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The Cyberschool Challenge
February 1, 2004

With few electronic textbooks to choose from, cyberschools are forging ahead with efforts to develop their own courseware. Traditional textbook publishers stand to lose. New book markets are emerging on the Internet that don't require readers 18 and older. Among them: education. The explosion of 'cyberschools' (also known as 'e-schools') is revolutionizing how educational materials are manufactured and distributed. Cyberschools have been growing in size and scope since they first appeared in the late 1990s. The Distance Learning Resource Network, a non-profit agency dedicated to improving education, pegs the number of students in online classrooms between 40,000 and 50,000 for the 2002-03

The Book Is Written. Now What?
February 1, 2004

A Philadelphia conference helps writers and publishers find their audience. Writing a good book is never easy, even for prolific authors. Just getting thoughts from brain to DOC file can take months, years, even decades. And that's just for starters. The writer has to get a publisher's acquisitions editor to take it on. Then there are rewrites, edits, indexing, photo shoots and illustrating, design and layout, and proofing. Even then, the hardest work remains to be done: finding an audience for the finished work. Without it, the author keeps a small advance as a consolation prize, but royalty checks for life? Forget

HarperCollins Borrows from DVD Model, Adds Bonus Features
January 10, 2004

One of the biggest advantages that comes with viewing a DVD is the behind-the-scenes features that makes buying the disc worthwhile. Now, HarperCollins and its Perennial imprint have integrated the concept into the realm of literature. A series of paperback books have been released as "P.S. Titles," and each contains a 16-page supplement with 'behind-the-pages interviews,' essays, articles, photos and illustrations that give readers a deeper understanding of the author's inspiration. Each P.S. Title is easily identified by a logo on its front and back covers, and the P.S. section itself has shaded edges. Ten well-known titles, such as the critically acclaimed "The

E-books' Impact on ROI
January 10, 2004

After several reboots, e-book publishing is seeing signs of growth. Recent sales figures compiled by the Open eBook Forum (OeBF) have given publishers an indication of what the future holds. And that future might be now. For the first quarter of 2004, e-books posted double-digit growth (28 percent), and though revenue is projected to be a modest $13 million for the year, sales are rising, and the OeBF, an international trade and standards organization for the electronic publishing industry, began tracking sales of trade titles via a monthly bestseller list in March. Given all the optimism, publishers have taken a harder look at their

Scholastic Tells Readers, "Expecto Paperbackum"
January 10, 2004

It seems as if a certain Phoenix is rising from gold rather than ashes. On Aug. 10, Scholastic released "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in paperback, after the hardback edition had already earned the title of the fastest-selling book in publishing history. To support the paperback release, Scholastic launched a $1 million marketing campaign that tackled all ends of the advertising spectrum. By partnering with Internet search engine giant Google, Scholastic reached millions of Google-goers throughout the summer. Radio promotions and billboard advertisements along the routes to popular summer destinations also helped to announce the news, and the campaign didn't

Inroads for the Electronic Slush Pile
December 1, 2003

Historically, an unpublished fiction author packages his manuscript in a cardboard box, mails it to one or more book publishers, and waits (and waits and waits) anxiously for a reply. The response is typically months away. Publishers can take nine to 12 months before they finish the process of reviewing a manuscript, giving copies to the poor saps who read the slush pile submissions, and usually sending a polite rejection letter. That's all done with paper, even now. But a few forward-thinking publishers are starting to modernize that process, visualizing the electronic slush pile as the tip of the electronic workflow. Science fiction publisher Baen Books, Bronx,

Potholes on the Road to Recycled
December 1, 2003

Committing to recycled paper is not an easy decision for a publisher. Here at New World Library, a 25-year-old publishing company known for books by personal growth pioneers Shakti Gawain (Creative Visualization), Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now), and Deepak Chopra (Seven Spiritual Laws of Success), it's been an incremental process. But each step forward has resulted in a more Earth-friendly product. Committing to use recycled paper was the first step. We became a member of the Green Press Initiative (GPI), a non-profit environmental advocacy group, to take advantage of their information, contacts, and planning assistance for converting to recycled and environmentally friendly publishing. GPI's planning

Cross-Media Masters
December 1, 2003

The 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary introduces a significant innovation in dictionary publishing. For the first time, the popularly priced standard edition of the dictionary is not a print product alone. Each copy is bundled with a CD-ROM edition and a one-year subscription to Merriam-Webster Online, a premium Web site offering exclusive access to the online edition and other reference sources, all built atop the same database. Nothing like this has been done before in dictionary publishing, and for good reasons, known as "the three C's": cost, cannibalization, and cross-platform development. Cost for a dictionary is usually thought of

A Textbook Case
December 1, 2003

Many a truth is spoken in jest. That's certainly the case with an old but insightful publishing industry tale. It goes something like this: A publisher's print buyer and printer's salesperson are having lunch. The print buyer says, "What can your printing plant do for me?" To which the salesperson replies, "We can give you the best price, the utmost in quality, and the fastest service. Pick any two." Buyers and printers build relationships. They work together to produce quality products at fair prices in a reasonable time span. Buyers naturally remain with printers who serve them well over the years. But times are changing. Needs are

Photo Finish
November 28, 2003

Scitex Corp. sold its Scitex Digital Printing unit to Eastman Kodak Co. for $250 million in cash. Under the terms of the sale, the Israel-based company will retain $12 million of the digital printing unit's expected $22 million cash balance at closing, producing a total cash consideration for the transaction of $262 million. Kodak's acquisition of the high-speed digital printing technology unit falls in line with Kodak's determination to move toward digital photography and away from film, a strategy the Rochester, N.Y.- based company outlined earlier this year. "We are moving decisively to implement our growth strategy by expanding into a

Momentum Building for Green Books
October 1, 2003

The U.S. book publishing industry consumed approximately 1.1 million tons of book paper in the year 2000. That required cutting down an estimated 25 million trees. Figures for 2001, published in 2002 by the American Forest and Paper Association, report 914,000 tons of paper were used for U.S. book publishing. Trees required to meet demand: 19 million. Yet the average recycled content level (by fiber weight) across printing and writing grades is only 5%. The disparity between the ecological impact of publishing versus the meager levels of recovered materials in paper is driving responsible publishers to be part of the solution, instead of the problem. To date,

How to Deal with Problems at Your Printer
October 1, 2003

The author has turned in the final manuscript. The editorial and design work are complete. Marketing efforts are under way. The proofs looked great, and the book has gone to the printer. The F&G's (folded and gathered signatures) of your new title arrive in the morning overnight package. That's when the real fun begins. You discover, to your horror, that all the pages slant downhill away from the spine. And the halftones didn't reproduce properly! Now what? No matter how careful we are or how thoroughly we plan, occasional printing problems are inevitable. As print buyers, we're tasked (indeed, challenged) to deal with these shortcomings. And we

Antarctica Bound
October 1, 2003

With an emphasis on computerized design and workflow; increased use of digital, on-demand and cross-media output; and populist—indeed, personal editorial standards, modern book publishing bears little resemblance to the craft practiced a generation ago. Some in the industry worry that the joined-at-the-hip crafts of publishing and printing are epochs approaching an end. In the future, anyone with an Internet connection and digital cash will be able to publish a nice looking (and, hopefully, nice reading) hardbound, softbound, or e-book. One, some, or all three. Readers will buy them online, for an e-pittance, in numbers unthinkable today, along with the classics, pop titles, textbooks,

Binding Race Heats Up
October 1, 2003

Books-on-demand (BOD) systems have long promised a more convenient, responsive, and cost-effective way to get titles to readers, especially when dealing with short-runs or backlists. Now one BOD system manufacturer, Powis Parker Inc., is saying its thermal binding technology is more productive, too. Powis Parker pitted its recently upgraded Fastback 15 binding system against Ibico's Ibimatic. In an in-house test, Powis Parker officials say their thermal binding equipment performed five-times faster than Ibico's punch-and-bind system for meeting perfect binding requirements. "As books get larger, it takes longer to bind them, and thus it costs more," says Kevin Parker, president of Powis Parker, in Berkeley, Calif. "For a

California Mandates Lighter Textbooks
August 1, 2003

A hefty challenge to create lighter textbooks is on deck for publishers next year. A law recently passed in the trend-setting state of California calls for maximum weight limits on all elementary and secondary school textbooks. The deadline for these limits to be set: July 1, 2004. The law was drafted in response to parents who were "incensed over the heavy backpacks their children have been forced to carry to school each day," says Elise Thurau, a senior consultant to Democratic California Senator Jackie Speier, and a principal co-author of the legislation. The legislation was supported by chiropractors, pediatricians, and the United States Consumer

Reach for the Top
August 1, 2003

As the world turns, so does the book manufacturing industry. International affairs brought both pessimism and hope to an industry still in the throes of a sputtering global economy. On the upside: a new Harry Potter title and Hillary Clinton's memoirs have legions of readers shelling out cash at bookstores nationwide. Indeed, the Association of American Publishers, Washington, reports U.S. book sales rose 5.5% in 2002, to $27 billion—proving once again that, no matter how bad things seem, you can't keep a good book down. Or a good book manufacturer. Despite competitive market conditions, high unemployment, war in the Middle East, a dearth of

Cover Up
August 1, 2003

There's a reason one of the world's most popular maxims is, "never judge a book by its cover." That's because everybody judges a book by its cover. Traditional or fancy, plain or electric, simple or three-dimensional, a cover says a lot about the text inside, and the imprint (and printers) behind it. Last issue's cover story on how publishers are using eye-catching covers to boost sales and improve positioning on retailer's shelves was an instant hit with readers, because publishers know that great covers sell great books. That's why they design them to stand out and be judged. The high level of enthusiasm for

Inking a Better Cover
August 1, 2003

Whether through unique substrates, sizes, shapes, or finishing processes such as foil stamping or embossing, publishers need to create distinctive covers that stand out in a competitive marketplace. Today's book buyers, including those in the educational market, see unique effects as the norm, not the exception. Book covers need to be remarkable enough for customers to pay attention. But buyers don't want to pay more to get more. With trade book buyers pinching pennies, and school districts cutting budgets, publishers must deliver these dazzling cover looks for less cost and effort. Publishers are forced to find inexpensive ways to produce unmatched effects. Several innovative printing options, such

Cover Story
May 1, 2003

The numbers tell the story. There are 145,000 book titles vying for attention on bookseller's shelves. That's up a mere 3% over last year, according to market researcher R. R. Bowker, with little prospect for growth in this stalled economy. Book publishers have limited options to capture the attention of buyers. One tactic is increasingly popular: a striking cover. Vivid colors, metallic foil and inks, ultraviolet-cured compounds, 3D holograms, lenticular motion graphics—all are techniques finding favor with book designers and marketers. Intended to grab the eye or titillate the touch, these design techniques stand out, attracting readers to the detriment of lesser-styled competing

Demand for Recycled Grows
May 1, 2003

The drive for recycled paper in the book industry seems to be picking up speed. Twenty-five U.S. publishers have signed a letter of intent to begin phasing in post-consumer recycled paper over the next three to five years. Indeed, publishers throughout North America are beginning to take strong stands on recycled paper. Canadian firms, such as Broadview Press of Calgary, Alberta, are making similar commitments. The U.S. effort is spearheaded by the Green Press Initiative (GPI), a non-profit effort dedicated to preserving forests and natural resources. "We're trying to mobilize the book publishing sector," says Tyson Miller, program director for the