Peter Beisser

Peter Beisser
Read Free or Die!

John Scalzi won't have to field any tough questions about how digital rights management software (DRM) works at tonight's book signing. The author—out on tour promoting his newest science fiction novel, "Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas"—says those difficult discussions popped up regularly when he engaged with his tech-savvy fan base in the past. But he doesn't expect any of that negative discourse at tonight's Boston-area signing event—or at any of the other scheduled stops on his current campaign to promote the New York Times bestseller.

Not Your Father's (or Mother's) Book Manufacturers

To survive and thrive as the book industry's digital revolution pushes forward, and as better inventory management drives the shift toward smaller print runs, the smarter printers are doing everything they can to ensure they'll be a part of that ongoing transformation. This includes incorporating newer technologies with an ever sharper focus on customer support and service. Book Business spoke with executives from Quad/Graphics, BookMasters, Sheridan Books, Walsworth and Thomson-Shore, and asked about their outlooks for their businesses. The general consensus: They're ready for what the next year (and the years to come) have in store for them.

Chelsea Green's Challenge

White River Junction, Vt.-based independent publisher Chelsea Green received strong criticism from retailers, both large and small, last August after it made a deal with to exclusively sell one of its new titles, Robert Kuttner’s “Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency,” for the first few weeks of its release. In response, Barnes & Noble cut its initial order for the book, selling the title online, but not in its stores, while some independent booksellers vowed not to order from the publisher again.

Working Toward the Point of No Returns: Chelsea Green Publisher and President Margo Baldwin on the company's Green Partners program.

Margo Baldwin, publisher and president of independent publishing company Chelsea Green, has worked for a quarter of a century not only to publish books about sustainable living, but also to run her business with the same strong environmental focus. An example of this environmentally focused mission, the company's Green Partners program offers discounts and other perks to retailers that purchase books on a no-returns basis. According to Baldwin, the response has been extremely positive, and she hopes the program will continue to grow as more book-sellers sign up in the coming year. Here, Baldwin discusses details behind the program with Book Business Extra:

The Power of Podcasting: Bantam Dell Director of Internet Marketing Ken Wohlrob on how offering free content helped "Faefever" debut at No. 3 on The New York Times Best-seller List.

In preparation for the release of "Faefever," the third installment of Karen Marie Moning's “Fever” paranormal thriller series, Bantam Dell decided to utilized a varied set of promotional tools. Regular installments of a free podcast containing the full audio of "Darkfever," the original book in the series; a mass-market paperback release of "Bloodfever," the second entry in the series; and online excerpts of the first few chapters from the new title all helped push “Faefever” onto The New York Times Best-seller List.

On Demand Books Announces the New Espresso Book Machine 2.0

A commercially viable, point-of-sale, print-on-demand (POD) option—a device capable of creating a single perfect-bound paperback book at a time—has remained, up until this point, beyond the book industry's reach. With the announcement last week of New York-based On Demand Books' newest version of its Espresso Book Machine, set to roll out early next year for initial testing, the current age of printing and distribution as we have come to know it may be on the verge of a major transformation.

It's All in the Packaging

Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Press (DUP) is hoping to reverse the trend of declining hardcover-book sales to libraries by offering those libraries its full list—approximately 100 new scholarly titles per year and a backlist of over 900 titles—electronically on Ebrary ( By purchasing through Ebrary a subscription to DUP's list, called the e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection, an unlimited number of simultaneous users at the subscribing library can access the content and utilize Ebrary's searching, navigating, archiving and other research tools.

The Importance of Finding Your Niche: A Q&A with publishing veteran Richard E. Abel

Richard E. Abel is a publishing renaissance man. From establishing publishing companies and owning his own bookstore to founding a book marketing and distribution company and writing his own works, Abel has had his hand in nearly every area of publishing. At age 83, time has not put a dent in his passion for the industry, even after his cardiologist’s advice to slow down after his third heart attack led him to sell Timber Press, the Portland-based horticultural niche publishing house that he started 30 years ago. Abel will receive the Publishers Association of the West’s Jack D. Rittenhouse Award at the organization’s

Investing Millions: Merriam-Webster’s John Morse on why the costly “Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary” will pay off.

Merriam-Webster’s President and Publisher John Morse likes to think of the reference giant not just as a publisher, but as an information provider. “You have to know that your core competency is your ability to develop new content for which there is [a] clear and present need,” he says of the company, which he has led for more than a decade. One of Merriam-Webster’s latest endeavors in developing new content is the recent introduction of its “Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary”—an entirely new dictionary created by Merriam-Webster’s editorial staff, and the first advanced learner’s dictionary from an American publisher. The 1,994-page dictionary features in-depth coverage

The Corner Office: Indie Thinking Drives Dzanc Books

Steve Gillis and Dan Wickett are proving that the independent press is alive and well. In 2006, the co-publishers—Gillis, an author who made good in the stock market, and Wickett, a blogger who founded the Emerging Writers Network (—founded Dzanc Books with the goal to champion great writing. Now, with two years of business under their belts, the nonprofit press continues to garner attention for its crusade to help put good books into readers’ hands. • What are the biggest challenges facing smaller, independent publishing houses? Steve Gillis: Right at the top of the list is being well-financed. There’s a lot

An Alternative to Destroying Overruns: A Q&A with Books for Asia Director Melody Zavala

The Asia Foundation is providing publishers with an alternative to incinerating or pulping overruns and excess stock. Through its Books for Asia program, which the foundation started in 1954, publishers may instead donate these books for distribution to remote and impoverished areas throughout the Asian continent. Books for Asia delivers nearly one million books and educational resources to 17 countries in Asia every year. Publishers that have already partnered with the program include McGraw-Hill, John Wiley and Sons, Scholastic, W.W. Norton, Island Press and Lynne Rienner Publishers. Melody Zavala, director of Books for Asia, spoke with Book Business Extra about the San Francisco-based

Could You Handle an Overnight Best-seller? Epicenter Press’ Kent Sturgis talks about how his small press tackled the instant, overwhelming demand for the only Sarah Palin biography.

Biographies of political hopefuls typically see a significant bump in demand during presidential election years. But a sudden spike in orders wasn’t something Publisher Kent Sturgis expected for Epicenter Press’ 2008 biography of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Kaylene Johnson’s “Sarah: How a Hockey Mom turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down”—the one and only biography of the 44-year-old politician in print at the time. That all changed Friday, Aug. 29, when Sen. John McCain announced that Palin would be the Republican vice-presidential nominee. Almost immediately, Sturgis and his small publishing house, which consists of himself and three part-time employees, mobilized to meet the sudden, overwhelming

The Corner Office: How Hachette Book Group Measures Success

With its new Web site, HBG has established an infrastructure for digital development, says COO Beth Ford. With close to one year on the job, Hachette Book Group (HBG) Chief Operating Officer Beth Ford continues to work toward increasing efficiencies—and profits—for owner Hachette Livre, who purchased the publishing company from Time Warner in March 2006. Ford, who joined HBG last September after serving seven years as Scholastic’s senior vice president of global operations and information technology, dove right in by reviewing the publisher’s processes and identifying “gaps” that needed to be filled. It’s a full plate of responsibilities—one Ford relishes, she says.

What Publishers Need to Know About Foreign-Sourced Papers: A Q&A with Green Press Initiative’s Todd Pollak

Indonesia’s Sumatran tiger population has declined by an estimated 70 percent in less than 30 years—with some estimates indicating that fewer than 200 Sumatran tigers now exist in the wild. The outlook for elephants and orangutans in this region is just as bleak. What does this have to do with where you’re buying your paper? Everything, according to Todd Pollak, program manager, book sector, for the nonprofit organization Green Press Initiative (GPI). Pollak says China and South Korea may be sourcing your paper from Indonesia, which in turn could be doing considerable damage to the social and environmental health of that country. “There’s