March 2007 Issue


A Book With A View

A bar of soap that zaps fat, puppies that don’t grow up, and a bug DNA kit. It’s not everyday in a book-marketing veteran’s career that he’s able to be as creative as Jeffrey Yamaguchi has been able to be during the recent marketing campaign for Michael Crichton’s latest best seller, “Next.” While promoting “Next,” Yamaguchi—HarperCollins’ online marketing manager—and his marketing teammates created a fictional genetic research firm by the name of Nextgencode. They then developed fake products supposedly being sold by the company, including a revolutionary weight-loss soap, and supported these ventures with online video commercials that ran on mainstream sites, like

Are You the Weakest Link?

As I was preparing for this column, I came across the following statement in a brochure prepared by Strategos, strategic planning consultants, that I picked up at an event a few years ago: “What’s amazing is how often top management is surprised when dramatic external change happens. Why the surprise? Is it that the world is violently turbulent, changing in ways that simply cannot be anticipated? Perhaps. But we call them ‘inevitable surprises.’ Think about it. In retrospect, you could have anticipated most of the disruptions in your industry. You can build this capability into your organization. You can be prepared—before your competition.”

Dishing Content on Multiple Platforms

The staff of Zagat Survey LLC consisted of just Tim and Nina Zagat when the pair first set off in 1979 to compile restaurant reviews contributed by their friends to help create the first of their popular restaurant guides. The book series since has become virtually synonymous with dining, and the staff consists of 110 full-time employees, plus local editors in more than 70 cities around the globe. Tim Zagat, the CEO of Zagat Survey, faces the same challenges that other publishers do as his company prepares to face the opportunities and challenges that digital content delivery creates. What are the biggest challenges you

Getting the Word Out There

In today’s world where numerous venues exist to sell books—from bookstores to mass-market outlets to catalogs to the Internet to author-supported sales—making the best use of each channel can be challenging. To help make cross-platform marketing more effective, here are some proven insights I’ve learned during more than 25 years of publishing and marketing books. Ninety percent of all marketing efforts are wasted. This law of wasted effort is just a fact of life. It applies to all areas of marketing, from making sales pitches to direct mail to Internet sales. If a publicist actually gets one media hit from every 10 phone calls she makes,

Help Yourself to Opportunity

Whether it’s through Dr. Phil’s advice on “getting real” or Dale Carnegie’s strategies on “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” we seem to be incessantly compelled to better ourselves. Besides spiritual and professional self-help books, do-it-yourself books have exploded in popularity over the years (the “For Dummies” line published by John Wiley & Sons Inc. among them). But like any other market segment, the self-help book market faces challenges—challenges that are, in fact, similar to those most publishers are facing at the moment. They also face great opportunity in a changing marketplace—opportunity that some say could be easily missed. Community Is Key

Inaugural Leadership Awards Announced

The inaugural “ Leadership Awards” will be presented on Monday, March 5, at the 2007 Book Business Conference and Expo in New York. The Leadership Awards recognize book and magazine publishing companies for their achievements in environmental sustainability and are presented by—a Web site developed by Book Business and Publishing Executive magazines to provide a central location for information and resources on environmental sustainability in printing and publishing. “We believe it is extremely important to recognize publishing companies that have made significant efforts to improve their environmental impact,” says Noelle Skodzinski, Book Business’ editor in chief, who also directs the editorial

Looking Outside for Some Introspective Perspective

As I write this, I am at a publishing conference in Florida. One of the speakers just made a comment that was particularly relevant to this issue of Book Business; he said, “I’m amazed today at how many projects I work on that have an IT component as well as a production component.” That is the very premise behind this issue’s “Your Hired!” feature. While it may not be the norm right now to provide your content in mobile format or to host webcasts to promote your authors or new titles, or even to share your financial reports with your investors, positions across the

No ‘Potter,’ No Problem for E-books

E-books could very well be the way of the future for book publishers, but for the author of the expected biggest release of the year, readers are going to have to finish out J.K. Rowling’s series the old fashioned way. Along with releasing the July 21 street date for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” representatives of the author said the book, like the six previous editions in the series, would not be made available to readers as an e-book. Neil Blair, a lawyer with Rowling’s literary firm Christopher Little Literary Agency, told the Associated Press that the author has no intentions of making the

Pick a Cover, Any Cover

Choosing a cover-material supplier or deciding to switch to a new provider can seem like a game that we don’t know how to play. Knowing what materials are available and which would work best for the look and feel you are trying to achieve for your next book project can be tricky ... and even risky. A bad decision can break a book—after all, aren’t books judged by their covers? Fortunately, representatives at most cover-material companies are available to walk you through the process helping you discover what qualities and features are most important for your needs. “So many questions have to be

The Architect of Innovative Publishing

Technology is fundamentally transforming publishing. From generating ideas to packaging information to delivering products and beyond, everything is changing. Tim O’Reilly, the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, the renowned Silicon Valley-based computer/technology publisher, believes that many publishers are woefully unprepared. His company, one of the leading computer-book publishing companies in the world, is at the forefront of the technologies that have directly shaped publishing of the past, present and future. When I spoke with O’Reilly, he was getting ready to board a plane to New York City to keynote Google’s “Unbound” conference on Jan. 18. The conference was billed as “a day

Wiley Acquisition of Blackwell Complete

A major publishing acquisition was completed in early February as John Wiley & Sons Inc. announced the finalization of its acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Holdings Ltd. The purchase price of $1.1 billion (U.S.) Wiley paid for the academic and professional publisher was financed with a combination of debt and cash. Blackwell’s publishing program will be merged with Wiley’s global scientific, technical, and medical business, Wiley representatives said. The merged business is now the largest of the three owned by Wiley; its other publishing ventures are professional/trade and higher education. “Wiley begins our third century of publishing by embarking on the path of growth

You’re Hired!

Publishers rely on the Internet or classified ads to spread the word about new positions, but how can you guarantee you will attract people with the best or even relevant skill sets? Furthermore, the more important question may be: Exactly what skill sets should you be looking for in today’s constantly changing publishing environment? Beyond the obvious characteristics any publisher would want in a new hire—intelligence, loyalty, enthusiasm, writing and editing skills, an eye for layout, business and marketing savvy, and so forth, publishers may wonder if they should expand the perimeter of the required skill set to prepare for embracing the multimedia