Publishing: Turning into 2017

December 22, 2016

I’ve become intrigued with the intersection of book publishing and machine learning, text mining, natural language processing and the like: technologies that get lumped under the rubric of artificial intelligence. Cliff Guren, who runs the publishing consultancy Syntopical, is emerging as one of the book publishing industry’s top specialists in this area. I thought it would be fun to catch up with Cliff on this topic — and others — as we approach the end of 2016. (more…)

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Chasing the Secrets of The Bestseller Code

December 1, 2016

In my last post I looked at the new book, The Bestseller Code, by Jodie Archer & Matthew Jockers. As it turns out the book also captured the attention of a colleague, Cliff Guren, who runs a publishing consultancy, Syntopical, based in Seattle. We decided to engage in an online dialog about the book, and record the conversation here and on Cliff’s blog. (more…)

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Classified! Does the Bestseller Code Divulge its Secrets?

September 21, 2016

The Bestseller Code is already the most talked about insider’s book on the writing and publishing industry. Who wouldn’t want to know if a computer can predict whether a manuscript will be a bestseller? What author wouldn’t want to know if there’s a scientific formula for plotting and writing novels that will propel them onto the New York Times bestseller list?

NYTBestsellers-smI don’t have to do any computational analysis to predict that The Bestseller Code will itself be a top bestseller. It’s provocative and it’s profane: the book challenges many of our assumptions about how writing and publishing work. It embraces a complex scientific methodology and makes it (almost) fun and (almost) comprehensible. The co-authors, Jodie Archer & Matthew L. Jockers, both PhDs, keep things rolling along: the text is bright and lively. (more…)

What Do the Financial Reports from the Big Five Book Publishers Tell Us?

August 1, 2016

This post examines the latest quarterly financial reports from the big 5 book publishers and tries to draw some conclusions from the data. The big 5 are, of course, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. These companies are often seen as emblematic of the state of traditional trade book publishing in the United States. (more…)

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Barnes & Noble Throws Self-Publishers a Bone

July 6, 2016

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone
— W. H. Auden, Funeral Blues, 1936

The big news about Barnes & Noble is that after twenty years of battling with Amazon they have finally made a competitive move that Amazon cannot match. Barnes & Noble, with 640 bookstores in 50 states, is giving self-published authors a chance to get access to their hallowed bookshelves. Meanwhile, Amazon runs one bookstore in Seattle (albeit with 3 more slated). Barnes & Noble wins this contest hands down. (more…)

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