GW Cohort 9 Publishing eNewsletter

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Harlequin Expands to Digital Publishing


In mid-August, Harlequin, a Toronto-based publisher of books for women, announced it was going to make its first digital efforts. All e-books that will be published in the coming months will all be originals. Each division involved (Harlequin, Harlequin Teen, Harlequin Mira and Harlequin HQN) has their own goals for the first year, whether it’s to publish an e-book every month to every other month. A new program will also launch, Harlequin-E, and publish across various genres and feature stories that have a minimum word count of 10,000.


Executive VP of Global Editorial at Harlequin, Loriana Sacilotto said “The challenge in the digital marketplace is in finding ways to make titles stand out.”

Harlequin seems to have waited a few years before it decided to take the dive into digital publishing. This may, and hopefully, will work to their advantage. Harlequin has a plan set for each division with how many books will be published for 2014; Harlequin-E has a goal for the first quarter of 2014 since the endeavor beings this fall rather than January of next year. These numbers have also been taken into careful consideration, which may be why it took Harlequin a while before they decided to pursue the risk.

As we’ve learned in our readings and lectures, the challenge in the digital marketplace is trying to scale to your audience. With so much content available in the digital world, whether it’s Amazon, Google or any other online open source or marketplace, how to you shuffle through the collection of titles? From our reading in “The Book: The Life Story of a Technology” by Nicole Howard, I remember it said that publishers would print their logo or seal in the cover of books to distinguish which publishers books came from. Ms. Sacilotto stated that publishing under the Harlequin brand is “a powerful attraction for readers,” which is proof that today’s readers, like those during the Gutenberg-era and the expansion of the printing press thereafter, still hold value to trustworthy and quality publishers.

Hopefully Harlequin will be successful in their digital endeavors and their numbers of digital titles they publish will grow.


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Bundling E-Books and Print Versions

“Why are we still not bundling e-books?”

In this article Alex Crowley wonders why bundling e-books with their print counterparts has not become common practice among book sellers.  He mentions that it has been done successfully by Angry Robot, but none of the big publishers have followed suit, other than an initial attempt by Barnes and Noble in 2010.  Crowley concludes the article by asking what many people seem to be wondering as well.  What exactly are the reasons keeping large retailers from bundling?

Joy Hawley published a response on Publishing Perspectives that delves farther into the potential future of bundling e-books and print versions.

“Ghost in the Machine: Does Print + E-Book Publishing Have a Future?

Hawley begins by discussing the pros and cons of bundling.  The benefits are the convenience of being able to purchase an e-book and a print book at the same time as well as the added value that comes with adding an e-book to a print book.  The potential negative would be that bundling would be seen as a “deal” and therefore would mean selling the e-book at a discount.

Hawley, like Crowley, also discusses that some have already found success with bundling.  Some presses are already selling e-book/print bundles with great response, but are choosing to sell bundles directly to readers instead of through retailers.  Other companies using forms of bundling are BitLit, University of Kentucky Press, and some German publishers.

The article ends with an expressed desire to see bundling used more widely in the future to “give readers the best of both worlds”

I personally would also like to see e-books bundled with print copies of books in the future.  I love the convenience of e-readers, but I still love my print books too.  I would agree with Hawley that it would be nice to have the best of both worlds, without having to choose between print and e-book versions, or even to pay full price for both.  I can certainly see the dilemma for how to make bundling a viable option, however.  Codes for the e-books printed inside of the print versions would be too easy to steal, and taking pictures with purchased print books to claim the e-book version (as is being used by some of the smaller presses) is not feasible on the large scale.  Hopefully as the e-book market continues to grow however, bundling will lie in its future.


Kaitlyn Evensen

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Why Aren’t there More Women at the Top in Scholarly Publishing?

Thousands of articles and books have been written about how few women make it to the very top of their organizations; searching ‘lack of senior women managers’ on Google Scholar yields over 17,000 results for 2013 alone.   But how well do we – the writers, publishers, and disseminators of these books and articles – fare in terms of the number of women in leadership roles in our profession compared with others? The answer, sadly, is a resounding “could do better.”

Things have undoubtedly improved in the last 20-to-30 years. When I started my first job in scholarly publishing in the mid-1980s at what was then Basil Blackwell Publishers in Oxford, there was not a single woman on the senior management team. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the highest-ranking position held by a woman was senior commissioning editor. Fast forward to 2013 and there are many more women in leadership positions, but the top ranks of scholarly publishing are still predominantly male.

Of course, this is not unique to our profession. The 2012 Catalyst Census found that, “Despite high-profile news about gender gaps, equal pay, and women on boards, once again the needle barely budged for women aspiring to top business leadership in corporate America.” As an industry, scholarly publishing tends to attract more women than men – 60/40 is typical of most companies I’m familiar with – so Sheryl Sandberg’s comment in Lean In, that “The pipeline that supplies the educated workforce is chock-full of women at the entry level, but by the time that same pipeline is filling leadership positions, it is overwhelmingly stocked with men”, certainly resonates.

Why is this the case, both in general, and in scholarly publishing in particular? Why does it matter? And what can we do about it?

Biology is certainly a factor. It’s women who have babies and, for most of us, this entails a career break of some sort – whether leaving the workforce temporarily or permanently, working part-time, or simply not having the flexibility to travel frequently or work the long hours expected in most senior-level jobs.  Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor to the European Commission and a passionate advocate for women in science, summed up her view on what’s blocking more women from staying in science in a recent interview:

“The problem is that we lose too many bright young talents as their career progresses just because the framework conditions are not right. This has to do with childcare facilities, with flexibility at the workplace, with the possibility of re-entering after a career break…”

But this can’t be the only issue, since not all women have families, and at least some of those who do – including Sandberg and Glover – have successfully reached the top of their professions.

So, much though I dislike the phrase, perhaps Sandberg’s overall thesis – that women need to “lean in” more – warrants further examination.  Is she right in thinking that we don’t have as much confidence in our abilities as men? Whatever your opinion of Lean In – and it has seen more than its share of male and female critics – most women will be familiar with what Sandberg describes as “impostor syndrome … feeling like a fraud”, and with how “fearing discovery with each success” causes us to pull back from risks and opportunities.

Do men worry about this?  Apparently not, or at least, not as much.  Sandberg quotes a number of studies showing that, when men and women are asked to evaluate themselves, women routinely under-rate their abilities, while men don’t. For example, “A survey of several thousand potential political candidates revealed that, despite having comparable credentials, the men were about 60% more likely to think they were “very qualified” to run for political office” (from a 2012 report by the Women & Politics Institute at American University).  At the same time, various studies confirm that the majority of people – men and women– still hold a double standard for men and women: being viewed as “ambitious” is seen as negative when applied to women, but positive when applied to men.

These biases are part of a vicious cycle that reinforces the status quo:  Sandberg believes this is central to why women hold themselves back – and why we don’t often make it to the top.  The sad fact is that unless we cause a shift in well-entrenched practices and long-held beliefs, the chances are that companies (including scholarly publishers) will continue to be run mainly by men.

So, what can we do to help change the situation?  Here are a few ideas to consider:

Challenge the ‘meritocracy’: The glass ceiling is supported by the view that those who rise to the top do so purely on merit.  But are our best interests really served by those who have made it to the top, regardless of gender? Numerous studies have shown the value of developing more women leaders through proactive initiatives. In Norway, where since 2008 there has been an enforced 40% female quota for board membership for all public limited companies, evidence shows that the greater presence of women in management led to more focused and strategic decision-making, increased communication, and decreased conflict. In addition, studies such as this 2011 McKinsey Report show that men have the advantage of being promoted based on their future potential, whereas women are promoted based on past performance.

Value and reward diverse talents:  The Norway example exposes what I see as a central issue in organizations today:  that the skills and competencies that are considered most valuable and, therefore, most rewarded, are typically not those at which women excel.  For example, relationship-building – something at which many women excel – is often undervalued as a skill in top managers, yet it’s essential for success, especially in scholarly communications.  As Jim Griffin of OneHouse pointed out in the keynote at the 2008 UK Serials Group conference, (reported in the UKSG blog about the event), “Libraries have an advantage: there is a female bias and they realize the value of relationships that never end … This feminization of the market will help us understand markets so much better and … more intelligently.” A few years later, at the 2012 Digital Minds conference, Griffin is quoted as saying, “Amazon knows what you like to read. It knows your birthday. It knows the sort of music you listen to, the films you watch. It probably remembers the color of your eyes and your wedding anniversary. It’s awoman, for God’s sake. And the customers keep coming back. Amazon isn’t interested in a one night stand, it wants a long term, loving relationship….”  Enough said!

Walk the talk: In the world of scholarly communications – where the vast majority of our smart, well-educated colleagues, customers, and clients, are likely to agree in principle that women’s and men’s contributions to our industry are equally valuable – we have the perfect opportunity to raise our game.  We may have moved from “failing” to “could do better”, but wouldn’t it be great if our industry could be the poster child for equality at all levels of its organizations – publishing companies, libraries, universities?  After all, scholarly publishing flourishes because of the efforts and creativity of large numbers of women.  Our industry also disseminates the results of research about the value of women in the workplace.  Isn’t about time for us to start practicing what we preach?

Last, a few disclaimers. I’m not a scholar, so this is an opinion piece rather than anything more rigorous. I’ve fact checked as much as possible, but am happy to stand corrected if I have anything wrong. I’m also not by any means claiming to speak on behalf of all or even most women in our industry. But, having spoken to many publishing friends and colleagues* (women and men) from a number of organizations – large and small, national and international, for profit and not-for-profit – I know I’m not alone in my view that we could and should be doing better at promoting women to more senior positions. And, while I’m coming at this primarily from a scholarly publishing perspective, since that’s where my background and experience is, the evidence I’ve seen indicates that the same issues affect other areas of scholarly communications, such as academia (see the 2013 Global Gender Index, as well as this great video on the lack of senior women scientists, for example) and libraries.

*Thanks to everyone who helped with this post, especially Emily Gillingham and Susan Spilka for their contributions 

POSTED BY  on The Scholarly Kitchen

Comic Books Join for Justice

In my experience, comic books have been held by most at a lesser value than novels or nonfiction works. This is absurd! Comic books and graphic novels create a piece that draws in the reader in a completely different manner, but can still teach the audience great things. This article discusses several comic book shops in Chicago that are thriving off of one another’s existence, as opposed to disappearing because of it. They’re even located quite close to one another. I assume the customers enjoy searching for great finds throughout all the shops, looking for that one rare issue that’s missing from their collection. I know I’ve only ever found one comic book store close enough for me to venture, but after I purchased the initial comics I didn’t already have, it didn’t have anything left for me. Its restocking schedule was never up to par for my needs, so I can see needing to go to several different stores. I guess I just never thought that several of the same type of store could thrive so close to each other. Although, I imagine the different BYOB events help out. Who doesn’t like to drink wine while discussing your favorite books? I don’t know of another type of work that draws this kind of attention. Most regular book stores are large enough that they have what you’re looking for, or they can order it for you. Comic books are a different story. If you’re looking for the third issue of Wonder Woman, then you’re going to have to do some searching. Ultimately, by having so many stores in close proximity, these stores are keeping their town enriched with the supernatural powers of reading. After all, with great power, comes great responsibility.

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