Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Publishing News

Thanks for the comments yesterday regarding the photo shoot. You all are too much. Some great ideas. Gotta make sure agent and publisher reads 'em all. Heh-heh. (By the way, I know for part of yesterday blogspot was plugged up and the comments weren't working real well. If you tried to post a comment and couldn't, please do go back and leave your thoughts.)

In case you hadn’t noticed, I stopped counting down until my deadling. Last Friday I got a call out of the blue from my editor. “Want a few extra weeks?” Apparently, she’s so backed up, she can’t get to the manuscript on Friday anyway.

“Yo, mama, yes!” I accepted it, not expecting to take the full two extra weeks, as that will only back up what I have to do after that. Yeah, well, we’ll see. I’m traveling Saturday through next Thursday, and I won’t be writing much during that time. (Which is why I was originally trying so hard to get the thing done on Friday.) Thank you, editor! You are definitely #1 on my list right now.

Now for today—some interesting bits of news about the industry, in no particular order.

1. Christian Retailing reports that the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) is replacing its current sales tracking systems, STATS, with a new critter called Pubtrack, which will debut in May. No info on how Pubtrak will differ from STATS.

This only confuses the issue all the more. The Christian bestseller lists are based on STATS—have been for a long time. But a few months ago, the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) came up with its own tracking program, CROSS:SCAN. As a result some of the stores, such as the entire chain of about 350 Family Christian stores, have switched over to CBA’s program and pulled out of STATS. So Family Christian sales no longer count toward the bestseller list. Now with STATS changing to something else—who knows what’ll happen to the lists?

Meanwhile, the fiction bestseller list still remains difficult to make these days. That's 'cause there's only one list for all of fiction, including hardback and paperback books. Maybe with more hardbacks coming along, they'll eventually break out the list into two, as you see in the general market. Next list--the April list--will post next week (around March 20), reflecting sales for the month of February. (See, told you it was confusing.)

2. Many of you may know by now that Simon & Schuster (S&S) acquired Howard Publishing last month. Wanna know the thought behind that? Christian Retailing paraphrases S&S Adult Division President Carolyn Reidy as saying “her division contemplated [entering the Christian market] after the 2004 presidential election exit polls demonstrated the public’s interest in spiritual matters. Reidy noted, “We were conscious we were lacking in this area.”

3. And this from Publishers Weekly, written by columnist Sara Nelson regarding the recent “privatizing” sale of Thomas Nelson. Previously a public company, Nelson has now taken its stocks private by selling to InterMedia Partners, an equity firm that has previously invested in small to medium-sized media companies. As a result, Nelson won’t have to deal with the stress of reporting quarterly earnings. Sara Nelson says insiders “predict that InterMedia will likely hold the company for only a few years and then 'flip' it for major profit.” Hm. Then what?

Sara Nelson continues: “[the sale proves] that there is a huge and powerful religious community in this country (no duh) and that many smaller houses have mastered the First Publishing Commandment: know thy audience.

"On a recent trip to Nashville—at which I met with the stunningly organized, knowledgeable and, well, yes, zealous Nelson people, among others—I was struck by the number of titles they mentioned (titles of which I—and I bet many of you—had never heard) that had shipped and/or sold 200,000, 300,000 and 400,000 copies. I was further amazed at the number of focus groups the company conducted and how they arrived at the idea of publishing, say, Biblezines—the complete text of the New Testament, gussied up with sidebars and photos and pull quotes—aimed at teenage girls who'd told them they never read books, only magazines.

"You can enthuse about what Nelson is selling or not—it's a free country—but there's no arguing with the fact that they're selling it extraordinarily well.”


Gina Holmes said...

Though change can make everyone a bit nervous, I'm very excited about the possibilites! Congrats on getting a little breathing room with your deadline.

Becky said...

Interesting to note, Sally posted about those Biblezines at All about Children's Books: with a like to a Publishers Weekly review. Just more food for thought.

So maybe pub houses will have to come clean and tell the public how many books they are actually selling of each title and make up an ECPA best-selling list.

Can you remind me why it is that sales are such big secrets?


~ Brandilyn Collins said...

We have to remember that data collection doesn't just happen. One has to pay for the data. It costs to collect the data, then crunch it into all various kinds of reports. These reports, then are proprietary assets. Publishers, as members of ECPA, pay the organization for the STATS data--and it's expensive.

Also, STATS is based on sales to the individual customer--called "point of sale"--not on how many units the publisher sells to the bookseller. (These units can be returned if they don't move off the shelves.) So I think part of CBA's reason for starting its own data collection is that the booksellers are saying, hey, that's our individual sales data, and you publishers don't really need to be seeing it. Of course the reasons are couched in more tactful terms, but I think this is the underlying thinking.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I've read each and every one of these studies and all I can surmise from them is that he Christian book market is booming and next year looks to be an 8 billion (with a "B") dollar market.

Power to our people!!! LOL