Saturday, June 16, 2012

BEA Diary 2012

(Note: the dates on the photos are correct, but the time is not. The camera didn't change to the EDT zone. Add about 3 hours!)

"If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else." - Yogi Berra

For those who have read this BEA Diary for the past fourteen years know that I always take a red-eye from my Northern California base and land in New York City in "great" shape, since I like to fly Jack Daniels Airlines... but I find that I'm getting to the age where the take-offs and flights are still good, but the landings are getting a bit bumpier!

I always try to see old publishing friends when I'm in New York, and this year I met up with a woman I've long admired, who is a good sport for all the ribbing I've given her over the years, and who is easily the most knowledgeable person in the book-biz on finance, business models, and the proverbial bottom-line. There is no way I would start an imprint or a digital division without paying whatever she asks for her consulting knowledge.

Marion Gropen is moving to New Orleans because her doctor-husband got his dream job. I'm told she will carry on with her practice, just from the Big Easy and not the Big Apple. We had a long chat about the future of the industry and she pretty much told me what Yogi Berra said above

Marion Gropen... a good friend and an expert on publishing financials

I always enjoy getting on the bus on the first day of BEA to see all the eager faces of first-time attendee publishers who can't wait for the madding hordes of buyers. Little do they know that all the buyers caught the last train for the coast! Yes, there is plenty of media, but they don't buy books... they get most of them for free!

With the past year in mind I expected to see a morgue... a mostly empty hall. But surprise, surprise, there is still life in the old book-biz yet! The first day is always the busiest and while it was not jam-packed like it was fifteen years ago, the aisles were "comfortably" crowded. It at least LOOKED like a SHOW... "it's ALIVE!"

I always hit the small pubs first, but this year it was not so easy because the BEA floor managers sprinkled most of the small press on both sides and in the back. However, you can't keep a good book down and one of the best books... easily the most beautiful... that I found was "at the end of the road"... a cookbook from Denmark simply called Best Recipes from Jeane d'Arc Living. This was simply outstanding... my pick for "Best in Show." If I had this book... I would never lend it to anyone. It is simply beautiful... there are no other words to describe it. It is books like this that will never be able to be "replaced" by an iPad or Nook.

Kristina Lunddorf from Denmark with a beautiful book... and she's not bad herself!

My runner-up to "book of the show" was a really nice effort by Patton Publishing which has a absolutely super coffee-table book called Portraits of Service. I really, really loved this book. The purpose of Portraits of Service is to focus public attention on living veterans of all wars and from many countries who have made personal sacrifices and, in many cases, undergone the horrors of combat. Upon returning home, many of these vets were met with indifference; worse, many did not receive continuing support or help from their communities. The company is owned  by the granddaughter of Gen. George Patton who was at the show (but not pictured here.) Great book.

Nancy Rabitoy from Patton Publishing.

We hear it time and time again that niche markets "sell." Well I guess it is true because Mixed Role Productions puts out a butt-ugly "academic year" calendar/organizer that must make enough money for them to attend the show. Hey, if only one out of 50 teachers in the country buys one, ka-ching.

Margaret Lara with her calendar/organizer for teachers. Cute girl... ugly book!

The BetterWorld Book company has been around for long time but I've never heard of them. They collect and sell books online to donate books and fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than 8 million new and used titles in stock, they are a "self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value for all our stakeholders"... so they say on their website. I still don't understand their biz-model, so check them out and explain it to me if you can!

Jamie McGregor of Better World Books

Every once in a while I see a sideline that just is... "cool." I don't know why I like the Buddha Board but I do. It's just plain fun... and it has an artistic side to it as well. I wish I had one as I'd play with it all the time. Probably a good thing that I don't or I'd never get anything done! Their web site is one of those Adobe Flash things that take forever for you to understand what is going on... but the product is super. Buy one.... you will probably get good karma from it.

Cory Blyth with her Buddah Board

I love coffee and rounding the corner in the small-pub area I saw the Inside The Cup book. I'm surprised that no one has done this before. Have you ever awkwardly tried to place an order at Starbucks? Maybe you weren't sure about what the drinks were or how to pronounce them. I've been there (what is a "venti?")  Or maybe you're a Starbucks pro and you would just like some drink recommendations. Whatever the case, Kenneth Brown draws upon his years as a Starbucks store manager to answer the questions that he heard from customers on a daily basis. This is a terrific idea.

Check out Ken's Inside the Cup book before you go to Starbucks!

I rounded the corner in the small pub area and I ran right into an old friend of mine... Shel Horowitz. He is still working as a consultant and as a book-shepherd and as a copywriter. It was good to see him We've had our differences in the past... but the past is history.

Once an old nemesis, now an old friend.

There was a lot of fantasy fiction at this year's BEA. I expected political books (they are sort of a fantasy!) since it is a political year, but few were to be found. However, I thought that if there is going to be a "winner" in the field of fantasy, Traegonia has a shot. Their figurines are terrific... and they might want de-empahsize  the books and concentrate on selling these to their fantasy-fiction followers!

Kim Kim Krueger and her wonderful figures... which they should sell instead of books!

There is always a lot of strange stuff at BEA. One gal was pitching something called "paranormal romance". I'm not sure what it is, but I liked the booth and the costume and the covers. 

Lizzy Ford at Guerrillawordfare. Good costumes always work!

In past years there used to be a ton of printers at BEA... no more.... there were only a few... and one of them was the venerable Steven Kehoe of Cushing-Malloy. This was his 100th (I think) BEA and it is always good to talk to him. Bottom line, most printers are finally understanding that they have to move into the digital age while still maintaining infrastructure for the kinds of books that will still be ink-on-paper... tech books, cook books, coffee-table books, etc.

Steve at Cushing. He's a  BEA dinosaur... like me!

In past years we've seen ten-tons of self-help books... most have been crap. This year, not so many... perhaps because in past years most have been... crap and never sold! I rather liked this one called Stress Pandemic. Of course no one we know has any stress in their life, right?

Jasmine Germani with a new "stress" book by Paul Haljich

As each day wore on you can see that a lot of people left the hall. Look how empty this aisle is.

It was only a few hours past lunch!

Each year I go to the Midpoint Trade booth to see the beautiful and talented Julie Hardison. She was one of my original "Book-Babes" and no doubt she is still one. She has risen trough the ranks at Midpoint and if owner Eric Kampmann (below) had half a brain he'd have her run the whole company. She has developed into a book-maven... with an instinct as to what will sell and what won't. I'm sure that a swim-suit calendar of her would sell very well too!

Julie of Midpoint... she can run my company any time!
Eric Kampmann, owner of Midpoint and not nearly as good looking as Julie!

Each year we get a one-book publisher who has written the so-called Great American Novel. This year I found Anir Yassai who wrote The Life Squad. I'm not sure what the book is about but I think if he can get distribution coupled with his good looks and his engaging personality, he can make it happen. I sent him to Midpoint and maybe they will take him on.

Amir Yassai... author... maybe one-day bestseller?

One of the really successful men in the small press is someone few know... but many have heard of. It's my old buddy Jerry Jenkins. Jerry owns and runs the Jenkins Group which does the IPPY Awards as well as a lot of "premium" (niche market) books. I had not seen him for a while because he stopped sending me an invitation to his IPPY party... which I would have covered in this diary... but no tickee... no inkee! It was good to touch base with him after several years. Check out his website to see what "success" in the book biz looks like

Jerry may be the richest man in the publishing biz!

Each year I find booths where I can't figure out what the business model is. I looked at a booth called Small Demons. I looked at their website. I still have no idea what they do. If anyone can figure it out please let me know. I think their "demon" is figuring out how to get their message out... assuming there is one.

This is Ariana Lernasky. I have no idea what these folks do!

I found a young couple that has a potential publishing gold-mine called PowerScore. They create study books for people taking professional entrance tests... LSAT, SAT, GMAT, etc. They have some big competitors but they seem to have their act together and I think they will continue to do very well. More publishers should find a niche they like and just stick to that. These guys have the right idea. I looked over their line (having taken LSAT and GRE) and this is the real deal.

Really cute Bekki Cait and some other guy (ok, husband) of PowerScope. Good concept, good content.

There was a ton of technology at this year's BEA, most of them for e-book conversions. The ADS Group is way different. The ADS Group is a full service media development and distribution company. Their  audio and video production and CD/DVD manufacturing facilities are under one roof for a seamless delivery of content. Whether you need a few hundred or a million-plus DVDs, CDs, or USB flash drives, they can do it.

These folks know the future... they are the future!

One of my oldest and dearest friends in this business... and a woman who knows more about foreign rights, publishing, and everything in between is Cindy Frank, who heads Cypress House. She had two of her authors with her, Phillip Harvey and Dave Tarber. If you want to know how to run a successful publishing biz, ask Cindy. She can tell you how. Everyone in this industry loves her... and for good reason... she is simply a really, really nice woman always willing to help other publishers. I met her at the San Francisco Book Fair in 1993. She never ages.

Cindy and two of her authors

There is always a doctor in the house and this year we find Phyllis Palm who has an interesting book about Alzheimer's called Put That Knife Away . Married at mid-life, the author lovingly describes a life of favorite pursuits, friends, music, theater, fine dining and foreign travel. Until disaster hits. Not only does Bob forget, his personality disintegrates, he becomes demanding, argumentative and paranoid. The author, a practicing psychologist, fights with her own denial, struggles to find a diagnosis and modifies their lifestyle to cope with her husband’s drastic outbursts until she learns to fear for her own safety.

This should be done by a major publisher. I hope it eventually gets some attention.

There was a huge booth to pitch the upcoming Sharjah International Book Fair in the UAE. I wonder just how many Jewish publishers or media they will allow to attend? My guess... zero. The booth was empty, but you can tell they paid big-dollars for it... as well as the booth-babe who sat there all alone.

Huge booth for an upcoming book show

A rather hot booth-babe for an Arab country!

Now I ask you. How many booths do you find where the person is sitting there and knitting... condoms. Most would say "none" but they would be wrong because Tara Murphy was doing just that. She is a publicist and my bet is she is a rather good one.

She said they are condoms. Tara Murphy, Publicity

There were not nearly the number of graphic novels (I call them comic books... but that's me!) this year as last. Maybe this fad has ended, I don't know. But I thought that Kingstone Media Group had a few entries in the genre that were rather good and that might break out.

Her name is Kelly Ayris and it was nice of her to hold up our JAYA123 flyer

A lot of people know or remember Planned Media Arts. Well, the company has changed their name to Media Connect. They are a media placement firm.... their core proficiency -- is their ability to get significant coverage in the news media. They say they are in contact with influential members of the media every hour of every day, leveraging relationships on their clients' behalf. I don't know why they changed their name, but they have a good rep.

Jennifer Garza of Media Connect . What a super smile. She can be my media-babe any day of the week!

I love O'Reilly press. I truly do. They publish many of the best computer books in the industry and they are a socially responsible company. If one was to channel a niche publisher O'Reilly or Nolo would be the ones. Year after year they have been successful in the tech field... one that many have tried and few are still standing. They are great publishers who bring out great books in their field. I love O'Reilly.

Mile Leonard, Helen Monroe, and John O'Toole of O'Reilly... great books... great people.

You can't have a BEA without a few outlandish costumes... and Pink Pig Press did me proud. They have all of three books, but they seem serious about this biz and maybe they will make it. If a great name, a sense of "fun" and a commitment to publishing is all one needs (deep pockets also would help!) perhaps they will survive. I rather hope so.

Vell and Liz Sweeny of Pink Pig. I hope they make it!

I was expecting to see a ton of political books like we saw in 2008, but there were hardly any this year. I don't know why. I suspect that they didn't sell though during the last election cycle so publishers were not going to kill trees for them again. However, there was one press... WND Books that had a body-double of President Obama and everyone was lining up to have their pix taken... and here is mine. WND is just to the right of Genghis Khan politically and I understand their book is a "hit piece" on the President.

The author of this electronic fish-wrap and "Mr. President."

I had the pleasure of running into another old friend, Puja Thomson of Roots and Wings Publishing. She has a number of new books out. Puja believes that, to meet the challenges of survival, we must carry forward the best of all our roots. To support such a change, she developed a holistic, transformational therapy practice, Roots & Wings, that honors the interconnectedness of the body, mind, emotions, and spirit and encourages people to nourish their roots, and find their wings! I always enjoy seeing her... even if I don't for the life of me understand her mission or methods!

Puja... a class-act publisher. We need more Pujas in this biz.

As usual there were tons and tons of kiddie books out, but as usual most had amateurish art work and dumbed-down story lines. But I ran into a mother-daughter act from Charlottesville, VA who called themselves Ivy Court Press who had a simply gorgeous children's book called Ambition's Not an Awful Word.  If they can get good distribution, they will sell tons of this book as it has a message every parent wants to send to their kids.

Who is the mom and who is the daughter? Look like sisters to me!

Another "old hand" in the small press biz, who has been very successful is Bruce McPherson of McPherson and Company. While they have done well with books, they are well known for their famous "I read/think" t-shirt. I have one... you should buy one if you are a serious reader.

Bruce McPherson... a small publisher who has "made" it.

I made my way over to the tech section... which was enlarged from previous years... with the emphasis on e-books as well as new hardware. While the iPad and Nook and Kindle get a lot of the attention, there is a big company that has been down-and-out due to really poor management the past few years but which is making a comeback... SONY. They had a kick-ass reader that I think will be very popular if they can figure out how to get the word out about it.

Amy Koppmann of Sony with their new reader. Very impressive.

There was a company there that I'd never heard of called Aquafadas USA. Yeah, it's about the dumbest name I've heard of in a long time, but I think they have a pretty good e-pub system. Most of you know that I sent 25 years as a software engineer and I'm the author of the JAYA123 web-serivce. I'm not easily impressed, but these folks impressed me. Check them out.

The Aquafadas reps... yeah it's a dumb name!

I love puppets. I just love them... and years ago there were a lot of them at BEA, but not so much anymore. I guess kids would rather play mindless video games and  text their mindless friends instead of using their imaginations with hand puppets. If I were a parent with small kids I'd rip out the cell phones and X-Box and buy some of these from Folkmanis, Inc.

Wendy Morton and friend with their wonderful puppets.

If there is one thing that all publishers are unanimous on it is that they hate Amazon and they really hate the idea of there being only one or two viable distribution channels for e-books... Amazon and Apple. Along comes a company called WaveCloud and everyone is rooting for these folks to open their own distribution channel. Can they do it? I don't know but I sure as hell hope so. However, since they gave me a biz card without an e-mail address of anyone, I have a lot of doubts! C'mon Man!

Tara Kill of WaveCloud. I hope they can get some traction. ABA now means "Anyone but Amazon!"

When talking about "making it" the BookBaby Company has it all together. They are part of a larger consortium and they offer some great conversion prices for publishers. These folks were very professional and with their huge size, they are not only a major force in the e-book biz, they will continue to be so. I was impressed with what they know and what they (say they can) do.

Julia McCracken of BookBaby... a Book-Babe in her own right!

What is a BEA without a bit of raw sex? There is always a couple of publishers who fill that void and this year the best was Ellora's Cave. They say "Erotic romance is defined by us as: any work of literature that is both romantic and sexually explicit in nature. Within this genre, the main protagonists develop "in love" feelings for one another that culminate in a monogamous relationship. Romantica® doesn't begin from the premise that women's sexual experiences are dirty and therefore in need of being perfumed up by flowery phrases. The premise of Romantica™ is that women's sexual experiences are legitimate, positive, and beautiful." Whatever floats your boat!

Tara Nina and Taylor Cole of Ellora

In years past there were lots of off-shore 4-color printers who did beautiful work. This year I only saw one, but they had knock-out books. Overseas Printing Corporation is actually a broker so I'm not sure who did the work they showed, but it was stunning.

Stanley Seidman of Overseas Printing. Outstanding color work.

Per usual the autograph area was overflowing with people seeking free books from their favorite authors... or just free books to use as Christmas gifts! I noticed that there were many more galleys being given away this year than last year. Why publishers were not giving them away as e-books I still don't understand.

Free books! Almost as good as free beer!

Another children's entry that I liked was from North-South Books. They have terrific illustrators and I can understand why they are so popular. What I'm not sure about is if any of the kiddie publishers understand that all of this stuff is going to go electronic and be interactive? I hope they do, otherwise they are going to all land on the dust-heap of the publishing industry in a few years.

Beth Terrill, Editor of North South. I like these books... but all kids books are "dinosaurs."

Now it is time for my own little personal vendetta. Last year on the last day my feet were killing me so I sat down in one of the chairs at the IPG booth. IPG is a large distributor, often very "friendly" to small publishers. Anyway, some ass^%$# chased me out. This year I guess they knew I'd be back because in their large booth ALL of their tables had a "Reserved" sign on them. It was so silly. The entire area was like a ghost town... with all these tables having this dumb sign! If there is any company that does not "get it" about attending a trade show it is IPG.

President Mark Suchomel does his company a huge disservice at this trade show.

Back to the children's section, one more item I liked was Ben and Elvis. It's just a great title. They  probably don't have any distribution... but they have a book with good characters (think Winnie The Pooh) and that goes a long way in this genre. They probably will never be heard of again... but maybe they can get it together and break out. I doubt it but I hope I'm wrong.

Ashley Pfohl of ELV Enterprises of La Jolla, CA

Joseph Pagano runs a small company called Immediatag. This is very interesting. Immediatag is a mobile tagging platform for business that makes it easy for the publisher to engage and inform their customers through their mobile devices—anytime, anyplace. Immediatag features point-and-click tools for creating high-quality, media-rich mobile content—quickly and with no programming required. Immediatag also features a QR code generator and other built-in tools for creating and organizing bridges between your customers in the real world and your mobile content in the digital world. Immediatag is currently compatible with both QR codes and Microsoft® Tags. This guy should do well and you would do well to check out what he has. Pricing is reasonable and I'm told his support is great.

Joseph Pagano, CEO of Immediatag. Very cool service.

I usually find printers very boring. Historically they have been very poor business people. It was not until the Internet came along that their quality and service improved because publishers could easily get the word out on a poor performer. (Anyone remember the beating Patterson Printing took in the late 90s for poor service?) I had a long talk with Gene Miller of GM Bookprinting who is basically a affiliate of Jostens (the yearbook printer... and jewelry maker.) This guy gets it... printing is no longer about "manufacturing" but about problem solving. Give them a try on your next job.

Jostens has a good rep and this guy will keep it.

I like to always put in a plug for the folks at Trillogy Software. They make a terrific order-entry system (and much more) for large publishers. They products cost in the neighborhood of $50,000 while our JAYA123 cost $15 a month! They send folks to me... and I send folks to them. If you have the bucks and the need of a truly comprehensive system to run your empire, contact them.

One of the gear-heads of Trillogy. Good people... very geeky... but very nice people.

Toward the end of the show, on each day, it got very slow, as you can see here.

They all look busy, but in reality they aren't. It's all a big "show."

One of my favorite presses was at the show this year... Entrepreneur Press. In the past we saw tons of biz books... not this year... almost nothing. EP is another example of a publisher that knows its niche and sticks with it... and does well. Their new books are on Twitter and Linked In. I have no doubt they will do well.

Leanne Harvey of EP. Nice woman... knows her niche.

One of the most knowledgeable ladies of the publishing world was again at BEA. Gail Kump used to be the "Book Queen" at Midpoint Trade. She had a reputation of knowing what would sell and what would not. However, she and her partners in the company had a big falling out, lots of bad blood, nasty words, lawyers, and everyone in the industry knew about it and everyone hoped for a settlement. Finally all the parties settled a few months ago and while most is not forgotten I think much is forgiven. Gail landed a position as Director of Membership Marketing with AAP and says she is very happy there. I'm happy for her.

Tom Allen, Pres., Bert Ramlow, Exec. Asst., and Gail Kump

Google was there. There is no one more arrogant than Google. Everyone said so. They were only holding secret meetings in a "box" behind their sign and the people out front were just as snotty as they could be. I had a press badge. This guy came up to me and said "We're not talking to the media today" and told me to leave the booth.  Like he would really have something so important to say that I might be interested? Google is the new Ingram, for those who remember how publishers were treated by that company in the late 90s. Google? Amazon? Apple? B and N? I hope the Internet puts them all out of biz and publishers can reach their audience without these middle-channel bloodsuckers.

So smug. Well, every dog has his day!

Every year I seek out the Llewellyn "girls" as they usually have some good insight on where the business is going... or at least how it has been. Rhonda and Brenda have been in the biz many years and have seen a lot. They told me that if their house does not go electronic, it is going to lose authors who will find houses who will. I think that is the same for all the mid-size houses.

Brenda Jokisalo and Rhonda Ogren

The only other review publication besides ForeWord (whom I didn't get a chance to see this year) was a very interesting rag called the Jewish Review of Books. It is a quarterly publication (in print and on the web) for serious readers with Jewish interests. In their pages, leading writers and scholars discuss the newest books and ideas about religion, literature, culture, and politics, as well as fiction, poetry, and the arts. They are committed to the ideal of the thoughtful essay that illuminates as it entertains.... and may be the last people on earth who do!

Philip Getz: For people who can read and think at the same time? Anyone left who can do that?

I love people who have the balls to dress up in outlandish costumes. There were no bikini-clad models this year like last year... sex does not sell that well in the book biz like it does at the car shows and the electronic shows where there a many "booth-babes." I thought Lisa of Ravine Publishing  had the right idea here... a three-book publisher, she got a lot of attention by dressing like one of the characters in her young-adult fantasy novels.

Lisa Riebe... blue hair and all!

I'm not a  big fan of graphic novels... comic books to me. They have their place... mostly as bathroom reading material (which is actually a large market if you think about it.) Anyway, the one graphic novel I saw at the show that I liked was Against The Grain that introduces the coming of age stories of Leslie, a young pre-teen girl with a wild imagination. This first installation of the series chronicles her journey of self-discovery, her struggle to stay true to her free and independent spirit. Without distribution it will go nowhere, but it's a pretty good concept.

Erica Austin, author. Without some publicity and distribution  this will die on the vine.

I don't usually spend too much time with sidelines as they are the same from year to year... eyeglasses, bookmarks, reading lamps, and magnifiers. This year I found something new... "literary" boxes from Enchanted World of Boxes. These were simply beautiful... boxes that looked like books. I don't know what people would put in them (might be a good place to hide your stash!) but they were really nice. I would buy one.

Andrew Young and Samara Rifkin who sell boxes... really, really nice boxes.

As I said, I'm not one for gadgets but I came across something called Revolver that is actually two empty note pads in one... from Revolver Bound Journals. Just go to the link to the left and see the quick video and you will be sort of amazed. This is a great gift idea for writers and diary keepers. I loved it. I wanted one but they were not giving anything out. My loss.

Ellen Dudley with her "inside out" notebook. Very cool!

I did not see anything new and striking in the cookbook genre at this show. I guess no one cooks anymore? The closest thing to "new and unique" was from a 100 year old company called Bragg which makes replacement for soy sauce... quite well-known...  I've used it. They have a Apple Cider cookbook (of sorts) that they were giving away.

Erin Callahan of Bragg

My last stop was at one of my all-time favorite publishers... Workman Publishing. They have a huge list of simply "fun" books and other "stuff." They are always on the cutting edge with something sort of off-the-wall. This year was a terrific book that uses xerography... which is an old technology but they have refined it. This is a Safari book where you open it and the animals "run." It is really spectacular and will make a great gift to any young animal lover.

Angela Campbell showing her animal book... it's super.


"You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours." - Yogi Berra

You have to give the managers of BEA, Reed Exhibitions, credit for putting on an excellently run show and for hiring Roger Bilheimer (again) to do the publicity and interface with media and  getting them (i.e. my company!) to spend the travel and hotel money to come and cover the show. Both Reed and Roger do a great job. If my company, Adams-Blake Publishing, could afford a Roger Bilheimer, we'd snap him and his associates up in a New York minute!

I was expecting that this might be the final BEA... but I've said that for years. I still don't know why the large publishers pay the kind of money they do to exhibit here... I don't quite know what they really get out of it? When I ask, they say "We do this each year... it is what it is" or something like that.

Bottom line, there are hardly any buyers and you can pay far less and get more media than what BookExpo cost.

I'm not even sure who attended. It always seems to me that it is mostly publishers and vendors walking the floor seeing what the competition had to offer or seeking to pitch publishers on a book or a service. It's been that way for years now.

That said, I can honestly tell you that the aisles were full and there was a lot of "excitement" in the hall. I think some of it might be because we survived another year! But I also think that a lot of the excitement is borne out of the fear of the unknown. No one knows were the industry is going or what the profitability model is going to be. Indeed, publishers don't even know if they will be disintermediated by the mere fact that many authors can sell direct to the public over the net.

Many publishers told me that the real "value" that publishers will bring to the marketplace is in the "vetting" of content. In a world where everyone and their Amazon-hating dog can be a "publisher" and get their content "out there" there is a lot of value in having content "vetted" saving the reading public from wasting time on "crap." But is that a value-proposition that the reading public is willing to PAY for? I don't know, but I don't think so.

What do readers use to base buying decisions? The fact that a book is brought out by a long-time and well-known publisher... or peer-reviews on Amazon? You make the call.

Publishers have survived for centuries because it took time, effort, knowledge, contacts, and lots of money to get a book printed and sold. Not so much anymore with Amazon, Google, Smashwords, etc.

The argument can be made that electric books have leveled the playing-field between large houses and small ones and the start-ups. I think a lot of the excitement at this show was generated by the small and mid-size publishers who feel that they have a real shot against the so-called "200"... the large(er) houses who produce/sell 80% of the content... or who make 80% of the revenue... not sure which. The smaller houses don't yet know what that "shot" will be, but I could feel it in the air.

No one seems to know where the ship-of-publishing is headed. Some think it will be to tropical e-book waters... others think it is to a large e-book iceberg. The one constant that I found in the show is that this is no longer your father's publishing environment... that there are going to be lots of changes brought on by new technology to a centuries old industry.

Some attendees look at this and feel fear. Others feel joy and jubilation. 

Indeed, we are living in "interesting times."


If you liked this special edition of A Saturday Rant or if you disagree or if you have changes to be made, please let me know by writing to: rant at adams-blake dot com.