Monday, December 19, 2011

Book buying tips from Publishers Lunch

I enjoy Publishers Lunch daily coverage and am sharing the Publishers Lunch compiled list of Top 10 books from 2011.  If you use these sort of lists for buying tips, this compiles from a number great sources.  I know these list work on me (for music too).  I will added comments where I could.
With more lists rolling in--the WSJ, People and Entertainment Weekly among them--the consensus best of the best of 2011 list is acquiring real shape and clarity. As always happens, both the fiction and nonfiction lists have neatly produced two clear groups of top 10 picks.
Continuing the pattern from the beginning of this year's voting, the top novels are acquiring far more votes, with fiction claiming 7 of the top 8 slots overall. Tea Obreht's THE TIGER'S WIFE remains the runaway pick for book of the year.
We're still waiting on lists from a few major sources, including USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, so as usual, we won't declare our final list--with a complete list of sources, editors and agents, and other observations of interest--for another week or two. But to help with holiday sales and promotion, here's how the lists stand, based on 35 sources so far:
Top 10 Fiction
1. The Tiger's Wife, Tea Obreht (16)
2. 1Q84, Haruki Murakami (11)
    The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides - Brien McDonald LOVED this book. 
4. State of Wonder, Ann Patchett (10)
    The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach - It was on my previous list of recommended titles.
6. The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt (8)
    The Tragedy of Arthur, Arthur Phillips
8. The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes (7)
    Open City, Teju Cole
    The Stranger's Child, Alan Hollinghurst
The Next Contenders
    The Cat's Table, Michael Ondaatje
    The Submission, Amy Waldman - this is on my list for 2012
    The Pale King, David Foster Wallace
    The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
Top 10 Nonfiction
1. In The Garden Of Beasts, Erik Larson (9)
2. Blood, Bones & Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton (7)
    Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson - another on my list for 2012, but it is a tome (which slows me down)
4. Blue Nights, Joan Didion (6)
    The Swerve, Stephen Greenblatt
    Bossypants, Tina Fey - my wife loved this book and tore through it pretty quick
7. Townie, Andre Dubus III (5) - I love anything Andre Dubus writes
     Karl Marlantes, What It Is Like to Go to War
     Boomerang, Michael Lewis
     Lost in Shangri-La, Mitchell Zuckoff - this was great, but after Unbroken - seemed light.
The Next Contenders
Destiny of the Republic, Candice Millard
Catherine the Great, Robert K. Massie
The Greater Journey, David McCullough
Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer
Malcolm X, Manning Marable

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Help Wanted on BEA

I was extremely hesitant to blog a job posting here on the BEAN, then I thought about it and said - what the heck, why not - it is probably the best place to find the right person.  BEA is looking for a Community & Conference Coordinator - it is a part time position based in our Norwalk, CT offices - 20 hours/week.  This position will oversee BEA's social media presence and direct the strategy for each platform  BEA has a presence on.  This position will also program the conference sessions for the Book Bloggers Convention.   The expectation for the person coming into this position is you will know more about social media than we currently do on BEA.  We are okay, but I feel we leave a lot of opportunities on the table because we don't have a dedicated focus.  We want this person to develop the strategy for how BEA engages and intergrates all the various platforms we use and identify the ones we should be using.

You can e-mail me a cover letter and a resume which I will forward to my Human Resources dept.  We prefer to have a phone interview first to make sure we are as much a fit for your goals as you are a fit for the position.  It is a test to see if you can find my e-mail on the BEA site, the odds are if that is too much of a challenge - then this might not be the right job for you.

BEA's Miss Julie Book Buying Guide

I have a link below to BEA's Official Librarian Blogger, Miss Julie - she did an awesome job with some book suggestions for the Holiday's.  I thought I would add a few of my own while I am covering the subject:

Unbroken By Laura Hillenbrand - A true and breathtaking story of survival of a WWII Army Lieutenant Louis Zamperini.  The pages will fly as you live through this unimaginable tale of survival.
Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein - This told through the eyes of Enzo, a dog who lives and loves the way we all should, this was a wonderful, wonderful book.

The Art of Fielding by, Chad Harbach - If you have anyone that enjoys Franzen (The Corrections or Freedom) - this would be something they will love.  It was just a bit long, but had such a great finish that I didn't mind as much as when I was slogging through some of the middle part of the book.  

I know I am not exactly breaking any new literary ground, but I did love all these books and would highly recommend them as wonderful gifts. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Be Santa in April

World Book Night is such a cool concept.  You get the chance to Santa Claus in real life!  I attached the copy of the entire press release if you are not familiar World Book Night.  I am applying today to be a volunteer today! - Here is the link: Volunteer Application!  


New York City, December 14, 2011 – World Book Night U.S. has announced the selection of its honorary national chairperson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Anna Quindlen, and revealed the WBN 2012 U.S. book picks. In addition, World Book Night U.S. has opened the registration process for those wishing to become volunteer book givers.
World Book Night is an ambitious campaign to give away a million free books across America all on one day — April 23, 2012 — by enlisting 50,000 volunteer book lovers to help promote reading by going into their communities and distributing free copies of a book they especially enjoy. World Book Night was successfully launched in the UK earlier this year, and now the U.S. is joining the effort, which is supported by American publishers, bookstores and libraries nationwide.
Anna Quindlen has enthusiastically agreed to be the campaign’s Honorary National Chairperson. Quindlen said: “What’s better than a good book?  A whole box of them, and the opportunity to share them with new readers. The idea behind World Book Night is inspired, and as a writer and a reader I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
World Book Night U.S. board chairman Morgan Entrekin added: “We are thrilled and flattered that Anna has agreed to join our cause. Her energy has already been a great asset to the campaign, and we look forward to her being a leading voice among the many for this ambitious effort to promote reading and a love of books across America.”
Volunteer book givers are welcome to apply now. They can go to and register through February 1, 2012, by providing answers to several questions and picking a book to give out from the World Book Night U.S. 2012 list.
World Book Night U.S. Executive Director Carl Lennertz said: “We want the book givers to reach out to new or light readers, especially in underserved places like nursing homes, schools, hospitals and poor neighborhoods, but also in public gathering places like coffee shops and malls. And by offering a range of fiction, non-fiction and books for teens, we believe we have great books that the givers will be passionate about handing out, and will appeal to a wide audience of potential new readers.”
Sherman Alexie, author of the World Book Night U.S. 2012 pick The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, said: “This is a celebration of the individual book and the individual reader. I am honored to take part.”
Also a World Book Night U.S. author, for her book Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo added: “It makes perfect sense to me that World Book Night will take place in spring. Extending your hand to give someone a book, a story, is a gesture of hope and joy. It is a chance for all of us, givers and receivers, to break into blossom.”
The book picks have been finalized and there will be 30 picks printed, rather than 25. Lennertz said: “We decided to expand several categories, notably from three to five YA/middle reader books, due to popular demand from booksellers and librarians, as well as adding a sci-fi novel, an additional mystery, and a surprise classic from an indie press. I am thrilled about this, as it broadens the appeal of the list to our two audiences: the 50,000 book givers and the million new readers we want to reach.”
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
  • Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Blood Work by Michael Connelly
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz; a Spanish-language edition, La breve y maravillosa vida de ├ôscar Wao, will also be made available.
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  • Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview with China Book Business Report

I am posting my recent interview with China Book Business Report

  1. What were the most important things happened in American/global book market in 2011? Give a summary of 2011 American/global book market or a summary of your book exhibition’s performance in this year?[Rosato, Steven (RX)]  The US book market change has been more dramatic than the global book market as whole in 2011, but dramatic change is the new normal for the whole global book market as technology and business models are changing more rapidly than the industry can keep pace with.  It is difficult to compare the US market vs. global publishing.  That is like comparing diving from 50 feet or 100 feet, it is scary and the water comes at you fast no matter what.  The 2 most significant developments in the US were the bankruptcy of Borders, the second largest bookselling chain and the advent of the Agency Model for e-book pricing.  The Borders situation is very complicated and their demise had little to do with the predicted decline of brick & mortar stores.  The good news came out of their bankruptcy was that publishing survived without a more devastating impact considering that Borders accounted for 15% of the total market. That also bodes well for the near future and for creating opportunities for independent stores and other retailers in those markets.  The Agency Model is an extremely complex issue that I could not properly explain here.  Also there is pending litigation that continues change what the total impact will be for publishing.  In the short term the Agency Model reduced the ability that Amazon would have had to dictate e-book pricing terms and made Apple and other e-reading options viable, which was critical for publishers.  Those very were  big issues that impacted the US and the global publishing community.  This past year has seen BookExpo become more relevant due to the turbulent changes in publishing – people need information on the market, technology and are looking more aggressively for new opportunities.  BEA has been able to keep pace with the changes and is moving quickly to stay ahead of where the market is going. Examples include BEA has begun developing opportunities to engage consumers directly with our video program and the launch of New York Book & Media Week that takes place throughout New York City at the same time that BEA is happening.  Now that we have established these platforms, publishers are increasingly looking to engage consumers directly to promote new titles while retailers can use BEA resources year round to discover and source titles.

  1. How do you predict the book market and international book fair business in 2012?  What kinds of trends will there be? What kind of changes will there be for the whole market?[Rosato, Steven (RX)]  For the short term, Book Fairs will be more important as publishers struggle to find sustainable models for a digital world.  Book Fairs provide many potential partners, market insights and education in a really efficient format.  There is a proliferation of Digital Conferences that has not yet peaked, but is not sustainable long term.  The trends are hard to determine as things are changing more rapidly – a lot depends on the answer to the question: Will e-readers be like TVs or music players where many manufacturers can participate in the market or will it be a closed market where the content and the devices are controlled by a few players?  Self publishing will continue to gain market share as traditional publishers continue to roll out programs to attract self published authors aside from all the new and existing platforms.  There will be more convergence of media, making content from books a valuable resource for other industries like gaming and film and TV.  In the US, the digital market share will approach 25% if not more by the end of 2012 which is more than double 2010 figures. 

  1. What are the opportunities and challenges that book fairs will face in 2012? [Rosato, Steven (RX)] Book Fairs will have to pull in new constituents that were previously not critical to the publishing industry or had a limited role.  Bringing in segments from licensing companies, educators and the entertainment industry are examples that will be critical to sustain the relevance of book fairs because those industries are all going to be much more closely linked to publishing and become influential players as well.  The challenge is to engage the key players and provide a platform for them to leverage at book fairs because increasingly this is where these types of transactions will take place.  For a fair like BEA, we see a big opportunity to engage consumers who will have more ways to consume published content than at any time in history from e-readers, smart phones, computers, traditional print and the flexibility that on-demand printing offers as well.

  1. Regarding the emerging digital publishing market, what kind of transition were publishers experience in 2011 and what will they do to adapt to the changes in 2012?  What are the prospects for e-books and digital publishing in 2012?   How will your book show exhibit such a trend?[Rosato, Steven (RX)]  Changes continue to accelerate more quickly every year.  The challenge is to transition to new revenue models while existing ones get displaced.  Publishers are moving toward being content curators as are booksellers – providing value for discovering, shaping and packaging content that will inform, educated and entertain people.  The platform will eventually be irrelevant, whether it is print or digital.  That is more the long term prospect for publishing in a digital environment, not just being a digital publisher.  The process that has begun in 2011 is how publishers are organized – you see number of sales reps in the field goes down as the resources are moved to discovery – that includes leveraging social media, metadata tagging, digital distribution are all small examples of where changes are happening now for publishers..   BEA will continue to be a platform for the leading companies and players from all sides of this expanding market which includes having on-line players, booksellers, retailers, librarians, publishers and device companies that will use BEA as marketplace and source for market intelligence as well as to see the latest in technology.   

  1. What will your company focus on in 2012? Are there any changes in your company’s  strategy? [Rosato, Steven (RX)] While BEA will continue to invest and support booksellers, librarians and traditional constituents that have made BEA one of the most important book fairs in the world, our current focus does represent a change in BEA’s strategy, which is to be the leading marketplace and resource for all things digital in the world of publishing.  We are doing this through conference content and content on the show floor which is represented by the companies that participate in BEA as exhibitors or attendees.  BEA will engage consumers through our New York Book & Media Week initiative and by utilizing video and streaming of events at BEA to make what happens at the trade event accessible for consumers. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

I am not alone

Pasted below is from an article that was in today's Independent (a UK daily paper), covering Waterstone's new boss James Daunt.   Mr. Daunt ran a small and very successful chain of independents before being named the Managing Director by Waterstone's new owner, Russian billionaire, Alexander Mamut.    The portion of the article pasted rang such a similar note to my post from Friday, it made me feel like I am not alone being an optimist or at the very least, I am not a fool.  

I didn't arrive at my optimistic disposition due to anything I drank, it is born out of facts that get parsed out of stats that calculate the end of publishing.  One fact is that publishing in the US grew by 5.6% in the last 3 years.  Publishing is a $27.9 BILLION dollar business in the US and while print is declining, digital revenue growth is outpacing the decline in print.  In fact while digital sales = 5.5% of the sales in 2010, digital sales will finish 2011 well over 10% of the total market, if not start to approach 20%.   While publishing's future is uncertain, the wise and the adaptable will be secure and prosper. 

I don't subscribe to Mr. Daunt's opinion of Amazon - if anything they are the wise who have adapted.  Begrudging a competitor's success does not change the playing field, it only skews your vision of it.  The link to the whole story is below and it is a good little read.
James Daunt is alive to the threat bookshops face from the digital revolution, but his attitude is, broadly, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. "You'll walk into a Waterstone's and there'll be a bit of the shop where you can look at e-readers, play with them. We're inventing one of our own – perhaps we'll call it the Windle – and we're working on the Barnes & Noble approach. They've embedded their own e-book, called the Nook, within their bookshops and have succeeded in taking market share from the Kindle."

He adds: "If the bookshop lets you have both and has a product every bit as good as the Amazon one, why wouldn't you do it with a bookshop?"  Daunt makes no bones about his dislike of Amazon. "They never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer's interest. They're a ruthless, money-making devil." He dreads the physical bookshop disappearing altogether in the digital tsunami.  "The computer screen is a terrible environment in which to select books. All that 'If you read this, you'll like that' – it's a dismal way to recommend books. A physical bookshop in which you browse, see, hold, touch and feel books is the environment you want."

As to the books-industry Cassandras who predict that publishers, agents and booksellers may all disappear in the next five years, "I wouldn't bet against publishers," he said. "The editorial process and the marketing – someone has to do it. I don't think agents are the best people to do it. Authors certainly aren't – they need editing. I think either all three will survive or they'll all disappear, swept away, replaced by one big fat Amazon, getting his way. And if the bookshops go, they will never come back." His combative eyes glitter.

James Daunt: 'Amazon are a ruthless, money-making devil, the consumer's enemy'

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pressure Delivers Change

I am an optimist by nature - enough so that my wife would call it one of my most annoying traits, although she would also be forced to admit we do balance each other nicely.   While I happily have an optimistic outlook and tend to believe things will work out as long as you are honest and willing to work, I am challenged to be optimistic from what I am reading these days about the publishing industry.  Not only is the sky falling, but the earth is also crumbling beneath its feet.  I shared a few links at the bottom of this post that led me here today:
  • Mike Shatzkin's blog post on trying to time the end of publishing as we know it
  • The negative news about B&N 
  • PW's reporting on the reality of where all those e-book sales are coming from besides people filling up their news e-reader gadgets -  current year on year sales stats low-lighting that mass market sales are down 54%.
I balanced this with the quotes that Shelf Awareness ran from booksellers experience with the shop local Small Business Saturday.  We know that pressure over time turn a lump of coal into a diamond. There is no denying that publishing is undergoing a seismic and unprecedented change.  The challenge is to find business models that support authors and publishers in a way that is sustainable.  The other challenge on the retail front is where do booksellers fit in an ever competitive environment.

Change is also opportunity.  Books are not going to go away like 8 tracks or VCRs nor do I think bookstores are going to vanish like record stores or the local butcher.  Those that innovate and adapt are surviving and even thriving right now.  There are more people reading in more formats and in greater overall numbers.  The opportunity generated by the fans that Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, the Twilight series, Lemony Snicket and sooo many more created as people who are inspired by and love reading are not going away.  I read the new Wimpy Kid book is outselling the last one by 25+%.  I don't know where things are going or exactly what this industry will look like in the next 3 or 4 years, but I know it not going the way of the dinosaur.  Hopefully as the pressure mounts and time marches on - I expect the industry comes out a lot like a diamond.

--Jeremy Kaplan, co-owner of READ Books, Los Angeles, Calif.

"As soon as I opened up the door at 10 o'clock this morning I had a large amount of people. It helps the local economy. It keeps the money in Morgantown, you know most of the profit made in a local business is spent locally and it's just a snowball effect."
--Jeanne Hagan, owner of Pinocchio's Books and Toys, Morgantown, W.Va.

"It's been unreal today.... I said we need to be part of this. We need to be part of anything that bonds and brings together small business."
--Gay Kolodzik, owner of Frugal Frigate children's bookstore, Redlands, Calif.

"We're up 40% from last year, which is huge for us."
--Liz Barden, owner of Big Hat Books & Arts, Indianapolis, Ind.

"It really makes a difference. More than half of the customers I've had today mentioned Small Business Saturday to me."
--Christine Myskowski, owner of Salt & Pepper Books, Occoqu
Mike Shatzkin Blog - How many Christmases until we see a whole new industry? 
Bad News for B&N
Mass-market Paperback Sales down 54%