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

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/29-3/4

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.

Perseus Books Group has reached agreements to sell its publishing line to Hachette Book Group and its distribution line to Ingram Content Group.

We Need Diverse Books and Scholastic extended their partnership for diversity-specific flyers for the Scholastic Reading Club for the 2016-2017 school year after positive responses from teachers, parents, and readers.

Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s parent company Alphabet are filing amicus briefs to support Apple’s decision to deny the FBI access to a terrorist’s phone.

The technology news site CNET has begun publishing short fiction.

Amazon removed encryption from its tablets, prompting some complaints from customers.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/22-2/26

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.

The theme for this year’s Banned Books Week will be diversity.

Simon & Schuster announced they’re starting an imprint for children’s books with a Muslim theme.

Hachette is suing former Sony Music executive, Tony Mattola, for not returning the advance for a book he ultimately never wrote.

A debut YA novel about the Black Lives Matter movement went to auction between 13 houses before being purchased by Balzer + Bray.

President Obama nominated current CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Carla Hayden, to lead the Library of Congress.

Bonus video: Here’s a video from the White House introducing Carla Hayden and explaining why she’s Obama’s choice.

Trendsetter Roundtable: What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

Reading to yourself has often been described as having a movie in your head, but as Peter Mendelsund, author of What We See When We Read (Vintage, 2014) would say it’s so much more than that. Mendelsund is the associate art director of Alfred A. Knopf and art director of Pantheon Books, so he’s definitely the right person to write this book. He’s created some of what I would argue to be some of the most famous and visually striking covers in recent years. Samantha and Jennifer sat down to talk about what they saw when they read this book in particular and what they learned from reading it.

Peter Mendelsund's redesigns of classic James Joyce covers

Peter Mendelsund’s redesigns of classic James Joyce covers

Samantha: Peter Mendelsund, What We See When We Read, roll tape. So! Here we are, having both read What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund a little bit ago. So to start out generally, what surprised you about this book?

Jennifer: I think what surprised me most was how similar everyone’s reading experiences are. Here I am thinking I’m a special snowflake, but really our brains all work in very similar ways. What was surprising for you?

Samantha: I definitely want to come back to your point because that was really interesting for me as well. But I think the thing that kind of wowed me was a little aside that he made about how we all skip around the page when we read. We don’t read all the words perfectly in a row. I knew I didn’t, but I too thought I was a special snowflake.

Jennifer: I’ve always had that problem. I think I notice it the most with comics. I’m always ruining the plot by looking at the last image of the page when I’m supposed to be focusing on the first.

Samantha:It’s funny to think our brains just can’t handle reading properly. But I’m glad you brought up comics because that was very interesting to me as well. Mendelsund was talking about how comics and graphic novels kind of flip the script when it comes to what we see when we read because, well they provide that for us. There’s very little to leave to the imagination. We already see Batman punching someone, we don’t have to conjure up the image on our own, which again. I didn’t think about. I guess for me that’s the great success of this book. He kept bringing up stuff that blew my mind that was probably fairly obvious had I taken the time to think about it.

Jennifer: Another thing that surprised me about the book were all of the images. I mean obviously, Mendelsund is an associate art director and art director and the book is about what we SEE but for some reason, I wasn’t expecting it to be as image heavy as it is. And it was a delightful surprise! (Side note: Because the book is so image-heavy, I recommend reading the print version. The ebook doesn’t do it justice!)

James Bond from The Composites, used with permission

James Bond from The Composites, used with permission

Samantha: Yes! As much as I’d like to pat myself on the back for reading a 400+ page book essentially about a philosophy of reading, there are a lot of images so it goes very fast. I did like how he tried to illustrate some of the phenomenon of seeing while reading. Like when he really pulled apart the physical descriptions of characters Anna Karenina, he really highlighted okay here’s the very little that we’d actually know for sure about this person. It reminded me of that blog, The Composites, in which the blogger takes those descriptions and uses a police sketch artist program to come up with the faces of book characters.

Fun fact: James Bond looks nothing like what I thought he would given Ian Fleming’s description of him.

Jennifer: Interesting, considering Bond has been type-cast consistently since the movie franchise started. But yes! He points out that everyone’s vision of a character/scene/thing is so different, because most authors only give you bits and pieces of what they look like and then you fill in the rest. My favorite example was when he asked the reader to picture a seahorse and then pointed out that everyone’s seahorse will be different, i.e. it might be a cartoon or a realistic one or some other style entirely.

Samantha: Yeah. That goes back to the first point you made about how we all see very similarly when we read. It’s just the little details that are different. He wrote about a book mentioning a dock, and how sure, we’ll all imagine a dock, but most likely we’ll all imagine a dock we’ve seen before, so the imagined docks will mostly all be different, but very much informed by reality. It’s all so crazy and interesting. I think an alternate – and ultimately less classy – title for this book could have been This is Your Brain on Reading. Or This is Your Brain on Books? This is why I don’t come up with book titles.

Jennifer: Two other sections I really enjoyed were the one about authors who sketch out scenes of their writings and the one about those who would draw out maps as visual guides, mostly for their own use rather than for readers.

Samantha: That was so interesting to me. I’d never heard of that before. Outlines, sure. That makes plenty of sense for an author, but very cool to think of an author really drawing themselves a map of the book that was just for them, not like a fancy endpaper for the beginning of the book. Yet another thing I learned from this book.

Something I wondered while reading this though, who do you think the audience of this book is?

Jennifer: I think the audience of this book is anyone interested in psychology, philosophy, or books in general (a.k.a. publishing people such as ourselves). When I finished this book, I recommended it to two people: a friend who loves all things nonfiction and bookish and another friend who studied psychology in undergrad and is always looking to learn more about how the brain works.

The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, another design by Peter Mendelsund

The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, another design by Peter Mendelsund

Samantha: Well what a perfect answer. I wasn’t really sure who the ideal reader for this would be, but I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head.

Jennifer: Well shucks, thanks. Continuing that thread, why would you recommend this book to our Trendsetter readers?

Samantha: Well I think it’s just a fascinating read for people who care about books, and it’d be doubly fascinating for someone who aspires to work in the art department of a publisher, given the fact that Mendelsund has created some of the most notable and striking covers in recent publishing history.

Jennifer: Agreed! It’d also probably be interesting for someone interested in editorial. They can get to know what details readers might pick up on when they read and they can appreciate the cool layout work that went into making this book.

Samantha: Oh that’s a good call too. Great! Well, go forth and learn about what our brains do when we read, Trendsetters! We both enjoyed this thoroughly.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/15-2/19

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.

In 2015, US bookstores reported an increase in sales for the first time since 2007, and it’s thanks to female authors.

Scribd is dropping its unlimited ebook subscription model, and will announce a new hybrid model next month.

Sixty independent bookstores opened in 2015, continuing the trend of 2014.

The federal appeals court upheld its ruling that Apple conspired with five publishers to raise ebook prices.

To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman author Harper Lee died this week at age 89.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/8-2/12

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.

The former publisher of Guernica magazine, Lisa Lucas, will become the new executive director of the National Book Foundation.

Elena Ferrante’s bestselling Neapolitan novels will become a TV series.

Simon & Schuster announced a new YA dedicated website, Riveted.

A group of authors are taking Google Books to the Supreme Court over their massive book digitization project.

Children’s books will soon be a part of Happy Meals at McDonald’s.

License to Succeed?

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

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Licensing deals have always been popular with publishers. As Publishing Technology COO Randy Petway astutely pointed out in his recent Publishing Perspectives article, “When sales are not something that can be planned for or predicted, publishers rely heavily on brand awareness through licensing deals, both to sell books and open new markets for intellectual property.”  Since the digital revolution, start-ups have taken to buying up licensed properties to give them a jump-start in the market – to such a degree that some people are wondering if a start-up needs licensed content in order to succeed.

It’s not shocking to hear that licensed products are dominating the children’s market, but the actual numbers and statistics are surprising. The 2014 Nielsen Children’s Book Industry Report noted that “the largest brands tend[ed] to center around a specific author, especially those with movies attached to their properties.” Of the top 20 titles sold from the third quarter of 2013 through the fourth quarter of 2014, 18 of them were attached to a movie, video game, or personality. The other two titles, If I Stay and Paper Towns, have since been made into movies.

More recently, Publishers Weekly reported that “global retail sales of licensed products saw a rise of 2% in 2015, to $158.8 billion.” Nielsen’s 2015 Book Market Report stated that 17 of the top 20 children’s bestsellers had some attachment to a movie, video game, or radio personality. The three exceptions were two Dr. Seuss titles and the board book Little Blue Truck.

It’s long been understood that blockbuster books can turn into movies. The obverse is also the case,  with movies, games, and personalities becoming books. This trend accounts for almost half of the top 20 bestseller lists in Nielsen’s 2014 and 2015 reports. This is especially evident with the sale of Frozen titles in 2015: the top 50 tie-ins in 2015 sold a total of 4,733,677 copies and of those top 50, 73% were Frozen titles. The next highest percentage were titles related to the Disney animated show Sofia the First at 3%. Numbers aren’t available for Star Wars licensed materials since the release of Force Awakens, but it seems likely that those numbers will displace Frozen as the highest percentage in 2016.

Almost 85% of the top 50 media-tie ins sold in 2015 were books published by one of the Big 5. That doesn’t mean that smaller publishers and startups aren’t finding their own space in the licensing market too. As Edda USA (a branch of a Nordic publishing company launched in the US in 2014) CEO Jax Olafsson put it, “The market is screaming for coordinated efforts in marketing and selling books supported by movie or brand,” which means there’s plenty of room for many publishers to take advantage.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/1-2/5

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.

Quarto Publishing Group acquired the Harvard Common Press, which primarily publishes books about cooking and childcare.

The National Book Foundation announced plans to launch a book club for LGBTQ teenswhich will include field trips to literary sites around NYC.

Barnes & Noble partnered with the personalized book service Put Me in the Story, which is owned by Sourcebooks.

There are rumors circulating that Amazon is planning to open 400 more physical bookstores.

According to a BBC survey, the book people most commonly lie about reading is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 1/25-1/29

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.

The Smithsonian is releasing a series of educational graphic novels.

Lee and Low released their Diversity in Publishing survey results, and the findings reveal that publishing is an overwhelmingly white and female industry.

Amazon is testing Kindle-specific gift cards in Washington State.

Flatiron Books is expanding their catalog to include YA.

Amazon is reportedly building a music service to rival Spotify.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 1/18-1/22

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.

Amazon Echo will soon read Kindle Books aloud, using text-to-speech technology.

An 11-year-old girl from New Jersey, Marley Dias, started a book drive to collect 1,000 books with black girls as the main character.

Scholastic recalled their book, A Birthday Cake for George Washington, saying it gave a “false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves.”

The New York Public Library will proceed with their case against a woman they believe stole rare books from them.

Amazon is shutting down Shelfari, and will merge its data with Goodreads.

Book Jobs Not by the Book: Swapna Krishna, Managing Editor of Panels.net

Swapna Krishna is the Managing Editor of Panels.net and a Contributing Editor at Book Riot. She lives in Washington, DC.

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

I started my book blog (now almost defunct, but not quite dead!) in 2008, when publishers were scrambling to get coverage for books. The book review sections in print newspapers were closing, and publishers were starting to take notice of the growing influence of book bloggers. Basically, it’s a right place-right time story. I can’t remember exactly how I started working with marketing and publicity departments, but it happened pretty quickly after starting my blog, and that’s how I first became exposed to the book business.

The most important thing I gained from it was an understand of how publishing works, and why it’s so important to advocate for midlist titles that don’t have a lot of marketing money behind them. I would pick titles that I loved, especially from South Asian authors, and (figuratively) handsell them to everyone I could. It was gratifying to see my efforts make a difference.

How do you explain your current job to people?

HA! This is a great question, without a great answer. I usually explain that I’m the Managing Editor of a website that comments on comics and the comics industry, which means I run everything behind the scenes. My fingerprints are on everything that happens on the site—from scheduling posts and social media to building community to suggesting article content to talking to publishers to sitting in on sales calls. I play some kind of role in everything you see happening on the website, but if I’m doing my job well, you won’t know I’m there.

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

In my previous job, I was a freelance copy editor, which is incredibly different than what I do now. The biggest similarity, though, is managing my own time. We have a lot of flexibility in when we work and can choose our own hours; we have a virtual office because we are located all across the U.S. and Canada. As long as you’re getting your stuff done and managing your duties, no one is going to spend time thinking about your hours or whether you’re at your desk at a certain time. My freelance experience made a big difference because I’m used to setting my own schedule and already had the self-discipline needed to get things done.

What value has this job brought to the way you think about book business as a whole and your own relationship to books?

Hands down, the biggest difference this job has made is paying much closer attention to what I’m reading and who it’s by. At Book Riot and Panels, we talk a lot about inclusivity; it’s incredibly important. Making myself aware of who is writing the books I’m reading—whether they’re a person of color (PoC), whether they’re queer, whether they have a disability—was revolutionary. Another thing that I’ve become much more aware of is discoverability, and how important it is to broadcast what you’re reading and enjoying. It can be so difficult for people who aren’t as tied into this industry as we are to find books, and it’s up to us to make sure that the books that we love are being discussed. Read More »