Lori Galvin has joined Zachary Shuster Harmsworth as an agent based in the firm’s Boston office, as part of their “deepening…commitment to representing the finest writers of cookbooks.” Galvin worked for more than a decade at America’s Test Kitchen, where she helped lead a team that produced dozens of cookbooks.
Architect Peter Pennoyer will take over as president of the board of The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. He succeeds Antonia Grumbach, chair-elect of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Vearsa has added Andrews McMeel as a distribution and analytics client.
The NYT Magazine has a feature on the surprisingly sophisticated business of practices of the “penny booksellers” who sell “scores of relatively sought-after books in varying conditions for a cent” online. “The penny booksellers are sometimes seen as forcing books into a new, disturbingly quick life cycle in which prices drop from full price to a few dollars in months, and then further to a penny in just a couple of years.” Or put another way, “Penny booksellers are exactly the sort of weedy company that springs up in the cracks of the waste that the Internet has laid to creative industries. They aren’t a cause; they’re a small, understandable result. Penny booksellers expose the deep downside to efficiency capitalism, which is that everything, even literal garbage and rare high art, is now as easy to find and roughly as personal as a spare iPhone charging cable.”
Mike Ward at Thriftbooks — which “sells about 12 million books a year, mostly on Amazon, and many for a penny” — explains how the model works. They buy “landfill-bound books, sight unseen, for around 10 cents a pound.” Less than 20 percent of that is salable, and the rest is recycled. The books that sell for a penny plus shipping yield, after costs, “A couple of cents, to be honest.” But “Ward says that less than half of his stock sells for that price. And because processing costs don’t increase with book price, while Thriftbooks may only make a few cents on a penny book, it will make $2, plus a few cents, from a book priced at $2.”
Another subject was well-elucidated by Slate yesterday: They look at the “adaptive learning” software that has become the hot strategy among many of the major companies we think of as textbook publishers (most of whom now want to be seen as some kind of learning technology companies now). The focus is on products from McGraw-Hill Education, though the piece looks broadly at adaptive learning platforms and other already-fading educational trends such as MOOCs.