Monthly Archives: January 2020

PW’s Top News Stories of 2019


Big changes in the bookselling landscape were the subject of several of the industry’s top stories in 2019, along with publishers’ relationships with different partners.

1. Elliott Advisors Buys Barnes & Noble; Daunt Named CEO

After struggling for several years to find ways to boost the bookstore chain’s sales and to improve its bottom line, B&N’s board of directors approved the sale of the company to private equity firm Elliott Advisors in a deal worth $683 million. The transaction didn’t come without some drama, as another company—widely believed to be ReaderLink—was working to make a counteroffer. In the end, the B&N committee charged with evaluating all offers voted in favor of the Elliott cash deal, believing it had the necessary financing to get the purchase done quickly.

Following the completion of the deal on August 6, Elliott officially named James Daunt B&N CEO. Daunt already served as CEO of the U.K.’s Waterstones bookselling chain, which is also owned by Elliott. Among the changes Daunt has discussed implementing in 2020 at B&N are an overhaul of its merchandising approach and returning the responsibility of each store’s performance to local managers.

2. B&T Exits the Retail Wholesale Market

In early May, Baker & Taylor announced that it was closing its retail wholesaling business, which supplied books to bookstores and other physical retailers. The decision came following months of rumors that some deal between B&T and competitor Ingram was in the works. When no deal surfaced, B&T began phasing out its retail operations, a process that lasted into the early fall. The move was made, B&T explained, to better align itself with its parent company, Follett Corp., whose strengths include working with schools and school libraries. B&T’s library wholesaling operations were not affected. Publishers and booksellers were both concerned that B&T’s exit from the retail business would slow shipments to stores, especially to the West Coast, where B&T fulfilled orders through its Reno warehouse, which was set to close. Publishers, as well as Ingram and Bookazine, came up with plans to alleviate any potential problems, with Penguin Random House perhaps coming up with the most aggressive plan of all: in November, it announced it was taking over the operation of the Reno warehouse, which it will use to service West Coast stores.

3. Macmillan Implements E-book Windowing for Libraries

In late July, Macmillan announced that, beginning November 1, it would implement a two-month embargo on library e-books across all of the company’s imprints. Under the publisher’s new digital terms of sale, library systems are allowed to purchase a single perpetual access e-book during the first eight weeks of publication for each new Macmillan release, at half price ($30). Additional copies will then be available at full price after the eight-week window has passed. All other terms remain the same: e-book licenses will continue to be metered for two years or 52 lends, whichever comes first, on a one copy/one user model.

The decision outraged librarians across the country, who see the move as a direct attack on their ability to offer timely services to their patrons. Scores of library systems are boycotting buying Macmillan e-books in protest of the move. For his part, Macmillan CEO John Sargent says “frictionless” e-book loans by libraries reduce the value of the books and hurt overall sales. Sargent is set to appear in a session discussing the matter at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which runs January 24–28 in Philadelphia.

4. Audible Caption Proposal Called Copyright Infringement

When word began circulating in July that Audible was developing a new program called Captions to run text alongside its audiobooks, publishers, agents, and authors all called the proposal copyright infringement. Before the program could be launched, the AAP filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Big Five trade houses, as well as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Scholastic, asking for a preliminary injunction; the lawsuit was subsequently backed by representatives for the Authors Guild and the Association of Authors Representatives. At year end, Captions had still not been implemented, and the judge overseeing the case has urged the publishers and Audible to settle the matter out of court.

5. Tariffs Imposed on Books Manufactured in China

As part of its trade war with China, on September 1 the Trump administration slapped 15% tariffs on most books manufactured in China. Excluded from the tariffs were children’s picture books, coloring books, and drawing books, as well as Bibles and religious books. Children’s books were subject to possible tariffs on December 15, but the administration suspended imposing those tariffs after reaching a “phase one” agreement with China over trade. The other book tariffs, for now, remain in effect.

6. Citing Problems, Publishers Cut Ties with Authors

Given the charged nature of the times, publishers have been keenly aware of the reputations of their authors. In 2019, that led to a number of publishers dropping authors following various allegations or charges. Three instances of this in particular were among the most read stories on PW. After allegations of inappropriate behavior made against Tim Tingle by two booksellers, Scholastic dropped plans to publish his middle grade book Doc and the Detective; Tingle, who had his rights to the book returned, denied the allegations. Author Kosoko Jackson requested that Sourcebooks withdraw publication of his debut YA novel, A Place for Wolves, following concerns raised on social media. And in June, after a Netflix drama reopened interest in the Central Park jogger case, in which five black and Latino teenagers were falsely accused of assault and rape, Dutton and author Linda Fairstein terminated their publishing relationship; Fairstein was formerly chief of the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes unit and oversaw prosecution of the case.

7. Indie Booksellers Incensed over Breaking of ‘Testaments’ Embargo

Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments was expected to be one of the big books of 2019, especially for independent booksellers. So when it was discovered that Amazon had broken the September 10 embargo date, booksellers were furious. Publisher Penguin Random House acknowledged that a retailer had inadvertently released copies before the official on-sale date and said the situation had been corrected. The incident highlighted the frustration many booksellers feel about the enforcement of embargoes, which are frequently broken by one retailer or another.

8. The Netflix-Literary Connection

Streaming services have increasingly been looking to book publishers for source material, none more so than Netflix, which was on a book acquisition spree over much of 2019, developing screen adaptations of dozens of novels, series, short story collections, and graphic novels, with a particular interest in those aimed at children and teens.

9. AWP Fires Executive Director

Less than six months after being named the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ permanent executive director, Chloe Schwenke was fired in September. She had succeeded longtime executive director David Fenza, who was dismissed in April 2018. Schwenke, a transgender woman, alleges that her firing was primarily based on discrimination.

10. Allison Hill Named ABA CEO

Allison Hill, president and CEO of Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., was named the next CEO of the American Booksellers Association. Hill succeeds Oren Teicher, who has served as ABA CEO for the past 10 years. Hill begins her new job March 1.

A version of this article appeared in the 01/06/2020 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: PW’s Top News Stories of 2019

Marketing your book with FB

written by Book Cave

To sell books, you need to find more readers. Spreading the word about your ebook can be challenging, but there are a lot of ways you can promote yourself and promote your ebook on Facebook.

1. Set up landing pages to link to from your Facebook posts

When people see and click on your promotion Facebook posts, you want to take them to a page on your website that will encourage them to buy your books or signup for your newsletter. That page needs to be attractive, well-designed, and have a call to action (like links to buy the books or a signup button).

2. Create an author page

You’re limited on what you can do with Facebook if you’re just using your personal Facebook profile. We recommend setting up an official author page so you can more easily promote your ebook on Facebook. With a page, you can schedule posts, use ads to get more likes, and can easily advertise to those who’ve liked your page.

3. Ask readers to share posts with others

Many people are willing to pass on the word but don’t even think to do so. If you ask them to share, they are more likely to hit that share button, meaning that more people will see your post. This can be accomplished by saying “Please share with your friends!” at the end of the post. Naturally, you don’t want to do this with every post.

4. Keep Facebook posts short

Followers are more likely to read and respond to a short post. A post with a short question and a link to a longer blog post is a great tactic.

5. Post things that will encourage engagement

It may surprise you to know that Facebook does not show all of your posts to all of your followers. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine how many posts it shows to how many people. Basically, more engagement = more reach. If more of your followers like your posts and leave comments, then Facebook will in turn show more of your posts. Drive engagement by asking followers a question with everything you post, even if it’s just a link to an interesting article. This means that not all of your posts will be “promotional.” This is important for more than just Facebook’s algorithm: people don’t like to be continually sold to, and they may leave if they don’t feel that your page offers anything other than promotion.

6. Make posts interesting

Images are a great way to keep posts interesting. If you link to a webpage that has a share image, Facebook will automatically insert the image for you. (So with all your blog posts, make sure to have great images!) You can also post funny images or memes. If you’re just posting straight text, make sure to ask a question or use a statement that compels participation so the post will hold people’s interest.

7. Post about giveaways

Readers love getting books for free! Giveaways for books that are downloaded directly from a landing page (rather than bought from a retailer like Amazon) and can even include additional prizes, like a gift card. These giveaways can be a book you’re giving away yourself as a subscriber magnet (where readers have to sign up for your newsletter to receive a new book), or it can be a group giveaway that you’re doing with other authors. These kinds of posts often get a lot of shares as well and will help you gain more followers organically, without paying money. Make sure this post links to a great landing page; Book Cave provides this landing page for you when you use our subscriber magnet services.

8. Post about sales on your books

Unlike a giveaway, when a book is on sale, even if it’s on sale for $0.00, readers buy it directly from the retailer. If your book is only on sale at one retailer, like Amazon, your Facebook post can link directly to Amazon. If it’s on sale at multiple retailers, link instead to a landing page on your website that links to all the retailers where it’s available.

9. Post about upcoming releases

Those who are following you on Facebook are doing so because they like your books, so they’ll be ecstatic to learn about new releases—especially if that new release is on sale for a limited time. Make sure to provide a link where they can go to actually buy the book.

10. Post book trailers

Videos are a great way to catch people’s attention; Facebook even has an autoplay feature that starts a video if it’s showing on the page. Creating a book trailer can be time-consuming, and it should be done well. Only try this if you have the time and talent (or know someone who can do it for you).

11. Promote your ebook on Facebook using ads

Ads can be tricky to get right, but when done properly, they can have amazing effects. An add should have only a small amount of text, with most of it being an eye-catching image. The best ads promise viewers something: offering a free book (could be in return for a newsletter signup) through an ad can be very effective. Make sure the ad links to a compelling landing page on your website or on the website that is hosting your book (like your landing page for your subscriber magnet on Book Cave). When creating an ad, make sure to adjust the audience and the times it runs to reach those you know will like your books.

12. Track and adjust your Facebook ads

Like we said, getting ads right can be tricky, which is why it’s important to check them regularly, track how they’re doing, and make adjustments to the audience, the times, or even the image itself. Please note that any comments, likes, or shares on your ad are removed after you edit it, so give your ad some time before you decide that it’s not working. You may just want to duplicate the ad and make the changes to the new ad, keeping the old ad as a backup. You can easily turn ads off and on.

13. Boost posts on your page

When you boost a post, you pay a fee for it to appear higher on Facebook users’ news pages, which means they’ll be more likely to see it and respond to it. The posts you boost should be those that promote your ebook or bring users to your website in some way.

14. Invite those who have liked your posts and your ads to also like your author page

Facebook makes inviting people to like your page easy: just go to a post and click on the text that shows how many people liked the post. A popup will appear that lists all the people, and on the right of each name will be an invite button. Click on each one to invite all those people to like your page. More likes means that more people will see and share your posts. Also, you can directly advertise to everyone who likes your page, so the more likes you have, the better.

Third-Party Sellers on Amazon Are Outselling Amazon

Don’t feel bad for Amazon, though, because the company makes huge amounts of money regardless.
why axis chart third party amazon sellers

Any reality-TV contestant will tell you that being too good at something is going to make you massively unpopular. Downplaying your wins is the way to go if you want to mitigate the chances that a target will be placed on your back.

Amazon seems fully aware of this tactic with Jeff Bezos’ most recent shareholder letter, which stated: “”Third-party sellers are kicking our first-party butt. Badly.” The company just doesn’t seem to know it’s already the villain of the retail show.

Amazon’s deflection to look at third-party sales, which have grown from $0.1 billion in 1999 to $160 billion in 2018 according to the numbers Bezos released, doesn’t tell the whole story. The company makes more money when it relies on third-party sellers than it does when it makes its own sales.

In the shareholder letter, Bezos touches on some of the ways Amazon is assisting third-party sellers (“tools that help sellers manage inventory, process payments, track shipments, create reports, and sell across borders”) but its help goes far beyond that.

There’s a new Marketplace Growth program that gives sellers an account rep who advises them on all aspects of business. The company also lets sellers participate in Fulfillment by Amazon, which doubled sales for small to medium businesses on the site in 2018. Amazon also lends money to third-party sellers.

So don’t believe what Amazon says so much as what it does when it comes to figuring out who’s really winning this game.

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