Search Results for: label/ebook sales

What Are the Biggest Book Markets in the World?

global book market by country

What is the biggest book market in the world? What other national book markets have a substantial slice of the global pie?

Not surprising, the United States is the largest book market with a 26% share. It makes sense that China  is next with a 12% share.

Rounding out big four are Germany at 8%, and Japan at 7%. The top 10 markets make up approximately two-thirds of the global book industry.

The data was gathered by Rudiger Wischenbart Content Consulting for the International Publishers Association 2013 report. The chart reflects the value of each market as determined by book publishing per data along with number of new titles per 1 million inhabitants.

What Is the Agency Model in Ebook Pricing?

what is the agency pricing model?Q:  What Is the agency model in eBook pricing?

A:  The agency model is when a reseller allows the publisher to set the price charged to its (the reseller’s) customers. The common agency model terms for eBooks have been that the publisher keeps 70% of the proceeds and the reseller earns a 30% commission. This is different from the traditional pricing model in the book publishing industry, where prices have been controlled by the reseller. In the traditional model, publishers sell their books to resellers at a discount of approximately 50% (legal and illegal discount variance is a topic for another day!). Resellers offer the books to consumers at whatever price they choose.

The “agency model” for eBook pricing is back in the news with a deal reached between Simon & Schuster (S&S) and Amazon (confirmed October 21, 2014), which S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy acknowledges is a “version” of the agency pricing model. [Read more…]

10 Reasons NOT to Write a Book

10 reasons not to write a book

Before you start on chapter one …

So you want to be a writer? Most people you tell that to are going to say something to you like, “very cool” and “you can do it.” But I’m here today to dispense reality. Before you start on chapter one let me give you 10 reasons NOT to write a book!

1.  Everything there is to say has already been said. Leave it to no less of an expert on writing books that have sold well than King Solomon, who said: “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.  Sometimes people say, ‘Here is something new!’ But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, NLT). If that’s not enough to discourage you, keep reading.

2.  There are already more books published than people will read. Bowker, the company that dispenses ISBN numbers, reports that more than 1 million new titles are being released in the US alone each year. That doesn’t count the number of independent books being PUBLISHED without an official ISBN number. UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) estimates there will be 1,761,280 books published worldwide this year. (See my infographic on the top book-producing countries.)

3.  The average number of units each new book published will sell is 250. As low as that number is, it is still inflated by books that sell hundreds of thousands and millions of copies. For most authors, writing will not pay the bills and will be a labor of love. (Do you want to know how much authors make?) [Read more…]

Sales Continue to Drop for Print Books

Publisher’s Weekly just reported:

The total unit sales of print books sold through the outlets whose sales are captured by Nielsen BookScan dropped 10.2% in the six month period ended July 3, falling to 307.1 million. Among categories, the biggest decline came in adult fiction with units off 25.7%, while mass market paperback had the steepest decline among formats with units down 26.6% in the period. BookScan totals cover about 75% of the outlets where print books are sold.

Is this yet another signal that the book is dead or should at least be placed on the endangered species list?

As someone who makes a living in the book publishing industry I continue to maintain an optimistic position on the future of the book, in part, because I don’t define the book as a physical object.

I see no reason for hand wringing. Publishers need to keep their focus on what they can control and what matters most: great content. The distribution medium matters but is not paramount. The music industry fought Napster (rightfully) and electronic distribution (wrongly) for most of a decade – and lost control of its own packaging and pricing. I think the book publishing industry has maintained a much healthier point of view toward electronic formats from day one.

I like physical books – actually, love is the better word for it – but I’m not going to lose sleep if we sell more books as electronic editions and kill fewer trees in the process. One of the biggest benefits of selling e-books for publishers is fewer dollars tied up in paper and ink with all the inventory management issues surrounding that. The amount of time it takes to recoup a dollar of the investment that goes into publishing a book is long enough without making the irreversible commitment to a print quantity that may not dovetail with real demand.

Of course many publishers have long built financial models around a certain percentage of their unit sales coming from higher priced hard cover releases. As e-books continue to eat into the number of hardcovers sold, particularly with adult fiction, it changes the proforma dramatically, so I’m not saying this change makes things easier in all ways. Change is hard.

I’m strictly describing what I think is – not proscribing what should be. And no matter how strong Amazon is as a bookseller, I still hope the market will support a robust brick and mortar retail environment. (Borders might not agree that is possible – but we should know if their reorganization is Chapter 11 or Chapter 7 within days – or even hours.)

My personal prediction – more gut than numbers at this point – is that five years from now 35-40% of all books sold will be e-books (digitally distributed), which would mean the majority of books consumed would still be on the ink and paper medium. I also think that projection would leave space for a strong brick and mortar presence for at least Barnes and Noble and some exceptional independents that incorporate an e-book strategy into their overall sales mix.

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” said Mark Twain after hearing his obituary had been printed in the New York Journal.

The same can be said by and of the book.

What Kinds of Books Are People Reading? Book Sales By Category

Book publishing numbers are inconsistently kept and reported by book sellers – and take even longer to be gathered and analyzed. So we are usually behind in evaluating dynamics like book sales by category. But it’s still good to keep a picture in mind of what happened last year! Here is a very top line look at what books are being read – or at least bought – for the year ending 2013.

2013 book sales by category

What books did people buy to read in 2013?

2013 Reading by Category

Q: My Book Has Not Sold Many Copies. Can I Get Rights Reverted Based on Poor Sales?

Q: My book has not sold many copies. Can I get rights reverted based on poor sales?

A. If that is not stipulated in the contract (and it rarely is), then not without some help. Take a look at your publishing agreement to see if there are sales performance requirements written into the terms. But if you don’t find a suitable condition, you can still ask your publisher nicely.

How can I get publishing rights to my book back?

My book didn’t sell many copies – and it’s going downhill from there!

Most publishing agreements have several provisions that allow you to get your publishing rights back.

For example, most agreements have a time frame within which the publisher must publish your work after acquiring it. Eighteen months is not atypical. In other words, a publisher can’t buy your book and just sit on it. Now, if you turned in your manuscript late or it has not yet been made acceptable through the editing process or there are some other extenuating circumstances, they (the publisher) are probably protected from surrendering rights back to you.

Another example of a rights reversion clause is most agreements have an in-print provision. If your book is not available for purchase and you bring it to the publisher’s attention – in writing – with a specific request to rectify this by reprinting the book, the publisher must send the book back to press within a defined period of time or return publishing rights to you. Just to repeat, the onus is usually on you to initiate the process in writing.

This has increasingly become a point of contention between authors and publishers in the digital age. Why? In many agreements, offering a book in a downloadable e-book form is all that is needed for a book to be considered in-print. And further, digital publishing means that the publisher can economically transition from offset printing to print on demand. In other words, your book will technically never be out of print even if nothing much is currently happening in the area of sales and marketing.

Third, a few agreements have qualifiers like a set time period for publishing rights or a minimum number of annualized sales or the requirement that it be included in a printed catalog. If you don’t remember this coming up when you were negotiating a contract, then this probably doesn’t apply to your agreement!

My book was printed on time and is still in print. It just isn’t selling like I thought it would. This is so disappointing.

Even if none of the conditions apply, go ahead and ask to have your publishing rights reverted, but don’t be surprised if the answer is no. Or if the publisher encourages you to do some marketing activities that will help rekindle demand for your book in the marketplace.

Now, if sales of your book have steadily waned to next to nothing, if you have earned out your advance against royalties (or you are willing to pay back unearned advances against royalties), if inventory levels are low (and especially if you’re willing to buy the remaining copies in stock), and if there isn’t sufficient demand to warrant an offset print run (let’s say about 1,500 copies), then your publisher just might shrug his or her shoulders and say sure, you can have your publishing rights back. Often, the publishing agreement specifies that in such cases the publisher will let you have any plates, films, and files free or at publisher’s actual cost to retrieve them. With plates and films basically being obsolete there is usually no or little cost associated with retrieving the electronic files. (Though that doesn’t mean anyone can easily put their hands on the most up-to-date print-ready iteration.)

But again, even if all the circumstances of the previous paragraph are present, many publishers (self included) are loathe to return rights. Why? They (we) have invested a lot of money into publishing your work and as distribution technology changes and morphs into podcasts, e-books, print-on-demand solutions, and more, they don’t want to lose opportunities to recoup their investment through new means of exploiting your work.

And one final question for you to ask yourself. What can you do to promote sales that the publisher hasn’t done or won’t do? If the answer is “a whole lot more” then get busy and drive sales without the manufacturing and inventory hassles. Or, if you have an iron-clad way to sell your own books directly, like a speaking schedule, ask nicely for your rights to be reverted and hope for a yes answer.

How Many People Are Reading on eReader Devices?

according the Pew Institute 23% of adults have used an ereader now.
Where do you read books?

January 15, 2013 – According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 23% of adult readers have now read an ebook.

In a blog last year I noted that percentage as 12%. Recognizing that there are no comprehensive studies – and the numbers seemingly change dramatically on a month-to-month basis – that is a growth rate of almost 100% in the past year. During the same period, ebook sales in trade publishing have risen from 17% to 25% of all books sold. Almost half of all adult fiction is now being bought for consumption on eReader devices.

I remember the prophecies of the paperless office back in the early 90s. I’m still waiting.

But to state the obvious, the digital revolution in publishing – starting with daily news and now moving to long form content –  appears to be a relentless and unstoppable transformation in how we consume what we read.

The eReader is here to stay.

Where do you read your books?

Every Breath You Take

“Every Breath You Take is an action-packed pEvery Breath ANGLEolice procedural that will keep you flipping pages.” – FRESH FICTION

When the son of a Chicago billionaire is murdered the only lead on this high-profile crime – one that has the media buzzing and politicians scrambling – is an exclusive dating service that discretely caters to the rich and famous.

Who better to go undercover in the world of personal profiles, promising matches, and questionable motives than an ace detective who is single and as attractive as she is tough?

Some dates are to kill for – but some dates will get you killed.

Detective Kristen Conner may not be able to figure out her own love life, but she is about to get a crash course on finding Mr. Right – even as she finds herself in the crosshairs of a determined killer’s gun.

Conner and the fabulous cast of characters that made Cuts Like a Knife a debut sensation are back and on the case.

Amazon: Paperback  | eBook  |  Audio Book

Barnes & Noble: Paperback  | eBook

CBD.com: Paperback  | eBook  |  Audio Book

 

SAMPLE CHAPTERS

Character Interviews and Features

Detective Kristen Conner Interview

Detective Kristen Conner

Klarissa Conner interview

Klarissa Conner

The Cutter Shark is a serial killer that haunts Detective Kristen Conner in the M.K. Gilroy novels.

The Serial Killer

 

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

 

Just Before Midnight

JBM.Final

Christmas Eve is the time to be at home enjoying the warmth and laughter of family, isn’t it?

A couple in their late 60s faces the prospects of a first ever Christmas with no kids or grandkids in the house …

An emergency room nurse handles every crisis at work with calm, but inside her emotions are roiling because she can’t get hold of her husband or her youngest son …

Over the past two years he has lost his job, his house, his wife, and it feels like his kids are slipping away …

Her first baby is scheduled to arrive in a few weeks, but with her husband still on duty in Afghanistan, she’s never felt so alone in all her life …

Four individuals and families are trying so hard to grab hold of the spirit of Christmas that they can’t see they are about to run headlong into each other … just before midnight.

Amazon: Paperback | eBook

Barnes & Noble: Paperback | eBook

 

SAMPLE

Contact Page

Snail Mail:

2000 Mallory Lane, Suite 130-229, Franklin, Tennessee 37067

God’s Help for Your Every Need: 101 Life-Changing Prayers

God's Help for Your Every Need written by Mark Gilroy

101 Life-Changing Prayers

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

—Hebrews 4:16 NKJV

Prayer is much more than the words you say to God. Prayer goes back to the beginning of time, to the Garden of Eden, where God walked and talked with Adam and Eve daily, making it crystal clear for all of us to understand and see, He desires fellowship with us.

Prayer is God’s invitation for us to enter into his presence with confidence, not timidity. It is his invitation to us to speak our hurts and needs and worries. Prayer is God’s antidote to the toxins of fear, cynicism, skepticism, and self-centeredness. Prayer is the wonderful opportunity for us to grow in faith and attitude as we express our love, gratitude, and praise to God. Prayer is the place to find forgiveness and begin repentance as we confess our sins to God.

You have been given a tremendous gift, rooted in God’s desire to spend time with you. It is called prayer. Respond to this gracious invitation to experience more fully the peace, joy, purpose, wisdom, and power of knowing God.

PURCHASE

AMAZON: Hardcover | eBook

Barnes & Noble: Hardcover | eBook

CBD: Hardcover | eBook

 

INSIDE THE BOOK

God’s Help for Your Every Need is divided into six sections – they are listed below with samples of the prayer topics. Click on highlighted topics to read samples that have been shared on blogs.

Home and Family

  • There Is Conflict in My Home
  • Guard My Children from Bad Influences
  • Bless My Spouse
  • My Child Is Struggling and I Don’t Know How to Help
  • My Parent’s Health Is Deteriorating

Attitudes and Emotions

  • I Need Courage
  • A Friend Has Betrayed Me
  • I Lack Confidence
  • I Am Struggling with Anger
  • I Feel So Alone

Work and Finances

  • I Need a Job
  • My Company Is Struggling
  • I Am Being Sued
  • I Want a Job Promotion
  • I Am Being Asked to Compromise My Character
  • I Need to Live Within My Means

Spiritual Growth

  • I Am Struggling with Temptation
  • I Have Drifted Spiritually and Need to Come “Home”
  • I Need to Forgive
  • I Need to Simplify My Life
  • Renew My Strength
  • I Have Doubts

My World and Nation

  • Bless My Country
  • Give Wisdom to Our Leaders
  • Establish Racial Harmony
  • Protect Our Soldiers
  • Help Me Speak the Good News

Mission and Service

  • I Want to Be A Blessing
  • I Am Bored and Lack Purpose
  • I Want to Share My Faith
  • I Need Hope for the Future
  • Loving My World

 

Cuts Like a Knife

Cuts Like a Knife Paperback

Paperback | 384 pages 978-1936034697

“A sure-fire winner!” - USA TODAY

Chicago has new resident, a heartless killer with a long and bloody history.  When a successful young woman is found dead in her fashionable town home, a red flag goes up in Washington, D.C.  The FBI knows an elusive “organized killer” is at work again.  The problem is the Feds have only one tenuous lead to assist local police in the manhunt … a most unlikely place the killer likes to find his victims.

Kristen Conner is light as a feather but punches harder than most guys—growing up in a cop’s home, being a student of hand-to-hand combat, and not being able to shoot a handgun straight does that. Her life is built on faith and family: she coaches her 7-year-old niece’s soccer team, the Snowflakes, when she isn’t fighting with her partner, police department brass, and most of all, her glamorous TV news reporter sister—or looking for the man who is terrorizing the women of her city.

She’s a good cop but she’s never faced an adversary like this.  From the opening chase scene that leads Kristen to a back alley where a punk with a knife awaits her, to the climactic scene where she goes one-on-one with the hauntingly familiar man who is killing innocent women in her town, Cuts Like a Knife, is loaded with action, humor, and wry introspection through the voice of its irrepressible lead character.

Amazon:  Paperback | E-Book  | Large Print HC | Audio CDs | Audio Download

Barnes & Noble: Paperback  |  eBook

CBD.com: Paperback  | eBook  |  Audio Book

SAMPLE CHAPTERS

VIDEO TRAILER

Character Interviews and Features

Detective Kristen Conner Interview

Detective Kristen Conner

Klarissa Conner interview

Klarissa Conner

The Cutter Shark is a serial killer that haunts Detective Kristen Conner in the M.K. Gilroy novels.

The Serial Killer

 

Why I Bought the Kindle Instead of the iPad

Why I bought a black and white Kindle instead of an iPad.

Why I bought a black and white Kindle instead of an iPad.

I have been in the publishing industry for almost 30 years now. Everyone knows that electronic production and delivery will shape the future of the book publishing industry – and most suspect that the future is now. So that’s the main reason I finally bought an ebook reader – to be less technologically behind in the work that provides room and board for the family. If you’re going to consider yourself an active member of the “long form” publishing world, better at least be aware of the mechanics – or electronics – of the digital book experience, I figured.

The final nudge I needed to order the Kindle was an impending trip to China last month. Anticipating 18 hours in the air each way, I wanted to make sure I had plenty to read without packing a stowage trunk. Sure enough, the Kindle worked like a charm on that trip. I downloaded four or five books at New York’s JFK Airport, boarded the plane, ate dinner, watched a movie, and then fired up a book I’ve been wanting to read. I was sleeping like a baby in fifteen minutes. It felt like home! (And yes, I did finish the book and two others while flying back and forth over the Pacific Ocean.)

After I told an author friend why I bought the Kindle, she let me know she was more interested in why it took me so long.  Good question. Frankly, I’ve not been sold on buying an ebook reader in general, and the Kindle in particular, until recently. I do like the feel of paper and ink bound inside a paper or board cover – but that’s not what really held me back.

We all know that technological improvements take place so fast that version 2.0 of the newest gadget follows 1.0 by weeks, not months or years. I’m not a late adopter of new technology, but on the other hand, I don’t want to be the one purchasing 1.0 at twice the price of 2.0, which will undoubtedly have more features and less problems.

So I waited for multiple powerhouse companies to launch new readers and for three million of my good friends to buy the first two iterations of the Kindle before I jumped in on the third wave.

But then came the next question from my author friend: why the Kindle over the iPad? It is hard to beat Apple for sleek and cool and seamless usability. And the iPad was all over the news and just about to sell its one millionth unit within months of its release when I bought the Kindle.

So here are my reasons for buying the Kindle over the iPad. (Perhaps I’ll take up the question of why I chose it over the Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble Nook at a later time.)

1. I read books and there are approximately seven times more books available through Amazon’s Kindle Store than are available for the iPad. The gap will close but is still significant.

2.  The iPad costs three to four times more than the Kindle. I’m not saying the iPad isn’t worth it. It looks to me like the iPad is the future of laptop computing and style. Apple and others will come up with a next generation device that is a cross between the laptop and the iPad, which will replace what I use now. But I don’t need all the extra computing and bells and whistles that come with it. I’ve already got a MacBookPro. I just need a book reader. It isn’t lost on me that most people I see with the iPad on airplanes aren’t reading books, though to be fair, it looks like the magazine reading experience is much better than it would be with the Kindle. But the iPad users I see are more often watching a movie or playing a game, not reading a book. And as a confession, I get distracted easily enough in life. When I want to read a book, less is absolutely more.

3. The electronic type on the Kindle has now reached the same level of readability (and lack of eyestrain) as the paper and ink book. When I took the Kindle out of the box I assumed there was a protective plastic film with a picture of a tree covering my screen. The saturation level of electronic ink was so rich and brilliant that I was surprised to discover it was the actual screen. (I’m glad I didn’t give in to my impulse to grab a sharp object to lift an end of the “film” so I could remove it from the screen.)

4. The size of the Kindle is just about perfect for carrying in a briefcase or purse – though I wouldn’t know firsthand on the purse – and the iPad is just a little too large as an “extra” device. As mentioned above, I don’t think the Kindle can compete with the iPad on reading larger visual publications (and certainly not playing games or watching movies). And it’s not just due to the smaller size. The Kindle is strictly black on white. So if I was in a different area of publishing – like fashion media or nature photography – I would undoubtedly purchase the iPad.

5.  I also picked the Kindle because I can now use it to carry and read my own documents. This is not really a reason I picked it over the iPad because that is not and never has been a limitation for the Apple device. Let’s just say that Amazon fixed something that they got wrong in earlier editions of the Kindle. Because it is a proprietary device tied to the Amazon Store, it used to be if you wanted to read a non-commercial-book document on the Kindle, you had to figure out how to upload it to the store and buy it from yourself there. I know one of the Big Five publishers bought all their employees the Sony Reader for this very reason – there were no limits on putting your own material on your reading device. The publisher wanted associates to experience an ebook reader and distribute company material on it. That was too tough – and expensive – on the Kindle. Maybe a better of way of making this point is to say that Amazon removed a reason I had previously been resistant to buying their Kindle. I’m going to fly to Orlando later today. I want to review a manuscript I prepared for the meeting. Now all I do is convert it to a pdf and email it to my Kindle email address that they assigned to me when I bought the device. The document will be waiting for me on my Kindle in about a minute.

Those were my reasons for buying a Kindle. They may not work for you.

So who should buy the Kindle? Simple. Book readers. I don’t think it’s going to a good purchase for people who want to read books instead of playing games. If you want to play games or watch movies, the iPad is the much better choice. (Though rumor has it that Amazon will introduce full color Kindle in the not so distant future.)

The early book publishing industry statistics say that book readers buy and read more books once they have an e-reader. Why? There are no space-time limitations of having to drive to a brick and mortar establishment during open hours to pick up something that is on your mind right now. Just read a good review on your flight magazine? You can purchase the book in about 30 seconds once you land at O’Hare or Hartsfield, even if your connection is tight. (It should be noted that buying a book on a Kindle is not as pleasant as sipping a cup of coffee while strolling through rows of bookshelves at a bookstore – and will never replace that.)

As a final comment, Amazon offers a lot of public domain books for free at the Kindle Store. I was about to board a plane last week when suddenly a story from my childhood popped into my mind: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I looked it up and found a free edition, which I immediately “bought.” It was waiting for me when I took my seat. I read the opening chapters and was flooded with a sense of nostalgia – right after I woke up from my nap.

Just like being at home!

NOTE: I revisited the topic of why I bought a simple Kindle e-reader in light of new research on eyestrain in a 2014 blog.

Q: How Is the Publishing Industry Impacted By a Struggling Economy?

Q: How is the publishing industry impacted by a struggling economy?

A: I can only answer on the basis of today, and on November 25, 2008 (*), the answer is that the publishing industry has indeed been impacted negatively and at least in equal measure to the overall economy!

Does a bad economy hurt book publishing?

Is book publishing recession proof?

The old axiom was that publishing was recession proof – especially religious publishing. Why? In the overall scheme of the economy (and people’s pocketbooks) books are a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment, best partaken at home, which saves gas and eat-out money. In the case of religious publishing, the prevailing wisdom has been that when the economy is good “people play” but when it’s bad “people pray!”

But in this ongoing subprime-crisis-automaker-melt-down-government-bail-out-required economic downturn in America, sales are not good for retailers or publishers. The list of retail chains reporting same-store declines is as long as the list of … well, uh, retail chains. The only reliable statistics available on the health of independent retailers is the number that are closing on a weekly basis. Iconic flagship book retailer, Barnes & Noble, reports glum 3rd quarter results and 4th quarter projections:

B&N Sales Sink; Sees Gloomy Holiday

by Jim Milliot — Publishers Weekly, 11/20/2008 6:19:00 AM

The news was about as bad as it could be from Barnes & Noble. For the third quarter ended November 1, total sales fell 4.4%, to $1.1 billion, with sales through its bookstores down by the same 4.4%. Same store sales fell 7.4%. Sales at Barnes & Noble.com rose 2%, to $109 million. Moreover, the nation’s largest bookstore chain predicted that–based on the negative sales trend to date–same store sales in the fourth quarter will fall 6% to 9%. Earlier this month, B&N chairman Len Riggio warned employees in a memo that the company was bracing for a terrible holiday season.

Books-A-Million, which is strongest in the Bible Belt fared even worse.

BAM Comps Drop Nearly 10%

by Jim Milliot — Publishers Weekly, 11/21/2008 2:13:00 PM

The drumbeat of bad news from the nation’s bookstore chains continued Friday with Books-A-Million reporting that total revenue dropped 5.7% in the third quarter ended November 1, to $110.9 million. Comparable store sales tumbled 9.9%, the “weakest comparable store sales in many years,” said CEO Sandy Cochran. With the sales decline, BAM’s loss deepened to $2.2 million in the quarter compared to a loss of $555,000 in last year’s third period.

The sales decline was felt in most segments, Cochran said, with bargain books, gifts, and the teen categories among the few areas where business was up. A decline in customer traffic plus a cost conscious consumer where blamed for the poor results. BAM is focused on “controlling costs, managing inventory and preparing for the holiday season,” Cochran said.

While Cochran said the holiday publishing schedule is a good one, she sees few signs indicating that the difficult marketplace will shift anytime soon. For the first nine months of the year, revenue was down 4.8%, to $349.2 million, and the company had a loss of $635,000 compared to earnings of $4.6 million in the same period last year. Comp sales for the nine months were off 8.0%

Perhaps the most dramatic announcement came from the supply side of the industry with the news that literary giant Houghton Mifflin was putting a hold on acquisitions – akin to a fish saying that they might spend a year away from the water.

HMH Places “Temporary” Halt on Acquisitions

By Rachel Deahl — Publishers Weekly, 11/24/2008 12:54:00 PM

It’s been clear for months that it will be a not-so-merry holiday season for publishers, but at least one house has gone so far as to halt acquisitions. PW has learned that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books.

Josef Blumenfeld, v-p of communications for HMH, confirmed that the publisher has “temporarily stopped acquiring manuscripts” across its trade and reference divisions. The directive was given verbally to a handful of executives and, according to Blumenfeld, is “not a permanent change.” Blumenfeld, who hedged on when the ban might be lifted, said that the right project could still go to the editorial review board. He also maintained that the the decision is less about taking drastic measures than conducting good business.

“In this case, it’s a symbol of doing things smarter; it’s not an indicator of the end of literature,” he said. “We have turned off the spigot, but we have a very robust pipeline.” The action by the highly leveraged HMH may also be as much about the company’s need to cut costs in a tight credit market.as about the current economic slowdown.

What’s it mean for you as author or aspiring author?

If your heart is set on publishing with a traditional publishing house of note, the news isn’t great. My own company, Thomas Nelson, in anticipation of emerging economic woes, cut the number of titles being published almost in half as of March 2008. As a publisher I always find it more fun to do books than to not do books, but unquestionably, we were ahead of the curve.

If you are able to see publishing not just in terms of a paper and ink product with a particular logo or name on the spine – and are open to the array of self- and micro-publishing options available today – then this is just one more confirmation to go for it now rather than wait for your deal to sail in!

Loving the Love of Your Life

 

Show HIM how much you care!

Show HIM how much you care!

Not too heavy, not too light, here is a fun and creative his and hers flip book to help couples express love to one another.

This two-cover book is a fun, interactive approach for couples who want to grow closer and create lasting memories together.

“He” and “she” take turns reading a short selection that gives a dose of inspiration, a principle for application, and an activity for expressing just how he or she loves their partner.  Once done, he or she leaves the  book on the other’s pillow to say, “your turn!”

Loving the Love of Your Life by Mark Gilroy

Show HER how much you care!

The book can be read – and put it into action – at whatever pace the couple chooses.

Loving the Love of Your Life is a refreshing way to reaffirm wedding vows, rekindle romance, and help build happy and meaningful moments to last a lifetime.

 

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How Healthy Is the Christian fiction Category?

Publishing professional and friend, Dan Balow, recently took a look at the Christian fiction category in his blog for the Steve Laube Agency. His analysis includes some counterintuitive insights for publishers and some very specific advice to retailers that I wanted to share here. (Since my novels are considered “tweeners” – somewhere between the Christian and general markets, I especially appreciated what he had to say.) Dan – thanks for permission to use the following!

Just how well is Christian fiction doing?

Last year, two Christian publishers downsized or suspended their fiction programs. Currently, some Christian publishers are nervous about fiction and in a wait-and-see mode before they attempt to expand it or try new things. Others are excited about growth potential in the category and are taking an aggressive stance toward it.

Similarly, some Christian retailers are doing quite well with fiction, others are lukewarm with it and some are not doing well at all.

The answer to the question, “Is Christian fiction thriving?” is no, but it is certainly interesting to explore the reason behind such widely diverse opinions on the subject of Christian fiction today.  How can one group see great potential and another see little or none?

Here is why I think Christian Fiction is causing some publisher and retailer confusion right now:

First and foremost, fiction is the segment of book publishing and retailing most affected by the sales of eBooks. In some cases, 50% or more of unit sales on a particular title can be digital.  Because eBooks are cheaper than printed editions, overall revenues to the publisher will decrease or remain flat, all the while readership increases. For a particular novel, digital sales might be 50% of the units and 20% of the revenue.

A new business model eventually emerges, but it takes time for publishers and retailers to adjust to new realities.

Retailers can easily recall how the decline in physical product sales were affected by music downloads (iTunes started in 2001), video download/streaming and audio book downloads. The migration to digital delivery in music, video and audio resulted in a corresponding drop in physical product sales at retail.  But knowing the cause doesn’t make it easier to handle.

The second major contributor to publisher and retail confusion about fiction is the relatively small number of titles published.  Even in good years, the total output of new Christian fictions titles by the main ECPA Christian publishers are not more than 250-300 annually.  (I am not counting the various Harlequin Love Inspired and Heartsong mass market lines which publish over 200 titles per year.)

According to R.R. Bowker data from a couple years ago, the entire U.S. publishing industry (not self-publishing) released over 250,000 new titles annually, of which about 40,000 are novels. There is no completely accurate data available on Christian publishers, but not long ago the total output of books from Christian publishers was around 10,000 new books annually. If Christian publishers followed the same ratios in fiction as the general market, there should be over 1,000 new novels each year, not 250-300.  Not every category growth problem is solved by doing more books, but in this case, I believe it has something to do with it.

Similarly at retail, when a category suffers a slowdown, reducing shelf-space for the category only hastens the decline.  The huge disparity between fiction in the general market retail and that in the Christian market would leave one to wonder whether some are giving up too early on it.

The final reason for confusion about fiction is there are a limited number of genres published by Christian publishers. For reasons that may or may not be obvious, Christian publishers cannot publish in as many genres as a general market publisher.  For instance, erotica will never be a category in Christian publishing, while it is a major category in the general market.

Combine these three things…eroding physical sales due to digital delivery, a small number of titles in relatively few categories  and maybe we can understand why it is rather confusing time in the Christian fiction category.

What can retailers do about it? (other than stocking current best-sellers and new titles)

  • Begin with the inventory. Carry the classic backlist.  Not just In His Steps or Pilgrim’s Progress but the authors who made the category successful over the last 30 years … Janette Oke, Frank Peretti, Jerry Jenkins/Tim LaHaye, Bodie and Brock Thoene, and Francine Rivers to name a few.
  •  Decide to add a new genre of fiction that heretofore you have not carried or promoted.  This is to grow your customer’s taste for a wider type of fiction.
  • Consider rearranging the fiction section by genre to help readers find new authors. Perhaps using a variation of the umbrella categories that the Christy Awards uses to separate the genres.
  • Encourage fiction reader groups among your customers. This will show how fiction can communicate spiritual truth in an effective manner.

Steve Laube, the founder and owner of the literary agency with whom I work, was a Christian retailer himself before getting into the publisher side of the equation over 20 years ago.  In 1989, his Berean Store in Phoenix, Arizona was named the CBA Store of the Year.  I asked him to give his perspective on how retailers can sell more fiction:

The key was that great story that got people telling their friends. Word-of-Mouth.  Second was a staff that was knowledgeable about the various fiction offerings. Hand-selling is still a critical piece of what makes the physical store a destination. Hand-selling is a form of word-of-mouth. For example, when Mrs. Sally came in the store each month and asked us, ‘What’s new?’ we could direct her to the latest and greatest because we knew the type of stories she liked and the type of stories that were on our shelves.  That principle has not changed over the years. I am always attracted to the part of any bookstore that has a ‘Staff Recommendations’ section. I find it fascinating to see what other people think is worthwhile to read.

Keep in mind, that if readers don’t find what they need in the Christian store, they will look elsewhere and personally, I’d rather they find a lot of great reads among titles from Christian publishers in Christian bookstores.

Overheard and Observed in China: Part 1: The Economy

I just returned from a way-too-short and rapid trip to China. There are so many angles and facets to explore but for a Part 1, I thought I’d focus on some interesting economic dynamics in China that are highly interrelated with some equally interesting dynamics in the U.S. economy.

As context, note that the overarching paradox of trading with China from a U.S. standpoint is (a) we like China’s cheap costs but (b) we don’t like the trade gap. The burgeoning trade gap is particularly bothersome as the U.S. dollar continues to free fall in the international currency markets, which should make buying U.S. products more attractive than ever. But the trade deficet is going to be a side light and what U.S. businesses and consumers are really going to notice in the near and foreseeable future is that costs in China are on the raise and may increase at a more rapid pace. Here’s why:

1. We’re not the only ones that dislike a huge trade gap; for China’s economy to mature, more of its output needs to be consumed internally, not just by the export market. Toward that end, in the last ninety days Beijing has rescinded a substantial tax rebate (think subsidy) for factories and business that export their goods. That will no longer be part of the formula for quoting costs to U.S. companies that outsource to China.

2. The RMB (China’s currency) is up 20% against the U.S. dollar in the last 18 months. The renmimbi (“people’s currency”) is stronger across against many currencies on the international board, but with the ongoing storyline of a still declining U.S. dollar and its spending power, the bottom line result is higher costs.

3. New labor laws in China include new increases to the minimum wage and a sweeping worker reform act–no company can fire a worker once they sign a third employment contract–equals raising labor costs. On the second element, the reform act, one wonders if most Chinese laborers will now end up working for a new company every four years as many labor contracts are two year deals. Not even an almost limitless labor pool can hold back the simple reality that conditions for workers–from wages to safe working conditions to better factory-owned dormitories or private housing options–have improved and must continue to improve. Some have argued that with the reported 750 million unemployed workers this need not be the case. But what has changed is that people living a subsistance lifestyle in the great rural expanses of China are no longer willing to trade an open air work day for a factory work day that is still based on mere subsistance worker benefits.

4. Rising materials costs are happening across most industry categories, led by rocketing oil prices, but in my world, publishing, it comes as no surprise that the cost of paper keeps marching upward at a particularly steep grade. U.S. standards of “green” are much less stringent than those defined in Europe, but as that gap closes, costs will only continue to climb. Related but off topic: Bill Gates said that we tend to overestimate the impact of new technology over the next two years but underestimate its impact over the next five years (see Business at the Speed of Thought). I wonder: will there be a stampede to ebook readers in the next half decade?

5. When you add up nos. 1-4, not surprising but largely unnoticed in the business community, hundreds of Chinese factories are closing every month. Profit margins and Return on Investment (ROI) are so slim that the Chinese entrepreneurial class is looking for new and greener opportunities. Marching alongside the issue of ROI , the first true generation of entrepreneurs in China is hitting retirement age and the heirs don’t want to run factories–or in some cases can’t afford to run existing operations–so they’re selling off equipment and boarding up buildings. Some argue that this is simple Economic Darwinism and is a positive case of natural selection with inefficient operations falling by the wayside. Perhaps; but it should not come as a shock that as once or emerging third world economies develop, they no longer take on environmentally toxic projects with no questions asked.

Two questions that I predict will become more acute for U.S. (and world) companies that do manufacturing in China in the days ahead will be: are we anticipating and ready for continued rising costs? and are the vendors we are currently relying on going to be in business for the foreseeable future?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of things I observed and overheard in China …

Financial Analysis for Publishing

Mark Gilroy teams up with Brian Henson to provide a quantitative-qualitative financial analysis for publishing that will give executives and their full publishing team the tools to maximize strengths and mitigate weaknesses.

  • Industry variances in budgets and results – with recommendations
  • Author performance and recommendations
  • Category performance and recommendations
  • Major deal risk analysis with recommendation
  • Inventory management and recommendations
  • Backlist evaluation and “product mining”
  • Data management – we have experience and tools to extract and organize data (no matter what software plan) to give you and your publishing team the reports needed to enhance decision-making – and fine tune the process

Brian Henson is a 20-year publishing veteran.

Brian Henson has nearly twenty years’ experience in financial management and analysis in the publishing industry. Most recently, he managed all business and financial aspects for the Nashville division of the Hachette Book Group, the second largest book publisher worldwide, where he created budgets and forecasts, performed financial analyses, initiated and contributed to strategic plans, and revamped inventory management. He created many models that were adopted company wide, including new ways to evaluate—and some cases monetize—the company’s author portfolio and overall backlist. He considers his biggest accomplishment that of cutting inventories in half. The various contributions added millions of dollars to the bottom line. Brian played a big part in Hachette’s reacquisition of Joel Osteen, as well as recent deals with Joyce Meyer, T. D. Jakes, John Maxwell, and Joseph Prince.

 At Thomas Nelson, Henson filled similar roles, creating a “company first” dynamic budgeting system from the bottom up for more than $270 million in annual revenues in a complex, matrix style organization. He developed forecasting methodologies and monthly financial packages that are still used today. He also contributed to product development, having several of his ideas published. Henson served as the primary advisor to the Chief Publishing Officer and as liaison between publishers and sales executives – an acute need in most publishing companies. He created tools to help publishers and editors evaluate new product proposals prior to decisions meetings. He was a key analyst and performed due diligence on various company acquisitions.

Henson earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton in marketing and marketing management, and the MBA from Wright State University with emphasis in accounting and finance.