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A Publisher’s Room with a View: Top Publishing News of the Week, 3/5/10

5 Mar

This photo doesn’t really do justice to the window in my office, but the fact that since the first of the year—after our big move across campus into a newly remodeled suite of offices—I HAVE a window at all after five years of working in something of a cave in our old building is wonderful in its own right. Plus, for the first two months of the year it was gray, cold, and rainy outside most of the time which wasn’t too cheerful a view but spring is finally starting make an appearance with lots of blue sky and sunshine.

For all us here it’s been a busy week: Sheila and Wes are at the Texas Community College Teachers Association conference in Houston, we picked up our new summer catalogs from the print shop, a couple of forthcoming titles are being indexed . . . the last stage for them to go through before being sent to print, and the Lust, Violence, Religion: Life in Historic Waco Facebook page is up to 158 fans. (For anyone who hasn’t been there yet, you can listen to a podcast of the first chapter as narrated by Mike Jones, who is recording every essay in the book for us.) And, on the subject of LVR podcasts, within the next few weeks those audio files will also be available to download for free at Podiobooks during the run-up to the book’s 9/1/10 publication date.

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Web 2.0 Social Networking: The Texas RV Professor Rides the Twitter Wave

6 Mar

cooper_headshot_resizedI’ll be the first to admit that personally I’m a pretty slow adopter of new technologies. I finally broke down and bought a cell phone barely two years ago (if it was even that far back). Until last year ago I still had my $9.95 a month dial-up Internet service. I’ve yet to hold a Kindle, much less read a book on one. A big part of it is that it’s hard to tell exactly what the Next Big Thing is vs. just the Next Big Hype and what’s worth your time vs. just being a waste of time. Plus, when talking about tech gadgets or Web-based applications, you have the tech geeks who love anything as long as it’s the absolutely newest thing around however impractical, convoluted, and/or nonsensical it may be. (In fact, they’ll love it all the more for being exactly those things.) Then you have your average (that is, normal) person who likes new applications/gadgets that are both simple and powerful.

Falling into this latter category, I will happily admit, is Twitter, which we got one of our authors, Terry Cooper (better known as The Texas RV Professor), set up on this week.

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Strategic Publishing Initiatives: Flat World Knowledge

1 Mar

Week before last it was time for the annual Texas Community College Teachers Association (TCCTA) Conference that was held this year in Austin, Texas. This was the third year in a row we’ve exhibited there and it was familiar yet still interesting. (Odds and ends of photos can be found here.) In the exhibit hall we visited with folks from the various TSTC colleges as well as with other people we’ve come to know from Cengage, Norton, American Technical Publishers, and Hampden.

A personal highlight was tagging along to a dinner that Thursday night with Dr. Eric Foner, historian extraordinaire, while, in a more practical sense, the most helpful (and surprising) thing that happened was my wife showing up unannounced in the exhibit hall Saturday morning with a couple of IKEA tall chairs for me and Lindsey to use. That is, if you sit in a regular chair at your booth it tends to make you look slouchy; however, standing on your feet all day is just murder. Murder! Last year we noticed that the president of ATP in the booth next to us used a tall chair—that way you’re at eye level while sitting down when people come up to the booth instead of looking like you’re working a garage sale waiting to make change in nickels for crazy people buying your junk—and we had talked about getting a couple of them; however, it took my blushing bride to actually pull the trigger on that.

Anyway, old home week, dinners, and tall chairs aside, the most interesting new thing I saw in the exhibit hall was the Flat World Knowledge booth.

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Strategic Publishing Initiatives: TechCareers Guides

25 Sep

And then, you know, every once in a while—that is, in between screeds on POD publishers or the pleasures of doing pro bono projects or the ever-increasing price of textbooks (It’s shocking I tell you! Shocking!)—we actually get around to publishing a book now and again. In addition to the newly published and highly epic Hand Tools Manual—every intern for the last two years has worked on it in some capacity and all have trembled in awe and terror (I’m moderately kidding) when contemplating the majesty of its demanding technical illustrations and editorial guidelines—our most recent title is Biomedical Equipment Technicians, the first in our TechCareers series focusing on different technical professions.

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Book Publishing Operations: How Texbooks Are Sold

1 Aug

Once upon a time, I had this dream that all you had to do to sell a book was to publish a good book; you know, that kind of Field of Dreams “if you build it, they will come” idea. This approach is alternately known as “an excellent way to sell absolutely nothing at all no matter what or how great your product may be.” And the only people who like that method of non-sales less than the authors of books are the publishers of those books.

So, to get our sales up to where they need to be, that’s why we got Lindsey Springer in here to coordinate these efforts. But, textbook sales are a completely different beast than trades sales, especially in terms of how the yearly calendar works. So, to get her started on the right track, we brought in a consultant for a day to get down to the real nuts & bolts of making those big adoption sales. Sure, having been a faculty member for 10 or so years, I had a pretty good idea of how all this works—I mean, after all, we have been selling textbooks for the last three years—but seeing all this from the selling end is distinctly different than from that of the instructor’s perspective.

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Recommended Business Resources: MBA Working Girl Podcasts

17 Jul

Okay, so I have to admit it: at heart I’m something of a Luddite. I’m still using rabbit ears on the TV, had dial-up Internet at home for six years until going broadband a couple of months ago, and just finally got a cell phone last year only after losing the charger for my wife’s phone and then discovering it was cheaper to buy another phone with the charger included rather than buying the charger alone. For sure, for a guy who fell into book publisher because I liked books as objects all on their own, I was born in the wrong millennium given that they’re quickly becoming a secondary—at best—delivery system for information. But, what did I expect, having the kind of non-tech attitude that mirrors Homer Simpson saying, “I hear they have the Internet on computers now.”

On the brighter side, now that we’ve got broadband at home I have dived feet first into the podcast section at iTunes and have been downloading hundreds of different podcasts on publishing, business, management, marketing, project management, and other related subjects. And for sure, there’s one series of podcasts I’ve happily subscribed (and listened) to: MBA Working Girl Podcast.

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Blogs About Publishing: Why Should Publishers Blog?

26 Jun

By its own admission, the Booksquare blog’s mission is “dissecting the publishing industry with love and skepticism.” Exactly along those lines is a recent post by Kassia Kroszer called “Why Publishers Should Blog.” In it she talks about the lack of personality in general and even greater lack of enthusiasm in particular when it comes to publishers talking about the books in their own list. She goes on to point out that with all of the social networking and Web 2.0 resources available to authors, fans, book reviewers, and the like, why is it that publishers themselves are strangely silent in the ongoing (and ever-growing) conversations about their own titles? And, even more importantly, what’s to be lost–as opposed to everything to be gained–by directly showing “the enthusiasm that propelled the acquisition of a book and the subsequent investment in getting it to readers.”

But, as I noted in a comment to her post, the answer as to “why not?” may actually be quite simple.

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