Is Your Model Obsolete? Innovation is the new essential competency for book publishers
April 11, 2013

Your business model is the description of how you make money. Is your model to sell your book through bookstores (clicks and bricks)? Or are you a publisher selling multiple titles the same way you always have? You may have added ebooks to your product line and assumed this was a new business model. It is a variation, not a new model.

If you have not changed the way you generate revenue in the past year, your business model is probably obsolete. And you are not maximizing your revenue opportunities.

Look at as an example. It launched with an innovative business model as an online bookstore. Then it started offering other products (clothing, computers) requiring different distribution networks. Then Amazon began selling digital books, music and movies online. Soon it added its own branded products (Kindle), web services and is now investing millions of dollars in warehouses for same-day delivery of groceries and other merchandise. Amazon’s business model changed regularly over 18 years to meet and create new opportunities.

"Surprise Good News" for Cinco Puntos Press
March 26, 2013

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.

Bringing Muhammad to the Mountain: Off-Site Bookselling
March 21, 2013

In bookselling, my philosophy is that it can be better to bring the books to where the people are already congregating, rather than the reverse. Bookseller Sharon Preiss had thoughts along these lines as well, which inspired her to launch her company, Mobile Libris.

Sound Off: What does the SCOTUS' Wiley v. Kirtsaeng decision mean for books, publishing
March 20, 2013

By now you've likely heard that the Supreme Court has ruled, in a 6-3 decision, in favor of immigrant scientist Supap Kirtsaeng in Kirtsaeng V. Wiley.

In what's being heralded as a win for consumers and libraries, and a loss for publishers, the SCOTUS overturned a previous ruling against Kirtsaeng, who had been buying textbooks printed (legally) abroad—where they cost significantly less than they do in, say, the United States—and then reselling them in the U.S. on eBay and turning a handsome profit in the process.

In a statement yesterday, Wiley's President & CEO Stephen M. Smith wrote: "We are disappointed that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided in favor of Supap Kirtsaeng and overturned the Second Circuit’s ruling.  It is a loss for the U.S. economy, and students and authors in the U.S. and around the world."

Feeling Bookish: CEO Ardy Khazaei on the real aims—and real benefits—of the publisher joint venture
March 12, 2013

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.

The Book Shows Go On: Everything you need to know about book production and design awards and shows in 2013
March 6, 2013

The six major annual book design shows listed above continue to anchor our industry in its traditions of craft, even though painfully unadorned ebooks and cluttered multimedia platforms proceed apace, charting their own course. Whatever the wide range of book show presenting criteria, as shown in the survey that follows, ultimately the purpose of book design is to enhance the readability and message of the book itself. 

Print will survive and thrive in those areas where it continues to fulfill that purpose. Where digital media prevail, irrepressible design aspirations will soon follow.

While some shows are beginning to provide digital edition categories (mostly fixed format and multi-media), print editions continue to be foundational platforms for book design and organization — at least for the time being. Leading edge designers are exploring ways to bring design criteria into the reflowable formats.

What would become of an independent Nook?
February 27, 2013

While predicting doom for Nook, as our columnist Michael Weinstein put it, has become the favored pastime of the book and tech press of late, it’s hard not to read the news of B&N Chairman Leonard S. Riggio’s bid to purchase the chain’s retail stores and take them private—leaving the company’s foundering Nook division to fend for itself—as the beginning of the end for the little e-reader that could. (Or maybe it’s the end of the end for the little e-reader that couldn’t quite.)

Know Your BNO: Prepare alternative solutions before negotiating a sale
February 25, 2013

When you negotiate a large-quantity book sale, price and delivery are two areas in which you may find yourself at odds with your prospect. When conflict arises, do not become argumentative, but do not let your prospect take advantage of you, either. Take the focus off price and place it on non-price issues. Focus on variables where your prospect’s interests and yours have more in common. Find and agree upon the best package of product, terms and service that most increases the value for your prospect without sacrificing your needs. Before you enter a negotiation, consider alternatives for each issue that might arise.

The Big Merge: Experts Weigh In on the Random House/Penguin deal
February 6, 2013

In this month’s edition of our print magazine (featuring our snappy new redesign), I take a look at the announced-last-year merger of publishing powerhouses Penguin and Random House.

While info out of the two houses is expected to be on lock-down until all the paperwork goes through and regulators are pleased, we asked some experts with a set of unique perspectives on how the merger will affect the publishers involved and the industry at large to weigh in.

While perspectives differ, one of the most common areas of interest is technology and data: Will the merger help or hinder the two houses impressive track records for innovation? Will the real innovation that comes out of this deal, and further consolidation, come not out of the big houses but out of displacement on the fringes.

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.