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

PW Panel: Are Publishing Seasons Relevant?

This article was originally published on our parent site for the book publishing industry, Publishing Trends

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By Amy Rhodes

On Feb. 26, Publishers Weekly hosted its first discussion series of 2014 with a panel featuring Andy Laties, Store Manager at Bank Street Bookstore, Kim Wylie, VP Deputy Director of Sales at PGWand Mary Beth Thomas, VP of Sales at HarperCollinsPW’s Jim Milliott moderated.

Bringing together a representative from retail, distribution, and publishing, the panel addressed questions related to the pros and cons of traditional seasonal lists from 3 different angles. In the end, though, the differences between the publisher viewpoint and the distributor’s viewpoint were negligible. Both Wylie and Thomas described the rhythms at their companies and expressed similar convictions that the extensive time to market ensures that a book is at its most ready—properly edited, positioned, packaged, timed, and ready to benefit from a coherent and well-planned marketing campaign.

Laties defined seasons and seasonality from a retail perspective, pointing out that, while the holiday season is clearly the most critical for many booksellers, those in vacation areas or coastal areas, might have very different peak selling seasons.  But when questioned as to whether publishers might spread out their titles more evenly throughout the year, he replied that one of the reasons the current structure works is that booksellers don’t have time to be making buying decisions all year long and it’s convenient that the heavy fall publishing lists are presented in early summer when store traffic is often light.

While the arguments for the usual practice of two or three seasons were convincing—and both Wylie and Thomas suggested that the seasonal approach created essential deadlines without which chaos would certainly reign—clearly the enormous increase in “drop-in” titles points to some frustration with the usual timetables. Wylie said about 5% of the titles they sell each year are drop-ins; based on a rough title count of 2000, that means 100 or so each year. Harper’s numbers were even higher; Thomas said they do about 1100 adult titles and 600 children’s titles each year and roughly 250 are what they call “add-ons.”  Read More »

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