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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Pilfered Post from Publishers Lunch

I thought the article below from Publishers Lunch was interesting both as someone involved in the publishing industry and more so as a parent with 2 boys who love both books and gadgets.  Both of whom are clamouring for iTouches for upcoming birthday & Holiday presents.  I share that because I am very interested to see if they will use those as reading devices aside from the gaming & fun apps they envision  using them for right now.  I can not begin to tell you how many Pokemon, Bionicle & Star Wars books populate my kids rooms all following the toys or the movies they enjoyed.  I am hoping the things they discover through the iTouch will lead them to more books.  Because they get enjoyment from reading - they also love so many traditional books like Stuart Little, Roald Dahl, the Magic Tree House books and so much more....

Scholastic Confirms Kids Like Devices--Maybe More than Reading


Scholastic hired Harrison Group to conduct their 2010 survey this spring on reading habits of kids ages 6 through 17. As you would expect, the older kids get, the more they spend leisure time online and with their cell phones rather than reading books for pleasure.

Kids love gadgets, and thus 57 percent "are interested in reading an ebook." (But when queried about which type of device, typically only a third answered in the affirmative, so that 57 percent overall interest could be high.) A third "say they would read more books for fun if they had access to ebooks on an electronic device"--but any parent knows the disconnect between what kids say they would do and what they actually do! Meanwhile, most parents believe that electronic devices take away from time their kids spend reading, being physical, and engaging with family.
Six percent of the parents say they own a device used for reading, and 16 percent plan to buy one within the next year (remember that this was conducted in the spring).

Both the press release highlights and full report are available at the link below.
Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Notes from the Moscow Book Fair

I was not sure what to expect in coming to the Moscow Book Fair. I have to admit to being wary based on stories from a fellow Reed employee that had traveled there several times. The one thing that was off putting was that unless you are fluent in the language - it is impossibly tough to get around. There is no system for taxis so you would have to flag down private drivers and negotiate. They will charge you $50 or even $100 to drive you 3 blocks if you can't communicate with them. Fortunately Svetlana Adjoubei who represents BEA in Russia in addition to running the Russian literary press Academia Rossica was a wonderful host. I can go on about what a force she is in Russian publishing, but that would take up this entire post. Suffice to say she and her staff were generous, thoughtful hosts and dynamic in their jobs. It is an amazing city. Describing sites like Red Square and the Kremlin - that would take 2 more posts - so I will move along.

What I want to share is that Russia is a surprisingly developed market considering it is only 20 years old. Roughly 40-50% of the books published are translated works - the majority coming from English language which sell particularly well. Talking with Irina Shishova, Foreign Rights Director from Eksmo - Russia's largest publisher with annual revenue of over $215mm was very informative. Eksmo is a general trade publisher and they publish about 1,000 titles a month! She bought rights to 1,350+ titles in the last year. There are bigger challenges because distribution network has not kept pace with the growth in publishing. There are 11 times zones in Russia which adds significant shipping costs that can make books very expensive and have huge pricing disparity based on location. That also forces larger print runs so book orders can be fulfilled without having to reprint. We chatted with Arkady Vitrouk, CEO of Azbooka-Atticus Publishing Group, with $50mm in turnover they are Russia's 3rd largest publisher. They are doing 500 titles annually with 70% coming from acquired rights. They do have success in selling some fiction rights in the US. We also met with the PR Director from Ozon.ru - the easiest description is saying they are the Amazon of Russia. They posted 21% growth in 2009 - unheard of considering that was the height of the global financial crisis. They invested without any bank financing in a $20mm new distribution center. In 2009 Ozon processed 1,460,204 orders that were shipped to 105 countries. Their turnover (if I coverted correctly) is around $105mm. They carry 370,000 titles, 200,000 in foreign language. They sell more than 9,000 books a day and sold 3.7 million in 2009. They will be launching their own e-reading device as well. The demo reader was due to be delivered the day after we met with them. There are a number of e-book devices available in Russia, but piracy is a big issue. More than one of the publishers we talked with would be surprised if more than 10% were legitimate and not pirated copies that are being downloaded.

There are also challenges in breaking Russian writers and titles outside of Russia. Once they have some success, they tend to rush subsequent titles to press sacrificing the curation and editing process that enabled the original success, killing long term success for short term gains.

Russian publishing is a market that is growing - which can't be said about larger markets like the US or the UK. They have a vision and support from the Dept. of Press and Mass Communications. We spent a lot of time with their Deputy Director, Vladimir Gregoriev. He intends for Russia's publishing industry to be a player on the global stage. If I had to bet any money on the outcome, I would put it all on Mr. Gregoriev.
Sincerely,
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Steven Rosato
Event Director-BookExpo America
srosato@reedexpo.com
Sent from my BlackBerry

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Posting in transit from Beijing to Moscow

There is no BEA news in this post other than to share my pain and the effort involved to make some of BEA's initiatives come to fruition that are of value to BEA exhibitors and attendees. While trips to Beijing and Moscow imply cool and maybe even exotic, they are long hours, lots of prep work to set up meetings sandwiched around a wicked travel schedule. The purpose is for BEA to build relationships with the associations, government agencies and publishers that will use BEA as a platform to buy & sell rights, establish distribution partnerships, or bring compelling content/technolgy to be discovered by the BEA audience.

With days like today - that mission is not a cake walk with bon bons. I am in a middle seat in a middle section in the cattle of coach. While that is not unusual - this part I wish was fiction. The passengers next to me arrived seconds before the doors closed and with them out went my hopes for the room of an empty adjoining seat. They are 2 LARGE Russian gentleman. I learned on Air China the Duty Free cart includes Chivas Regal. Also on Air China - you get your duty free purchase for immediate use or consumption. My 2 neighbors and their lady friend finished their liter of Chivas and coke in about an hour. They are now totally passed out. I have had the joy of sharing about 1/3 of my seat with my passed out neighbor for the last 3 hours. Oh yeah - my iPod ran out of battery, there is no in flight entertainment and my overhead light does not work so I can't read anything. After an 8 hour flight, it will be straight to the Moscow Book Fair's Book of the Year awards (which will of course be all in Russian). Oooh - the in flight snack is being served - I am hoping it has eel again like dinner. Cool and exotic, yes?
Sincerely,
------------------------
Steven Rosato
Event Director-BookExpo America
srosato@reedexpo.com
Sent from my BlackBerry