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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

‘Leverage the Damn Book’
June 1, 2008

I recently attended the Book Industry Study Group’s Making Information Pay event (more coverage on pages 7 and 32), where Michael Cader, founder of Publishers Marketplace and Publishers Lunch, offered publishers simple, yet pertinent advice on engaging their audiences: “Leverage the damn book.” One example he gave: His son read a book from the “Alex Rider” series, so Cader went to the store to buy the series’ next book. To illustrate the point he was going to make, he projected a slide featuring the cover of every book in the series. There was nothing that told consumers which book to read next. The

Business Strategy: How to Evaluate New Software Systems for Your Organization
June 1, 2008

Missed Part I of This Series? You can find Part I of this two-part series here. Taking the time to step back and evaluate your company’s publishing software can be challenging enough in the midst of the daily grind, but once you become aware that real problems exist, the bigger challenge can be figuring out how to successfully address them. Part I of this article explored “the decision phase”—or, how to recognize the need for a new system and the triggers that alert you to that situation. In this second installment, you will learn ways to analyze, select and determine the success factors

Dohle Replaces Olson as Random House CEO
May 23, 2008

Hartmut Ostrowski, chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann AG, announced Tuesday that Peter Olson will step down from his position as chairman and CEO of Random House, which he has held for the past 10 years, effective May 31. Arvato Print CEO Markus Dohle will vacate his current position and assume the role of chairman and CEO of Random House as of June 1. According to Bertelsmann, Olson will leave the company “at his own initiative.” In a letter to the Random House staff, Olson said he will be relocating to Cambridge, Mass. “I am in discussions for a senior faculty position starting in the

Olson to Leave Random House, Say Bertelsmann Executives
May 9, 2008

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Random House Chief Executive Peter W. Olson will step down in the next few weeks, according to two executives at the book publisher’s parent company, Bertelsmann, who spoke on condition of anonymity. According to the report, Bertelsmann’s recently appointed chief executive, Hartmut Ostrowski, “has lost patience with the performance of the American operations and wants to install his own person … [who] would not necessarily be a prominent figure from New York publishing, and maybe not even American.” Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House, the world’s largest consumer publisher, issued the following statement: “Mr. Olson is

Focus on Independent Publishers: PMA Executive Director Terry Nathan talks about challenges facing this segment, including Amazon’s new POD policy.
May 9, 2008

When issued a statement at the end of March to announce a new policy requiring all print-on-demand (POD) titles sold on its Web site to be printed through its BookSurge subsidiary, the industry reacted quickly. PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, like several other industry trade associations, issued a statement last month condemning the action as one that hurts publishers by creating a monopoly for POD. The group represents more than 4,000 independent publishers. PMA Executive Director Terry Nathan spoke with Book Business Extra about Amazon’s new policy, as well as other challenges facing independent publishers. Book Business Extra: How

Launch Pad: Crashing a Marketing Campaign
May 1, 2008

Who is God? What is worth fighting or dying for? Can different religions coexist? These were just a few of the questions that French filmmakers Jules and Gédéon Naudet set out to answer in meeting with some of the world’s most revered spiritual leaders for their television documentary “In God’s Name,” which aired on CBS in December 2007. The Naudets garnered worldwide recognition in 2002 for their documentary “9/11”—recipient of that year’s Emmy for Best Documentary and a result of their own experiences in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001. In the several years that followed Sept. 11., the Naudets began to question

The Corner Office: He Did It
May 1, 2008

One year ago, New York-based Beaufort Books was a small, independent, relatively unknown publisher working to reinvent itself after years of inactivity. By summer, it was caught in the middle of the media firestorm that is O.J. Simpson—catapulted to national recognition and the top of the New York Times Best-Seller List. Its newfound notoriety came in the immediate wake of the announcement that Beaufort would be doing what HarperCollins—and, it was rumored, all of the other major publishing houses—would not. Beaufort would publish the book “If I Did It,” the ghostwritten account of how Simpson would have murdered his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and

SPECIAL REPORT: The Transforming Booksellers’ Landscape
May 1, 2008

The biggest news in book retailing so far this year may be Borders’ opening its first “concept store,” a new generation of superstores unveiled in February in the company’s hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich. At 28,900 square feet, the new store—the first of 14 planned to open this year—does not skimp on size, and a lot of that space is taken up by innovative features: shop-within-a-shop “destination zones” for travel, cooking, wellness, graphic novels and children’s categories; bold, new architectural designs; and a “digital center” offering services ranging from book downloading to self-publishing. “Our mission is to be a headquarters for knowledge