Margo Baldwin, President, Chelsea Green Publishing; Clint Greenleaf, President, Greenleaf Book Group; Robert Miller, President, HarperStudio; Sara Nelson, Books Editor, O, the Oprah Magazine, Moderator
Margo Baldwin: needed to be niched to stay in business – environment and sustainable living. Try to get a book out from manuscript to bound book in 4 to 5 weeks. Can get well known authors this way. Their books don’t require big advances. They have a mission to help save the world and tends to attract like minded authors. Their specialty books require little marketing and people can easing find them on the internet. Do own distribution cause this helps them control their cash flow. Don’t do business with Borders because think will be gone soon. Their big growth is in specialty retailers (garden stores, for example). The overall pie can grow, not shrink, for certain kinds of books because you can make multiple kinds of products surrounding a single book. Pie for hardcovers will shrink but other parts of the pie will grow. If have a brand can role out many different versions of a book. Big worry is that they are becoming a technology company and it means that every job in the company has to be rethought. Very hard to move retail chains off returns. Worries about piracy and will be more of an issue if consumers don’t get prices they want. In total expects an expanded marketplace with access to a lot of people who didn’t buy books before.
Clint Greenleaf: done well because broke from the traditional model. Publishing is only business where if someone self-funds is looked down upon. Clients pay for up front costs. But only take 3% of the books offered to them because won’t sell crap. Will do editing. Found ” everything” didn’t work because buyers wouldn’t take them. Someone will always give the consumer what he wants so publishers need to listen and do it or they will loose out. Never argue with the consumer. Worries that the opportunity in front of publishers is so big that they won’t think about all the stuff they can do. Piracy came about in music because consumers felt that prices were too high. Excited about the democratization of publishing instead of having to be at the whims of the large publishers.
Robert Miller: HarperStudio started a year ago. Concerned about trends of high advances leading to high expensed printing too many books and then high returns. Big houses good at distributing brand names on large scales and pay high advances to do this. Anything below that, where material is speculative, are overpaying. They pay max 100K advance against a 50/50 profit share. When books do modestly can make money on this. Pie is large enough to allow ebooks. Thinks will be about even between p and e eventually. Competition is helping now that more eplayers are coming into the market. Even with the agency model pricing will still be dynamic over time. Overall, consumers still want lower prices and this will apply to pbooks as well. Excited of the possibilities of bundling, but no retailers have the mechanism to handle selling it right now. Barnes & Noble has said they want to do it. Worries about the disappearance of the retail market, or the significant shrinkage of it. Not so worried about piracy cause give away more books that are pirated. Print on demand is growing because houses can’t afford to publish the backlist. Lot of opportunity to pick up where big publishers leave off because they are shrinking their lists. Ebooks will save enormous waste with returns averaging 40%
Sara Nelson: advances gotten out of hand and authors will never earn anything on the back end because the front is so high. Distribution chain is one of the major problems in the industry. As a reviewer, Amazon is much friendlier to her than it was before Apple came into the market. Worked with Vook and it was very successful with books that had an instructional element. For most authors piracy is not an issue.