Daily Beast founder Tina Brown and her husband Sir Harold Evans held a stuffy, packed BEA amphitheater in rapt attention yesterday–quizzing four CEOs about these difficult days for publishing. When Brown lost her voice halfway through the presentation, her husband stepped up to finish the panel. Before leaving, Brown railed against Amazon.com, Inc.’s pricing for the average Kindle book: “$9.99 is a paltry pitiful sum,” she said.
Her husband kept pace, urging the CEOs to “sue the hell” out of Google over the search engine’s controversial book-scanning initiative. Perseus Books CEO David Steinberger plugged his initiative to crash-publish “Book: The Sequel” in 48-hours during BEA. “This is the way you have to behave in the future,” he declared. Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy disagreed with this timetable for print books. “But you have to convince retailers to buy the [print] book–that takes six months.”
Macmillan CEO John Sargent worried about new media campaigns: “The majority of viral marketing doesn’t sell a ton of books,” he complained, referencing a hit viral video his company produced that only resulted in, by his estimate, sales of 210 books. He still thought the best bookselling strategy was a combination of word-of-mouth and front of store placement at bookstores around the country.