Bookbuilders of Boston is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together people involved in book publishing and manufacturing throughout New England. Our blog describes industry events that we sponsor or attend.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Production, Manufacturing, and Inventory Workshop Confronts Smaller Print Runs and New Formats

Sean Stanford, Wednesday night's second speaker, spoke about the promise of ink-jet web technology to advance goals in short-run color printing. P.J. Tierney later described a need to continue with offset printing for casebound books because of a lack of on-demand hardcover options.

The big news, though, is that print probably isn't going anywhere just yet. Larry Mallach discussed a strategy to support print costs with e-book sales, ensuring that print copies are available for the markets that need them.

Not that publishers want to take on inventory for any length of time, however ... some may be printing for as little as two months' worth of sales. Returns are still a factor in inventory models, though smaller up-front orders from customers like Amazon are changing the return cycle.

Beacon Press, according to P.J. Tierney, publishes e-books simultaneously with print. In academic markets, this may not yet be the case. In trade calculations, while e-sales eat into print sales, the result is not a zero-sum game. More copies are being sold overall.

Thank you to Quad Graphics, sponsor of this workshop.

Be sure to join us this week for the final Bookbuilders workshop of the season: Sales, Marketing, and Publicity, sponsored by Friesens. Advance registration is required.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Third Bookbuilders Workshop Generates Advance Interest

Over seventy people have registered to attend tomorrow's discussion of production, manufacturing, and inventory. Space is limited, so be sure to register at

Speakers are P.J. Tierney from Beacon Press, Sean Stanford from Quad Graphics, and Larry Mallach of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The evening's sponsor is Quad Graphics.

Speaker bio highlights:

P.J. Tierney
Has worked for Plenum Publishing and WW Norton in addition to Beacon Press. At Beacon, P.J. implemented a digital workflow, reducing manufacturing and production costs, and created a digital archive.

Sean Stanford
Provides manufacturing support to many Bookbuilders member publishers, including Pearson Custom, Merriam Webster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and MIT Press. Sean is also a guest speaker for the Publishing and Writing program at Emerson.

Larry Mallach
Developed an attributes-based MRP (Materials Requirements Planning) strategy for HMH Trade that brings titles together in work groups based on production and manufacturing commonality. Larry will now develop a similar supply chain process at Hachette Book Group in New York.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow night from 6:00-8:00 pm at Pearson (501 Boylston Street, Boston).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bookbuilders of Boston continued its 2011 Fall Workshops on Wednesday evening at Pearson Education’s offices.

Cate Barr, Senior Art Director at Cengage Learning, shared that she enjoys in her role the opportunity to become actively involved with editors and authors. During a question and answer session, she offered suggestions on what a designer needs to show when interviewing. It is important to show not just a strong portfolio but also that one can be actively involved in problem solving, take direction well, and be a team member.

Erin Hasley, Senior Designer at MIT Press, expressed that pride can sometimes be an issue. As a designer, one has to learn to accept criticism that can sometimes be unabashed and unrelenting. Erin offered that sometimes if a design is just not working, she takes a break from it, and then comes back to it at a later time. This can help one to rejuvenate and refresh.

George Restrepo, of Rest-Design, offered his insights for working as a freelancer. He shared the importance of nurturing successful client-based relations. If a designer values those relations, things will progress from there. He explained one of the challenges of being a designer is how to weed out different types of feedback. He told the group that a lot of people do not know what they want until they see it. One solution is to show a few variations on a particular design and see where the feedback goes.

Questions involved whether or not one should create portfolios geared toward print or digital design. All of the designers agreed that there is no magic answer to putting together a portfolio, but it is important when putting one together to focus on showing the fundamentals.

EBooks and XML typesetting were discussed as well. EBooks are generally pdf files of the printed book, so there are usually no extra elements involved. The speakers agreed that designing across platforms would technically become easier in the future.

Thank you to Lehigh Phoenix for sponsoring this workshop.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2011 Workshops Kick Off Strong

About ninety people registered for the first in the fall workshop series, and over sixty attended. There is a capacity limit on the room, so please be sure to register for the events tomorow night, next week, and at the beginning of November.

Jennifer Urban-Brown covered  acquisitions and editorial topics. At Shambhala, she actively acquires titles, reaching out to potential authors to fill needs in the list. Unsolicited manuscripts, foreign works, and agents provide leads as well, but publishers often have to be proactive in order to meet the specific goals that they have set for new titles. 

Jennifer discussed the difference between developmental editing--in my experience, often kept in-house--and copyediting, which is often outsourced.  The in-house team that works with an author must be sensitive to the author's needs and also effective in communicating the vision for a book to other departments.

Becky Hemperly, a Bookbuilders scholarship recipient, has had a wide range of experience across publishing departments. This led her to recognize that a book's contract should be forward-thinking and cover as many considerations over the life of the book as possible--not only royalties and complimentary copies, but the needs of production, sales, and marketing as well.

Lastly, Joanne Wyckoff of the Carol Mann Agency spoke about her personal publishing journey. She worked as an editor at Random House in New York for thirteen years, where she negotiated all her own contracts. On the flip side, as an agent, Joanne now spends a good deal of time editing: polishing a manuscript before it is presented for consideration by publishers.

The Q&A session was lively, with the following highlights for Joanne:

What was the most difficult situation you've encountered?
Hint: Author relations.

How do you evaluate agents?
Think: networking.

To work as an assistant at a literary agency, how important is it to have editorial experience?
Surprise: Business acumen is as important for those pursuing this career.

Thank you to the Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group for sponsoring this workshop.

Monday, October 17, 2011

October CNE in Harvard Square

Last week's casual networking at Om was refreshing. I have been a faithful participant of these events for about a year, and in that time I have seen newcomers aquire their first jobs and freelancers build careers.

For those who question the potential of networking, think of it this way. Let's say that you would like to become employed by Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt. Or Shambhala.  Would your chances of achieving this goal improve if you met someone working there already? During an interview, would you have more to talk about if you had already engaged this contact in casual conversation?

Of course, you might learn about companies or jobs that you never knew existed. If you are currently and happily employed, you might learn about new vendors, or new approaches to current industry issues (such as formatting for e-publications).

Last but not least, there is always karma. Don't forget that if you make a point to attend networking events in good times, your network will be stronger when times are not so good. And doesn't this look like a fun way to build karma points?

Monday, October 10, 2011

October 2011 Events

October is always a busy month for Bookbuilders. Our monthly casual networking event takes place this coming Wednesday (October 12) at OM Restaurant in Harvard Square. Also, we have a full slate of Back to Basics workshops beginning this Thursday.

The first workshop (10/13)  focuses on editorial, rights, and acquisitions processes. Speakers are Jennifer Urban-Brown, editor at Shambhala Publications; Becky Hemperly, Vice President of Contracts, Rights, and Royalties at Candlewick Press; and Joanne Wyckoff, a literary agent with the Carol Mann Agency. For complete speaker details and to register, see the Bookbuilders website. The sponsor for this workshop is the Maple-Vail book manufacturing group.
Next in the workshop series is Design, scheduled for Wednesday, October 19. Speakers are Erin Hasley, Senior Designer, The MIT Press; George Restrepo, Designer, Rest Design; and Cate Rickard Barr, Senior Art Director, Cengage Learning. Erin designs books and book covers, George is on the board of directors at AIGA Boston, and Cate has designed for academic, college, and professional lists. Lehigh Phoenix sponsors this workshop.

All workshops are held at Pearson, 501 Boylston Street, Boston (9th Floor Cafeteria). The time for all workshops is from 6:00 - 8:00, and refreshments are often provided.

Note that the workshops are free, but registration on the Bookbuilders website is required. There is security at the venue, and attendees names must appear on the reservation list. Photo ID is also required.