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

The Publishing Trends Time Machine: September 2000

Page 3 of the  September 2000 Publishing Trends  is pleased to bring you a truly timely blast from the past–what with a new Cader (and Schatzkin) venture, Publishers Launch taking off, and with digital books clinging to their role as Permanent Book-Biz Fixation. Personally, I find relief in both the change and continuity: new business ventures grow, technology changes, books still matter, and excitement about that stuff has been around much longer than anyone today has even been alive. Also, I like to think I’m a LOT more popular than I was 11 years ago. In 8th grade.

Cader’s Media Meal

From silverware...

What began as a humble “public service snack” is plumping up to a full-meal deal for Michael Cader, the book packager and compulsive web-surfer behind Publishers Lunch, a free daily email news digest for the book biz. Launched last April and based at www.publisherslunch.com, the

...to spaceships

service has already been promoted as the publishing industry’s “essential daily read,” has spurred inquiries from interested partners, and appears likely to spawn that fateful document known as a business plan. “It’s endlessly expanding,” Cader explains, “which is why at some point it needs to turn into a business.”

Though subscriptions are not currently being “monetized” (the number of subscribers is in the “low four figures”), the daily email known as “Takeout Lunch” has become a hit with its quick takes on top book news and links to media stories, which are culled from some 30 web sites that Cader surfs every morning and then puts into digest form on the train to work…(more below)

 

Laptops in Book Country

Rocket Ebook, c. 2000 C.E.

“A BOOK, E-BOOK, ANY BOOK!” is the inclusive theme for this month’s New York Is Book Country, and in the spirit of platform promiscuity, e-reading appurtenances will be out in force. For the first time, according to NYIBC president Linda Exman, the fair will feature a New Technology Pavilion to give an expected 250,000 attendees a preview of the latest in digital publishing. Sponsoredby RCA eBook, the ”tech tent’ will host encampments by Allbris, Audible, BookSense, iPublish, and Xlibris, while elsewhere at the fair exhibitors will include web ventures such as BookReporter.com and Zooba.com, the latter an Internet marketing shop that sends consumers personalized emails in any of 46 “content channels.” Under the tech tent, RCA parent Thomson Multimedia will break out its new line of ebook devices, which it says are the first products introduced at retail with technology licensed from Gemstar. Two ebook models (the latest incarnations of the Rocket eBook and the SoftBook reader) will be on tap: one with a 5.5″ monochrome screen and 8MB of memory (it holds about 20 novels) [20? yowzah!], and a second with an 8.5″ color screen and an Ethernet port. Both devices have internal modems for direct downloads, and the company says that ”thousands” of titles will be available for the readers when they come on the market in October…(more below)

Cader’s Media Meal, cont.

The whole idea, he says, is to serve up a sophisticated and frequent alternative to the existing book media, and do it in a way that could exploit the web as a community-building tool. Or, as he explains on the site, his ambition is to become “the electronic equivalent of the old-fashioned publisher’s lunch; a place where all of us can swap completely unsubstantiated but dead-on stories, news, deal information, and insights.”

Actually, before Lunch became a public service it was sort of a self-administered tutorial. “I ended up doing Lunch in my head for a while before I did it live, as part of an ongoing effort to transform myself into more ofa web-based person,” says the 38-year-old Cader. Then, after regularly enjoying Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews site, which compiles a daily digest of links about the news media, he decided to plunge in with a similar book-based venture. The business plan may not yet be fleshed out, but his communitarian goals have at least paid off with plenty of uncensored emails: “People don’t hesitate to hit reply and let it fly.”

But partners have come calling, among them Subrights.com, whose users will receive a daily stream of deal news and international updates, repackaged as Publishers Lunch International, with a special message from Subrights at the top. Lunch will also be served on the Subrights site, while Subrights will include Lunch in a promotional mailing going out to 9,000 publishers worldwide. Cader expects to replicate such arrangements with other partners, on the long-term model that Lunch will be underwritten by its sponsors. All of which has clearly cut into time devoted to that other business, Cader Books, which he launched in 1988 after five years at Workman. The packager focuses on “high-profile, high-concept commercial nonfiction,” with a specialty in parody. There’s IN THE KITCHEN WITH BILL (50 recipes for chowing down with chef Clinton) and BAD AS I WANNA DRESS: THE UNAUTHORIZED DENNIS RODMAN PAPER DOLL BOOK [grab ’em while they’re hot, folks] (produced for Crown). “As a rule we’re not a pretty-books publisher,” Cader says by way of explanation. The company also did Hyperion’s WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE book in a pinch last fall so the publisher could rush it to accounts by Christmas, and such novelties as “Recipeasel” books for Chronicle, which extract cookbook content as laminated recipe cards collected on handy stovetop easel stands. Then there’s a series of Procrastinator’s Guides  that will be the basis for half-hour shows on PBS (it’s a kind of Dummies series for TV), and a project is brewing with the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum, due out in 2002 from Harper. With about 200 trade books on the backlist, Cader is now mulling over ways to combine his multimedia interests with the packaging business as electronic packaging projects, and is doing more e-publishing consulting. But keeping the two ventures separate, he says, has a certain logic: “In an ironic way a lot of packaging is waiting for things to happen. Lunch provides a regular diversion to fill up the gaps.”

 

***

Laptops in Book Country, cont.

Suggested retail prices will be announced at the fair. Incidentally, earlier this year Gemstar and Thomson agreed to plug Gemstar’s electronic program guide into 30 million television products, and the two companies have also fired up a joint interactive venture known as @TVMedia, which enables ecommerce via two-way wireless paging that lets you transmit to and from

Too bad we didn't have iPads to watch this on back in 2000.

your TV. Gemstar chief Henry Yuen calls it “tcommerce,” and we can only expect to be reading ebooks on the telly and watching Survivor [remember when it would actually have been cool to do this?] reruns on our reading devices. Actually, it may all be sooner than you think: the RCA ebook comes with Internet audio hardware, ready for action.

 

Meanwhile, NYIBC will host three e-related panel discussions: On Sept 20 at 7 pm at Poet’s House [still the coolest place in New York], PW‘s Calvin Reid and others will debate the impact of ebooks on independent literary publishing, while on Sept. 21 at 5:30 pm, the likes of Larry Kirshbaum and Lon Lenzi, VP at Thomson Multimedia, will ponder the imponderable question “To e or Not to e?” at the General Society Library. A blowout session on “The Future of the Book” follows on Sept. 22 at 5:30 pm at the NYU Center for Publishing. Of course, those events should be considered mere hors d’oeuvres before NYIBC grand marshal Emeril Lagasse‘s culinary theatrics on the B&N stage on Sunday.

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