Books are Back: Romanticism Lives!

by Cynthia W. Moore

I Love Books

Photo from: https://brewingthoughts.quora.com/E-Books-vs-Printed-Books-The-Dilemma

Digital Book World published an article on their blog entitled “Who Cares How You Read? Just Read.”  Writer Laura Brady wrote that “There has been a lot of press lately about data that looks like it’s pointing to declining book sales and surging print sales.”  Well, if third quarter data counts as data, she is, indeed, correct.  Publisher’s Weekly recently posted that third quarter eBook sales were “down” at HarperCollins and “weak” at Penguin Random House.  Is the ever-climbing eBook sales graph line headed to the long tail?  Perish the thought!

The digital publishing industry is just hitting puberty and suitors of all kinds are lining up at the door.  Brady writes that, although she is now an eBook developer, she “loves books [and] started working in publishing because of a romantic idea of what books and the people who publish them are all about.”  She even admits that she doesn’t “apply the same romanticism to the business she works in now.”  Ah, there’s the rub.  People really do have an attachment to their books.  Reading books digitally is utilitarian.  You can’t really cuddle up to an e-reader, but you can get your work done.

Even playground bully Amazon has weighed in on the disruptive mess it has created by changing its status to brick-and-mortar bookstore owner as well.  Many “Like” the move and the comments are overwhelmingly favorable.

Laura Brady, though, is really addressing publishers and doing some much-needed PR for eBooks:

“I think there are certainly a lot of misconceptions about ebooks—that they can’t be nicely-designed, that they are worth less than print, that reading them is a “less-than” experience. None of these things are true. But they will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if publishers believe them and put little to no energy or creative attention into their digital publishing programs. Just like mass market paperbacks upended a staid publishing culture in the ‘30s, ebooks aren’t going anywhere and need to be a critical part of the publishing planning process.”

Brady goes on to say that “Some of us are working constantly to make future-proof ebooks that are nice to look at and easy to consume despite the confusing proliferation of specs and devices.”  Apparently it is up to publishers to save eBooks’ fourth quarter sales and thereby the industry overall.  Sometimes, though, I like rooting for the underdog and unlike Brady, I do “get jazzed by the smell of paper” in a newly purchased book.

Sources:

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2015/who-cares-how-you-read-just-read/

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/index.html

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/68440-bestsellers-offset-weak-e-book-sales-at-penguin-random-house.html

http://publishingtrendsetter.com/industryinsight/long-tail-publishing/

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/its-time-to-turn-your-back-on-amazon/Content?oid=19708679

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/03/454250311/amazon-opens-a-real-bookstore-in-seattle

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Cynthia Moore is a writer and former educator who joined the M.P.S. in Publishing program at The George Washington University to gain cutting edge industry know-how to launch her own publishing venture.

How Independent Publishers Craft Their Missions

Our Mission

by Cynthia W. Moore

As we studied missions this week, I wondered what my favorite publishing resource had to say about the subject.  Independent Book Publishers Association‘s mission states that it “is a not-for-profit membership organization serving and leading the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success.  IBPA makes it easier for independent book publishers and self-published authors to navigate the sometimes intimidating publishing process.” (https://www.ibpa-online.org/about/).

IBPA published an article in their Independent magazine in July 2015 entitled “Committed: How Independent Publishers Craft and Refine Mission.”  The article’s author, Deb Vanasse, suggests that an independent publisher’s ability to “focus on readers and specialize” positions them “to work from meaningful missions” paving their way to success.  Since independent publishers are not affiliated with large corporations, a personable, more meaningful mission can be crafted.

Independent publishers interviewed for the article had similar personal and meaningful thoughts about their publishing businesses:

  • “Ruby K. Payne, CEO of aha! Process, Inc, a company dedicated to improving the education and lives of people in poverty, notes that mission connotes spiritual purpose, while vision is more futuristic, and niche is more about audience.”
  • “Mark Cunningham, founder and publisher of Atelier26 Books adds that a mission is a very particular and fully conscious understanding of your houses’ place in the culture and its approach to the marketplace.”
  • “For Judy Galbraith, founder of Free Spirit Publishing, mission is grounded in her lifelong goal of helping children and teens navigate life’s challenges. “When I started Free Spirit Publishing, I’d say that I had a strong vision for our niche, but I surely didn’t have an articulated mission,” says Galbraith. “Having a clearly articulated mission, one that everyone in the company is fully committed to, is extremely important on many levels. Internally, it informs and guides acquisitions, development, sales, and marketing.”

For the independent publisher missions evolve as the company grows and sharpens and/or expands its focus.  Some independent publishers find their mission through a passion for local or regional publishing; others through a desire to serve a certain segment of readers.  Usually, for independent publishers, the meaningful mission is what birthed and launched the publishing enterprise; it is rarely simply a just for profit enterprise.