CreateSpace has great news for authors and readers: Their distribution capabilities have just increased. The print-on-demand arm of Amazon will now sell books published through CreateSpace across several European countries. Amazon’s sites in Spain, Italy, Germany, France and the UK will carry these books, which previously were only available in the United States.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishes fiction, nonfiction and educational software, but is undoubtedly best known as one of the leading publishers of textbooks. However, due in part to market changes, the company has been having financial struggles. But readers should not expect HMH to disappear as of yet. On Friday, the publisher announced in a press release that they have crafted “a comprehensive financial restructuring plan to convert HMH’s outstanding long-term debt to equity and create an appropriate capital structure” that will help the publisher get back onto firmer footing.
Weak market demand, including a lack of government funds set aside for purchasing new textbook editions, have contributed to the publisher’s struggle to make ends meet. The company has racked up an impressive amount of debt, however, the company has no plans to flounder on the edge of extinction. HMH President and Chief Executive Officer Linda K. Zecher says, “With a more appropriately-sized capital structure and greater financial flexibility, along with our world-class brand and innovative digital education solutions, we will be well-positioned to accelerate our growth initiatives and expand our digital platform.”
There’s no denying, these days it’s all about digital books. In fact, AAP’s recently revealed sales figures show that a large portion of the increase in book sales can be attributed to the robust e-book market. And publishers have definitely been paying attention to the trend with new e-lines popping up on an almost weekly basis. Entering the fray is Simon & Schuster which has just announced that the mass market imprint Pocket Star will be re-launched as an e-only imprint.
There’s no denying that the publishing industry is in a state of flux. Self-publishing continues to take over a larger share of the book market while longtime publishing houses are shutting their doors and the death rattle of Borders is still echoing through the sales figures. Back in 2011, the Association of American Publishers reported, much as we expected, although e-book sales were growing, they didn’t balance the falling print book sales. Thankfully, the AAP’s newly released report shows that the tide is turning.
Tor and Forge, publishing imprints of Tom Doherty Associates and a subsidiary of Macmillan, announced yesterday that by the end of July the two popular imprints, as well as Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen, will only be offering DRM-free e-books. DRM, which stands for Digital Rights Management, is technology that limits the access and use of certain digital products (MP3s, e-books, etc.) in order to curb pirating and prevent copyright infringement. Although DRM makes stealing digital content more difficult, it also limits the use of the product and can be a disadvantage for buyers.
Currently, almost all of the e-books offered by the “big six” publishers, the major New York City-based publishing houses, and sold through major online retailers are DRM encrypted and can only be used on the specific e-reader associated with the retailer (for example, you can’t — easily — read an Amazon e-book on a Nook, or a Barnes & Noble e-book on a Kindle). This challenge, the results of DRM restrictions, has been one of the issues that keeps ownership of e-books and print books from being synonymous.
Recently Amazon has launched several publishing initiatives and added four new imprints to their publishing arm. Last year, Montlake Romance, 47North, Thomas & Mercer and Amazon NY joined Amazon Crossing and Amazon Encore. In just a short amount of time, these lines have managed to acquire a list of author names and titles that would make even the most jaded reader giddy. So fans will be excited to learn that there are even more books on the horizon.
Earlier this week, Publisher’s Marketplace reported that in the last quarter it has seen a “large volume of deal reports for [Amazon’s Publishing’s] various imprints ...” And that certainly bears out with a look at these numbers.
AMAZON PUBLISHING DEALS
Publishers Marketplace points out that Amazon’s 52 deals in the past four months are “roughly equal to the adult publishing deal reports for two of the ‘big six,’” and that both Hachette Book Group and HarperCollins reported just over 50 deals. Amazon’s adult fiction deals are commensurate, and certainly nothing to scoff at. But it looks like Amazon has no intention of resting on their laurels; they know that adult fiction is only a piece of the picture.
It’s the end of an era with Dorchester Publishing officially closed their (physical) doors. The publishing house was founded in the early 1970s and since has focused on several fiction genres including romance, Westerns and horror (and in the process launching the careers of some RT favorite authors like Marjorie M. Liu, C.L. Wilson and Christine Feehan).
Sadly, on March first, the doors of the publishing house were locked, the phones disconnected and the lights out. There was, for all accounts and purposes, no one home at the publishing company.
However, this is not the first news that Dorchester is in financial trouble. In 2010, the house announced that they would only be publishing titles in e-book format moving forward, a policy that was met with trepidation by authors and readers. Meanwhile, several authors began legal battles with the house related to alleged unpaid royalties and backlist rights.
Since 2010, conditions have not improved and the company slowly lost its entire editorial staff. When the extent of Dorchester’s decline was uncovered, the former VP of marketing, Tim DeYoung had this to say via Twitter:
Amazing news, classic literature lovers. An early work by author Charlotte Bronte that was presumed lost for the ages has just been re-discovered at a Belgium museum. A Bronte expert named Brian Bracken uncovered the short story at the Musee Royal de Mariemonte. The story was last heard of in 1913, so this is truly an incredible find.
Titled “L’Ingratitude”, the Bronte piece is a short story about a young rat that heads off to the countryside for an adventure and meets a dark end. The story is written in basic French and is thought to be the first piece of homework the author ever did for her tutor Contstantin Heger. (This is the same tutor that Charlotte fell in — unrequited — love with, and the relationship would inspire several of her stories, particularly Villette.)
The re-discovered short story is now available online at the London Review of Books. There you can read the story in its original French, see a picture of the manuscript and of course, read the complete text as it is translated into English. The site also hosts a letter from the expert who uncovered the tale and an audio version of the tale!
We want to know: Which classic author’s lost works would you love to be re-discovered?
The e-book publisher Samhain, which is best known for releasing romance novels, launched a new imprint, Samhain Horror, in late 2011. It might seem odd that a romance publisher would launch a horror line, since the two genres seem to be on the opposite ends of the fiction spectrum. It’s happily ever afters versus unhappily, even, bloody, terrifying ever afters. However, both genres have very distinct, dedicated communities. Samhain Horror editor Don D’Auria, who previously spearheaded Dorchester’s horror line, shared on the line’s website, “[fan] response exceeded our expectations, and we have big plans for continuing to build readership and generate excitement in 2012.” Being an avid horror fan, I decided to take a look at three recent releases from Samhain Horror, to see if they meet my (admittedly high) expectations for stories in a genre, which, like romance, is full of familiar tropes and sometimes predictable plot lines.
B-Movie Reels by Alan Spencer
When recent film school grad Andy’s uncle dies, the young man inherits an old, ramshackle house in his uncle’s small town. He promptly moves there and lands a job working on the sets of B-horror movies. But when the creatures in Andy’s movies start coming to life and terrorize the town, Andy realizes that there was more to his uncle than he ever thought ... With plenty of gore and an abundance of monsters, B-Movie Reels was written by someone who clearly knows and loves the genre. Unfortunately this book reads like a mash-up of every horror film Spencer has probably ever seen, which lends the tale an air of predictability. But that is not all together a bad thing, as this easy read was also entertaining, much like the B-movies it’s named for.
The Association of American Publishers has just released its report on the 2011 U.S. book market. And the big news is that there is really no big news. As expected, e-book sales are growing while print book sales of hardcovers, paperbacks and mass markets all continue to decline.
The AAP report shows that in 2011, e-book sales were up by 117% from the previous year and brought in an estimated $969.9 million. Another digital publishing category winner in 2011 was audio books. This market saw a sales increase of 25.5% from the year before. However, it’s worth noting that this was only for downloadable audio books. Physical audio book sales fell by just over 8%.
The bad news about falling sales was also true in print sales. The AAP reports that all print formats saw a decline. Adult hardcover sales fell 17.5%, trade paperbacks fell 15.6% and mass-market sales took a huge hit with a 35.9% decrease in sales. But despite the shrinking numbers, print is still king, as the majority of the market’s revenue is made by books in this format. Although the e-book market has grown tremendously, digital downloads were only responsible for 18.6% of net reported trade sales in 2011. So it looks like it will still be some time before digital sales outshine traditional formats completely.