One of my favorite writers, Jennifer Weiner, has released nine full-length novels, plus a book of short stories. In addition, she has written short stories that she has released as eShort Stories that are available for purchase and download solely as e-books.

For these authors, using chunks of material and shorter stories provides both an additional revenue stream and a marketing opportunity. In the case of Caro’s book, he has already written the material, so it requires very little effort to provide exposure to an audience he may not have accessed before. For authors of fiction, writing these briefer works provides an additional artistic outlet and a low-risk way for readers to be introduced to their work. Sample chapters can be great for fiction, but as a reader, I appreciate being able to read how an author formulates an entire story.

And even if I hate it and never want to read anything by that author again, well…that’s still $1.99 out of my pocket and into Amazon’s/the publisher’s/the author’s.

Read the full story at


When Is an E-book Necessary?
By Barbara Dickson

The responses of 1,400 members of the American Mathematical Society showed that across ages, mathematicians valued both print and electronic versions of their books. There seems to be an audience for both print and electronic versions of books, and the article “Bringing eBooks to Book” delves into the question of Why?

In publishing, e-books have become something of a buzzword. It’s the next thing in technology, so companies feel that it’s a world they have to rush into, without necessarily thinking about what they’re hoping to accomplish. There’s a fear that the company, if it doesn’t offer ebook versions of their titles, will be perceived as being behind the times. Consequently, even without looking at what the audience wants, companies might rush forward into producing a product that nobody actually wants.

This article goes into detail about what publishers should take into consideration when they move into the world of publishing e-books. Should it be outsourced? Should it just be an electronic version of the print product?

E-books can be so much more than just an electronic version of a print product; however, technology still has limitations on what we can do with electronic books. For the moment, it doesn’t seem that electronic books are the end to print—they can supplement and bolster the print products, but print isn’t dead.

And publishers need to examine their mission and business model before rushing into the world of e-Publishing. If you put the effort and time and money into producing an ebook and nobody buys it … is looking progressive enough of a justification?

Read the full article at


Those DAM Yankees (and Digital Trends)
By Joel Dulin

The world is trending digital, so it seems. Digital asset management (DAM) companies, which seek to facilitate e-content production of materials produced in the heavily New York-world of publishing, are pressing their services to presses in light of the digital revolution. One such company, Yudu, is now even producing user-friendly workflow systems to assist less-than-tech-savvy press staff members in creating web-ready content1. Yudu stresses a reading future heavy in tablet technology produced by Microsoft, Google, and Apple2. But what does this company base their assumptions on that long-form e-content will proliferate? Publishers’ overall sales of digital items still pale in comparison to their physical ones, yet because it’s projected that digital will only become more popular, they’re investing zillions of dollars to perfect the perfect DRM-clad text file. But is the push toward digitalizing book content more hype than necessity? According to Ann Mack, it may be.

Mack works for JWT Intelligence, a company that specializes in spotting trends. As reported on EContent, she began following a trend in 2010 or 2011 that had to do with how millenials spend their time. What she discovered has profound implications for the publishing industry. Although millenials spend plenty of time online, there is a trend toward what she calls “de-teching.” Essentially, teens and young adults are purposefully spending time away from technology and engaging in the physical world. As Mack puts it, “As our dependency on technology rises, so too will our desire to dial it down, at least temporarily, so we can be present in the offline now and see people face to face and engage with them in reality rather than in virtual reality3.”

In terms of the publishing, this means people like to pick up books, not e-Readers. And it has more to do than just a generational preference in form.

Apparently, people seem to prefer, and are perhaps better at processing, short-form information in digital form rather than long-form information. ANCILE Solutions Inc. has taken this lesson to heart. The company trains its employees digitally and has found that it is better to provide them content in “snack-size’ bites3.” Christopher Sardone, who works with TeliApp, says that in a similar manner to ANCILE, “Short, time-sensitive content that holds little long-term value – like news articles – are better for tablets and e-Readers than lengthy content that will be used frequently and continuously over a long period of time3.”

Other sources back up these claims. Paige Lester in her article “5 Powerful Ways to Connect with Your App Audience: The Importance of Engaging Mobile Content,” notes that people tend to use digital in short snippets – particularly smart-phone users. It’s mainly in the evening that people sit down with their tablets.4 This means, of course, that people by and large aren’t reading anything long-form on their phones; they’re scanning headlines, throwing birds at stones and pigs (the Angry Bird game, for those who didn’t get the reference), and checking their email accounts. And as for their tablets – they aren’t necessarily reading. In fact, book sales in forms that will be read on tablets have been less than to e-Readers. Chances are, they’re playing with other apps, checking Facebook, watching Netflix, et cetera.

Now, this isn’t to say all this talk about digital book sales are boloney. I’d have to be quite ignorant of the industry to assert something like that. On the contrary, there is a huge future in digital sales, but the strength of digital books won’t simply come via the text being in electronic form. Their strength of sales is going to come from their enhancements. Certain publishers, considering the enhancements possible with digital technology, are developing apps that use book metadata to localize content, so words in a children’s book could read “ill” in Great Britain and “sick” in the United States5.

In light of the changes that digital has brought to publishing, it’s important for publishers not just to digitize their content but to understand how people interact with digital content and what type of works do best in digital form. Understanding these trends means that a publisher can better focus its time and money producing valuable digital content for profits greater than that they are currently gleaning.



Are Publishers a Match for Kindle MatchBook?

When Amazon announced on Tuesday that it was launching a program to bundle print and e-books, called Kindle MatchBook, the effort drew little response from publishers, and even less participation. Among the major houses, HarperCollins is currently the only one participating, and it is doing so in a limited fashion. With publishers largely unwilling to talk about the program—most houses PW contacted declined to comment on MatchBook—the question remains whether publishers are not yet willing to try bundling, or whether they simply don’t want to try it with Amazon.

Through MatchBook, Amazon customers can buy e-book editions of new print titles, as well as e-book editions of print titles they have already purchased, at price points ranging from $2.99 to free. The program is set to go live in October and, currently, offers a mix of self-published titles (18,000 by Kindle Direct Publishing authors), as well as titles released by Amazon Publishing. A spokesperson for HarperCollins said that the house has “a selection of our backlist books” available through MatchBook. Amazon remains confident that more publishers will join the proram in the future.

Bundling has been a simmering topic in the publishing industry. Some executives, like Evan Schnittman, formerly at Bloomsbury and now at Hachette, have publicly said that the approach could be beneficial. What Schnittman conceived, though, was not a program along the lines of MatchBook. In a previous story, Schnittman told PW about what he calls the “enhanced hardcover,” a bundle with print and e-book editions of a title offered at a price point 25% higher than the standard hardcover price point. The enhanced hardcover, he felt, would entice consumers, while also working towards the profits of both authors and publishers.

MatchBook is nothing like Schnittman’s enhanced hardcover concept and, for some, the price points it offers are underwhelming. One publisher, talking off the record, said he was nonplussed about MatchBook. He felt the low prices in the program “further devalues e-books,” and makes them “look like a throw-in item.”

All the major publishers declined to say what they think of MatchBook, or whether they will join the program. Agent Robert Gottlieb is even skeptical about whether publishers have the right to submit their books into the program.

Gottlieb, chairman of Trident Media Group, said MatchBook exemplifies “a further erosion of the value of authors’ work.” More importantly, for Gottlieb, is the question of whether a program like MatchBook is covered under existing contracts authors have with publishers. “I don’t believe there are provisions in contracts for this type of arrangement,” Gottlieb said, noting that clauses around digital rights ownership in standard contracts do not cover a transaction like the one proposed by MatchBook.

An Amazon spokesperson said that sales made through MatchBook “are part of the business terms we have with publishers, and we’re paying publishers off of the MatchBook price.” Gottlieb, though, still has questions, and concerns. He dismissed the notion that MatchBook is providing a new revenue stream to authors, allowing them to receive a royalty, albeit a tiny one, on a sale that might not otherwise happen. In Gottlieb’s eyes, MatchBook does more harm than good for authors, because it takes away a publisher’s motivation to keep an author’s book in print. “It’s not a question of what you’re getting,” he said. “It’s a question of what are you’re giving up.”

Like Gottlieb states in this article, I also believe that MatchBook does more harm than good. The concept is an ideal one, and the price certainly attracts consumers, but I can’t see publishers profiting from it — which might be the reason why only one publishing company has signed on. Submitted by: Katherine Weikel

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Subscription-based Digital Publishing

Just when you thought the eBook business couldn’t get anymore complicated, two start-up companies have launched an eBook subscription-based platform for consumers.  The two companies at the forefront are eReatah and Oyster. The Digital Book World article focused on eReatah’s service.

So does this business model mean consumers are renting the books instead of purchasing them? Not hardly. How this business model works is the subscription service provider places DRM (digital rights management) software around the book to avoid resale by the consumer. Based on eReatah’s model, the company offers consumer three different pricing strategies:

  • $16.99 (two ebooks/month)
  • $25.50 (three ebooks/month)
  • $33.50 (four ebooks/month)

What the article did not disclose was how eReatah created that pricing strategy; what business intelligence did they use to base the pricing structure?

The other questions that come to mind are:

  • What if the consumer wants to purchase more than four ebooks/month?
  • Why would a consumer pay around $8.50/ebook for a subscription-based service, when he could pay around $5-7/ebook through a purchase? (And especially if he’s still going to end up “owning” it instead of “renting.”)

Considering how quickly technology changes and that many publishers are still trying to figure out what works best for them, it’ll be a wait-and-see season before this consumer will jump in.

Submitted by Lillian Laitman-McAnally


Marketing will replace editorial as the driving force behind publishing houses

One of the things my father, Leonard Shatzkin, taught me when I was first learning about book publishing a half-century ago was that “all publishing houses are started with an editorial inspiration”. What he meant by that is that what motivated somebody to start a book publisher was an idea about what to publish. That might be somebody who just believed in their own taste; it might be something like Bennett Cerf’s idea of a “Modern Library” of compendia organized by author; it might even be Sir Allen Lane’s insight that the public wanted cheaper paperback books. But Dad’s point was that publishing entrepreneurs were motivated by the ideas for books, not by a better idea for production efficiency or marketing or sales innovation.

In fact, those other functions were just requirements to enable somebody to pursue their vision or their passion and their fortune through their judgment about what content or presentation form would gain commercial success.

My father’s seminal insight was that sales coverage really mattered. When he recommended, on the basis of careful analysis of the sales attributable to rep efforts, that Doubleday build a 35-rep force in 1955, publishers normally had fewer than a dozen “men” (as they were, and were called, back then) in the field. The quantum leap in relative sales coverage that Doubleday gained by such a dramatic sales force expansion established them as a power in publishing for decades to come.

Over the first couple of decades of my time in the business — the 1960s and 1970s — the sales department grew in importance and influence. It became clear that the tools for the sales department — primarily the catalog, the book’s jacket, and a summary of sales points and endorsements that might be on a “title information sheet” that the sales reps used — were critical factors in a book’s success.

There was only very rarely a “marketing” department back then. There was a “publicity” function, aimed primarily at getting book reviews. There was often a “sales promotion” function, which prepared materials for sales reps, like catalogs. There might be an art department, which did the jackets. And there was probably an “advertising manager”, responsible for the very limited advertising budget spent by the house. Management of coop advertising, the ads usually placed locally by retail accounts that were partly supported by the publishers, was another function managed differently in different houses.

But the idea that all of this, and more, might be pulled together as something called “marketing” — which, depending on one’s point of view, was either also in charge of sales or alternatively, viewed as a function that existed in support of sales — didn’t really arise until the 1980s. Before that, the power of the editors was tempered a bit by the opinions and needs of the sales department, but marketing was a support function, not a driver.

In the past decade, things have really changed.

While it is probably still true that picking the “right books” is the single most critical set of decisions influencing the success of publishers, it is increasingly true that a house’s ability to get those books depends on their ability to market them. As the distribution network for print shrinks, the ebook distribution network tends to rely on pull at least as much as on push. The retailers of ebooks want every book they can get in their store — there is no “cost” of inventory like there is with physical — so the initiative to connect between publisher and retailer comes from both directions now. That means the large sales force as a differentiator in distribution clout is not nearly as powerful as it was. Being able to market books better is what a house increasingly finds itself compelled to claim it can do.

In the past, the large sales force and the core elements that they worked with — catalog, jacket, and consolidated and summarized title information — were how a house delivered sales to an author. Today the distinctions among houses on that basis are relatively trivial. But new techniques — managing the opportunities through social networks, using Google and other online ads, keeping books and authors optimized for search through the right metadata, expanding audiences through the analysis of the psychographics, demographics, and behavior of known fans and connections — are still evolving.

Not only are they not all “learned” yet, the environment in which digital marketing operates is still changing daily. What worked two years ago might not work now. What works now might not work a year from now. Facebook hardly mattered five years ago; Twitter hardly mattered two years ago. Pinterest matters for some books now but not for most. Publishers using their own proprietary databases of consumer names with ever-increasing knowledge of how to influence each individual in them are still rare but that will probably become a universal requirement.

So marketing has largely usurped the sales function. It will probably before long usurp the editorial function too.

Fifty years ago, editors just picked the books and the sales department had to sell them. Thirty years ago, editors picked the books, but checked in with the sales departments about what they thought about them first. Ten years from now, marketing departments (or the marketing “function”) will be telling editors that the audiences the house can touch need or want a book on this subject or filling that need. Osprey and some other vertical publishers are already anticipating this notion by making editorial decisions in consultation with their online audiences.

Publishing houses went from being editorially-driven in my father’s prime to sales-driven in mine. Those that didn’t make that transition, expanding their sales forces and learning to reach more accounts with their books than their competitors, fell by the wayside. The new transition is to being marketing-driven. Those that develop marketing excellence will be the survivors as book publishing transitions more fully into the digital age

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Posting Instructions

Here are the instructions for posting a WordPress blog. I’ve also put these instructions in the Blackboard discussion thread.

1.) Login using username and password
2.) Click on the “posts” tab. (If you don’t see it right away, click on the “home” tab to get off the dashboard menu)
3.) You’ll see the posts menu. There is a button called “Add new.” To write your post, click this and type in whatever you’d like. When you’re done, click “publish” on the right hand side.
4.) You’re done!
As a note, you can edit your posts later; you can also save drafts of your post before you publish them.