Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story.Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) award winning author/ illustrator William Joyce and Co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals. Morris Lessmore is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.
In a significant defection for the book industry, best-selling marketing author Seth Godin is ditching his traditional publisher, Portfolio, after a string of books and plans to sell his future works directly to his fans.The author of about a dozen books including "Purple Cow" said he now has so many direct customer relationships, largely via his blog, that he no longer needs a traditional publisher. Mr. Godin plans to release subsequent titles himself in electronic books, via print-on-demand or in such formats as audiobooks, apps, small digital files called PDFs and podcasts.
"Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don't know who reads their books," said Mr. Godin in an interview. "What the Internet has done for me, and a lot of others, is enable me to know my readers."
It's unclear how many, if any, best-selling authors will follow Mr. Godin's lead. However, his departure from Portfolio, an imprint owned by Pearson PLC's Penguin Group (USA), comes at a critical juncture for the industry. With many new titles spending less time on best-seller lists and in bookstores, publishers are increasingly dependent on brand-name authors such as Mr. Godin to deliver significant book sales.
Mr. Godin, a public speaker and proponent of nimbleness and the need for speed in marketing goods, has long delighted in shaking up traditional thinking.
One of his many concerns about the current publishing market is that the process often takes 12 months or more to get a new title into the hands of his readers.
Mr. Godin's most recent book, "Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?," has sold 50,000 copies to date since its release in January, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 75% of the retail book marketplace.
Adrian Zackheim, publisher of Portfolio, said that "Linchpin" is Mr. Godin's fastest-selling book but declined to comment further.
"It's going to make a lot of other big authors sit up and take notice," said Mark Coker, chief executive of Smashwords Inc., an e-book publishing and distribution platform based in Los Gatos, Calif. "There are a lot of authors with fan followings."
Mr. Godin, who disclosed his intentions on Monday on his blog, said his blog attracts an estimated 438,000 followers. He also noted that in the past he has created, executed and maintained a variety of e-book promotions for earlier titles.
For future titles, Mr. Godin said he would hire a top-quality editor and someone to format the work for electronic distribution. "After those fixed costs, your idea is packaged as you want, and it can then be put on sale next to other potential best-sellers on Amazon and elsewhere," he said. "The business race is on to have the relationship with the reader."
Mr. Godin said he doesn't have any new books in the works right now. Prices have to match the expectation of the purchaser, he added. "It depends on who you are selling to and the situation."
Mr. Coker said that as e-books account for an ever-larger percentage of total units sold, the distribution advantage of having new titles in bricks-and-mortar bookstores will have to be weighed against the potential financial advantage of retaining ownership of a new book and distributing it as an e-book or on a print-on-demand basis.
He said that "midlist" authors—those who are successful but not best sellers—who receive minimal marketing support from their publishers may be tempted to follow Mr. Godin's lead.
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