Today, Random House and Penguin are officially united as Penguin Random House. For us, today is a beginning, and I very much want to reach out to you on our first day as a new company, because it all begins with you: you and the books you write and entrust to us to publish. For us, this is a sacred trust, one that before today Penguin and Random House have honored separately. Now it is a commitment and a privilege that unifies us.
Brian G. Howard
Admittedly, yesterday's news could have been much better. In some alternate reality, William Lynch could have gotten on that earnings call and announced that things were so smashingly good for the NOOK tablet business that Barnes & Noble was stepping up production and launching bigger (NOOK HD+ LANDSCAPE) and smaller (THE POCKET NOOK!) versions.
But in this reality, Lynch announced that competing with the likes of Amazon and Apple in the tabletsphere was not working for the retailer, and that while it would continue to manufacture its popular NOOK eInk e-readers (Simple Touch & w/GlowLight) and develop NOOK apps for other devices, B&N would cease manufacturing NOOK tablets and look for a third-party partner to license and manufacture co-branded NOOK tablets.
AAUP 2013 kicked off yesterday in Boston and continues through Saturday. Among the first day announcements:
-The release of the Digital Book Publishing in the AAUP Community Spring 2013 report: "AAUP has continued to survey its member presses about the extent to which various digital publishing strategies are being adopted within the community. The 2013 Survey updates information gathered annually since 2010. In addition to gathering data about e-book revenue, digital marketing and discovery strategies, and format and channel availability , we also asked respondents to share their opinions about major concerns or hurdles they are facing, and to tell us more about their presses’ e-book goals.
The new edition of Book Business magazine should be on its way to you — and can also be accessed online, in a full-featured digital edition or via your iPad through our app— was a lot of fun for us to put together. We've got an interview with Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook. We talk to Matt about the publicity process for his debut novel that was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film. We've also got a piece from one of our personal heroes, the great Bill Kasdorf, that demystifies the EPUB 3 ebook file format and helps ensure you're putting it to its best use.
If days one and two of Book Expo America were a blur of information-packed sessions, days three and four were a whirlwind of appointments, chance meetings and tote-bag lugging.
Friday we met up with Jamie Israel of SPi Global, then hustled over to the Spain pavilion to meet with Edie Reinhardt and Marcelino Elosua of Lid Publishing, who have some fascinating new initiatives in the pipeline (and should have some news to announce in the fall).
Today started early with a quick lap around the expo hall, scouting out author events, checking in with favorite houses and, of course, scanning the carpeted floors of the myriad booths for uncorrected proofs. Among the swag: Neil Gaiman's Fortunately, The Milk (Harper Collins Childrens), Lyranda Martin Evans and Fiona Stevenson's Reasons Mommy Drinks (Three Rivers Press), Brian Lavery's The Conquest of the Ocean (DK), Nicoholson Baker's Traveling Sprinkler (Blue Rider Press), Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement (HarperCollins) and a poster for Ian Doescher's William Shakespeare's Star Wars (Quirk).
I guess I'd forgotten. Now that all the the publishing players have settled, abandoning agency pricing and returning to the wholesale slums, the DOJ/ebook antitrust case, which popped up again in everyone's news feeds this week, feels a little anticlimactic.
The DOJ, perhaps simply because it's what it found, or perhaps because there's no one left to pick on, is framing the last defendant standing, Apple, as the "ringmaster" in the price-fixing suit, according the New York Times.
For Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook — the novel that became the Academy Award-winning film starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro — success as a fiction writer came slowly, then gradually and then all at once.
Quick (who, in the interest of full disclosure, is a friend and was a college roommate at La Salle University in the early 1990s) took some time in March to talk to Book Business about his whirlwind life since his book hit the silver screen.
Given the exponential proliferation of free and cheap digital content in the marketplace — to say nothing of the platforms upon which one can consume that content — it's never much of a challenge to find something to read. But finding something you want to read at a great price? Therein lies the rub. Enter BookBub, a Cambridge-based email recommendation engine that delivers daily ebook deals, for titles across a wide range of platforms, to its million-plus members based on their tastes and interests.
We know that the era of "big data" has already fomented great change in book publishing. But it's also making waves in book scholarship. Academics are exploring new and fascinating ways of analyzing literature not as specific works but as corpora: huge bodies of works spanning decades and even centuries.
In his new book, Macroanalysis: Digital Methods & Literary History (University of Illinois Press), Matthew L. Jockers, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Assistant Professor of English, takes readers into what he modestly calls "this thing I'm doing." "To call it a field is perhaps premature," he says.
As the Book Industry Study Group report "Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education" suggests, things are changing, and fast, for higher education publishing. And the Supreme Court's decision in Kirtsaeng V. Wiley is only going to hasten the speed at which higher ed publishers move to digital platforms for course content.
Enter GinkgoTree, a fresh-faced start-up from a group of former academics who, after bemoaning the lack of a cheaper alternative to expensive textbooks and a more elegant alternative to online course packs, decided that theirs was the solution they were waiting for.
Two big announcements this afternoon:
In the U.K., Granta has just announced its prestigious, once-a-decade Best of Young British Novelists list.
And stateside, The Pulitzer Prize for fiction, which went unawarded last year to much hand-wringing in the publishing industry, will be awarded this year.
The winner, announced just a few minutes ago, is…
While it’s odd to think of an organization backed by Penguin, Hachette and Simon & Schuster as a startup, Bookish, the new book-recommendation and -discovery site, is essentially that. After two years in development under three CEOs, it’s a new site where users can get recommendations based on titles or groups of titles they know they already like and then, in most cases, purchase them. Like the Random House project Book Scout, the idea, on one level, is to facilitate discovery across the industry, for the good of the industry. And while users can discover just about any book, the books they can purchase directly from Bookish are not limited to those published by the companies who footed the bill.
This article will appear in the January issue of Book Business.
Mark Z. Danielewski, the author of mind-bending, paradigm-busting works House of Leaves and Only Revolutions, has made a career of turning the novel on its head. So it should come as no surprise that he’s attempting the same with ebooks.
The digital version of the Los Angeles-based author’s The Fifty Year Sword (Pantheon)—which in print features elaborate stitched illustrations—came out late last year and is neither a print replica nor a reflowable document. Rather, the fixed-layout epub takes the fastidiously constructed ghost story for grownups to another level, incorporating an original score and a collection of text effects that are triggered as the reader turns pages .