Nathan Bransford, Author


Friday, October 24, 2008

This Week in Publishing 10/24/08

Hello! I'm back and writing the blog, and thanks so much to Michelle and MJ for their fantastic guest posts this week. In response to some of the questions on yesterday's post, MJ wanted to point people to this post of hers, about staying alive in the publishing biz, because breakouts often take time.

Speaking of the economics of the book biz, Colleen Lindsay recently posted an excellent summary of Wiley marketing manager Andrew Wheleer's breakdown of the buying decisions bookstores make, and why some new books are getting dropped from the chains. Both posts provide indispensable insight into the backroom economics of the publishing industry

International bestselling author Torey Hayden will soon be embarking on an awesome online project. She's going to be serializing Torgon's Story, which was originally part of her novel OVERHEARD IN A DREAM, online at her Myspace Blog.

Reader M. Clement Hall was kind enough to point me to a Reuters article that analyzed the new e-readers at the Frankfurt Book Fair. E-reader manufacturers, needless to say, are bullish on the business.

Jessica Faust at Bookends recently tackled one of the most difficult questions we blogging agents face: How much responsibility does an agent bear if a novel doesn't sell? It's a really tough question to answer because of so many variables, but she does a great job answering it.

Amazon's company buying spree isn't just for book businesses anymore! Now they've purchased an electronic gaming developer, leading some to speculate that they might be trying to build gaming into the Kindle.

And finally, speaking of the Kindle, Joe Wikert shot down a suggestion by Joe Esposito that e-books will lead to a "just-in-time" purchasing model, i.e., we won't buy extra e-books for later that we never end up reading the way we do with printed books. Joe Wikert says the ease of buying e-books leads people to lose their minds and purchase too many. As someone with three unread but purchased books sitting in my Kindle, I'm with Joe (Wikert) on this one.

Have a great weekend!






34 comments:

Erik said...

I still think it'll take a decade for readers to become popular.

In the meantime, I have a low-tech solution I'm trying to work up. Should be fun. Either way, not having to slay trees will be the one thing that changes the industry for the better.

Aubrey said...

Very interesting article about bookstores by Colleen, and a very thought provoking article on the agent's responsibility.

Good stuff as ever.

Stacey said...

Erik, I personally hate reading a lot of stuff on the computer or other digital readers, it gives me a headache (eventhough I deal with it to read nathan's blog!). There is nothing like having a book in your hand, it is tangible and aesthetic and wonderful. For those old school geeks like me, I sure hope they never stop printing.

Ulysses said...

Do the makers of the Kindle realize the enormity of the blow their success will deal the furniture business?

Right now I have half-a-dozen bookshelves stuffed with volumes, and a couple of discrete floor piles.

With a Kindle, or similar, all those books would fit into a much smaller number of electronic devices. I'd have no need of bookshelves (unless I had so many books that I needed a number of Kindles to hold them all).

Ikea would lose my business and the Swedish GNP would take a damaging hit. The Swedes would be forced to take up a more martial role on the international stage, drafting some of their finest hockey players (since they're the only ones with weapons training) in a bid to annex countries with more valuable trading commodities.

Thus will the Kindle's popularity lead to the First Scandanavian War.

Personally, I don't know how the folks at Amazon can sleep at night.

Kat Harris said...

Stacey said:There is nothing like having a book in your hand, it is tangible and aesthetic and wonderful. For those old school geeks like me, I sure hope they never stop printing.

I'm an old school geek, too. I work in newspaper publishing where print is king, but it's interesting to see the heavy focus toward electronic reading now taking place.

E-editions, paperless proofreading -- those things have been around for a long time. Anymore, it's just a matter of teaching the old dogs new tricks.

Some are fighting it tooth and nail; others are embracing it with all of their might because it's what will keep the industry viable in the future.

As much as I hate to admit it, I firmly believe that line of thought is true for all of publishing.

What does this mean? I don't know . . .maybe a Kindle in every bathroom?

lotusloq said...

Thanks for the links! The vast amount of info this week has been overwhelming. I hope I can remember it all.

Have a great weekend!

Zoe Winters said...

I've got 20 print books sitting on my shelf I've yet to read yet. I think I have a book buying problem. I can't get through them fast enough, but I see a book I have to have and it gets added to my library.

I'm like that person who can't stop taking in stray puppies.

JES said...

What I really wish somebody would invent would be the bookish equivalent of those "dump your change here, get bills back" machines in banks and supermarkets. This would be a machine you could dump all your books into and it would automagically load their content into e-readers while pulping the books themselves into easily recyclable form.

Which would neatly solve your problem, Ulysses, 'cause now you could save the shelf space for multiple readers. (Presumably by then the cost of a Kindle-like device will have dropped quite a bit, though!)

Marilyn Peake said...

I agree about how easy it is to purchase and save eBooks, and the prices are so good, it's often hard to pass up buying them. I've now purchased about 40 eBooks I haven't yet had time to read. Of course, I also have piles of paperbacks and hardcovers on my To Be Read piles.

L.C.McCabe said...

Nathan,

Last night as I was watching Keith Olbermann's show he mentioned that "Joe the Plumber" has a lawyer trying to shop around a book for him in New York.

Keith didn't say agent, he said lawyer.

I hope, getting down on my knees and begging to God, that I will not read *anytime* in the future on Publishers Lunch that Joe the Plumber actually scored a book deal.

If he does, my forehead will have dents on it that will be desk shaped. I cannot imagine that there will be any sizable market of book buyers interested in anything this guy has to say six months from now. Or even two weeks.

I hope no reputable publisher considers this as a project worthy of their attention.

Linda

AC said...

Great finds, as always.

I'll always love print books more. I stare at a computer screen all day, so the last thing I want to curl up with at night is another one (non-backlit or not).

Plus dropping $359 for a Kindle seems unlikely for the average American in our current economic situation.

Crimogenic said...

I would buy e-books, but for books I really really love, I would rather enjoy reading the 'pages' and seeing the copy sitting on my bookshelf. I guess it's comforting in a way...

Aubrey said...

One of my other things, is I have always wanted a room in my house specifially for a library of books. I just don't think that room would look very pretty with a bunch of e-book files and e-book readers on the shelf.

I wish I was an Apple said...

E-books are about as much fun as audio books. Nope. Probably less. And who wants to weaken their eyes reading on a computer what you can buy on paper?

Katie Alender said...

I love ebooks (and audiobooks, too). And I buy both ways--in advance and on the spur of the moment.

Anonymous said...

Aubrey...yes, to a library! I want one too! I've read some ebooks, but they've usually been novellas...or just really short reads...reading for me is about the entire experience...holding the book in my hands....kicking the kids and hubby out...sliding into my favorite chair with my blanket and letting go! I might get a kindle eventually but I will never give up my books that sit so pretty on my shelf!

goooooood girl said...

i like......

Aubrey said...

I guess it is a desire I gleaned from reading so many classics (such as Jane Austen) where the homes always have a library of thier own.

I am with you anon. Give me a book, a big blanket, my favorite couch on a rainy day and I am in heaven!

Marilyn Peake said...

Finally had a chance to read the information about Amazon buying the game development company. I think it would be great to be able to read books and play video games on the same small device during long trips or in waiting rooms. Wonder if the same technology could be used to develop mini-game trailers to advertise books, kind of like interactive book trailers.

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Anonymous said...

Oprah featured the Kindle on her show yesterday. She was VERY enthusiastic about it. Like Tom Cruise jumping on her couch enthusiastic. You can get a coupon for $50 off the Kindle on her site for the next 7 days.

bryan russell said...

anon 5:26 said: "Oprah featured the Kindle on her show yesterday... You can get a coupon for $50 off the Kindle on her site for the next 7 days."

And I say... Hmmmmmmm. Smells like a paid advertisement. So fitting, perhaps, after the recent blogs here on marketing. Maybe it really is all about buying exposure...

Marilyn Peake said...

anon -

That's interesting that Oprah featured the Kindle on her show. She must feel that the Kindle has a future. I heard that, years ago, she featured another eBook reading device on her show, gave away free devices, etc. Then the company went belly-up, and she hasn't touched the topic of eBooks since.

ORION said...

But nobody talks about how authors will have to change how they do book signings! Has any body thought about that? How the heck will readers get their ebook and kindle downloads signed...
This has HUGE implications...Huge...

Marilyn Peake said...

orion -

Authors are already beginning to do things like offer signed bookmarks, signed printouts of their book covers, signed CDs featuring excerpts from their books, etc. to readers who purchase eBook versions of their books. And readers frequently buy unsigned copies of paperbacks and hard covers, anyway.

ABB said...

Electronic signatures: Margaret Atwood's invention, the long pen, did e-transmission of the author writing onto paper - why not into an e-page /space dedicated for that purpose in e-books, transmission by email or sms.

But the whole concept/value of signings surely belongs to print as part of having had some sort of personal contact, and will become even more targeted to collectibles, first editions and less suited to e-books?

Perhaps e-books are still more functional for work purposes, research and non-fiction reference? US letter/A4 sized. School bags of the future indeed.

I think the Plastic Readers will have an even bigger draw in the future, due to weight and durability. (Plastic Logic Reader out in 2009).

Jenny Tyler, Publ. Director of Usborne said at Frankfurt, e-books aren't yet satisfying for people who love gadgets and not for people who love books. But digital rights are a must-have for prospective publishers in new deals. Writers considering 'hanging onto them' if prospective publisher not yet sure whether to use them or not, beware.

Adaora A. said...

I think it will take some time. I bought another book yesterday (SOMETHING BORROWED) and one again, strumming through the pages with my thumb warmed me enough that I had to have it. I don't have an intense desire to buy books with the click of something (unless it's CHAPTERS INDIGO and I know I'm going to hold the actual book in my hands).

And speaking of the Kindle, the guy (I'm sorry I can't remember his name) who invtented your contraption Nathan, was on Oprah the day before yesterday. She's thinking of bringing it to her students at her school in South Africa so they don't have to carry so many textbooks. What do you reckon about that?

Briane P said...

I made the leap all at once into digital music and never looked back. I'll miss my shelves full of books, but I fully expect that before long I'll have a Kindle or something like it, and my reading will expand exponentially like my music did.

dan radke said...

Having a bookshelf with tons of books makes you look smart. Like you're a few levels above other people.

The Kindle would kill that self-felating display of awesomeness.

Down with the Kindle. DOWN.

Nathan said...

I really wish you'd stop talking about the Kindle! I'm dedicated to my paperbacks for travel, but the more you talk about, the more useful a Kindle seems. Stop the madness, please!

-Nathan
http://nathanjendrick.com/blog/

shilohwalker said...

Joe Wikert shot down a suggestion by Joe Esposito that e-books will lead to a "just-in-time" purchasing model, i.e., we won't buy extra e-books for later that we never end up reading the way we do with printed books.

Actually, I've got a ton of ebooks I still haven't read...just like a ton of print books. Voracious readers aren't likely to change their book buying habits THAT much just because of format. Or at least, if I'm any example, they won't.

Plus, if I buy an ebook and enjoy it, I'm that much more likely to buy a print version of it. Which means double sales when I really like a book.

I do my ebook buying thru publisher sites, mostly, so the ebooks are less expensive than print. Many of the ebooks I buy are 'trials' to see if I like the author's voice.

Which means if I was buying in print, I probably wouldn't buy.

shilohwalker said...

She's thinking of bringing it to her students at her school in South Africa so they don't have to carry so many textbooks. What do you reckon about that?

Man, I love the idea of it. I wish the schools around here would offer it. I've got two kids in elementary and their backpacks weigh easily 15 lbs on an given day, and that's just their normal homework.

That's 30% of their body weigh-way heavier than what's ideal, health-wise.

jo said...

Good to have you back Nathan!

Ryan Field said...

Thanks to the guest posters, too. Great information.

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