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‘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

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

Publishing companies of all sizes often spend significant time and money on software service contracts and IT training, assuming that their current systems—whatever they are—will continue to support not only back-office functionality, but editorial, marketing, sales, production, warehousing and e-commerce functionality as well. In the best of all worlds, they will. But at what cost? Many companies augment their formal systems and databases with home-grown databases, especially lists of various types held in multiple Excel worksheets belonging to multiple staff members. In most cases, these subterranean databases are unknown to other staffers, even though the databases may be posted to a company

Robert S. Miller Joins HarperCollins to Lead New Publishing Program
April 11, 2008

HarperCollins Publishers has signed Robert S. Miller, the founding publisher of Hyperion Books, to develop and launch a new global publishing program based on a nontraditional business model. Miller will start in his new position on Monday, April 14, at the London Book Fair. He will report directly to HarperCollins President and CEO Jane Friedman. Miller will serve as president and publisher of the yet-to-be-named program, which will publish approximately 25 popular-priced books per year in multiple physical and digital formats. According to HarperCollins, the program will aim to combine the best practices of trade publishing while taking advantage of the Internet for sales,

Adapting to the Digital Age: A Q&A with Association of American Publishers President and CEO Patricia S. Schroeder
April 11, 2008

After serving for more than three decades as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Colorado, Patricia S. Schroeder stepped away from public service and shifted her focus to the world of book publishing. Since assuming the position of president and CEO of the Washington D.C.- and New York-based Association of American Publishers (AAP)—the book publishing industry’s national trade association currently representing close to 300 U.S. publishers—the former Congresswoman has continued to remain a visible figure as she works in the interest of book publishers across the country. Schroeder recently spoke with Book Business Extra about how the business of book publishing

Corner Office: The Power of ‘One’
March 1, 2008

In a recent issue of Book Business, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson Inc. was cited as “the most radical example” of a growing trend toward internal consolidation in the book publishing industry (“Embracing the ‘Kindle Effect,’ ” February 2008). The article was referring to the Nashville, Tenn.-based company’s announcement in April 2007 that it was eliminating all 21 of its imprints, and reorganizing its publishing functions around consumer categories—a corporate restructuring it termed the “One Company” initiative. Michael S. Hyatt, president and chief executive officer of Thomas Nelson, spoke with Book Business about the goals behind the One Company initiative, the impact the

Web 2.0 For Dummies
March 1, 2008

In the course of its history, John Wiley and Sons Inc. has seen 40 presidents come and go. Forty U.S. presidents, that is, in the span of more than 200 years in the publishing business. From humble beginnings in a print shop in Lower Manhattan, through eras of momentous change and extreme economic ups and downs, the company has stuck by its core principles: building relationships and meeting customer needs. “The overarching goal for us is not about books and journals or the Web, it’s about promoting knowledge and understanding, continuously adapting to change, and meeting the needs of the customer,” says William

Secrets of the ‘Best Book Publishing Company to Work For’: A Q&A with Hays Steilberg, Random House Vice President and Director of Human Resources
February 15, 2008

As vice president and director of human resources of the world’s largest book publisher, Random House’s Hays Steilberg knows a thing or two about creating a great workplace. The company recently ranked No. 1 in Book Business’ “Best Book Publishing Companies to Work For” survey (Book Business, October 2007). Steilberg will speak in-depth on what makes for a great workplace when he serves as a panelist at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo ( March 10-12 in New York City. Here, he gives Book Business Extra a preview of his take on how to attract and retain top talent, and create a happier,

The ‘Green’ TEAM
February 1, 2008

According to one of the better-known accounts in the compendium of humankind’s greatest achievements, it was in the year 105 that a Chinese man named Ts’ai Lun invented paper, mashing up wood from a mulberry tree with fiber from bamboo. Thus was born a technology that would literally change the world, making possible artistic, scientific and religious revolutions, democratizing literacy and learning, and ushering humanity into the modern age. In recent times, paper production has played a role in changing the world in other ways. The book industry alone required 3 million to 4 million tons of paper over just the last three years,

Publishers Partner Across the Pond to Launch New Imprint: Soho Press’s Laura Hruska Talks About Her Company’s New Venture with British-based Constable & Robinson
January 18, 2008

Soho Constable, a new mystery imprint from Soho Press, will bring a line of British mysteries back into the hands of U.S. readers. The New York-based independent publisher is teaming up with Constable & Robinson, a British-based publisher who lost its previous U.S. partner when Carroll & Graf was purchased by Perseus Book Group last year. Soho will begin releasing Soho Constable titles in April. Soho Press Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Laura Hruska spoke with Book Business Extra about the genesis of this new imprint, which will constitute about a third of the publisher’s titles this year. Book Business Extra: How did you form

Gene Therapy: From Book Proposal to Profit
January 1, 2008

Chris Anderson’s ironic farewell to the retail bookshelf is a harbinger of how direct distribution in the supply chain is bypassing the traditional foundations of bookselling—as well as library patronage­—and is also flowing into nonprint formats. But while that transformation is nibbling around the edges of distribution, the fact remains that the book publishing industry’s supply chain model has as its primary target a physical book on a physical bookshelf. In this special two-part series, I want to discuss how digital data management drives workflow through the operations, acquisitions, development, production and distribution supply chain; in particular, how use of the Online Information Exchange

SPECIAL REPORT: Embracing the ‘Kindle Effect’
January 1, 2008

2007 might well be remembered as the year when, a few months after the final installment of “Harry Potter” hit the shelves to blockbuster acclaim, the “To Read or Not to Read” report was issued by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The report raised serious concerns about the future of reading in this country: Amount and proficiency are on the decline, the report found, especially among young adults and older teens. Then, there are new U.S. Census numbers, released in December 2007, that show that the number of hours per person spent reading consumer books has been basically flat over the

The Quirky Side of Publishing
January 1, 2008

Five years ago, the newly formed Quirk Books was a baby in the book publishing industry achieving very adult-like success. In its first year, the Philadelphia-based independent book publisher sold 150,000 copies of “The Action Hero’s Handbook.” In the years that followed, the company sustained that level of success by consistently thinking outside the box—or rather, outside the book. “I’ve always thought of Quirk as ultimately not just a publishing company, “ says President and Founder David Borgenicht, who co-wrote “The Action Hero’s Handbook” as well as a variety of other popular titles, including “The Worst-Case Scenario” series. “We’ve always had the

Wiley Teams With Investment Firm to Create New Imprint
December 6, 2007

John Wiley & Sons Inc. and Fisher Investments, a Woodside, Calif.-based independent money-management firm, announced the launch of a new Wiley imprint, Fisher Investments Press. The imprint will draw on the expertise of Fisher Investments and its founder and CEO, best-selling author Ken Fisher, to educate a broad audience on investing. “The money management expertise of Fisher Investments paired with Ken Fisher’s track record in financial journalism makes for a powerful combination to launch a business imprint,” says Joan O’Neil, Wiley vice president and executive publisher. Fisher has written the “Portfolio Strategy” column in Forbes magazine for the past 23 years, and his latest