Friday, November 30, 2012

BEA Blogger Conference Update

I want to thank the BEA Bloggers Conference Advisory Board for our meeting last week.  It was
highly productive and we finished 5 minutes early!!   Here are a few items worth sharing with
everyone from that meeting:
  • There will be a Call for Papers opening Early December and run up until January 15th  It will be announced on the BEA website and through the BEAN and all of BEA's social media outlets.  People will be able to submit conference suggestions from a link on the BEA Book Bloggers page. 
  • The BEA Bloggers Conference will Incorporate tracks into this year’s programming 
    • Ideas included genre based, level of blogging, blogging interests
  • Plan for more Networking Opportunities among bloggers either through a sponsored Cocktail Reception or an hour of free time either during lunch or as a coffee break
  • We made a number of mistakes with the blogger registration process in 2012.  The new process will be simplified, clear and transparent. 
    • Bloggers will be able to register for BEA AND the conference for one low price.
    • Any bloggers wanting to attend just BEA and not the BBC will have a discounted special rate.
    • Bloggers wanting to register for a free media pass can do so, but will be subject to similar criteria as all working press  
We are extremely grateful for the group of bloggers that are participating to insure we deliver an event that is created for and designed by bloggers.  While there were ups and downs in 2012, we hope it was apparent how much BEA values book bloggers. 
BEA Bloggers Conference Advisory Board: 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Storm Won’t Stop Holiday Children’s Art Auction

Please check out the ABFFE Holiday Children's Art Auction,  Below is a link to a photo of the flooding - a great event and a great cause. 

For further information, contact:
Chris Finan, ABFFE, (917) 509-0340
Storm Won’t Stop Holiday Children’s Art Auction
            NEW YORK, NY, Nov. 7, 2012 – Hurricane Sandy has driven the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) from its office building in lower Manhattan, but ABFFE is continuing its preparations for a Holiday Children’s Art Auction that will launch on eBay on Nov. 27.  The storm pushed more than four feet of water into the lobby of the building in the South Street Seaport, damaging electrical equipment.  But the ABFFE staff is continuing to solicit donations of art for the auction, which supports ABFFE’s efforts to defend the free speech rights of kids.  “Sandy was a setback, but we have a lot to be grateful for.  Our office itself was not damaged, and the art that we had already collected is safe and sound,” ABFFE President Chris Finan said.  “We are confident that we will be able to launch on time.”  The deadline for submitting art has been extended to Nov. 21.  Art can be sent to the American Booksellers Association until the ABFFE office reopens. 
            The Holiday Children’s Art Auction is the online version of the auction that is held at BookExpo America, featuring original art from the book industry’s leading artists and illustrators.
            More information about contributing to the auction is available online.  A donation form has also been posted.            Contact Finan by email,, or by phone, (917) 509-0340.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sandy - Life Resumes, normalcy to follow

I was compelled on my drive to work today to listen to Bruce Sprinsteen's 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).  I don't know why but the chorus popped in my head with the lilting chords that start the song with Bruce whispering is a story of love lost that no doubt played out in Bruce's youth like so many people on any of the boardwalks and shore towns up and down the Northeast coast.  While youth is lost to time, it is the physical places that  anchored us, letting our memories to come to life when we go back to the towns, beaches, bars and stores that have been hit so hard by Sandy.  

People affected by Sandy from New Jersey through Connecticut and beyond are working hard to fix, replace, rebuild and make things the way they were before Sandy hit last week.  One place that I am particularly fond of is the Bank Street Books in Mystic.  I go up to Mystic with my family a couple of times of year and Bank Street Books is always a stop, where my boys 'borrowed' Charlie (resident dog of Bank Street) for a walk several years ago and still talk about.  Bank Street saved their inventory but still were flooded and have had to close while they have the floor replaced among other repairs.  I you can help out in anyway, please donate to the Relief Fund that has been set up for Bank Street Books.  Hopefully all repairs will be done and they are planning to re-open on Monday. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Powering Up BEA with Power Readers

While BEA is still 6+ months away, planning is at its peak right now with an intense effort to insure BEA is proactively focused on what the industry needs and delivering value to all of BEA's participants.  A big transition in 2013 for BEA will be opening wider to consumers which BEA has dubbed: Power Readers.  

Before detailing plans around Power Readers, I want to emphatically point out that BEA's core remains as a trade event.  BEA will always be the B2B marketplace and biggest stage for the publishing industry in North America.   BEA has undergone significant changes over the last few years - as has the publishing industry.  BEA is not simply a reflection of those changes, but is proactively addressing the new challenges facing publishing with solutions highlighted through the conference program, a marketplace for the latest in digital innovation, opening international markets through the Global Market Forum program and being the single most impactful launching point for a new title anywhere.

Power Readers, here are the basics:  BEA will promote to consumers to attend exclusively on Saturday June 1st who will be badged as Power Readers.  Power Readers will pay to attend.  Exhibitors will be permitted to sell directly to anyone during BEA as long as they are registered with the state of NY and collect taxes (instructions for registering with be provided).   BEA will offer a solution to sell books through an approved vendor, those details are in the works.  There will still be a significant amount of booksellers and librarians that want a Saturday to attend BEA as well as it is cheaper and more convenient for them.

Power Readers will make BEA will be a pop culture event that is a compliment to the industry's trade show.  This will open new promotional opportunities for publishers. Power Readers will change how media covers BEA, bringing more focus and attention on the latest titles and highest profile authors.  Publishers will be able to  connect directly with consumers and consumers will have access to their favorite authors on a scale that was never been available to them in one place at one time. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Storms brewing beyond Sandy

First and foremost I am incredibly fortunate that my family and home got through Sandy with little more than being inconvenienced for few days.  Far too many people were dealt incredibibly difficult circumstances from Sandy with serious damage to their homes, loss of precious possessions and having their lives turned upside down by this storm.  Trying to get back to the way things were will be months and years for some communities. 

So while has Sandy managed to push the fever pitch of the Presidential election out of the news, news in publishing is just as seismic with the announcement of the pending merger between Random House and Penguin.  Markus Dohle issued a thoughtfull and reassuring letter to booksellers, agents and authors.  I took the copy from PW along with the posted comments from Robert Gotlieb at Trident & Peter Riva who is also a well known agent who have a clear contrast of opinion - it is interesting to read them together, speculating who is correct will play out for everyone in the next couple of years.. 

Regardless if this is good or bad for the industry, it is the reality and probably not only domino in-line as consildation in any industry comes in bunches.  If anything is clear, publishing is no where near done changing.  It has undergone more transition in the last 3-4 years than it has in a half century and it is probably just getting started.  I know I am here to talk about BEA, but it feels too self serving if I do that now, especially in light of watching people struggle to get some normalcy back in their life after Sandy.  Still it is important to know that change brings opportunity.  Where Sandy brought change that is having maps re-drawn from Connecticut down to the bottom of the Jersey Shore, change is opportunity to rebuild in a way that makes sense and will survive for the new reality.   The same is opportunity is here for publishing.  I feel BEA is ahead of the curve for the industry with the changes we have implemented and will continue as BEA intends to remain the most important event in North America for the publishing industry.

Dohle Addresses Booksellers, Authors and Agents About Merger
Oct 29, 2012
CEO of Random House, Markus Dohle, has sent three letters--to booksellers, authors and agents--addressing the momentous news about his publishing company merging with Penguin. The letters, intended to offer elaboration on the merger, the possibility of which sent shock waves through the industry last week, are also intended to calm three of the house's publishing partners, who are no doubt concerned about what the future will now hold.

In his letter to booksellers, Dohle said the new company will be better equipped to "deliver amazing books, innovative sales and marketing creativity, and the best-in-class supply chain support, all of which will combine to help you to continue to connect our authors with your readers." The CEO did not, however, offer specifics on these things, noting instead that new company will not actually come into being for some time. Dohle said that, for now, "Random House and Penguin remain competitors" and, until the merger is approved by the government, which he suspects will happen in "the second half of 2013," it is impossible to "discuss post-closing plans."

Addressing authors, Dohle said one aspect of the merger he is "most excited about" is the creation of a company that is "author-publisher-and editor-centered--just like Random House." He added that authors will "benefit from an extraordinary breadth of publishing choices and editorial talents and experience," when the two biggest members of the Big Six merge. He also assured writers that the new company will remain "endowed withcreative autonomy, and financial resources, to decide which books to publish, and how to publish them." Dohle also noted that Penguin Random House will "supply more services for physical retailers, while expanding our opportunities in the digital space."

To agents, who have been particularly worried about the effect the merger will have on advances, Dohle promised many of the same things as he did to authors. He also assured agents that backlist will remain "a priority." Again, though, the theme returned to the "breadth of publishing choices" this new company will offer. The CEO closed by saying the goal is to "publish the content you entrust us with for everyone, everywhere, in every format, and on every platform."
Read the full version of each letter below.
Dohle's letter to booksellers.  Dohle's letter to agents.  Dohle's letter to authors.

·         Robert Gottlieb · Top Commenter

Trident does a great deal of business with both companies. Recently S&S virtually shut down The Free Press. Bantam Books is a shell of what it once was as Ballantine has emerged as the major player in the Bertelsmann group. I don't see how this merger will increase the "breadth of publishing choices"? I believe it will be just the opposite. Mr. Dohle who I have a great deal of respect for and has done a magnificent job at Random House says agents only have their eye on what size advances will be. Trident is first and foremost interested in our author's careers. We believe money follows success in the market place. The consolidation of publishing divisions will occur in this merger. Will the Viking Children's group remain an fully functioning operation or will their sales force and the children's book division at Random House be merged? If not how will they compete along side one another? Those are the kinds of serious concerns authors and agents should have in part in connection with this size merger. I am not only thinking of the above but about Berkley books and Ballantine books as an example. When those sales forces are combined and there are only a handful of slots for major authors open as lead titles what authors will benefit and which one's will end up taking a second or third place position on the list? Random House and Penguin really don't care about the unintended consequences of this act but the publishing industry does. When there is a book auction who will be favored in the new publishing giant. Will it be baby Random or Putnam's when it comes to one on one completive submission? Right now we are already told that if there are only two imprints inside Bertelsmann bidding that one will drop out in favor of the other. They simply won't seriously bid against each other. In countries like the Netherlands publishers have understandings amongst each other that they won't bid on each other's authors so competition is highly reduced. In Germany I have personally seen executives at Bertelsmann call competitors and ask them not to make offers on authors they are publishing when an agent is thinking of moving the author. The other published agreed because of their fear of the size and strength of Bertelsmann in Germany. None of us should be lulled into a transe over the company line that is being told to us as one firm intends to dominate the publishing market place.

Robert Gottlieb
Trident Media Group, LLC.

·         Peter Riva · Top Commenter

I have many fears here, not all of which are within Markus's control, I fear. In Random's statement (parsed down by me): "With our backlist always a priority, Random House expects the new company to offer an even deeper catalogue, alongside our newly," but damn fewer, "published we continue to transition in the digital space." And there it is. How to tame the digital space? Become bigger seems to be the answer. I fear like the car companies of old (UK's British Leyland and US's GM and Chrysler and France's Renault), bigger will mean less financially stable, less fluid, less competitive. Which leads me to his next comment, which I doubt going forward especially for debut authors, "And we will be even better positioned to support our authors’ intellectual property and copyrights." This is NOT about advances for us agents, this is about marginalizing debut authors and non-branded authors in favor of MBA type supermarket sales and marketing efforts. Good for the investor, bad for the literary world, I fear.And in the end bad for business. The car company example is effective, I believe. Looks good on paper, becomes too big to fail for investors, terrible for the consumer.