Here's the problem with book publishers' discovery problem
February 15, 2013

Conferences are most useful when they shift your thinking in some way. Those moments are rare, but I got to enjoy two of them this week at two separate conferences — Book^2 Camp, a book publishing “un-conference,” in New York on Sunday and the much larger O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference on Wednesday and Thursday. I came away with some new thoughts on discoverability and walled gardens…

Is “Discoverability” Even A Problem?
February 12, 2013

This Sunday I attended the annual Book 2 Camp, which has become the pre-TOC venue for unconferencing since it began 3 years ago. All programming is proposed and carried out that day, so you never know what you are going to get.

This year, my favorite thing that happened was, during a session on talking about “what readers want” proposed by Jeff O’Neal and Rebecca Schinsky of BookRiot, Laura Hazard Owen said after a pretty awesome leadup, “What if discoverability turns out to not even be an issue?”

Would you pay to browse in a real bookstore?
February 11, 2013

Chapter 1: You stumble upon an interesting book at your neighborhood bookstore.

Chapter 2: You go home and order it from Amazon for half as much.

Chapter 9: Your favorite bookstore is bankrupt.

Booksellers call it “showrooming,” and it drives them crazy — and out of business. Barnes & Noble believes that 40 percent of its customers use the store as a place to discover and examine titles, but then buy the books online.

How might “real” bookstores fight back against their Amazonian nemesis?

Identity Publishing: A new way of looking at how publishers create and build brands
February 7, 2013

Used to be, if a friend recommended a book, my first question was: “Who published it?” This question was usually met with a blank look and a shrug that said: “who cares?” To me, as a publishing professional, it was important to try to learn the flavor and focus of various imprints. To the reader, this was inconsequential. Except for a few recognizable imprints—the Penguin Classics, the Norton anthologies, Little Golden Books, for example—publishing did not have brands. And that, I always felt, was a mistake.

iTunes launches Breakout Books section to highlight self-published titles
February 5, 2013

Amazon intensely promotes self-published Kindle books, and now Apple is taking steps toward doing the same thing. The company has launched a new section of the iBookstore, “Breakout Books,” a “hand-picked collection of books from emerging talents…independently published to the iBookstore.” New books will be added “as they begin taking off.”

No More Boomerang Books: Four Tips for Reducing Returns
February 1, 2013

Some publishers experience return rates of 30 percent or more. There are four important things you can do that can help to reduce or eliminate returns.

  1. Take responsibility. Retailers and distributors do not sell books. They display them or fill the pipeline after you have sold them. Recognize that it is up to you to spread the word and get buyers into the stores (if you choose retail distribution) to purchase your books. Then, if your book is good it should remain sold.

Impatient Optimists: Possibly the One Thing Almost All Americans Agree On: Libraries (in the Digital Age)
February 1, 2013

But my jaw dropped when I read the findings of a new report, "Libraries in the Digital Age" from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life project.

Pew found that 91 percent of Americans (16 or older) say that public libraries are important to their communities, and 76 percent say libraries are important to them and their families.

I can't think of another idea, place, or issue that 91 percent of Americans support. I also think this puts to rest once and for all …

Reddit Book Exchange Now Open
February 1, 2013

Looking for a new book this year? Join the annual Reddit Book Exchange and a literary stranger will share a great book with you.

So far, 4,700 people have already signed up for the massive book exchange–sign up before the February 18th deadline. You will be matched with another online reader who knows about your literary tastes and get a new book in March.

BookScout: Speaking with SVP of Digital Marketplace Development Amanda Close about Random House's new discoverability app
January 30, 2013

Last week, following a soft-launch the week prior, Random House marched out BookScout, a Facebook app designed to link readers with books they'll like but might not have discovered on their own.

We asked Amanda Close, Senior Vice President, Digital Marketplace Development at Random House, to take us through the steps of getting an app like BookScout into the world, and how it plans to hone it going forward.

Teen fiction and the shadow of cancer
January 26, 2013

One of the stranger recent cultural shifts is that teenage fiction has become a branch of oncology. Cancer is rampant. You're barely a chapter in before a tumour erupts or a lymphatic system turns nasty. Young heroes and heroines are terminal from page one, or a friend is, or a parent. The shadow of premature death has fallen upon the genre: one half-expects Waterstones to be staffed by Macmillan nurses.

It is axiomatic (though wrong) that teenagers will read only books that reflect teenage experience.