Publishing Without Borders (DBW Roundtable: 2/10/11)

The DBW Roundtable is a live, interactive webcast featuring some of the most outspoken industry professionals gathering to discuss and debate the hottest publishing issues of the moment.

Topic: Publishing Without Borders

This penultimate episode of The Roundtable was webcast live on Thursday, February 10th @ 1pm ET / 10am PT.




Bloomsbury Forms Worldwide Publishing Divisions
Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly

“We want world rights where ever possible,” Charkin said, adding at a minimum Bloomsbury expects to acquire all English-language, German and Arabic rights. And, Charkin noted, Bloomsbury won’t do a deal that doesn’t include digital rights. He said the number of titles released in the U.S. annualy could rise as books acquired in other regions are released in the States. In addition to the global reach of Amazon, Apple and Google in digital distribution, agents and printers have also expanded internationally, Charkin said, making it imperative for publishers to keep up.

The Potential Costs of Borders’ Unpaid Bills
Publishers Lunch Deluxe

With Wiley’s $9 million writedown last Friday of money owed to them by Borders that they do not expect to collect, it’s clear that the bookseller’s troubles are going to hit balance sheets even before the possibility of hitting bankruptcy court. Most of the coverage since we first reported in late December that Borders was not paying major creditors has focused on the largest publishing companies, but with a second month of non-payment we wanted to look at how the impact of Borders current inability to pay their bills might be felt across a much wider group of publishers. Since most publishers are distributed by someone else, we focused on surveying how most of the major distributors would handle uncollected receivables from Borders.

What Do We Know About Publishing Bankruptcies?
Publishers Lunch Deluxe

The closest US publishing-related bankruptcy comp in recent memory is probably the late 2006 collapse by AMS (Advanced Marketing Services). When they filed, the company owed the 40 largest publisher creditors alone $220 million, including $43.3 million to Random House. (The debtor list did also include publishers they distributed via PGW.) AMS also held $70 million worth of books in their warehouse at the time they declared bankruptcy… Like Borders, AMS’s undoing had been years in the making. In Borders last SEC filing, they reported trade accounts payable of $445 million on October 30, and in general the six largest vendors accounted for half the merchandise sold by Borders. Unlike AMS, Borders holds much more inventory, even with the selldown from the past month or so. As of the end of October, they held $895.8 million in merchandise.

Powell’s Books Cuts 31 After Sales Fall
Shelf Awareness

The company said of the layoffs: “This undesirable course of action was taken only after serious consideration of other possible options and a careful evaluation of the future.” In the memo to the staff, Powell’s said that sales this fiscal year are down, with “the largest decreases” in new book sales, “a clear indication that we are losing sales to electronic books and reading devices.” The company expects new book sales to continue to erode “over the next year” and that it can compensate only in part “with solid used book sales and growth in gift sales.”

2010 Verso Study Revisited at Digital Book World
Bookselling This Week

“Across all four of our Verso surveys some common themes emerge,” McKeown told BTW.  “The e-book transition will be slower than the digital pundits predict and a hybrid print/digital market will persist for many years, especially among avid readers,” he said. “Independent booksellers have a significant mindshare advantage waiting to be converted to added marketshare.  The imminent closure of hundreds of Borders locations and the probable continuing consolidation at B&N fuels that opportunity.  But this can only become a reality if new sources of financial capital emerge to jumpstart that effort among the next generation of indie entrepreneurs.”

Leave the libraries alone. You don’t understand their value.
Philip Pullman

Publishers are run by money people now, not book people. The greedy ghost whispers into their ears: Why are you publishing that man? He doesn’t sell enough. Stop publishing him. Look at this list of last year’s books: over half of them weren’t bestsellers. This year you must only publish bestsellers. Why are you publishing this woman? She’ll only appeal to a small minority. Minorities are no good to us. We want to double the return we get on each book we publish. So decisions are made for the wrong reasons. The human joy and pleasure goes out of it; books are published not because they’re good books but because they’re just like the books that are in the bestseller lists now, because the only measure is profit.

Tweets (as RTd by @digibookworld)

RT @floerianthebard: #dbw Borders is the Black Knight from Monty Python. It just won’t die. — @pablod

RT @babetteross: I like this analogy of the long terminal illness as a metaphor for Borders via @ljndawson #dbw

RT @ebooknoir: #DBW so part of borders issues seems to have stemmed from it not being flexible and adapting to the market changes.

RT @pa4culture: With so many expected closures of Bordersacross the country, libraries will become the community reading space. #dbw

RT @pa4culture: Yes, publishing is now the wild west. The dark side… where no one bathes and everyone is drunk and carries a gun. #DBW

RT @jameshbyrd: Is the physical book superstore done? Yes. Borders = Tower Records. The rest will topple eventually as well. #dbw

RT @millerchick: #DBW Will the book ‘Expresso machine’ will be the “mall desitnation” replacing bookstores…(?)

RT @matthewdiener: #dbw Loss of Borders could push pubs to… Lightning Source for geo-based POD. Espresso could explode.

RT @eBookNoir: #dbw – we need to bring back the value of a book.. accomplish this by the quality of what is published

RT @pablod: Besides world English rights, pubs should pay attention to *US Spanish (or foreign language in general)* rights. #dbw

RT @jennybullough: Metadata, keywords, subject codes – even more crucial for discoverability in an online-search dominated marketplace. #DBW

RT @babetteross: It’s not necessarily new skill sets its about mindsets via @pablod #dbw  I agree 100%

RT @babetteross: Understanding consumer marketing is crucial in the change from being a b2b to a b2c industry @glecharles #dbw

Sarah Weinman, Publishing Reporter, AOL’s DailyFinance


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