Archive for May, 2009

Friday at BEA 2009

Friday, May 29th, 2009

This was my first day at BEA instead of the Publishing University seminar series. I expected your basic gloom and doom, but was again pleasantly surprised by the positive energy.

One innovation is the Blog Signing sponsored by the people who brought you Net Galleys. I was able to attend the blog signing of Kassia Krozier of Booksquare. I promised to tell you that she does indeed have a glowing smile. It’s always fun to meet someone in person that you’ve been reading on-line for a while.

The Espresso Book Machine was in operation on the floor. It’s an interesting gadget, but I still think it’s a so-so solution to a problem we won’t have for much longer. And their numbers still don’t work for most of the situations being bruited about — in my never humble opinion. That much vaunted 1 cent per page cost doesn’t include labor (non-trivial) or worse, the amortization of the $90,000 required to pay for the machine. There may be other charges that aren’t included, too.

I just don’t see this as something that’s going to beat the prices of LSI and the other digital printers, and I don’t see customers being willing to stand around that long to get their books printed.

As for news, well, I attended the BISG Trends event. It was informative (as it always is). I’m sure you’ve heard by now that sales for the industry are up by 1%, but that trade sales are down by 4. But, since adult and juvenile trade sales were only about 36% of the total, the solid years turned in by other segments overwhelmed that bad performance.

Outsell and BISG are actively recruiting small presses for their survey next year. I urge all of you to sign up for it at the BISG site. I doubt that there’s a link, but send an email to their contact address. (Consider also downloading a copy of the slides from the presentation next week. There more than a few interesting numbers.)

On a less important note, I also saw a Cool-er at their booth, and it is indeed lighter, but the controls aren’t as intuitive for me as the Kindle. I’m not in love.

The number of galleys given away seemed to be much smaller than last year, and very muc smaller than prior years. And the floor was a lot smaller. I don’t know if that was a blip, or a sign of things to come, but it saddened me.

Oh, and last but not least, I found the stage where I’m speaking tomorrow. It’s at the edge of the main floor, on the 34th Street side. The African Pavilion and the Indie Press section share it. The whole speaker series is being arranged by Victoria Sutherland (of Foreword, etc.) and Leah Schnelbach of the NY Center for Independent Publishing.

I’ll be there at 2 pm, and the topic is Healthy Businesses in Tough Times.

If you happen to wander by, do grab a chair and tune in for a bit. I’ll try to make my topics interesting enough to woo you away from the siren calls on the floor.

Healthy Businesses in Tough Times

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I’m doing a talk with that title on Saturday, at 2, at BEA in the Independent’s Lounge. It’s on the third floor, on the 34th street side of the Javits, or so I’m told.

I’ll also be on the floor of the conference for most of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you see me, stop me and say hi!

The Publishing University 2009

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

For the last two days, I have been at the Publishing University, a seminar series that happens every year right before BEA. You may have heard it called PMA-U, or this year, IBPA-U.

I expected that this year attendance and the quality of the presentations would be worse than they have been in the past. After all the gloom and doom about BEA and the industry’s changes it seemed logical.

I’m happy to report that it was, instead, busy and productive, with a lot of positive energy surging around.

I started Wednesday by giving an Ask the Expert session from 7 a.m. to 8:15. Given that a lot of the people attending had traveled from the West Coast, and felt like it was 4 a.m., I was stunned at the number of people in the room. And none of them appeared to be zombies. The free coffee may have helped.

By 10:30, I had launched into one of my favorite courses: Building a Better Budget. It is part of my mission in life to help people understand exactly what that mass of numbers means, and how to USE one as the powerful strategic tool it is, rather than the dusty and intimidating mass of numbers that ends up sitting in a file somewhere. Again, the energy was wonderful (people were even laughing at my jokes! Without being paid to do so!)

Lunch brought a presentation by one of Google’s minions executives. Obviously, questions about the Settlement were not allowed, as it’s still in litigation, but he did lay out quite clearly how Google wants publishers to see its plans for our part of the information ecology.

I was more than a little skeptical of the frequent protestations that Google’s headlong rush to secure the ability to index all of our content was likely to be the best thing ever to happen to us, and the assertion that Google wants all of its revenue to be from ads, and isn’t interested in ever selling our books in any format.

Today, I attended a marketing course where the presenters were all senior folks who emphasized evaluating your efforts for profit potential, including the COGS for any sales generated, before you decide to engage in that kind of promotion. Loved it — 3 guys all speaking my language. I also had the marvelous experience of hearing someone lavish praise upon the list moderators of the Yahoo Self-Publishing group, and upon the group as a whole. That’s wonderful because I’m one of those moderators, and she had no idea I was in the back of the room at the time. Always nice to be appreciated! (Thanks Norma!)

The lunch time presentation on ebooks had the potential to be exciting, but I’m afraid I thought it to be a bit of a re-hash of stuff we’re all already well aware of.

What else was notable there? What did you like, if you were there?

BEA

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

How many of you will be at BEA next week? And how many will be going to IBPA-U, the big seminar series before it? (Remember, PMA changed its name last year to IBPA.)

For those who are interested in the things I say:

–I’ll be teaching a class at IBPA-U called Building A Better Budget (Wed. morning) and an Ask The Expert table at 7 am. (Much coffee will be consumed. Also tea.)

–I’ll be doing a brief seminar on profitability in tough times on the floor of BEA Saturday afternoon, in the Independents’ Lounge run by Foreword Magazine and the NY Center for Independent Publishing.

–I’m open to having my brains picked almost any time you catch me — buy me a cup of coffee and my mind is yours for a good long time!

I hope to see some of you there. If you see my name on a tag — introduce yourself!

I’ve been doing more speaking lately (Denver and Sacramento in April, NYCIP in March, and these). I must admit, I’ve always enjoyed teaching and speaking. (Shameless promo: if your group is looking for a speaker on my type of topic, I’m very inexpensive!)