Posthumous Books Could Bring Lots of Dollar Signs

Posthumous Books Could Bring Lots of Dollar SignsIt’s been a banner year for authors who are no longer around to celebrate their success. A groaning shelf of recently published works by deceased brand-name writers, or those filling their literary shoes, shows that when it comes to books, gone does not mean forgotten. Or even unpublishable. Not by a long shot.

This is particularly true at a time when the industry, facing weak sales and looking for sure-fire winners, is catering to the appetites of consumers accustomed to being offered a steady diet of tried-and-true favorites in this age of playlists and seemingly never-ending series.

Add to this the growth of websites that let publishers directly track book lovers’ sentiments, making them feel less at the mercy of critics and other cultural gatekeepers who may raise their eyebrows at the circumstances of a posthumous publication.

The strategy appears to be working.

SpotlightMuch more.

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Why the ‘Smiling Curve’ Has Publishers Frowning (Joe Wikert)
Publishers have considerably less industry and market leverage today than they did 20 years ago. Once upon a time, book publishing was built around a scarcity model and publishers thrived. Digital disruption generally eliminates (most) scarcity. The resulting abundance completely destroys yesterday’s business models and forces most players to reinvent themselves to remain relevant.

The Agent’s Role in the Digital Age (Jane Friedman)
Many writers today opt to self-publish so they can bypass literary agents. Why go through what might be an endless cycle of sending out query letters—and pay an agent’s commission—when it’s so easy to publish a book independently? Some of the most successful authors in the indie writing community, however, do have representation. So how does an agent assist in a debut or established writer’s self-publishing endeavors? Can an agent effectively advocate for her clients’ best interests if she’s also acting as their publisher?

How Can We Support Library Innovation? (MediaShift)
If you had a few million dollars to invest in libraries, how would you invest it? That’s exactly what the News Challenge team at the Knight Foundation has been thinking about. Last year the Knight Foundation ran a library grant initiative that pulled in hundreds of entries, an energetic discussion, and creative thinking from around the world. In 2016 they’ll do it again, and for starters, they’ve been inviting ideas on how to shape the challenge question participants will address.

Inviting Publishers and Authors to the Same Party (Porter Anderson)
How is book publishing divided today? Let’s not count the ways. Outsiders looking into this beleaguered industry, however, might be surprised at the reticence many authors and publishers can have about each other. Maybe about being around each other. Meeting each other. Talking more than friendly chitchat or cover design with each other. Make no mistake: everybody has a perfect right to be on edge. After years of progress, this is a business still working hard to find a sustainable place in the digital arts-and-entertainment rocket ship of the future.

Simon & Schuster Offers Two-Year Ebook Discount (American Libraries)
Simon & Schuster recently announced it will begin offering libraries a discount on a set of 550 ebook titles if the library licenses them for a two-year term instead of S&S’s standard one-year term. The news is welcome as the latest stab at making pricing more compatible with library budgets. This is a pilot program and as such may be expanded or curtailed in the future, but experiments that offer better pricing are certainly appreciated.

SpotlightWhat Does Branded Look Like? (Seth Godin)
The vast majority of products that are sold are treated as generic by just about everyone except the naive producer, who believes he has a brand of value. A branded object or service has two components, one required, one desired.


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