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

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.

We Love You, Mary Norris, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris, A Trendsetter Roundtable

When Publishing Trendsetter found out that Mary Norris had a book coming out, we just knew we had to get it for our roundtable series. Her book, titled Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (W. W. Norton, 2015), covers Norris’ rise through the ranks at The New Yorker, how to use dashes correctly, and many other grammatical conundrums that keep writers awake at night. Norris is a copy editor at The New Yorker; she is also the star of a series of videos called “Comma Queen.” Samantha, Jennifer, and Moè, took turns reading Norris’ book and sat down last Friday to gush, I mean, discuss what we felt Trendsetters would take away from the book.Between You and Me

Jennifer Donovan: Let me start by saying that I would like to formally extend an invitation to Mary Norris to be my new best friend.

Samantha Howard: Seriously! This book was so delightful.

Jennifer: And informative!

Moè Nakayama: Indeed! Those are actually the two adjectives that come to my mind right away, too.

Samantha: I must admit I feel very self-conscious about my grammar right now in this conversation, but I need to relax, because I know Mary wouldn’t want me to worry too much, since she’s a descriptivist. And thank goodness for that.

Jennifer: Right? Whenever anyone finds out I write for a living, they always assume I’m going to be mean about grammar all the time, but most of us aren’t like that at all!

Samantha: She really knows her stuff though. A lot more than I do anyway.

Moè: She does— and she manages to convey all her knowledge in a way that’s not only accessible, but actually entertaining!

Jennifer: I loved that the book taught us about grammar, but in a way that also shared parts of Mary Norris’ career and a whole lot of her personality.

Samantha: I agree completely, and would like to bring up the fact that the back of this book calls it “Reference/Writing” which I find a bit dubious. What do you guys think about the genre classification of this book?

Jennifer: I would think more memoir, but I see why they classified it as Reference/Writing. since it was marketed with Eats, Shoots, & Leaves as a comp title.

Moè: I think that’s what was surprising for me about Between You & Me. I thought it was mostly going to be anecdotes from working in The New Yorker office, but really, it’s an equal blend of lessons in grammar, history, and Mary Norris’ personal experience in and outside of The New Yorker.

The premiere episode of Mary Norris’ Comma Queen video series.

 

Samantha: There’s so much to enjoy in this book that I imagine it was hard to put a genre on it. I think that there’s a huge risk in writing a book that deals so much in grammar, but she really pulls it off because she manages to be so funny. And that chapter where she explains the phrase “star-fucker”? I was losing it. She made what could have been horribly boring lessons very enjoyable and easy to understand. Now someone go find my 4th grade English teacher who made me cry when I couldn’t learn prepositions about this book.

Jennifer: I mean, there’s an entire section about profanity competitions at The New Yorker. Who wouldn’t love to hear about that! Note: Lesson learned from Mary to use the exclamation point instead of the question mark there.

Samantha: Yes! That was a delightful thing to learn as well.

She kind of let us be a fly on the wall at The New Yorker here and there, which was a treat. Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/18-5/22

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.

Audible is reportedly pressuring German publishers during contract negotiations.

The MacDowell Colony announced a new retreat fellowship for diverse writers.

Writers and translators found a way around censorship in Iran by publishing their work on the internet.

OverDrive launched OverDrive Listen, a web app that lets you listen to audiobooks in your web browser.

Barnes & Noble is letting people trade in their old Nooks, iPads, and Kindles for credit toward the new Nook.

BEA Basics for 2015

It’s spring. It’s May. It’s BEA!

BookExpo America, the annual trade fair for the North American book industry, is coming once again to the Javits Center in New York City. Running from May 27 to May 29, BEA 2015 promises three busy days full of exchange, expertise, and excitement.

Two big changes set this year’s BEA apart. First, the exhibit hall is opening on the same day as the conference. This “compact” scheduling should prove more convenient for attendees, event director Steve Rosato explained to Publishers Weekly. Second, BookCon has been organized as a separate business-to-consumer event, so that BEA can stay pure business-to-business. It’s also been expanded to two days, in response to last year’s high attendance; BookCon 2015 will take place at the Javits Center on May 30 and May 31.

This is also BEA’s last year at the Javits Center for at least a little while. After six years in a row in New York City, BEA is moving to Chicago in 2016.

As with previous years, the programming is very robust. Along with the exhibit hall and the conference, BEA will also feature author presentations, autographing sessions, and other special events throughout. You can view the full schedule on the official website, using the Conference Grid tool. (It’s not easy to navigate, to say the least, but sorting by track or event type really helps.)

In the exhibit hall, you’ll see close to 1,000 booths from industry players of all shapes and sizes. All Big Five publishers will be there, as well as independent and smaller publishers. Many will have galleys to share— so look through Publisher Weekly’s lists of adult and children’s galleys at BEA 2015 and plan ahead. Distributors, booksellers, and associations will be exhibiting, too.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/11-5/15

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.

Facebook began directly hosting articles from major news outlets this Wednesday.

Barnes & Noble is facing a gender discrimination lawsuit from a transgender ex-employee.

Simon & SchusterHarperCollins, and Kobo have separately teamed up with airlines, airports, and cultural centers to offer free ebooks.

The next version of Apple’s iOS will reportedly support textbooks on iPhones and iPads.

March 2015’s bookstore sales rose a healthy amount.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 5/4-5/8

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.

McSweeney’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds as it becomes a nonprofit.

A journalist discovered that Google Play isn’t policing ebook pirates and then later noticed that some of the accounts he mentioned were disabled, but many pirated books were still available.

Amazon struck a deal with JetBlue to offer customers Kindle ebooks during flights, along with other Amazon services.

McGraw-Hill Education announced its plans to go public.

The Springer-Macmillan Science and Education merger is complete, uniting the companies under the new name Springer Nature.

For What It’s Worth: Fixed Book Price in Foreign Book Markets

Earlier this year, France made publishing news headlines when its court ruled ebook subscription services like Kindle Unlimited illegal. The law cited was the Lang Law, which gives publishers the exclusive right to set the price of a book. Retailers are not allowed to discount more than 5 percent from this set price.

You may be thinking, A measly 5 percent? Here in the United States, we’re used to seeing 50 percent or more slashed off our books. Price fixing in general is regarded as suspect and is, in fact, legally so. The Department of Justice sued Apple and the five Big Six publishers when they tried to set ebook prices through agency pricing. (To clarify, agency pricing itself isn’t illegal; that the companies coordinated with each other to set prices is.)

But in other parts of the world, price fixing is even welcomed— especially when it comes to books. Many countries have a fixed book price (FBP) system like France’s Lang Law.

An FBP system is an arrangement between publishers and retailers that establishes a (more or less) fixed price for each book sold in that market. Because retailers can’t compete on price, big box stores and online retailers have less advantage in the market, and independent bookstores have more opportunity to thrive. This diversity in the distribution network, in turn, is supposed to promote bibliodiversity. An FBP system assumes that variety— in booksellers and in books— is necessary for nurturing a healthy reading culture.

In practice, FBP systems look different from country to country. In some countries, FBP is a law; in others, it’s a trade agreement. Other variables include duration, discount rate, and format. For example, how long after publication does the fixed priced apply? What, if any, is the maximum discount allowed? Are ebooks included?

Among countries with a major publishing industry, FBP is somewhat common. Below is a list of the 23 largest book markets (according to the Frankfurt Book Fair Business Club) and their current FBP practice (collected from various sources).

FBP Chart FINAL

*The original source lists Russia as both the 12th and 19th largest book market.

But this doesn’t necessarily reflect the history or the future of FBP in these countries. Sweden and Australia, for example, were earlier adopters, but both abolished their FBP systems in the 1970s. Switzerland worked to revive their FBP system, until it failed in a referendum in 2012. Mexico signed an FBP law in 2008, but without provisions for enforcement it hasn’t done much except create chaos. Poland drafted a bill for an FBP system in late 2013; more than two years later, it’s still in the works.

What makes some countries say no and others say yes to fixing their book prices?

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 4/27-5/1

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.

President Obama joined up with the New York Public Library to give children access to popular children’s and YA ebooks for free.

Books-A-Million announced their own ebook publishing services, called BAM! Publishing DIY this week.

Six authors withdrew from the PEN America gala due to their discomfort with Charlie Hebdo being honored.

The American Library Association and American Research Association with other groups have come together to call for copyright law reform in a group named Re:Create.

Tomorrow is the first ever Independent Bookstore Day, where shoppers can get special gifts and books available only at independent bookstores across the country.

Book Jobs Not by the Book: Amy Gall, Program Manager at National Book Foundation

Amy Gall writes, creates, and sometimes sleeps in Brooklyn.  Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in PANK, Joyland, Author PhotoThe Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Lambda Literary Review, among others. She earned her MFA in creative writing from The New School and is currently a Program Manager at The National Book Foundation.

 

What was your first exposure to book business and what were the most important things you gained from it?

 

My first job out of college was working as executive assistant to Denis Kitchen.  He has several literary agencies that represent graphic novelists and comic book artists.  It was my first full-time job so, I learned about discipline and focus there in general, but I also learned a lot how the publishing industry functions.  It was just Denis and I, so I went through the slush pile of agent query letters and selected authors whose work seemed promising and in line with the kind of work Denis was excited about, I gave feedback and edits to authors he represented and I worked with Denis on negotiating book deals and talking to editors at the publishing houses.  It gave me a real understanding of just how long it takes to go from pitch to published book and how important patience and a sense of humor is to that process.

 

How do you explain your current job to people?

 

I’m currently a Program Manager at the National Book Foundation.  My job is twofold.  Each year we put on the National Book Awards, so a few months of the year are dedicated almost exclusively to organizing that and the other events we put on during Awards week, including 5Under35, our award for promising fiction writers under 35.  The other part of my job focuses on expanding our incredible educational programs including BookUp, our national after school reading program for underserved middle-schoolers, and Innovations in Reading, a yearly prize awarded to individuals or organizations who develop creative ways to sustain a lifelong love of reading.

 

In what ways did your previous jobs or internships prepare you for what you do here?

 

I had some sense of the for-profit book industry because of my work with Denis and I had interned at an educational non-profit previous to that, but I started as an intern at the National Book Foundation (NBF) and those first two years of work really helped me to understand the landscape of literary non-profits.  I think you develop a skillset that you take with you to each job you have, but every place has it’s own specific goals and needs and you figure a lot of that out once you’re there.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 4/20-4/24

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.

Goodreads added free audio samples to its website this week.

The 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were announced.

After the announcements, it was revealed that the Pulitzer Prize Board asked for an additional nomination for the fiction prize before making its decision.

Two Hugo science fiction award nominees withdrew from the race due to the political controversies surrounding the award.

A bookstore in Florida opened with the mission of only selling self-published books.