News & Comment: Cedar Fort Title Makes Oprah & Other News

This past week has been quite busy for news about the LDS market and the publishing industry. The following are noteworthy:

  • Cedar Fort saw unexpected promotional success with Melissa Moore‘s book, Shattered Silence, which will be the subject of an Oprah episode that airs September 17th.
  • Deseret Management announced that the websites of Deseret Book, KSL, the Deseret News, LDS Church News, and Mormon Times will now all be managed by a new division in the company, Deseret Digital.
  • A 17-year-old American Fork teenager M’Lin Rowley, signed a 10-book deal with Deseret Book‘s Shadow Mountain imprint.

Cedar Fort, in an email to its customers, the company trumpeted its success:

With the September 1st release of Shattered Silence, by Melissa G. Moore and Bridget Cook, we are excited to let you know that Oprah has filmed her story and featured the book on an upcoming show that airs SEPTEMBER 17th. Shattered Silence tells the story of Melissa’s experience of growing up with her father, who is now known as the “Happy Face Serial Killer”. It relates her remarkable journey of hope. Throughout her life she always looked for light and truth. Many times she felt guided by a Higher Power, she realized that there was a God and He did know her and watch out for her. When she was introduced to the Gospel of Jesus Christ she rejoiced and accepted the truth she had been seeking. Shattered Silence is a remarkable story of hope. Regardless of where or how you were raised and what you have experienced you can be happy and successful.

We reviewed Shattered Silence here. See also Cedar Fort’s PR Blog entry for September 9th.

Deseret Management‘s creation of its new Deseret Digital division is a bit of a mystery to me. Its led by former Harvard Business School professor Clark Gilbert, who is an expert in digital news media innovation, which explains why DeseretNews.com, KSL.com, LDSChurchNews.com and MormonTimes.com were included. But digital news media innovation doesn’t really cover online retail, so I wonder what will happen to DeseretBook.com. It has loads of traffic, but hasn’t ever implemented the kind of features that will allow it to compete with other online retailers effectively. Perhaps this will make it change, but I also wonder what will happen when innovation tries to get Deseret Book to include those items it hasn’t wanted to sell but should. A complete version of the company’s press release is here.

Is Deseret Book pulling a publicity stunt, you have to wonder after reading the headlines about its 10-book deal with a 17-year-old. Of course, the books are short (roughly 70 pages according to the Salt Lake Tribune article) and aimed at 6-10-year-old beginning readers, so perhaps Deseret Book’s editors think they don’t have to be as careful with children’s books (which, in my experience, are substantially more difficult than they seem. And, I think Deseret Book has blundered in this area on more than one occasion, and been protected by its position in the LDS market). I suppose it is also possible that the fact that Rowley’s mother is also a Deseret Book author (although not a major one, as far as I can tell) might have something to do with it.

Twilight is going virtual. The production company for the Twilight films, Summit Entertainment, licensed the property to the teen-oriented virtual world Habbo, which will launch a Twilight-specific virtual world to coincide with the launch of the second movie in the series, New Moon.

Publishing Industry News

Here’s the news I found interesting that might impact Mormons in the books and art:

  • Challenges to Google’s $125 million settlement with authors and publishers over its Google Books service multiplied before a court deadline this week.  Those objecting included Amazon.com, leading settlement supporter , the Author’s Guild, to slam Amazon‘s “choke hold” on books, saying “Amazon’s hypocrisy is breathtaking.” Google tried to defend the settlement, offered to allow competitors to resell the works it has digitized (Amason said it will pass), and offered concessions (here also) in Europe to win support there. In testimony before a House subcommittee, the U.S. Register of Copyrights slammed the settlement as “fundamentally at odds with the law.”
  • Publisher marketing budgets are down 50-70% this year. Efforts are moving toward web, cooperative advertising with retailers. For small publishers that may level the playingfield somewhat.
  • Market share for the Kindle continues to expand: The Kindle accounted for 23.5% of ebook downloads in the 1st quarter of this year, and by the end of July accounted for 28% of downloads. Desktop and laptop computers were 48% of downloads then and were 40% in July. Also in July, the iPod was 6.5% of downloads and Sony’s Reader was 6% of downloads. All other devices were 19.5% of downloads in July.
  • Do Book Blogs sell books? wonders an author at the Denver Post in this article.
  • Here’s an idea: Have the readers write the footnotes!
  • Think ebook prices are too high? Hachette’s CEO is warning that they may be too low!
  • Apple’s Jobs says won’t make an “iBook.” “Right,” says UK’s Guardian.
  • Whence the ISBN? Will it survive the digital age? Apparently it will be cheaper to get next year.
  • UK Research: ebooks problem in content, not hardware. Readers complain not enough books and not enough good books.
  • Google says its developing a micropayment system to allow publishers to charge for online content. Should AMV start charging by the post?
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20 thoughts on “News & Comment: Cedar Fort Title Makes Oprah & Other News”

  1. I was not sure where to post this but I’m very concerned about Deseret Books selling the political books of Glen Beck. I called their 800 number and complained and was told he is now one of their authors. To be forthright, know I am a Mormon and a liberal. I consider him to be a misguided dangerous man or a huckster. Is Deseret Books’ mission to provide inspirational books and other products to LDS patrons plus the general public or are they just profit driven? I wonder if they carry Beck’s books because they think they have alot of built-in politically conservative buyers? Does this bring in o question the Churches political neutrality?

    I would like to see a discussion about this subject if your interested.

  2. Larry, I agree this is an issue, and it is certainly related to previous discussions we have had about Deseret Book’s censoring of works it considers “inappropriate” (whatever that means).

    The fact that DB carries Glen Beck just shows that this policy has more to do with DB’s cultural assumptions than it does with any clear policy of what kind of material is acceptable.

    Our discussions of this policy here on AMV have focused more on works that have been excluded because of the action of characters or whether or not the work condemned the obvious sins our culture focuses on: sexual sins, marital infidelity, word of wisdom issues, etc. [The most recent example is DB’s pulling Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series from its stores.]

    I know plenty of Mormons like Beck, but I agree with you. I think his ideas pander to conservative and Mormon values, but lack many underlying gospel truths.

  3. I’d prefer that any discussion center on questions of rhetoric and marketing and publishing choices and that we stay away from political flaming from either side. There are plenty of other posts floating around the Bloggernacle where one can vent against Glen Beck or vent against those who vent against Glen Beck.

  4. Stephen M, I’m not sure who you are directing your comment to. So far as I know, none of the bloggers here are at Cedar Fort, so no, its not really “one of your titles.”

  5. I hope that the ten-book deal with Shadow Mountain isn’t a publicity stunt. The novelty of her age might be interesting enough to generate a lot of sales initially, but no one is going to read all the way through a ten book series unless they really like it, novelty or not.

  6. .

    I know if I don’t get my hands slapped now and then it’s The Story of O today and the Anarchist’s Cookbook tomorrow.

  7. I agree that it’s pretty decent cover as these things go. But in order for it to be better, it has to substantially surpass the original. No Doubt’s version features a Gwen Stefani vocal that’s just a little too overly dramatic and precious and the arrangement doesn’t change a whole lot.

    I suppose one could object to the synth animal-like sounds in the original, but a) the anti-synth backlash is so 1995 and b) Talk Talk had a sense of humor about them.

    In addition, by casting it solely in terms of female sexual empowerment, Stefani loses the more nuanced version of the original.

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