Author Topic: The Changing Face of Publishing  (Read 21716 times)

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Offline nacho

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The Changing Face of Publishing
« on: October 30, 2008, 12:38:35 PM »
In the wake of a rash of newspapers and magazines going online only (the current most notable is Christian Science Monitor, which will release their last print edition in April), the Google Book Search settlement now paves the way for the end of print:

http://www.themillionsblog.com/2008/10/google-settlement-could-change-literary.html

Quote
Google Settlement Could Change the Literary Landscape

After once being a hot topic, prompting many in publishing to vocally take sides, the dispute between Google and the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers simmered quietly in lawyers' offices for more than two years. But this week Google's book scanning effort was back in the news with the announcement of a $125 million settlement. What may have been lost in this news is that Google is suddenly poised to drive a massive change in the publishing marketplace, multiply by many times the number of books available at the fingertips of readers, and supercharge the market for online delivery of books.

The original Google Book Search controversy erupted almost immediately after Google first launched the feature, then called Google Print. To many, it seemed like an almost impossible effort but somehow Google had the will and resources to deliver on an incredible promise: all of the world's books - and therefore, some would say, all of the world's knowledge - digitized, searchable, and preserved for future generations. But some publishers, many of them divisions of media conglomerates and made vigilant by the piracy that had ravaged the music industry, were wary of Google's intentions and feared a frenzy of unfettered book-swapping.

In part, the controversy stemmed from confusion about what Google was up to and the knee-jerk notion that digitized books would quickly be coursing across the internet, freely available to anyone who wanted them. Essentially, the search giant was dividing books into three categories. Google would work with publishers on in-print, copyrighted books via its "Partner Program," which makes previews of the books available, provides "buy this book" links, and includes a revenue share for the ads displayed next to those books' pages. Out-of-print, public domain books, meanwhile, were freely scanned and made fully available by Google. But it was the third category, out-of-print books that are still under copyright, that caused the most angst.

This angst was compounded by Google's methods; the search engine had gone around the copyright holders and brokered deals with universities to scan the contents of libraries containing millions of volumes. Google assured publishers that, by default, only snippets of these books would be displayed and that the snippets were protected by fair use, but this promise - and its legal justification - were not enough to soothe the publishers and the Authors Guild, so they sued. Publishers' pique, however, seemed to go beyond the issue of fair use and instead seemed to be rooted in a desire to push back against what was viewed as Google's arrogance and to exercise control, as absolutely as was possible, over their copyrighted works.

This notion of control was a common thread through many of the responses of publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing's Nigel Newton said "Publishers also have the responsibility to make sure that when it comes to hosting electronic content in future, it is their own websites that host the downloads and the scans of text and audio. There is no reason to hand this content to third-party websites." This was echoed at the Association of American Publishers: "'If Google can make...copies, then anyone can,' Patricia Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers, said in a phone interview. 'Anybody could go into a library and start making digital copies of anything,' she said." And HarperCollins and others pushed their own digitizing efforts, resulting in widgets and beefed up publisher websites. These anti-Google voices were offset by a cacophony of authors and publishers who dissented and were open to Google's experiment, including Richard Nash of Soft Skull and several others.

But now, after after more than two years of negotiating, a resolution has emerged that, if approved by a US district court to resolve still pending lawsuits, could mark a major change in the availability of books.

The big change comes in that nettlesome category: out-of-print, copyrighted books. Here's how Google describes its proposed plan for those books:

    Until now, we've only been able to show a few snippets of text for most of the in-copyright books we've scanned through our Library Project. Since the vast majority of these books are out of print, to actually read them you'd have to hunt them down at a library or a used bookstore. This agreement will allow us to make many of these out-of-print books available for preview, reading and purchase in the U.S.

And what's key is how Google plans to make these books available: "Once this agreement has been approved, you'll be able to purchase full online access to millions of books. This means you can read an entire book from any Internet-connected computer, simply by logging in to your Book Search account, and it will remain on your electronic bookshelf, so you can come back and access it whenever you want in the future." With those two sentences, the number of books available to readers - Google has estimated that 80% of the books in libraries are out of print - will increase substantially. In addition, by making these books available for sale, a new revenue stream will be opened for publishers (the books will also be available via institutional subscriptions offered to libraries and the like). There are no estimates on how big this number might be but it represents new money both for publishers and for writers whose books are out of print. Perhaps dislocated by this, meanwhile, are thousands of booksellers (not to mention Amazon), whose used book businesses are often times the easiest way for a person to get their hands on many out-of-print books. If a reader doesn't need to own the physical book, Google will be an enticing option, particularly since it seems very likely that books offered through Google Book Search would be cheaper.

The Association of American Publishers FAQ on the deal notes one of the ways the books will be priced: "Google will automatically set and adjust prices through an algorithm designed to maximize revenues for the book. This algorithm will be based on multiple factors." So, as Google brings its algorithm magic to pricing out-of-print books, it seems sure to impact the pricing across the whole market. In addition, publishers and authors have long bemoaned that they are cut out of the revenue in a used book market that has only grown larger thanks to the internet. It would seem that the Google deal will now give them a way to reach out to at least a slice of those used book buyers.

But perhaps more important than the new revenue for publishers will be the huge increase in access to a large new subset of books, in one stroke bringing back millions of out-of-print books from oblivion. While this may not excite the casual reader, it represents a great expansion of the amount of knowledge that is fully searchable and at our fingertips and it has the potential to be a great boon to scholars.

Over the last decade, the internet has wrecked many old media business models. Despite my frustration at their initial recalcitrance, the publishers were right to protect their business model, and both Google and the publishers should be lauded if this agreement results in the creation of a new one.


Offline RottingCorpse

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2008, 12:59:43 PM »
For a gerneration who never knew a world without the internet, I can see how this is fine, but the death of the book will make me sad.

Making out of print books available is good though.

Offline Cassander

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2008, 09:26:25 PM »
"many fear unfettered book-swapping" 

haha.  you mean like, in a library? 
You ain't a has been if you never was.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2008, 11:29:57 AM »
Here we go... We can turn this into a "death of publishing" thread.  Taking a note from the Borders discussion with Cass:
http://www.greatsociety.org/forums/index.php/topic,3971.0.html

General news on the economic crisis and how it'll make Stephanie Meyer's life much harder because her publisher can no longer afford a driver.

Today's news -- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which puts out trade and reference titles (about 400 a year) has just announced a freeze on acquisitions.  They're the first to take such measures, though lots of the big names are considering the same across the board.


Offline Reginald McGraw

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2008, 12:39:33 PM »

Today's news -- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which puts out trade and reference titles

Wait, did Houghton Mifflin merge with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich?

Offline nacho

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2008, 12:48:46 PM »
Oh, publishing has long been a mega-corp.  The Germans bought almost everyone up and slammed them together.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2009, 02:22:22 PM »
So, haven;t been keeping up, but the latest...


http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/lit_crit/book_world_to_cease_standalone_publication_107088.asp?c=rss

Quote
While the news has not been officially confirmed, the National Book Critics Circle reports that Book World, the Washington Post's stand-alone book supplement, will cease publication after February 15. Daily book reviews will still be published in the Style section.

Update: The rumors have been confirimed. According to the report, the section's essays will now be divided between the Outlook section and the Sunday Style & Arts section of the newspaper. The Book World section will still exist online.

Last week rumors flew (and were denied) that the Washington Post could close the section, and the National Book Critics Circle has created an online petition to support the publication.

Here's more from the NBCC report: "The promise is that there will be four additional broadsheet pages in Outlook for book coverage and one additional page in Style & Arts. That's an equivalent of 12 tabloid pages. (Book World is 16 pages.) Jonathan Yardley's reviews will appear in Outlook. Michael Dirda's will appear in Style. The staff of Book World will be kept together under the editorship of Rachel Shea." (Via LitKicks)

Offline nacho

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2009, 06:55:16 PM »
Man, when the dust settles, it'll be a whole new publishing world out there...

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6636326.html?


Offline monkey!

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2009, 10:30:34 AM »
SFWP FTW!
There will come a day for every man when he will relish the prospect of eating his own shit. That day has yet to come for me.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2009, 11:12:12 AM »
And the latest to fall.

(Also:  horsey!  clippity-clop!  clippety-clop!)

Quote
Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper goes Web-only

By PHUONG LE
The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 17, 2009; 2:28 AM

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has chronicled the news of the city since logs slid down its steep streets to the harbor and miners caroused in its bars before heading north to Alaska's gold fields, has produced its final print edition.

Hearst Corp., which owns the 146-year-old P-I, said Monday that it failed to find a buyer for the newspaper, which it put up for a 60-day sale in January after years of losing money. Now the P-I will shift entirely to the Web.

"Tonight will be the final run, so let's do it right," publisher Roger Oglesby told the newsroom.

The last print edition began rolling off the presses at a suburban printing plant shortly after 10 p.m. Monday. The front page featured a headline saying, "You've meant the world to us," and a photo of the 30-foot neon globe atop the P-I's building, which has a slogan rotating around the equator saying, "It's in the P-I."

The paper was to be delivered wrapped with 20 to 24 pages of photos and stories on the P-I's history.

Hearst's decision to abandon the print product in favor of an Internet-only version is the first for a large American newspaper, raising questions about whether the company can make money in a medium where others have come up short.

David Lonay, 80, a subscriber since 1950, said he'll miss a morning ritual that can't be replaced by a Web-only version.

"The first thing I do every day is get the P-I and read it," Lonay said. "I really feel like an old friend is dying."

Hearst's move to end the print edition leaves the P-I's larger rival, The Seattle Times, as the only mainstream daily in the city. The Times plans to deliver a copy of the newspaper to every P-I subscriber on Wednesday morning, spokeswoman Jill Mackie said.

"It's a really sad day for Seattle," said P-I reporter Angela Galloway. "The P-I has its strengths and weaknesses but it always strove for a noble cause, which was to give voice to those without power and scrutiny of those with power."

Seattle follows Denver in losing a daily newspaper this year. The Rocky Mountain News closed after its owner, E.W. Scripps Co., couldn't find a buyer. Staffers plan to start an online news publication if they can get 50,000 paying subscribers by April 23 _ what would have been the News' 150th anniversary.

In Arizona, Gannett Co.'s Tucson Citizen is set to close Saturday, leaving one newspaper in that city. And last month Hearst said it would close or sell the San Francisco Chronicle if the newspaper couldn't slash expenses in coming weeks.

The newspaper industry has seen ad revenue fall in recent years as advertisers migrate to the Internet, particularly to sites offering free or low-cost alternatives for classified ads. Starting last summer, the recession intensified the decline in advertising revenue in all categories.

Four newspaper companies, including the owners of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Inquirer, have sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in recent months.

While the P-I's Web site ensures it a continued presence in the Seattle news market, it will likely be a pared-down version of its former self _ with a heavy reliance on blogs and links to other news outlets.

The P-I had 181 employees, but Managing Editor David McCumber said the Web site would employ about 20 in the newsroom operation and another 20 to sell ads. He said he would not be working on the new site.

Steven R. Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, said the online P-I would not just be "a newspaper online."

"It's an effort to craft a new type of digital business with a robust, community news and information Web site at its core," Swartz said.

Hearst said the online edition will include some of the newspaper's marquee names, including sports columnist Art Thiel, political columnist Joel Connelly and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist David Horsey. Horsey also is under contract to continue drawing for Hearst's other newspapers.

In February, the P-I Web site had 1.8 million unique visitors and 50 million page views, according to Nielsen Online. Meanwhile the newspaper's print circulation was down to 117,000, from nearly 200,000 in 1998, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

It's unclear how the online-only venture will affect the Times, which is controlled by the Blethen family and has a circulation of 199,000. The Times has had severe financial troubles of its own and has cut 500 positions in the past year.

The P-I has had a feisty rivalry with the Times that intensified when the Times shifted from afternoon to morning publication in 2000. But since 1983, the P-I and the Times have shared business operations in a joint operating agreement in which the Times handles advertising, printing and other business functions for both newspapers in return for 60 percent of profits _ or losses.

The Times, which also has been losing money and cutting jobs, has long sought to end the joint operating agreement, arguing it threatened the survival of both newspapers. However, ending the deal could be problematic because now the Times will shoulder losses alone during a weak economy, Mackie said.

The P-I's roots date to 1863, when Seattle was still a frontier town and James Watson founded its precursor, the Seattle Gazette, as a four-page weekly.

The newspaper changed hands, names and offices several times _ including when the 1889 great Seattle fire destroyed its office _ before newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst bought the P-I in 1921 through a representative. Hearst later revealed his ownership of the newspaper in an editorial, according to the P-I archives.

"Every idea, every movement, every debate in Seattle's civic life was reflected on the front page of the paper," said Leonard Garfield, executive director of the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.

Some of the newspaper's more famous employees over the years included novelist Tom Robbins, columnist Emmett Watson and Frank Herbert, author of the science fiction novel "Dune."

Former P-I columnist Susan Paynter, who retired in 2007 after 39 years at the newspaper, said the P-I pushed the envelope on stories, running early pieces on abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment.

"The P-I was really on the forefront of telling the average person's story and why it mattered," Paynter said.

Horsey, the cartoonist who won the newspaper's only two Pulitzer Prizes in 1999 and 2003, said much would be lost when the print product ceases publishing.

"A daily newspaper tells the stories of a community and lets the people of a city know who they are, who their neighbors are, and the life and issues they share," Horsey said. "When you lose any one newspaper, you lose a piece of that."

Offline nacho

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2009, 02:14:01 PM »
God, I'm glad to read this.  We need to destroy these self published fuckos.


http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2009/03/my-first-book-was-published-by.html

Offline Tatertots

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2009, 05:19:16 PM »
http://medialoper.com/hot-topics/print/traditional-publishers-crash-and-burn-at-sxsw/

Quote
Traditional Publishers Crash (and Burn at) SXSW
I’ve seen a fair number of remarkable events at SXSW over the years, but I’ve never seen anything quite like what unfolded at the New Think for Old Publishers panel yesterday afternoon.

On paper, the panel must have seemed like a great idea. The publishing industry is in transition with the rise of digital reading and devices like the Kindle, iPhone, and applications like Stanza. SXSW has always been about convergence and the evolution of old media in the digital age. Why not bring a group of book publishers together to address the digerati at SXSW about the changing nature of their industry?

As the twitter stream reveals, the panel never quite lived up to its promise. Now that the dust has cleared, I feel compelled to describe what happened at the New Think panel. From a remote distance it wasn’t necessarily clear what prompted the audience uprising.

This wasn’t a case of digital natives waging a mindless war against old media. On the contrary, at the beginning of the session a show of hands revealed a high density of heavy readers in the audience. Throughout the session audience members demonstrated a profound love for books. Combine that with the fact that the panel featured the ever popular Clay Shirky, and the publishers started the session with what might best be described as a sympathetic audience.

The problem with the panel was that there was too little Shirky, and no new think. As the panel wore on, the audience listened to panelists describing how they approach their jobs as gatekeepers in the grand old world of book publishing.

The panelists droned on, lamenting the changing media landscape. At one point, one panelists noted that many of the newspapers that review books are cutting back on their review sections, or in danger of going out of business entirely.

“Maybe we should begin cultivating relationships with bloggers, or something”. Or something?

Nearly forty minutes into the session the audience was fidgeting, frustrated, and confused. What the hell did any of this have to do with new thinking, or SXSW for that matter?

And that’s when moderator Deborah Schultz broke the news to us. We (the audience) were the ones who were supposed to provide the ideas.

“We’re here to learn about what you want.”

Without warning the panel discussion was turned into an impromptu focus group. A twist that was met alternately with skepticism, amusement, and open hostility.

I suppose these publishers could be forgiven for not knowing the SXSW protocol, but usually you don’t *give* a presentation unless you have something interesting and innovative to share. SXSW is the place to be if you’re looking for new ideas, but usually those looking for new ideas *attend* sessions held by other people.

What’s sad about all of this is that the publishers missed the opportunity to discuss some of the innovative new media initiatives they’re currently working on. Sadder still is the fact that a panel featuring the Marketing Director of Penguin Group made no mention to Penguin UK’s brilliant We Tell Stories, a project that ultimately won the SXSW best in show award just a few hours later.

It was suggested by at least one back channel observer that the two sides weren’t listening to each other. Not true. The publishers on the panel simply had nothing to say. There was literally nothing for the audience to listen to.

I can see two possible scenarios that might have saved this presentation:

1. Clay Shirky could have lead a panel titled New Thinking for Old Publishers, featuring publishers working on innovative digital publishing projects (like, maybe, We Tell Stories, for example). After demonstrating a few projects they could have then opened up the discussion to include a dialogue with the audience on interesting ways that publishers might effectively collaborate with new media producers.

2. The panel might have been presented as is, but with a slight modification to the title and description. Perhaps something like: Digital Media Makeover for Book Publishers, come help traditional book publishers rethink their business model and product offerings for the digital age. That would have set the right expectations for the audience, and might have earned the publishers a bit more respect.

As presented, the panel was an insult to the audience and a waste of time for everyone involved.

Kassia has more on this story over at Booksquare

Offline nacho

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2009, 09:56:46 AM »
Fuck... I hate Sony.


Quote
Notes: Sony Reader to Add 500,000 Google Titles

In a move intended to dampen the Kindle firestorm, Sony is making some 500,000 public domain books that Google has scanned available for its Sony Reader. The e-books will be free.

Amazon, which recently launched the Kindle 2, has some 250,000 titles available for sale. As the New York Times
 
noted, Amazon "stresses that they are the books people are most interested in reading, like new releases and bestsellers."

Google has been promoting the ePub open e-book format and hopes to increase the number of non-copyrighted books available to Sony and others using open formats. When the settlement of the Google suits involving publishers and authors is approved, Google may be able to sell copyrighted e-books, too, in this manner.

Sony has sold more than 400,000 of its Readers, according to the Wall Street Journal
 
.

Offline nacho

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2009, 10:38:48 AM »
Ah, this is interesting.  Now stuff is public, so we can get a glimpse into how it works.  Telling is that he only made 2.5 million.  The industry really is dying.  His publisher probably only walked away with about 7 or 8 million.  It sounds like a lot, but Crown probably spends $500k-1 million per book that they release.  And considering that this is Obama.  People who can't read blindly bought his books.  You would think earnings would be in the billions.



Quote
Obama Earned Nearly $2.5 Million in Book Royalties in 2008

By Garance Franke-Ruta
Disclosure forms filed with the Secretary of the Senate for Barack Obama's final year as a U.S. senator show that, as he spent 2008 campaigning for president, he earned nearly $2.5 million in royalties from the sale of his books.

And he added $500,000 more on Jan. 15, just before taking office as president, when he signed a deal for "an abridged version of Dreams from My Father suitable for middle grade or young adult readers."

President Obama has authored two best-selling books, "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," published in 1995, and "The Audacity of Hope," published in 2006.

Most of the royalties came from Obama's more recent book, which brought in $1,512,933 in 2008. "Dreams from My Father" also continued to sell well, earning the author $949,910.

The disclosure forms were filed Wednesday afternoon.

An attachment to the disclosure sheds more light on Obama's book deals. On Jan. 9, he amended a December 2004 deal with the Crown Publishing Group, which is expecting another nonfiction book from him, to note that the book "would not be delivered during his term of office."

Crown also intends to publish his young-adult version of "Dreams."

Offline nacho

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Re: The Changing Face of Publishing
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2009, 12:39:11 PM »
Haha!  So...how much did Crown make off of Obama (re the above and my front page piece).  Looks like I was right here at 7 mill.

Quote
According to book industry sources, Crown publishers has agreed to pay former president George W. Bush a cool $7 million for a memoir that is tentatively titled, Decision Points. The "decider", it turns out, is already a good way through the project. The Daily Beast reports that 30,000 words have been written so far.

Of course, no relation to the journey of the money...I just like that I guessed a 7 million profit from Obama and that's what they gave Bush.