DBW Weekly Roundup: 11/19/10

DBW Weekly RoundupDigital Book World presents a weekly round-up of some of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing that you may have missed, from all over the digital book world:

Ebooks Winners & Losers
Frédéric Filloux, Monday Note

Authors: invent & enjoy. By authors, I’m encompassing the typical writer who sweats in front of his/her computer, but also yet-to-emerge new breeds of ebook designers, producers, editors and marketers. The ability to tell an original story, to edit a journalistic investigation will remain essential. But the notion of producing a complete package will become acquire a new importance as users will care for more multimedia features. At the same time, marketing will require new skills such as organizing an efficient presence on social medias.

New entrants: a boulevard ahead Except if publishers are able to set up agile digital teams within their ranks, these new talents and crafts will blossom outside the framework of traditional publishing houses. These incumbents are likely to suffer from the syndrome that still plagues the newspaper industry: no appetite for technology, no belief that mastering cutting edge technologies are key success factors, therefore no propensity to invest in engineering. This will leave wide boulevards completely open for new competitors eager to combine the professionalism associated with traditional publishing with the most advanced technology. Get ready for the Huffington Post of book publishing (hopefully less disingenuous).

Great Holiday Expectations for E-Readers
Julie Bosman, NY Times

Publishers and booksellers are expecting that instead of giving your mother a new Nicholas Sparks novel or your father a David Baldacci thriller in the hardcovers that traditionally fly off the shelves and into wrapping paper at this time of year, you might elect to convert them to e-reading. “This is the tipping-point season for e-readers, there’s no question,” said Peter Hildick-Smith, president of the Codex Group, a book market research company. “A lot more books are going to be sold in e-book format. It also means that a lot fewer people are going to be shopping in bookstores.”

On The Certain Economics Of Relegating Paper Books To The Margins Of The Business
James McQuivey, Forrester

When the dust settles, publishers will think of their eBook strategy first. Paper decisions will be made as an adjunct to digital decisions. Many, many books will be published without paper versions at all, at least until they get enough critical mass to justify going to paper. Bestsellers from proven authors will always get both, launched simultaneously, and certain niches (travel, cookbooks, etc.) will always have heirloom paper editions. Subject to such reduced fortunes, books will no longer dictate industry process or outcomes. We’ll only get to this point once publishers start losing print revenues and are forced to scale back their operations to focus on the more efficient digital market. They’ll edit less, promote less, and generally reduce the luxurious time they used to feel was necessary between when a book was written and when it was released.

Is Publishing Doomed? JOHN B. THOMPSON with Williams Cole
The Brooklyn Rail

I spent a lot of time at large publishing houses like Random House and Penguin and Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, and I tried to understand how these large organizations work. A large publishing corporation is driven by one fundamental concern and that’s what I call the growth conundrum. You have to deliver growth. You can’t remain static. But the problem with publishing is that it’s a very mature industry, and it’s largely static. So the conundrum is, how do you achieve growth when the market is static? Now a small publisher like Akashic Books doesn’t really mind actually whether he’s growing or not—Johnny Temple owns the company. As long as he can pay the bills, and pay everything, he’s fine actually. But a large corporation can’t do that. They’re not masters in their own house. They have to report up to someone else, and they have to deliver growth; otherwise, the C.E.O. is sacked.

Super Agent Ari Emanuel Hugs It Out With Silicon Valley
Andrew Wallenstein, paidContent

Another Emanuel target was an unlikely sector: the publishing industry. Emanuel said one of the motivations behind merging with Endeavor agency with William Morris last year was to get his hands on the book business, where Endeavor had no skin in the game. The reason it’s so appetizing, he said, is because it’s ripe for disintermediation.  “I definitely don’t think i have to go to Knopf. I don’t think I have to go to Simon & Schuster for the book business. So I think that’s going to be a very contentious conversation,” he said. “They might just get hardcover (rights), but I don’t know yet.”

Why You Should Focus on “Worst Practices”
Umair Haque, Harvard Business Review

Examine your past. Most forlorn, fading companies had a day in the sun — once. And a great way to look for worst practices is to get historical. There’s nothing like looking backwards, and examining the treasured memory of what made you great, to provoke the “a-ha!” moment about what you lost, when you lost it, and, most importantly, why you lost it. Once upon a time, Sony made awesome stuff like the Walkman because it was hyper-attuned to people’s rapidly evolving expectations. If I had to put money on it, I’d say that’s exactly what Sony lost somewhere along the corporate-reshuffling way. Now, like too many doddering corporations, Sony’s stuck on auto-repeat, pushing capital intensive, overmarketed, marginally improved, less-than-relevant stuff at people, instead of igniting new markets for what they will want next — but don’t yet have. Funny — that sounds a bit like the story of the American economy itself.

Tweet of the Week

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez on ebook "cannibalization"

That’s just a taste of what you may have missed this week. To stay on top of the most interesting news, commentary and tweets related to publishing, keep in touch via our RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, join your publishing colleagues in our LinkedIn group, and connect with the broader DBW Network.


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