Cover Story: Publishers' Outlook 2012: The Industry's Next Bold Move
Associate Publisher • McSweeney's
Based in San Francisco, McSweeney's is the book-, journal-, magazine-, Web- and now app-publishing outfit founded by Dave Eggers ("What Is the What"). Known for wit, literary high-mindedness and an unflinching commitment to production values, McSweeney's has spun off a number of non-profit organizations related to works it has published, from the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation working in South Sudan to the 826 National tutoring centers devoted to increasing language skills among the young. Book Business caught up with Krefman via e-mail.
Brian Howard: Does the knock-down/drag-out going on between Barnes & Noble and Amazon affect McSweeney's?
Adam Krefman: We're too small to have a dog in the fight. From a business perspective, it's great to see a diverse set of platforms. From a content perspective, it's very far from ideal.
Howard: What is your print and digital sales split?
Krefman: We only have five or six books available widely as e-books, so the majority of our income in e-books so far has actually come from our app [Ed. Note: The app is free, features exclusive content, and provides "deluxe access" to McSweeney's e-book store]. But even those two combined are a pretty small chunk of our business. I think our investment in the quality of the printed book/magazine, and the audience we've built around that, cushions us a bit against the migration to e-books.
Howard: How do you anticipate that changing?
Krefman: We're going to make more of our books available in e-book over the coming year. We'll also keep looking at ways to make things specifically in e-book that wouldn't work in print. We did a Chris Ware comic for our app that … has sold pretty well. Looking at ways to use the various platforms for their strengths seems in keeping with our overall approach to publishing, rather than simply feeding text through some program that spits out ePub files.