Cover Story: Publishers' Outlook 2012: The Industry's Next Bold Move
Brian Howard: How do you see the knock-down/drag-out going on between the Nook and the Kindle right now affecting what you do?
Johnny Temple: Our books are doing really well in e-book format, and we're happy to make our e-books available for sale by anyone who sells e-books. I do have a concern in the long run about the piracy of e-books. … Right now [digital is] working very well for us. In four years, maybe it'll have destroyed the business [laughs], like it did with music.
Howard: What are you doing in print and digital sales?
Temple: I think our digital sales are about 10 to 15 percent of the print sales. [And] it seems to be increasing.
Howard: This has been a pretty big year for Akashic with the success of "Go the F--k to Sleep." Where does it rank among your best-selling titles?
Temple: Oh, it's a whole different ballpark than any other books we've ever published. It's sold exponentially more than any of our previous books.
Howard: What challenges does a press like Akashic face when a book essentially goes viral like that?
Temple: I think one of the biggest challenges is managing the process with a small staff. It's a huge amount of work, and I've seen other small companies eaten up and essentially destroyed by success. One [problem] is that the company suddenly thinks that it's this big, successful company, and so it hires staff and starts expanding, only to find out that the success was kind of a rare thing. … So I'm trying very hard to basically grow very little and to be very conservative about how we're spending the money that we're making this year. We published our first book in 1997, and now we publish 25 to 30 books a year. And like almost any other independent company, we've been sort of chronically unstable the whole time. What I would like to do is stabilize the company. … It's [all] been very welcome and very exciting, but also with some pretty significant challenges along the way.