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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Puzzles for Publishers

In Sunday's Washington Post, Jonathan Karp, publisher and editor-in-chief of Twelve, an imprint of the Hachette Group, has much of intense interest to say about the problems facing publishers who have been instructed by their boards or marketing managers to increase annual growth. As he meditates, the choices are limited:

* Spread your risks by adding more titles to the list (Twelve is called "Twelve" because Karp's policy is to publish twelve very good books per year)

* Sell more copies of existing authors and titles (That would be nice! But how?)

* Ask popular authors to increase output (No wonder non-fiction writers struggle to get more than twelve months to produce an enlightening and comprehensive study of some broad topic like the Twelve Hundred Years War)

* Diversify the product (What, another Botox book?)

* Cut costs, pray to the gods of movie tie-in paperback editions, or hope like mad that one of your authors gets his or her own talk show on radio or TV

Highly recommended reading.

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