Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just in From Publishers Lunch

Big Six Negotiate with Apple, Ready New Business Model for eBooks

The WSJ reported lasted night that HarperCollins is negotiating terms with Apple for making ebooks available on the company's forthcoming new device, along with unnamed other publishers. Which is correct, but is just a sliver of the story that is emerging, albeit changing all the time. We have extensive, exclusive details in today's Lunch Deluxe and at on the new ebook business model publishers are hoping to establish.

Borders Underperforms Again; Holiday Superstore Comps Down 14.6%

Borders tries to disguise the growing shortfall in their overall holiday numbers by reporting for the eleven-weeks ending January 16 instead of the traditional nine-week week view they have used previously, but the percentages tell the tale. Same-store sales at their superstores fell 14.7 percent compared to last year, on revenue of $649.2 million, down 13.7 percent overall. But comps excluding multimedia (the business they've been exiting for years now) were down a mere 10.9 percent.

Waldenbook comps for the select stores that will remain open (again, a special qualifier designed to make things sound better) were down 9.4 percent, as overall segment sales fell 14.6 percent to $153.2 million.

The last time the chain reported results this bad, a year ago, the ceo was replaced. In today's announcement, ceo Ron Marshall shares this insight: "We are disappointed with holiday results and must intensify our focus on creating and delivering a shopping experience that drives profitable sales."

Harper Creates New Digital Group; S&S Realigns Australian Division Under New M.D.

Harper is creating a new New York-based unit, HarperCollins Digital, which will "work ever more closely with our operating divisions to create content, marketing reach, products, communities, and consumer knowledge that has direct and measurable benefits for our authors and the sales of their work." The Digital group, under chief digital officer Charlie Redmayne, will feature three teams, focused on author services, consumer products, and business development.

Carolyn Pittis will become svp, HarperCollins Digital, global author services, "focused on establishing and building an industry-leading author services proposition, for all divisions of our company." Redmayne writes in a memo the company "believes it is a publisher's role to provide content and services that augment authors' knowledge and ability to connect with their readers. The author services group will integrate the Harper Speakers Bureau, with Jamie Brickhouse now reporting to Pittis.

Joe Park, currently CEO of Zondervan's BibleGateway division and a former Amazon executive, becomes svp, consumer products, "tasked with building out consumer content, communities, and sites that exponentially increase our relevance and engagement with the world's book lovers."

Leslie Hulse remains as vp, digital business development, and the current internet development group staff will be assigned to the different teams in the new digital division, with "more details about the organizational structure and deliverables of these teams within coming weeks."

Harper is also creating a digital technology services group, with current vp of emerging technologies Mike McGinniss taking the new position of svp, digital technology services, reporting to Larry Nevins. The group will be "providing strategic technology solutions across HarperCollins and supporting our global digital initiatives" and work with Redmayne "to develop new technologies that align with our digital strategy."

Among personnel changes within that new group, consultant Christina Cillo is joining the project management and business process design team as another consultant, Greg Mucci, takes the position of director of digital technology operations.

A "strategic realignment of Simon & Schuster's international operations" include moving "responsibility and business support" for the unit from S&S's New York-based international sales group to Simon & Schuster UK, run by managing director Ian Chapman. Finance, information systems, production and business functions for the Australian division will all be provided from the UK.

Simon & Schuster Australia sales and marketing director Lou Johnson has been promoted to managing director, effective immediately, now reporting to Kerr MacRae, executive director of Simon & Schuster UK. Current md Franscois McHardy is leaving the company.

Company ceo Carolyn Reidy says in an announcement "our new structure is designed to give Lou and the Simon & Schuster Australia team, supported by Ian and Kerr and working closely with their colleagues in the UK and the US, an even greater ability to apply their considerable talents to giving Simon & Schuster's authors and distribution clients outstanding representation in the Australian and New Zealand markets."

Robert B. Parker, 77, Dies,
Author Robert B. Parker, 77, died "just sitting at his desk" at home, according to his British publisher Quercus, cited by Sarah Weinman on her blog. Parker novels scheduled for publication in 2010 include SPLIT IMAGE, the newest Jesse Stone novel (out February 23) and BLUE-EYED DEVIL, an Appaloosa novel (May 4).
Blog post

The Mystery Writers of America announced their 2010 Edgar awards nominees.

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Hi Graham -
Thanks for sharing info and insights about publishing. Are you aware of a growing consumer protest on Facebook that has already caused Borders Group in the USA to scramble to change its policies, and is beginning a run at the big 6 publishers and Barnes & Noble too? Their goal in part is to end the practice of selling books on a "returnable" basis. This might be the best thing to happen to publishers in decades! Check it out at, which bounces you to the Facebook campaign.
thanks, cheers, Bruce