More Colleges and Universities Select Barnes & Noble to Run Their Campus Bookstores


Barnes & Noble College issued a press release this morning after having come to terms with 5 new U.S. colleges and universities to run their brick & mortar and virtual bookstores. That brings the total to 34 schools serving approximately 200,000 students.

Thinking back to the end of summer between age 18 and 21, I can remember how it felt arriving on Amherst College campus to register and pick up syllabi for the classes I’d chosen. I’d head over to the basement of Hastings where books would be stacked in piles organized ahead of time for us. Laden down with my burden of pounds of volumes, I’d cross back through the town commons to campus and my dorm room to unburden myself.

To this day I honestly don’t know how I got all that reading done, but I do remember being diligent about it, reading as many as 500 pages in different books every day. Wish someone had taught me excellent study habits! it took me years to come up with an efficient strategy.

What does B&N College mean for self-published authors? It means bookstores are still available. It means students are reading in print.

    Click Here to Read the Release on Yahoo! Finance

Trends in Book Discovery


How do readers find new books? What makes readers pick up a book when they haven’t heard of the author? The Penguin Random House consumer insights team polled a panel of more than 40,000 readers to find out how readers discover books and what influences their reading and buying choices. With a little help, such as the kind we specialize in at Lincoln Square Books, it’s fairly painless to create a book that is the equal of anything you might be able to read from a mainstream publisher. But then the rubber hits the road — you need to get your book into the hands of its intended audience.

Jill Greto is part of the Consumer Insights team for Penguin Random. Here’s her latest article for the Penguin Random Author’s newsletter with some interesting information for anyone pondering how to attract attention to their book in this very “noisy” world we live in.

Trends in Book Discovery


How do readers find new books? What makes readers pick up a book when they haven’t heard of the author? The Penguin Random House consumer insights team polled a panel of more than 40,000 readers to find out how readers discover books and what influences their reading and buying choices.


Important New Facts All Indie Writers Should Know About Tech Power in Publishing


Smart indie writers and publishers can learn a lot from studying how the mainstream is engaging and tackling the issues of modern publishing. While indie publishing does not have the heft of the mainstream, it is much more focused on the needs of the author, and much more agile in adapting to the marketplace. Here’s a report on how trends in publishing continue to shape and influence the book world for everyone, regardless of being mainstream or indie. The 2016 Digital Book World conference was held in March in New York City.  Peter Rubie


From The Bookseller.   (Published March 9, 2016) by Gayle Feldman

What a difference the passage of six years makes, Mike Shatzkin reminded us, introducing the Digital Book World conference in New York yesterday (Tuesday 8th March).

Since the first DBW in 2010, there has been the opening of the iBookstore; half of all physical shelf space has been lost; the Department of Justice has changed the playing field; self-published authors have blossomed, putting downward pressure on price; indie stores have seen a resurgence; Amazon has got into bricks-and-mortar, another front in their war for dominance. And that’s just a few among many developments.

Shatzkin said he saw publishers’ “greatest challenge” now as creating platforms to communicate with readers, and their “biggest failure” as not giving authors help to build a digital presence. The tech sector is gobbling the revenue pie, forcing content creators to eat a lot less.

The most talked about presentation of the day came early, from Jonathan Taplin: former road manager for Bob Dylan, producer for Martin Scorsese, and currently director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. The theme, “Sleeping Through a Revolution,” is also the title of his book coming from Little, Brown in 2017.

Taplin is worried that “platform, and not content, is king.” That’s not what the Internet’s countercultural founders wanted at all; they were into moral purpose and decentralizing control. It’s time we put moral and spiritual purpose into the framework, he argued.

He traced where things went wrong back to Peter Thiel – a Stanford libertarian follower of Ayn Rand – who founded PayPal, and set an example for others with his “who’s going to stop me” philosophy. Thiel and his followers wanted no government regulation; no taxes (e.g. the no-sales-tax “gift” to Jeff Bezos); no copyright; and no competition.

That has brought untold pain for musicians, journalists, many creatives working in film and TV, and moved money that would have gone to them over to Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Marry Thiel’s libertarianism with the late Justice Robert Bork’s idea that “the only thing that matters is price” – a concept that all too successfully infiltrated the Department of Justice – and you understand how Google has been allowed to accrue 90% of search share; Facebook, 75% in mobile social; and Amazon, to become a dominant monopsony in books.

Sounding like Senator Bernie Sanders, Taplin asked: “Is this tech revolution great for everybody or just a few at the top of the Forbes 400? Since 1980, wages have become separated from productivity. The world is getting less free. Google sells ads next to ISIS videos on YouTube. Huxley was right: we’re living in Brave New World today, and in a Colosseum culture, where Donald Trump has 6,000,000 Twitter followers.”

How, he asked, do we start a new revolution? Begin by taking antitrust enforcement seriously. We also have to ask how to use this economy to foster “artist cooperatives” (like Magnum in photography, or Sunkist in agriculture) to counterbalance tech power.

Dr Jessica Sanger of Germany’s book trade association Borsenverein dived into the nitty-gritty of two German antitrust cases. She referenced a June 2014 complaint about Amazon requesting a publisher to pay a higher discount on e-books; when the publisher said no, Amazon delayed deliveries of the publisher’s print books to customers (sound familiar?).

In June 2015, the European Commission launched a formal probe, but instead of concentrating on coercion, focused on a different aspect: Amazon’s asking for a “most favoured nation” clause. As of now, the practice of delayed deliveries has stopped, and Germany’s Tolino alliance is managing to compete with Kindle.

The second case involves Audible. The German Cartel Office launched an investigation in November about restrictive practices. Although it is ongoing, just the fact of the investigation has resulted in some of the restrictive practices having stopped.

Sanger noted that “the authorities prefer tackling restrictive practices. They’re not keen to go into abuse of dominant position – they need to do too much research to prove it.” The Borsenverein, as a trade association, “is not anti-Amazon. But [they] have made us more consumer-orientated, and we are not scared to tackle anti-trust law, an American invention that is being put to good use in Europe.”

The need for scale to compete in a world dominated by the tech companies was emphasized again this week with the announcement of the sale of Perseus’s publishing divisions to Hachette, and its distribution business to Ingram.

In a Q&A with Shatzkin, John Ingram, chairman and c.e.o. of Ingram Content Group, acknowledged that “this signals a change in our center of gravity. Going forward, the company will look more into the marketing area – discoverability…. It also allows us to be more aggressive about investments.”

Refreshingly, he admitted that when he got into digital early on, there were some “tough years” when things didn’t go well, and he had to deal with pressure from his relatives at the family-owned Ingram business. He made mistakes. “But we had to believe and hang on. There’s always tension between control and innovation. You’ve got to be open to cultural change. This isn’t my father’s Ingram.”

That necessary openness to change was emphasized as well by Mary Ann Naples, formerly of Rodale but who is now taking over as Disney publisher; by Sourcebooks founder Dominique Raccah; and by Quarto c.e.o. Marcus Leaver. For Naples, “transformation is the new safety, and company transformation rests on personal transformation. Embrace failure to play your best game; don’t let it paralyze you.”

Leaver talked of the “mindset change” he had to institute when he took over from a founder who had run the company for 36 years. “We changed from profit to purpose; hierarchy to network; control to empowerment; and short term to long term.  There was a huge lack of clarity and purpose and transparency. Fear of the unknown and unknowable had to be taken out of the creative process. If the person at the top of the tree says ‘I failed,’ it gives permission to the people in the room to make mistakes”.

Now Quarto “behaves as one organization with 44 imprints or businesses that are dynamic portfolios. We used to have 275 separate websites; we cut the publishing to ten categories, and sell as per those categories.”

The proof is in the pudding. Quarto is a listed company, and on 17th March, will announce $13.5m profit before tax, surpassing analysts’ expectations.

Sourcebooks is also on a roll; bucking the trend, its e-books were up 13% in 2015. Its personalized “Put Me in the Story” series is its most successful product. “The strategic problem is to add more value. Don’t worry about perfection; you iterate and start scaling. Understand the consumer experience. The goal is to fail fast and succeed faster,” Raccah advised.

Moneyball for the book?

For Self Publishing Writers this is confirmation of Good News when it comes to marketing and selling your books.

Michael Greer, who teaches the online course The Technology of the Book: Past, Present, and Future for the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, assigns his students to conduct ethnographic field work in order to understand how reading is changing all around us.  They take to bookstores and book clubs to research firsthand the latest track of our literary culture.

“The temptation is to ask, ‘Is print dead?’  What we tried to do in the class was to take that [black and white] story – good, bad, either/or, menace or threat – and to put it back in historical context,” Greer explained. “The students in the class weren’t really convinced that digital technology was the end of books.  Most of them took the course because they loved books. They wanted to explore the question, ‘what is becoming of reading in the late age of print?’

Before the arrival of the Web, reading was primarily a solitary experience. Today, Greer and his students found, reading is increasingly a social experience – an experience of “community.”

“Books have become part of this new ecosystem,” Greer tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “One of the areas that the students particularly focused on was fan fiction and fandom and fan culture. People not only have conversations about the Harry Potter books and their investment in them, they begin writing their own stories. What happens, then, to book publishing is that it becomes a conversation and not just a one-way street.

“One of the optimistic themes that emerged was that the readers get to speak back.  The readers get their own voice.  The reader versus author divide becomes more complex.  Authors can become readers, and most importantly, readers can become authors. There’s not one gatekeeper publisher in New York City deciding whose voice matters.  There’s much more opportunity for a plurality and a kind of populism in literary culture that I think is quite new and quite important,”  Greer said in an interview recorded at the recent PubWest 2016 Conference.

Teacher, writer, and editor Michael Greer is owner/director at Development by Design, a Boulder-based consultancy working in content development, online assessment, and instructional design. He is a frequent guest on “Beyond the Book.”

Top 10 Writing Tips for Lawyers (as well as everyone else).

writing-in-the-dark-1497115-1599x1200Many writers confuse putting words down on the page, which is really a form of coal mining, with editing and shaping those words, which is really where writing gets done. Writing is about thinking, and the question that should always be uppermost in your mind when you write (indeed, it’s a great idea to have it on your computer monitor or in a note on the wall that you see every time you look up from the screen) is: What am I trying to say?

Simple right? But don’t confuse simple with easy.

As you contemplate writing THAT BOOK, you know, the one you’ve threatened to sit down and write for years now but somehow haven’t yet started, here are 10 tips to make getting into the water a lot easier. That’s what Lincoln Square Books does best: we help you get out of your own way, so you can finish what you’ve always wanted to start.

  1. Legal writing asks of the author that they are familiar with the “language” of the law. Words have very specific meanings that don’t always apply in the “civilian” world most of us occupy. (“Alien” is a good example.) So while it feels like you spend your time writing “jargonese,” the strength of practicing legal writing is that it forces you to look at every word you use and be aware that it has a specific job to do in the context of your project. In your own writing, whether for business or pleasure, let each word carry its own weight, and don’t be afraid to get rid of those that don’t.
  2. Real writers are first and foremost readers. Keep up your own reading for pleasure. If all you read is serious books, treat yourself to a “pot boiler” once in a while. If you read a lot of genre fiction, try something a little more intellectually challenging. One of the signs that you are improving as a writer is noticing that your taste in reading is becoming more challenging.
  3. It takes both confidence and humility to write well. Don’t be afraid to take advice on whether or not you are saying EXACTLY what you intend to say. (It’s easy to rail against the idiots that don’t get what you are trying to say, but, just maybe, you’re not saying it as clearly or as well as you could.) Too often we assume because we know what it is we’re trying to say, others will know it as well. Don’t assume your readers know what you mean, and be clear and concise, and ELEGANT in your language. Understand grammar and punctuation and use it correctly. Hunt those errant commas! Keep your paragraphs short, if you can. Long paragraphs exhaust readers.
  4. I know you probably read it in high school, but go back and read Strunk&White again [White, E.B., and William Strunk, Jr. The Elements of Style (Macmillan Company, 1959)]. You’ll be amazed what a wonderfully example of the very thing it is trying to teach you, that little book is.  Make sure you have  good reference books nearby, like dictionaries and thesauruses (or thesauri, if you’re picky). If you’re writing narrative nonfiction check out LSB founding partner Peter Rubie’s, The Elements of Narrative Nonfiction: How to Write the Novel of True Events (Linden Publishing)
  5. Know what makes good writing. This is more than just noting and being able to follow the rules. Good writing is like good art, most people know it when they see it but they can’t always exactly say why. Good writing is organized, with thoughts flowing naturally from one paragraph to another. It is clear and unambiguous. It is concise. It uses good grammar and capitalization in a natural way. It is free of typos because you proofread it. It does not assume your readers know much about your subject. ALWAYS make sure your citations are clear and THERE. If you’re working on a book you can put your cites in the back to keep the flow of the narrative humming along but support your arguments as best you can.
  6. Practice “writing” every day if you can, don’t just churn out stuff. Know the rules of writing and try to use them, even when you’re just composing emails and letters. Your job may force you to use a legal tone, but it’s worth remembering one of the most quoted people in modern U.S. Supreme Court Opinions is Bob Dylan. If you can, say it like it is and don’t be deliberately ambiguous. Try not to sound, on the page, like an opera singer who’s decided to “slum” by singing rock n’roll.
  7. Keep in mind that your writing is the best way to put over your ideas, and may well be the only chance you get to really connect with others. Remember rule #1: writing is about thinking. Know what it is you want to say, and then say it clearly and with organization, and hopefully with some poetry (even if it isn’t Bob Dylan.)
  8. Leave plenty of time to REWRITE your piece. Let it sit, like a good wine or piece of meat, so the sediment sinks to the bottom and the juices settle back into the meat.
  9. Use an active voice — the one we speak in most of the time. (I did this, you did that.) The power of the active voice can’t be underestimated. It is immediate, it is engaging, and it avoids passivity which in turn implies an aloofness or distancing of the narrator, which can be off-putting to many readers. Think about the rhythm and length of your sentences. Don’t. Make. Them. All. The. Same.
  10. Write in Anglo Saxon, it is the heart of transparent English. Avoid adjectives and adverbs as much as possible. Try not to “Frenchify” your vocabulary with long, somewhat ornate words, for which there are perfectly good and much shorter Anglo Saxon alternatives. (Hide things, don’t adumbrate them, or salt them away.) Don’t use two words when one will do. Just make sure it’s the right word.

Publishers Weekly Reports 60 New Indie Bookstores Opened in 2015

If you can remember the meet-cute premise of the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan 1998 movie YOU’VE GOT MAIL (written and directed by the late, great Nora Ephron)–where the heroine is losing her independent bookstore when a Barnes and Noble-like chain store opens up around the corner–then you know what it was like on the Upper West Side when Barnes & Noble opened up on West 65th Street and Broadway Across from Lincoln Center. Chains like B&N and Border’s killed the little guys. Just all-out murder. Changed the landscape.

Of course THAT PARTICULAR B&N IS CLOSED. (Yes, that poor, teary-eyed woman hugging the side of the building was me.)

Want to find an independent store in your area? Visit

Books got cheaper. Meeting places were established for presentations. But some flavor in the business was lost, some passion from dedicated booksellers who were really readers themselves. Specialists who knew their customers as people. That was when bar codes got stamped on the back of covers, robbing publishers of real estate for quotes and descriptive copy. We went to controlled inventory systems and factory-like precision and timing of returns.

Fast forward to 2016…

Portrait Of Female Bookshop Owner Outside Store

Portrait Of Female Bookshop Owner Outside Store

Two decades have passed, and the industry is now in a second phase post-chain store disruption … we’re post digital disruption too, and things are stabilizing. Readers still like reading PRINTED BOOKs: physical objects. And people want to be able to buy them in stores. And there are owners of businesses who are creeping back into the landscape with new savvy about how to reach customers in person and online. They understand the value they bring to their neighborhoods and communities of like-minded readers.

Please enjoy this article from Publishers Weekly on the trend back toward indie stores and remember to visit your local bookstore.

Other articles you may like:

Independents in New York City

Indie Bookstores in NYC That Are Not the Strand

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