A new report written by the Book Industry Study Group’s rights committee
reveals a dichotomy in the rights world between the increasing importance of
rights transactions and the ability of publishers to take advantage of the
demand for American content in the international marketplace. Indeed, the
name of the report is “Publishing Rights: An Untapped Opportunity.”
Among the findings was that over 53% of survey respondents said that
their organization is “currently missing out on meaningful rights revenue.”
The survey found a host of issues that have made the failure to collect more
rights revenue an ongoing problem. Those issues include ineffective, costly
paper-based work flows that are characterized by disconnected systems and
a lack of standard approaches. Publishers also said that confusion about
who controls which rights has grown worse, particularly for backlist, acquired,
and divested works and imprints.
While a solid majority of publishers believe that sales of digital rights will
grow both in the U.S. and abroad, many expressed caution about moving
ahead to take advantage of the opportunity. As one publisher noted, “Clearing
appropriate rights to third-party material is massively time-consuming and a
cost burden. It’s very difficult to obtain rights that are sufficient to exploit
content and sell on to translating publishers.”
New BISG Report
Calls Rights an Untapped
and-mortar business are murky, but the company has ramped up its store
openings since it launched the first one in November 2015. Though Amazon
took 10 months between opening its first store in Seattle and its second in
San Diego, Calif., the pace of openings and announced openings has quickened. The e-commerce giant opened two outlets in 2016 and four so far in
2017—the most recent being its Columbus Circle location in New York City. It
has announced plans for stores in Bellevue, Wash.; Walnut Creek, Calif., San
Jose, Calif., Los Angeles; Paramus, N.J.; and for a second in New York City. If
all goes according to plan, Amazon will open 10 stores in 2017.
Its aggressive store-opening plans notwithstanding, Amazon has a way to
go to jump ahead of third place Half Price Books. The Dallas-based retailer,
which sells a mix of used and new titles, has had a net increase of eight
stores since 2011. It closed three locations earlier this year, but has plans to
open two new outlets (in St. Charles, Mo., and Tyler, Tex.) later in 2017.
Standing between Half Price and Amazon is Book World, the family-owned
chain based in Appleton, Wis., that has stores in much of the Upper Midwest.
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ers, 67 million people have listened to at least one audiobook in the past year.
Of these, 18% were labeled as “frequent listeners,” having listened to four or
more audiobooks during that time period; 56% were men and 44% were
women. Eighty percent of these listeners had paid for their most recent
audiobook, rather than streaming from You Tube or downloading for free.
They are also discerning customers, with 74% saying it is important to listen
to a sample of the audiobook before committing to it and another 59%
saying it was important for them to get ancillary material with the audiobook,
like author interviews or sample chapters of forthcoming titles.
Webster underscored one growing trend: the use of voice enabled wireless
speakers, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, to listen to spoken-word
content. Among audiobook listeners, 25% own such a speaker. “But this
poses its own set of challenges, as the user must call out a specific piece of
content to the speaker,” he said. Still, the use of speakers is likely to grow,
When it comes to content, audiobook listeners favor mysteries, thrillers,
suspense titles, and popular fiction titles. Health and fitness, as well as business titles, were the least favored genres. Among frequent listeners, 47%
said they enjoyed listening to a specific narrator, “so there is considerable
narrator loyalty,” said Webster.
The growth in the popularity of audiobooks has been accelerated by the
popularity of podcasts, which serve as a “gateway drug” to audiobooks, said
Webster. Not only do podcast listeners generally listen to twice as many
audiobooks per year as those who don’t listen to podcasts but “though they
listen to a lot of free content, [they] are among [audiobook publishers’] best
customers,” he added. —Ed Nawotka
PW 2017 Award Winners
Collette Morgan (l.), owner of Minneapolis’s Wild Rumpus, this year’s
PW Bookstore of the Year Award winner, fist bumps the 2017 PW Sales
Rep of the Year, Anne DeCourcey (r.), with HarperCollins.
At the luncheon, ABA CEO Oren Teicher called the state
of indie bookselling “strong.”
Ruta Sepetys was the winner of the
Indies Choice Young Adult Book of
the Year for Salt to the Sea.
Yaa Gyasi’s Homecoming was winner
of the Indies Choice Adult Debut of
Author Adam Gidwitz, whose The Inquisitor’s Tale was
an Indies Choice Book Awards honoree in the E. B.
White Read-Aloud Middle Grade Reader category,
addressed the lunch crowd.