Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 11/28-12/2

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Julian Barnes, and some of his peers, have objected to American inclusion in the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Penguin Random House announced that it will cover half the price of a PEN America membership for interested employees.

Johanna Basford, adult coloring book doyenne, was appointed to the Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace.

Amazon is closing a North Carolina-based book-manufacturing warehouse next year, cutting 149 jobs.

Iowa is considering implementing an ebook sales tax, while the EU has announced that ebooks may be sold with a lower value-added tax rate.

This is a Post about Trendsetter Internships

Hey Trendsetters!

As you may have noticed, we offer internships on a rolling basis. We’ve been thinking that it makes the most sense to have a permanent space with information about that since we’re not always the best at remembering to repost it on BookJobs and NYU’s job board. (Thank you, BookJobs and NYU job board, for sending us so many great interns over the years!) We will continue to use those places, but this post will serve as a permanent spot for information about our internship. Still have a question that isn’t answered here? Comment on this post or email [email protected], and you’ll hear back from one of us soon.

A description of us:

Market Partners International, a consulting company that specializes in digital and traditional trade book publishing, is looking for an intern 2-3 days per week. 
The intern will serve as the main assistant for Publishing Trendsetter, a website aimed at those who have been in the book industry fewer than 10 years. Depending on the intern’s areas of interest and past experience, there may be opportunities to suggest and write original articles. The intern will also be integral in running Publishing Trends, MPI’s news website on happenings and trends in book business. From editorial meetings to research and writing, the intern can exercise his or her interests and strengths in this respected trade publication. 
This internship is an excellent chance to learn about book industry analysis and is suitable for someone who may have had a previous introduction to publishing but is interested in a more “macro” view of the business.

How long will it last?

A semester is the typical length, but we are flexible to the intern’s schedule and needs.

Where are we located?

Our office is near Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan, New York.

What’s the compensation?

We will provide a monthly Metrocard and will comply with any requirements to make the internship count for college credit.

How should you apply?

Please send resume and cover letter elaborating your specific interest and suitedness to this internship to Nina Sabak at [email protected]

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 11/21-11/25

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Indies First Day will celebrate its third year this Saturday. 

President Obama wrote a travel essay for Lonely Planet. 

Publishers are in a mad dash to publish political books post-election. 

Barnes & Noble hired a new COO, Demos Parneros, formerly of Staples.

Amazon will no longer allow incentive-based product reviews and may delete existing ones. 

The Beginner’s Guide to the Backlist

Historically, American publishing houses had three seasons a year: fall, winter, and spring. This had a lot to do with the physical limitations of selling and shipping books across the country, especially in the eras before air-conditioning and Skype. Most modern publishers still operate on two to three seasons a year, in part because it’s often easier to break a year’s business goals down into sub-goals.

After six months, a once-new title is replaced by something even newer, and the focus of the industry moves on – and that’s where the backlist comes in. Once a publisher has been in business for more than a season, its catalog will list all of in-print titles, not only the forthcoming ones. A house that publishes only a dozen books a year is still responsible for over a hundred after a decade; houses like W.W. Norton (founded in 1923) or Penguin Random House (home to almost 250 imprints and houses) have catalogs listing thousands of titles. It’s perhaps no surprise that backlist sales account for a large amount of total revenue, which can then be used to fuel future frontlists.

Of course, not all titles are created equal. There’s no guarantee that a book will continue to be sold indefinitely by a publisher, and quite a few go out of print for reasons ranging from declining sales to contract negotiation to controversy. (Stephen King famously allowed Rage to fall out of print after it became associated with several school shootings.) Most books go out of print at some point in their lifespan, and though many do make it back into circulation – like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, which sold less than 3,000 copies in its initial run – many don’t. Back in 2010, Google Books estimated the total number of different books ever published as 129 million, a sum that can’t have been comprehensive even before self-publishing further muddied the waters. Only a tiny minority are in the marketplace at any given moment.

If a title is profitable, though, it obviously has a better shot at longevity. There’s a steady demand for certain books, including classics that are commonly assigned in schools. Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried was routinely selling 100,000 copies a year back in 2006, sixteen years after it was released; today, the paperback edition ranks #10 in War Fiction, #15 in Short Stories, and #1,022 on Books overall on Amazon. Other titles have continued appeal for niche audiences. Irma Rombauer’s 1931 classic The Joy of Cooking can be easily found in multiple versions: two editions (the eighth, released through Scribner in 2006, and a perfect facsimile of the 1931 original, released in 1997) continue to be printed and stocked. Earlier editions circulate through the used-book trade as well, although those sales are unrelated to publishers’ profits.

In other words, all is not lost for publishers that don’t happen to have a stable of perennial bestsellers. A more modest property with devoted fans will bring in revenue too. Books for young readers provide plenty of examples: Green Eggs and Ham, first published in 1960, and The Going To Bed Book, first published in 1982, ranked in the top 20 for Publishers Weekly’s Bestselling Children’s Picture Books as of November 2016.

This is part of what’s known as the long tail, a business model that has come to prominence across multiple industries in the Internet age. With more options for warehousing, digital publishing, and print-on-demand fulfillment than ever before, it’s possible for a house to keep many titles in print even if some of them don’t move much volume. (It remains to be seen how print-on-demand will change publishing in the future. As the technology continues to evolve toward more individualization and efficiency, a book might never truly be out of print.) Broadly speaking, as long as those costs are low enough, there’s no reason not to offer a book for sale if someone wants to buy it. Of course, there’s plenty of debate over whether this is the best way to conceptualize the book business, and the decline of chain bookstores has changed the course of the long tail since it was first proposed. For now, though, the basic principle holds: planning around a single blockbuster is less practical than planning around the sales of many smaller books.

(A note about “moving volume”: booksellers often buy backlist packages from large publishers, like Penguin Random House. Books that sell over a certain threshold – sometimes as low as 25 copies a year – are eligible for the packages. The earlier example of The Things They Carried should not be considered representative of sales for all backlist titles.)

Relying on the backlist can and does change how the frontlist operates. If pressure is lessened on each new book to be a bestseller, there’s a better incentive to invest in titles that might sell slowly but consistently over the years. This is how Akashic, otherwise best-known as a publisher of minority and dissident voices, has proceeded in the wake of its immensely popular Go the F**k to Sleep. Proceeds from that 2011 title, a humorous picture book for beleaguered parents, funds the publication of new books by and publicity for the press’s other authors, which include Edwidge Danticat, Chris Abani, and Amiri Baraka.

So, if backlist sales can propel frontlist programming, it’s worthwhile to know how to market them both. To that end, as 21st-century consumers become accustomed to resource accessibility being the norm, many publishers are hiring for specifically backlist-focused jobs. Associate managers, backlist; inventory analysts; and reprint managers deal directly with the unique problems of older books, and plenty of the job postings for editorial assistantships viewable at the time of this writing list both frontlist and backlist as responsibilities. If a frontlist manager must drum up excitement and press for a new title, possibly by a debut author, then a backlist manager must sustain that excitement and translate it into continued sales.

The specific marketing practices that most benefit frontlist and backlist are in constant flux and could fill another article. As a general principle, then, it’s useful to think of these two sides of the business as being in constant conversation with each other. With ingenuity and savvy, a press can help its books can find their way to an interested reader no matter when they were originally published. Every book, to quote Charlie Nurnberg, is new to the person who hasn’t heard of it yet. Publishing might have seasons, but some ideas never go out of style.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 11/14-11/18

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Wednesday night’s National Book Awards offered stirring speeches.

Bob Dylan won’t be attending the Nobel ceremony after all.

Penguin Random House‘s employees will start 2017 with a new chairman and a student loan repayment program

Barnes & Noble announced a new $49.99 Nook ahead of Black Friday.

After a lease scare, Greenwich Village’s Three Lives Bookstore is staying put.

Bonus: The Oxford Dictionaries‘ word of the year is “post-truth.”

The 11th Annual 5 Under 35 National Book Award Ceremony

The Ace Hotel’s Liberty Hall was filled to capacity last night for the National Book Foundation’s eleventh annual 5 Under 35 ceremony. The closing of powerHouse Arena over the summer prompted the event’s move to Midtown Manhattan. Though the space was smaller than last year’s, the crowd was no less lively. The cocktail hour preceding the official ceremony was well lubricated, thanks to the able bar staff, and attendees mingled with plates of hummus and charcuterie until the very seconds before the event officially began.

After affectionately instructing the audience to settle down, executive director Lisa Lucas shared a few thoughts about community. “In this time we’re living through, it’s nice to see the tribe,” she said, which prompted a round of applause. She added that, post-election, it had been tempting to wonder if books and literature were important, but she’d come to a simple conclusion: “hell yes.” Books, and all of their attendant values – particularly those of listening well, thinking deeply, and speaking with purpose – are “worth our time, worth our spirit, and worth our care,” she said.

Before the reading got underway, program director Benjamin Samuel expressed gratitude for the space the gathering represented. “It’s wonderful to be together in a room where we can feel safe,” he said simply. He then introduced the evening’s host, BJ Novak. Novak, best known for his work as a stand-up comedian; as a producer, writer, and actor on The Office; and as the author of multiple books, including One More Thing and The Book With No Pictures, expressed delight about being among bookish people. “I can tell jokes that wouldn’t work with other audiences,” he said, before launching into a detailed description of the way global politics shape and constrain creative work that ended with a classic stinger: what’s up with that? The audience cheered.

Before concluding his brief, heartfelt remarks, Novak also discussed the strangeness of writing in an uncertain time. After the last week, he said that he felt “like I was suddenly living in an era that whatever I did creatively had to be in conversation with.” And then it was time to bring up the writers who interact with our era.

The event followed a simple format: each selector was introduced by emcee Ben Greenman, and then in turn introduced their chosen honoree, who read a page from their winning book. Several of the selectors used their moment at the podium to acknowledge possible futures for literature. Jacqueline Woodson charged all attendees to “finish [their] book!” and added, “Writers have always written toward a revolution…[they focus] not on what’s going to sell but what’s going to change the world.” Chris Jackson, subbing in for Ta-Nehisi Coates, reminded the crowd of the stakes of the art. “Black people pay a price for their imaginations,” he said. And Karen Bender, too, found a lesson in the book she had chosen for celebration: as she said, “Literature of immigration is especially important now.”

Illustration of Jacqueline Woodson by Last Night’s Reading

There was room for levity, too. Amity Gaige, herself a 5 Under 35 honoree in 2006, quoted her professor George Saunders as saying that “humor is intelligence manifesting itself” before describing the joy Hall of Small Mammals had brought her. And Meg Wolitzer, speaking on behalf of Lauren Groff, drew laughter with an aside about youth in the industry. “You think you’re young but you’re not,” she said, gesturing at the five honorees. “Tomorrow I’m actually officiating at 35 Under 5. Watch your backs.”

This year’s winners were:

  • Brit Bennett, author of The Mothers (Riverhead / Penguin Random House), selected by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing (Knopf / Penguin Random House), selected by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Greg Jackson, author of Prodigals (Farrar, Straus & Giroux / Macmillan), selected by Lauren Groff
  • S. Li, author of Transoceanic Lights (Harvard Square Editions), selected by Karen Bender
  • Thomas Pierce, author of Hall of Small Mammals (Riverhead / Penguin Random House), selected by Amity Gaige

After all five authors had read, Greenman sat down with them for a lightning round of questions. These ranged the gamut from the straightforward (“where were you born?”) to the challenging (“if you had to summarize your book in five words or less, could you? Don’t do it – just tell us if you could”). Only Brit Bennett felt that she could, and Yaa Gyasi gave it a maybe; the others, especially the short story authors Greg Jackson and Thomas Pierce, were unequivocal. “Absolutely not,” said S. Li.

 Asked what form of art they felt an affinity for besides writing, though, the response was universal: music. Bennett also chose dance, Jackson specified genre (rap or K-Pop), and Li clarified that he felt an affinity for John Coltrane in particular, but the five honorees each expressed admiration for that other orally communicative form.

With one last question (could the authors name the last word of their books? all but Pierce could), Greenman reopened the floor for writers and book-lovers to socialize again. Between the flashes of light from the photo booth and the clumps of admirers holding books to be signed, the whole scene was one of joy. The evening ended exactly as Lucas had noted: with the tribe, together.

2016-11-14-20-36-11

From left: Brit Bennett, Yaa Gyasi, Greg Jackson, S. Li, Thomas Pierce, and Ben Greenman.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 11/7-11/11

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

American book publishers emphasize the power of books after the election. 

PEN America composed a response to Trump’s election win

Independent Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) approved a plan to merge with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) this week.

Third quarter profit results came in for several publishers this week: Simon & Schuster, Hachette & HarperCollins.

Amazon has been ordered to refund in-app purchases made by children by federal judge

 

 

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 10/31-11/4

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Amazon rolled out a reading app for kids.

Next year’s BookExpo America will be retooled and renamed.

Bookstore and library records retain protection from search under the PATRIOT Act.

Ron Boire is leaving Barnes & Noble with $4.8 million in severance. 

Non-Prime members pay more at Amazon‘s physical bookstores.

Bonus: Electric Literature is launching a card game “for the rude and well-read.”

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 10/24-10/28

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

American Paul Beatty’s novel The Sellout won the Man Booker Prize this week.

Maria Pallantethe Register of Copyrights and Director of the United States Copyright Office resigned this week, creating a stir in the copyright community. 

Barnes & Noble is merging their online print and press platforms.

Consumers can now purchase Google Play ebooks as gifts.  

Retailer of audiobooks for independent bookstores, Libro.fm, is now available in over 150 bookstores in the U.S. 

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 10/17-10/21

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Pearson shares fell 10% following a lackluster sales report.

Spanish police arrested their first-ever ebook pirate.

The bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping Co. has left many books stranded at sea.

Baker & Taylor Global Publishers Services announced their first four clients.

Following InterVarsity Christian Fellowship‘s announcement that employees who disagree with the ministry’s opposition to same-sex marriage would face “involuntary termination,” InterVarsity Press’s authors have responded to denounce the new policy.