eBooks, digital media, the Christmas releases, and petty cash

The topic of the morning meeting…drum roll…books that are coming out this week – just in time for the Christmas push.  Yes Christmas already and it’s not even bonfire night. But I guess that’s just the way of retail.

A few books get sent to the office, but most are shipped directly to the retailers from the warehouse. Those that come into the office are sent out immediately to journalists and various reviewers, copyright libraries, author and contributor copies, and various other people that could give a little PR to the book. (A few of the bigger papers received ‘review only’ copies before the publishing date.) 

With the review copies, we send out a press release and we also put out a general release. NFEditor let me write the press release for one of the non-fiction titles. I was so excited. I pulled a couple of past releases and found the general format:

  • Hook line
  • Synopsis of the book
  • Information on the author
  • How and where to purchase the book

It took me about an hour to write the press release, and NFEditor said that I did an excellent job, but that I needed to start writing faster. She said that a good publisher can spit out a press release in seconds.

Also on the ‘to do list’: ensure that all the new books are on Amazon and all other online outlets (listen to me, ‘outlet’, I’m so talking publisher speak), and HarryPotter has had it on the MNM website for a while. Which leads me to a really interesting aspect of the morning meeting, digital PR and the move towards electronic books. (Sorry, I should put the interesting things at the top of the post, but I’m kind of a stream of consciousness writer, and I don’t always think of it in advance.)

NFEditor asked HarryPotter to ‘Get in touch with those Facebook people, and let them know about our winter catalogue. Perhaps they could write a review.’ I have no idea what she thinks Facebook is. HarryPotter, with the help of everyone else, tried to explain social networking, to which she said ‘Maybe we could do a promotion with Facebook. The first 50 readers get a copy of one of our books.’ We tried to explain, again, that it didn’t work that way, but she just didn’t get it. Although we might do a Facebook contest, where the first 50 people to respond to an update will get a free book. (Eitherway, I think my blog is safe from her prying eyes.)

Digression: I touched a bit on it in yesterday’s blog, but let me further explain NFEditor’s electronic neuroses. When someone sends an email to her she prints it out to read it. If she needs to reply, she’ll write down her response on a piece of paper. Then type it into a Word Document, then print it out and fax it. Being that most people don’t own faxes, most of the emails she receives go unanswered. So while it can sometime work in her favour — such as when she’s trying to annoy an author to the point of him going to another publisher — most people involved with MNM know that if they answer their phone to fax static, that NFEditor is just trying to get in touch, and they call her. She also once asked me to ‘Print out the internet’ because she had a meeting and she ‘saw something on the internet, but couldn’t remember where it was.’ But if I printed out the internet, then she ‘could bring it to the meeting and find it then’. End of Digression.

HarryPotter has MNM Facebook and Twitter pages set up, and he regularly updates with info on new books. No one in the office knew he had been doing this for the last couple of years, or that we had over a 1000 followers on Facebook and Twitter. (Once again, I think my blog is safe.)

Keeping in mind that the heads of MNM are electronically challenged, it is pretty amazing that we are publishing one book as an ‘electronic book’ only release. Boobs and NFEditor spent most of the Wednesday morning meeting asking questions about how this was going to work. HarryPotter filled them in on how people could download the book, steps taken to protect the book from copyright infringement, and how ereaders worked – in general.

NFEditor said that she really didn’t like it. That ‘this online trend is not going to last’, and ‘What people want are books that you can smell and feel.’ HarryPotter gave the stats:

  • 3 million eReaders (not including the Kindle or direct to computer downloads) have been sold.
  • For the 2009 Christmas season more ebooks were sold than paper books on Amazon.
  • In general, we need to move with the times. 

Boobs and NFEditor tutted a little before Goatee reminded them that there were minimal publishing costs for this book, as there was no printing costs. The costs instead arise from getting the book ready for different platforms (eReader vs Kindle) and the cut that these platforms receive. (Which is really no different than selling a paper book on Amazon.)

A pretty interesting day all around.

PS-I spent the rest of the days stuffing envelopes and sending out books. Also, I had to get the Wednesday morning coffee run with my own money because we’re out of petty cash. London won’t reimburse interns, so HarryPotter put £50 in the petty cash and I’ll just get the London office to reimburse him. What a palava!

PSS-I tried to walk in today in hopes of saving money on transport, but I got lost. I’m positive it’s not that far from my flat to the office. I just have to figure out how to walk there without getting completely turned around.

Does the Brain like eBooks: A NYTimes blog
Eoin Purcell’s Blog: A good collection of topics on ebooks.


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