Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Review of 2008 POD Publishing Articles

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I thought I’d take the opportunity on the final day of 2008 to look back on some of the articles and subjects we have touched on during the year.

Overall, the Irish book retail sector has recorded stronger sales than for 2007, a surprise to me in light of the economic downturn and the continued reported news about retailers, publishers and distributors struggling in the final quarter of the year. While the industry may be finding the going rough, it seems the book buying public, certainly in Ireland, are buying more books than ever. It will be interesting to see if this trend is mirrored in the UK and USA.

During the year I wrote three articles about my own experience of publishing two of my books, Academy and Filigree & Shadow through and some findings about other POD publishers. The experience was highly rewarding and I learned a considerable amount about book layout and design as well as the process of book publishing. You can find the articles on the links below:

Adventures with POD Publishing
Adventures with Lulu – Part 1
Adventures with Lulu – Part 2
Adventures with Lulu – Part 2 (Update)
Adventures with Lulu – Part 3

We also ran a well-supported poll here and asked you the question; What POD publisher did you find in your experience to be the most reputable? You can find the results of that poll at the link below:

POD Publisher Poll

Following the poll we took a close look at the POD publishers who topped the poll and reviewed the publishing services they offer. You can read the findings of those reviews at the links below:

Outskirts Press
Lulu - (see above Adventures with Lulu links)

You can find the results of the book ranking analysis and the kinds of books that do well with these publishers, Outskirts Press, Authorhouse, Lulu, IUniverse and Xlibris at the following link:

Book Ranking Analysis

Throughout the year we have also being following Amazon’s strategy of bringing some publishers who use print-on-demand digital technology to sign up to Booksurge’s print program. So far this does not seem to have caused the wide scale sea change initially predicted, but this story should continue to unfold through 2009. You can follow this story by clicking on the ‘Amazon’ label tag lower down and to the right.

In October, in light of the continued economic downturn and continued belt-tightening and layoffs in the industry, we examined where modern publishing is, why it's gotten into such a state, and what might lie ahead. You can read the article 'Change or be Damned' by clicking the link below:

Publishing Industry - Change or be Damned

There is also a further article on the buying trends in books and the manner in which self-publishing books are treated. Here is the article link:

Big Guys n Poor Guys in Publishing

Regular visitors of this site will also be aware that I have also posted updates on the current dispute between Diggory Press and some 70 disgruntled authors. In fact a lot of inspiration to creating and writing articles for this site and discussing POD issues on many writing forums that I visit have very much come from my following of this whole story. You can follow that ongoing story by clicking on the 'Diggory Press' tag lower down and to the right. Hopefully, in early 2009, this story, which has been running since late 2006, will reach a final conclusion for all involved. As a salutary thought, you might also like to read my article on my own opinions on the necessary standards needed in POD Publishing at the link below:

POD Publishing Standards

May I finally take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year. I seem to have set myself a lot of books to write/publish in the new year, relaunched my publishers, Aquarius Communications Publishing, and of course continue to make this site grow from strength to strength. But, most importantly, that I can continue to help, advise and inform any author taking a step into the world of publishing.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Happy Christmas!

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Happy Christmas to all those who have followed the site over the past year. It's been a turbulent and changing year in publishing with plenty to report on. Even in the past few weeks news surfaces on a day to day basis and the signs are that the current trend will continue.

Whatever choices you make as a writer in the field of publishing, make all your decisions based on sound knowledge. If you choose self-publishing, accept from the start that the rewards may be limited to your own local sphere and it takes considerable effort and perseverance to write, prepare a book for print, find a printer, and market your book even in your own locale and community successfully. If you choose to use a POD publishing service, research the company well, make sure they match the criteria you want for your book. If you decide to follow the path of most authors with pursuing an agent or traditional publisher, find tune your ms and keep persevering.

Merry Christmas and good luck to all in the new year. I'm off for a welcome few days rest!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

HarperStudio & Borders Go Non-returnable on Books

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We have previously reported on the current struggles of Borders bookstore chain and read with interest a business snippet in this week's Wall street Journal. It seems HarperStudio titles will now be stocked by Borders on a 'non-returnable' basis. as with everything in business - this can be construed in two different ways. HarperStudio would consider themselves at the more 'left of field' end of publishers and have been consistently setting trends which have broken the traditional norms of publishing. HarperStudio have offered authors 'no advance - increased royalties' terms contracts and will see this move with Borders as an extension of this ethos through to the book retailer.

"Under the terms of the deal, the nation's second-largest bookstore chain by revenue will get a deeper discount on initial orders of books published by the new imprint of News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers -- 58% to 63% off the cover price"

- Wall Street Journal, December 16th, 2008.

The retail price discount of 58% to 63% is above the 55% maximum that many medium to small publishers aleady feel is an exhorbitant cut on a product the retailer has nothing to do with until it reaches it finally journey - from idea to written manuscript, from submission to edit and print preparation by a publisher, through to production and marketing. They are like the drunk who staggers on to the bus at the second last stop, hoping not to be charged - grudgingly spends several minutes fumbling with loose change while holding everybody up - reluctantly pays their dues, complains to their seated neighbour for a minute or two, then staggers off into the night at the next stop. HarperStudio will see the extra discount granted as an easy trade-off against the frustrating amount of books which travel in the wrong direction every few months.

The other side of things from Borders point of view will be regarding inventory and the volume of books or copies of each book they are carring in every outlet. From what has been reported and my own findings in local Border stores, this kind of deal would suit them. It will be interesting to see how many more retailers will take Harperstudio up on their 'non-returnable' offer with an increased discount. We watch and wait...

Friday, 19 December 2008

Aquarius Communications Publishing Launched

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For followers of this site, some of you may remember me referring to my own publishing imprint which I used to publish my first five books, Arcadia, The Eternal, Hybrid, Thais and Oceanic. The imprint is something I'm very passionate about and over the past few months I have been planning a number of projects which I will go into at a more appropriate time on this site. With some of the projects in mind, book publishing and media, I decided that this would be an ideal time to relaunch the imprint as Aquarius Communications Publishing.

You can view the publisher's site at the link below. Please be aware that we have just launched the publishers and its website, so some of the pages are still under construction.

I will know how Aquarius will develop as a publishers when I have finalised the projects I am working on. Needless-to-say, at the moment, Aquarius Communications Publishing is not at this moment seeking ms solicitations from other authors. This may change later in 2009, but for now, there will still be many resources available on the site as well as this blog being Aquarius Communications Publishing's official blog.

Further details will follow in the new year.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Borders; To Buy or Not to Buy

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I've been talking in a number of articles recently about the downturn in publishing, and it seems not a day goes by that we don't hear about another major publisher making cutbacks and laying off staff. Here are the latest publishing news layoffs as reported by

Earlier this week, Morris Rosenthal on his excellent Foner.books site posted about the situation with Borders and presented a 'what if' scenario regarding the purchase of the chain store by a consortium of self-published authors or small publishers. The idea is tingling and exciting, but it would take in the region of about 6000 to stump up the 65 million dollars for Borders. Possible, but highly unlikely. Image 6000 shareholders at the boardroom table, with their own agendas and titles in mind to be stocked at every brick 'n' mortar store!

I proposed that there was a better chance of AuthorSolutions making a bid for Borders with their own vested interest in AuthorHouse and iUniverse. Morris Rosenthal suggested that their published model differed and, in effect, their revenue was generated through the author, and not as publishers selling books.

"I'm not sure the subsidy POD market sees themselves as having an interest in putting books on shelves. That's not their business model, and I don't have any reason to believe they have any expertise in book retailing or title selection. I don't really expect authors of the world to unite and act, but I think that's the only chance most of those using non-traditional publishing companies have of seeing their titles on store shelves. I'm also not saying it's a logical economic move, only that it's possible, if getting shelf space is the goal."

For publishers like AuthorHouse and iUniverse, Morris probably has a good point. The money-lender or loan shark doesn't have much of a market in boom times, and these publisher's business models are certainly not set up for any money flowing toward the author. Their business model is built on earning money from author services and not selling books, so Morris is perhaps right in saying that despite their market share, it doesn't warrant the risk investment in sales of books, let alone the purchase of a brick 'n' mortar outlet.

Yet, I can't help seeing this as an opportunity. I have researched enough over the past two years to know there are good POD/Subsidy publishers out there, and unlike others, I'm not afraid to name them, and post my own colours to the mast. While their services may differ, their prices may vary, they have one thing in common; they are upfront about the business they are involved in, and in varying ways, they have all pushed the envelope for POD publishing, either through service/set-up price (Lulu, Booklocker), marketing services offered (Infinity, iUniverse), forum, magazine and broadcasting, (Raider International Publishing). The fact is, there are a sizable number of POD publishers who could actually afford to come together through some network, be it the purchase of Borders, or any other chain of stores, and set up a proper independent presence in the high street if they really had the commitment.

In times of recession, the true idealist, the true entrepreneur, doesn't see it as a time of adversity, but a time of opportunity to implement untested business models. It is time to circumvent the traditional passages of getting our idea, story, or book across to the masses. How well this can be done is truly open to criticism, to failure, but also to success.

We live in an age where I can sit here happily for the next few hours, write several thousand words, not just post it to the world, but publish it, make it accessible anywhere in the world within moments, have it purchased as a physical book, marketed and press-released, submitted to a hundred and one pointless on-line literary prizes, posted to Amazon, posted to Google, ... and all this before I go to bed tonight. It won't make it a masterpiece, but it would satisfy a need that may be long gone tomorrow.....

And who would walk into our Independent bookstores, bought from the Borders chain, filled with books by many authors nobody has heard of, by publishers nobody has heard of? A single copy or two, one after the other, shelf after shelf, aisle after isle, waiting for the next customer to venture in and browse...

Hmmm, perhaps we will get our daily reading fix a different way; by ereader, Internet, or, like technology, it will already be genetically programmed into us!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

US National Book Network to Offer New Digital POD Publishing Service

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The National Book Network will be expanding its client publishing services to include digital short run and print-on-demand facilities. NBN already supplies independent services like sales, marketing, distribution, order fulfillment, credit and collections services to publishers of non-fiction, fiction, and children's titles.

NBN has contacted its clients and informed them of the new services and that it is negotiating with other companies to impliment the full program planned over the coming months of 2009. NBN will use netLibrary, e-book Kindle and Amazon’s Search Inside Book program in an effort to support publishers to adapt to the new service facility.

Several months ago, the Perseus Book Group announced a similar 'Constellation' service for its clients.

You can find the National Book Network's website below.

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