PubTechConnect: Where Publishing Meets its Future

NYU’s Center for Publishing joined forces with Publishers Weekly on April 20th to present a day of conversation about innovation in media.  The names of the companies that presented were both impressive and less familiar to book publishing’s usual conference speakers: Vox, Quartz, Dropbox, ClassPass, and Vice were among them, though HarperCollins, Hachette, S&S were also some of the publishers represented.

The morning kicked off with a duo exchanging insights: Kinsey Wilson, NYT’s EVP of product and technology, and Sree Sreenivasan, now Chief Digital Officer for New York City and previously at The Met.  Wilson had much to say about how the Times is broadening its purview – mentioning that ”Cooking” is now the most popular feature, behind Politics and Opinion, and thus broadening the paper’s audience.  Both talked about the importance of the user experience in retaining consumer engagement, increasingly on mobile devices.

Two morning panels, one on innovation and the other on audience development, focused on how to bring fresh ideas to market.  GoodreadsOtis Chandler said that Charles Duhigg sent his own annotations on The Power of Habit to every member who’d read the book, in order to promote his forthcoming book.  The company is focusing on “micro-influencers,” especially for pre-buzz about a book, which he noted has more than “an opening weekend” to perform, but still “kind of like an opening month.”  He also said that authors helping authors was increasingly important, citing how generous Stephen King has been in his “digital blurbing.”  Hillary Kerr at Clique Media, which has fashion and beauty verticals, talked about the importance of editors connecting with their audience, especially as they begin to reach new audiences whose demographics are outside the founders’ own.  She encourages colleagues to ideate using an “improv model,” where each person builds on another’s idea to strengthen rather than dismiss it, thereby insuring that they don’t lose creative input. And George Baier from Dropbox, who once worked in publishing, noted that “silos are the biggest impediment to innovation.”  He is impressed that everyone in the company gets a week each year to work on any project, and with anyone in the company.

Later, Chantal Restivo-Alessi talked about how Facebook Live has allowed HarperCollins to expand its marketing of authors beyond an individual book’s budget, so readers can discover unknown authors even while HC amplifies the reach of known authors.  Meanwhile, in a comment that summoned up book subscription services like the now-defunct Oyster, Joanna Lord, talking of how ClassPass had to pivot away from an “all you can exercise” subscription model that was destroying the bottom line, said, “You can’t hold yourself hostage to the one thing that works; nothing is too precious.”

Speakers during the day covered a range of topics from the needs and interests of millennials (who are driven by digital in every aspect of their lives, perhaps unlike Gen Z, which may want more IRL – in real life – experience); to how to use Snapchat, with its 150 million daily users; to the advantages of digital first versus legacy, and vice versa.  Vox Media’s Jim Bankoff talked about the decision to develop verticals like The Verge and Vox, each one of which has its own discrete audience, unlike, say, the NYT or even Huffington Post, which attract general audiences.  In contrast to legacy, the vertical “has to live or die” by the content it offers, and the loyal audience it attracts and can’t rely on funding from more established businesses.  In another panel, Quartz’s Jay Lauf talked about Atlantic Media’s decision to develop something completely different from the eponymous magazine.  In part, they imagined what The Economist would have done if there were no print magazine.  For the first year of Quartz’s existence, there was not even a website.

Throughout the day there were periodic references to how book publishers could adapt the issues under discussion for their own use – and some energetic interactive sessions lead by PRH’s Kristin Fassler (Marketing), Atria’s Judith Curr (Content) and Hachette’s Torrey Oberfest (Digital).  But generally the purpose of the conference was to present the range of digital voices and platforms, and trust that publishers would find ways to adapt them to their own books, authors and audiences.  In the final panel, Moira Forbes, EVP of Forbes Media, summed up not just her panel but the entire day when she talked about finding, understanding and communicating with your target “customer” by continually embracing innovation.  She and others also mentioned that communicating your findings and goals to colleagues was critical to success.

The audience, almost all of whom stayed through the last panel, was feted with champagne in what felt like a celebration of the multiple opportunities that had been highlighted throughout the day.  There’s no word yet on whether PubTechConnect will become a regular conference for publishers to anticipate, but those who attended this year seemed ready to re-up next year.

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 4/17-4/21

number_5_redEvery week, we recommend 5 publishing articles/blog posts that supplement the major news for the week. Whether data or industry commentary, we hope these 5 links will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

Is there a benefit to reading books you dislike?

How is Amazon tackling so many different industries at once?

Is there a danger to posting one star reviews as a form of protest?

How did Amazon become one of the largest publishers of translated works?

Is a new copyright reform bill ever going to pass?

People Round-Up, Mid-April 2017


Sara Domville will join America’s Test Kitchen on April 24 as Chief Revenue Officer. She was formerly President of F+W Media, which she left last July.

Bethany Buck is joining Bloomsbury Children’s as Editorial Director. She had formerly been Editorial Director at Skyhorse’s children’s imprint, Sky Pony Press.

At Hachette Audio, Tina McIntyre is now Senior Executive Director of Content Development; she previously managed marketing, digital publishing, and strategic planning for Little, Brown Children’s. Melissa Powers has joined as Associate Project Manager of Audio and Content Development and worked previously as Community Developer and Script Writer for Ubisoft Shanghai. In addition, Nita Basu has joined in the new role of Senior Marketing and Publicity Coordinator. She was previously Publicity and Marketing Associate at Diversion Books.  At Da Capo Press, Sharon Kunz has joined as Senior Publicist; she had been working as Media Engagement Manager at Globe Pequot.

Atria has announced that the Nashville, TN office of Howard Books will close, and multiple staff members are leaving as a result, including Jonathan Merkh, VP and Publisher. Other recent departures include VP, Director of Publicity and Marketing Jennifer Smith and Editor Lisa Stilwell. Similarly, following the closing of Tyrus Books (an imprint of the recently acquired Adams Media), founder and publisher Ben LeRoy is leaving Simon & Schuster.

David Pyle is joining F+W Media as General Manager of the fine arts, writing, and design group on April 24. He was previously Managing Director of Sales for the New Hope Networks.

Kathleen Quinlan has joined Crown Publishing Group as Marketing Manager, Crown Archetype and Three Rivers Press. She worked previously as Associate Market Manager at DK Publishing.

At the National Book Foundation, Sherrie Young has left her position as Director of Marketing and Special Projects.

At Maverick Publishing Specialists, Stephen Laverick has joined as Business Development Senior Associate and XML/Digital Workflow Specialist. He was previously Integration Manager at Edanz Editing.

At Chronicle Books, Eden Sugay has joined as Trade Show Coordinator. She was formerly Gift and Sales Support Representative at Ingram.

Sareeta Domingo is now Editor at Harlequin Medical Romance and Harlequin Romance. She was previously Editor at HotHouse Fiction.

Emily Angell has left her position as Editor at St. Martin’s Press.

At agencies…Chris Kepner has left his role as Agent and Director of International Rights at Victoria Sanders & Associates to launch The Kepner Agency. Foreign rights inquiries for Victoria Sanders may be directed to Jessica Spivey.

Cindy Hernandez has joined Grove Atlantic as Junior Designer.

At the New York Times, Concepcion de Leon will join as Digital Writer on Books, beginning April 24. She had been working freelance and, before that, as Editorial Assistant at Glamour Magazine. Julian Lucas will be Contributing Writer for the Books desk and will write about “”the way books intersect with issues of race, identity, digital culture and the news.” He is Associate Editor at Cabinet Magazine.

Quiera Hall has joined Open Road as Business Development Operations Associate. Olivia Mason has joined as Marketing Assistant.

At the American Academy of Pediatrics, Mark Voigt has joined as Director of Sales. He was previously EVP of Sales at IPG.


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Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 4/10-4/14

number_5_redEvery week, we recommend 5 publishing articles/blog posts that supplement the major news for the week. Whether data or industry commentary, we hope these 5 links will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

What happened to Google Books’ goal of scanning every book?

Publishers Weekly looks at this year’s Bologna attendance.

Has Trump’s presidency changed political publishing on both sides?

Is there a way to defend copyright infringement?

Who should be managing an author’s online brand?

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 4/3-4/7

number_5_redEvery week, we recommend 5 publishing articles/blog posts that supplement the major news for the week. Whether data or industry commentary, we hope these 5 links will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

Ever-popular Pope Francis is keeping religious publishing on its toes.

How will children’s publishers tell the story of Trump’s rise to the presidency?

How important is the role of bookseller today?

Is diversity really the problem regarding Marvel‘s sales decline?

Is worldbuilding important in fiction?

People Round-Up, Early April 2017


At Ingram Content Group, two new executive officers have been named: Kelly Arnold, who will serve as Chief Legal Officer, and Deanna Steele, who will serve as Chief Information Technology Officer. In addition, Lisa Tomasello has joined as Director of Mass Merchandisers Sales; she was previously Senior National Accounts Manager for Macmillan. At Ingram Publisher Services, Tricia Remark is now Marketing Manager for International Sales. She worked previously as Promotions and Trade Show Manager at Workman Publishing.

Allison Devlin is joining F+W Media as VP, Director of Sales and Marketing. She was most recently Associate Publisher, Director of Marketing at Time Inc. Books.

Sarah Pelz will join Atria on April 24 as Executive Editor. She has been working as Executive Editor at Grand Central Life & Style.

Nancy Sheppard has joined St. Martin’s Press as Marketing Director, having worked previously as Director of Creative Marketing Services at Penguin Adult.

Tim Marshall has joined HarperCollins Christian Publishing as Senior Marketing Director for Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Gift Books. He was most recently an independent marketing and brand consulting; prior to that, he worked in the Christian music industry. Holly Halverson has also joined as Editor for Specialty Publishing. She previously managed her own freelance editorial business.

Also at HarperCollins, Laura Kaplan has joined HarperCollins Children’s Books as Publicity Manager, having previously worked as Publicity Associate at Disney Publishing Worldwide.

At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ed Spade has joined as Director of Digital Sales and Strategy. He was previously Senior Account Manager for Content Acquisition at Ingram Content Group.

Michael Martens has joined IDW Publishing as Director of Trade Sales and will act as liaison with Penguin Random House Publisher Services, who will take over distribution this month. Martens had previously consulted on that relationship and was VP of Trade Sales at Dark Horse Comics.

At Penguin Random House Publisher Services, Bailey Thomas is now Associate Manager of Special Markets Imprint Sales; she had been Sales Coordinator at the Crown Publishing Group.

At agencies…Eric Myers has left Dystel, Gooderich & Bourret to start his own agency, Myers Literary Management. He can be reached at [email protected]. At Parkeast Literary Agency, Gloria Koehler has retired as Director, and her duties have been outsourced to another firm. Donna Eastman will stay on as Editorial Director and continue to market Parkeast’s books.

Noah Schwartzberg has joined McGraw-Hill Professional as Senior Editor. Previously, he was Acquisitions Editor at Fairchild Books, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing.

At Open Road Integrated Media, Tamal Roy has joined as Senior Data Engineer. He was previously Analytics Engineer at Progyny. Wolfgang Criollo, previously Web Designer at MSEDP, has joined as Web Engineer. Joe Zarro, previously Associate E-Commerce Systems Engineer at Henry Schein, has joined as Web Engineer. And Garon Benner, previously Product Manager at Crain Communications Inc., has joined as Senior Product Manager.

Lizzie Vaughan has joined Chronicle Books as Designer.


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Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 3/27-3/31

number_5_redEvery week, we recommend 5 publishing articles/blog posts that supplement the major news for the week. Whether data or industry commentary, we hope these 5 links will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

Should scholarly writers self-publish?

How can textbook costs be reduced at universities?

What does fan fiction mean to its creators?

Does YA matter in tumultuous times?

Penguin Random House saw reduced sales last year.

Bonus: March 30 was National Indexing Day in the UK.

International Bestsellers, March 2017

Every month, Publishing Trends runs fiction international bestsellers lists from four territories–France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. This month, our four regular territories are joined by two more: Austria and Portugal. Those books that have been published in English are listed with their official English-language title. All others are translated as literally as possible from the original. Where applicable, the US publisher is listed after the local publisher, separated by a “/”. The lists are taken from major newspapers or national retailers, which are noted at the bottom of each list.

Who’s Scouting Whom?: Literary Scouts Contact Sheet 2017

This year’s scout sheet remains very similar to the 2016 list. One new agency, Rachel Hecht Children’s Scouting, has been added and no agencies were removed. There are many territory changes throughout this year’s update. Each scout’s clients are separated by country or region, and representation for children’s titles is denoted where applicable. We also include the handful of TV and film studios represented by the scouts in our roundup in the last column.

Updated 3/27 to include Rachel Hecht Children’s Scouting. 

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 3/20-3/24

number_5_redEvery week, we recommend 5 publishing articles/blog posts that supplement the major news for the week. Whether data or industry commentary, we hope these 5 links will be a simple way to keep you in the know.

Is YA the genre best suited to incite positive change in the world?

What are the similarities between independent publishers and independent bookstores?

Who exactly is pirating ebooks?

Are views on self-publishing shifting?

Is Amazon on pace to turn into our largest physical retailer?