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Category: books (Page 3 of 5)

My Bookhouse

1st-bookshelf

Call me Kirk: my house is being overrun with tribbles. Well not tribbles really, but books, which amounts to much the same thing. They seem charming at first — each one is unique — but they show up in every corner and never give you a moment’s peace.

To address this we are putting up two outbuildings, each 10 x 12 feet, partway down our fairly steep south-facing hill; they are separated by a small deck. (I’ve got the roof rafters up but still need to do the doors and windows, sheathing, and roofing.)  Much of the library will move out here.

Over the years I have made a lot of bookcases like the one shown above. Four of them can line each wall, so the two buildings can hold 16 bookcases on the long dimension (and still have some room left over). Each bookcase is about eight feet high and about 32 inches wide; most provide about 20 linear feet of shelf, so that’s 320 feet in all (about a tenth of a kilometer), not counting the top, which is in effect another shelf and provides pretty much additional space at the high end.

I still want to go through the library and cull many of the books. I see no virtue in hoarding. The problem is that each one requires individual review. I will do that at my leisure as I finish this up.

Below is a view of the first bookhouse in progress, looking past the garden that used to be a swimming pool.

bldg-paper-garden

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More bookhouse photos at Flickr.

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Two covers, one image

It’s not unusual to see two or more books that use the same image. After all, professional designers tend to sample from the same stock image pools. What I find interesting about these two is the way the different crops and tones seem to adjust the dynamic between the figures.

two book covers that use the same image

Would you be more likely to pick one up than the other?

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via Book Design Review

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American and European dust jackets, 1926-1947

queer books

The New York Public Library’s amazing and ever-expanding digital collections includes more than two thousand book jackets from 1926 through 1947. The library routinely removed jackets from books in its collection– no doubt because they quickly would become damaged or lost — but during those years some of its librarians kept interesting examples in a collection of scrapbooks. As the library website notes, “Ranged side-by-side within years, the dust jackets provide an overview of the graphic design taste and trends of the time, while helping to reconstruct the atmosphere of the annual panoply of an era’s published works, with classic titles alongside their less enduring contemporaries”

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Palin and book banning

According to the NYT today:

Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.

Ann Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. “They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her,” Ms. Kilkenny said.

The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, pledged to “resist all efforts at censorship,” Ms. Kilkenny recalled. Ms. Palin fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course after residents made a strong show of support. Ms. Emmons, who left her job and Wasilla a couple of years later, declined to comment for this article.

In 1996, Ms. Palin suggested to the local paper, The Frontiersman, that the conversations about banning books were “rhetorical.”

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World’s largest publishers

Some time ago I wrote about consolidation in publishing and the challenges facing independent book publishers. One result of this consolidation has been the transfer of ownership from the U.S. to other countries. In its July 14 issue, Publishers Weekly lists the world’s fifty largest publishers, based on dollar sales in fiscal or calendar 2007. How many of these fifty publishers are headquartered in the U.S.?

___ 7
___ 17
___ 27
___ 37

Answer after the jump.

Read More

Will Amazon take the place of traditional publishers?

stack of amazon book orders

That’s what Sramana Mitra, writing at Forbes magazine (last month), thinks. Mitra believes that publishers must be treating their authors very badly, because most authors make little money on most books.

Well, guess what: hardly anyone makes money from book publishing — except for UPS. (So, yeah, the industry needs to be reworked. But is Amazon really a panacea?)

Anyway, Mitra figures that if we just take out all those unnecessary bits that keep draining money from authors’ pockets — you know, like agents, editors, designers, marketers, publicists, printers, sales reps, and hand sellers — why, that would just leave a ton more money for the writers!

Mitra, by the way, is “a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. She has founded three companies and writes a business blog, Sramana Mitra on Strategy. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” So what exactly does she predict?

Let’s say, in the new world, Amazon becomes the retailer, marketer, publisher and agent combined and takes 65% of the revenues, offering 35% to the author–we end up with a much better, fairer world.

Vertical integration is where Amazon is headed. Jeff Bezos is a shrewd business man. I would be very surprised if he hasn’t figured out the inefficiencies of the book publishing business and Amazon’s opportunity.

The company recently announced it would require all print-on-demand publishers to use its BookSurge print-on-demand service for their books sold on Amazon.

Over the next few years, Amazon likely will use its power to build direct relationships with authors and gradually phase out publishers and agents. It will first go after the independent print-on-demand self-publishers and get the best authors from that world. Amazon will then take on the large publishers.

For decades, the publishing industry has taken advantage of authors. Amazon: authors are counting on you to turn the table!

So all you up-and-coming authors with your first novels, get ready to pitch that manuscript directly to Amazon! Oh, and don’t forget to get yourself a really cute author photo.

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And it won’t hurt (much) to do some homework: check out books for writers here and here.

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Image via Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO.

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Books and Buddha-nature

alberto manguel's library

Alberto Manguel, author of The Library at Night, among other books, writes lovingly in the New York Times about his current library south of the Loire Valley in France and his other libraries that grew into this one.

But Manguel is a hoarder — a habit I’ve been trying to rid myself of. As books overflow their places throughout the house, I am trying to be freer about sending them on their way to other readers, like a kind of wheel of literary samsara.

Manguel goes so far as to write “I have dozens of very bad books that I don’t throw away in case I ever need an example of a book I think is bad.” He does describe a single prisoner he released: “The only book I ever banished from my library was Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, which I felt infected the shelves with its prurient descriptions of deliberately inflicted pain. I put it in the garbage; I didn’t give it to anyone because I wouldn’t give away a book I wasn’t fond of.” He won’t even lend books, writing that “If I want someone to read a book, I’ll buy a copy and offer it as a gift. I believe that to lend a book is an incitement to theft.”

I am devoted to books, but if we keep all the things we love and only give away those that we don’t love I think we are very far from achieving Buddha-nature.

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Via Sans Serif, who writes of a modest literary inheritance, “Some of the books I decided to give away, some were so beaten up they had to go in the recycling bin…. But a number of the books from Alabama made it onto the bookshelf.”

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Shown: A portion of Manguel’s library, from the NYT article.

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Photo Wednesday: abandoned books

abandoned books

This photo of books simply left behind after a St. Louis Public Library move comes from nathansnider’s photostream.

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Print publishing caught in pricing bind

odysseus between scylla and charybdis, by fussli

Print publishers are currently caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of a weakening economy and higher prices for essential costs such as paper, freight, and postage.

The soft economy pressures publishers to lower prices on books, but this is difficult to do with the cost of paper at an all-time high. Gas prices have caused freight charges to rise markedly. New federal regulations make it easier for the postal service to raise rates, and another increase takes effect today.

Many publishers will respond by lowering quality — using cheaper grades of paper and cutting costs wherever possible (although eventually I think they will be forced to raise prices nonetheless). But with the web as an always available instant provider of content that is almost free to users, can print publication compete for large numbers of consumers? Another approach would be to recognize print as an exclusive product for a literati class and accept smaller print runs and higher prices.

Difficult choices.

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Shown: Odysseus between Scyla and Charybdis, Johann Heinrich Füssli, 1794-1796.

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LINK: As costs soar, will prices follow?

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Book design fees

Recently I had occasion to research rates charged by designers for text-based book work. I was trying to determine a reasonable price for a 320-page hardcover collected poems, interior and cover/jacket design. Since I have mainly worked with heavily illustrated books over the past decade I had lost touch with going rates for text-based projects.

According to the 2001 edition of the Graphic Artists Guild handbook of Pricing and Ethics, for an average poetry book a designer might charge $7,500 to $15,000 to design and set the interior plus $1000-$2000 for the jacket. That gives a total range of $8500-17,000. Those figures are seven years old, but several people say the prices in this publication skew high.

For my informal survey I consulted four designers.

Designer A would charge $4-5/pg, depending on complexity, on top of the design charge of $350-$500. Cover design would range from $350-$1000. If there’s a lot of text prep (coding), he charges that hourly ($50). This gives a total of $1980-3100, plus coding, by far the lowest fee in my sample.

Designer B would charge $20-25/page “all in” as a nonprofit/university press discount rate for a non-illustrated book. Plus revisions at $50/hour. This would come to about $6400-8000, plus revisions fee. She says she gets $35-50 per page for an illustrated book from a commercial press, which obviously would as much as double the total.

Designer C would charge $1500 for the jacket + $1000-2500 for interior design + $8-15/page typesetting. When she totaled this up she got $8800, suggesting she favors the high end of her range, and I expect she would much more often come in there than at her low end.

Designer D would simply charge a flat rate of $35-40/page. This would come to $11,200-12,800. He claims “some people charge $65/page.”

It’s interesting to see the different bases designers use for calculating fees and the different rates and totals yielded ($3100, $8000, $8800, $12,800; plus extras) for the same job.

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More posts on graphic design:

[catlist ID=32 numberposts=10]

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Sad Young Lit Guys

sad young literary men

Nice conceptual book cover, via Book Design Review. Literary aspirations can be a heavy burden indeed.

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Book sales rising

The Association of American Publishers reported on Monday that book sales rose 7.2 percent in January, with adult paperback sales showing the largest increase, an astonishing 37.6 percent.

At a time when overall consumer confidence is turning down, what could cause such a jump in book sales? I offer two possibilities:

  1. People are cocooning — staying home and reading rather than going out and spending.
  2. There is a flaw in the methodology used to produce the data. Perhaps booksellers were busy with Christmas sales and family commitments in December and slid some sales over to January in their reports.

It will be interesting to see if this uptick continues.

Vocabularium rerum

vocabularium reurm, a printed book from 1495

An early printed bilingual dictionary, the Vocabularium Rerum provided German readers with the meanings of common Latin words and phrases. This edition (photo from Helga’s Lobster Stew’s photostream) was printed in Venice in 1495. According to HLS, the book can be seen”open to the public in the library at the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry on 16th Street in DC.” The label in the photo says that there are three known copies, the other two being in London and Vienna.

Notice the perfection of the printed book as an information technology — after about 513 years, the data is still perfectly readable. From a book design point of view, observe that the bottom and outside margins are larger than the top and inside margins. On a spread, this holds the facing type areas together; it also provides a place for the reader’s fingers. This page has nice even type color, especially considering the variation in type size.

I hope that label is on acid-free paper! I would not have set it directly on the page.

Why are book editors so gullible?

love and consequencesFake memoirs are in the news again, with the usual hand wringing. No need to go into the details, which have been thoroughly reported. Instead, let’s think about what might make book editors so gullible.

Book editors are a peculiar mixture of optimism and cynicism. They begin as idealistic literature enthusiasts — they probably start with a ridiculously low-paying job, just because it’s “in publishing” — but those who survive are all too likely to get fried by the strains of book publishing (an extremely difficult business) and turn into cynics who will publish any crap if they think they can push it off the shelves.

But inside these crusty exteriors an optimist still lives. Each time a manuscript arrives on their desk they are hoping that it will be the book — the one that will sell like crazy, maybe be a critical success. The editor’s career, in fact, depends on that manuscript showing up.

So when editors find a promising memoir, they want it to be true. They are predisposed to believe. That’s the optimist in them. Meanwhile, the cynic in them says, Even if it isn’t true, who will know or care?

This might sound extreme, but I think it is fair to say that on some level many editors today despise their readers — they know they are putting out garbage, so if people are buying it, it must mean they have no discrimination. So the editor has come over time to believe that readers aren’t smart enough to question the authenticity of the book to be published. After all, they’ve swallowed plenty before now.

What can be done? If publishers care to change — and they will, if their bottom lines start to suffer — they need to take the process of vetting manuscripts out of the control of editors. A book editor is never going to be like a newspaper reporter who at least understands the concept of challenging sources (that’s another story).

The only safe way to handle this is for an independent person, a fact checker who is not reporting to the editor, to vet manuscripts whose authenticity can be questioned. Unless an approach like this is adopted the fake memoirs will continue to flare up periodically, as natural a phenomenon as sun spots.

Are women human?

That’s just one of the titles shortlisted for The Bookseller‘s Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year. The full list of candidates:

  • I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen
  • How to Write a How to Write Book
  • Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues
  • Cheese Problems Solved
  • If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs
  • People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Dr Feelgood

The Bookseller is a a British magazine. This is the first I’ve heard of this prize, but apparently it has been awarded since 1978. The corporate takeover of publishing has not removed all of the quirkiness from the industry.

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Selling chapters

the pickwick club, a serial publicationSo the digital age brings us full circle, back to the serial publishing of the Victorian era. Random House has announced that it will test selling books by the chapter online.

I’m old school enough to prefer a physical book, but certainly there are plenty of indications that readers will commit to an online series if the topic is right. RH begins with Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Apparently it’s a kind of motivational or how-to book. Library Journal offers this short review:

Chip Heath (organizational behavior, Graduate Sch. of Business, Stanford Univ.; Rumor Mills) and brother Dan (consultant, Duke Corporate Education; cofounder, Thinkwell) team up on a tacky topic. They borrow the “stickiness” metaphor from Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, which examined the social forces causing ideas to make the leap (“tip”) from small to large groups. The Heaths focus on the traits that contribute to an idea’s ability to catch on, or “stick.” Urban legends—like the one about the traveling businessman who is drugged and wakes up minus a kidney—are prime examples of such stickiness. While totally untrue, these tales make for great retelling, and we seem primed to fall for them. Using engaging examples from around the world, the authors illustrate the six principles of stickiness: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories (SUCCES!). Their fun-to-read book will appeal to communicators in every field who want their messages to be more effective.

Not really my sort of literature (“SUCCES”? What language is that?) but, okay, it’s the kind of thing that could do well, I suppose, considering all the websites that are out there telling you how to reach a wide audience with your blog or to “copyblog” effectively, etc. etc.

But what I’m not sure about is the pricing. Each of the book’s six chapters plus epilogue will sell for $2.99. That means, let’s see, 3 times 7 less 7 cents … the online book will sell for $20.93. Meanwhile, you can buy the hardcover book from powell’s or from amazon for about the same price, or even a few dollars less. The cost of producing the printed book is surely much more than the cost of producing an electronic version for download, so why isn’t the electronic version much cheaper?

Apparently RH sees the opportunity to make significant profit, and it doesn’t think price is a factor in the print/electronic decision. I guess the premise is that if you want to read electronically you don’t worry about what the print version sells for. I don’t know if they have market research to back this up, but it suggests that there is a developing audience that is resolutely opposed to print.

This is just more evidence that books on paper are reverting to their original function of elite objects for a sort of priestly class.

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Recognizing scam publishing offers

Ellen M. Kozak has written a nice summary at Wisconsin Lawyer about “Spotting the Publishing Scam.” You can read the full post there, but I think it’s worth summarizing the main points:

  • Real publishers don’t make offers overnight. A publisher who offers an agreement a couple days after the ms. arrives is pulling a scam.
  • A scam publisher may be especially persistent in pushing its contract
  • Check out the publisher on the web and in bookstores
  • Vanity publishers ask for money; real publishers don’t
  • Token advances, such as $1, should be viewed with suspicion
  • A publisher that grossly overprices books may be hoping to make money off sales to authors — in such cases the contract will likely show a below normal number of free copies (normal tends to be around 10-20 copies)
  • A highly restrictive option clause is a common feature of scam contracts
  • Rights not specifically assigned by the agreement should be reserved by the author, not the publisher

In my experience — having negotiated many book contracts — agents generally represent authors better than lawyers, because lawyers know contracts but agents know the book industry. The author of this article, however, is an exception. She appears to know the law and publishing.

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via Adventures in Writing

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Book cover design: On Fishing

on fishing by brian clarke

On Fishing is a good example of a mostly typographic cover that is distinctive, noticeable, and instantly conveys a sense of the book. The graceful loops of the swashes express something of the freedom and exhilaration of a good fly cast, while the title is forceful and remains readable from a distance.

Perhaps the upright modernist font — which probably began as a form of Bodoni — with its perfectly vertical axis, suggests something of a fisherperson standing steady amid rushing water, as the loops of the castline swirl around.

From a typographer’s point of view, however, the design leaves something to be desired. The hooklike extensions of the s and k are clever, and well enough done, but the connections between the swashes and the letter forms are rather clumsy. The B in particular is quite ugly, and the angle of the swash off the O is at least questionable. The way in which the swash connects is inconsistent: it gets quite thick where it attaches to the B, but it seems not thick enough where it attaches to the O and C.

All in all, a clever design that will probably appeal to all but the most curmudgeonly typophile.

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There is some discussion on this cover here.

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Online bookseller links for this title:

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Independent book publishing, part 3

jost amman card of booksI’ve been surveying the state of independent book publishing. We looked at the changeover from the old system that was characterized by a diverse group of robust independent houses to a system that tends to aggregate imprints under global corporate management. We saw that the international corporations have a wide range of holdings that go beyond just book publishing.

What are the implications of all that? For the today’s smaller independents it has several ramifications.

  • Conventional printing is more expensive for independents because the corporate publishers can gang jobs and order paper in bulk. In fact, at times a small publisher may have trouble even getting on a press at a company like R. R. Donnelley. (They also get less favorable terms.) With an increasing percentage of advertising moving online, printers have their own, equally serious problems, and their viability depends on having their presses running with as little downtime as possible. That means that the large clients are first at the table. Nothing surprising there, but it’s a reality that smaller presses have to live with.
  • Similarly, bookstores are dependent on the corporate publishers who produce most of the bestsellers. We can all name independent bookstores where we used to shop that have gone out of business. When it becomes difficult to meet your obligations, who do you pay first? The independent publisher who represents a small fraction of your business or the corporations that fill the greater part of your store? The result of this situation is that independent publishers are forced to write off more bad debt than large companies do.
  • Distribution is a problem for all publishers, big or small. In publishing’s beginnings, the distribution of printed materials did not present a huge problem, since books were a specialized product intended for a select, known audience. With the increasing democratization of publishing after the Renaissance, it became increasingly harder to match books with their readers. Today, with the multiplication of product and the fragmentation of markets, the task is incredibly difficult. This is especially a problem for independents because of the limited book distribution channels available to them. Getting too many books in the wrong places is as bad as not getting books in the places where their readers might find them. Book distribution is a large subject about which I will have more to say later.
  • It is in the area of promotion where the corporations really have a stranglehold on the market. We have seen that the same organizations that own most of book publishing also have extensive holdings in the very areas where, traditionally, publishers have announced and promoted their products: newspapers, magazines, radio, television. Even film now offers opportunities for cross-promotion, and there are many more nontraditional possibilities that we needn’t get into.
  • There has been a tendency to what I call the hollywoodization of publishing, which involves putting an ever greater percentage of total resources into a smaller number books at the top of the pyramid, to the disadvantage of others, including the so-called midlist books. This, from the corporate point of view, is a sensible conservation of resources. But the result is that the media discourse is saturated with discussion about a few top books. With fewer book reviews available, many feeling obliged to review the books with big promotion budgets — as Gail Pool, for one, has shown — it becomes exceedingly difficult for independents to create awareness of their titles. The problem is compounded by the shorter shelf life of books in bookstores, which makes it difficult for word of mouth to make up for inadequate promotion.

It’s time to draw this discussion to a close, at least for the moment. As some commenters have noted, my presentation has (necessarily, in my view) been a bit sketchy, but to do the subject justice would require writing at book length. I’ve learned a lot just from the comments on these posts, and I hope that I’ve at least provided some foundation for understanding the current situation in independent publishing. At some point later on I’ll come back to look at smaller pieces of the problem one at a time, which should enable a little more depth and detail.

Before closing, however, I should say a few words about how independents might adjust going forward. A few points:

  • The tendency of large publishers to concentrate on broad-market titles may present an opportunity for niche books with narrower markets. Some publishers have created viable operations by working in niches where it is easier to get books together with the appropriate readers. (I confess I still dream of old-fashioned generalist literary publishing.)
  • Technologies of book production have made it easier and cheaper to produce books than ever before. New and improving POD and short-run printing offers the possibility of keeping older titles in print, even with numbers that would not break even with conventional printing for many years. This is good news for public domain, academic, and classic titles, and a clever publisher might find ways of locating readers outside traditional bookstore channels — creativity in marketing and sales is ultimately where the solution lies for independents.
  • Self-publication becomes more feasible than in the past (but, even leaving aside the editorial aspect, self-publishers need to learn more about book design on the one hand and book marketing on the other than is evident today).
  • The internet is best viewed as a revolution in publishing. It inverts printing’s solution to the replication of documents. While printing creates many copies, each providing one view at a time, the internet enables one document to have multiple simultaneous (or successive) views. It brings the reader to the document rather than the other way around. Online publishing could subvert the old print systems in many respects.
  • But not every text is suitable for electronic publication. The printed book is a proven and perfected technology that will endure. It is tactile, sensual, portable, and more. But the economics of print publishing are volatile. Some books might become inexpensive, disposable products, while others might revert to their origins as exclusive items for a privileged class.

Or maybe they already have.

There is so much more to say, but I hear the curtain coming down. I look forward to returning to aspects of this discussion later on, and especially I would very much like to hear more from the perspectives of others.

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Related: Glossary of Book Publishing

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More posts in this series: part one | part two

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Independent book publishing, part 2

rupert murdoch (news corp.) on the cover of time (time-warner)It’s time to get back to the discussion of the dilemma of independent book publishing, following holidays that were more disruptive than I anticipated.

This project began when I discovered that the large changes in the publishing industry over recent decades were not necessarily known even by some who were generally knowledgeable about books.

A caveat before we go on: I’m a guy who likes to make and sell books and knows how to do the various aspects of this. But I’m neither a historian of publishing nor an industry journalist, exactly – I don’t even subscribe to Publishers Weekly anymore. So I can make mistakes. What I would like to establish, however, are the large trends. If I get some particulars wrong, well, as the Chinese literati used to write on their paintings, “Please correct me.”

Last time we saw the storied presses with the country’s longest and most distinguished publishing traditions gobbled up by a handful of giant international corporations. (Thanks to several people who added helpful comments qualifying and fleshing out my account.) Now we have reached the point where a few corporations control most of the country’s book publishing.

In 2003 Publishers Weekly wrote that the five large New York publishers (Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Time-Warner) accounted for 45% of the market’s sales. But these publishers are only parts of the larger entities, which often own many publishing companies. In 1999 Andre Schiffrin wrote that the top 20 publishers accounted for 93% of all sales, and in 2000 he said that 80 percent of book sales are controlled by five corporations: Bertlesman, News Corp, Time-Warner, Disney, and Viacom/CBS.

Today we’ll take a look at these corporations and quickly survey what other sorts of things they own in addition to book publishing companies. In what follows, I use the word “own” for convenience; often control is shared in complicated ways, and “has a major stake in” would be more correct.

  • Bertelsmann owns Random House, Knopf, Vintage, Modern Library, Bantam Doubleday Dell, and Delacorte. It is the biggest television broadcaster in Europe and the largest film producer in Asia. It owns several daily newspapers. It owns a number of radio stations. It owns about 80 magazines.
  • Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. owns Harper Collins and Zondervan, the largest Bible imprint, as well as Fox television, the National Geographic Channel, the Golf Channel, the TV Guide preview channel, and more. With Time-Warner it owns the Book-of-the-Month Club. It recently added the Wall Street Journal to its stable of major newspapers around the world. It owns the Fox movie company, and more
  • Time-Warner owns Warner Books, Little, Brown, and Time-Life. With News Corp it owns the Book-of-the-Month Club. It owns Warner Brothers. It owns more than 64 magazines, such as Time. It owns AOL, CompuServe, Netscape, and things like WinAmp. It owns HBO, Cinemax, Comedy Central (with Viacom), Court TV, TBS, TNT, CNN, and much more
  • Disney owns Hyperion, Miramax, and ESPN Books. It owns Disney Pictures, Touchstone, and more. It owns some 50 radio stations, and the ABC and ESPN radio networks. It owns several magazines such as US Weekly and Discover.
  • Viacom owns Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books, Scribner, The Free Press (some irony there), and more. It owns Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, MTV Films, and Blockbuster. It owns CBS UPN, MTV, Showtime, Comedy Central (with Time-Warner), the Sundance Channel, etc. It owns about 40 television stations. It owns several magazines. It owns exclusive advertising rights on buses, subways, trains, kiosks, and billboards in 90 U.S. cities, and more around the world.

Those are just some highlights. A full list would be too exhausting to produce, and — like the crew who paint the Bay Bridge by starting over at the other end each time they finish — by the time you had reached the end of the list properties would have been exchanged and new ones brought into the fold.

Next time we will consider some of the implications of the broad reach of these corporations.

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Shown: Rupert Murdoch (News Corp.) on the cover of Time magazine (Time-Warner).

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More posts in this series: part one | part three

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