Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chinese publishing company's dual language publishing idea

A Chinese book publishing company, People's Medical Publishing House has acquired BC Decker's medical and dental books. [news from Publishers Weekly]

Going forward, People's Medical Publishing House (owned by Chinese Health Ministry) will be publishing medical and dental books in English and Chinese. The parent company will also be translating several of the back titles into Chinese.

This is an excellent idea. There are several US, Canada, UK based small publishing houses which can be acquired by Chinese and Indian companies for the value of their content, and republish translations of such books into Chinese and Indian languages. Sometimes, this will work out better than merely buying translation rights.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pearson group revenue, profit up

In the first half of 2008, Pearson Publishing Group increased its revenue to UKP 1.97 billion, up 6%. Its operating profits was UKP 124 million. [The Guardian Report]

The breakup is interesting:

US Educational sales: UKP 713 million
Rest of the world Educational sales: UKP 365 million
Financial Times: UKP 374 million
Penguin: UKP 408 million
Other: UKP 110 million

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Espresso Book Machine expected to roll out in UK

UK's The Sunday Times reports that soon the US based OnDemandBooks will offer its Espresso Book Machine to Blackwell, a chain of over 60 book stores in the UK.

I was quite impressed with the concept of the Espresso Book Machine when it debuted.
The machines are 9ft long, 5ft high, and allow customers to type in the title they want to buy. After about seven minutes, the book is printed out, trimmed and bound, selling for the same price as its shelf equivalent at the shop.
The fun in this machine is not placing it in a book shop! But anywhere where there is some space - like restaurants, tube stations, reception area of a large office complex - typically wherever vending machines sell crisps and colas. The machine needs an internet connection and has a nice touch screen interface for browsing the books and a credit card swiper to grab the money.

This may not still work in the Indian context for a while. Or, I may be wrong. Who knows? We may have a bunch of such machines placed all over India within an year or two.

However, when it comes to really printing on-demand books for physical distribution or internet ordering, this is not the machine. Solid heavy-duty Xerox, HP printers can offer for better pricing. Amazon's BookSurge offers a much better pricing than the 7c a page offered by this machine.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Innovation in promotion?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Stepehn King's new short story collection is being promoted by converting one of his unpublished short story in to multiple episodes of animated video.

However, these clips (25 of them) are being sold through Amazon and iTunes for $3.99. I would have thought it would make more sense to make them freely available, allowing people to download and watch them in large numbers and then go on to buy the book by paying hard cash.

Anyway, an interesting model.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Canada publishing revenues in 2006

In 2006, Canada's book publishing revenue was Can $2.1 billion, down 1.2% from the 2005 revenues. [Source]

The operating expenses went up by 0.9% because of increased salaries, wage and other benefits. Thus, the profit margin has come down to 10.3% from 12.1% the previous year.

Interesting stats. Now, how long do we have to wait to get the stats for the year 2007?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Vodafone Crossword Awards

For the translation category, the award was shared by Chowringee and Govardhan's Travels.

Our two shortlisted entries didn't win any.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

IPL official website stats

The owner of, Live Current Media Inc. has revealed that it received "50 million page views from over 5.2 million unique visitors during 18 April to 1 June 2008", reports received substantial promotion in the TV coverage.

Whether this kind of page views can be justified by the $5 million tag deserves analysis.

Live Current Media Inc. has also indicated that it will "launch the official BCCI site in beta before the 18 July Test match between India and Sri Lanka and global cricket site in beta by August 2008."

Simon & Schuster's Christian imprint for children

Newsweek reports that Simon & Schuster is setting up an imprint called "Simon Inspirations", to publish Christian religious books for children. This is the first time a mainstream publisher is doing this.
The new line, which includes 13 titles this year, will skip Bible stories and focus instead on books like Karen Hill's upcoming "Finding the Golden Ruler," which teach Christian values without delving into specific doctrine.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Asli paperback writers

Nilanjana Roy, Chief editor, Westland/ Tranquebar writes in her column in Business Standard:
I asked one publisher who the average pulp fiction reader was. He admitted that most pulp fiction readers, especially in the languages of Hindi and Malayalam, were male. But he added, "College professors, site labourers, some housewives, young students, businessmen, salesmen, rickshaw-walas — everyone but you English-speaking types."

Pity the Anglicised, for they don't know what they're missing.
Indeed! Nilanjana also says:
There were whole worlds enclosed in these ridiculously cheap paperbacks, printed on either the thinnest or the most coarse paper one might get, that were unavailable to the English-speaking reader.
The Indian language speaker doesn't mind walking to the nearest corner shop to buy the "coarse" paper novel costing Rs. 10-15. The Anglophone wants something sophisticated, which will cost Rs. 200-500. It may be quite possible to create Rs. 10 paperback novels in English but distribution will become a nightmare.

In Tamil, for example, 25-30% will be the margin given to the agents, who in turn retain around 10% and pass the rest on to the shopkeeper. For a book priced Rs. 15, the retailer will mostly get Rs. 3, the agent Rs. 1.5, the author Rs. 1 - 1.5 (per copy), printing cost around Rs. 5-6 (at print runs above 10,000) and the publisher, the rest (Rs. 3 per copy sold!). Are the English publishers ready for this game? Even if they are, the distributors, even if offered 50%, will not touch it, for it is too cheap to deal with. Therein lies the problem.

This is why, real pulp will work only in the Indian languages and Anglophones will have to be content only with some translations once in a while.