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Digital Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

posted March 5, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling E-books books publishing technology trends

A Picture of a eBook
Image via Wikipedia

People seem to have very strong feelings about digital media. It seems every day I read articles embracing digital media and articles dismissing it. And even within the differing camps there is discord—Kindle vs. iPad vs. whatever the e-readers from Sony and Barnes & Noble are called. Putting aside the nuts and bolts of publishing costs, I just don’t understand what the big deal is. If you want to read books on paper, then read books on paper. If you want to read ebooks, go right ahead. Can’t we all just get along?

One thing on which we can probably all agree is that the traditional publishing model is outdated and needs to be modernized. So, whichever tribe you belong to, you might find some humor in this tongue-in-cheek article from The Atlantic.

When Publishing Is More Than Publishing

posted October 30, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling book design books publishing

Publication Studio Makes A Book from Mike Merrill on Vimeo.

I was reading the local newspaper this morning and came across an interesting article about a print-on-demand publisher called Publication Studio. Their publishing model is unique in that Publication Studio aims not just to print and bind books but to create a community interested in the books. The publisher thus sponsors get-togethers to discuss publishing trends, books, what have you.

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Making the Cut

posted October 6, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in publishing

Getting a Book Deal...

Image by worldmegan via Flickr

Apparently securing a book deal is not cause for celebration until you actually have the printed book in your hands. According to London’s, the online arm of book industry magazine The Bookseller, the poor economy is forcing publishers to cancel book titles. Some of the book deals were commissioned when the economy was stronger, so those authors spent a year or two working on their books, only to have the publishers reject them. Generally publishers give reasons such as the final manuscript was not up to snuff or was not what the publishers expected. Deadlines, too, are more strictly enforced, so if a writer can’t make the deadline, that’s another easy out for the publisher.

Benedicte Page, associate editor of The Bookseller, commented in a blog post, “The lesson appears to be that, even during the warm glow of entering into a new contract with an enthusiastic publisher, authors and agents need to be highly vigilant over the details—especially if the book in question is not likely to be delivered for several years, during which time the market may have changed markedly.” In other words, writers should get good agents and attorneys who can negotiate airtight contracts.

Brave New World of Publishing

posted July 7, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling publishing technology trends

Image by Wayan Vota via Flickr

We are gearing up to launch ourselves into our publishing venture, and to prepare, we’ve been doing a lot of research. There are many, many opinions about the current state of the publishing industry and the direction in which it is headed. Some will tell you publishing is on the brink of death; others feel there has not been a better time to enter the industry. What is clear is the industry is in flux and affected by changes in the economy and technology.

A somewhat controversial topic, or at least one that generates a lot of opinions, is that of digital books or e-books. Personally I think that as long as there are books to read, it doesn’t matter whether they are on a printed page or in digital format. I like to switch back and forth between digital and printed books, but there are diehards out there who would prefer to avoid e-books.

I don’t know which format author J. A. Konrath prefers for reading, but in a recent blog post he made a strong case for e-books, explaining why and how publishers should produce them. A few points I found particularly interesting and thought provoking:

  • Books cost too much: Konrath details how publishers determine the price of a print book and how that model can and should be changed. He argues that publishing companies are basing e-book pricing on traditional print pricing, which is calculated by profit per unit and doesn’t apply to e-books.
  • Piracy should be battled not with higher security and restraints but with cheaper prices and greater accessibility: Konrath believes it is a waste of time and money for a publisher to try fight piracy. If books are cheap and easy to access and purchase (in other words, get rid of proprietary formats), Konrath argues, buyers wouldn’t pirate or steal books.
  • In the future, authors may no longer need publishers: Self-publishing in a digital world is easier than ever, so authors may opt to do their own legwork and keep all the profits for themselves. Konrath is testing this premise by selling his unpublished works in digital form online, and so far he is getting positive results.

Konrath is the first to admit he could be wrong on many points, but he presents a persuasive and interesting conversation. Konrath may not be able to predict the future, but it’s hard to argue with his opinion that the publishing industry is in for some big changes.

Hope for Book Publishing

posted June 8, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in publishing

Dave Eggers - National Book Critics Circle at ...
Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Everyone these days seems to be talking about the death of book publishing. Everyone, that is, except McSweeney’s. Leave it to McSweeney’s to bring a little sunshine to the darkness. There seem to be quite a few haters out there, but hey, I like McSweeney’s; I love how innovative and creative they are, and you know, they seem to be having fun. There are some things on the McSweeney’s website that make me laugh out loud.

But I digress. Recently Dave Eggers of McSweeney’s said he would send a personal e-mail to anyone who was saddened by the sorry state of publishing (i.e., that print is dead) and needed cheering up. The Gawker published the e-mail, in which Eggers discusses the survivability of both newspaper and book publishing. Following are a few excerpts:

“We’re a hand-to-mouth operation to be sure, but we haven’t had to lay anyone off. To some extent, that’s because we’re small and independent and have always insisted on staying small and independent. We take on very little risk, and we grow very cautiously. It’s our humble opinion that the world will support many more publishers of our size and focus. If you can stay small, stay independent, readers will be loyal, and you’ll be able to get by publishing work of merit.”

“To survive, the newspaper, and the physical book, needs to set itself apart from the web. Physical forms of the written word need to offer a clear and different experience. And if they do, we believe, they will survive. Again, this is a time to roar back and assert and celebrate the beauty of the printed page. Give people something to fight for, and they will fight for it. Give something to pay for, and they’ll pay for it.”

Here at Thomas Riggs & Company we are venturing into this new and somewhat unfamiliar world of literary publishing, and I find it heartening and reassuring to read Eggers’ words. Give it up for the printed word!

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