Pottermore

Have you heard about the Pottermore shop? An e-book site run by J.K. Rowling? Of course something like this could only be accomplished by someone so famous, but it does seem to be an interesting twist in the way digital book distribution is evolving. More here.

"Harry Potter is the only publishing brand big enough (so far) to break all the rules about how e-bookstores work. Instead of being sold through the retailers and their devices, or even through the publishers, all sales are made through a site owned and branded by the author. Rowling and Pottermore convinced retailers to digitally support the books with device syncing, bookmarks, and all the trappings that usually are only provided for books sold through the retailers’ own sites."

(Via Wired)

Amazon and Publishing's Ecosystem

If you haven't seen this article yet, it's worth a read. Depressing yes, but lays out how Amazon has influenced publishing in clear terms. I knew they were a threat to brick and mortar booksellers, we all know that, but I didn't realize to what degree.

On a side note, the article says there are a mere 1500 independent booksellers left in this country. So finite! That just makes me want to cry.

On the Media: Book It

On the Media is one of my favorite NPR shows, I like to listen if I'm working on the weekends. This weekend they replayed a great recent show about the book industry, check it out here.

There are some very reassuring words from the founder of Publisher's Marketplace. He says recent book sales aren't really all that different than usual, even with e-books in the mix, and on the whole book publishing has taken a much smaller hit than other industries in this economy.

A publishing year in review: some great links

Alvina posted some links to articles about the state of publishing on BRG today- and not all as bleak as you might think, though eye opening...

Ever wondered how Barnes & Noble chooses which books go on the display tables? Read about Bookstore Baksheesh.

The NY Times article Should e-Books Be Copy Protected? debates whether digitizing novels helps or hurts sales of their paper counterparts (still no mention of picture books... I'd like to hear some predictions about how ebooks are going to impact kid's books!)

Agent Nathan Bransford talks about the year in publishing: "These are challenging times for publishers. And yet I think it's a great time for authors..."

And last but not least, if you haven't yet heard about the end of Kirkus, read on.

Banned Books Week


In case you didn't know, September 26 to October 3 is Banned Books Week!

Check out the First Amendment First Aid Kit at Random House here. It includes a list of banned books (including Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret for which Judy Blume was called a communist and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory among others- crazy), information on how to discuss banned books with kids, and strategies for booksellers, librarians, and teachers to support free speech.

From the site:

"We should never take for granted our freedom to read. Case in point: four library board members in West Bend, Wisconsin, lost their jobs this year when they tried to keep young adult books on the YA shelves where they belong, rather than on the adult shelves, with warning labels affixed. Read more here on CNN."

PS. Pass it on! Random House will send a free banned or challenged book (while supplies last) to anyone who posts the graphic or blogs about Banned Books Week. Tell them about it at firstamendment@randomhouse.com.

Yay for free speech and free books too!

Publisher's Lunch

I signed up for this e-newsletter a few years ago to stay on top of "industry news", but I will admit that I usually don't read them. They stress me out. And yesterday, when I opened one up I remembered why. In it was a link to this article by Danel Manaker, former Senior Vice President and Executive Editor-in-Chief at Random House. It is about adult publishing, so there may be some small hope that children's is not quite as dire, but still better not to have your head in the sand I guess. If you are in the mood for some cold hard publishing reality, read away. Sigh.

Looking back

I was going to post the second half of my work-in-progress post from last week, but I was inspired by Alvina's post on Blue Rose Girls yesterday to look back at the beginning of my career and my very first real job (the rest of the Desmond painting post will go up next week). Her journal entry reminds me of just how wide-eyed I was too!

I started out in publishing about 12 years ago. My first "real job" out of college was at Houghton Mifflin Company, working as the assistant to the art director in the children's book department. I was just as excited as Alvina when I got that call. But I think made WAY more mistakes and looking back I'm surprised I ever got it in the first place.

The job I had actually applied for was a designer position in the children's book department. I'd seen the listing in my school job newsletter and thought it would be a great way to get some professional experience in the kid's book world, which I was desperate to be a part of. So while I'd never taken a graphic design class and had no idea what was involved in designing a book, I decided to apply. I didn't have a computer, so I took out some stationary I had made in a college class and hand wrote a letter to the art director that was not even remotely professional. I cringe to think back about it. I think I explained my love for children's books in some kind of rambling fashion. I remember running out of room at the bottom of the page.

By some kind of random stroke of luck I got a message on my answering machine a week or so later asking me to come in for an interview. Then I made my big mistake #2: I forgot what job I had applied for. I was sending out so many resumes at that point, I had sort of sent out the letter with great hopes then moved on to the next plan to support myself as an artist and forgot all details about it. So when I called back about the interview I actually asked what job they were calling about. Ha. Thank goodness for polite, kind people.

Anyways, I interviewed for the job, and it was instantly clear I'm sure that I knew little if nothing about book design. Also, I knew nothing about how to dress or prepare for a real interview. I went to art school. So when I was picking out my outfit I thought "if there are no holes or paint on my clothes, I will look professional!" I am sure that I did not look professional.

But somehow, the art director was merciful. He happened to need an assistant so he offered me that job instead. Maybe it was my passion for books, or maybe he just thought it would be entertaining to have an employee who had no clue how to interact in a business setting. On casual Fridays I remember wearing giant farmer's overalls cut off at the hem, a flannel shirt, worn out lace-up boots, and my hair in pigtail braids. I got *lots* of funny looks from the suits who had dressed down in khaki's, and quickly realized "farmer-wear" was not the same as business casual. I remember when I was introduced at the company wide sales conference I stood up and curtsied. I don't know why. I guess I thought it was more formal than just nodding my head.

But thank goodness for that job. If I hadn't gotten that peek into the inside of the publishing world, I don't think I ever would have mustered the courage to start submitting my illustrations and book dummies to publishing houses. Everyone I worked with there was gracious and patient and gave me great advice all along the way. And I got a taste of the kind of passion and dedication editors, designers, marketers, and productions teams have for books- which assured me that I had found my place, even if I stumbled a lot along the way.