Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Dutton Books: The Familiar Dark by Amy Engel

Amulet Books: Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus

Flatiron Books: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Canongate Books: The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry and The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry

Scribner Book Company: Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

News

Image of the Day: Blessings in a Backpack

For much of September, Hunger Action Month, Liz Murray, author of Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard (Hyperion), has conducted a "book tour turned bus tour on a mission." She is traveling around the country raising money for Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that supplies children with food for the weekend, when schools are closed. With the support of Navistar and the Meijer grocery store chain, she has appeared at schools that Blessings in a Backpack supports and is speaking at Meijer stores. She hopes to increase the number of students served by Blessings in a Backpack to 50,000 by the end of the year. Here Murray (in a black top and gray pants, about a third in from the left) appears with students and others.


Amulet Books: Blood Countess (a Lady Slayers Novel) by Lana Popovic


Notes: Riggio Wins B&N Showdown; Xerox to Market EBM

By a vote estimated at 44% to 39%, yesterday Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio and two allies won election to the company's board of directors over a slate supported by insurgent shareholder Ron Burkle. In addition, an attempt to change B&N's poison-pill provision, enacted last year by the company in reaction to Burkle's purchases of B&N stock, was voted down.

"For what it's worth, it hasn't been an easy four to five months," said Riggio. In a statement, Burkle's Yucaipa Companies said it would continue to press for changes at B&N.

The New York Times noted that Riggio's re-election "will be seen as an endorsement of his strategy. The bookseller is trying to navigate the digital marketplace while at the same time weighing a sale of the company."

The Wall Street Journal called the vote "a double loss" for Burkle, since shareholders "beat back his proposals to elect him and two other director nominees, and his suggestion to raise the threshold for the company's poison pill that has been the source of tension between Burkle and the bookseller." The Yucaipa statement blamed the loss of the shareholder vote on an "insurmountable insider voting advantage" for Riggio and his allies.

B&N will now proceed with "an auction of the company," the Journal wrote. "To that end, it extended something of an olive branch to Burkle. 'Yucaipa is welcome, as are all interested parties, to make a bid for the Company,' director Patricia Higgins said in a statement. 'All interested bidders should contact our financial advisors at Lazard.' "

Riggio has expressed an interest in buying the company and taking it private, possibly with a partner. Burkle has said that if B&N is sold, it should be sold to the highest bidder.

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Beginning early next year, Xerox will market, sell or lease, and service the Espresso Book Machine to retailers. The company said its expanded sales and service model builds on a joint strategy announced earlier this year (Shelf Awareness, January 15, 2010), when Xerox worked with On Demand Books to equip the EBM with the Xerox 4112 Copier/Printer.
 
"The on-demand book publishing market has expanded, and so has our support of this solution," said Eric Armour, president, graphic communications business group. "Xerox's involvement has moved far beyond the print engine--we are now helping retailers, bookstores, libraries and universities build a profitable on-demand book publishing business."
 
Dane Neller, CEO, On Demand Books, added, "The full sales and service support of Xerox, as well as a leasing option, will transform this technology and make it readily available worldwide. Consumers will have more choices, booksellers will have more titles with no increase in inventory and publishers will have a new sales channel."
 
Harvard Book Store owner Jeff Mayersohn said that for independent bookstores, "the Espresso Book Machine is an extraordinary technology--and now the added value Xerox brings in terms of sales, service and marketing will help us secure new business while satisfying book enthusiasts instantly."

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Borders will open will open Borders Express pop-up stores during the holiday season in 25 locations nationwide, including Valley Plaza Mall in Bakersfield, Cal.; Perimeter Mall, Atlanta, Ga.; Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, Ill.; and Fox Run Mall, Newington, N.H. Averaging about 2,500 square feet, the stores are scheduled to be open October 25 through January 31.

"The majority of these stores are located in malls where we had a presence at one time," said Borders CEO Mike Edwards. "Where it didn’t make business sense for us to operate stores on a permanent basis in these areas, we can open a seasonal store and serve the holiday shopping needs of our customers. We’re thrilled to once again be part of these communities."

Last year Borders operated pop-up stores in five locations "and considered the experiment successful enough to merit an expansion this year," the New York Times reported.

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Borders has begun selling the new Kobo Wireless eReader, which has a wireless connection, upgraded hardware and a new processor. The e-reader sells for $139.99 and can be ordered in advance starting today; it will be available at the end of October online and in stores. Borders already sells the wirelessless Kobo eReader for $129.99. Borders now sells seven e-readers.

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Yesterday's launch of K-NFB Reading Technology's Blio e-book platform (Shelf Awareness, September 16, 2010) drew some unenthusiastic responses online and in the media, including criticism of the technology's initial Windows-only capability, downloading complexity, limited and "annoying" voice options and inconsistent e-book pricing.

Singularity Hub summed up many of the criticisms in its review, which noted that "Blio seems woefully behind in a crowded e-reader space and doesn’t seem to 'get' the e-reader market."

In addition to noting the lack of Facebook and Twitter integration, Singularity Hub questioned Blio’s "misguided attempt to push e-books to the PC platform as its opening act. PCs and laptops are not ideal platforms for e-books."  

Despite the weaknesses, however, "Blio still might see marginal success.  After all, there are hundreds of millions of PCs and laptops out there for Blio to tap into.  Furthermore, not everyone can afford or event wants to own a Kindle, iPad, or similar device.  In other words, although the Blio doesn’t seem to mesh well with the future, it might be just what is needed for the majority of people that live in the present," Singularity Hub wrote. 

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This past Sunday, Powell's Technical Books, Portland, Ore., closed its location at 33 Northwest Park Avenue and is in the process of moving to a new spot at NW 10th Avenue and Couch Street--Powell's Books Building 2--across from the City of Books, Powell's main location.

The new Powell's Technical Books store opens this Friday, October 1, and will include the science section from the City of Books. That space in the City of Books will allow the children's section to expand and create larger YA and graphic novel sections.

Powell's president Emily Powell said in a statement: "Our goal was to bring Technical Books closer to the millions of visitors at the City of Books and to connect that inventory to our main store location. We hope this offers a better shopping experience for our customers."

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Reaction to yesterday's Wall Street Journal article, "Authors Feel Pinch in Age of E-Books," was swift and pointed.

"I'm still drying my eyes over the plight of literary fiction writers," wrote Slate's James Ledbetter, adding, "I feel genuinely sorry for literary writers who are upset by that fact and who have to find other ways to pay for their health care, etc. But the truth is that no more than a few dozen literary writers in any generation have ever been able to support a family based solely on their writing. E-books did not create that problem."

On the Three Percent blog, Chad Post observed that "rather than focus on e-book pricing and the struggling publishing industry, we should instead focus on audience development. We simply do not live in a culture that can support 50,000 works of fiction a year on sales alone. Period.... I don't mean to sound like an elitist, but seriously, of the 50,000 works of fiction published in 2008, how many deserved to be? 20,000? 100? Somewhere in between, surely, but the point is, some books are simply printed, others are works of art that won't appeal to everyone, and a select few are picked up by the mainstream culture and make tons of money."

Post admitted to being "a little touchy" about the Journal article's treatment of indie presses, and suggested that "everyone should check out OR Books. Incredibly innovative, great authors, zero advances, quick turn around time for books, and only selling through their website. This is a different option. It runs counter to everything talked about above, and, if successful, could provide some ideas that other publishers could learn from. Learn and adapt. The answer isn't always to freak out; sometimes topics deserve reflection and thought, and sometimes there's a third way to do business."

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Obituary note: Ralph Vicinanza, an agent whose clients included Stephen King, Augusten Burroughs and the Dalai Lama, died Sunday, the Associated Press reported. He was 60.

"As a writer, one of the best people you can have on your side is an agent who knows the market and knows where your work will fit and will sell. He knew that as well or better than anyone in the business," said John Scalzi, president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

On Tor's blog, Beth Meacham wrote: "Ralph really loved books; he loved his clients' novels. When we got together over breakfast at conventions, or in his irregular after-hours phone calls, we'd talk about books--what we loved, where we thought a writer was going. He made a lot of money with his bestseller clients, but he also adored his smaller books, his less successful writers."

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The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the e-book revolution is affecting area used book dealers "on two fronts--fewer buyers and less stock to acquire."

"We lost 20% of our business," said Kisha Rose, owner of Book Rack, Palm Coast. "With coupons, you can get (e-book readers) for $65. I read a lot, and I can understand that if you have a chance to carry around a lot of books for $65, you're going to take it. Even owning my own business, it hurts, but I can understand."

Chuck Monk, owner of Orange City's Half Off Books said, "I don't think it's affecting my sales. For a bad economy, my sales are up. I see it staying that way. There's pros and cons with e-readers. I don't think it'll ever replace printed material, at least for a long time."

"It's a little early to tell yet," said Jim Brown, owner of Brown's Bookstore, Edgewater. "People are becoming more aware of reading, because of Kindle. I think it'll bring about more people reading. I believe e-books will bring a resurgence of business for me."

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Amazon has introduced a beta version of Kindle for the Web and is inviting bloggers and website owners who are participants in the Amazon Associates Program to be part of Kindle for the Web by embedding samples of Kindle books on their websites. These website owners will earn referral fees from Amazon when customers complete book purchases using the links on their websites.

Fast Company noted that "Kindle for the Web may be the most potent tweak to the Amazon ecosystem yet. In one swoop, it brings e-book reading (backed by Amazon's own archive of texts) to any pretty much every screen that sports Web access. That means set-top boxes, games consoles, and every other device that connects to the Web using a browser. Amazon intends to get on your TV--and whatever device you use as your main screen in the future, Kindle has you covered."

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There's some action in the Amazon tablet rumor mill as well. In the wake of the company's recent announcement that it will launch an Android-based app store, TechCrunch reported that "last week, before we knew that, we got an interesting tip that such a move was coming soon--this week, actually. And that tip came with a bonus attached--the tipster also heard that Amazon was going to be releasing an iPad competitor alongside the store."

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Ford Madox Ford's 99-page test website mentioned in yesterday's edition of Shelf Awareness has at least one online predecessor in the Page 99 Test blog, which has been running since 2007.

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Book trailer of the day: Into the Storm: Violent Tornadoes, Killer Hurricanes, and Death-defying Adventures in Extreme Weather by Reed Timmer with Andrew Tilin (Dutton), which bursts onto the market October 14.

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Effective October 1, Lindy Humphreys is joining Abrams in the new position of director, digital assets and publishing technology. She formerly worked at Wiley and at Chronicle Books and has almost 20 years of experience.

Also at Abrams, Chris Blank has been promoted to senior manager, digital assets and web development, from web marketing manager.

 


Scribner Book Company: Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford


Cool Idea of the Day: Indie Celebration Tour in Georgia

During the month of October, a group of storytellers, musicians and a circus performer will travel aboard a decorated old school bus on the Unchained Tour of 14 Georgia cities and towns to highlight the value of independent bookstores to communities. The tour is scheduled to begin October 11 on St. Simons Island. You can find the complete schedule here.

Author George Dawes Green and Lisa Parker Fort founded the Unchained Tour of Georgia to express their love for independent bookstores. They recruited a team of writers, readers, poets, artists, designers and others "committed to helping preserve the unique ambiance and personalized service that only your local bookseller can provide."

Green, a Georgia native and founder of the Moth Radio Hour, "feels certain that by presenting an evening of storytelling and creating a carnival-type atmosphere, we can encourage bookstores to host more of their own events--not just book-signings, but perhaps sidewalk art festivals, music in the evenings, or even a storytelling night or two. This creates a sense that things are happening--that the local bookstore has more to offer than just books. Many independent booksellers are doing these things already. 'Take notice,' we say!"

"We’re asking people to understand that bookstores are a vital part of the community," said Green. "We're inviting people to take a pledge that whenever possible they will buy their books from independent bookstores--not downloaded to some electronic pad or from a chain store. Hence, the 'Unchained' Tour."

Avid Bookshop's Janet Geddis, who is the Athens scout/organizer for the Unchained Tour, said, "In our increasingly technological world, it's easy to cut yourself off from face-to-face interaction; this leads to misinterpreting others and pigeonholing people who, like you, are intriguing and fascinating and hard to categorize. Sharing stories with each other is the best way to improve and enrich interpersonal relationships, which are the basis for our social and political systems. The Unchained Tour, the first of its kind in Georgia, will give the audience a unique, strange, impossible-to-replicate night of story and song as well as a chance for people to mix and mingle. More often than not, independent bookstores are places where people of all backgrounds and creeds can meet on neutral ground to browse, to debate, to share books, to develop ideas, and to establish relationships. Athens is a town marked by its independent, artsy spirit; the Unchained Tour and Avid Bookshop reflect that spirit."

 


Berkley Books: Master Class by Christina Dalcher


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jenny McCarthy on GMA

Today on the Joy Behar Show: Meredith Maran, author of My Lie: A True Story of False Memory (Jossey-Bass, $24.95, 9780470502143/0470502142). She will also appear tomorrow on NPR's Takeaway.

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Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Jimmy Carter, author of White House Diary (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30, 9780374280994/0374280991).
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Tomorrow on the Howard Stern Show: Len Berman, author of The 25 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99, 9781402238864/140223886X).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Jenny McCarthy, author of Love, Lust & Faking It: The Naked Truth About Sex, Lies, and True Romance (Harper, $24.99, 9780062012982/0062012983). She is also on the Early Show tomorrow.

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Tomorrow on Hardball with Chris Matthews: Bob Woodward, author of Obama's Wars (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781439172490/1439172498). He will also appear on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Howard Norman, author of What Is Left the Daughter (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780618735433/0618735437). As the show put it: "Howard Norman's novel is about an emotionally blocked character who comes to explore his past. Wyatt Hillyer has good reason to be blocked: His parents committed suicide within an hour of one another; his love has been unrequited; he assisted in an unpremeditated hate crime. With this Pandora’s box of a past, how to gain the willingness to explore it? Only through his desire to help his barely-known daughter can Hillyer be redeemed."

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Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives (Free Press, $26, 9780743296625/0743296621).

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Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Donald Sturrock, author of Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781416550822/1416550828).

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Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Janet Elder, author of Huck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family--and a Whole Town--About Hope and Happy Endings (Broadway, $21, 9780767931342/0767931343).

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks


Movies: True Grit Trailer

A trailer has been released for the Coen brothers' movie True Grit, a remake of the 1969 John Wayne western that was adapted from the novel by Charles Portis, Deadline.com reported. The new version stars Jeff Bridges.

 

 

 


Books & Authors

Awards: Indigo's Teen Read Awards

Winners of the first annual Indigo Books & Music Teen Read Awards, which were chosen by "legions of passionate teenage readers" who cast more than 334,000 votes at www.teenreadawards.ca, are:

Best new writer: Fallen by Kate Lauren
Best teen series: Vampire Academy: Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
Best lip lock: Bella & Edward from Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Best hottie: Jace Waylaynd from Mortal Instruments: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Best book-to-flick: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Best hero: Percy Jackson from The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Best villain: Alice Milthorpe from Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
Best all time fave: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Best Canadian read: Darkest Power: The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
Best Read: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

 


Shelf Starter: Breaking into the Backcountry

Breaking into the Backcountry by Steve Edwards (University of Nebraska Press, $16.95 trade paper, 9780803226531/0803226535, October 2010)

Opening lines from a book we want to read, a memoir by a Midwest college teacher who spent seven months in the rugged Klamath Mountains of southwestern Oregon:

 

January 2001

The call came from John Daniel, the contest's coordinator: I had somehow managed to win the PEN/Northwest Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, whose prize was a small cash stipend and seven months as caretaker of a backcountry homestead in what John called "unparalleled solitude" along the federally designated Wild and Scenic Rogue River in southwestern Oregon. Thrilled by some validation for my writing, I didn't give much thought to what living in unparalleled solitude might mean or what I would have to leave behind. Honestly, I was just happy to have won something. That was last May. Now that the calendar year has turned a page and I'm only a few months from finally lighting out, some apprehension in setting in. --selected by Marilyn Dahl

 

 


Book Brahmin: Mem Fox

If you have a little one in your life, chances are that Mem Fox is already a household name in your family. She helps children get to sleep (Time for Bed, illustrated by Jane Dyer), reassures them when a new sibling comes to stay (Koala Lou, illustrated by Pamela Lofts), and her Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, is a must for every new mother and newborn (the padded board book has just been released by HMH). Her latest adventure invites children to add up a silly cast of hungry horned characters "frisking in the sun," "going for a run" and eating seaside umbrellas, among other things: Let's Count Goats! (Beach Lane Books/S&S, ages 2-6, October 5, 2010), illustrated by Jan Thomas of Rhyming Dust Bunnies fame. Here Mem Fox talks about the books and creators of great influence to her.

 

On your nightstand now:

Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler, The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller and This Party's Got to Stop by Rupert Thomson.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall (an Australian children's classic about a koala).

Your top five authors:

E.B. White, A.S. Byatt, Vikram Seth, R.K. Narayan and Sebastian Faulks.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Book you are an evangelist for:

Any book that I have just read, if it's any good, such as The Night of the Mi'raj by Zoë Ferraris (Finding Nouf in the U.S.). Also, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.

Book you've bought for the cover:

None.

Book(s) that changed your life:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra, War and Peace by Tolstoy, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, and To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee (yes, again).

Favorite line from a book:

" 'Where's Papa going with that axe?' asked Fern one morning." (It's the first line of Charlotte's Web.)

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

 

 



Book Review

Children's Review: And Then There Were Gnomes

And Then There Were Gnomes by Colleen AF Venable (Graphic Universe, $6.95 Paperback, 9780761354802, November 2010)

This charmingly goofy, slightly goose-pimply graphic novel is just right for a gently spooky laptime or independent read. Venable brings back the mismatched stars of Hamster and Cheese: Guinea Pig Pet Shop Private Eye #1 (April 2010). Hamisher the hamster had hired Sasspants the Guinea Pig to help solve the mystery of their missing pet store owner's sandwiches--because the "G" in "PIG" had fallen away from the label on her cage, Hamisher took Sasspants to be a P.I. Now Hamisher can't wait to solve another puzzle, so he keeps fabricating them ("This is like the fifth fake mystery you made up this week!" says Sasspants). As with Peter and the Wolf, Hamisher's false alarms cause him to lose credibility, so when all of the mice really do disappear, he has trouble enlisting Sasspants in his cause. That's not all: Hamisher believes there's a ghost in the aisle of their pet shop; he's seen its shadow and felt the telltale cold spot a phantom would inhabit--even Mr. Venezi thinks the aisle is haunted.

Using a palette of muted blues, greens and earth tones, Stephanie Yue plants clues with a wide-panel shot of the pet store's next-door hardware neighbor up for sale, and exploits the comic potential of the pet store owner's fear of ghosts with a one-page image of a newly cleared bookshelf and a sign that reads, "Please enjoy the rest of the shop. This aisle is currently haunted." Yue also has fun with a Philip Marlowe–style get-up for Hamisher, and the hamster's attempts to get Sasspants to wear a matching hat, plus a humorous sequence that chronicles Hamisher's dangerous mission to see if Gerry the snake was the culprit for the missing mice. (A close-up of the hamster shows him--"Gulp"--before he leaps into the snake's cage.) Together, Venable and Yue strike just the right balance between funny and frightening. Youngest readers will appreciate the many visual clues to this puzzle's solution, while slightly older readers who love a good mystery will enjoy putting the pieces together.--Jennifer M. Brown

 

 


Deeper Understanding

Book Industry Study Group: Digital Developments

How to connect with readers and meet their needs in a digital age was the main theme from the annual meeting of the Book Industry Study Group last Friday in New York City. As BISG executive director Scott Lubeck put it, changes in consumers' reading and buying habits are "disruptive in a positive way... delivering value to the reader and customer is a challenge for us." He said some publishers act as though customers are "all thieves, downloading everything for free" and have "come up with all kinds of ways to treat customers as criminals, and customers react very badly." Instead he counseled trying to "convert them into customers."

Knowing more about consumers comes from "knowing and understanding consumer data," Lueck continued, one reason BISG and the AAP have formed a joint venture to improve the quality of sales reporting.

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In response to digital growth, Kaplan Publishing, which specializes in academic and professional titles, is trying to revamp how it develops products, how it deals with customers, even how it hires employees, according to president and publisher Maureen McMahon.

Like many publishers, Kaplan has tended to publish print products first and produce digital products as an afterthought. Shifting that approach has been "difficult," she said. Traditional publishing is like running a relay race, she continued, while digital publishing is more like a soccer game. "We don't even have the language of the e-book set," she said, adding that staff people use air quotes when talking about e-book covers, pages and pub dates.

When hiring, "experience matters less than a willingness to adapt," McMahon said. Another change in hiring: nowadays Kaplan asks prospective hires for examples of something they taught themselves, something they taught someone else and something they learned from someone else.

Kaplan is trying to emulate Harlequin and Tor, which have close relations with customers. "The level of attention readers expect is escalating every day," she said, and now Kaplan editors spend an average of an hour a day answering inquiries. Since many authors are also developing close relationships with readers, she encouraged publishers to nurture and invest in authors' efforts, often via social media, to interact with readers.

Recently Kaplan experimented with an e-book giveaway to try to get a sense of the size of its e-audience: the company made 95 of its e-books, a third of all e-books it has published, available for free in Apple's iBookstore for a week. The results were striking: downloads during the week equaled nearly 25% of the total print units of those books sold in the entire year. McMahon stressed that this was "one platform, a small number of e-books, and just one week." For her, the lesson was that there is "a large population of readers who are almost our customers."

Thus, it is important for Kaplan to "treat customers as partners in this enterprise. It's the ultimate win-win opportunity.... Publishers are so internally focused."

She noted that students like Kaplan books because they are "portable, simple and can be highlighted and market up." For her those qualities--portability, simplicity and usability--can be touchstones in developing digital products.

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Speaking about his company's ongoing surveys of consumers, Kelly Gallagher, v-p of publishing services at Bowker, said that data showed Kaplan's giveaway experience was no fluke. "Data is telling us that receiving e-books for free is one of the largest motivators for people to pick up and buy e-books, whether it's a sample chapter or another promotional approach," he said. For e-books, online book reviews also are important while social network and personal recommendations don't score as high.

E-books continue to gain market share, hitting 5.8% in August for all books and in an 8%-10% range for trade. Fully 44% of e-book buyers are new to the game, having obtained e-readers and begun buying e-books only in the past six months.

Only 46% of e-reader owners bought their device. Some 47% received their e-readers as a gift, and the others got them for free or as part of a promotion.

Amazon's Kindle is used overwhelming by women: in the second quarter of this year, 68% of Kindle owners were women compared to 58% in the first quarter of 2009. In part, Gallagher attributed this to Kindle advertising, which is focused on women.

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Kate Wilson, founder of Nosy Crow, a new children's book and app publisher in the U.K. that will soon publish its first title, outlined some aspects of how a new publishing company can and needs to operate in the new digital world.

The company considered publishing digitally only but decided to do print as well, although it is marketing print books digitally.

The company doesn't publish anything "unless it's clear who the audience is." The company is putting its striking logo on the front of every book. ("How basic is that?" Wilson asked.)

Nosy Crow is also positioning itself "as mums creating children's reads of interest to other mums."

As for connecting with its audience, "we communicate with customers in ways they want and when they want," she said.

In her former life at several large houses in London, "we spent a lot of time waiting for agents to come up with great stuff," Wilson said. "In effect, we outsourced and paid for outsourcing with advances." By contrast, Nosy Crow is trying to pull together authors, illustrators and others. "We're commissioning music. We're commissioning video. We're less likely to be disintermediated if we're involved in creative."

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In his closing keynote, Ingram Content Group president and CEO Skip Prichard brought some perspective to the digital revolution, saying that "this is an exciting time of change for the industry... I reject the detractors and doomsayers." While many worry about the future of the business and predict the book will vanish, he noted that "books are receiving more media attention than ever before. The novel still makes an impact. Books still have influence. New technology helps reach readers like never before."

He stressed, too, that he believes "the market for books is not fixed. I believe the whole publishing pie can grow." He acknowledged that some businesses will fail as jobs in the publishing world shift from old-line manufacturing and warehousing into editorial and creative and marketing. "The good news is we have some of the most creative minds, and much can be applied to the new social media."

Ingam itself has transformed from a book wholesaler to a service organization helping content reach its destination in a variety of formats and means, he said.

The print book will coexist with the digital book "for years" and will survive because of its "portability, flexibility and durability," he maintained. If the book were invented today, "it might look like a revolution." Among other qualities, the book has "a limitless power source, can be read in the sun, can be read on a plane on the tarmac, looks good on the shelf," and more. Many people "are like me and want it both ways," Prichard said. "I love my iPad, but I still look forward to reading that relic of the past, the good, old-fashioned book."

He concluded: "Let's stop looking admiringly to the past, let's stop handwringing about the present and let's start creating the future."

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Illustrating how fast change is occurring, David Jolliffe, v-p of cross media publishing services at Pearson Canada, told a story about his son's encounter with a typewriter that was in its case in the family garage. Jolliffe tried to describe how the typewriter worked, but his son was baffled. So Jolliffe opened up the case and let his son try the typewriter out. His son's comment: "Cool! A computer that prints right away!"--John Mutter

 


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