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Penguin CEO Sees Bright Future For Publishing

And thus presumably a bright future for all who work in it.

In a wide-ranging interview in today’s Wall Street Journal, Penguin CEO John Makinson discusses books versus Kindles and why they both have a place in the market.

“I looked the other day into the sales of public-domain classics in 2009, when all those books were available for free. What I found was that our sales had risen by 30% that year. The reason is that we were starting to sell hardcover editions—more expensive editions—that people were prepared to pay for. There will always be a market for physical books, just as I think there will always be bookstores,” he said.

Interestingly, Makinson says that Penguin should be selling some books digitally at the $2 price point, which would seem to be a direct competitor to self-publishers like Amanda Hocking (who has since signed a deal with a traditional publisher). “This is a new market that can’t exist economically in print. You can’t manufacture, ship and store a book at those prices. But we as publishers probably need to participate.

“We’ll look at new content that maybe we can popularize in different ways. We’ll also look at our backlist. Maybe there are customers for westerns at $1.99. What we need to be really careful of is ensuring that this new market doesn’t compromise the sales of Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell and Ken Follett.”

Okay, so unless your name is Ken Follett, your job is probably secure. And if your name is Ken Follett, you’re still probably fine.

A Slightly Biased Review Of ‘Be Your Own Best Publicist’

Confession: we’re biased.

It might be because one of the coauthors of this new book, ‘Be Your Own Best Publicist,’ Jessica Kleiman of Hearst, offered to send this book as a review copy back in 2010. (The other co-author is Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, managing director of the home and lifestyle division at DeVries Public Relations.) Since the book was about how the average working stiff can use PR techniques to improve his career, we were intrigued.

That copy never arrived.

Follow-up e-mails months later (“Hey, still interested in reviewing your book….um…hello???”) received no reply.*

Finally we were contacted by another mediabistro.com blogger who had a copy she didn’t want. Did we want it? By this time, perhaps not, but whatever, we’ll take a look at it.

So that is why we’re a little biased here. Perhaps a publicist that doesn’t actually send review copies when requested is not really the best publicist. (On the other hand, we’re also feeling like we owe this book something after trying so hard to get it, so we’re biased both against and for it.)

WITH THAT SAID:

The book is a breezy easy read that contains little new information (there are chapters on dressing for interviews–make sure your shoes are polished and you’re not wearing distracting jewelry–yawn!) yet is a nice pocket-sized (almost) summary of the same stuff bigger career guides will tell you in more words.

Read more

A Slightly Biased Review of ‘Resumes For Dummies, 6th Edition’

Why are we biased against this book? Because we are not, apparently, the right demographic.

‘Dummies’ author Joyce Lain Kennedy (also author of the nation’s first syndicated career column ‘Careers Now’) is not a technophobe, as far as we know. But judging from her Twitter account she also is clearly not a technophile.

Resumes For Dummies, even in the new updated 6th edition (Wiley, $16.99), shows it.

First, the good. About 75 pages here are dedicated just to examples of resumes from people in all sorts of industries, including a number of “resume makeovers” that show great before-and-after examples of how to refresh a tired CV. If you haven’t written a resume in a few years (or if you’re a student who hasn’t written one ever), these, and the chapters that precede them, will be indispensable.

The easy trick to creating a custom resume for every job application (just make a “master” resume that’s about five pages too long and trim what you don’t need) is pretty clever for those who haven’t heard it before.

We’ll say it again: we’re fans of a lot of this book.

That being said, the sections on social media and mobile job applications are bewildering. Some sentences are bizarre but parseable: “After the internet caught job-search fire in the 1990s–instantly whisking resumes to and fro–little new technology changed the picture until the social Web groundswell burst upon us in the mid-2000s.”

Some literally do not make any sense:
“You can protect your identity in its purest Web form by buying a domain for your name – YourName.com.”

Some sections are not only nonsensical, they actually contain bad advice, like the sidebar explaining how HTML5 will violate the privacy of everybody on the internet. Worse, there’s the section where Kennedy advises jobseekers to send a short synopsis of their qualifications when applying for a job via a mobile app, because smartphone screens are too small to hold their full resumes.

We’ll let that one sink in for a second.

Does Kennedy not have a good editor?

CONCLUSION: Buy this book for the resume examples and other evergreen content. Don’t expect to get a technology crash course.

But you don’t have to take our word for it! Check out three sample chapters at the For Dummies store.

FTC Disclosure: Yeah, Wiley sent us a copy of this book to review gratis. We’re pretty sure the free-ness didn’t cause us to pull punches, but you decide.

E-Books Could Prove New Revenue Stream For Times Journalists?

Joe Pompeo at Yahoo reports on media outlets’ forays into e-book publishing.

It’s interesting stuff: the New York Times released an ebook early this year compiling mostly previously-published work from 49 Times journalists on WikiLeaks; the book’s sales didn’t reach Amanda Hocking levels but it’s done well enough that the Times has put out a paperback edition.

The paper is already “actively thinking about its next ebook” so the ROI must be pretty decent.

Time‘s $7 ebook on the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill, adapted and expanded from an article that ran in the magazine, reached 400 on the Kindle bestseller list, and Foreign Policy sold 1,000 copies of a book on the Middle East within the first week of its launch at $5 a pop. “This is going to be a terrific growth area,” editor Susan Glasser told Pompeo.

Well, go media organizations.

E-Publishing Bingo

Sick of hearing the arguments for e-publishing? Keep score with the Electronic Publishing Bingo Card by John Scalzi (himself an author no stranger to electronic publishing).

Regardless what side of the debate you fall on, it’s a pretty great card.

‘Tiger In The Kitchen,’ From Laid-Off WSJ Reporter, Out Today

In 2009, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan lost her job as a fashion writer at the Wall Street Journal. But a week later, she’d signed with Hyperion to write a food memoir.

Joe Grimm spoke to Tan about what’s happened between then and now.

Apparently, a lot. Not just the researching and writing of the book, but building her platform:

“‘I carried a notebook with me whenever I went into the kitchen or whenever my family was telling stories. Everyone has a different version of events.’ She used a camera and audio recorder to take notes.

“As she reported and wrote, Tan found material that she knew would not make the book. She poured that into her blog. The writing there already has helped her land a magazine piece with Food & Wine. She does a weekly piece now for The Wall Street Journal and will have a piece about her book this week in Newsweek.”

Another tidbit: She wrote the original proposal–all 11,000 words of it–in a month when she realized her job at the WSJ was in jeopardy. A month!

Now she’ll be doing travel, food, and fashion writing and seeing where her new status as author takes her.

The book is officially out today.

Are You A Moral Author? HarperCollins Hopes So

A new clause has been appearing in book contracts being sent out by HarperCollins to authors, reports eReads. It gives the publisher the right to end a contract with an author if “Author’s conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or if Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales.”

In other words, Harper can cancel an author’s contract (and require her to repay her advance) if she is…immoral?

EReads explains: “Does this mean that if you covet your neighbor’s wife, Harper could cancel your contract? Probably not…Where the morals clause is more likely to come into play is when your sin damages Harper’s ability to sell your book. [Brooklyn attorney F. Robert] Stein puts it this way: “I strongly suspect that HarperCollins could care less about their authors’ morals…unless and until a moral indiscretion threatens to reduce the value of the author’s book. Imagine if former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer had, during his term in office, contracted with HarperCollins to write a book entitled I Choose to Be Purer Than Caesar’s Wife. Once Spitzer’s dalliances with multiple prostitutes became public, the potential audience for that book would likely have dropped precipitously, and HarperCollins’ ability to recoup its advance would have been seriously compromised.”

As many commenters have pointed out, “public conventions and morals” is a slippery slope. Who defines the term? It seems like a fairly clear-cut example of a company going too far.

Read the actual contract language at the original post.

No Dummies Here: Wiley Posts Modest Growth

John Wiley and Sons posted a growth in revenue of 1 percent and a nice 22 percent boost in profit for the second quarter of fiscal year 2011, the company reported today.

Wiley publishes a number of scientific and technical textbooks and journals but is perhaps best known in the lay world as publisher behind the “For Dummies” series.

Textbooks and scientific/technical journals offset a poor quarter for the company’s professional/trade division.

President/CEO William J. Pesce added that e-book sales for the past six months in the professional division more than doubled, bringing in $10 million.

While sales of consumer books were flat or down, Wiley released an “enhanced” e-book in the iTunes store in October. A photography book that also contains videos and interactive features, “Lights, Camera, Capture” went on to become the top-grossing app in photography and the 29th-top app overall.

HMH In Hot Water

More than 30 copyright infringement suits have been filed against Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the past five years after photographers, artists, and photo agencies learned that HMH had been violating the terms of its licensing agreement, reports PDNOnline.

The textbook publisher had signed licenses limiting the usage of photographs and other media to 40,000 copies, then used the images in print runs of a million or more copies without paying the creators any more—or even notifying them of the change.

Attorney Chris Seidman of Harmon & Seidman LLC has represented most of the plaintiffs and won settlements for about 20 of them.

“The scheme that Houghton employed was to license for the lowest amount it thought it could get away with, and then print whatever it wanted,” Seidman told PDN Online.

In a response to one of the infringement claims, a HMH senior executive told the court that the 40,000-copy limit “became a sort of boilerplate number” and “just an industry convention” that didn’t limit HMH to anything at all.

The judge called that argument “nonsense.”

Then HMH said that all it owed in that case was the price difference between the 40,000-copy license and the 1 million-copy license.

“The judge also rejected the argument, ruling that HMH was liable for not only the license fee but damages in the form of its profits from the infringing publications. HMH’s response to that was that [the photographer]‘s pictures contributed nothing to the profits because they were insignificant and added no value to its publications.”

If that was the case, the judge said, why did you bother paying for them in the first place?

Incidentally, HMH has now changed its contract so that new contributors are agreeing to an unlimited license of their work. Watch what you sign.

Nina Hoffman Leaving NG Books

Nina Hoffman, president of National Geographic Books, will be stepping down at the end of the year, according to a memo obtained by Society Matters.

International SVP Declan Moore will “immediately begin the process of recruiting” a replacement. Meanwhile, the books division will look like this, Moore writes:

Barbara Brownell, VP and Editor in Chief, will report to me on editorial matters, and Carl Mehler will report into her.

Hector Sierra, Chief Operating Officer, will report to me, and Linda Howey (VP, Retail and Special Sales) and Ruth Chamblee (VP, Trade Marketing) will report to Hector. Jeff Reynolds will report to Ruth.

Heidi Vincent (VP, Direct Marketing) will report directly to me.

Children’s Book Publishing will continue to report to Melina Bellows, EVP of Children’s Publishing and Chief Creative Officer for Kids and Family, who continues to report to me.

No mention was made in the memo of where Hoffman’s headed.

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