Kirsten and I are just back from our distributor’s — Consortium Book Sales and Distribution (CBSD) — semi-annual sales conference in New York. About 100 folks in all show up including staff from CBSD, our sister publishers, and the sales reps. The main focus is on the publishers presenting their upcoming season’s front list to the sales reps, in this case for Fall/Winter 2013-2014. In addition to to highlighting the 4 titles in our Fall/Winter 2014 season we used our allotted 8 minutes (not kidding) to establish that Torrey House has dropped our regional focus, is a now a national environmental publisher, and that we will be flipping our ratio of fiction to nonfiction from about 5:1 to the other way around in the coming years.
The main buzz around Torrey House was that Charlie Quimby’s Monument Road had just been selected as one of 12 titles in the American Booksellers Association’s Celebrate Debut Authors with Indies promotion. The ABA’s BookExpo America (BEA) conference is at the end of this month and they would like Charlie to be there and CBSD urges one of us from THP to go. So the rush is on and Kirsten is headed back to New York to tout our wares at BEA. More on this after the ABA announcement coming up in a few days.
We learned a few more tidbits in the breakout sessions. I was wondering if we have any ability to change e-book prices once the print book price is set and the answer is yes, we do. We will experiment at some point a bit with that. We were also wondering if independent booksellers could see our titles on Above the Treeline’s popular interactive publisher catalog Edelweiss, and the answer again is as of just recently, yes they can. In the session on e-books I was heartened to hear that Amazon’s rapacious growth in market share is plateauing as well as the that of e-books in general. A big question I would like to blog about later is if Wall Street will ever require Amazon to be profitable. I think it will and when that happens the stock price will plunge and the playing field will be leveled a bit. But it hasn’t happened yet. There was also a session about getting publicity but maybe not enough about effective publicity.
I admit I’d rather go camping, or just about anything for that matter, than go to New York. It is a personal failing. But the weather was gorgeous and I got to hang with my favorite editor, meet some other publishers, get an industry update, and tout our wares. The first day while Kirsten was meeting with Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, I walked from our hotel on 34th to the conference at The Poet’s House down by the new World Trade Center building, about 3 miles. Part of my walk was on the new High Line walkway, a converted elevated train track with lots of trees and native flora. The thing was jammed with people, many with cameras, seemingly overwhelmed by all the green growing things. See? Even in the big city, folks are aching for a little more natural landscape in their lives. Love of the land. -Mark Bailey