Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Barnes & Noble Cuts Back Simon & Schuster Titles

Barnes & Noble Inc. BKS +0.43% has sharply reduced the number of Simon & Schuster titles it carries in its stores as well as the promotion it gives those books as a result of a financial dispute between the two companies, say people familiar with the matter.
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Barnes & Noble is pressing Simon & Schuster for more compensation.
The dispute, which one publishing executive likened to a blackout of TV channels by a cable operator, reflects tensions created by the shift to digital reading and the impact of online discounting, which are shaking up publishing.
The disagreement covers an array of issues. These include the question of which side will bear the financial burden of e-book discounting that has returned in the wake of a settlement between major publishers, including Simon & Schuster, and the Justice Department of an antitrust lawsuit, the people say. Under an earlier model, publishers set the consumer prices of their digital books, eliminating unwanted discounting.
Barnes & Noble is also pressing Simon & Schuster for more compensation, such as costs associated with in-store promotions. Publishers typically give retailers money to cover certain store marketing costs. The retailer is arguing that its stores serve as the primary way for consumers to discover new writers, say people familiar with the situation. The retailer worries that consumers use its stores as "showrooms" to find titles that they then order online at a discounted price, the people said.
"We do not comment on specific relationships with publishers. However, we do support those publishers who support our physical and digital businesses," Barnes & Noble said in a statement.
In an interview, Carolyn Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster, described negotiations between the companies as tough but said she is confident the matter will eventually be resolved.
The dispute holds risks for both sides. Simon & Schuster is losing sales and promotions at the biggest book chain in the U.S. While the retailer is still carrying the publisher's biggest books in quantity, titles by lesser-known authors have been cut sharply, said the people familiar with the matter. Orders for some titles have been reduced by as much as 90%, according to one literary agent.
A recent walk-through at one of Barnes & Noble's stores in Manhattan found hard-cover editions of such current Simon & Schuster best sellers as Jodi Picoult's novel "The Storyteller" and Clive Davis's memoir "The Soundtrack of My Life." Elsewhere, however, the paperback edition of veteran author M.J. Rose's novel "The Book of Lost Fragrances," published in February, was out of stock and a search of the retailer's online site showed that the book was also unavailable at three other Manhattan locations.
For Barnes & Noble, the dispute could cause customers who can't find the books they want to instead shop online at Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +1.68%
The dispute was reported by Publishers Weekly in late January, shortly after Barnes & Noble curtailed its Simon & Schuster orders. At that time, the two companies believed they would soon resolve their differences. Instead, the dispute has continued.
The disagreement comes as readers increasingly embrace e-books. At Simon & Schuster, for example, digital-book sales grew 24% in the fourth quarter, even as total publishing revenue fell 6%. Digital books represented 24% of total publishing revenue that quarter, up from 18% a year earlier.
Several writers published by Simon & Schuster expressed dismay that their books have been affected by the dispute but said they understood economic forces were involved and didn't blame their publisher or Barnes & Noble.
Jamie Mason, author of the thriller "Three Graves Full," published by Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books, said Barnes & Noble was "incredibly supportive" of her book during preproduction and that the chain was instrumental in changing the cover. "It was really cool," she said. But shortly before publication on Feb. 12, she learned that "Three Graves Full" would no longer receive the promotion at Barnes & Noble stores that had been expected. "It's frustrating," she said. "I'm a debut novelist. I don't have name recognition." She said Simon & Schuster has worked to boost sales elsewhere.
Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at jeffrey.trachtenberg@wsj.com

Friday, March 15, 2013

Limited Time Only: Price Reduced on The Accidental Anarchist for Kindle

For a limited time, the price for the ebook version of The Accidental Anarchist is reduced to $4.99. Download your copy during the first ever 'sale' on The Accidental Anarchist!

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I have the great, good fortune to be editing a new book written by the great-niece of Rasputin's secretary, Aron Simanovitch: Delin Colon (author of Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History). In it, Simanovitch shares intimate details about Rsputin and the Romanovs that are absolutely stunning for what they reveal about these highly guarded individuals. Simanovitch had access to the Czar through Rasputin's close association, and as a result we get to see what the Tsar was like as a man, his fatal flaws and his predilections, which brings a greater understanding of the decisions he made and those that he allowed others to make in his behalf.

Although I am sharing some of these details out of chronological order, they are nonetheless fascinating. This morning I was reading Simanovitch's assessment of the Tsar as a man who trusted no one over the age of two years old. After that age, he believed, children begin to lie. That led him to trust no one (although, in truth, he had good reason for feeling this way) and for others to lose confidence in him as one never knew if he would keep a promise today that he made the day before.

For all of the negative things written and said about Rasputin, what Simanovitch's diaries (on which the book is based) reveal is that Rasputin had his flaws (womanizing, in particular) but he was an honorable man who said what he believed and upheld his promises. He tried to help the Tsar though his difficult challenges (and was actually the one person whom Nicholas II did trust), and strongly berated him for inappropriate actions and behavior, treating the Tsar, more so than did the Tsar's own mother, the Dowager Empress, who wanted to have him deposed, like a loving parent trying to give guidance to the Tsar that he only occasionally followed.

I am so thrilled to have the chance to work on this manuscript in its earliest form, and look forward to sharing more remarkable revelations from it.