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New techniques such as phototypesetting and offset-litho printing were to replace hot metal and letterpress printing , dramatically reducing cost and permitting the printing of images and text on the same paper stock, thus paving the way for the introduction of photography and novel approaches to graphic design on paperback covers.

In May , Tony Godwin was appointed as editorial adviser, rapidly rising to Chief Editor from which position he sought to broaden the range of Penguin's list and keep up with new developments in graphic design. To this end, he hired Germano Facetti in January , who was to decisively alter the appearance of the Penguin brand.

Beginning with the crime series, Facetti canvassed the opinion of a number of designers including Romek Marber for a new look to the Penguin cover. It was Marber's suggestion of what came to be called the Marber grid along with the retention of traditional Penguin colour-coding that was to replace the previous three horizontal bars design and set the pattern for the design of the company's paperbacks for the next twenty years. Facetti rolled out the new treatment across the Penguin line starting with crime, the orange fiction series, then Pelicans, Penguin Modern Classics, Penguin Specials, and Penguin Classics, giving an overall visual unity to the company's list.

There were over a hundred different series published in total. Just as Lane well judged the public's appetite for paperbacks in the s, his decision to publish Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. Lawrence in boosted Penguin's notoriety. The novel was at the time unpublished in the United Kingdom and the predicted obscenity trial not only marked Penguin as a fearless publisher, it also helped drive the sale of at least 3. Penguin's victory in the case heralded the end to the censorship of books in the UK, although censorship of the written word was only finally defeated after the Inside Linda Lovelace trial of By the end of the s Penguin was in financial trouble, and several proposals were made for a new operating structure.

These included ownership by a consortium of universities, or joint ownership by the Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press , but none of them came to anything. Later changes included the disappearance of 'Harmondsworth' as the place of publication: this was replaced by a London office address. From the headquarters of Penguin Books was at Harmondsworth west of London and so it remained until the s when a merger with Viking involved the head office moving into London 27 Wrights Lane, W8 5TZ. A and had been spun off in because of the high complexity of import and export regulations.

Penguin repurchased it in order to extend its reach into the US market, and NAL saw the move as a way to gain a hold in international markets. Irving sued Lipstadt and Penguin for libel in but lost in a much publicised court case. In , Penguin attempted to involve the public in collaboratively writing a novel on a wiki platform.

They named this project A Million Penguins. Consonant with Penguin's corporate mission to bring canonical literature to the mass market the company first ventured into publishing the classics in May with the issue of Penguin Illustrated Classics. The books were distinct from the rest of the Penguin marque in their use of a vertical grid anticipating Tschichold's innovation of and albertus typeface.

The series was not a financial success and the list ceased after just ten volumes the same year it began. Penguin returned to classics with the printing of E.


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Rieu's translation of Homer's Odyssey in , which went on to sell three million copies. Penguin's commercial motivation was, as ever, populist; rendering the classics in an approachable modern English was therefore a difficult task whose execution did not always satisfy the critics.

As the publisher's focus changed from the needs of the marketplace to those of the classroom the criticism became more acute, Thomas Gould wrote of the series "most of the philosophical volumes in the Penguin series are bad — some very bad indeed. Since Plato and Aristotle are the most read philosophers in the world today, and since some of these Penguin translations are favourites among professional philosophers in several countries, this amounts to a minor crisis in the history of philosophy.

The imprint publishes hundreds of classics from the Greeks and Romans to Victorian Literature to modern classics. For nearly twenty years, variously coloured borders to the front and back covers indicated the original language. The second period of design meant largely black covers with a colour illustration on the front. In , Penguin announced it was redesigning its entire catalogue, merging the original Classics list known in the trade as "Black Classics" with what had been the old Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics list, though the silver covers for the latter have so far been retained for most of the titles.

Previously this line had been called 'Penguin Modern Classics' with a pale green livery. The redesign—featuring a colourful painting on the cover, with black background and orange lettering—was well received. However, the quality of the paperbacks themselves seemed to decrease: the spines were more likely to fold and bend.

The paperbacks are also printed on non-acid-free pulp paper, which, by some accounts, tends to yellow and brown within a couple of years. The text page design was also overhauled to follow a more closely prescribed template, allowing for faster copyediting and typesetting, but reducing the options for individual design variations suggested by a text's structure or historical context for example, in the choice of text typeface.

Prior to , the text page typography of each book in the Classics series had been overseen by a team of in-house designers; this department was drastically reduced in as part of the production costs. The in-house text design department still exists, albeit much smaller than formerly. Recent design work includes the Penguin Little Black Classic series. Lane expanded the business in with the publication of George Bernard Shaw 's The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism under the Pelican Books imprint, an imprint designed to educate the reading public rather than entertain.

Recognising his own limitations Lane appointed V. Krishna Menon as the first commissioning editor of the series [44] , supported by an advisory panel consisting of Peter Chalmers Mitchell , H. Bales and W. Several thousand Pelicans were published over the next half-century and brought high quality accounts of the current state of knowledge in many fields, often written by authors of specialised academic books. Aircraft Recognition S82 by R.

Saville-Sneath, was a bestseller. In , the children's imprint Puffin Books began with a series of non-fiction picture books; the first work of children's fiction published under the imprint was Barbara Euphan Todd 's Worzel Gummidge the following year. Another series that began in wartime was the Penguin Poets : the first volume was a selection of Tennyson 's poems D1 in Cohen's Comic and Curious Verse appeared in three volumes over a number of years. His final major initiative, the division was established as a separate publishing operation from Harmondsworth, and based in West Drayton in Middlesex.

Alongside these and other series, the imprint continued another Penguin tradition by producing Education Specials, titles which focussed on often controversial topics within education and beyond. They included highly topical books such as The Hornsey Affair and Warwick University Ltd , reflecting the student unrest of the late s and contributing to the intense national debate about the purpose of higher education. Other titles featured the radical and influential ideas about schooling propounded by writers and teachers from America and elsewhere.

Penguin Education also published an extensive range of Readers and introductory texts for students in higher education, notably in subjects such as psychology, economics, management, sociology and science, while for teachers it provided a series of key texts such as Language, the Learner and the School and The Language of Primary School Children.

More than 80 teachers, educational journalists and academics signed a letter to the Times Educational Supplement regretting the closure of the influential imprint [47]. Their purpose was to offer in-depth analysis of current affairs that would counter the perceived bias of the newspapers in addition to being the company's response to the popularity of Gollancz 's Left Book Club. Whereas the Left Book Club was avowedly pro-Soviet, Penguin and Lane expressed no political preference as their editorial policy, though the widespread belief was that the series was left-leaning since the editor was the communist John Lehmann and its authors were, with a few exceptions, [48] men of the left.

Speed of publication and delivery a turnaround of weeks rather than months were essential to the topicality and therefore success of the Specials, Genevieve Tabouis 's anti-appeasement tract Blackmail or War sold over , copies for example. However even this immediacy did not prevent them being overtaken by events: Shiela Grant Duff 's Europe and the Czechs only made it onto the bookstands on the day of the Munich agreement , but nevertheless went on to be a bestseller.

After a hiatus between and , the Penguin Specials continued after the war under the editorship of first Tom Maschler, then after Tony Godwin. In December , Penguin launched nine titles as 'Penguin Shorts' [51] which featured the iconic tri-band covers. In they became known as Penguin Specials following an agreement with The Economist in March of that year [52] which focused on the kind of topical journalism that was a feature of the original Penguin Specials. Subsequent Penguin Specials released in and continued to include both fiction, including the publication of the works shortlisted for the Monash Undergraduate Prize , and topical journalism.

Noel Carrington , an editor at Country Life magazine, first approached Lane with the idea of publishing low-cost, illustrated non-fiction children's books in Despite Lane's intention to publish twelve a year paper and staff shortages meant only thirteen were issued in the first two years of the series. Inexpensive paperback children's fiction did not exist at the time Penguin sought to expand their list into this new market. To this end Eleanor Graham was appointed in as the first editor of the Puffin Story Books series, [56] a venture made particularly difficult due to the resistance of publishers and librarians in releasing the rights of their children's books.

The first five titles, Worzel Gummidge , Cornish Adventure , The Cuckoo Clock , Garram the Hunter and Smokey were published in the three horizontal stripes company livery of the rest of the Penguin output, a practice abandoned after the ninth volume when full-bleed colour illustrated covers were introduced, a fact that heralded the much greater design freedom of the Puffin series over the rest of Penguin's books. Graham retired in and was replaced by Kaye Webb who presided over the department for 18 years in a period that saw greatly increased competition in the children's market as well as a greater sophistication in production and marketing.

One innovation of Webb's was the creation of the Puffin Club in and its quarterly magazine Puffin Post , which at its height had , members. Le Guin during Webb's editorship and saw the creation of the Peacock series of teenage fiction. Tony Lacey took over Webb's editorial chair in at the invitation of Penguin managing director Peter Mayer [57] when Puffin was one of the few profitable divisions of the beleaguered company. In line with Mayer's policy of more aggressive commercialisation of the Penguin brand Lacey reduced the number of Puffin imprints, consolidated popular titles under the Puffin Classics rubric and inaugurated the successful interactive gamebook series Fighting Fantasy.

The colour scheme can be viewed on the kuler website, and is labelled Engage. Figure 1: Engage Books Colour Scheme. With a colour scheme selected, my next task was to create a series of logos for Engage Books and its imprints in a way that would tie them together as a cohesive whole. I wanted Engage Books to have a simple design, and I found that the typeface News Gothic, designed by Morris Fuller Benton and released by the American Type Founders in [8] , spaced open would work with the imprint logos I had in mind.

With SF Classic I envisioned a different classic look, and I stumbled on Space Woozies, a typeface developed by Omega Font Labs, which I felt would appeal to a science fiction audience while at the same time resembling the typefaces used in early twentieth century science fiction pulp magazines. I decided to create a new font for Engage SF since this imprint would be publishing stories set in future time periods, and I felt that it needed a uniqueness that would set it apart from the established history invariably provided by other fonts.

When it came to establishing a design for the interior of the books, I had the help of my design instructor from the MPub program, Roberto Dosil. That is to say that it gives, size for size, a few more characters per line than most text faces, without appearing squished or compressed.

With my logos, colour scheme and interior typography decided on, my next task was to create a cover design solution to be applied consistently for both AD Classic and BC Classic, as these would be the first imprints to launch. I understood that AD Classic and BC Classic would need a uniform design that spans both series, linking them together visually and thematically. The style of the cover images are primarily targeted to a university audience, with the use of cover art by well-known contemporary artists such as Caspar Friedrich, John Tenniel and Moretto da Brescia, as well as contemporary photographs that maintain this classic style.

The font size and dimensions of the box allows for a long title name, while at the same time creating leeway for the title to take up two lines if necessary. When the title is shrunk to a thumbnail, the font size remains legible, which is important because the target market of AD Classic and BC Classic are consumers looking at small thumbnails online, or library buyers browsing through an Ingram catalogue. Another design element that brands the series as a whole, and of which I am particularly proud of, is the inclusion of the year of original publication on the spine.

During my research of other series I did not come across this design element, and I believe that it will not only set AD Classic and BC Classic apart, but it will organize the series in a visual way that has never before been accomplished. For the consumers who adopt this type of categorization, they will be drawn back to AD Classic and BC Classic to fill their shelves.

I felt it was important that I commission new artwork for the cover images, so that I could have complete control over each book in the series visually representing the pulps from the mid twentieth century. From a thematic standpoint, I felt that a resemblance to science fiction pulps would tie the series together visually, and that it would create a collectors feel. With my direction and her creative freedom we were able to create an illustration that represented my vision.

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The type used on the front cover was also geared to reflect early science fiction pulp magazines, with a progressive change in font size. I also allowed for SF Classic to be shelved by year of publication, by placing the year on the spine. However I understood that science fiction fans are also used to collecting items in a numbered series, and to accommodate this I placed a starred number at the top of the spine.

For the first book published under the Engage SF imprint, I have recently signed a contract with Chris Stevenson for the rights to publish his novel, Planet Janitor: Custodian of the Stars. However, as I have yet to publish an Engage SF title at the time that I write this project report, I will only be able to discuss the specifics of my vision for Planet Janitor. I envision a cover design which builds on past science fiction editions, but is also unique within the genre.

I believe that this imprint should also have a collectors feel, attained by using the same numbering and dating system of SF Classic, as well as incorporating a design device that will be seen when several books are displayed spine out on a bookstore shelf. They know their artists and consider them heroes.

It is my belief that the amalgamation and consistent implementation of these design strategies will help build brand recognition for Engage Books. Not only that, but the branding elements will help to create a readers and collectors loyalty for each imprint, which in turn will encourage repeat business from customers who have enjoyed their first experience with Engage Books. Building a Backlist with Public Domain Titles. It is important to understand the different durations in various countries to determine if a title is still protected by copyright.

Since Engage Books was going to start by publishing classic titles in the public domain, I also felt it was important to understand how various editions of the same title have done in the market. While publishers have always seen opportunity in publishing public domain books because of the minimal in-house costs of doing so, this creates a fair bit of competition. Although publishers generally print large quantities to lower the per-unit cost to stay competitive with other editions of the same title, it seemed to me that there was another way to attract consumer attention rather than through price point.

This section explores the viability of starting Engage Books by publishing public domain books, while focusing on the strategies required to stand out as a company by adding supplementary material that complements the original work. Before I could choose a list of classic titles to publish, I had to understand how the public domain works in the Canadian, US and UK markets. Various works that are part of popular culture, such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, still retain copyright. While the stories that Engage Books has initially published have already been around for decades, they continue to remain popular among both experienced and new readers who have an interest in broadening their experience, and also among readers who wish to relive stories they might have read as a child.

There is also a desire to read books that have re-emerged in popular culture through movies, television and word of mouth. Keeping these preferences in mind, I understood that classic titles tend to provide publishers with a steady flow of income, rather than fast earners [16] and that the classics I published would have to reflect this. I looked to Penguin Classics, which is considered the most successful [17] at building a list of titles that will continue to earn a profit. I researched my first title, The War of the Worlds , in great detail to see if it had stood the test of time, looking at the many editions that have been published since it was first published in However, the copyright expiration in the US in resulted in six editions of The War of the Worlds being published that year, three editions in and eight editions published in This is a significant rise in publication numbers over the three-year period between , when only two editions were published.

With The War of the Worlds already established as a classic, and the clear fact that copyright expiration creates an increase in competition, I wanted to explore the different ways that some publications stood out from the many other editions already produced, and how I was going to set myself apart through my classic imprints. Since AD Classic and BC Classic are targeted to libraries, schools and an online market where the competition from other editions of the same title are many, I knew that price point would be a key factor. With this in mind, I decided to keep the page count low while adding value to the cover art, and including public domain illustrations in the interior.

Since I have done the design myself I may be biased in my methods, but I believed that a large cover image, unobstructed by type, would appeal to this demographic. I also believed that the addition of illustrations in each AD Classic title would increase the value of the book over other editions of the same title. But before I can explain how a science fiction imprint that specializes in publishing classics is a viable way of competing with the other players in the market, I want to explore the culture of the genre.

Science Fiction has also invented many of the words we take for granted, such as the word robot. Science Fiction in popular culture has been obsessed with looking at the way things could be through technological change, like robots, and their potential impact on society. Now that the science fiction genre is classified as being relevant to classic literature, I can identify the target market.

They range from young to old and fans to scholars of fantastic literature themes and techniques. As discussed earlier, adding value to a classic work is vital if it is to stand out among the various editions in the market. It is only constrained by the imagination and determination of publishers. In order to understand the value that can be added to a classic, we will examine various current editions of The War of the Worlds that flood the market, and how they rank on Amazon.

The daily snapshot that Amazon.

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A Lean Start-Up: Building Engage Books as a Publisher in the 21st Century - Publishing @ SFU

Through this software, we can look at the success of how added content to editions of The War of the Worlds has affected sales. The following three editions all contain supplementary material in varying amounts. The Penguin Classics edition includes four additional items: a biography on Wells, a list of further reading, detailed notes and a foreword by Brian Aldiss. Penguin books had good judgement in determining classic titles in when they first published The War of the Worlds. In order for SF Classic to compete in the marketplace with a title like The War of the Worlds it is important that content take precedent over everything else, including price.

Therefore we will look at unique items that can be added to a title like The War of the Worlds to increase its marketplace value. In a letter to Elizabeth Healey in , Wells wrote:. Wells is the most distinctly original, and the least indebted to predecessors. While a foreword and biography are commonplace among editions of The War of the Worlds, SF Classic will also include the article by Wells on Martians, snippets of his letters, the most provocative reviews, a hand drawn sketch of a Martian in a copy of The War of the Worlds by Wells himself, [38] illustrations from the original publication, as well as illustrations from various artists, to make a total of seven distinct categories of supplementary items.

Fans of the genre will be receptive to the added value, all of which can be done from the public domain. Building Engage Books by first publishing classics provides a cultural service. I founded Engage Books with the goal of providing a wide range of titles in an innovative way. This means that a single copy or multiple copies are printed within 24 hours of an order, and shipped to booksellers around the world. This section looks at why I decided to use POD for Engage Books, and how the technology has changed the publishing industry.

POD technology is responsible for the re-formation of the book market as single copies of books can be printed at a moments notice in various locations around the world. POD would allow the company to reduce printing costs, inventory costs and shipping costs. Speed was also important to me, because in order to gain credibility with booksellers and consumers, I needed to get books shipped within hours of an order. It seemed to me that the cost of printing would be a major factor in this decision, with fulfilment and production being just as important.

I wanted Engage Books to follow the same path that traditional publishers have taken to keep their out-of-print books in print and selling. LSI also has a strict policy of not doing business with authors directly, because they want to deal with professionals who understand the publishing business, and these companies will grow their business at a much faster rate. I also learned that utilizing LSI would greatly reduce the shipping costs associated with traditional print-run publishing.

Both editions provide a reasonable income per-copy, and can create a steady earner over time. The increased page count is due to the content added to this edition; — 50 full-page illustrations, a biography, historical reviews, a poem, a ten-page article on Verne and an introduction by Mark Rich. In fact other publisher have had success at this, such as SoulWave Publishers, Inc.

I was hesitant at first to create a 1, copy limited edition hardcover, as I will have to actively put an end to the sale of this title when it reaches its target, unlike publishers of traditional limited editions who initially print all 1, copies in one print-run. This income would provide Engage Books with a greater ability to publish new titles and new authors. I knew that the profit after the wholesale discount and print cost, did not reflect the earnings that Engage Books would receive, as there were development costs, and overhead to factor in as well. The overhead costs are negligible as I work out of a home office.

But, when I researched these LSI print figures I was confident that I would be able to build a list of titles that would sell enough copies to build a strong financial base for Engage Books. Now that I had decided on a POD printer for Engage Books, I needed to look at the distribution model that would get my books out fast, efficiently and at a low cost.

Suffice it to say, I was very pleased with the wide distribution offered through Ingram. This also meant that I would not have to worry about storing printed books in a warehouse, as books are shipped to order, and I did not have to worry about shipping costs which are handled by the book buyer or Ingram, depending on that companies relationship with Ingram. As I had eliminated two very traditional overhead standards, warehousing and shipping to retailers, I had to decide on what to do with returns and how this process would be handled by Ingram.

According to the Cross River Publishing Consultants study on returns, Since AD Classic and BC Classic are marketed to consumers shopping directly online, professors choosing a particular edition for their course and placing the order though their school bookstore, and libraries, I decided to flag my books as non-returnable through LSI. Firstly, the returnable status has no bearing on consumers shopping online and e-retailers such as Amazon. However the university bookstore does have the option of ordering a quantity that it expects to sell, and it likely factors in the risk of being unable to return a title.

Thirdly, when libraries order AD Classic titles, they do not have to worry about returning a book that does not sell as bookstores do, however they may be worried that a title will not meet their expectations and that they will be unable to return it. Over time, I expect to change this uncertainty through the credibility of Engage Books in the market.

ISBN 13: 9781556529979

As SF Classic paperbacks are marketed to Bookstores, I knew that a no-returns policy would not be well received. I did not want to provide a deep discount of percent in order to justify a no-returns policy with bookstores, as a deep discount could infer that there is little value to the SF Classic series. My reasoning behind this is that deep discounts are generally associated with books that are not selling fast enough, or have been remaindered.

Instead I decided to follow the traditional route. When it came to deciding on a return policy for SF Classic hardcover titles, I knew that my primary focus was not on booksellers, rather it was towards online consumers, as the hardcover edition would be limited to 1, copies with a 20 percent discount in order to increase the per unit profit on this limited series.

When deciding on the return policy for Engage Books, I knew that it would depend on who my target audience was. When I began to research my marketing plans for Engage Books I wanted to understand how the print specifications offered by LSI would reflect on marketing online and in bookstores. I wanted to see how I could use this to my advantage, and how this would affect my design decisions, marketing plans, and costs.

When consumers pick up a book they experience firsthand the weight of the book, the feel of type indents on the cover, the presence of jacket flaps, die-cuts, clothbound covers, and many other tactile stimulus. For this reason, the relationship between marketing and design was closely correlated, yet this is beginning to change. As the selling of books begins to move into an online setting, this relationship seems to be weakening.

It seems to me that instead of dealing solely with a traditional book designer, publishers may now increasingly deal with web designers, as the online presence of a book begins to exceed that of the offline presence. I came to realize that with the selling and consumption of books increasingly shifting into an electronic environment, the costs of selling, promoting and manufacturing books are reduced through effective technology.

As for book promotion, an online setting can allow for less pricey means of marketing. Having your book in an online database like Amazon. If I were to purchase ad space for Frankenstein through Google Adwords, my advertisement would appear when people searched for Frankenstein on Google Search. Bloggers are acting as promoters by creating online conversations around a book, yet without demanding a dime in return. Through online means, books can not only be printed and distributed much more efficiently, but the overall cost per book can be reduced through the streamlined production process offered by POD printers like LSI.

Therefore my marketing focus online needed to take advantage of the many ways to market books cheaply and effectively. As I have previously mentioned, book design is related to marketing in a store setting, and is meant to lure a reader in. In an online setting however, book design is no longer what entices a reader to click on or purchase a book, but rather the comments that are made by other readers or the recommendations made by online retailers like Amazon.

It is crucial for me to place my books on sites like Amazon. Luckily for me, Ingram provides online sites such as Amazon. Online databases like Amazon. I paid attention to Amazon. I had purchased a couple of copies and shipped them to friends in the US, using different Amazon. Soon afterwards, I received an email from Amazon. I know this is the case because sales for A Journey to the Center of the Earth spiked immediately.

With this newfound knowledge I was able to get Amazon. And sure enough Amazon. One in particular read:. But the following email in particular did not make any marketing sense. Tinkering with Amazon. After purchasing two of my own books, Robinson Crusoe and The Prince together, on three separate occasions, with different Amazon. This made me realize that I could prompt Amazon. This led me to believe that Amazon. The insight I learned from consumer trends in purchases gave me a better understanding of how I could manipulate Amazon.

Two decades later, Amazon sells a bewildering array of products: lawnmowers, iPods, art work, toys, diapers, dildos, shoes, bike racks, gun safes, 3-D printers.


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  • Origins, though, leave lasting marks, and Amazon remains intimately tangled up in books. For its part, Amazon continues to expend considerable effort both to dominate this small, fragile market and to win the hearts and minds of readers. To many book professionals, Amazon is a ruthless predator. The company claims to want a more literate world—and it came along when the book world was in distress, offering a vital new source of sales.

    But then it started asking a lot of personal questions, and it created dependency and harshly exploited its leverage; eventually, the book world realized that Amazon had its house keys and its bank-account number, and wondered if that had been the intention all along. The results have been decidedly mixed. A monopoly is dangerous because it concentrates so much economic power, but in the book business the prospect of a single owner of both the means of production and the modes of distribution is especially worrisome: it would give Amazon more control over the exchange of ideas than any company in U.

    Even in the iPhone age, books remain central to American intellectual life, and perhaps to democracy. When Amazon emerged, publishers in New York suddenly had a new buyer that paid quickly, sold their backlist as well as new titles, and, unlike traditional bookstores, made very few returns. John Sargent, who is the chief executive of Macmillan, first met Bezos in the mid-nineties, at a hotel in Washington, D. He was a skinny kid, he was young, he was excitable, and he was completely serious about what he was doing.

    I drank the Kool-Aid. In the late nineties, an Amazon vice-president named Mary Morouse e-mailed her colleagues after a trip to visit publishers in New York. There were several examples cited where Amazon. And they love our sales numbers. Soon after music came DVDs and consumer electronics. Books were going to be the way to get the names and the data. Books were his customer-acquisition strategy.

    In the mid- to late nineties, Bezos hired two dozen writers and editors to produce copy for the Web site. One of them—Amazon employee No. For these refugees from New York, where jobs in publishing and journalism were already beginning to thin out, Amazon offered the thrill of working at a rising power, with stock options and an enormous audience.

    Marcus edited the home page, which was visited by at least thirty million people a day. Readers, especially isolated ones, adored Amazon. One day in , Fried went into the company kitchen and found him absorbed in assembling an ant farm. He was really pleasant and fun. Lots of managers had to take the Myers-Briggs personality tests. Eighty per cent of them came in two or three similar categories, and Bezos is the same: introverted, detail-oriented, engineer-type personality. Not musicians, designers, salesmen. The vast majority fall within the same personality type—people who graduate at the top of their class at M.

    I think we were flat last year. They were full of inefficiences, starting with overpriced Manhattan offices. During the holiday season, Amazon tried publishing books, leasing the rights to a defunct imprint called Weathervane and putting out a few titles. Employees with publishing experience, like Fried, were not consulted. Representatives at the company today claim never to have heard of it. Nobody at Amazon seemed to absorb any lessons from the failure. A decade later, the company would try again. Amazon was a megastore, not an indie bookshop, let alone a literary review, and its writers were under pressure to prove that their work produced sales.

    If a customer clicked on a review or an interview, then left the page without making a purchase, it was logged as a Repel. Marcus was informed that his repulsion rate was too high. They never knew exactly how much these payments helped sales, and negotiations over them became tense. Judgments about which books should be featured on the site were increasingly driven by promotional fees. Author interviews became less frequent, and in-house essays were subsumed by customer reviews, which cost the company nothing. One day, Fried discovered a memo, written by a programmer and accidentally left on a printer, which suggested eliminating the editorial department.

    Anne Hurley, the editor-in-chief of the DVD and Video section, was viewed dismissively by her boss, Jason Kilar, who went on to run the video-streaming company Hulu. Today, eight editors select titles to be featured on the Books page, and if you scour the site you can find a books blog, Omnivoracious, but its offerings seem marginal to the retail enterprise. According to one insider, around —when the company was selling far more than books, and was making twenty billion dollars a year in revenue, more than the combined sales of all other American bookstores—Amazon began thinking of content as central to its business.

    By then, Amazon had lost much of the market in selling music and videos to Apple and Netflix, and its relations with publishers were deteriorating. Many publishers had come to regard Amazon as a heavy in khakis and oxford shirts. In its drive for profitability, Amazon did not raise retail prices; it simply squeezed its suppliers harder, much as Walmart had done with manufacturers.

    Eventually, they all did. Amazon rarely makes its sales figures public, using bar graphs without numbers in presentations. The men were wearing Amazon nametags. So he capitulated. The process of paying co-op fees to promote individual titles grew increasingly complex, especially after Amazon began selling different levels of promotion. Random House currently gives Amazon an effective discount of around fifty-three per cent. Recently, publishers say, Amazon began demanding an additional payment, amounting to approximately one per cent of net sales.

    In , Amazon introduced Search Inside the Book, which allowed customers to hunt for a phrase in a book without having to buy it. Publishers warily allowed Amazon to scan some of their titles and convert the images into searchable text. In the mid-aughts, Bezos, having watched Apple take over the music-selling business with iTunes and the iPod, became determined not to let the same thing happen with books.

    Amazon had carefully concealed the number from publishers. The price was below wholesale in some cases, and so low that it represented a serious threat to the market in twenty-six-dollar hardcovers. If reading went entirely digital, what purpose would they serve? The next year, , which brought the financial crisis, was disastrous for bookstores and publishers alike, with widespread layoffs. By , Amazon controlled ninety per cent of the market in digital books—a dominance that almost no company, in any industry, could claim.

    Its prohibitively low prices warded off competition. Publishers looked around for a competitor to Amazon, and they found one in Apple, which was getting ready to introduce the iPad, and the iBooks Store. Five of the Big Six went along with Apple. Random House was the holdout. Most of the executives let Amazon know of the change by phone or e-mail, but John Sargent flew out to Seattle to meet with four Amazon executives, including Russ Grandinetti, the vice-president of Kindle content. Seated at a table in a small conference room, Sargent said that Macmillan wanted to switch to the agency model for e-books, and that if Amazon refused Macmillan would withhold digital editions until seven months after print publication.

    The discussion was angry and brief. After twenty minutes, Grandinetti escorted Sargent out of the building. Amazon unwillingly accepted the agency model, and within a couple of months e-books were selling for as much as fourteen dollars and ninety-nine cents. Amazon filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. In April, , the Justice Department sued Apple and the five publishers for conspiring to raise prices and restrain competition.