Peter Olson, CEO
erary” reading, and their methodology was mass-market paperback format, offering the
not clear to me. Publishing is a mature busi- reader hardcover values at a paperback price,
ness. It has not grown quickly over the last featuring a bigger size, larger type and whiter
decade, but it has grown. We publish many paper. We have more 2005 titles in this format
more titles every year in this country and coming from perennial bestselling authors.
we sell more copies of blockbuster titles than
we ever have before. CC: Why do books make good gifts?
What Americans read and how they read
it shifts and causes our industry considerable Peter Olson, CEO, Random House: It’s
pain when it does. But America still reads, and often said that books make great gifts because
Laurence Kirshbaum if you look at the growth of reading groups you can open them again and again. Books
Chairman and CEO
Time Warner Book Group and phenomena like the Oprah Winfrey book that entertain and enlighten also say as much
club and Harry Potter, it is hard to become about the giver as they do about the recipient.
too pessimistic. Books continually have more If one chooses well, a book can become a
competition from other sources, and that is wonderful companion—one that brings
where we publishers have to be astute in cre- delight long after it has been opened the first
ating and delivering our content. time. Is there any other gift that so eloquently
expresses the way we feel about someone?
Laurence Kirshbaum, chairman and
CEO, Time Warner Book Group: More than Sargent: I’m biased because I love books.
ever, publishers are becoming savvy about Whether it be to inform or entertain, there is
how to market our brands and how to tap something magical about reading a great
into the growing number of reading groups book. What could be a better gift than sharing
across the country. The baby boomers may be something that touched you with someone
moving into retirement, but this generation is you care for?
a long way from slowing down. We can appeal
to their need to start new careers, stay fit, keep Romanos: The great thing about books as
their minds active, develop new hobbies and gifts is that there truly is a book for everyone,
Jane Friedman, president and CEO, improve their family lives in many ways. and the very act of choosing a book for a gift
HarperCollins Publishers: I don’t actually For our younger readers, we have a very shows the recipient that you put a great deal of
buy into the notion that America is reading powerful new weapon: portable audio. As thought into what they actually might like.
less. It just doesn’t make sense to me, given iPods and cellular phones and satellite radio Books can be a light diversion, a thought-pro-our sales. HarperCollins is selling more copies become fixtures for everyone, our audio voking and life-changing experience, a story
of more titles than ever before—and the books will be an educational and entertain- savored and remembered for years or a con-range of titles is quite broad, from literary and ment alternative for people on the go. tinual point of reference and information.
commercial fiction to serious nonfiction, ref- Ultimately, for the young and the old-but- Heavy readers can never get enough books,
erence, diet and lifestyle books. I believe that young-at-heart, books are the perfect and those who read less frequently appreciate
the publisher’s role is to publish good books panacea for our increasingly complex soci- getting a book they might not have thought to
well. The readers will follow. ety. The one challenge we all face is to pro- get for themselves.
I am particularly encouraged by our mote reading and literacy in our society.
increasing ability to reach out to targeted Kirshbaum: Books continue to be the
audiences through the Internet to market our David Shanks, CEO, Penguin Group foundation of many of our best entertainment
books. We are able to notify consumers in (USA): The book publishing industry is brands today—from Harry Potter to The Da
innovative ways that simply weren’t possible always looking at new ways to rekindle an Vinci Code—and, with its high-income demo-
10 years ago. The more readers know about interest in reading books. We have launched graphics, Costco is uniquely positioned to take
books that interest them, the more books they new marketing strategies and expanded our advantage of the continuing overlap between
will buy. I feel very bullish about America’s editorial programs to make reading more books and television or film.
interest in books. engaging and inviting to readers of all ages.
Regarding other trends facing the industry, Friedman: A book can inspire, educate,
John Sargent, CEO, Holtzbrinck the mass-market category has been undergoing anger, challenge and motivate. A book can
Publishers: I’m sure reading in America is some changes of late, and Penguin Group bring people and worlds together, and alter
still healthy. The NEA study concerned “lit- (USA) has pioneered a new, easier-to-read people’s lives. What could make a better gift? ➤