Increasingly fixated on the stars of today, such as Hilary Mantel and JK Rowling, publishers are neglecting the experimenters who could save their industry tomorrow: the mid-list writers.
The tickets sold out months ago. Long before the admiring reviews of the stage adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies hit the press at the end of last week, theatre-goers were in no doubt they wanted to see six hours of blazing Tudor intrigue.
Husna Haq of The Christian Science Monitor tracked sales for the 2013 winners just two weeks after the Pulitzer Prize was announced. The result? Money has not fallen from the sky. Well, not yet.
The second week tends to yield high sales for Pulitzer Prize winners, which is why I assume The Christian Science Monitor is tracking these numbers so soon. The real question is how many months the books can keep up the hype, enthusiasm, and good press that arrives with the award.
The PEN/Faulkner Foundation announced last week the winner of the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: Benjamin Alire Sáenz received the award for his collection of short fiction, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club. The book was published by El Paso-based independent publisher Cinco Puntos Press.
Yesterday, Book Business had a chance to speak with John Byrd, Marketing Director and CFO of the family-run business. He’s had a few days now to absorb the news, celebrate, watch some college basketball, catch a cold, and recover. Now he shares his publishing insights with BB.
How are things playing out since the award was announced?
It’s been real nice. It’s been kinda hectic for us, especially for Ben [author Benjamin Alire Sáenz], who has made a lot of friends in the literary world in the 20 or 30 years he’s been publishing. He’s getting lots of phone calls and congratulations from people.
Reviews on Amazon are becoming attack weapons, intended to sink new books as soon as they are published.
In the biggest, most overt and most successful of these campaigns, a group of Michael Jackson fans used Facebook and Twitter to solicit negative reviews of a new biography of the singer. They bombarded Amazon with dozens of one-star takedowns, succeeded in getting several favorable notices erased and even took credit for Amazon’s briefly removing the book from sale.
Amazon prides itself on unraveling the established order. This fall, signs of Amazon-inspired disruption are everywhere.There is the slow-motion crackup of electronics showroom Best Buy. There is Amazon’s rumored entry into the wine business, which is already agitating competitors. And there is the merger of Random House and Penguin, an effort to create a mega-publisher sufficiently hefty to negotiate with the retailer on equal terms. Amazon inspires anxiety just about everywhere, but its publishing arm is getting pushback from all sorts of booksellers.
Despite its almost mythical dominance in book retailing, Amazon has struggled mightily to crack the publishing business. While it sells millions of copies of other publishers’ books, Amazon can’t quite seem to get its own books off the ground and onto the bestseller charts, according to a recent Wall Street Journal piece that examined the online retailer’s publishing woes.
Case in point: Penny Marshall’s memoir, “My Mother Was Nuts.”
This summer, HarperCollins announced it would be launching a global publishing program called HarperCollins 360, designed to increase availability of the publisher's titles across all English-speaking markets.
The idea is to use a network of print-on-demand [POD] facilities located in regional warehouses so that any title in English will be available in any English-language market, making rights, and not technology or geography, the only impediment to getting a book into a customer's hands.
Around the time I started working in trade publishing, Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" was a huge bestseller, clocking sales at record rates. I was impressed, and still am, but my thinking on what these numbers meant was altered by the comment of a colleague: "Just because people are buying the book, doesn't mean they're reading it."
And, of course, it's true. Hawking's book was a trendy intellectual purchase. Drop a copy of this much-talked-about dense and brainy bestseller on your coffee table, and guests were sure to gain a favorable impression of your erudition. But speak knowledgably about black holes, quarks and antimatter? Mere ownership of the tome did not such conversations guarantee.
Yesterday, the folks at 1DollarScan announced a program that makes their nifty, if somewhat controversial, service a little bit niftier. The San Jose, Calif., company scans customers' print books and converts them into ebooks—essentially giving John and Jane Q. Bookworm access to the same services big publishers outsource offshore when they convert their backlist titles.
Through a partnership with Evernote—the early favorite for best cloud app ever—customers who have their print books converted to ebooks through 1DollarScan can access those books through their Evernote interface. (Sign-up for the service started Thursday.)
Maria Semple made an instant, jarring discovery when she moved with her boyfriend and daughter from Los Angeles to Seattle, a city whose Patagonia-clad inhabitants like to talk about bicycling, the environment and the eternally dull question (in her opinion) of whether it might rain.
“It’s just not a funny place,” said Ms. Semple, a novelist and veteran comedy writer who worked on the television shows “Arrested Development” and “Mad About You.”