Category : Publishing

  • Brian

    July 10, 2015

    Publishing & Technology: Open Access Beyond Academia

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    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about about the slow, incremental growth of open access monographs in the world of academic publishing and how that business model could maybe have a positive impact on trade publishing in the future. According to a study published in May of this year by Publishers Communication Group (PCG), a marketing and sales consulting firm that exists as a division of the publishers services company Publishing Technology, “publishers and libraries are increasingly experimenting with Open Access (OA) books…with funding derived from a variety of sources including library budgets.” For the entire survey report on the PCG website click here.

    The fact that OA books are slowly gaining in importance in the world of academic publishing, especially in the area of monographs, is not a tremendous surprise, working directly with academics to produce works with an all but guaranteed (if comparatively small) market, effectively cutting out the middleman, seems like a proverbial no-brainer. But, as the report goes on to state, “librarians and publishers perceive the benefits of the OA books movement differently,” with librarians advocating deeper institutional involvement while academic publishers “fear unrealistic funding expectations…vanity publishing, and the inevitability of institutional mandates.” Sound at all familiar? Understandable? I’m sure opinions will vary depending upon perspective. I am left wondering though. Could Open Access book publishing gain any traction in the trade market? And, if so, what would that look like?

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  • Brian

    July 1, 2015

    Publishing and Technology: Talkin’ Bout That Generation (Gap)

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    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about those pesky Millennials and how they still won’t (or rather just don’t) buy ebooks. This week’s post was touched off by an article by Charlotte Eyre on the website The Bookseller regarding information released in Deloitte’s Media Consumer 2015: The Signal and the Noise report. Though the statistics reported in the document are specific to Deloitte’s research in the United Kingdom, I think it’s safe to make some general extrapolations from the data regarding U.S. consumers.

    The gist of the article on The Bookseller was that, though Millennials are the most tech-savvy generation we’ve seen to date, they are not embracing the ebook (not even as they emerge from their tween years). In fact, it may be a bit of a mistake to market ebooks to this generation at all. And, though most respondents in the Deloitte sample did purchase a book (regardless of format) in the past year, they were least likely to have purchased it in ebook form, and did report that the majority of their media consumption was focused on other non-print media. None of this should come as much of a surprise for anyone who’s been even loosely aware of trends in media consumption and publishing. But, it does point to an area of continuing concern for all of us who make a living off of the written word.

    So, how do you get millennials (and Generation Z – if that’s what we’re really going to call what’s next) to buy books, if not via e-readers? As I’ve mentioned in the past, according to the white paper put out by Thad McElroy of Digital Book World in December of last year on

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  • Brian

    June 25, 2015

    The Sixth Sign of the Amazocalypse…

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    Publishing & Technology: The Sixth Sign of the Amazocalypse

    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about about Amazon’s announcement of their new payment plan for authors. Well actually, it’s not for all authors. In fact it’s not even for all independent authors. In fact it’s only for a small segment of independent authors publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. But, if you didn’t notice, social media lit up like the announcement was the sixth sign of the coming Apocalypse (if you can judge by my feeds, anyway). Much of this has to do with irresponsible reporting. Half of the news sources I looked at prior to writing this post announced the story with a baiting vagueness that made it seem like Amazon was simultaneously devaluing the written word and sucker punching all writers in the gut. If you’d like to read the actual announcement from Amazon click here.

    While I have no desire to wade back into the quagmire of discussing cultural agency and digital self publishing on this blog, I do find it slightly humorous that the folks making the biggest fuss about the announcement (in my feeds, anyway) are my traditionally-published author friends and my small-bookstore-owner friends, while the voices of reason that I read in such places as this Fortune article, arguing for the rightness and fairness of paying authors by words read where the same independent author apologists that seem to come to Amazon’s defense every time the giant gets caught up in a little controversy. Regardless of whether or not Amazon’s switch to paying some authors in a small segment of their self-publishing business by words read is a good thing for culture, business,

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  • Brian

    June 17, 2015

    Publishing & Technology: Open Source Publishing – The Future?

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    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be discussing free distribution as a marketing strategy and applying the concept of open publishing to literary and genre publishing.

    While making a recent decision regarding which tech conferences I might attend this summer, I found myself reading Cory Doctorow’s bio on the O’Reilly Media SolidCon – Internet of Things conference website. Doctorow will be a featured speaker at the conference and will, no doubt, be wearing his “technology activist” hat during this appearance in San Francisco later this month. Doctorow has a very popular blog and scores of tech publishing credits to his name. For an example of his writing about technology and the internet go to his recent post on internet utopianism on craphound.com.

    What struck me while reading Doctorow’s bio, however, was the following statement: “His novels…are published by Tor Books and simultaneously released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work.”

    I don’t have access to Doctorow’s sales figures, so I can neither confirm nor deny the claim that this marketing strategy effectively “increases sales.” But, it is an interesting concept. One that almost seems to embrace the intended legacy of the Google Books project, the PWYW (pay what you want) pricing philosophy, and the idea of open source, while taking content marketing to a completely deeper level. I would love to know more about his interaction with Tor surrounding the creation of this marketing strategy and what (if any) concessions Doctorow had to make to get them onboard. It’s challenging to argue against free or low-cost access to content as an audience building

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  • Brian

    June 4, 2015

    Publishing & Technology: Will Facebook Save the Lit Mag Too?

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    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be looking at the ongoing struggle of literary magazines to remain profitable, a recent development involving the social media giant Facebook and several news publishers, and pondering a future where literary mags may be distributed via social media. As with several of my past posts, this post picks up on my thoughts following the reading of an article posted elsewhere. To read the full article that got me going down this path click the link below to Vindu Goel and Ravi Somaiya’s May 13th New York Times article Facebook Begins Testing Instant Articles From News Publishers.
    If you read my bio when I first joined MacGregor Literary you might have noticed that I cut my teeth in publishing by working at the literary journals Portland Review (print and digital) and Unshod Quills (digital only) and the online arts and culture magazine Nailed. I can tell you from firsthand experience that running a literary magazine in more often than not both a labor of love and an act of audacity performed in the face of a variety of woes, chief among them lack of money.

    When I worked on Portland Review as an associate editor during my undergrad years we had a robust subscription base in the thousands and a budget that well covered our printing and distribution costs. When I returned to Portland Review a decade later as Editor-in-Chief we were facing our third straight year of budget cuts and our subscription list had dwindled to a number less than twenty. Without the support of Portland State University, budget cuts and near 100% free student labor notwithstanding, the journal would no longer be in print. This shift

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  • Brian

    May 28, 2015

    China – no longer an emerging market

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    Publishing & Technology: China – no longer an emerging market
    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be looking at China in an effort to debunk some persistent myths about the viability of licensing U.S. titles for Chinese translation while unpacking a few of the items reported by Jim Millot in his Publisher’s Weekly article China at BEA 2015: China Has Ambitious Plans for BEA. To read his article in its entirety please click here.
    When I first set out to establish myself in selling rights for foreign translation, I was warned away from several markets. I was told that certain countries either weren’t “worth my time” or had such rampant ongoing issues that licensing translation rights in such markets was foolish in many cases. China was one such market.

    I found these assertions to be overly simplified, lacking in the nuance afforded by real experience, and unfortunate in a variety of ways that we don’t have the room to go into here.

    I have not been in the business long enough to remember the days before China acceded to the Berne Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention, and the WIPO Copyright Treaty. I cannot say if the sentiments I encountered when I first entered the rights business were holdovers from two decades earlier. Certainly the 2009 formal complaint lodged by the U.S. with the WTO regarding China’s failure to enforce copyright (primarily driven by issues with DVD piracy) didn’t do much to help general feelings in our industry about doing business with Chinese publishers. But if assertions made in a variety of PW articles hold true, that “sales through physical stores (in China) rebounded and online sales continued to rise” in 2014, and “China’s

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  • Brian

    May 21, 2015

    Publishing & Technology: FBP and the Potential Resurrection of the Independent Book Seller

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    brt-headshotBrian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be examining the plight of the independent bookseller, reminiscing about indie bookstores long since gone, and trying to find some hope for the future. For an in-depth examination of the global history, contemporary iterations, and theory and practice of fixed book pricing check out For What It’s Worth: Fixed Book Price in Foreign Book Markets by Moe Nakayama on the Publishing Trends website.

    If you knew me better, you’d know that I make no secret of my love for independent bookstores. I live in Portland, Oregon, home to Powell’s Books, Reading Frenzy, Mother Foucault’s, and a great many other excellent neighborhood and specialty bookstores. I make pilgrimages to bookstores of note whenever I’m in the cities that support them. And. . .I also, somewhat frequently, buy books online from Amazon. I’d prefer not to, but there are times when my schedule can’t argue with convenience and times when my wallet can’t argue with 50% off (and sometimes a great deal more – I’m a bit of a cookbook junkie). But I never feel good about choosing to buy discounted books over the internet because I know that if you can’t get people like me (people who claim to love independent bookstores) to support them, then they are doomed to extinction.

    This is not news: in the years since the dawning of the Information Age the only conventional retail model to suffer greater financial losses than the independent bookstore is the video rental store (record stores may be in a dead heat for second-worst-off with independent booksellers, but for the sake of this post let’s set the widely reported suffering of the music industry aside – if for no other

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  • Brian

    May 14, 2015

    2015 Foreign Rights Trends & Market Roundup

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    Publishing & Technology: 2015 Foreign Rights Trends & Market Round-up

    BRT-Headshot Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be highlighting some of the developments and trends in foreign rights as reported by the Publishing Perspectives team of the Frankfurt Book Fair in their 2015 Global Perspectives on Book Rights and Licensing white paper. For the full white paper click follow the link on this page.
    “Translation can be your biggest market.”

    According to Samar Hammam of London-based Rocking Chair Books a book that might sell three to ten thousand copies domestically could conceivably sell ten times that amount in a single overseas market. Furthermore, according to another industry source “authors are achieving cult status” in foreign countries.

    The majority of translation deals are still made face-to-face despite the proliferation of digital listing services.

    Although many of the big houses have converted their internal systems to digital, or at least are in the middle of transitioning, lack of industry-wide definitions about rights, contracts, and royalties, among other logistical concerns, continues to impede the drive to a true digital marketplace for foreign rights and licensing.

    Market Round-up:

    Asia:
    Moving from fiction “toward nonfiction and children’s books…especially in China”

    Europe:
    Russia, Greece, Italy, and Spain, as well as The Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries remain cautious. France and Germany “remain strong,” while the Polish and Czech markets are growing.

    Reports from Brazil are mixed, while the remainder of Latin America has begun to garner special attention as the “ongoing publishing crisis in Spain” has driven many agents and rights directors to “split rights among various Spanish-language territories and regions.”

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  • Brian

    April 29, 2015

    Digital Publishing Trends and Opportunities

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    Publishing & Technology: Digital Publishing Trends and Opportunities

    brt-headshotBrian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS
    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about three of the trends still effecting the ongoing evolution of digital publishing as reported by industry analyst Thad McIlroy of The Future of Publishing in December of last year in a white paper commissioned by Digital Book World. For the full white paper click here.

    Ebook formatting is still a work in progress. The existing formats worked just fine for text-only books but are still sadly lacking both for illustrated books and for interactive books.

    This continues to be a source of frustration to many in the publishing business. While ebook formatting for text-only is so simple that a trained middle schooler should have little to no trouble with it, adding images continues to be beyond approachable from a generalist’s perspective, and when digital audio, animation, or interactive content is thrown into the mix, you might as well start shopping for app developers. It remains to be seen if interactive text is a viable opportunity for the publishing industry, and with the bar to entry so high it may remain to be seen for some time yet.

    Subscription models are much in vogue these days, although their business model remains unproven.

    If publishers can get consumers to go along with discounted bundling within series and imprints, than subscription-based models as viable additional revenue streams don’t seem to be too far out in the realm of fantasy. But, if my experience running a literary magazine in the digital age taught me anything, it’s that subscription-based models are increasingly less attractive from a consumer’s perspective.

    Ebook pricing is only starting to be understood, with publishers trying to find the

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  • Brian

    April 22, 2015

    Publishing & Technology

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    The Persistent Cultural Need for Publishersbrt-headshot

     

    Brian Tibbetts is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Wednesday, Brian posts about trends in the publishing industry and developments in technology that impact the industry. You can find him on Twitter @BRIANRTIBBETTS

     

    This week in Publishing & Technology we’ll be talking about how the ongoing expansion of independent (or self-) publishing is driving the need for publishers, now more than ever.

    Last year I had the good fortune to attend a talk given by Smashword’s founder Mark Coker at Portland State University. I say “good fortune” not because I found the argument he presented to be anything short of a self-serving apologist’s attack on traditional publishing and the culture of gate-keeping that discouraged Mr. Coker (by his own acknowledgement) and many millions of other aspiring authors in their attempts to gain the industry’s seal of approval. I say “good fortune” because his presentation infuriated me to such a point that I was forced to stay with many of the uneasy thoughts I’d attempted to hold at bay for some time regarding the rebranding of self-publishing as “independent publishing” by those who would profit from the aspirations of the aforementioned millions. The general gist of his talk, I’m paraphrasing Mr. Coker here, is that it has been the publishers who have been holding writers back for all these years, trampling the aspirations of millions of deserving authors in the name of abstractions such as a manuscript’s marketability and the potential for a return on the investment it would take to bring any manuscript to publication.

    Don’t misunderstand me. The democratization of publishing has some inherent good in it. As it levels the playing field for authors from groups that have been egregiously underrepresented in traditional publishing, it is a good thing. As it provides writers whose work doesn’t fit established, “salable” molds (the novella author, the poet, and, increasingly, the writer

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