There are a host of practical tips for managing print production in the digital age—many are highlighted in this issue of Book Business. While working on a list of such tips—from effectively positioning outsource partners to support your supply chain goals to building content workflow around an XML-based strategy—I was diverted by a conversation with Howard Goldstein, vice president for strategic sourcing at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). Goldstein was recently relocated from Boston to Orlando to help oversee HMH’s major transition to outsourced manufacturing management and offshore manufacturing.
It’s a meltdown out there. Financial institutions are crumbling, the government is stumbling and your customers are about as bearish as a grizzly the day before it hibernates. When your retail customers’ sales are down, it means yours will be too—along with higher returns and slower payments. So how can you protect yourself? How can you hedge (do we dare use that term anymore?) your cash position and get payments more quickly? Here are 15 tips you can implement tomorrow to help you through this slough of despond.
Implementing a new content management system (CMS)—whether a traditional CMS, a Web CMS (often called a WMS), or both—is, to say the least, a daunting task. Integrating past content and anticipating future needs, all while trying to meet the requirements of present constituents, leaves the process riddled with potential for missteps. It’s no wonder experts in CMS implementation stress the need for adequate preparation.
It is a challenging time to be a publisher, to be sure. David Hetherington, a 25-year book publishing veteran, describes the current climate as a “perfect storm, as various forces converge to create what may prove to be a truly unique ‘weather system’ for the book publishing industry.” He believes that the combination of the credit crisis and an economy in recession, coupled with a skittish consumer mentality, rising oil prices and the fluctuating dollar, will have a different impact on each major industry sector. “The question will be one of degree. Which sector,” he questions, “will have the toughest time, and how will they respond to the challenges?”
The "Best Book Publishing Companies to Work For" is a project conducted by Book Business in conjunction with the Best Companies Group, an independent research firm that specializes in finding and recognizing great places to work. The study was free and open to all public and privately held organizations, either for-profit or nonprofit. To be eligible, companies had to be book publishing companies that have been in business for at least one year and are based in the United States, with a minimum of 15 employees.
Average number of years the highest-ranking official has been in office: 15.7 89% offer performance bonus or incentive programs to all employees 70% offer telecommuting options 70% offer the option to work compressed work weeks 70% provide an Employee Assistance Program, which offers counseling to employees on a range of issues, such as stress management, family or parenting issues, smoking cessation, elder-care issues, financial management, etc. 70% have on-site facilities that promote exercise and fitness 60% offer on-site fitness/wellness programs 40% pay all or part of employees' costs for health-club memberships or fitness/wellness programs 80% provide cafeteria or meal subsidies, free daily snacks or beverages (a few even provide free cafeteria meals) 50% provide adoption assistance, usually in the form of reimbursement for adoption-related expenses, up to $2,500-$5,000 80% provide domestic partner benefits 90% offer tuition reimbursement (a couple pay 100%)But it isn't all about benefits.
"I think publishing is the greatest team sport invented," says David Young, chairman and CEO of Hachette Book Group (HBG). "We work hard to have fun and celebrate success, and deal with problems as a team. That's what we try [to] foster here."
Teamwork: To Young and others at Hachette, it's much more than just a vague notion. It's a guiding philosophy, a strategy cultivated during difficult, transitional times, and one that has helped the company grow. It's also one of the main reasons Hachette has been selected as this year's "Best Book Publishing Company to Work For."
Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Press (DUP) is hoping to reverse the trend of declining hardcover-book sales to libraries by offering those libraries its full list—approximately 100 new scholarly titles per year and a backlist of over 900 titles—electronically on Ebrary (ebrary.com). By purchasing through Ebrary a subscription to DUP's list, called the e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection, an unlimited number of simultaneous users at the subscribing library can access the content and utilize Ebrary's searching, navigating, archiving and other research tools.
This year’s Frankfurt Book Fair was held Oct. 15-19 in Frankfurt, Germany, and drew 299,112 attendees. That number represented a 5.6-percent increase over last year, and also set a record since the fair moved to five days from six in 2004. The event, which celebrated its 60th anniversary, also featured a total of 7,373 exhibitors from 100 countries. “Digitization draws people to Frankfurt,” says Juergen Boos, book fair director, in response to the record-breaking attendance. “One of the main reasons for the increase in trade visitors is the need for guidance with regards to the new business models and fields of business which digitization
Richard E. Abel is a publishing renaissance man. From establishing publishing companies and owning his own bookstore to founding a book marketing and distribution company and writing his own works, Abel has had his hand in nearly every area of publishing. At age 83, time has not put a dent in his passion for the industry, even after his cardiologist’s advice to slow down after his third heart attack led him to sell Timber Press, the Portland-based horticultural niche publishing house that he started 30 years ago. Abel will receive the Publishers Association of the West’s Jack D. Rittenhouse Award at the organization’s
Startup publisher Flat World Knowledge has secured $700,000 in new funding from independent investors, bringing its total funding to date to $1.4 million. The company, which was launched in August by textbook-publishing veterans Jeff Shelstad and Eric Frank, publishes free, open-source college textbooks online, with the option to purchase alternate formats of its content, including print and audio, and other study aids. Shelstad, who serves as chief executive officer of Flat World Knowledge, says he was “pleased” with the amount of funding raised. “Our investors recognize that higher education is one of the few markets that actually benefits from recessionary economic environments,” he says.
Merriam-Webster’s President and Publisher John Morse likes to think of the reference giant not just as a publisher, but as an information provider. “You have to know that your core competency is your ability to develop new content for which there is [a] clear and present need,” he says of the company, which he has led for more than a decade. One of Merriam-Webster’s latest endeavors in developing new content is the recent introduction of its “Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary”—an entirely new dictionary created by Merriam-Webster’s editorial staff, and the first advanced learner’s dictionary from an American publisher. The 1,994-page dictionary features in-depth coverage
Imagine being able to tell your grandkids that you worked on the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album, or on “Star Wars”—playing an important role in the creation of a cultural phenomenon that anyone would be proud to claim as the capstone of their career. Francine Colaneri, the book industry’s 2008 Publishing Executive Hall of Fame inductee, is just that lucky. As vice president of manufacturing and supply chain at global children’s education and media company Scholastic Inc. (New York), she was instrumental in coordinating the manufacture and distribution of all seven books in the “Harry Potter” series published in the United States. “We
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 (EmergingWriters.typepad.com)—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
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
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
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
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
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:
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.