December 22nd, 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…
December 1st, 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…
September 21st, 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…
August 1st, 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…
July 6th, 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…
June 9th, 2016
The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that employment in the book publishing industry dropped by over a quarter (25.7%) since spring 2006 and nearly a third (32.5%) from its peak 20 years ago.
April 27th, 2016
Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, is 75-years-old: no one can accuse him of leaving his job early. Barnes & Noble is today at a crossroads, its digital business a shambles. But no one can accuse him of giving it less than 100%, and not just once.
April 18th, 2016
Netflix released its latest quarter earnings report today. In a Letter to Shareholders (PDF), Netflix CEO Reed Hastings described the competitive landscape the company faces. In doing so he framed the challenge faced today by all publishers, certainly all book, newspaper and magazine publishers. I’ll quote directly:
March 1st, 2016
Catching up on my industry reading I’m facing the large effort required to try to digest the latest Author Earnings report and then wading into the vast cesspool of vitriol it engenders.
February 9th, 2016
The other day I was in my local branch of the Vancouver Public Library. It’s a small branch within a community center. They do a good job of serving our neighborhood, of course with a full assortment of reading spaces, working spaces for students, a play space for the kiddies, a handful of computers and a small…