Category Archives: NEWS

Publerati 100% Publisher Donation Program for the Holidays

I’m pleased to announce that once again this holiday season Publerati will donate 100% of our publisher proceeds to the Worldreader Organization for sales made of our two holiday-themed titles: Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney and Normal Family by Don Trowden.

Last year we offered an incentive to readers and were able to send $500 to the Worldreader Organization, which was doubled though a matching program then in effect.  As a small publisher, we realize our impact is unlikely to be huge, but remain committed to encouraging people at the grassroots level to read new fiction from excellent authors and to do so in part knowing they are helping spread literacy.

The novel Thanksgiving follows one family of progressive women across 350 years in the same home in New England.  In a series of beautifully written November vignettes, we come to see the common threads that bind the generations together as American history unfolds behind the scenes.  From the author of the Mountaintop School for Dogs.

Normal Family also involves one family, but is set over a single year of outlandish holidays within an eccentric family in decline. The first in a planned trilogy, this novel features a witty voice where humor masks pain as the family is forever transformed over four consecutive holidays.

Publerati will donate the entirety of our publisher’s share to the Worldreader Organization for these two titles sold between October 29 and December 25, 2014.  Worldreader is proving how increased access to ebooks in remote regions of the world is changing the lives of students and teachers.

Please consider the other terrific titles on our small list in supporting all our authors. We donate no less than 15% of our publisher proceeds to Worldreader on an ongoing basis and each title has been carefully selected and edited to provide a range of styles. Our ebooks are priced at $4.99 and are available through most popular resellers, and some are also available as print-on-demand paperbacks through the Espresso Book Network.

Please share this with family and friends to help us make the largest possible difference.  Let’s try and at least double the amount we donated to Worldreader from last year. Happy holidays and remember…Good Works.

Why I Believe in the Future of Print-on-Demand Books

Back in 1995 when I worked in the photo industry, where the existing infrastructure in 35mm film, cameras, and long-life photo paper worldwide amounted to billions of dollars, many of the people working in that industry were dismissive of digital photography and the future of print-on-demand retail kiosks. The costs were prohibitive, the machines were too expensive and unreliable, and retailers would not want them. The list of reasons denying their future viability was extensive.

Today, one finds tens of thousands of these machines in chain drugstores, supermarkets, and mass merchants, albeit producing far fewer prints than in the 35mm heyday of wholesale photofinishing labs pumping out 50,000 rolls a night, guaranteed next-day or free just to add to the pressure. Back then, research showed the typical consumer was pleased with three good prints out of a roll of thirty-six (talk about progress, now they can see what they are getting before printing). That was a lot of photos that went directly into the trash or were stuffed under the bed in a shoebox, before ending up in the trash when future generations wondered just who the hell everyone was back then and why anyone would care.

The success of modern onsite digital photo machines is in great measure due to their role in bringing customers into stores knowing they will buy other goods while there. If you look at a Walgreens today, you will notice they continue to promote two services on the exteriors of their buildings: pharmacy and photo. I HAVE to go into a drugstore or supermarket every week; I DO NOT HAVE to go into a bookstore for months unless I want to buy a printed book in that way. (Sadly, in my experience lately, better independent bookstores are stocking fewer and fewer titles to make room for merchandise I do not care about, so increasingly I shop for books online or at Goodwill, the local bookstore of our time.) Sigh.

So now we enter the era of change for books, similar and also different to the photo industry of twenty years ago. We have early innovators such as On-Demand Books with their Espresso Book Network for printing high-quality paperbacks in minutes, and I expect they face an entrenched group of interests eager to maintain the status quo, hoping they will “simply go away.”  I believe there is nearly as much waste and inefficiency in printed books as there was with those old unacceptable (but accepted then!) “three good photo” stats in the days of 35mm film, when you could not possibly know what you were getting until you held the paid-for print in hand, excitedly flipping through them clandestinely in your car like a lotto ticket scratcher on a bender. (And apparently it was so important that those three good photos arrive the next day!)

I wonder how many books truly need to be printed on the paper they consume. Why not read a book digitally first and then if you love it and want to own it “forever” (or until your kids chuck it once you move on), buy a hardcover or paperback edition, along the lines of what happens with the books we call “classics.” (You know, like Fifty Shades of Grey, which the publishing industry rescued from the seedy world of self-publishing, thank God.)  Owning a print collection of the The World’s Great Novels or the The World’s Great Thinkers makes sense to me; owning a novel or celebrity biography that is just okay or a colossal disappointment to many (which happens all the time, just scan the reviews of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch as one example) strikes me as a huge environmental waste of perfectly good trees.

If you look at the space in a Rite Aid or the Photo Center of your supermarket, you will see most have room for a print-on-demand book machine. On-Demand Books recently announced that a hoped-for relationship with Kodak fell through, but Fuji is in fact the company with the most installed photo machines, precisely because Kodak was slow to the new game, hoping their existing 35mm infrastructure would not collapse as quickly as it did. And they had the largest global infrastructure invested in the century-old ways, racing to get those thirty-three bad prints back to you, whereas Fuji and Konica exited those businesses more rapidly instead of making further investments to gain short-term new business. The book machine at mass retail cost-justification is different than what the bookstore faces, in that drugstores and supermarkets are always looking for stores-within-stores to bring customers in more frequently and raise the average total amount spent, so the machine payback does not need to be as stringent as in the standalone bookstore scenario.

The purpose of these book machines, which will come down in price over time and become more reliable to operate, is to attract more overall business to your store. Fuji, Xerox, and Konica have large field-service organizations already servicing copiers and photo machines in mass market locations, so they can add the book machine to the list of reasons they need to be in the stores (e.g., supplying more paper, getting paid “per copy,” installing and servicing their latest machines, making money off  lucrative service agreements).

I believe this business model will be far better for society, including for many authors, who via the current business practices see their books declared out-of-print prematurely to avoid wasteful publisher returns from retail, a truly preposterous way of doing business. As bookselling consolidated power to the large chains and publishing conglomerates, the time a book other than a bestseller was given to prove itself on shelf was a matter of months, obviously not sufficient time to support a non-bestseller book launch.

Print-on-demand will eliminate the truckloads of books literally bought by the pound on pallets from publisher warehouses to be remaindered and trashed. Those making the case for how special writers are versus other product producers should witness that humbling spectacle.

I expect what will happen over the next ten years is standalone book superstores will be forced to close their doors in increasing numbers if not completely, which will continue the shift of book distribution into food, drug, and mass merchant retail outlets, as well as online. Amazon might buy RadioShack, and install a bunch, who knows?  Print-on-demand machines will become more affordable and offer wider publisher selection to match online inventories, as the machines make their way into mass merchants. The books that truly deserve to be pre-printed will continue that way through fewer and fewer independent bookstores, as well as schools and libraries—children’s books and art books most notably—while fiction and non-fiction titles will continue migrating to digital first, with more print-on-demand in the mix.

As was the case with Kodak, the largest and most channel undiversified of the current publishers will face the fastest declines when the transition accelerates, given their disproportionate stakes in old infrastructures. And similar to Kodak and Polaroid twenty years ago, I can hear them dismissing this line of thought as I type. The two greatest gifts the gods gave man: rationalization and denial, are also two of the most dangerous. Book people, of all people, should know this.

Publishers, unlike Kodak, at least control a great deal of terrific content, so their challenge will be more about managing the distribution shift over time, as well as eventually being forced to pay their authors better royalties in order to keep them from fleeing. If you accept that statement as a given, then they also will need to earn more per copy sold than they do currently, which I believe ebooks and print-on-demand can help them accomplish. Paying a reseller 55-60% of a book’s cover price right off the bat simply does not leave enough operating income to sustain most publishers or authors.

— Caleb Mason, Publerati

Publerati Titles on Scribd for eBook Subscribers…

All Publerati works of fiction are now available as part of the Scribd $8.99 monthly ebook subscription program.
Scribd is doing for books and reading what Netflix has done for movies and television. Ideal for avid readers, Scribd offers a great selection of titles at a terrific price: essentially half the price of one trade paperback for all the ebooks per month you can read. They support Apple iOS, Android, and Kindle.
Please visit our home page to see our titles and know that when you buy any of them from Scribd or other ebook resellers we donate no less than 15% of our net proceeds to help the Worldreader Organization spread literacy using ebooks.
All titles also available for libraries through Overdrive.
— Caleb

You Made a Difference

Thank you to everyone who purchased a Publerati ebook during our 100% Publisher Donation Program with the Worldreader Organization over the holidays. You made a difference.
Not all sales results are available yet but it is clear many people bought ebooks from Publerati in part knowing we were donating our entire publisher’s share. Our sales increased during the promotion and I received many thoughtful emails from readers who were pleasantly surprised by the calibre of our fiction. Thank you for those emails as the work involved in writing and editing novels can be a bit like making maple syrup: a true labor of limited love.
It looks like we will be able to at least quintuple our annual donation to the Worldreader Organization from a year ago. So that is great news!
As a reminder, we always donate no less than 15% of our publisher’s share to Worldreader so I appreciate any help spreading the word. The goal is to increase our sales to the point where we can once again run this 100% donation program next holiday season and continue funding the hard work that goes into acquiring, editing, and marketing excellent new works of fiction.
Have a happy and healthy 2014!
Best wishes,
Caleb Mason
Founder & Publisher
p.s. please click the share button below as one way to share, by selecting your preferred social media outlet from the list.

Espresso Print-on-Demand at Books-a-Million Maine Store

Sometimes living in Maine has unexpected advantages beyond lobster, seaside air, and friendly people, as I discovered yesterday when learning one of the newest beta sites for the Espresso Print-on-Demand system was being unveiled at a South Portland Books-a-Million store. Publerati is located in nearby Portland. 

Oddly enough, Maine was also a test-market back in 1995 when Time Warner was rolling out its national Road Runner program, which I got involved with when working for Konica in the photo industry, who had a photo processing plant in South Portland. TW Cable was eager to see if a high-speed photo system would have consumer appeal. And now we have Facebook.

I stopped in to snap some photos and visited with the nice people running the machine as well as a rep from NYC working with Espresso On-Demand and the local PR agency Burgess Advertising. There was a ribbon-cutting event, music, and food. Well done. Some kids were crawled up on the floor watching intently as the demo book passed through the machine, very cute.
Here is a photo of the store-within-store On-Demand space, which is very similar to what Fuji and Kodak did fifteen years ago in supermarkets, drug stores, and mass retail, set off in a corner:

Here is the machine combination, which in this case is a Xerox book assembly, gluing/binding machine that allows you to watch like an old-fashioned taffy machine, and then a Konica Minolta printer. I was told different configurations are being tested but given that I worked for Konica years ago, I know how strong their R&D and onsite service people are so would not be surprised to see them in the wider rollout over the coming years. Not many people know that the founder of Konica and the founders of HP were friends in the 1950s and several Konica patents are included in HP products.  Here is the machine combo up close:
The Konica printer is the black machine on the right that looks like a woodstove, perfect for life in Maine! Wonder how many BTUs that thing throws off in wintah? That would close the deal for many around here for sure.
Here are some books, which take on average 7-10 minutes to produce from soup to nuts, including this color example of a Peter Rabbit public domain book, which looks great when done. All the paper is archival quality, similar to how the photo machines in mass retail now provide long-life paper you cannot get off your home printer. I was unable to find out about the longevity of the inks, however, which would be important to know for all these POD books.
Okay, so possibly you wonder why this matters? My own view is it will matter more in other types of retail formats than it will in current book superstore configurations, but for now it allows a retailer to print books for self-published authors as well as out-of-print books for large publishers, such as HarperCollins. 
It allows any book that is provided through Espresso On-Demand in the suitable PDF format (one for the cover, one for the content), to be available to someone who might not otherwise be able to find it. And it allows any individual to have their own books produced, even simple photo scrapbooks, along the lines of how one goes to the Staples Copy Center.
This picture shows how the important cross-merchandising can happen in the store:
As the technology improves and the pricing comes down (this is not going to be a break-even venture for some time probably, but I am sure the investors behind everyone involved are willing to float some beta testing units while working out the kinks and building consumer demand), I envision these units in some Starbucks, airports, “A” store supermarkets, which have the highest repeat traffic of any retail format, and some drug stores already printing photos. The advantages these retailers have over bookstores is the average person is there several times a week.
I hope the better indie bookstores will be able to offer these as well as they do a great job of buying selected pre-printed books that appeal to the tastes of their clientele while also being able to serve the local market through the new POD capability and author events. 
In photo, more of this business actually went direct online than into retail. We now have Shutterfly and others who have self-service Web ordering systems online (e.g., your computer, tablet, or phone), so expect Amazon to be a player in this space as well. And I would also expect the total number of books consumed in print to decline similar to what happened with photos, where far, far fewer are printed now than fifteen years ago. So the on-demand retail store product mixes will be important to watch and a nightmare to plan for as retail space declines in total for books.
Publerati will offer our ebook fiction through Espresso On-Demand to supplement the delivery we are already getting through the Overdrive system to libraries and some retail. I hope we can do author signings using these machines and retail locations. But I personally believe the majority of books will be read digitally in the future and if you simply must own it and put it on a shelf, that option will exist for those special cases. Just like I choose to own the DVD for “Gone with the Wind.”
Bringing this back to Maine, we have seen better than many how the decline in paper consumption has put many paper manufacturers out of business here and cost so many jobs. It is sad, but we need to face the truth, which is the world will spin on its merry way without us and not care a hoot.
I know there is much more about this that I do not know so welcome comments from those with more information. I wanted to share these photos and thoughts realizing this is another instance of technology being early to the game but with the potential to play a key role in a few years. And, go figure, it happened to be going on right in my neighborhood.
— Caleb

Publerati Titles Now Available on Overdrive for Libraries

Publerati is pleased to announce all our fiction titles are now available on Overdrive for libraries and other retailers participating in the Overdrive kiosk ebook program.

A core mission of Publerati is to increase access for excellent fiction around the world using ebooks and e-reading technologies. Libraries and their dedicated librarians have long been instrumental in helping readers access books and develop a passion for reading. The Overdrive lending system assures this great work can continue as ebooks become widely demanded by consumers.
Publerati donates all our ebooks to the Worldreader Organization to help spread literacy, as well as a portion of every sale. We have carefully selected $4.99 as the ideal price for new works of fiction originated as ebooks, believing more readers will purchase at this price point and as a byproduct help fund access for those with fewer options. Libraries are critical to helping make this all possible.
A new title sure to be in demand at libraries this month is Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney, which has been receiving terrific reviews. The other works of fiction in the program are: Normal Family by Don Trowden; Journey of the North Star by Douglas Penick; Dancing in the Kitchen by Susan Sterling; An American Gospel by M.T. Daffenberg, and Marriages are Made in India by Lakshmi Raj Sharma. All upcoming Publerati titles will be included in the Overdrive program. The list is small and carefully curated to represent our commitment to excellent fiction written in differing styles, reflecting the core uniqueness of the art-form versus other entertainment choices.
I hope next time you visit your local library you will ask about the Publerati works of fiction, all with detailed descriptions on our home page at 
— Caleb


Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney Early Reviews

We would like to thank the many book bloggers who are passionate about excellent fiction for their coverage of this extraordinary novel.  Here are links to recent reviews:

This is a win-win…because when you read any Publerati work of fiction, priced at just $4.99 to encourage wider readership, we donate a portion of all sales (as well as the ebook itself) to the Worldreader Organization, who is working to spread literacy using donated ebooks and ereaders. Good works.

Adult Fiction Sales: How Much Was Print in 2012?

With permission of the American Association of Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group 2012 data, I recently took a look at how the ebook and print book revenue and unit splits came in for 2012, just for the trade adult fiction category.

It is important to note the following when looking at this data:

1) This study measures the traditional publishing industry, not self-publishing titles. If those titles were factored in, the balance between ebooks and print would skew further toward ebooks.

2)  In 2012, net book sales across all categories fell slightly over the previous year, the third straight year of declines, but with more stability. Much of that decline was within the education, scholarly, and nonfiction book categories.

3) The excellent news is that two categories grew: adult trade fiction and young adult trade fiction. Some or quite a lot of this could be due to blockbusters in each category that will be difficult to replicate in 2013: 50 Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games. Trade publishing now represents 55% of the total book market, up from less than 50% a few years ago, which speaks in part to the emergence of ebooks but also the decline of the total pie as the other sectors shrink. It’s probably a good news/bad news pie chart.

This is what I see in the 2012 Trade Adult Fiction category data:

2012 Trade Book Adult Fiction Total Dollars: $4.8b

Print books (all formats): $2.9b (62%)
Ebooks: $1.8b (38%)

When looking at the unit split, it was 40% ebooks and 60% print.

What this data cannot answer is how many people would have paid the higher paperback or hardcover price for a book if it was not available in ebook? (As in let’s pretend ebooks don’t exist.) Conversely, how many more people read the book and talked about it because they downloaded the ebook “before they forgot to buy the print book.” How many new readers were created by ebooks for that title? In the case of 50 Shades, the book might very well have never existed had it not been self-published first as an ebook and the entire 2012 industry results and Random House would have suffered as a result.

I think common sense says there is a tradeoff at play here. But is readership of adult fiction and young adult fiction going up because of ebooks? Are more people reading books they would not have otherwise read? That answer must be yes.

If someone knows what adding the self-publishing units and dollars into this mix looks like I would be very interested in knowing. For instance, of all the books sold in 2012, how many came from the publishers covered in the AAP/BISG report and how many came from self-publishing programs? (NPD retail data, for instance, typically says: this data represents 91% of all cash register rings made via our measured retailers.) I realize this data for fiction alone is probably not available.

— Caleb Mason

86% of Tablet Owners Report Reading Ebooks on Them

Otis Chandler, the Founder of Goodreads, has been very generous in sharing their reader data and did so again recently at the Digital Book World Conference. We should expect this will stop with Amazon buying Goodreads so looking at this information now is time well spent for future historical purposes.

No one truly knows where the balance between reading print and reading ebooks will be ten years from now, but two pieces of information caught my attention in the presentation he shared:

1)  The age demographic of readers on Goodreads is a very even distribution across young, middle-aged, and elderly. For you marketeers out there, this is the demographic you hope to have, although reading still skews strongly to women. As a man who loves to read, I hold out hope that the new technology of e-reading will help bring more men into the fold, less we become so dumbed down we cease to exist, which is afterall, the female’s master plan. And can you blame them?

2)  86% of tablet owners report reading at least one ebook on their tablet. It would be good to know by gender what the frequency of reading on tablets looks like or is it just a function of the newness. I have been around enough new technology over the decades dismissed by those hoping it will simply go away, to know this is not going to happen here and tablets will become widely owned and adored.

So the very good news in that high correlation between tablet ownership and e-reading is the potential tablets offer for ongoing e-reading growth. Once 75% of the population owns a tablet, which will happen faster in affluent countries than many expect, same as what happened with laptops displacing desktops, the volume of ebooks being purchased will accelerate and the overall print/ebook ratios will change from what Goodreads shows now in this analysis.

The business challenge is how best to manage the shift over time and this is why the bookstores are so important right now as his report reveals. With each B&N and indie bookstore closing, the paper book volumes that humans can touch and browse in stores will continue to be impacted. Hopefully it will be a soft landing and not a crash landing. But much as what happened with print photos, my hunch is more of those print book volumes will stay online through Amazon and other direct shippers, which is a trend that has been underway for years now. Shutterfly sells more prints direct than Walgreen’s does retail.

And this is a publisher problem because Amazon as a key distributor, while also a competing publisher, will never be a situation they like. Amazon has most hurt Barnes & Noble, and publishers and many authors are hesitant to reveal that Amazon accounts for up to 40% of a book’s print sales, which was once Barnes & Noble’s share. Not even talking about ebook share here — just print.

So the key competitive advantage Amazon enjoys that I cannot see anyone matching is the age-old one of distribution. This distribution is now online versus in-store. A logical next step for them would be to buy the B&N stores once they get down to a count, geography, and cost that will be sustainable in the new overall hardware, print book, and direct fulfillment integrated sales channels, ones only they will possess. And I mean “possess.”

I imagine some large publishers are contemplating getting into retail (remember in Australia when Angus & Robertson was both a publisher and major bookstore chain?) but this is the main advantage I see for Amazon at retail: they resell everything across all classes of goods, especially consumer electronics, in addition to just books and magazines. So should they buy those B&N’s they will also be in competition with Best Buy and Walmart, which is where they really belong. But neither of those two mega-retailers can match the online and direct selling technological fulfillment expertise of Amazon. Amazon has been and will continue to use technology as their key differentiator. Just the way MacDonald’s did with fast drive-thru service. I can envision a retail future landscape where current B&Ns are Amazons, and so are current Office Max stores and others strategically located currently selling goods better sold online.

You can view the Goodreads presentation here:

— Caleb

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