Isn’t it a fact of life that when you go on vacation or try to slow down in summer or during the holidays that something is going to happen? Or do your family cars like to get flat tires or let their batteries die while in your driveway? Such was last week. (We had a car battery decide that it needed a permanent vacation while in the driveway the morning I was trying to go to work.)
In the industry we had a couple pieces of news that may not have crossed your desk.
The first was a shakeup in the staff at Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. They reduced their staff and shifted responsibilities around. Production and Art director positions have shifted from the Nashville office to New York. The main marketing responsibilities have been added to the plate of their VP of publicity (now VP of publicity and marketing) at the Atria imprint. They also dropped their VP and Editor-in-Chief, Ami McConnell and shifted those responsibilities among three in-house senior editors. I’m sorry to see Ami leave as she has been a long time friend in the industry. She is quite talented so hopefully will land elsewhere.
It’s always hard to make decisions like that, especially when it affects people. But market realities and the need to increase margins and sales in a corporate environment make for tough decisions (especially in publicly held corporations). The important thing is to not attribute changes like this to “the collapse of CBA” or “the demise of print books” or “the Amazon Effect” or “Jupiter has aligned with Neptune.” The economics of publishing is a constant ebb and flow. One publisher can have a great year and the next be in the tank (see what happened to the revenue at Scholastic in the post-Harry Potter days or at Little Brown post-Twilight). I am guessing that Howard Books had ramped up to handle the extraordinary success of the “Duck Dynasty” books. It is hard to sustain that kind of windfall, even when sales outside a specific franchise are just fine.
I’ve exchanged notes with Jonathan Merkh, the VP and Publisher at Howard Books, and the future of the division is secure and the sale and acquisitions of key books will continue unimpeded.
The Christy Awards
The other news was that ECPA (The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) has taken both ownership and management of the prestigious Christy Awards. This is the premier award for Christian fiction in the industry.
For seventeen years it had been under its own management. By moving it under ECPA’s oversight it ensures the long term viability of the award.
Earlier this month ECPA made some changes to their own Christian Book Award program and had dropped the fiction category. Now the Christy Awards will slide into that spot and give it additional visibility.
I’ve been asked if this is a good thing. I responded with a resounding, “Yes!” I’m very excited to see the awards continue unabated for the foreseeable future.
Six years ago I wrote a blog about rumors and the need to verify before spreading what you hear. In the ensuing half-decade-plus social media, via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, loops, and groups have made it very easy to play versions of the “Telephone Game.”
One of those happened last week due to a typo. By the time it came to me I was sent a message that read “The CEO of B&H was fired yesterday.” I was shocked that Lifeway would terminate such an important person in their B&H Publishing Group. So I went to my friendly neighborhood contact inside Lifeway and ask that she verify or correct the rumor.
It wasn’t the CEO of the B&H (Broadman & Holman) Publishing Group…it was the CEO of B&N (Barnes & Noble), the bookstore chain. (News about B&N’s move.)
A typo, B&N versus B&H, made a huge difference. Gratefully the rumor stopped very quickly and was corrected.
Next thing you know I’ll be hearing that the U.S. was disqualified in a relay race in the Olympics again or that a monkey in diapers attacked a Walmart employee.