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The Corner Office: Indie Thinking Drives Dzanc Books
October 1, 2008

Steve Gillis and Dan Wickett are proving that the independent press is alive and well. In 2006, the co-publishers—Gillis, an author who made good in the stock market, and Wickett, a blogger who founded the Emerging Writers Network (—founded Dzanc Books with the goal to champion great writing. Now, with two years of business under their belts, the nonprofit press continues to garner attention for its crusade to help put good books into readers’ hands. • What are the biggest challenges facing smaller, independent publishing houses? Steve Gillis: Right at the top of the list is being well-financed. There’s a lot

Vying for Attention
October 1, 2008

Children are pulled in many directions today; at least, their attention is. They are occupied by MP3 players, gaming systems, computers, cell phones, handheld electronic games and other digital technologies. And yes, children still play old-fashioned board games. They also attend school, compete in team sports, and participate in community and extracurricular activities. With all of these outlets occupying children’s time, how are books faring? With an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 new children’s titles released each year, children’s book publishers are concerned with how their books can compete for young readers’ attention with the thousands of titles already in the market, according to Ron

Digital Directions: Does Design Matter in Digital Distribution?
October 1, 2008

An important characteristic of digital content is its ability to deliver to multiple platforms simultaneously—to print, Web and mobile channels. Invariably, the same content will look different when viewed on various output devices, and it should. Each device has its own display characteristics, and the design of the presentation should be optimized for that device. I can hear the groans from publishers already. Reach for the ibuprofen now, because it gets worse: Content also varies within the same delivery medium. For example, content may be syndicated on the Web to multiple delivery partners, whose respective delivery models require alterations to the design. Even large-print

Could You Handle an Overnight Best-seller? Epicenter Press’ Kent Sturgis talks about how his small press tackled the instant, overwhelming demand for the only Sarah Palin biography.
September 12, 2008

Biographies of political hopefuls typically see a significant bump in demand during presidential election years. But a sudden spike in orders wasn’t something Publisher Kent Sturgis expected for Epicenter Press’ 2008 biography of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Kaylene Johnson’s “Sarah: How a Hockey Mom turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down”—the one and only biography of the 44-year-old politician in print at the time. That all changed Friday, Aug. 29, when Sen. John McCain announced that Palin would be the Republican vice-presidential nominee. Almost immediately, Sturgis and his small publishing house, which consists of himself and three part-time employees, mobilized to meet the sudden, overwhelming

Edward Volini Steps Down at Random House
September 3, 2008

Random House Chairman and CEO Markus Dohle sent the following letter to his colleagues regarding the departure of Edward Volini, deputy chairman and chief operating officer: September 2, 2008 TO EVERYONE AT RANDOM HOUSE NORTH AMERICA, It is with great regret that I inform you that EDWARD VOLINI has decided to step down as Deputy Chairman and Chief Operating Officer and will leave the company effective September 30. Ed has had a very distinguished career at Random House, beginning in May 1997 at Ballantine Books, where he rose to Executive Vice President, Deputy Publisher. Since 2001, he has played a crucial

Digital Directions: The Third Rail
September 1, 2008

Like many parents of elementary-school-age children, I spend a fair amount of time around trains. Steam, cog or narrow-gauge, I am no stranger to the iron horse. Perhaps that explains the frequency of my use of railroad metaphors. This column is no exception. To realize the full potential of digital technology in product development and marketing, content organizations will continue to evolve over a long period of time. This journey can be represented as a railroad track with parallel rails. These rails are necessary to move forward and stay on course. But unfamiliarity with the track can have deadly consequences. The First Rail:

The Corner Office: How Hachette Book Group Measures Success
September 1, 2008

With its new Web site, HBG has established an infrastructure for digital development, says COO Beth Ford. With close to one year on the job, Hachette Book Group (HBG) Chief Operating Officer Beth Ford continues to work toward increasing efficiencies—and profits—for owner Hachette Livre, who purchased the publishing company from Time Warner in March 2006. Ford, who joined HBG last September after serving seven years as Scholastic’s senior vice president of global operations and information technology, dove right in by reviewing the publisher’s processes and identifying “gaps” that needed to be filled. It’s a full plate of responsibilities—one Ford relishes, she says.

Random House CEO Dohle Addresses Performance in Letter
August 29, 2008

The privately held Bertelsmann AG, which owns Random House, announced its corporate and divisional half-year results Thursday, reportedly earning 284 million euros (US$546.3 million) from January to June, compared to a loss of 51 million euros (US$74.9 million) a year earlier. In a letter dated August 28, Markus Dohle, who took over as chairman and CEO of Random House on June 1, addressed his colleagues regarding Random House’s performance. He reported decreased operating revenue and profits from the previous year, due in part to the weak U.S. dollar and British pound, and increased freight and paper costs. He also noted that e-book revenue in

Can a New Startup Profit From Offering Free Textbooks? Flat World Knowledge Co-founder Eric Frank on his new vision of publishing.
August 15, 2008

Nyack, N.Y.-based Flat World Knowledge, which launched this month, publishes free and open college textbooks online, with the option to purchase alternate formats of its content, including print and audio, and other study aids. While offering university-level course material gratis on the Web is not a newfangled idea in the higher-education realm, there are big differences from previous efforts—there’s no advertising within the text pages, nor is there a trial period with hidden fees. There isn’t even any registration required for users. Flat World Knowledge is a publishing company, not an aggregator of other publishers’ titles, says Eric Frank, co-founder and chief marketing officer.

Audible and CIP Announce New Imprint
August 15, 2008

Audible Inc. and the New York Center for Independent Publishing (CIP) have announced a new imprint, Audible IndieFirst. The imprint will publish original works from independent publishers in digital audio format one month prior to the release of the print edition. Audible and CIP previously issued a call for manuscripts from independent publishers, asking them to identify their best and most promising upcoming titles for consideration in the Audible IndieFirst program. From the submissions, Audible has selected a number of upcoming titles to publish in audio, the first of which is Joe Meno’s “Demons in the Spring,” published by Akashic Books. All audiobooks will

Editor’s Note: Deadline Extended on Call for Speakers for 2009 Publishing Business Conference and Expo
August 15, 2008

The deadline for speaker submissions for the 2009 Publishing Business Conference and Expo has been extended until Friday, August 22. The 2009 Publishing Business Conference, produced by Publishing Executive and Book Business magazines, is March 23-25 at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square. We are looking for qualified speakers to share their expertise on a wide range of business management, technology, marketing, distribution, manufacturing, production, and other issues related to magazine and book publishing. All submissions must be sent to Matt Steinmetz, conference program editor, at by Friday, August 22. As the vast majority of our speakers each year are magazine and

Creative Cost-Cutting Strategies
August 1, 2008

With the rising costs of fuel and raw materials, it has become essential for most publishers to find ways to save money in book production and manufacturing—a task that can be quite challenging without sacrificing too much in terms of quality. However, with changing circumstances have come new strategies, some of which are riffs on past ideas, while others would have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago. “Right now, it’s hard to realize really big savings on manufacturing costs because paper keeps going up,” notes Marie Butler-Knight, longtime publisher of Penguin’s “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series. “At the same time,

The Corner Office: Publishing Outside the Box
August 1, 2008

Many would consider Harlequin Enterprises Publisher and CEO Donna Hayes an innovator. Not only is she the first woman to head the Canadian-based company, a position she has held for the past five years, but under Hayes’ leadership, Harlequin has consistently made industry headlines for its willingness to experiment in all areas of the book-publishing business—from joining forces with Nascar in 2006 for a series of stock car-themed novels to signing an exclusive deal to partner with for digital audiobook distribution of its titles. Harlequin also was the first major publisher to offer its entire front list in e-book format, and has further

Marketing Interview: The Move Toward Fluid Content
August 1, 2008

The Web is an ever-changing animal. Keeping that in mind, the most successful online marketing executives must think in the future tense: coming up with inventive, original ideas to help publishers stay ahead of the game. Jeff Yamaguchi, associate director of online marketing for Random House Inc. division The Doubleday Publishing Group, is one such innovator, and he fills us in on a little secret—that the future tense is not enough. In June, Yamaguchi launched Doubleday’s newly revamped Web site, which uses a WordPress platform to simulate the look and usability of a blog while maintaining Doubleday’s integrity and standards as a

Editor’s Note: Call for Speakers—2009 Publishing Business Conference and Expo; 2008 “Best Book Publishing Companies to Work For” Study Deadline Today
July 25, 2008

The Publishing Business Conference and Expo team is currently accepting speaker submissions for the 2009 conference program. The 2009 Publishing Business Conference, produced by Publishing Executive and Book Business magazines, is March 23-25 at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square. We are looking for qualified speakers to share their expertise on a wide range of business management, technology, marketing, distribution, manufacturing, production, and other issues related to magazine and book publishing. All submissions must be sent to Matt Steinmetz, conference program editor, at by Friday, August 15. As the vast majority of our speakers each year are magazine and book publishing

Editor’s Note: 2008 “Best Book Publishing Companies to Work For” Study Under Way
July 11, 2008

Just a reminder that nominations for our second-annual list of “Best Book Publishing Companies to Work For” are now being accepted. The deadline for registration is July 25, so if you think your company should be in the running, register it now. This year, we are working with a new research company, so the process is a little different than last year. (It’s similar to the process Fortune uses to determine its “Top 100 Best Companies to Work For.”) You can nominate your company yourself if you know the required information (such as Federal Employer ID number), or forward the link (

A Book Publisher “Experiments” With Print: Christina M. Brashear, owner of e-book publisher Samhain, on her unconventional business model.
June 20, 2008

Macon, Ga.-based Samhain Publishing has found its niche in the world of book publishing, despite the fact that most of its titles aren’t resting on bookstore shelves. The e-book-minded publisher has only tread lightly in the world of traditional print publishing since it first opened up shop nearly three years ago. While print versions of the company’s line of popular romance and erotica fiction are now more commonplace, Owner and Publisher Christina M. Brashear says these traditional books haven’t changed the main focus of providing electronic versions of Samhain’s titles. The publisher has achieved such success selling e-books to loyal readers, according to

Friedman Steps Down as President and CEO of HarperCollins
June 6, 2008

HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide announced Wednesday that President and Chief Executive Officer Jane Friedman would be stepping down from her position, effective immediately. Brian Murray, president of HarperCollins, was named as her successor. The announcement came less than a month after Random House announced the departure of its CEO Peter W. Olson. Both Olson and Friedman had held their respective positions for 10 years. “My 10 years at HarperCollins have been far and away the most rewarding of my career, and so it was not easy to make the decision to step down,” says Friedman. “It has been a great privilege to develop and lead

Gene Therapy
June 1, 2008

“Today the book business stands at the edge of a vast transformation, one that promises much opportunity for innovation: much trial, much error, much improvement.” —Jason Epstein (“Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future,” Norton 2001) That was seven years ago, and today, innovation and experimentation—trial and error—is the theme of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) report “From Experimentation to Innovation in the Digital Age.” The report contains the results of a survey on the industry’s attitudes and actions pertaining to experimentation (more on page 7). It also contains case studies—based on interviews conducted by Mike Shatzkin, founder/CEO of The Idea Logical Co.,

The Corner Office: Searching for Results?
June 1, 2008

Travel planning has never been easier. If you want to pack your bags and go somewhere—be it thousands of miles or only a few hours away—a simple Google search will bring you information from hundreds to thousands of sources. So how do travel publishers stay ahead of the Google game—and at the top of its results pages? Lauren Palmer, executive director of online strategy and business development for Fodor’s Travel—the largest worldwide publisher of English-language travel books and guides—is responsible for overseeing the company’s online property, including advertising and affiliate relationships, and digital licensing. And she knows a thing or two about