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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Cader’

Michael Cader & Mike Shatzkin Partner for Publishers Launch Conferences

Michael Cader and Mike Shatzkin will partner up to produce Publishers Launch Conferences, a series of industry educational events. The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) and Constellation from the Perseus Books Group have signed on as global sponsors.

The first event, “eBooks Go Global,” will be held in conjunction with this year’s Book Expo America in New York City. The event will focus on eBook business in the United States and how international publishers can compete with North American companies.

Shatzkin gave this quote in the release: “We both see major global opportunities for publishers and booksellers in all languages, regardless of the adoption of digital platforms so far in any particular country. One part of what we’re doing is to help English-language publishers capitalize on these growth markets, and another part is to help others get the greatest value they can from what US and U.K. publishers have already learned.”

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How Publishers Will Cope with Amazon’s Monopoly

Mike_Shatzkin_selfphoto_iPhone_090214.JPGAt Digital Book World this morning, Mike Shatzkin quizzed his panel of publishing thinkers about the Amazon (AMZN) hold over the industry. “Amazon has 80 or 90 percent of the book buying [market] online and 80 or 90 percent of the ebooks [market]. Those are the only parts of the business that are growing. Every other part of the business is shrinking … Will we see a change in this hegemony?” he asked.

Ken Brooks from Cengage Learning had these thoughts: “The share that Amazon has almost has to fall. There are good alternatives that are being introduced every day … I think eventually it will be an open platform.”

Next, Evan Schnittman from Black Plastic Glasses had these thoughts: “I think Google Editions will be a major balancer in the world of eBooks. Search, find, buy in one fluid package [in online marketplaces] will help re-balance the world we live in now … Amazon is our biggest customers in this industry, there will be some serious thinking before we work around them.”

Larry Kirshbaum–a literary agent and former TimeWarner Books CEO–had a different perspective: “Let’s look at this from the consumer’s point of view, the consumer is getting a fabulous book in a really readable format … Even milliseconds can matter in transmission. The idea that the consumer is being forced to adapt to other formats is a tremendous waste … Long term I would like to see a non-proprietary world where the content competes across platforms.”

Michael Cader from Publishers Lunch concluded: “We should take to heart very seriously how much price has driven the eBook market thus far…We’re really focused on the things we think are reading devices. But the explosion that’s about to happen is with devices where reading isn’t the primary function, or even the secondary or tertiary function.”

Harcourt Bought by Houghton Mifflin

It’s official: Just hours after the Financial Times reported that a deal was imminent, Barry O’Callaghan‘s Riverdeep Houghton Mifflin Group has bought Harcourt‘s US Schools Education business from Reed Exhibitions for $4 billion ($3.7 billion payable in cash and an equity stake of $300 million, which will leave Reed with an 11.8 percent stake in the parent company). “When Reed Elsevier announced its intention to sell the Harcourt businesses, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to combine these businesses,” said O’ Callaghan in the announcement. “The addition of the Harcourt businesses to Houghton Mifflin will strengthen our position in the highly competitive educational publishing business. Together, Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt will provide a more customized, diverse and innovative range of products to meet the changing needs of educators and students.”

The combined businesses will be led by Tony Lucki, former head of Harcourt Education. And even though one must agree with Michael Cader‘s assessment in Publishers Lunch earlier today that “the trade divisions would stand as a sideshow to the expected combination of Houghton and Harcourt’s educational lines,” it will be very interesting to watch how Harcourt and HM trade imprints – with combined sales of $200 million – are combined, and who will get to stay put. Remember, too, that Riverdeep only just bought Houghton Mifflin at the beginning of the year for a $5 billion price tag – a debt that O’Callaghan is still struggling with. Is there enough financial solvency to go around? Time will only tell…

Fopp Goes Under; Virgin Reportedly Tried to Save Company

While I was taking a self-imposed hiatus, the Glasgow-based music retailer Fopp did, in the end, go bankrupt after a couple of weeks of cash-only sales and rampant rumors that the company, in its 25th anniversary of existence, had overextended its reach. The Bookseller first reported the news on Friday morning, adding that employees had told the BBC that staff were informed by e-mail on Thursday afternoon about the closure of stores. Later on Friday, they reported that Tom Burton and Colin Dempster from Ernst & Young were appointed joint receivers of Fopp and joint administrators to Music Zone 2007. “The stores have been closed by management yesterday and shop staff sent home,” Burton said in a statement. “We are currently assessing the financial position of the companies; once this has been completed we will have a better idea of the future of the businesses.”

Could Fopp have been saved from bankruptcy? The answer, according to the London Times, was yes, and the would-be-savior in question was Virgin Megastores. Had Sir Richard Branson’s company attempted to merge with Fopp, it would have injected a big rescue loan and taken a 10 per cent stake in a new entity while keeping the Fopp brand. “In the end the numbers just didn’t add up and suppliers to Fopp would not support it,” a source close to the proceedings told the Times. And the BBC reported yesterday that Fopp workers are waiting to hear about their future sometime today, although some employees are already starting to look around for work.

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Amazon’s Kindle Ready to Launch?

Rumors circulating back in April that Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader, would be launched in the spring didn’t pan out, but Publishers Marketplace reported on its home page yesterday that plans are definitely afoot for some kind of launch – even if it’s taking place in the most obscure way possible.

PM discovered metadata streams from the e-tailer that list “Kindle Edition” offerings for a variety of books, newspapers and magazines including the NY Times, the Washington Post, Le Monde, the Independent, Forbes, Newsweek, Time, the Boston Globe, FAZ, and the Denver Post. There is a single live link at the moment for a Kindle Edition of the Wall Street Journal–offered for one dollar, with a “subscribe now with 1-click” button. The WSJ product page also provides a glimpse of a new “Search: Digital Text” dropdown menu that does not appear on the rest of the site yet. So is this something deep in the works or, as Michael Cader terms it, “ghost data in the machine”? No one’s gone on record yet, and two publishing executives indicated to PM that the launch is not expected until this fall at the earliest. So it seems that Amazon isn’t ready to kindle its e-reader flame quite just yet…

Today in AMS: Perseus Front-Runs, but it’s Up To the Judge

It took a flurry of late night activity, and Judge Christopher Sontchi could decide to do whatever he likes when today’s hearing gets underway at 11:30 PST, but for now, it looks like Perseus has the upper hand in the battle for Publishers Group West and its client publishers. PW Daily reports that AMS lawyers and the unsecured creditors’ committee gave their support to Perseus’s offer to pay 70 cents of pre-bankruptcy claims to PGW clients. Perseus has signed contracts with publishers accounting for 85% of the PGW debt. Perseus CEO David Steinberger said he was “gratified” for the backing of the two parties and appreciated the support Perseus received from the publishers.

But National Book Network isn’t counting themselves out yet. CEO Jed Lyons announced the company is raising the payout to publishers to 100% of monies owed and dropping NBN’s $1.2 million claim against AMS, as well as another unsecured claim. NBN has agreements with 118 publishers, representing 42% of PGW clients, excluding Avalon, which is being acquired by Perseus.

And the 11:30 hearing will also address distributor Baker & Taylor ‘s plans to take control of the non-PGW-related bankruptcy holdings of AMS. Michael Cader noted in Publishers Lunch yesterday that “doing some reverse math” revealed some interesting findings. “In their January 24 court filing, [AMS] declared accounts receivable of $147.5 million and inventory of $72.5 million. But in the B&T letter of intent, accounts receivable have plunged to $65 million — implying that accounts have paid down their payables by returning up to $82 million worth of books.” That’s a whole lot of money unaccounted for, and it’s not even taking into account how much money Wells Fargo has first claim on. Radio Free PGW has much more on B&T’s offer and why, in his opinion, it’s the “recipe to make stinkbug pie.”

Inside Patterson, Inc.

I’ve said all along that to treat James Patterson like any other author – and hold him to the same standards – is an unwise move. He used to run an advertising agency, and the model he’s concocted is clearly based on having a CEO come up with big ideas, and creative mouses scurrying around to flesh them out with backbreaking deadlines. (Or as Little, Brown publisher Michael Pietsch puts it, Patterson is effectively “developing a studio system for writers.” That’s contrary to the image of “the lonely writer in a garret,” Pietsch says. “But a lot of great popular entertainment, even great and serious art, comes out of collaboration.”) As it happens, USA TODAY’s Bob Minzesheimer gets a clearer look at the working life (and success) of Patterson thanks to the author, his newest co-writer and other publishing insiders. Michael Cader at Publishers Lunch calculated that if Patterson were treated as a publishing house unto himself, he’d be tied for fourth for most No. 1 best sellers in 2006 — ahead of all of HarperCollins, a major publisher. Exactly.

Minzesheimer also discovers how Patterson’s newest co-authorship with Michael Ledwidge came about. The latter had written three novels that yielded big advances but sold a combined total of 20,000 copies. He’d known Patterson in his doorman days, and the bestseller helped land an agent. When Ledwidge asked Patterson to look at a draft of what he hoped would be his fourth novel, Patterson had a counteroffer: Would he be interested in collaborating on a novel Patterson had in mind? Ledwidge says he agreed “at about the speed of light.”

Patterson had the outline, Ledwidge fleshed him out and the younger author seems very happy with the arrangement, since he can now write full-time. “It’s like a dream; to have one job, not two…If you look at the newsletter of the Mystery Writers of America, everyone is always talking about how to market yourself, not the writing part. Now I don’t have to worry about that.”

Today in AMS: Court Date Set for February 7, Perseus Court Filing Details

PW Daily reported yesterday that anyone who has any objection to Perseus Books Group‘s 70 cents on the dollar offer for Publisher Group West clients have until February 7 to file motions with the bankruptcy court, according to a notice issued by the Delaware court on Wednesday. If no objections are filed, the court has the right to approve Perseus’s offer without further notice or hearing. A court hearing on the offer is set for February 12.

On what grounds could there be objections? Radio Free PGW spells out one in particular after looking at recent court filings by Perseus, which comes down to this: “Perseus will file an administrative claim for all of the pre-bankruptcy booty that PGW publishers sign over to them. This means that Perseus will be paid ahead of all other unsecured creditors, including Random House and Simon & Schuster. We can’t quite understand why the other creditors would go for this.”

Publishers Lunch also discovered in the recent court filings that although AMS indicated in its original bankruptcy announcement that its international subsidiaries would not be affected, turns out that “AMS has pledged 66& of its ownership interest” in those subsidiaries as collateral — which, Michael Cader points out, will likely get turned into cash at some point.

Publishing Unbound, Google-Style


A crowd more than 300-strong gathered at the New York Public Library‘s Celeste Bartos Room for Google‘s all-day Unbound conference to be told, in no uncertain terms by an array of speakers, that if you’re not moving with the digital times, you’re just not a 21st century publisher. I paraphrase, of course, but that was certainly the vibe in the air what with Seth Godin comparing publishers to outlying planets, Cory Doctorow (on the fiction side) and Daniel Weiss (on the educational side) explaining why giving content away is a good thing, and Tim O’Reilly advocating for Google Book Search as a way of capturing the almost 75% of books that aren’t accounted for by not being in print or in the public domain.

Aside from Godin and Doctorow, Chris Anderson was on hand to give an abbreviated spiel of his bestselling THE LONG TAIL, Stephen Dubner (of Freakonomics fame) talked about how the related website – now a blog with additional content features – brings in over 2 million page views a month, and J.A. Konrath stressed the importance of having “things to offer” instead of “things to sell” on an author website. But the big hit of the afternoon – at least, judging by applause – was Josh Kilmer-Purcell, who used Powerpoint in hilarious fashion to describe how MySpace hooked him up with fellow members of the Memoirist Collective. And for those who need help interpreting the slide, Kilmer-Purcell illustrated how his book, I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS, was published by HarperPerennial, which is part of HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who owns “half the world” – and when the Judith Regan graphic cued up, the room erupted in laughter…

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Today in AMS: Avalon Signs with Perseus

Publishers Lunch reported late yesterday that the Avalon Publishing Group, which includes Carroll & Graf, Shoemaker & Hoard, Seal Press, Thunder’s Mouth Press, Nation Books, Marlowe & Company and Avalon Travel Publishing, has signed a letter of intent to be acquired by the Perseus Books Group. (AP picked up the story this morning.) Terms were not available, but Avalon is said to have been generating about $32 million annually. Charlie Winton, Avalon’s president (and former PGW founder) will stay in place during a “transition period” and then will serve as a consultant to Perseus, including advising on “how to further develop Perseus’ client services business through which Perseus provides sales and distribution services to independent publishers.”

Since Avalon was one of the most high-profile clients of Publishers Group West, this is big news -and it remains to be seen, as Michael Cader pointed out, what this news means for the rest of PGW’s 150-odd publisher clients. Make what you will of Perseus CEO David Steinberger‘s comments in his statement about the new deal: “Charlie and I are already working together on a proposal to AMS, PGW and PGW clients, all of whom are facing a very challenging situation. We have talked to a number of clients and we are in discussions with AMS.” Winton says, “We think a path can be found that would benefit all parties. Because of its two distribution lines – Consortium and Perseus Distribution – Perseus is ideally positioned to lead this initiative.”

For Winton, the sale to Perseus marks the end of a five-year odyssey with AMS that began in 2002 (and included his replacement as PGW’s head by current CEO Rich Freese in 2003.) And as Pat Holt (of Holt Uncensored fame) predicted back when AMS bought PGW, “this marriage between distributors with conflicting philosophies is going to hit some purty stormy patches.” Did it ever – and Winton’s necessary defection may well signal even more defections, whether to Perseus or to different distribution waters. This morning, the anonymous Radio Free PGW blog added its own take on the story with a part history, part obituary of PGW as it once was.