By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief
With the 4th of July holiday upon us in the United States and most of the book business taking a rare four-day weekend, we thought this was a good opportunity to offer you a look back at seven of the most popular articles that have run on Publishing Perspectives so far this year. Happy reading and we’ll be back on Monday. Enjoy!
This was easily our most talked-about article of the year so far. Respected publisher Michael Krüger, who will soon retire after 45 years at Germany’s Carl Hanser Verlag, discusses the uncertain future of literary publishing, focusing on the fact that publishers are willing to sacrifice literary integrity for the sake of sales — and readers are more than happy to indulge them. Is he right? Or just an out-of-touch elitist crank? Check the comment thread for reaction.
It’s not just editors who think that the business has changed. Earlier this year, legendary literary agent Sterling Lord shared wisdom from his 60 years in publishing and reflected on the current business, noting “Publishing has come to resemble less the selling of paintings or other creative work and more that of carpets or refrigerators.”
Everyone in publishing except, well, most book consumers, complain about Amazon. It’s almost a sport. Some have very good reasons. Speaking off the record at the London Book Fair earlier this year, several international publishers shared their feelings, raising concerns over Amazon’s term demands, listing of editions for which it doesn’t have territorial rights, and sourcing of titles from wholesalers.
It’s high time the publishing industry takes its fate into its own hands and establishes organizations to foster and fund startups, argues Kristen McLean. Among her recommendations is the creation of “a neutral, overarching umbrella organization focused on nurturing new models and fostering innovation specifically for publishing.” It makes sense. But based on the current climate we wonder if at this point publishing hasn’t been inundated with start-ups, many of which seem never to progress beyond the announcement that they’ve “started-up.” Hey publishing, how about a little less “startup” and a lot more “follow through?” Just sayin’.
Let’s be honest, truly innovative publishing and retailing models are few-and-far between, as rare as a frat boy volunteering to be designated driver on the Fourth of July. Israel’s TotalBoox promises something completely new — a model where you download an ebook first, and then pay-as-you-read. The key idea is to minimizing the uncertainty of book buying. When you can truly sample a book, who cares if you don’t like it. This is the one startup we’re really hoping will succeed in 2013.
Now that the Penguin Random House merger has come to pass, the company publishes half the trade books in the USA and is now the UK’s largest publisher. How can the rest of the industry compete? And what will be the impact on Amazon? Mike Shatzkin and Michael Cader discussed several scenarios at length and offer up plenty of insight into what might come next.
Just prior to BookExpo America, Publishing Perspectives hosted the “Reaching Readers” conference, where marketing and media professionals shared their insights on latest trends and innovations in book promotion. Our recap looks at several developing fields, including content marketing, verticals, social media and brand advocacy. Here’s our recap.
And a bonus, lucky number 8 (Don’t know why “8”? Ask a friend from China).
It seems like common sense: reading books at home are the most important indicator of academic performance at school, says a new study about the learning habits of UK children. Specifically, buy a bookshelf. Two bookshelves, actually. According to the study’s authors, “the educational achievements of British children whose parents owned two bookcases differed from children whose parents didn’t by 1.5 standard deviations. This equates to three times the amount of what the average kid learns during a year of school.”