ePublishing Week in Brief – June 18th to 22d, 2012
Fifty Shades’ proves sex sells, so publishers want more
If 1967 was the summer of love, will 2012 be the summer of sex — at least on bookshelves?
Readers are snapping up E.L. James’ Fifty Shades erotic trilogy faster than billionaire Christian Grey can handcuff his innocent young mistress Ana.
No surprise, then, that mainstream publishers are eager to pounce on the next hot new erotic romance.
Berkleyhas already scored with Bared to You, Sylvia Day’s tale of erotic obsession, which climbs this week to No. 10 from No. 36 onUSATODAY’s Best-Selling Books list. Originally self-published, Bared was snapped up and repackaged with a Shades-like cover featuring silver and gold cufflinks.
“Everyone in publishing was trying to figure out what the Fifty Shades of Grey fans would read next,” says Berkley Books publisher Leslie Gelbman. “When we discovered Bared to You, we knew it had the potential to be the next erotic romance breakthrough.”
TheBerkleypaperback edition of Bared had a first printing of half a million copies, and 100,000 e-books have been sold sinceBerkleyassumed distribution on May 24.Berkleywill follow Bared to You’s success with Because You Are Mine by Beth Kery, a serialized erotic romance e-book to be released over eight weeks starting July 31.
Report calls on government to back open access science
A group of experts has urged funders ofUKresearch to encourage scientists to publish their results in journals that offer free public access to findings.
A report by Dame Janet Finch argues that there is a powerful “moral” case for publicly funded research to be freely available.
Dame Janet also states that there could be considerable economic benefits if industry has free access to research.
Currently, most results have to be paid for by subscription.
But supporters of commercial publishing say that they have contributed greatly to the development of the peer review system and the resulting high standard of scientific research.
According to Dame Janet, “everyone agrees that greater open access would bring huge economic and public benefits. The challenge though is how we move to this model without damagingUKresearch, peer review or scientific publishers?”
Historically, scientists have sent their research results to scientific journals for consideration for publication.
PUBLISHING: Australian media company to downsize staff
CANBERRA,Australia— Australian publisher Fairfax Media Ltd. said Monday it will shed 1,900 jobs over three years and erect pay walls for two flagship newspapers as readers increasingly move online.
The company said it’s giving itself the flexibility to ditch its print operations entirely at some point in the future if that’s what consumers demand.
The job cuts at the Sydney-based media empire represent almost one fifth of its 10,000 staff, spokesman Brad Hatch said.
Fairfaxsaid that its The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age broadsheet newspapers will become tabloids and their websites will introduce pay walls from early next year.
Fairfaxowns more than 300 newspapers, 50 websites and 15 radio stations inAustraliaandNew Zealand.
Australian staff were told in a memo that 300 jobs would be shed within three months in the cities ofSydney,Melbourne,Canberra,BrisbaneandPerth. Half of these jobs would be editorial.
But the company’s New Zealand CEO said the changes won’t affectFairfax’s 2,500 employees there. Nor were there any plans to introduce pay walls forNew Zealandnewspaper websites.
Australia’s largest newspaper publisher after News Corp. also said it would close two printing plants in Sydney and Melbourne by June 2014.
Libraries Cut E-Book Deal With Penguin
If successful at the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library—two of the country’s largest library systems—Penguin said it could offer similar deals to libraries across theU.S., including school and university libraries. And the deal could prompt other major publishers that currently don’t sell e-books to libraries to soften their stances, said Matt Tempelis, global business manager for the 3M Cloud Library.
Penguin is one of four major publishers that don’t make e-books available to libraries. Two others—Random House and HarperCollins—impose prices or circulation limits that make e-books impractical for libraries to acquire, library officials say.
The pilot, crafted to protect e-book sales, will delay the release of e-books to the libraries for six months after the titles go on sale in stores and online. Each library e-book will expire after a year.
Tim McCall, vice president of online sales and marketing at Penguin, said the company will make all of its titles available—some 15,000 e-books. He declined to discuss specific prices, but said e-books will be priced for libraries in the same range as prices that retail consumers pay.
E-book sales revenue officially tops revenue from hardcover
For the first time, revenue from the sale of e-books has outstripped revenue from hardcover sales. Using information compiled from 1,189 publishers, the Association of American Publishers reports that for the first quarter of 2012, adult e-books sales were $282.3 million, up 28% from last year.
The Incredible Resilience of Books
Despite challenges faced by the publishing industry and past predictions, the written word has not seen its last day
In the mid-1980s when I joined Random House as an editor, there was widespread angst in the publishing industry about the growing role of mall-based bookstores — Walden andDaltonwere then the major chains — because they emphasized bestsellers and genre categories such as science fiction and romance over literary titles and serious nonfiction. A trend toward discounting, led by Crown Books based inWashington, was another worry, opening the way to price competition instead of the traditional acceptance of prices set by publishers. Walden,Dalton, and Crown are all now gone, along with Borders, which was then becoming the up-market retailer because of its commitment to so many varieties of books and its innovative inventory system.
By the 1990s, it was Barnes & Noble that was considered the major force in bookselling, with sprawling superstores across the country. B&N refined a policy that required publishers to pay increasing marketing dollars to secure prime placement for their lead titles; another significant breach in the genteel practices that the industry had long followed. Barnes & Noble stores featured large sections of “bargain” books, publisher leftovers known as remainders that were sold to jobbers at pennies on the pound. B&N also began publishing books under itsSterlingimprint, which took up significant additional floor space.Sterlingis now for sale, so far unsuccessfully. Many of B&N’s most imposing superstores have been closed, includingWashington’s M Street store in bustlingGeorgetownand a massive emporium inManhattanacross fromLincolnCenter.
B&N has successfully launched a line of Nook e-readers and they now are prominently displayed in front of the remaining stores. The value of the Nook brand, which recently attracted an investment from Microsoft that could reach $600 million, is measured by business analysts as vastly greater than B&N’s once-formidable brick and mortar presence. Microsoft clearly wants to be a player in books and has unveiled its own tablet.