10 things publishers have been doing that we should celebrate

  1. The Twitter story redux
  2. Virtual festivals
  3. Transmedia romance storytelling
  4. A new Harry Potter story
  5. Using Twitter for discoverability
  6. Riding the surge in young adult writing
  7. Social selling from Hachette
  8. Serials unbound
  9. FutureBook Hack
  10. Virtual independent bookstores


via 10 things publishers have been doing that we should celebrate | FutureBook


Is Selling Direct Worth It?

“I’m sure HarperCollins is well-intentioned,” said Jack McKeown, a former executive at both HarperCollins and Perseus Books and now president of Books and Books, a bookstore in Westhampton, N.Y. “Publishers do need to engage consumers and offer buy buttons for their convenience. But an aggressive pursuit of direct sales, I think, is misguided and a misallocation of resources.” While publishers with deep expertise in specific genres, such as Tor or Harlequin, can do well selling direct, McKeown said an overemphasis on direct selling is a mistake for large general interest publishers. “Consumers are not looking for publishers, they’re looking to retailers to aggregate and recommend titles. Harper is disaggregating our audience. They can’t offer an array of topics and publications. While I do understand what they are trying to do, they should be working to amplify their existing retail channels.”

via Is Selling Direct Worth It?

DPW Debuts Disney Story Central, a Kids’ E-book Portal | Publisher’s Weekly

Disney Publishing Worldwide is launching Disney Story Central, an online portal of interactive titles for kids aged 3-7. The story platform launches July 10 with more than 100 e-books, a book recommendation engine, a rewards system and the ability to set up personalized accounts for each child.

The app/website is not a subscription service; e-book downloads are made via a token system (sold via the app/website in quantities of 1 to 50, each token equals one book) that allows kids to make their own e-book purchases under parental management.

via DPW Debuts Disney Story Central, a Kids’ E-book Portal

FTC Sues Amazon for Knowingly Allowing Children to Incur App Charges without Parental Approval | Publishers Lunch

The Federal Trade Commission filed suit against Amazon in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, ask the court to order refunds of “millions of dollars in unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children” through apps in the Amazon appstore and on devices such as the Kindle Fire.

via FTC Sues Amazon for Knowingly Allowing Children to Incur App Charges without Parental Approval – Publishers Lunch

The Bookseller launches first FutureBook Hack

FutureBook Hack will challenge teams to solve problems facing the publishing industry, from discoverability to analytics to new reading formats.

Teams can be made up of developers, designers, engineers, programmers and entrepreneurs; together, they will be asked to make prototypes, build apps or design new software. Last year’s Perseus-run Publishing Hackathon focused on discoverability. It was won by a team called “Evoke”, whose idea was to build a discovery engine based around fictional characters.

via The Bookseller launches first FutureBook Hack | The Bookseller.

European Library Association Launches Campaign to Get Ebooks

One of Europe’s library associations is just as upset about library access to ebooks as its American counterpart and has launched multinational campaign to try for change.


The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) launched its Right to E-Read campaign today, a multi-country effort to bring awareness to readers as to what their options are in terms of reading digitally through libraries and to also let them know the issues libraries have in obtaining ebooks.


The American Library Association, which in a recent report on the state of libraries in America, praised progress libraries and publishers have made in trading ebooks over the past year but lamenting progress yet to be made.

via European Library Association Launches Campaign to Get Ebooks.

How Paperbacks Transformed the Way Americans Read

Half a century before e-books turned publishing upside down, a different format threatened to destroy the industry.


Here’s a little perspective: In 1939, gas cost 10 cents a gallon at the pump. A movie ticket set you back 20 cents. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the year’s bestselling hardcover book, was $2.75. For a nation suffering 20 percent unemployment, books were an impossible expense.


But in just one day, Robert de Graff changed that. On June 19, 1939, the tall, dynamic entrepreneur took out a bold, full-page ad in The New York Times: OUT TODAY—THE NEW POCKET BOOKS THAT MAY TRANSFORM NEW YORK’S READING HABITS.


The ad was timed to coincide with the debut of his newest endeavor, an imprint called Pocket Books. Starting with a test run of 10 titles, which included classics as well as modern hits, de Graff planned to unleash tote-able paperbacks on the American market. But it wasn’t just the softcover format that was revolutionary: De Graff was pricing his Pocket Books at a mere 25 cents.


Despite its audacity, de Graff’s ad wasn’t brazen enough for his taste. A former publishing exec who’d cut his teeth running imprints for Doubleday, de Graff wanted the ad to read THE NEW POCKET BOOKS THAT WILL TRANSFORM NEW YORK’S READING HABITS. His business partners at Simon & Schuster were less confident and forced the edit. Even though some European publishers were making waves with paperbacks—Penguin in England and Albatross in Germany—New York publishers didn’t think the cheap, flimsy books would translate to the American market.


They were wrong. It took just a week for Pocket Books to sell out its initial 100,000 copy run. Despite industry skepticism, paperbacks were about to transform America’s relationship with reading forever.

via How Paperbacks Transformed the Way Americans Read | Mental Floss

Innovative Publishing Out of Italy’s Rizzoli | Digital Book World

Italy isn’t known as a hotbed of digital publishing innovation or activity. In fact, ebooks only account for somewhere around 4% of publisher revenue in the country, according to Marcello Vena, director of digital business at RCS Libri, which owns book publisher Rizzoli, among other companies. (He’s also a DBW blogger.)

Yet, despite this nascent state of the market, Vena has been quietly building an innovation powerhouse at Rizzoli. He has a digital team that is dedicated to coming out with one new innovation project a quarter, Vena told me last week at the London Book Fair.

He outlines some of the innovations in a recent blog post:

– Digital-first imprint (Rizzoli First, July 2012)

– Ebook-streaming service on Italy’s high-speed trains (December 2012)

– Ebook streaming on Pinterest (May 2013)

– “Co-publishing,” a third way between traditional publishing and self-publishing (July 2013)

– Ebook and print bundling (December 2013)

– Online literary award for unpublished novels in partnership with Amazon (January 2014)

– The first immersive narrative ebook collection for kids in Italy (March 2014)

While some of these are more “innovative” than others by U.S. standards, for a market where ebooks are such a small percentage of the business, they’re downright revolutionary — and risky.

via Innovative Publishing Out of Italy’s Rizzoli | Digital Book World.