Can You Really Predict Sales?

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Algorithms Could Save Book Publishing—But Ruin Novels

Jodie Archer had always been puzzled by the success of The Da Vinci Code. She’d worked for Penguin UK in the mid-2000s, when Dan Brown’s thriller had become a massive hit, and knew there was no way marketing alone would have led to 80 million copies sold. So what was it, then? Something magical about the words that Brown had strung together? Dumb luck? The questions stuck with her even after she left Penguin in 2007 to get a PhD in English at Stanford. There she met Matthew L. Jockers, a cofounder of the Stanford Literary Lab, whose work in text analysis had convinced him that computers could peer into books in a way that people never could.

Soon the two of them went to work on the “bestseller” problem: How could you know which books would be blockbusters and which would flop, and why? Over four years, Archer and Jockers fed 5,000 fiction titles published over the last 30 years into computers and trained them to “read”—to determine where sentences begin and end, to identify parts of speech, to map out plots. They then used so-called machine classification algorithms to isolate the features most common in bestsellers.

To read more go to https://www.wired.com/2016/09/bestseller-code/

Good News for Print and Indies

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Penguin Random House last year doubled the size of its distribution center in Crawfordsville, Ind., to speed up book distribution. CreditA J Mast for The New York Times 

Five years ago, the book world was seized by collective panic over the uncertain future of print.

As readers migrated to new digital devices, e-book sales soared, up 1,260 percent between 2008 and 2010, alarming booksellers that watched consumers use their stores to find titles they would later buy online. Print sales dwindled, bookstores struggled to stay open, and publishers and authors feared that cheaper e-books would cannibalize their business.

Then in 2011, the industry’s fears were realized when Borders declared bankruptcy.

“E-books were this rocket ship going straight up,” said Len Vlahos, a former executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, a nonprofit research group that tracks the publishing industry. “Just about everybody you talked to thought we were going the way of digital music.”

But the digital apocalypse never arrived, or at least not on schedule. While analysts once predicted that e-books would overtake print by 2015, digital sales have instead slowed sharply.

Now, there are signs that some e-book adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers, who juggle devices and paper. E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.

E-books’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television.

E-book subscription services, modeled on companies like Netflix and Pandora, have struggled to convert book lovers into digital binge readers, and some have shut down. Sales of dedicated e-reading devices have plunged as consumers migrated to tablets and smartphones. And according to some surveys, young readers who are digital natives still prefer reading on paper.

The surprising resilience of print has provided a lift to many booksellers. Independent bookstores, which were battered by the recession and competition from Amazon, are showing strong signs of resurgence. The American Booksellers Association counted 1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations in 2015, up from 1,410 in 1,660 locations five years ago.

A true story of how a girl and her doll survived the Holocaust.

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19346656_cover-a-long-journey

A Long Journey is the true story of how a seven-year-old girl and her doll survived the Holocaust. Justin relates her childhood experience through the eyes of her doll Giesela.

Historical non-fiction offers children the opportunity to digest and make sense of world events. Oma’s stories give us hope for a world of kindness and love.

“Not to know what happened before you were born is to be forever a child. For what is a man’s life if it is not linked with the life of future generations by memories of the past?”–Cicero, Ad M. Brutum (46 BCE).

Available at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/renate-g-justin/a-long-journey/paperback/product-22861152.html

Renate G. Justin 2016

Renate G. Justin

Renate G. Justin was born in Germany and with the help of the Quakers  and many other generous people, she and her family came to the United States in 1939. She now lives in Colorado where she has practiced family medicine with her daughter. Renate has published essays in lay and medical journals as well as in anthologies.

Do You Have an Attention Monster?

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The Attention Monster spots me and SNAP!  He’s stolen my concentration.  This usually happens during school at a time when I can be easily trapped…My mind bounces around and then suddenly something grabs me and pulls me out the window.  Dragons, giants, and superheroes frequently yank me outside.

And so Nathan starts school and the Attention Monster takes him into the world of 4th-grade athletics.

This hilarious tale of school and sports is now available on lulu.com.  Visit LT Garvin on FaceBook.

Congratulations on Publication

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First of all, thank you all for the tremendous number of excellent quality manuscripts we have received.  Because we are a small publishing company, we try to pick our projects carefully.

We are happy to announce the 2017 selections have been made.  Our goals for the 2017 publishing round are to continue with the series, to add new genres and authors, to promote writing, and to offer readers alternatives.

Please continue to visit our website crystalpublishingllc.com to keep up with the latest publications and news from Crystal Publishing.  We look forward to hearing from you.