Posted tagged ‘indpendent publishing’


May 10, 2012

The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) is proud to announce the finalists in the 24th Annual Benjamin Franklin Awards™. The three finalists in each of the 54 categories were chosen from close to 1,300 entries, and one winner per category will be announced at the Benjamin Franklin Awards ceremony on Monday evening, June 4th at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York city on the eve of BookExpo America 2012.

Top experts in the book industry, including librarians, booksellers and design experts, judged every entry. In keeping with IBPA’s educational mission, all entrants receive a written critique with advice on how to improve their publications as well as kudos for the good work produced.

Honoring excellence in publishing annually since 1988, the Benjamin Franklin Awards™ have recognized publishers as large as John Wiley and Sons, DK and Sourcebooks, and as small as Happy Quail, Appell Publishing, and Exalt Press.

This year’s finalists include a spectacular array of titles from publishers large and small, including The Drama-Free Office from Greenleaf Book Group, LLC, Empowering Spanish Speakers – Answers for Educators, Business People, and Friends of Latinos from Summerland Corp., My Grama’s Garden from My Grama’s Garden and more…

The Independent Book Publishers Association, the largest not-for-profit association of publishers in the United States, is pleased to honor this year’s Benjamin Franklin Awards.™ finalists.  A complete listing of finalists may also be found on the IBPA website

IBPA member titles rock the house at the Public Library Association Conference

April 16, 2012

Following is an excerpt from a report, written by Assistant Director Lisa Krebs, on IBPA’s recent attendance at the PLA  Conference.  More than 125 members exhibited their books in the IBPA booth and many of those also participated in in-booth autographing sessions. Each member who exhibited their title received a full report on the show as well as contact information for the more than 500 librarians who visited the IBPA booth. See the conference in photos on IBPA’s Facebook page and browse the color catalogue of the titles at the IBPA site here

PLA Report

According to Publishers Weekly (3/23/12): More than 8,700 attendees and over 400 exhibitors gathered in Philadelphia, March 13–17, for the Public Library Association 2012 Biennial Conference, and despite lingering discord with publishers over e-books and ever-tightening budget constraints, the mood of the show was upbeat, with a strong slate of popular authors, keynote speakers, and a professional program that focused on advocacy and, of course, books.

From the PLA press release: “As society continues to change the way it consumes information, libraries are on the front lines when it comes to adopting new technologies,” said PLA president Marcia Warner, director of the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Public Library. “The PLA Conference offers librarians from across the nation an opportunity to discuss the changing nature of public libraries and their evolving role in the communities they serve.”

The PLA is one of the most informative shows IBPA attends. The hours are moderate, and the librarians are very focused on collecting information. The next show, PLA’s 15th National Conference will be March 11-15, 2014, in Indianapolis, IN.

As an every other year show, the PLA “travels” the coasts each conference. This time it was the on the East Coast in Philadelphia, PA.  IBPA had a good location near the entrance of the show and close to some popular library vendors. The PLA show is primarily an information gathering show and librarians are “the” information gatherers. Most librarians are very specific in their needs and we help them fill out their lists with the books we had on hand at the booth. Others stand in a certain genre for a period of time, make a detailed list and move on with precision.

Librarians are genuinely interested in the product from independent publishers. Every year, we are approached at the booth by librarians who receive our mailings and tell us how much they appreciate how “one-of-a-kind” and specialized small press titles can be. As one librarian put it, “Independent publishers are the ones with cutting-edge and unique product.” Some librarians gravitated towards the booth just because they saw the word “independent” and wanted to show support and have a look.

It was also great to hear that the librarians are using and appreciate the IBPA flyer programs. Many told us that they pass the fliers to their colleagues and hold onto them for future purchases for their collections. This year, we took a straw poll about how these librarian specialists prefer to receive catalogs and information about your titles – Print or Email? We asked men and women, new and seasoned and the answer was the same. Surprisingly, while a few like getting email catalogs, the result was two-to-one in favor of still receiving print.

Here are some of the comments:

–        “I prefer print because I like to mark it up.”

–        “I get too many emails—prefer print.”

–        “Print catalogues stack up in my office—I’d much rather have e-catalogues”

–        “No matter what the format, easy ISBN access is critical.”

–        “I can more easily share print catalogues with my colleagues.”

Some interesting notes from the show:

  • Send posters to libraries, lots of posters – with useful information and web addresses. Librarians will definitely put them up, especially if it ties in with a certain week, month or holiday.
  • A review from one of the following magazines is the stamp of approval that is often needed to write a purchase order: Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and Booklist. Other magazines, newspapers and websites are used as well, but one of these magazines will definitely influence a purchase. Therefore, if you have received a review in any of these publications, please make sure it is prominent in any promotion you send to the library.
  • Moreover, reviews in general are very necessary for acquisition. It is suggested to get reviews from your local librarian, experts in your field, people of merit in your industry or genre. Even other publishers, if they are well known in the genre, are good review sources.
  • “Independent” is “in” and has been popular for librarians, but especially now. So, make sure that your paperwork, brochures, website, etc. contain the words “Independent” and “Indie” publisher.

Specific interests voiced this year were in specific health issues, young adult and reference titles, although the entire stand received well-deserved attention.

The books at the IBPA booth this year were donated to Better World Books after the show. All proceeds from the books will go to help generate funding for Plan USA’s relief and educational programs in Haiti. Plan USA has been working in Haiti since 1973. They were recently selected by the Haitian government to implement the country’s education restoration effort alongside the Ministry of Education, UN agencies, local and international NGO partner

View the PLA Facebook page with photos


Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library–What Does it Mean For Publishers? IBPA Wants to Know What You Think

November 21, 2011

Following are two perspectives on the Kindle Lending Library. The first piece entitled “Controversy Rages: Amazon to Lend Books” was originally written by IBPA Board Chair Stephen Blake Mettee for his blog, The Write Thought and appears here with his permission. The second piece, written by IBPA President Florrie Binford Kichler, raises some questions for publishers and a request for feedback. We want to know what publishers think about the Amazon Kindle Lending Library so please leave your comments!

Controversy Rages: Amazon to Lend Books

by Stephen Blake Mettee

There’s been quite a ruckus in the book publishing world lately. has recently announced its long-anticipated foray into lending e-books.

Kindle owners who are also Amazon Prime members, in addition to getting free two-day shipping on their orders and “unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows,” can also borrow books to read without an additional payment (Amazon Prime membership costs $79 per year). There doesn’t appear to be any limit on how long a book can be borrowed but only one book can be borrowed at a time.

Amazon says its lending library offers over 5,000 titles including 100 New York Times bestsellers. This is a far cry from the millions of print titles available on Amazon or the hundreds of thousands of e-books available as Kindle editions, but it is a toe in the water and publishers, authors, and literary agents are nervous.

How’s it work?

Amazon Prime members who are also Kindle owners are now presented with a “Borrow for Free” button next to the “Buy” button on selected books. When the member chooses to borrow a title, Amazon credits the publisher’s account with the same dollar amount as if the e-book was sold rather than loaned. At this point, the Amazon Prime member gets to read the book as a part of his or her yearly fee and the publisher effectively gets a full-priced sale.

So, why the controversy?

This sounds fair to me. I’d sign The Write Thought titles up. So why the hubbub?

I think the concern from the publishers—most publishers with titles among those available for loan weren’t notified that their titles would be included in this program—is that they haven’t agreed to Amazon “lending” titles even if Amazon pays as if they sold it.

Also, apparently Amazon plans to report revenue from this program to publishers as a lump sum leaving the publishers to allocate this revenue their authors. Amazon is said to be basing this lump sum by looking at the 12-month sales history of titles included in the program. A rather nebulous reporting method at best.

I think the Authors Guild and the Association of Authors’ Representatives (literary agents), two groups that have spoken out about this, are concerned since most contracts between authors and publishers have a set royalty paid to the author based on revenue from each e-books sale, say 25% of net revenue and a different amount on revenue generated from rights sales, say 50% of net.

The question being, which is this? Revenue from the sale of a book or revenue from a subsidiary right? And, of course, how is a publisher to properly allocate each of its author’s revenue share if Amazon doesn’t supply a complete breakdown by title?

Another concern, of course, is if this is simply Amazon’s first salvo; will Amazon attempt to morph the program into something else. For instance, can Amazon purchase one copy of an e-book and “lend” or “rent” it as many times as it likes? Pay the publisher once and rent or loan it many times. Libraries do this and many years ago so did bookstores.

The world is still hazy when it comes to e-books.


Kindle Lending Library—What Does it Mean for Publishers?

by Florrie Binford Kichler

Amazon recently announced that it was going to begin “lending” e-books to its Amazon Prime customers.

Quoting from Amazon’s news release:

“With an Amazon Prime membership, Kindle owners can now choose from thousands of books to borrow for free – including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers – as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates.”

“Titles in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library come from a range of publishers under a variety of terms. For the vast majority of titles, Amazon has reached agreement with publishers to include titles for a fixed fee. In some cases, Amazon is purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader under standard wholesale terms as a no-risk trial to demonstrate to publishers the incremental growth and revenue opportunity that this new service presents.”

The Big Six publishers did not sign onto the Lending Library program. The Author’s Guild contends that nonetheless Amazon has included many publishers’ titles (not the Big Six) without the publisher’s permission. In addition, the Guild says that those publishers who have submitted their books to the Lending Library program “signed licensing agreements with Amazon for a selection of their titles, providing for a flat annual fee per title. While these publishers generally have the right to license e-book uses for many of their authors’ titles (just as most trade publishers do), our reading of the standard terms of these contracts is that they do not have the right to do so without the prior approval of the books’ authors.”

The Guild says that such a “bulk licensing program” is outside the scope of most publishing contracts and that publishers need to get permission from their authors to participate along with a contract amendment. They urge their members to contact their publishers if their books are in the Kindle Lending Library program.

The Bigger Picture

The reality is that Amazon has leveled the playing field for smaller publishers, enabling them to reach readers online in huge numbers, and publish their content quickly, easily and efficiently.

But at what cost?

The Author’s Guild claims that Amazon has included publishers’ titles in the Kindle Lending Program without consent but no publishers to this point have confirmed that publicly. If that is indeed the case, should Amazon have asked first? Or, as the company says, is “purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader” plus a flat licensing fee simply another sale under standard contract terms, requiring no special handling?

“Purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader” sounds like a sale, which is a good thing.  But could Amazon decide to begin lending titles more than once to multiple readers without compensating the publisher (and the author)? And if so, what recourse would publishers have?

More questions than answers. What do you think? Is the Kindle Lending Library a way for Amazon to increase device sales at the publisher’s and author’s expense or a “no-risk trial to demonstrate to publishers the incremental growth and revenue opportunity that this new service presents.”? Are you currently participating in the Kindle Lending Library and if so, how’s your experience been so far?  Would you include your titles if asked?

Let us know by commenting on this blog. Member feedback will help determine  IBPA’s  position on this issue.

Christopher Hitchens–the art of writing and dying

July 19, 2011

by Stephen Blake Mettee, Board Chair, IBPA

I don’t subscribe to Vanity Fair, but, like with the New Yorker (To which I also don’t subscribe; I quit my subscription as a minor vice on which I both spent too much time and felt guilty for not spending more—the darn thing comes weekly!), whenever I crack the cover, I find remarkable writing.

It was no different when a friend loaned (or is it “lent”) me the June issue of Vanity Fair. Christopher Hitchens, who has spent the past year “living dyingly,” has written an intimate piece that is at once poignant journal and solid writing advice.

To set the stage, Hitchens, who has written critiques for a number of magazines and is known for his controversial and confrontational debating style, opens with a few lines of T.S, Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:

I have seen the moment of my greatness

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold
my coat, and snicker.

And in short, I was afraid.

Hitchens’ says he doesn’t “so much object to his holding my coat in that marked manner, as if mutely reminding me that it’s time to be on my way. No, it’s the snickering that gets me down.”

The snickering of “a teasing special of the day, or a flavor of the month. It might be random sores and ulcers, on the tongue or in the mouth. Or why not a touch of peripheral neuropathy, involving numb and chilly feet?”

An atheist—he prefers the term “antitheist”—Hitchens likens the effects of his cancer to the wooden-legged piglet that belonged to a “sadistically sentimental family that could bear to eat him only a chunk at a time.”

The latest chunk to be devoured was his voice. Literally. The cancer, in attacking his vocal cords, struck him dumb “like a silly cat that had abruptly lost its meow.”

Hitchens says he owes a “vast debt” (I’m quoting a “vast” bit from the article because I so enjoy Hitchens’ exacting word choices. A level to which all of we-who-write should so aspire.) to an early critic who advised he should write “more like the way that you talk.”

I remember a 1960s high school English class where we were taught to take the “I” out of our essays. I guess we were being taught to emulate the mind-numbing high school text books they issued us.

IMHO, in everything you write, write like you are in the room with the reader discussing a subject you are passionate about. Let the “you” come through. Your opinions, your views, your biases (okay, keep your biases out of straight journalistic reporting), your vocabulary.

Make the reader feel you. Put the “I” into your writing.

Hitchens advises: “If something is worth hearing or listening to, it’s very probably worth reading. So, this above all: Find your own voice.”

Get a copy of the June Vanity Fair and read Hitchen’s article. It’s both a lesson in writing and a lesson in dying.

Just a write thought.

Will Books Go the Way of Music CDs?

June 16, 2011

by Stephen Blake Mettee, The Write Thought and IBPA board treasurer

According to a recent USA Today article, retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Barnes & Noble, and Wal-Mart are cutting back on their CD selections. A Best Buy spokesperson is quoted as saying, “As people buy less, we stock less.” Sounds like a self-fulfilling cycle to this observer, but, sadly, one that isn’t likely to be reversed.

There’s more bad news….

In 2010, CD sales fell 19% and are down 8.8% this year.

Pretty dire, huh?

But wait.

Downloaded albums sales are up a healthy 16.8% and downloaded tracks are up 9.6%.

Overall music sales are up 1.6%.

Yep, you read right, music sales are up.

Music isn’t going away. Albums aren’t going away. And according to Dave Bakula of Neilson, a company which tracks weekly sales statistics, “CDs are going to be around for a long time.”

So, to summarize what’s happening:
Downloads are growing, brick and mortar store sales are slipping, online sales of CDs are strong. Music is a growing industry.

(By the way CDs are enjoying the “long-tail” effect: offers 4,000,000 CDs. Great for lesser-known songsters.)

Should we look for the same things to happen in books?


The future is bright. Keep on writing and publishing.

Just a write thought.

Want to Sell More Books? It can be as simple as….

June 7, 2011

….making sure that all the information that accompanies your books is correct. That information is called “metadata” and it simply means the ISBN number, the table of contents, the format (paper, hardback, audio, e, etc.), the number of pages—in short, anything that describes your title. If all the components of your title description are correct, your title can be discovered by readers.

If your title description is incorrect, your title will not be found. It’s as simple as that.

BISG is presenting a 4-part series of webcasts to help you learn more about how to make the most of your title’s metadata. The organizer of the series, Sally Dedecker of Sally Dedecker Enterprises, was kind enough to answer some questions, posed by an IBPA member, as to why publishers need to get educated on this critical topic.

1. Do distributors or publishers input metadata?
The publisher creates the metadata and submits it to the distributor. The distributor takes what the publisher creates and disseminates it. If the publisher is creating incorrect data and then sends it to the distributor, the distributor will forward that incorrect data to customers and other industry databases. The distributor will only send to Ingram, B&N, independent booksellers and others what the publisher sends. With this series of webcasts, we are suggesting that all publishers get a good handle on metadata so that what they send is correct and will help readers discover their books.

2. What is “enhanced metadata”?
Enhanced metadata is the fun part of the book’s information…and really helps made the sale! Enhanced metadata covers book reviews, author summaries, author bio, reviews, and sample chapters, really giving the reader the flavor of the book! Search engines pick up on this and this is what keys a reader.

3. Can you give an example of a metadata component and why it is important?
The BISAC Subject Heading is a perfect example. What many publishers may not know is that those subject codes are used to pull recommended title lists for library markets. If you don’t have the code that describes your title (or your code is incorrect), you could be missing sales opportunities. Those codes are available for all publishers’ use here.

4. In a nutshell, what can I expect from the 4 webcasts?
The goal of the series is to really give people and understanding of why metadata is important– booksellers, librarians and others are using metadata to make buying decisions. Incorrect metadata causes missed sales.
We want to encourage publishers to start using the terms and abbreviations and other key core elements that have been established as metadata standards.
You are the publisher, and you should control the information about your books. Having a good plan to create your metadata puts publishers in the driver’s seat.

As a supporting organization, IBPA invites you to join the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) for a 4-part webcast series, Selling more Books with Best Practice in Metadata, that will provide the all-important foundation and hands-on instruction publishers need to take real responsibility for their product metadata. IBPA members receive a 20% discount!

Note that the webcasts will not be posted to the BISG site and will not be made free to those who do not attend. Those who register for the series will have access to the content for review and to use as a guide.
For more information, go to the IBPA home page and click on “BISG Webcast Series.”

Hitchhiker’s Guide to O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing

February 18, 2011

by Florrie Binford Kichler

Debate over the future of the book vs. whether the book has a future was the overriding theme of 2 and a half days of programming at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference. Keynotes featured presenters with perspectives as varied as Canadian best-selling author Margaret Atwood, who cautioned publishers not to forget their “primary source” (the author) and Skip Prichard, Ingram CEO, who, in an upbeat and enthusiastic paean to change, warned that we should not let our companies’ pasts get in the way of our companies’ futures.

TOC Soundbites:

• What is a bookseller? According to the independent retailers on a lively Q &A panel on Bookselling in the 21st Century, the role of the bookseller is to curate selection and create a community, online, on land or both, that connects with one another around books. When asked how the indies can compete with the likes of Amazon, Google and Barnes and Noble, the consensus was that they don’t—the small indie offers a very different experience than the large retailers and are not even in the same game when it comes to customer service.

• In a panel of The Future of Ebooks Technology, moderated by Google’s Abe Murray, when asked how digital publishing will change in the next decade the answer was that content will get richer and more interactive, and the number of complementary products will increase. According to Andrew Savikas of O’Reilly, the book will not go away but will continue mutating and evolving.

• We are becoming people of the screen, noted Kevin Kelly from Wired, and screens will continue to proliferate as they become cheaper. Is there any reason then, why screens can’t be bound into book format?

• Jim Fruchterman, in a presentation called “Making the Book Truly Accessible,” spoke of the site he runs called Bookshare that supplies reading material to those who are severely dyslexic, sight impaired, and/or reading impaired. The largest online library for people with print disabilities, the service operates under copyright exception and has reinvented accessibility for books. Only 2 out of every 1000 people have disabilities severe enough to use the site—which means he turns away 998 who have reading disabilities. He invited publishers large and small to partner with him to service those 998.

• “What do Ereading Customers Really Really Want?” According to Michael Tamblyn of Kobo, they want fiction, especially romance, sci fi, mystery and romance. Those who read during the day spend more time reading than those who read at night and 8 pm to midnight is ebook shopping prime time. Kobo is constantly collecting data on their customers. Why? To make the reading experience better. If you know the reader, sales will follow.

• In a presentation entitled “Delivery on Demand in the Digital Age,” Laura Baldwin of O’Reilly spoke of how the company is going to a new model of inventory management that works solely with short run printing and POD. Their goal is to have their content be always available, always relevant and never out of stock and they’re partnering with Ingram and LSI in this effort. Adopting the model of low-to-no inventory allows the company to free capital formerly “sitting in warehouses. (Author note: POD has gone mainstream.)

• Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks spoke on “Building the Future from Within-What Transformation Looks like Inside a Publishing Company.” It’s all about the reader, she points out, what does he or she need and how do we as publishers provide solutions. Her company has integrated digital into every department and has a robust app creation program. The challenge for publishers in a digital environment? “The physical book is one and done, digital requires rapid and frequent iteration.”

• In the session, “Game Plan for Going Direct To Your Customers,” the focus was on building your customer database and collecting data so you can know your readers, and making your books available in as many digital formats as possible for the convenience of those readers. According to Dan Wallek from Lerner Publishing, the advantages of forging a direct relationship with your customer is speed to market, increased packaging options (bundling of e and print, for example), and better agility to react to reader needs. He advised selecting a good technical partner and, sticking with your core competency/expertise.

That’s just a small taste of a conference that prides itself on offering a view of the publishing industry through a wide-angle lens with an occasional microscope thrown in. IBPA Publishing University provides a practical publishing education with an occasional wide-angle lens thrown in. Independent publishers need both perspectives.

Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media summed up the takeaway:
“Publishers aren’t in the book business—they’re in the content solution business. We must make a leap away from what we are comfortable with.”

Extensive and detailed TOC coverage may be found at: