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

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/29-7/3

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.

Apple lost the appeal for its ebook price fixing lawsuit.

Scribd is adjusting its subscription catalog, in what the CEO is calling a “purge” of romance titles.

It was discovered that Amazon’s new pay structure will pay self-published authors as little as $.006 per page read.

In more Amazon news, it added new features to Kindle books to make it easier to share passages.

Disney combined its children’s publishing and interactive media divisions into Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/22-6/26

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.

W. W. Norton made agreements with Baker & Taylor, Overdrive, and 3M to make all of trade and professional ebooks available in libraries.

Scribd acquired ebook subscription service Librify.

Penguin’s Berkley and New American Library imprints will be combined to form Berkley Publishing Group.

Since the announcement of Harper Lee’s new novel, sales of To Kill a Mockingbird have skyrocketed.

Yale’s Rare Books Library is keeping the Chipotle “Cultivating Thought” series cups and bags for their collection.

Technology and the Travel Guide

Editor’s note: This article was originally posted on our parent site, Publishing Trends.

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Fodor’s new travel guide on Cuba.

Not so long ago, one of the first steps to planning an upcoming trip was to go to the bookstore. Once the future traveler picked out where they wanted to go, travel guides helped them research and plan their trip. As with many things in publishing, the internet changed that. With the proliferation of websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other free-to-access review-based sites, consumers seemed to feel less and less inclined to buy books to help guide their travels.

While the rise of digital ruffled feathers across the publishing industry, travel guides took a significant hit. Jon Marcus wrote in the Boston Globe that travel guide sales sunk by 41% in the beginning years of the recession, which is more than double the loss that was felt by overall book sales. Many couldn’t pinpoint why travel guides in particular were hit so hard. Former director of Lonely Planet, Eric Kettunen said, “Many attributed this [loss] to the rise of ebook sales, but that wasn’t correct. It was the ease at which travelers could access destination content online, especially ‘perishable’ info like rates at hotels, prices at restaurants, etc.” While there is a need for perishable information, there is also a need for well researched information, and that’s what travelers began to realize. Slowly, but surely, sales are finally looking up, and that’s due in part to the fact that the physical guide has figured out how to coexist with a world full of free, digital information.

Amanda D’Acierno, SVPand Publisher of Fodor’s, spoke with me about how technology and travel guides can work together: “Print guidebooks and digital resources work in tandem…There’s nothing like having a print guidebook on the ground in a destination – no roaming charges or worrying about battery.” Of course, there’s more to it than battery power. Advances in digital technology have also been very helpful in the production of print guidebooks: “Our digital content complements our print content…We publish eBook editions of our guidebooks simultaneously or before the print edition.” Technology also helps with the agility of updating existing guides. D’Acierno told me, that Fodor’s has “implemented a brand new custom content management system that allows us to be more nimble – not only will we be able to create new print guidebooks and quickly bring them to market, but also develop custom content.”

Digital technology lends a helping hand to the travel guide industry in another way: licensing opportunities. Pieter Van Noordenen, Director of Digital Development at Rowman & Littlefield told Publishers Weekly that they can “easily syndicate to third parties” like weather.com or City-Data.com.

There’s a middle ground between digital and print to be found in the consumer-facing side of ebooks as well. There is room for a stranger’s Yelp review when a hungry traveler is already settled in to their hotel room, but they can check that review against formally published material as well. Bill Newlin, the publisher of Avalon Travel, said in Publishers Weekly that the ebook versions of their guides have “hyperlinked content listings and pan-and-zoom maps.”

While there is a glut of free online information available to travelers, the realization has settled in that just because it’s free, doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile.  “Smart travelers know that this unfiltered information gathered from average folks can’tcompete with selective content compiled by pro writers such as those that work for say, Time Out, Frommer’s, Moon, Rick Steves or Lonely Planet,” said Kettunen.  Another aspect of all the free information out there is that you can never be sure who wrote it, or why. Sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp can be “manipulated by hotels and restaurants,” Arthur Frommer told Publishers Weekly in their most recent look at travel guides. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to know which comments are honest and which are fake.”

But are travel guides truly making a comeback in the face of our increasingly digital age? The best answer to that question is a little. The significant decrease in sales has slowed, and last year there was a 3% rise in travel guide sales according to Marcus’ Globe article.  (It’s important to note that this 3% increase does not include travelogs or travel memoirs, but applies strictly to the guide business. So  perennial travel-related favorites among book buyers like A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson or Into Thin Air would not affect the numbers). 3% is obviously not huge but take against the 41% slide between 2007 and 2012; it is certainly a good comeback.

The travel guide industry rebound from the recession is still ongoing, but it’s clear that this part of the industry has learned to embrace digital technology to make themselves flexible. Travel guides now aim to be agile in terms of the publishing print editions quickly and easily, syndicated content, and ebooks include links to helpful information and maps. Above all, travel guides are here to stay.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/15-6/19

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.

The Authors Guild released a statement that its Fair Contract Initiative will take on royalty rates and new contract limits, among other things.

Amazon and Penguin Random House reached a long-term agreement.

Melville House sent copies of the Torture Report to the presidential candidates, with the hope that it will help them “clarify [their] position on the legality, morality, and efficacy of torture.”

Amazon announce a new royalty payment structure for authors on Kindle Unlimited, which will now only pay authors for pages that are actually read.

Smashwords will now allow authors to take preorders up to one year before uploading their finished manuscript and cover image.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/8-6/12

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.

Ferguson Municipal Public Library in Ferguson, MO was awarded Library of the Year by Gale and Library Journal.

Juan Felipe Herrera was named the United States’ first Latino poet laureate.

Starting next year, Simon & Schuster will distribute books published by Gallup Press.

Candlewick Press and Zazzle have teamed up to offer a Candlewick Press store.

Harlequin MIRA has a new site called Bookclubbish, geared toward promoting book club-worthy titles and pop culture.

Not New York: Book Business and Culture in Toronto, Canada

Those of us living in Toronto are a lucky bunch. Torontonians have access to one of the best library systems in the country, are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a great selection of independent bookstores we can support, and live in a city home to some of the nation’s most celebrated authors.

Toronto also houses the offices of numerous publishers, including HarperCollins Canada, Penguin Random House Canada, House of Anansi, Simon and Schuster Canada, Hachette Canada, Kobo, Harlequin (one of several principal offices), and University of Toronto Press, as well as independent  publishers like ECW Press and Coach House Books. Given the number of publishing houses in Toronto, we have a strong community of industry professionals who are passionate about Canadian literature and literacy. Since I began working in publishing three years ago at HarperCollins, I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet with people working for various publishers, who really are the best of the best.

greetings-from-toronto-canada-postcard

Another great part about the publishing scene in Toronto is that there are three great programs offered here, that are perfect for recent graduates, individuals already in the publishing industry who are looking to further their skills, or those looking for a career change.

Humber College offers a four-month Creative Book Publishing program taught by industry professionals. The program starts with two months of publishing courses, after which students choose three of five specializations: editorial, marketing, literary agenting, technology, or a research project. The program ends with a group “Enterprise” assignment where students create their own fictional publishing company.

Ryerson University’s Certificate in Publishing, offers a range of courses on the editing, business, design, sales, marketing and publicity aspects of book publishing. I discovered Ryerson’s program when I graduated in 2012 with my Masters in History and was trying to figure out what my next step would be. After taking two courses, I was hooked and determined to work in publishing. I landed an internship at HarperCollins and a few months later started as Marketing Assistant!

Finally, Centennial College’s publishing program prepares students to work in a variety of positions in the industry, with hands-on education, practice publishing e-books, and offering them the chance to work on the bi-yearly On the Danforth magazine.

The publishing professionals and book lovers living in and around Toronto also get the chance to take part in some truly great events that celebrate Canadian and international authors. The Word On The Street is one of the Toronto’s literary scene’s most-anticipated events. The free annual outdoor festival promotes Canadian literacy with a variety of programing and activities for both adults and children.  I’ve been lucky enough to run the HarperCollins Canada festival booth for the past three years, and it’s the event that I most look forward to all year. It’s an incredible thing to see people of all ages excited about books and literature, and to actually get to talk to people in person about what they’re currently reading! Since I mostly interact with readers online through the social media accounts I manage, this is definitely my favourite part of the festival.

The International Festival of Authors (IFOA) is another really exciting event that brings some of the world’s best authors to Toronto each fall for eleven days of readings, interviews, discussions, and signings. Over 8,500 authors from more than 100 countries have participated in IFOA, including Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz, Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Salman Rushdie. The event truly celebrates literature from around the world and offers readers the chance to engage with the finest literature of our time.

Then, of course, there’s the much-anticipated Book Lover’s Ball every February, where I once sat next to award-winning novelist Heather O’Neill, who I maintain is the single coolest author on the planet. There are also regular author readings and discussions at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, (which has featured the likes of Lena Dunham! And Judy Blume!), book launches, and so much more.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 6/1-6/5

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.

Ursula K. Le Guin wrote a candid blog post about why she doesn’t want people to buy books from Amazon.

Rough Trade’s NYC store will now have a dedicated section for Melville House books due to the companies’ new partnership.

BookCon attendance was up from last year, with an 80% increase.

Kobo has partnered with the American Booksellers Association to launched eRead Local, an incentive program to encourage more people to make Kobo accounts.

James Patterson launched jimmy patterson, a children’s imprint at Little, Brown.

Reading Together, Online: A BEA Panel Recap

One of my favorite panels at Book Expo America this year was Word of Mouth Gone Digital: Digital Communities of Readers. The moderator was Literary Agent Ginger Clark from Curtis Brown, Ltd, and the panelists were Ashleigh Gardner, Head of Content at Wattpad, Rachel Fershleiser, Literary Outreach Coordinator at Tumblr, Emily Hughes, Editor of Suvudu, and Heather Waters, Editor in Chief and founder of Heroes and Heartbreakers. The success of these sites tells one story that publishers and writers alike should heed: readers just want to find and connect with their people online, and they don’t care where they find them.

Wattpad’s social writing platform is home to many amateur writers, but it is also home to many big-name authors such as Paulo Coehlo and Margaret Atwood, among others. Gardner knows that it’s not the publisher that draws readers, it’s the authors, “People don’t want to connect with a publisher brand; they want to connect with the author.”

Similarly, Tumblr is home to many accounts owned and maintained by publishers, authors, reviewers, and so on, but so much of the bookish community thrives outside of those accounts. So what attracts readers to Tumblr? “The promise is how to find the smaller communities,” Fershleiser stated. She went on the say that there are niche categories for everyone. One audience member agreed, saying that she found a fellow Tumblr user who “shipped” the same two Shakespearean characters that she did.

Suvudu and Heroes and Heartbreakers are a little different than the massive communities of Wattpad and Tumblr. First and foremost, they’re run and maintained by publishers. Suvudu is a Penguin Random House site, and Heroes and Heartbreakers is a Macmillan site. Visitors to Suvudu or Heroes and Heartbreakers will notice each website is dedicated to a single genre. Suvudu is for sci-fi and fantasy fans and Heroes and Heartbreakers is for, you guessed it, romance enthusiasts. The second thing you’ll notice is that they promote books that their parent publishers don’t publish. Why?

Heroes and Heartbreakers launched in 2011 after seeing the rampant success of Tor.com, which is perhaps the first publisher agnostic site for fans of a specific genre. Now it has over 300,000 monthly unique visitors; presumably all romance readers ready to connect with fellow fans.
Waters responded, “Readers aren’t focused on publisher. Being publisher-neutral allows readers to focus on genre.” Waters went on to explain that part of the reason Macmillan chose a romance-themed site was that the romance community was so underserved online. Being committed to a genre instead of a single publisher’s titles means they can better attract other fans.

Similarly, Suvudu is committed to connecting sci-fi and fantasy readers, no matter what house publishes the books they feature: “We’re concerned that the [sci-fi and fantasy] community is being served in a way that is meaningful to them,” Hughes added. One audience member seemed perplexed by the idea of a Penguin Random House website promoting books they didn’t publish, but Hughes responded, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

It might be hard to comprehend at first, but there is a benefit for publishers to start their own publisher agnostic fan sites. There’s a real closeness to book buyers. When talking about the creation of Suvudu, Hughes said, “Sales wasn’t a goal. They wanted to get closer to consumers.”

No matter who does or doesn’t host the websites that brings the fans together, it’s clear that bookish fans need a place to be together. Whether they’re reading fanfiction or Margaret Atwood on Wattpad, sharing a playlist inspired by Tumblr’s own Reblog Book Club, voting on this year’s Suvudu’s Cage Match or sharing in eager anticipation of a favorite romance series next installment, fans want to be together online.

We Need Diverse Books, One Year Later

One year ago, We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) started with a hashtag. The hashtag, which later became the nonprofit’s name, was part of a tweet exchange about the lack of diversity at last year’s BookCon.

Last Friday, one year later, I was able to attend the We Need Diverse Books panel at Book Expo America. It celebrated its anniversary by hosting three panels at the very event they originally protested: one panel during the third day of BEA and one on each day of BookCon.

The panelists on Friday included WNDB President Ellen Oh, VP of Communications Lamar Giles, and authors/advisory board members Linda Sue Park, Matt de la Peña, and Tim Federle. The panelists were equal parts entertaining and informative while talking about the current state of diversity in publishing and how to improve it even more for the future.

We Need Diverse Books has come a long way in just one year. “I feel like we’ve sort of empowered a lot of editors to be able to go into the acquisitions meetings and be like ‘hey, there’s an audience for this stuff now’” Giles said, also noting that many publishing houses have approached them about working together.

Currently, WNDB is working on a few new initiatives, including an award to recognize diverse children’s authors called the Walter Dean Myers Award and five internship grants to encourage diversity at publishing houses.

A big emphasis of Friday’s panel was to encourage publishing’s gatekeepers to provide children with all the options, meaning books by and about characters of different races, abilities, cultures, and more. de la Peña refers to this approach as also, not instead. “Whether you’re a writer, a publisher, a bookseller, a librarian, you want choice and variety for the readers you are trying to reach. More choice is better!” Park added. “It’s good for business.”

The group also has some goals for the future. de la Peña mentioned possibly creating a diverse summer reading list that they could then give media like The New York Times and NPR to help them formulate their lists.

According to Federle, “The minute we have a true breakout book that features diversity – a true breakout, like a Top 10 Book of the Year – that to me is going to be the critical mass moment.”

Until that moment, We Need Diverse Books is a necessary resource to help readers discover new voices and encourages anyone else who discovers great diverse voices to share them with everyone they know.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/25-5/29

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.

Penguin Random House and Amazon are rumored to be in a dispute over contract negotiations.

Google appears to be taking action to stop ebook piracy in their Google Play store.

Amazon will now have to start paying taxes in many European countries.

Margaret Atwood delivered her secret manuscript for the Future Library, which won’t be released until 2114.

Skyhorse Books and Salon founder, David Talbot, have started an investigative books imprint, titled Hot Books.