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For decades, the publishing industry has paid stores to return unsold books. The method forces publishers to gamble on the success of a given title, a risk many small presses can't afford. In a move seen to signal a possible industry change, a new imprint at HarperCollins will not allow stores to return unsold merchandise.
Jane Friedman, whose profitable and apparently joyous reign at HarperCollins abruptly ended this week, is not widely known to the general public. But the CEO's departure stunned, and saddened, an industry that regards her as the most energetic, optimistic and collegial of executives.
Penguin has reported that e-book sales from the first four months of 2008 have surpassed the house's total e-book sales for all of last year. According to the publisher, the spike is "more than five times the overall growth in sales, year-on-year, through April 2008." Penguin Group CEO David Shanks said he attributed the jump, in large part, to the growing popularity of e-book readers.
Full story at Publisher's Weekly
The production of traditional books rose 1% in 2007, to 276,649 new titles and editions, but the output of on-demand, short run and unclassified titles soared from 21,936 in 2006 to 134,773 last year, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by R.R. Bowker. The combination of the two categories results in a 39% increase in output to 411,422. Although it has tracked production of on-demand titles in the past, this is the first year the company has broken out the segment to better show the differences in the traditional categories (such as biography, fiction, juvenile) and the on-demand segment.
Full story at Publisher's Weekly.
This week's edition of the WNYC radio program On the Media is devoted to the humble book. Among other things, they discuss War and Peace, ebooks, Google Book Search, and the awesome power of Oprah. There are even a few great 12-word novels submitted by their listeners.
WWBCD? (What would Bennett Cerf do?)
NYT report: Bertelsmann, the giant German media conglomerate, appointed Markus Dohle, the head of its printing unit, to run the company’s Random House division. Peter W. Olson, the current chief executive of Random House and one of the country’s most powerful figures in publishing, is stepping down from the post.
Peter W. Olson is stepping down as chief executive of Random House.
Mr. Olson will step down May 31 and is in negotiations for a “senior faculty position” at a university “nearby” to Harvard Square, according to a memo sent to employees Tuesday morning.
The appointment of Mr. Dohle, 39, an outsider to the publishing industry, is likely to rattle insiders at Random House and comes at a time when both Random House and the wider publishing industry are suffering from a slowdown.
Technology's tight embrace gives us ample opportunity to read the fine print. In fact, we often have no choice, squinting into laptops in badly lit offices, in living rooms, on trains and even in cars; staring down at a BlackBerry or a Palm device as we wait for the first course; or trying to read the news crawl across the bottom of the TV screen. We do an awful lot of work with our reading, not to mention reading at our work. When it's time to read for pleasure, chances are that people, with eyesight already strained, might be on the lookout for a bigger picture.
Full story at Publisher's Weekly:
A publishing institution, faithfully mailed at least twice a year to thousands of stores and libraries for about as long as the industry has existed, may be on its way out: The paper catalog.
HarperCollins announced Monday that it was planning to make their listings of upcoming releases available only online, calling the current system both economically and environmentally indefensible.
"I think we are overdue. We produce thousands and thousands of catalogs, many of which go right into the wastebaskets," HarperCollins President Jane Friedman, who said the switch would likely begin by summer 2009, told The Associated Press. "It's such a waste of paper and so inefficient."
Peter W. Olson, the chief executive of Random House and one of the most powerful figures in American book publishing, will step down in the next few weeks, according to two executives at Bertelsmann, the German media conglomerate that owns the division. NYT has the story.
Mr. Olson, who has run Random House, the world’s largest consumer publisher, since 1998, has come under mounting pressure in recent months as Bertelsmann’s financial results have been damaged by lower profits at Random House and steep losses in its American book clubs, which he also oversees.