Friday, November 14, 2008

Mike Shatzkin and StartwithXML

This morning, I attended the beginning of BISG's BISAC meeting, so that I could see Mike Shatzkin of the Idea Logical Company present selected results from his recent "StartwithXML" Survey. For more info, go here:, or if you're not sure what XML is, go to Tools of Change's "XML" explanation.

Also, learn more at the upcoming StartwithXML (Why and How) one-day forum. It will be held in the McGraw-Hill Auditorium on January 13, 2009. Details and registration here, and friends of Publishing Trends get an special discount for a limited time:

  • $100 off the full-day conference; register between 11/21 and 1/1/09; use code pubtrends
  • $50 off the half-day conference; register between 11/21 and 1/1; use code pubtrends_halfday
On to the preliminary survey results:
  • About 100 people completed the survey.
  • 54% of respondents were from all or partly trade publishers; 36% non-trade.
  • Most were from big houses. 77% were not IT professionals--Shatzkin pointed out that it was good to get a response from people who aren't directly involved with XML. BUT there was a light response from editorial (13%), marketing (7%), and sales (5%)--XML is still the purview of "the hard side of the publishing house."
The survey supported the idea that publishers still aren't so sure about all this digital stuff:
  • In response to the statement, "Digital is very important and informs everything we do": 40% of NON-TRADE publishers agree, but only 18% of trade publishers agree.
  • 43% of trade publishers say they are "trying to understand" the importance of digital.
I learned the term "downstream re-use": use of a book's content beyond the print edition. When publishers acquire a book, are they thinking about using its content for something after that first print edition? Not really:
  • 19% of trade publishers say they ignore downstream use when they acquire a book, as compared to 9% of non-trade publishers.
  • 34% of trade publishers say they basically ignore chunking and re-combining opportunities--what Shatkin calls the "sexiest parts" of XML.
Shatzkin says that expanded editions of books are an untapped opportunity--only 8% of trade publishers are actively offering them, but they "should become automatic," and second printings of books should always have something in them that the first printing didn't have.

Since two-thirds of those surveyed agreed that digital is "important" or "very important," they might do well to attend the conference and learn more about XML.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Survey Results: The Last Non-Work-Related Book You Read

What are publishing people reading outside of work?* A sampling:





*"All books are work related."--Editor at a large house

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Our New E-Reader Survey

Do you work at a publishing house that supplies e-readers to some or all of its employees? We'd love it if you'd take our new survey, here:

Publishing Trends E-Reader Survey


Friday, October 10, 2008

Survey Results: Non-Work-Related Reading

As we noted in our original article, a lot of publishing people don't have as much time as they'd like to read for fun because they're too busy reading for work. "The work day never ends--'so much to read' is a blessing and a curse," wrote one agent, while an editor described her heavy reading load as "too much of a good thing."

Still, 34.3% of respondents find the time to read one or two non-work-related books a month. Here's the rest of the breakdown:
0-1 non-work-related books: 17.4%
2-3: 22.4%
3-4: 13.1%
4-5: 3.2%
5+: 9.6%

Who are these champs who read at least 4 non-work-related books a month? Perhaps not surprisingly, 34.1% are agents and 25% are editors. They'd surely win a library summer-reading contest, if there were such a thing for adults.

Survey Results: When Is Happy Hour?

It's Friday, and it's been a hard week. If you're going to happy hour with a publishing crowd after work today, expect lots of people to order red wine--the drink of choice for 35.8% of respondents. 16.7% prefer white. One respondent just loves "good delicious wine." 5.3% go for vodka tonics, and 3.5% like Bud Light.

But many more do NOT like Bud Light. We're sorry we didn't give beer lovers more choices, and they called us out on it:

  • "Beer that isn't Bud Light. Yeesh."
  • "Any beer but Bud Light"
  • "Come on folks, a publishing survey without craft beers? We're not all girls."
Sorry. We'll add microbrews to the list next year.

For now, what's your favorite happy hour spot? Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Survey Results: Salary

How much money do you make? It's a personal question, but we asked it, and most respondents answered. Here's the salary breakdown:

  • 3.2% of respondents make less than $30,000.
  • 24.8% make $30,000-$50,000.
  • 13.9% make $50,000-$60,000.
  • 7.7% make $60,000-$70,000.
  • 8.3% make $70,000-$80,000.
  • 11.8% make $80,000-$100,000.
  • 14.7% make $100,000-$150,000.
  • 8.3% make $150,000-$200,000.
  • 7.4% make more than $250,000.
Publishers Weekly conducts its own salary survey every year; here are their 2008 results. hey found that the average man working in publishing made $103,822 in 2007, while the average woman made $64,742. PW notes that the highest jobs are in management, where more men work.

However, in our survey, 35.9% of the people making over $100,000 a year work in editorial.

When we asked the over $100,000 group what they should be making, 25% thought that their salary was about right. "M
oney is always tight, but my compensation seems fair," wrote one respondent who makes $150,000-$200,000. "It's a loaded question, but I'm well compensated by publishing standards," wrote another respondent. And an editor making between $150,000 and $200,000 thought an "aggravation bonus" was in order.

At sites like, employees can anonymously report their salaries, as well as review their companies. Here are the results for Random House, McGraw-Hill, Scholastic, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Rodale, HarperCollins, and Wiley. The site is free, but to see the reviews or numbers, you have to (anonymously) post.

Give Me More

I've posted an expanded version of Rich Kelley's article from the October issue, "Battling the Online Tyranny of 'More,'" on our Web site. Check it out here:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Survey Results: How Did You Get Your Job?

Want to get into publishing? A lot of people say it's all about who you know--and the results of our survey support that belief. 35.5% of respondents heard about their current job via word of mouth. 9.6% found their position on the job board of a Web site like Publishers Marketplace, and 6% were recruited.

How did respondents hear about their first publishing job? Again, the main way is word of mouth, for 33.4%. But 18.1% of respondents got their first job through a newspaper listing. (When was the last time you saw a publishing job listed in the New York Times?)

"I sent out many letters, and a few publishers responded," an editor at a large house told us. "This was 30+ years ago!"

Several respondents also told us that they got their first publishing positions through employment agencies, like the Lynne Palmer Agency and "Career Blazers Agency." We know that the Lynne Palmer Agency still exists and are curious about whether it still works with those seeking entry-level jobs. Publishing newbies out there, did you consider a career agency when you were looking for your job And publishing vets, do you work with any career agencies or have you ever used one? Let us know in the comments.

Publishing Trends Announces Results of Second Annual Industry Survey

Wondering how much your publishing coworkers make, or how they take their coffee? We got tons of interesting answers in our second annual publishing industry survey, and couldn't fit them all into our feature article in the October issue of Publishing Trends. So we'll be posting additional results throughout this month. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

No Time to Read? No Problem!

Would you read them on the ferry? Would you read them on a Blackberry? As silly as it sounds, these are the types of questions that the folks behind DailyLit, Bit o’ Lit and Random House Audio’s “Make Your Commute More...” campaign have started taking very seriously. Each contender has respectively come up with some clever ways to help publishers squeeze books back into the quotidian grind. Below we save you (even more!) time by giving you the lowdown on each of their strategies...

The Practical Approach:

The Gimmick:
Daily bite-sized installments of books served up straight to your virtual inbox via e-mail or RSS feed.
The Selection:
Over 1000 classic and contemporary books (Titles in the public domain,plus various publishers including Berlitz, Harlequin and Chronicle Books)
Who Pays What:
Public domain books are free. Copyrighted books require a small fee(on average around $5). CEO Susan Danziger told Publishing Trends that they
were exploring sponsorship as a way to defray that fee.

Reader rating system; public reading groups on Twitter; Wikipedia tours

The HyperLocal Approach:

The Gimmick: Washington, DC-based campaign to promote new books by handing out booklets of excerpts to commuters each week
The Selection:
Primarily local authors, authors on tour (book events are advertised) and titles tailored to the D.C. market
Who Pays What:
Free for commuters. Publishers pay advertising costs. Print and online advertising also available.
Excerpts also available online; events, feature articles and word searches featured in the back

The Marketing 101 Approach:

The Gimmick:
Summertime campaign to promote audiobook listening by highlighting new titles and bestsellers that fall under one of a series of adjectives (ie thrilling,profitable, magical, entertaining, etc.). Bookstores, libraries and warehouse stores will feature posters, displays and branded (apparently pungent) air fresheners
The Selection:
64 designated Random House Audio titles (i.e. Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn as “entertaining”; Sebastian Faulks’ Devil May Care as “adventurous”)
Who Pays What:
RH will focus on print media, radio sponsorship and online presence. Available at all the usual retailers
Free audio samples on; the aforementioned air fresheners

DailyLit announced today that it launched its corporate sponsorship program by collaborating with to make College Knowledge: 101 Tips, a college guide book, available for free.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Licensing Expo 08: What We Liked

Licensing Expo came to a close last week. Here are some things we liked:

  • This fall, the Jim Henson Company will air its new show, "Sid the Science Kid," on PBS. The science show, which uses proprietary digital puppetry technology, is aimed at 3- to 6-year-olds, has a sketch comedy format, and covers topics like temperature, estimating, and measuring. In each episode, Sid asks a question like "Why do bananas go bad?" and he and his team set out to find the answer.
  • Peter Rabbit . . . Naturally Better: "Socially Responsible Licensing Inspired by THE Classic 'Natural' Brand." As part of the initiative, Penguin Young Readers Group will release a new line of books, including a baby record book and board books, printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks. (Look also for organic Peter Rabbit toys and toiletries for babies.)
  • Scholastic's massive new Goosebumps initiative. We remember buying the original Goosebumps series from Scholastic's "Book Orders" in the 1990s. Things are a little different in 2008: The new 12-book Goosebumps HorrorLand series, launched this spring, is accompanied by a show on the Cartoon Network, multi-platform video games, DVDs, Halloween costumes, and, of course, Web sites ( and with over 1.5 million unique visitors a month
  • At Nickelodeon's orange-carpeted booth, the SpongeBob SquarePants Hour of Happiness on Tuesday, featuring square cupcakes with bright SpongeBob yellow frosting. Sweet, showy, not a lot of substance--a bit like Licensing Expo itself, you might say.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Licensing Expo 08: The New Consumer

Licensing International Expo 2008 landed June 10 at the Javits Center just in time for the summer’s first heat wave. Outside, temperatures hit nearly a hundred degrees. Inside, brands like Clifford, Goosebumps, and SpongeBob SquarePants were hot hot hot.

In a cooling economy, though, how can retailers make sure consumers choose their brands? In his panel “The New Consumer, the New Retail, and Licensing in the New World,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of the NPD Group, offered some insight:

  • For the first time, five generations of a family—a 5-year-old, 25-year-old, 45-year-old, 65-year-old, and 85-year-old—may influence one another’s purchasing decisions. There’s lots of growth in the teen market, and parents and kids share choices in entertainment of all types (you’ll see lots of overlap between the top 10 list of CDs that adults buy from stores and the top 10 list of artists kids download from P2P networks).
  • The number one reason consumers buy a product is a recommendation from a friend or family member. Therefore, since friends and family members are such big influencers, retailers should find ways to market to them even if they are not the intended audience for a given product. “Find a second message for another audience,” Cohen says, citing anti-aging creams as an example: Young women “who say, ‘Mom, I love you, but I don’t want to look like you’” are a secondary, and strong, market for the products.
  • Sell a lifestyle, not just a product. Customization and personalization are key, since the consumer thinks the ability to customize is the norm—think Nike iD sneakers, engraved iPods, and build-your-own Sony VAIOs with customizable colors and textures. “It’s not big dollars, but it’s a big connection point,” says Cohen.
Finally, Cohen showed an image of JFK. “Ask not if you should license product,” he said, “but who you should license with. . . . A picture is worth a thousand words, but licensing is worth 10,000.”

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Déjà View? Relaunches

Hoping to shake up the world of online book marketing, today TurnHere unveils a new, expanded version of its site. And yet, while the promotional video platform has undergone many changes to presumably improve its functionality and overall consumer experience, only time will tell whether the bond forged between authors and readers through studio-quality shorts will actually result in higher book sales.

In the meantime, efforts have been made to maximize the site's networking component. With a range of newly available social media tools, visitors will now be able to embed videos on their own blogs, email them to a friend, Digg them, or tag them in del.icious. Substantiating this "organic distribution," TurnHere CEO Brad Inman says these features work particularly well with books because readers are such a passionate and verbal (duh!) bunch. And with book lover social sites such as goodreads and Library Thing (two of distribution partners) ranking up to a hundred thousand registered users it's a hard point to argue. Coupling these tactics with other strategic moves such as adding a Facebook page for the site's fans and posting videos on TurnHere's branded YouTube channel, the company has made a hard drive towards online ubiquity.

Making their goal that much easier, currently there's only has a handful of contenders (ie, vying to be readers' one-stop shop for behind-the-book footage on the web. And with unique visitor numbers dwindling in the hundreds per month, according to, and only a few if any publisher partnerships (Authorviews has a deal with Gibbs Smith and a couple other small houses) it seems the time is right for TurnHere to make the most of a niche market. And with a line up of big wig partners, there's a chance that they just may come out on top. While previously TurnHere partnered exclusively with Simon & Schuster, this time around the online video production company will showcase videos featuring authors from multiple publishers including Bantam Dell, Chronicle, Penguin Group (USA), Doubleday Broadway, Hachette Book Group, Loyola Press, Macmillan, Thomas Nelson and WW Norton.

Monday, April 28, 2008

BlogAds: What's Good, What's Bad

On April 22, we went to the Publishers Advertising and Marketing Association (PAMA) April Luncheon, which featured Henry Copeland, founder and president of BlogAds. Copeland talked about how publishers can better advertise on blogs—how they can, as he put it, "thrive in the kingdom of blog." Here's what Copeland says "smart ads" have in common:

  • Multiple links. For book ads, even links to negative reviews interest people and and inspire thinking and conversation. "Sometimes the best friends you can have are dumb enemies," says Copeland.
  • Cool images that attract the eyes and pique curiosity
  • Faux video
  • Hand-made feel
  • Puzzle or something else to invite a click and promote curiosity

Conversely, bad ads have:

  • No links
  • Dull, text-heavy images—that includes book covers!
  • A "designed" feel. "Overdesigned ads are less effective," says Copeland. "Blog readers are skeptical. These are fish that have seen a lot of hooks."
  • Nothing to promote a click—the ad's the full story

If you're looking to improve your own book ads, monitor your clickthru rate and be ready to change course fast if something's not attracting enough clicks. And to see some examples of good and bad ads, click here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Whole New World? Try 50.

The land of make-believe is now charging admission. Okay, not exactly. But judging from what was discussed at this year's Virtual Worlds conference, which took place April 3-4 at the Javits Center in New York, this isn't too far off. Many would agree it was only a matter of time before someone thought to fuse kids' imaginations with a tangible prefab online universe. And now that they have, it seems no one can stop.

Over the next two years kids' worlds are expected to dominate growth in this booming space with over 50 virtual worlds set to launch. The keynotes from insiders at current virtual overlords Mattel, MTV, Whyville and Neopets reflected the collective anticipation at what's to come. Expressing both excitement and caution, Jack Myers, President, Myers Publishing, LLC, made the point, "Virtual worlds are the media of the future, and we need to build with new models, platforms and metrics."

Metrics continue to be a hot topic, as advertisers and marketers try to figure out how to both count up and capitalize on the millions of engaged eyeballs. At the moment, the easiest (and most widely used) audience metric is registered users, and as a general rule about 25% of registered users are frequent participants. Meyers added the caveat, however, that measuring users' emotional connections, focusing on the quality of their engagement -- not just size -- and measuring "in world" perception are all still important factors. Size-wise Neopets, the oldest virtual world of the bunch, currently reigns supreme with 45 million registered users. Stardoll has 15.7 million registered users with 30-35k new users/day (44% in the US, 46% in the EU, and a growing Asian market). Barbie Girls (introduced only last year) has already jumped to 10 million registered users, quickly gaining on Club Penguin (purchased by Disney last year) with over 12 million registered users and 700,000 paid subscribers. And Webkinz, the Ganz owned property that has sold over 2.5 million plush dolls, has converted those sales into an audience of over 1 million highly active registered users.

Publishers are starting to take notice - both looking to partner with existing worlds, and create worlds of their own based on new and established properties. Now with a toe in this space via '39 Clues' and their recent online/offline Goosebumps re-launch, Scholastic, for one, had numerous staffers floating around. And, Wendy Louie, New Media Marketing Manager at Random House Children's, sat on a panel about reaching teens in virtual hangouts. "I see publishing houses investing more of their marketing dollars into new innovative outlets and less so in traditional vehicles," Louie said. "With companies’ interest in the eyeball and stickiness factor, I expect sites to really ramp up their content to stay ahead of the game."

Some other key take-aways:
  • Nickelodeon's online world Nicktropolis has 7 millions registered users, and 86% of Nick audiences say gaming is the key experience.

  • There are 350 million avatars worldwide

  • In South Korea, 90% of kids are in virtual worlds

  • There is a huge growth in branded virtual worlds creating a "curated experience" for users- vMTV (MTV's network of virtual worlds including Virtual Hills, Virtual Laguna Beach, Virtual VMAs) has 1.25 M regular users, with 4,500 new users/daily, and 15,000 viewer clubs with as many as 2,000 members a piece

  • Kids are constantly jumping around and between virtual worlds – an incredible amount (up to 60%) of vMTV traffic is coming from Gaia, for example

*Image from KZero

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Sweet Sound of SXSWi

It’s been one week since SXSW Interactive came to a close, and there are still two types of publishing people in the world:

1) Those who are counting the days until they can return next year
2) Those who think SXSWi is some kind of contagious eye disease

For those of you still stuck in the latter half, we’ve put together a few links to bring you up to speed. (And for those few type ones out there, a mini refresher course.)

What you need to know:

  • SXSWi began in 1994 as part of a film and multimedia conference (it’s been it’s own interactive thing since 1999, and in 2006 they added Screen Burn – a subset focusing on the gaming industry)

  • The festival covers everything from web development to on and offline marketing to internet theory to business management to design to social media to…

  • If you use a feed reader, you can subscribe to receive podcasts of the panels as they are posted here:, or, if you don’t use a feed reader (another lecture, another time) check out the main site for updates as they appear.

  • Save for a few SXSWi stalwarts in attendance (Will Schwalbe, ex-Hyperion and author of SEND, was back for the second year in a row, Little Brown’s New Media Marketing Manager, Scott diPerna clocked in his fourth year), the publishing community was notably absent

  • The only publisher with a booth at the trade show was McSweeney’s

  • B&N hosted the book signings at the SXSW bookstore

For more, check out the April issue of Publishing Trends on March 25th…
For PT’s coverage of SXSWi 2007, click here

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Toy Fair 08: Inspiring Growth, Dangerous Book for Boys Spinoffs

On Tuesday, Publishing Trends visited Toy Fair 2008, held from February 17-28 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. Though Toy Fair reported a 30% increase in buyers since last year and three times as many reporters on opening day, we thought the halls seemed pretty empty.

Not surprisingly, most of the buzz centered around tech-y toys like Hasbro Playskool's $300 Kota the Triceratops Dinosaur ("comes complete with leafy greens that the dinosaur will 'munch' when 'fed'") and Fisher-Price's Kid Tough Digital Camera, or revamped versions of old faves, including Ty's Beanie Babies 2.0 and Fisher-Price's Elmo Live. But in the old-fashioned world of books, we noticed a few new things:

  • Dangerous Book for Boys-branded "Illusions," "Card Tricks," "Sleight of Hand," and "Magic Kit" sets, packaged in retro metal tins, from University Games. (Sorry for the blurry picture--a University Games rep chased us away from the company's booth when she saw our digital camera; the games aren't being released until Christmas.)

  • Also from University Games: New additions to their line of Eric Carle games for 3- to 8-year olds.

  • Not for kids but prominently displayed at Playmore Inc.'s booth: The never-dying Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise (now including, um, pet food) expands with a new line of word search puzzle books. The books below are dummies, but the rep told us that the hidden words in the finished books will be based on the true stories in the books and "very inspirational."

  • Finally, the obligatory shot of adult reps self-consciously riding children's toy cars, at the PlasmaCar booth.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

On Kindle: A Non-Publishing Perspective

Since its release last November, the Kindle has kicked up debates about everything from the future of reading to Jeff Bezos' quest for world dominance.

More than anything, though, it seems that people just can't get over how darned clunky-ugly-retro the thing was.

, a networking site frequented by industrial designers, responded to the Kindle design debate by opening up a one-hour design challenge/forum, asking readers to show the world their vision of the perfect Digital eBook."

The results ranged from classic (aka Sony Reader-esque) to innovative (the winning " eScroll") to irreverent (Walkbook Sports). Designers focused on functionality and form, and explored the notion of what a digital book should do. Some features from proposed designs:

  • Tri-screen with touch screens - To turn the pages, users just simply touch the screen diagonally.

  • Users can select the book they want to read from the cover and highlight and take notes by using the stylus.

  • Pocket-sized or smaller so that it fits in the palm of your hand

  • Customization options that allow users to distinguish the book as their own.

  • One designer noted that a current problem with ebooks is not being able to write notes on them, his design included a pen that allows users to write notes on pull-out wipe-away "paper" which is then recognized by the ebook and saved as a note on the page.

  • Integrated speakers that allow users to hear books in audio

  • Book spine printout - printable sticker spines for the sleeve of the cover that can be stuck on your e-book shelf when you've finished reading.

  • Subscription based readers that automatically download monthly collections for a low annual fee (think the Oprah book club, or New York Times best seller list, or Phillip K. Dick award winners).

Check out all of the designs on the Core 77 forum: