Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, June 5, 2008

This Week in Publishing 6/5/08

This Week, Publishing In

Lots of news this week in publishing. As reported yesterday, the very smart Brian Murray is taking over HarperCollins, and he laid out some of his plans in an interview with Publishers Lunch. Murray states that while he thinks HarperCollins "is performing financially at the top of what this industry can produce," he is hoping to find new ways to expand margins through investment in new initiatives and experiments.

Amid a series of layoffs, Borders has launched its own non-Amazon-linked website, which is interesting because it actively faces out bestsellers in a more bookstore like fashion.

Sir Thomas de Kay from 101 Reasons to Stop Writing wrote quite the takedown of a Forbes article that asserted authors would all be better off if they'd just accept 35% of revenue from Amazon and have them be the publisher, thereby phasing out publishers and agents (also competition). Short version of 101 Reasons' rebuttal: um, no.

My client Jennifer Hubbard followed up with a second post about dialogue, which is just as indispensible as the first. In short: lose the small talk. Unless the small talk is important and interesting. Also avoid monologuists.

The Wall Street Journal numbers guy addressed the question of whether Americans are really reading less. (Thanks to reader Eric Laing for the tip.)

Lisa McMann wants to spread the word about a conference in San Francisco, the Ypulse National Mashup, which will be held July 14-15, and she'll be on a panel.

And finally, ladies and gentlemen, I have some terribly grave news -- after the taping for this season of The Bachelorette, the world's supply of candles has been exhausted. Candles are now extinct. The world will just have to find another prop for its fantasy suite dates and awkward conversations about being on a reality television show for the right reasons.

Have a great weekend!


Adaora A. said...

Um no is right. 35% of revenue from Amazon? Absolutely not. Do you think it's a good idea Nathan?

Too bad I can't go see Lisa. I read her book, I think it's brilliant.

No more candles? What are men supposed to do when they want to propose to their gilfriends in a resteraunt? When a girl wants to immerse herself in a tub of warm bubbly bath soak with candles and a bottle of chardonnay? What will become of this all?

Going to rub it in wherever I can (my twin sister graduated from university today!) My voice is still hoarse from cheering and screaming.

Victoria Schwab said...

No more candles?! They must be running pretty low on rose petals and overused phrases of dotage, too.

Kristan said...

Good thing my mom's been stocking up on tea candles since I was 4...

Graeme said...

My partner, She Who Must Be Obeyed, absolutely believes that a web site should look and work like a shelf of books. The Borders interface is getting closer, but when she "picks up" a book, she also wants to be able to read the back cover without opening a new web page.

Kylie said...

After reading that Forbes article, I can only wonder how on earth that managed to be published. Nathan, 10%-20% is what Mitra seems to think you get on a book. You suddenly got a lot richer if her numbers were actually true.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Wow to the Amazon article. Even if their ideas about payment were good, no way would I want any one company to have a monopoly on the market. Sheesh, if whoever selects what they publish doesn't like your book, you're flat out of luck.

Off to read the posts about dialogue, but I must agree that skipping the small talk is best. Words are valuable, and you only get so many per manuscript. They shouldn't be wasted.

Just_Me said...

(Looks in closet at herd of unlit candles) Wow... a lost species...

Do you ever get the feeling that the guy from 101 Reasons is just trying to get all the competition to give up and go home? All good reasons aside... what would we do with all the unemployed literary agents if all the authors in the world started self-publishing? What would we do with all the out of work punctuation? How would we survive all the typos?

I agree with She Who Must Be Obeyed. I'd like real reviews and the back cover available, not the detailed synopsis from the groupies on amazon.

Furious D said...

1. Brian Murray's plans in a nutshell: Sell books, make money.

2. Digitize all you like, but there's nothing like going through bookstore shelves, looking for that one special story, or finding something really interesting in the discount bin.

3. I think Amazon has too much clout as it is and should just stick to selling books.

4. I was going to put in some small talk, but I was just shamed out of it.

5. I'm sure JK Rowling became a billionaire because Americans started reading less.

6. Hmmmm.... mashup potatoes.... drool

7. I'm going to wait for the reality show I pitched to Fox gets picked up: Reality Celebrity STD Clinic!

Keri Ford said...

stashing all my unlit candles to auction off in coming years...

They actually make battery powered candles now. They flicker and smell, but no heat. So when your power goes out in the winter time, you'll need to find a different temporary heat source. :o)

Anne Bradshaw said...

For those of you who enjoy YA Fantasy, I have a contest running at the moment on my blog. The prize is a give-away copy of "Farworld," the super new novel by J. Scott Savage, out this September. Worth taking a peek.

Joseph L. Selby said...

Forbes also ran an article explaining why women liked being subordinate to men, so really, anything they say doesn't carry any weight with me.

Adaora A. said...

@Joseph - You're joking? The whisle blows indeed. What a laugh.

Erik said...

Many thanks for that link to the WSJ article critiquing the ongoing conversation on reading in the USofA.

Lane said...

Has anyone seen the new Facebook application (for those of you who use Facebook) called Visual Bookshelf? Its great, its a big database where you can list books you've read, want to read, etc. Album covers show on your facebook. Hopefully it will get my generation reading more...

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

Re: Decline in reading in US...and NEA Chairman Dana Gioia -

WSJ article says: "I started by asking if NEA Chairman Dana Gioia may have overstated the case in the report’s introduction by writing, “Whether or not people read, and indeed how much and how often they read, affects their lives in crucial ways.”"

Dana Gioia made his splash by asking in 1991: "Can Poetry Matter?" - "American poetry now belongs to a subculture. No longer part of the mainstream of artistic and intellectual life, it has become the specialized occupation of a relatively small and isolated group. Little of the frenetic activity it generates ever reaches outside that closed group."

So the decline of reading in general kind of represents a...what do you call it when a ketchup maker branches out and starts making salsa? Product diversification? To generalize from the decline (death spiral) of contemporary poetry, to all of reading, merely extends Gioia's thesis...very strange to me (with my "worthless" poetry MFA), that Gioia starts out as a poetry outsider, and now is the ultimate (academic) literary insider (NEA Chair.)

I think reading/writing can correlate negatively with income...not everyone can afford the "literary life" - but they are living it anyway.

Here's an essay by Detroit poet ML Liebler on the subject (down at bottom of page):


Yeah, I know, I know, N. Bransford doesn't represent poetry...just wanted to point out that if Dana Gioia is involved in analyzing the state of reading in the US, his analysis is grounded in his previous critique of academic poetry (which I agree has done everything in its power over the last 50 years to drive off any hope of a paying (nonsubsidized) audience).

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