Monday, January 26, 2009

So We'vePicked Ourselves Up, Dusted Off & Are Starting Again

January 26, 2009.

All the 2008 tallying has been done, the news was bad, badder and worst, but now, like a phoenix from the ashes, the old Publishing Game rises again.

Publishers cut more than 1,200 jobs in 2008 (and this is a conservative estimate based on what they'll all actually admit). Barnes & Noble just announced they're cutting 100 at its headquarters (4% of NY workforce). Random House has reorganized and restructured its three publishing groups. Borders has a new chairman, Richard McGuire (former hedge fund executive - now call me crazy, but isn't that sector having an awful lot of problems of its own?) and the NEA survey that proudly announced reading rose to 119 million in 2008 (versus 115.5 million in 2002, breaking down the numbers shows a slightly different - and less rosy - story. PW shows the breakdown (1/19/09 issue) and in every category, the Percentage of Adults Who Read a Book Not Required for Work or School fell several points. The catch? The "reading" included everything read anywhere or anytime - and a single poem constituted "more". Anything that constituted "literary" was acceptable and I, for one, wonder how lenient the respondents were with this rating! Moreover, the prior study did not include electronic materials, so that, in itself, may well account for the jump. But rest assured that everyone in the Pub Game will be poring over these numbers for quite some time to come in an effort to wring a rosy scenario from it, as well as put it to the best use in their own game. Still, any news that says we're reading is good news.

The economy is hitting conventions and conferences hard in all industries. The New York ComicCon, reported by PW to be the fourth largest event in NYC is showing a bit of fall off, though Lance Fensterman event director of Reed Exhibitions says they expect presales to pick up right before the show. Hope so, Lance!

Sales were down, too, sharply at the end of the year but when all was said and done, the last quarter debacle was helped by prior periods' health and the news was painful, but not agonizing.

Still, it was thrilling to see the Publisher's Lunch Deluxe 1/12 edition that reported 10 new romance sales for the date, as did the 1/19 edition, covering every genre and indicating that the powerhouse genre is still going strong.

Among others, the lovely and entertaining Wendy Corsi Staub's new deal was announced, taking the 30 title Kensington author to Avon, where her first three titles have been signed by Lucia Macro. Congrats Wendy! Keep those NYT bestselling hits a' coming.

The film biz is also sticking with the books. Edgar Sawtelle's been optioned by Tom Hanks, and The Reincarnationists, MJ Rose's title to Warner Bros. as a pilot for Fox.

There's plenty more where this came from folks, but night has fallen and I'm hitting the road.

More later.