Kentucky Public Library Champions Self-Publishing For Local Authors

by John Van Winkle

One public library in Kentucky has begun to offer opportunities for greater exposure to local authors. According to Library Journal, the Daviess County Public Library in Owensboro, Kentucky has begun to offer programs and services for those who self-publish, in order to place electronic versions of their works in curated collections at Kentucky’s public libraries.

Image Courtesy of Tuck-Hinton Architecture
Image Courtesy of Tuck-Hinton Architects

Jim Blanton, Director of the library and founder of the program, has taken supporting local authors to a new level. Blanton has gone from initially facilitating book fairs, talks, and signings for local authors to offering potential nationwide exposure for their work.

This new endeavor, www.­epublishorbust.com, was launched almost a year ago in a response to what Jim Blanton saw as apathy on the part of libraries toward local authors. The site allows authors to register their works with participating libraries, take advantage of tools to collaborate with fellow authors and staff members, as well as use booking tools to schedule readings and tours in participating libraries.

“My hope is that libraries continue to be more welcoming to local authors. As self-publishing grows, it is incumbent upon us to help them connect with readers.”

Blanton endeavors, with the help of SELF-e, a collaboration between Library Journal and BiblioLabs, to expand his program beyond Kentucky and allow Authors to book tours at public libraries across the nation. SELF-e curates and hosts self-published works for libraries.

“The [Kentucky] libraries are using SELF-e and Creator to build their ‘Kentucky Creates’ project on [BiblioLabs’ web-based platform] Biblio­Board, which is going to go beyond books to local musicians, film-makers, artists, etc.”

With the efforts of people like Jim Blanton, local authors who would have little to no exposure now have an opportunity to reach a wider audience. It may be limited to a small number of public libraries in Kentucky now, but partnerships between libraries and technology innovators like Bibliolabs could lend more legitimacy to self-published works through collaboration, digital curation, and setting quality standards for future self-publishers.

Opportunities in Mexico for Digital Growth

The Frankfurt Book Fair, slated for October, will feature a new addition to its conference roster: Global Publishing Summit 2015.

Emerging and evolving book industries around the world will be discussed, including our neighbor to the south.

“The book market in Mexico has its peculiarities,” says José Ignacio Echeverri, Chairman of the Cámara Nacional de la Industria Editorial Mexicana (CANIEM), explaining that the country has two markets: national and private.

According to an article by Digital Book World, while national institutions generate significant demand for books in all Latin American countries, it is generally private publishing houses that obtain and promote the wide variety of titles produced in the region.

The article goes on to say: “There is room for development in the Mexican book market, which currently lacks bookstores and libraries, efficient tax regulations for exports and imports, support for reading and, above all, readers.”

With 73 percent of the 122 million Mexicans classified as non-readers, according to the article, there is a largely untapped customer base.

Industry experts and current studies predict a strong upturn in coming years in the Mexican book market, the second largest in Latin America after Brazil, according to the article.

While the majority of us in this cohort may not venture into publishing in other countries, we can’t deny that we will work heavily in digital publishing — and the Internet knows no borders.

Keeping an eye on what is happening in the Mexican and Canadian book markets is smart. Being such close neighbors, our businesses have the potential to impact the others.

Additionally, with the increase in Spanish-speaking people in the United States, it would behoove us as future publishers to consider how we can reach that sector of the market.

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2015/opportunities-in-mexico-for-digital-growth/

Smartphones Are Getting Smarter: Opportunity for Publishers

How often have you picked up your mobile phone because you were bored? We grab our smartphones for so much more than just making phone calls or texting. We keep busy playing games, surfing the web, and look for apps that enhance our everyday lives such as flashlights and pedometers. What if your smartphone started reaching out to you, just in that moment when your mind was free and open to suggestion? Being bored just got more interesting and publishers may have a new opportunity to grow their audience.

Smartphones are getting smarter according to a recent study by the University of Stuttgart, Germany (When Attention is not Scarce – Detecting Boredom from Mobile Phone Usage).

The two-week study analyzed “over 40,000,000 usage logs and 4398 boredom self-reports of 54 mobile phone users” and the results indicate that boredom is a potential opportunity for publishers to recommend content at the point in which a mobile user is indicating activates that reflect boredom. The study utilized an app to monitor the behavior of the mobile users.

This type of data provides publishers with information that can be utilized to market and promote content in so many different ways. As a publisher the possibilities just expanded their mobile marketing divisions. Marketers don’t have to worry that they are interrupting a smartphone user, they know exactly when they are primed for a connection.

  1. New Subscribers. Online publishers can entice a new subscriber to join their list.
  2. Up-selling. For current subscribers publishers can up-sell publishing content, having the knowledge that the subscriber is bored and has the time to be educated about another product.
  3. Is there an eBook sitting on your virtual bookshelf?  A bored mobile user can be given a nudge to pick up where they left off, moving them closer to finishing their current title and move on to purchase another.
  4. Buy now! Publishers can play on ones boredom with special offers that appear to be reading the users mind. “Just sitting around playing solitaire? Read John Doe’s latest novel, The Devil Rings Twice”.
  5. Targeted Content Provides Comfort. Publishers can create the sense of familiarity when they know the habits and moods of the user. The end user gets a feeling that a particular brand really understands their personal needs.

Mobile technology is growing rapidly and it is a trend that I follow closely. I wrote an article on Skoop! Mobile Technology, which provides a marketer with the ability to target their subscribers based on their buying habits. The boredom research findings are going to take mobile marketing to another level, when blended with a mobile marketing platform, such as Skoop!. From the perspective of a publisher, the marketing and promotional possibilities this data provides, are endless.

Further commentary on the subject can be found on NeimanLab.

Written by Sherrie Wilkolaski.

Wales Library Merge

By: Abigail Yeager

As stated on thebookseller.com, the library system in Wales is moving to a single library card that will work at all of their branches. This comes after the decision in January 2014 by Staffordshire County Council to close nearly half of the libraries in Wales.

The decision was made to save an estimated £1.3m, due to decreasing library visits. The new move to a single library card will allow library users to access the materials of any library in the system, saving an estimated 70% for local libraries.

Wales is hardly the first country to try this system out. In 2012, three London boroughs combined their access to save money, presumably in the cost of acquiring new materials, and residents could then request items from any of the 21 libraries in the system.

America has also made moves toward this type of library system, although those systems are still broken up by state; in Maryland, counties are merging their library systems to grant increasing access to users throughout the state.

Formerly, one would need a separate library card, registered to the appropriate county for each library system. Currently, library cards from both Washington and Frederick counties can be used in either system.

In this increasingly digital age, this seems to be one response to the sharing of physical forms of information. With library usage down, it will spread the cost of acquiring new materials through multiple libraries while merging potential library users into one market.

In Wales, it is also hoped that this new system will encourage more people to sign up for library cards, something that can only be helped by the media attention on this change.

The merge has started with the six north Wales authorities and is expected to adopted throughout Wales sometime in 2016.

The Loft Literary Center Turns 40: Why Publishing Companies Should Consider Their Relationships With Authors

Written by Rebecca Nichloson

According to Publishers Weekly, The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, celebrated it’s 40th Anniversary this past August as it welcomed Britt Udesen, its new executive director. The Loft has made countless contributions to the publishing environment in the Twin Cities and has been a kind of guardian for writers of all genres, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Milkweed Editions Publisher Daniel Slager said of the literary organization, in an interview with PW, “The Loft is an invaluable part of the Twin Cities’ uniquely vibrant literary ecosystem.” He went on to say that, “Many excellent writers have developed and honed their craft in the Loft’s writing classes. We have published a good number of them, as have [other] publishers. They also award invaluable support to working writers and host phenomenal events, featuring many of our nation’s best writer.”

Despite monumental changes in the field of literature, and the publishing industry as a whole, the Loft continues to thrive, providing a much needed haven for writers of all experience levels while also contributing to the progression of a ‘reading culture’ in the Midwest and beyond. The Loft has consistently been an invaluable resource for writers, in that it has been a constant source of support for authors; not only teaching and employing them, but also by providing financial support. In 2015 alone, the organization paid writers a total of $400,000 for teaching, mentorship, and other services, in addition to offering grants and fellowships, collectively, in the amount of $194,000.

The continued prosperity of the Loft can, perhaps, provide a kind of template for other writing centers and literary organizations, in both small and large cities, while demonstrating the role of writing centers in helping writers refine their craft. Conversations about the state of publishing and the unique challenges faced by publishing firms, as a result of technology and other obstacles, often fail to recognize the importance of not only having publishing companies that can utilize changes in the field, but also to ensure that writers continue to receive the financial and artistic support that will enable them to produce creative work for a lifetime.

Centers like the Loft not only support writers, they promote a sense of community around literature and reading, perpetuating the idea that reading is an important component of meaningful living and contributes to society on both macro and micro levels. Also, writers themselves are, generally, active readers and, therefore, both creators and consumers of literature. Any discussion concerning the future of publishing, as an entity, must consider the relationship between publishing companies; regardless of scale, and writers— as publishing companies, in all their configurations, need writers to write qualitative material in order for them to publish qualitative content in both digital and print.

Check out National Book Award winner Mark Doty and poet/playwright Claudia Rankine giving readings at the Loft in the videos below.

Rebecca Nichloson, M.F.A Columbia University School of the Arts, M.A English Literature, Mercy College, M.S Publishing Studies (Distance), George Washington University (Candidate). B.A Liberal Arts/Business Administration. Freelance journalist, editor, and creative writer. www.rebeccanichloson.com

E-book Sales Decline for Some “Big 5” Publishing Companies after New Amazon Contracts

Written by Kate Leboff

Articles by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, writer for The Wall Street Journal, on September 3, and Ashlee Keiler for the Consumerist, on September 4, report that the sales of e-books have sharply (and surprisingly) declined in 2015 after Amazon allowed three of the biggest publishing companies in the world to set their own prices for their digital books. So, prices were raised, and revenue has dropped. It seems that readers not only dislike paying more for e-books as they do for tangible, print editions but are even less likely to buy those marked at an even higher price than their print versions.

Lagardere SCA’s Hacette Book Group, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers, and CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster, three of the biggest and baddest publishers in the industry, have cut deals with Amazon recently. Winning the autonomy to set their own prices seemed to be beneficial for publishers and the industry, keeping that aspect of the publishing process out of Amazon’s hands, but instead it is hurting their sales and revenue.

“Publishers succeeded in preventing Amazon from lowballing prices, but ‘unfortunately, it may be that consumers aren’t happy with the higher prices,’ said Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of publishing consulting firm Idea Logical Co.”

Photo sources: Farrar, Straus & Giroux; Alfred A. Knopf; Hachette Book Group
Photo sources: Farrar, Straus & Giroux; Alfred A. Knopf; Hachette Book Group

In contrast, Amazon’s Kindle e-book sales and revenue have gone up and continue to do so in 2015 for their books not published by the “Big 5.”

The “Big 5,” who choose to sell books on Amazon via the Kindle bookstore, sell their titles about $5.86 more, about 118% more than all other e-books listed, according to Codex Group LLC.

“’Since book buyers expect the price of a Kindle e-book to be well under $9, once you get to over $10 consumers start to say, ‘Let me think about that,’ said Codex CEO Peter Hildick-Smith.”

Hachette priced James Patterson’s new e-book release at $9.99 in 2014, but his latest at $14.99. WSJ’s Trachtenberg reported that the company has seen a 24% drop in their digital book sales for the first half of this year. And things aren’t looking promising for companies with these raised prices on their e-books in comparison of those, which are significantly cheaper, set by Amazon.

Many publishers are claiming that this drop in e-book sales is not due to the Amazon deal that allows for higher pricing but a decline in fewer “hot” titles.

One publishing executive told the WSJ that the industry is a  “title driven business. If you have a good book, price isn’t an issue.”

It seems unclear and is too early to tell if this claim is true or that publishers do not want to admit that the deal cut with Amazon for the ability to set their own e-book prices was a flop rather than a success.

Will publishers need to change their game to halt major cuts in their sales and revenue or will e-book consumers eventually accept these higher prices in their desire to read and own those titles published by and sold on Amazon by Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and other big name companies?