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I have a Kindle!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My pleading and begging finally worked, and I now have a new little electronic buddy whom I happily run home to every evening.  Or maybe not every evening, but you know what I mean.  She’s beautiful (this iPhone photo doesn’t do her justice) – I’ll definitely have to update with a new picture once her sophisticated hot pink leather case arrives.  I’m extra-excited for my rendezvous in Chicago this weekend as plane time = Kindle time!  No longer will I have to lug multiple ARCs with me to leave in the airport as I finish; all manuscripts are secure in my little 10oz device!

Now I am still, and like to think always will be, a faithful reader of the physical book.  I plan to use my Kindle primarily as a single-handed attempt to save forests, since I’ll no longer be printing out 400+ page manuscripts that kill my shoulder on the trek home.  It will also be my travel companion and gives me motivation to start saving for a trip to Europe!  I haven’t bought my first ebook  yet, though I did download the free sample of CHELSEA CHELSEA BANG BANG (you all know about my girl crush on Chelsea Handler) and am sorely tempted.

Thanks to Twitter for the endlessly engaging string of content and link sharing, I’ve come across what has quickly become my favorite column in Huffington Post.  Not only is the woman funny, humble and smart, but she’s also an author here at Penguin.

Since obviously I’m terrible at posting my own content (writing, for me, is one of those things so easily pushed around or shifted to make time for other endeavors, ugh) I’m going to re-post (call me an aggregator of content) my all time favorite Joanne Rendell column!  Additionally, after you enjoy this witty and insightful column on making reading the “healthy and attractive ” lifestyle choice (come on people, cheaper than the prescription drugs the pharma companies sell us!) and take a gander at Joanne’s latest title, CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE. Oh, and don’t forget to enter my first giveaway! It’s for an author and book, both of which I’m very fond…

Time to Sell Reading: What the “Good” Publishing Industry Needs to Learn from the Big “Bad” Drug Industry

Author Joanne Rendell

Author Joanne Rendell

I’m going to preface this post by saying I know absolutely nothing about marketing. I have a PhD in literature, not an MBA. I’m married to an NYU professor, but I’ve never been near the business or marketing schools. Furthermore, even though I’m a published author, I don’t know much about the machinations of the publishing industry either. Yet in spite of my lack of knowledge in these areas, I want to make the bold step of offering the publishing industry some marketing advice.

Here goes: “Publishing industry, listen up, it’s time to sell reading.”

The book industry needs to make the act of reading sexy and hip, enviable and sought-after. Instead of putting all their rapidly declining marketing dollars behind single authors and their new releases (think of those rather dull ads on the subway or in magazines which feature an author’s grinning face, a book cover, and a few generic “thumbs up” quotes), why don’t publishing companies run campaigns which would make reading itself a desirable lifestyle choice? Why not help craft a new, exciting, and sexy “reading” identity for people to aspire to? In short, why not take a leaf out of the drug industry’s marketing book?

Now, I concede, the publishing world is a very gentlemanly place. Even though sales are declining, digital media is encroaching, and bookstores are closing every day, the people in the book industry still pride themselves on being good, moral, and thoughtful people. Rejection letters are kind, verbal contracts are held firm, booksellers aren’t too pushy, and lunch at the Algonquin Hotel between editors is an amiable, bookish, and cerebral affair.

The idea that this “good” publishing world might emulate the big “bad” drug industry would probably send the Algonquin’s fine silverware trembling and independent booksellers weeping onto their carefully selected front tables. But the pharmaceutical companies know what they’re doing and they’re doing it well (along with banks, they are now the most successful businesses in the world). If the publishing industry wants to survive, it might have to suck it up and start studying all the tactics employed by the drug industry which sell us a happier, healthier, smiling, sexier life — all thanks to drugs.

“Educating consumers to the virtues of a product sometimes entails altering the cultural environment surrounding the consumption of that product,” says Kalman Applbaum in his book The Marketing Era: From Professional Practice to Global Provisioning. For a successful example of this, Applbaum shows how drug companies managed to change the “cultural environment” surrounding depression in Japan and thus open up a whole new market for their products: SSRI antidepressants.

In the past, there was “considerable stigma” attached to mental illness in Japan, according to Applbaum. But working “synergistically,” four big drug companies waged a multi-faceted campaign to “increase awareness of depression.” They used ads, newspaper articles, and glossy waiting room brochures. They sponsored the translation of best-selling books from the US which acclaimed SSRIs. Throughout the campaign, the motive was the same: to awaken “public consciousness to the symptoms and treatability” of depression.

Running ads with smiling and sexy people reading books will only be a start. As the Japanese example shows, a campaign to change a “cultural environment” must be advanced on all fronts. It will require competing publishing houses and competing book sellers to work together to shake off old stereotypes about reading and readers (“lonely women with cats,” “geeky professors,” “bespectacled librarians’). It must help forge a new and brighter image of the 21st Century reader — a reader who will not only be hip and sexy, but who will also buy books.

I have no idea exactly how this will be done (I refer you back to my first paragraph). But I have some thoughts for anyone who cares to listen. New spaces need to emerge where people will meet and discuss books and, importantly, be seen and respected for discussing books. TV and movies need to show sexy readers, much like they showed sexy smokers back in the day. Celebrities need to be caught reading books — or Kindles — on the beaches of the Caribbean. Book groups should not be left to form themselves; they need to be propagated and supported by the book industry. Expert voices should be everywhere, in newspapers and on Oprah, talking about the intellectual, personal, health, and even sexual benefits of reading!

Books can offer us so much. They can offer deep insights, escapism, healing, empathy, knowledge, and revival. They can illuminate who we are, our dreams, our deepest fears and our sufferings. Books can change us in profound ways. They can make us laugh and cry, desire and yearn. Surely, there is way to market these incredible offerings and help people want to be readers.
Joanne Rendell is the author of the newly released Crossing Washington Square (Penguin), a novel about two women who are hip and smart and beautiful – and very passionate about books!

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

Everytime I endeavor to clean my room I get frustrated with the post-its I find, scribbled with some piece of an author’s name or book title.  Thinking there has to be a better way to keep track of books, I discovered (shout-out to my friend Kyle!) the Shelfari system.

Preview of NovelWhore's Shelfari shelf

Preview of NovelWhore's Shelfari shelf

“The Site for Books & Readers”, Shelfari offers a social networking component (don’t judge me for not having any friends yet!), as well as book rankings, reviews, and a way to keep track of what yourself and other users are currently reading, have read, or plan to read in the future.

I’m not even going to attempt to add the books I’ve read in the past, but starting from today, April 3, 2009, I am determined to keep my digital library up-to-date with titles I’m currently enjoying (eight at the moment) and plan to read in the future.  My public bookshelf is available at http://www.shelfari.com/novelwhore, or by clicking the link “NovelWhore’s Digital Bookshelf” to the left side of my blog.

So peruse the site, join, build your library and “friend” me!

Obviously I love Chicago.  And while I can tout the benefits of this city I call Home all I want, it’s nice to have an objective source of authority on which to stand.

Although I rarely consider a group of men to be a source of authority beyond the stereotypical sports stats, Playboy models and occasionally mechanical parts, the AskMen.com Editorial Team really pulled through, ranking Chicago as the #1 City to Live in. This ranking is based on applying a statistical formula to eight lifestyle categories (listed in the picture below), then taking into account the intangible benefits offered.  Visit http://www.askmen.com/specials/2009_top_29/ for the complete listing of 29 great cities, or just read the Chicago article below:

Notice how we rank low on the $$ of beer - surprised?

Notice how we rank low on the $$ of beer - surprised?

Why you should live in Chicago

Fine culture and greasy food

As the largest city in the Midwest, Chicago strikes the perfect balance between cosmopolitan and comfortable, combining all of the culture, entertainment and sophistication of an internationally renowned destination with an affordable lifestyle and down-to-earth work hard/play hard character.

World-class cultural fixtures like the Art Institute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago International Film Festival and a vibrant theater scene are complemented by popular festivals like Jazz Fest, Blues Fest and the recently revitalized Lollapalooza, Outdoor Film Festival, and Second City, which happens to be the source of 39% of the U.S.’s greatest comedians (a scientifically calculated fact!). Chicago possesses one of the world’s most vibrant, diverse and innovative restaurant scenes, from culinary luminaries like Charlie Trotter, Grant Achatz and Rick Bayless to an astounding variety of hole-in-the-wall neighborhood joints to Chicago’s signature greasy trinity of deep dish pizza, Italian beef and Chicago-style hot dogs.

A hardcore sports town, Chicago covers all of the professional leagues (some twice) with teams that actually have history, both famous and infamous. And while the winters are rough, Chicagoans make the most of the warmer months, taking their love of sports to the beaches, courts, paths, and parks of Chicago’s beautiful lakefront, set aside as public land for the entire city’s enjoyment.

Why you should live in Chicago in 2009

Lollapalooza, the Hawks and the Cubs

This year, Chicago is a city abuzz. The International Olympic Committee announces the 2016 host city this October, and Chicago’s glitterati and power brokers are schmoozing it up as they create numerous support committees in the hopes that Chicago is selected. Lollapalooza is already a music fan’s Mecca, and with Jane’s Addiction now back together, where better to catch Perry Farrell this year than headlining his own festival?

On the cultural front, the new modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago will be opening in May, and history buffs living in the Land of Lincoln will be busy checking out the numerous exhibitions celebrating his bicentennial. Chicago is always fertile ground for political junkies, but Obama’s election paired with the Blagojevich and Burris fiascoes have turned an always entertaining political scene into a full-blown three ring circus that even those who aren’t armchair pundits will find fascinating.

After years in the standing’s wilderness, the Blackhawks — one of the original six teams in the NHL — are once again a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, the Cubs are projected by most to be tops in the National League, and a World Series victory would set off a citywide party of the century — literally.

Read more about Chicago

By Dominic Armato

According to the New York Times, 651,000 new job losses were reported in February (need I remind everyone that Feb. is the shortest month of the year, so that means 23,250 jobs were lost PER DAY).  Unemployment surged to 8.1%, the highest yet.

It really is a dismal economy.  I have yet to adopt what I call the “unemploymentality” (thanks,Liz!) of feeling depressed, worthless and hopeless, but ask me that again in a couple more months of not receiving a steady paycheck and I may be ready to join the beggars on Rush St.

As the NYT article states, “Everybody in every industry has lost jobs or is feeling insecure about whether they’re going to keep their jobs or how their company’s going to do.”

I think Prada may be out of luck with people affording their “Sunbathing Dress” I posted yesterday… Back to my happy world of fiction.

Full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/business/economy/07jobs.html?_r=1&partner=rss

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!

Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, has acquired Ten Speed Press out of Berkeley, California for an undisclosed cost.  Ten Speed Press is a small publisher of non-fiction titles, such as “What Color is Your Parachute” and “The Moosewood Cookbook”.

The full article is available from WSJ online here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123595334003305307.html?mod=rss_Deals_and_Deal_Makers

There is still hope for book publishing!

I’ve always been a huge proponent of library-going (books are like a drug to me, and I can’t afford to keep myself in the “habit”, thus my worn library card) and have noticed my queue of books on hold have been taking longer to get to me than in the past. This interesting article “Hard economic times a boon for libraries” I came across on CNN this morning may explain why.

Yet another sign of our tough economic times is coming through in the resurgence of library popularity.  I bet you may be just as tired of hearing about our dismal economy as I am, but I actually found this article to be focusing on a more positive note – that people are being resourceful and utilizing the tools and services available.  I advise each of you to take a look at your local library and see what services they offer that can save you money – from internet to DVD rentals and even reading groups for children, all at no cost to you.

The full article can be found at this link: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/02/28/recession.libraries/index.html

Chicago Public Library information available here: http://www.chipublib.org/

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