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State of the Shelf

August 8, 2007

For the past week, the professional and trade division here at Wiley has been engaged in our tri-annual sales meeting. It’s where we present upcoming books and arm our sales reps with the information they need to present these books to their accounts. It’s always good to get feedback from sales, as they are in the field talking to store buyers and have the pulse on what is going on out there. As I am responsbile for marketing computer books, I was interested to read the Beneath the Cover post on computer books. It certainly echoes a lot of what we’ve heard and have been seeing. Programmers are cautious, more consumery topics are doing better. I enjoyed the following quote, as it really sums up my career right now:

Everyone agrees that the computer books category has to reinvent itself to adapt to changing times. The question is whether its current embrace of the mass market of lay users will be enough to offset its considerable losses in the professional sector.

Wiley and other publishers have seen success with topics such as iPods, digital photography and other gadget topics. But no matter how hot they are, I can’t imagine we’re ever getting into our time machine and heading back to the late ’90s and the glory years of the category. I did like this post on BtC though- it wasn’t as negative as most are when talking tech and it was a bit easier for a layperson to read and follow than the informative but dense O’Reilly Radar can be (though I do find myself jonesing for those treemaps).

So many areas (eBay, digital music, internet marketing, SEO) have started in “tech” and have crossed over. This week, I kept getting asked about Second Life. We publish the official guide to SL, which has been one of our bestsellers. Libraries are using SL, as are distance learning set ups. Most of the business team is wondering when they will need to do a SL treatment. It will be interesting to follow this category as it evolves, if it evolves.

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