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It appears I need to change my gmail signature from “Visit my digital book nook, obsessed over & updated regularly: http://www.novelwhore.wordpress.com” to read more along the lines of:

“Visit my digital book nook, obsessed over regularly, but rarely updated, though every time I write I really enjoy it, so keep on visiting until it  gets more exciting.”

And, like the headline suggests, I am going to re-post my article from http://www.beneaththecover.com right now, since not only does it take  minimal effort since it’s already written, but I’m able to justify to myself that my blog is now updated!  So, for all you readers that I really do appreciate, here’s my latest column:

HANDLE WITH CARE

What are books, exactly—treasured artifacts to be displayed behind glass, or objects to be enjoyed and devoured, like a good meal?

I know that no book I actually enjoy leaves the experience unscathed. For the lucky few that I enjoy, I’ll refer back to the content often, dog-eared pages in my wake. While stories offer escape within the language, for the books I reread I get taken back to where I was the first time, whether it be via the stains of soy sauce from unsuccessfully trying to read while enjoying sushi, or the sand that spills out as remnants of a long-forgotten vacation.

Obviously, with that description in mind, you can see that the books on my shelf may never make it into a museum exhibition of classics preserved in immaculate conditions. But what are books for if not to be loved, smelled, handled, and passed around? To me, the print medium is so important—though after lugging home a complete manuscript to read this evening (even with double-sided printing, 204 sheets is heavy!), my shoulder disagrees and would prefer a Kindle copy.

I admit that so much of my fervor for print comes from its history. I didn’t stay up past my bedtime with a computer screen under my bedspread, but a flashlight, as I stealthily flipped pages. I get a special thrill from going back to my parents’ house and seeing the children’s books I wrote my name in, using my “best hand writing” in 4th grade. While it took me a while to get to this rather obvious realization, it came with the help of journalist and author Allison Hoover Bartlett.

Her upcoming book (available from Riverhead Books next month, September 2009), The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, tracks an unrepentant book thief and the “bibliodick” determined to take him down. It’s a story of passion and addiction, and has made me compulsively check all the books sold out of boxes on the streets of NYC for rare 1st editions awaiting discovery.

In this true tale about catching a wily 1st edition book thief, books are believed to be treasures, investments, or a drug, pacifying a need. While I admit it would be nice to have that 1st edition of Gone with the Wind standing proudly on my shelf (actually, it would be behind glass, it’s so rare!), I don’t need an intact dust jacket to accompany it that’s worth far beyond the cover price. The content and history between the pages is enough for me.

And the stuff within the pages may be enough for you, too. On the publishing blog GalleyCat.com, Ron Hogan thoughtfully deciphered a recent survey from the Pepsi Optimism Project citing the “optimism booster” cited by more respondents than any other—88 percent—was “books.”

As Bartlett notes towards the end of her book, “[Books] root us in something larger than ourselves, something real. For this reason, I am sure that hardbound books will survive, even long after e-books have become popular . . . I can’t help think that our connection to books is still, after all these centuries, as important as it is intangible.

So while I may want that Kindle for the sake of my poor shoulders, I don’t think I’ll give up my search for the elusive and meaningful hardcover finds, including a Margaret Mitchell 1st edition.

Brian Murray, President and CEO, HarperCollins

Though he may not be as recognizable as Brad Pitt, George Clooney or A-Rod, I think he’s more deserving of his fame.  Is he famous, or is that only my skewed, publishing-obsessed view?

Now off to class to see other amazing speakers, hope this teaser holds you over until I can get back and give you a review of Murray’s “What’s A Book: The Digital Transformation of Publishing” speech!

“I am not a Media Person” -Chris Anderson

chris andersonAfter hearing Chris Anderson speak this morning, I have to heartily disagree with his own statement, above.  Before becoming entrenched in the media world, Anderson was an active physicist (not sure exactly what this is, but know smart and scientific) when he was approached by Conde Nast.  Hard to believe he had never heard of this huge media conglomerate, but knowing my own Robotics/Aerospace/Mechanical “enginerding” family I’m not totally shocked.  Through his rise to the best-sellers list and award-winning EIC of Wired magazine, Anderson has maintained his scientific background through his robotics company, GeekDad.com and the technology apparent in his magazine.

In his hour and a half speech, I had to scribble to try to write down even half the things I wanted to remember.  Including, but not limited to, these enticing little tidbits:

  • We live in a messy world, and it’s only getting messier.
  • Atoms increase in worth; bits decrease (digital moving to free)
  • We need to make the most of the Old World while exploring the New World.
  • No business in their right mind would go to a 100% paid online model.
  • You can only make money off scarcity. Time, experience, food, land is scarce; digital content is not.

Chris Anderson free BookAnderson was generous enough to give us a copy of his book that’s not released until July 7 (quite a thrill in holding a book not available in public!), which is titled Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Radically, the digital version and full length audio book are free, though the premium content of abridged audio and hardcover title come with a price tag.  

Though Anderson came to speak about his magazine work, I was enthralled by his book publishing knowledge.  He shared interesting insights, from not wanting to receive royalty checks (since that means the advance wasn’t high enough), to making money from speaking as opposed to the selling of his books, to how once the coherency was decided for his book he can’t even remember the actual words pouring forth.

 

Wired - in print

Wired - in print

Another note-worthy comment made by Anderson is his openness to a digital Wired.  In fact, he made the bold statement of “If the Kindle is [made in magazine form] I will stop killing trees immediately.”  I asked about the digital magazines available today, through Zinio and the like, and Anderson explained he doesn’t think people want to read a magazine on a computer or need the physical pages, but need it to be mobile.  So my next question is: Who will be first with the mobile mag reader? There have been rumors about Conde Nast, or will Amazon lead the pack yet again?

 

Anderson is highly optimistic in his views.  Believing in the monetization emotionally – writing etc. for fulfilling reasons vs. financial, as well as future brand extensions, he in no way sees the death of publishing (an obvious sigh of relief).

It’s not even 9am and I already feel as if I’ve had a full day, probably because I’ve already:

  • Drank four cups of coffee
  • Digested a muffin, bagel, and half a watermelon
  • Met with and been inspired by Author Solutions!

Needless to say I could already use a nap; my 5:30am alarm did nothing for my beauty sleep, but right now I’m too excited!  Not knowing much about  self publishing companies, I was thrilled to discover a free Chicago event on LinkedIn put on by Author Solutions.   I invited my successful self-publishing author friend Scott E. Smith of the award-winning title Like Dizzy Gillespie’s Cheeks to attend with me and off we went, to what proved to be an inspirational and enlightening discussion of the publishing business.

Though the intended speaker from Author Solutions failed to show (probably contributing to the non-sales pitch feel of the meeting), Sandy Powell and Scott Walters from the Business Development team were available for questions and discussion.  It’s always interesting to learn about a new segment of the career I’m aspiring towards, and Powell and Walters both had experience and opinions to share.  In a nutshell: Publishing has not reached its end, books are not going to die, what will inevitably happen is a necessary shift in the business model.

There are many options available for a revised publishing business model.  Among the factors are changes in author’s payment (maybe less advance and higher royalties?), fewer print runs (more print on demand vs. warehouse space) or even the big publishing houses starting an imprint for self publishing; a lower risk way to test new authors to see if the titles catch on, with less impact on the already-stressed finances.

Of course, social media and personal interaction is never to be overlooked, as a new article on “Mashable” looks at traditional books in two new mediums in “5 Ways Traditional Media is Going Social“.

Unlike VHS tapes, book publishing continues to evolve and have space and opportunity for advancement.  I look forward to seeing some of these changes implemented in the influential hallways of Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins and I can’t wait to be an active participant.

Please share any additional thoughts/insight on new publishing opportunities!  And for all you aspiring writers out there, take a look at what the Author Solutions portfolio has to offer, I think you may be pleasantly surprised…

I disagree with sentence one… I think this is sexy (not to mention I already discussed this in a post from March 13- https://novelwhore.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/the-book-business-from-a-veterans-perspective/:

Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London

Launching in London today, the Espresso Book Machine can print any of 500,000 titles while you wait

Allison Flood, Guardian UK (Friday, April 24, 2009)
New visual for a fancy coffee drink!

New visual for a fancy coffee drink!

It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launching today at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.

Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework. Blackwell hopes to increase this to over a million titles by the end of the summer – the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space, or over 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are currently out-of-copyright works, but Blackwell is working with publishers throughout the UK to increase access to in-copyright writings, and says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This could change bookselling fundamentally,” said Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings. “It’s giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon … I like to think of it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles, that’s pretty compelling.”

From academics keen to purchase reproductions of rare manuscripts to wannabe novelists after a copy of their self-published novels, Blackwell believes the Espresso – a Time magazine “invention of the year” – can cater to a wide range of needs, and will be monitoring customer usage closely over the next few months as it looks to pin down pricing (likely to be around the level of traditional books) and demand. It then hopes to roll it out across its 60-store network, with its flagship Oxford branch likely to be an early recipient as well as a host of smaller, campus-based shops.

The brainchild of American publisher Jason Epstein, the Espresso was a star attraction at the London Book Fair this week, where it was on display to interested publishers. Hordes were present to watch it click and whirr into action, printing over 100 pages a minute, clamping them into place, then binding, guillotining and spitting out the (warm as toast) finished article. The quality of the paperback was beyond dispute: the text clear, unsmudged and justified, the paper thick, the jacket smart, if initially a little tacky to the touch.

Described as an “ATM for books” by its US proprietor On Demand Books, Espresso machines have already been established in the US, Canada and Australia, and in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, but the Charing Cross Road machine is the first to be set up in a UK bookstore. It cost Blackwell some $175,000, but the bookseller believes it will make this back in a year. “I do think this is going to change the book business,” said Phill Jamieson, Blackwell head of marketing. “It has the potential to be the biggest change since Gutenberg and we certainly hope it will be. And it’s not just for us – it gives the ability to small independent bookshops to compete with anybody.”

Original link to article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/24/espresso-book-machine-launches

So a few days ago thanks to one of my Twitter friends (I don’t care if some of you think it’s pathetic, it’s become quite enjoyable!) I came across the New York Times article “Is This the Time to Chase a Career Dream?” by business coach Pamela Slim. She was surprisingly optimistic, saying  “People from all walks of life are realizing that a time of economic turmoil offers a great opportunity to reinvent careers.”  So this fueled my hope, even though I don’t think the worlds of advertising and publishing are totally dissimilar, it is definitely considered a new career category on LinkedIn (add me by the way, I’d love to be “linked” – Lydia Hirt).

As of Tuesday, I have been invited to follow my dream of publishing

My NYU Happy Dance

My NYU Happy Dance

all the way to New York University and take part in their Summer Publishing Institute! As of today, my deposit has been submitted (though I would appreciate a receipt of a reserved place, NYU!) and I am looking to book a flight MAY 30!!!!

I had been hesitant to share the application process since I didn’t decide to attempt this career path until a few weeks past application deadline, but whether the economy or my sparkling application (obviously the latter!), I’ve been accepted.  Beginning May 31, I will embark on an intense six weeks of class full-time in The Big Apple!  With three weeks focusing on magazine publishing and three weeks on book publishing, it’s a well rounded program that I believe will leave me with beneficial experience and skills. I’ve read awesome reviews about this program and spoken with graduates, all of which have served to even better convince me it’s a worthwhile investment.

Both exhilarated and terrified, I lay awake at night thinking of the possibilities and stressing about packing.  Not to mention missing two months of Chicago’s summer (especially painful when I think of the swimming pool on my roof!) and leaving my friends, but I have the highest hopes this opportunity leads me where I want to go – launching a career in Publishing.

I really only have four friends in NYC and none of them hang out with each other: A girlfriend recently transplanted from CT with few contacts, a close guy friend who’s a busy med student, a rapper whom I doubt I would fit in with his “crew” and a girlfriend living in London for three months (I guess she doesn’t even count).  So send friends my way, I accept charity!

PS: I need a subleaser for Chicago June 1 – July 19, any suggestions/contacts?!?  Sweet apartment, two amazing female roommates, a pool on the roof and an amazing view from the 24th floor – any takers?!

As I finally got around to uploading photos from January to current on Facebook, I realized that 2009 has already been a year to remember (although I don’t look photogenic in any of the moments!).

Yes, it’s true I have joined the ranks of the unemployed, but I’ve also been motivated and inspired to follow my dreams of launching a career in book publishing, started this blog which has become quite an enjoyable hobby, begun to really appreciate Chicago and all it offers, been to my first Bulls game, Cocokey Resort with three of my best friends, had the #1 bracket in my pool as of NOW (sorry, MSU, I bet correctly that UNC would pull off the win), started a volunteer relationship with a worthwhile organization (<3 to you, Open Books), been blessed with a baby nephew, and been lucky enough to have the love, support and enjoyment of a wonderful family and system of friends.

Alright, fine, I may be a little tipsy from watching the pathetic game that MSU just played, but I am thankful for all this year has already brought (I cannot believe Easter is this Sunday – time has flown by) and all it promises in the future.  I hope you all enjoyed my Miller Lite induced ramblings (potentially found some inspiration yourself?), but hopefully this little nugget will serve as a reminder for the important things next time I get frustrated when job searching or waiting for spring to come to  Chicago.

Heading home on the train tomorrow, looking forward to some quality MI time with the family and good books, while curled up in my favorite chair!  Hopefully book reviews to come shortly… Hitting the “publish” button before I can overthink and delete this…

A half-century length career in book publishing is my dream, and Jason Epstein is the icon and achiever of this goal.

Epstein is kind enough to expel his knowledge and experience of the publishing industry in his professional memoir, Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future.  While catered toward the niche group of people interested in book publishing, this is also a wonderful tale of history and the way relationships with books have evolved throughout the 1900s.

This iconic career began when Epstein stumbled across an editorial position

Epstein sharing his knowledge in 2009

Epstein sharing his knowledge in 2009

with Doubleday in his early 20s (and I do mean stumbled, he claims to have known nothing about publishing at the time when the opportunity was offered him), during which he repeatedly said he was ready to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice, though he ended up staying there a decade.  Within that decade he was the man responsible for the invention of Anchor Books – the imprint responsible for the “quality paperback” book, which made literature more affordable for the masses as opposed to the superior quality, expensive hard cover novels.

After that success, Epstein moved over to Random House, now the world’s largest trade publisher.  When Epstein first made the career transition Random House was a family-style business located within the wing of one New York mansion, in which he tells tales of famous authors delivering manuscripts in slippers and spending the night on couches (and not always alone!).

Epstein is a big-picture businessman.  Able to look at book publishing from the editorial and quality of literature angle, as well as the ability to envision new venues for sales and marketing, he is a man I would trust to carry a book from conception to success.

Responsible for numerous advances in the publishing industry throughout his career, Epstein was among the first to embrace the online retail giant in its struggling years, Amazon (ironically he found fault with Amazon’s business model, which has boomed since the publication of this memoir in 2001).  This enlightening book, surprisingly small in statue considering the wealth of information contained within, cites book publishing to be on the edge of a vast transformation, in which I see future opportunities without bounds.

Since this publication, Epstein has capitalized on some of his own visions mentioned.

Espresso Book Machine - visit ondemandbooks.com

Espresso Book Machine: ondemandbooks.com

In 2004, he launched “OnDemandBooks.”  With yet another invention on his repertoire, the “Espresso Book Machine” is available at locations throughout the United States, Canada and England for on-demand, affordable printing of books

Read this if: You’re interested in hearing  a behind the scenes tale from a publishing great, and how the industry has changed in a mere 50 years and the how the transformation may continue.

Avoid this if: You’re looking for a raucous tale filled with gossip and dirt on some of the most respected authors.  This is not a tell-all, but a memoir of an accomplished career.

  • Title: Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future
  • Author: Jason Epstein
  • Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
  • NovelWhore’s Grade: A-

You know those days that surprise you, that appear out of no where (or, in this case, a rare 60 degree day with sunshine) that just make you appreciate where you are and just happy? I’ve been lucky enough to have one of those days today.

It started with my first-time visit to this amazing coffee shop… For those of you in my neighborhood, I urge you to try the ING Cafe at Chestnut and Wabash (Gold Coast), where coffee, tea, bottled water and even muffins are available for only $1!  Then I had time to peruse the internet and get a little productivity in before my pilates class, at which there was a wonderful new instructor who, while laughing at my lack of coordination really was encouraging and helpful.

welcome-chicago-publishing-galleryHad I already mentioned the 60 degree weather?  So I donned my sunglasses and headed downtown to take a look at the relatively new Chicago Publishers Gallery, located in the Cultural Center (77 E. Randolph St.).

An impressive place (even just the Cultural Center itself was worth the trip), I was thrilled with the offerings, took out my nerdy little notebook and started taking notes on publishers and books to research further.  The Gallery consists of two cozy areas on either side of a grand staircase, with comfy leather chairs and soft lighting, making a very inviting area.

The two gallery areas, those these pictures don't do justice to the experience

The two gallery areas, those these pictures don't do justice to the experience. Check out http://www.chicagopublishersgallery.com

For me, the experience was doubly important as I was impressed by the tangible displays of the publishing industry in Chicago.  True, there were no Random House or HarperCollins imprints, but the quantity and quality of books available was a welcoming sight to see.

After making note of the books I couldn’t wait to read, I headed straight for my favorite new and used book store, After-Words (23 E. Illinois St.).  Amazingly enough, they had both books I wanted (and used, so cheap!) – I was able to pick up a collection of Mike Royko’s columns and “Alpana Pours” for just over $20.  I am already looking forward to reviewing both of these Chicago-published books, so keep coming back!

Now, on for what will hopefully continue to be a wonderful Friday.  Happy Weeked, everyone!

Not only is the publishing industry hurting in this lipstick economy (where akindle-iphone book is considered to be an unnecessary luxury), but Amazon is taking their e-book concept one step further – by joining with Apple  for a new application where the Kindle is iPhone friendly.

Ok, I’m not stuck in the dark ages and abhor technology.  I understand the concept of an e-book for updating a dated text (health care, law, etc.) and even for college students, to take away the weight necessary to carry textbooks around… But for the pure joy and pleasure of reading, how is a screen with text enjoyable?!  Is it just me, or is there a special appreciation that comes from the symbolic appreciation of turning a page in a book, and eventually being able to close the cover.  I anticipate I will be lugging around my bound novels for the rest of my life, and not pulling my “library” out of my purse and perusing my titles.

Amazon, don’t you think you’ve already taken enough away from the publishers by slashing prices and luring consumers away from the more tangible bookstore experience?! And consumers, the Kindle book is still at least $10 – go out and buy the book and have something to show and stand proud on your shelf, not to hide away in your iPhone!

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