Specialty Press Shuts Down

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As of last week, Specialty Press has shut down all publishing operations for new books. This includes six titles that were about to go to press, including the ones by Tony Buttler, Robert Bradley, Erik Simonsen, Tommy Thomason and Jim Keeshen.

Hopefully, another publisher will take over these projects in the near future.

There is definitely an unfortunate trend going on in this industry. If you like existing books from Specialty Press, especially the hard cover ones, get'em while you can.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Oh, crap. Really looking forward to some of those. Hopefully another publisher will indeed pick them up.
 

GTX

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Interesting that there is no comment on their website - be nice to at least inform people...unless of course they are trying to have someone take over?

Regards,

Greg
 

flateric

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this is tragedy for all aerospace community...and surely one of reasons was piracy
 

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GTX said:
Interesting that there is no comment on their website - be nice to at least inform people...

There is really no pressing need to inform the public about this: affected titles have not yet been released, advertised, or even announced (except perhaps for some unofficial posts on this forum). Existing orders for books already in print are likely to be fulfilled by dealers until stocks run out, so this news, while unfortunate, is not immediately relevant.

Hopefully, another publisher will take over the operation and make this a smooth transition.
 

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I gave them a phone call. The receptionist neither confirmed nor denied, but seemed quite interested in where I hear this info. Transferred me to the voicemail of someone else I needed to talk to, left my number. I'll post any updates I get.
 

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OK, just got off the phone with Molly Koecher, VP of operations at Specialty Press. The raw data:
1) Yes, they are shutting down publishing of their own books. No more new titles.
2) They are in the process of informing the affected authors. The public announcement of this was to occur sometime in the next day or so, but they wanted to talk to the authors first.
3) They are hoping to find new homes for the cancelled titles with other publishers, but the options are few.
4) This is a result of the economy in general and a several-year-long major decline in sales of books in this area in particular. Sales have been so slim that the print runs have been too low to be economically viable.
5) Piracy is *not* considered a major factor... just economics and a change in the demographics. people just aren't as interested in the aviation topics as they used to be.
6) SP isn't shutting their doors... they will continue dealing with other publishers. But their own publishing business is, sadly, kaput.
 

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Orionblamblam said:
The receptionist ... seemed quite interested in where I hear this info.

Wikileaks.
 

Tailspin Turtle

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My understanding is that Specialty Press is still doing car and other books, just not aviation books. And as stated, they will still be a distributor for their existing inventory of aviation books and those of other publishers.
 

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flateric said:
this is tragedy for all aerospace community...and surely one of reasons was piracy

Doubtful. It seems as if aviation publishing has been in decline since the end of the Cold War. If anything, the rise of Amazon and other online sellers increased distribution for highly specialized publishers, even as their bricks and mortar presence declined.
 

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They are going to continue to be the US distributor for Crecy Publishing, though.
 

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What book did Robert Bradley have in the works?
 

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It's sad that people dismiss piracy out of hand. Imagine working on a book for months and seeing it scanned cover to cover on a pirate site. Pretty funny, right? It happened at the company where I work. It seems people can become fond of outright theft as long as it's called "file sharing."

The trends for books are bad right now but creative solutions are still possible. I think it is no coincidence that as the internet has gained popularity, sales of various specialty items have decreased. Depending on the contracts offered by Specialty Press, I can imagine the authors can find homes elsewhere, even if publication is delayed by a few years. After being in this business for a few decades I've seen transfers and outright sales of rights and manuscripts. The whole trick is to keep your head while everyone's losing theirs.

The criminals who instigated the current economic mess must make good on their losses, which will require the bulk of 2011. In 2012, things will automatically improve as the Americans go into election mode. Sad really.
 

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Orionblamblam said:
AL said:
What book did Robert Bradley have in the works?

Volume 2 of his Convair Advanced Designs, covering fighters.

That was one I really wanted. I think he was crazy releasing the seaplanes one first.
 

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I wonder how long it'll be before I'll hear from Amazon about all these books that I have pre-ordered.
 

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edwest said:
It's sad that people dismiss piracy out of hand. Imagine working on a book for months and seeing it scanned cover to cover on a pirate site. Pretty funny, right? It happened at the company where I work. It seems people can become fond of outright theft as long as it's called "file sharing."

Despite the hype, ebook readers aren't all that common. Only 6 million in all of North America. Market trends also show that sales have plateaued as the demand from early adopters has already been satisfied.

I think you're worried about a problem that doesn't exist and probably won't ever exist. There's big difference between the senior citizens reading fiction on little tiny e-ink screens and the kids that were listening to the first MP3 players over ten years ago. Back in 2002, I remember seeing little white iPods all over, strapped to toned upper arms. Flash forward to 2010 and I've only seen a couple of Nooks and Kindles being read in public - and I can assure you that all such devices are centered around paid downloads from Amazon and other sources.

edwest said:
The trends for books are bad right now but creative solutions are still possible. I think it is no coincidence that as the internet has gained popularity, sales of various specialty items have decreased. Depending on the contracts offered by Specialty Press, I can imagine the authors can find homes elsewhere, even if publication is delayed by a few years. After being in this business for a few decades I've seen transfers and outright sales of rights and manuscripts. The whole trick is to keep your head while everyone's losing theirs.

The aviation publishing market has been in decline of the last 20 years. After the Cold War, there were few aerospace programs to capture public attention and interests shifted. Between speculation over low observability aircraft and emerging reports of unknown Soviet types in the late 80s, not to mention various manned spaceflight programs, there was a lot of marketable content before the end of the Cold War. All of that is gone. It has nothing to do with the internet.

I can still remember when mainstream New York publishing houses published aviation related books. Today, aviation publishing has become a cottage industry in Southern England.
 

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TinWing said:
The aviation publishing market has been in decline of the last 20 years.

Interests change. An article on other aspects of this concept:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-corn-palace-20101201,0,4495613.story

Times change, interests change. While it's understandable to bemoan these changes (I know that *I* sure as hell am unthrilled with the collapse of the model kit market, the aviation publication biz and aerospace in general), it's also rational to understand that these changes occur.
 

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AL said:
I wonder how long it'll be before I'll hear from Amazon about all these books that I have pre-ordered.
I had wondered why a bunch of new Specialty Press books suddenly appeared on Amazon some time ago, months before publication, without ever appearing on Specialty's own website. I think I know the answer now: they were trying to gauge interest by seeing how many pre-orders that would generate.

If that's the case, then I am one of the culprits. While I put about 5 titles in my "shopping cart", with full intentions to eventually order them, I wasn't going to until about a month or so before each title was published. If other people did the same, than the actual number of orders Specialty might have gotten might have been rather higher than they had seen to this point.

I noticed today that all of those titles have disappeared from my "shopping cart" except, curiously, Mike Machat's book on the XF-11 and XF-12. I suspect that it, too, will disappear in time.

I think that most of these titles will eventually see the light of day. As I suggested on its own thread, "Scooter" seems like a natural for the Naval Institute Press. Tony Buttler's book will probably be published in Britain, possibly by Crecy (who might just pick up all of these titles). And I don't know if Ron Davies' Paladwr Press is still in business, but since Mike Machat has done some work with Ron over the years, possibly that will be a place for the XF-11/XF-12 book. Let's try and be optimistic.

I also suppose that Specialty's existing books will be discontinued as existing stock runs out on each?
 

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gatoraptor said:
AL said:
I wonder how long it'll be before I'll hear from Amazon about all these books that I have pre-ordered.
I had wondered why a bunch of new Specialty Press books suddenly appeared on Amazon some time ago, months before publication, without ever appearing on Specialty's own website. I think I know the answer now: they were trying to gauge interest by seeing how many pre-orders that would generate.

If that's the case, then I am one of the culprits. While I put about 5 titles in my "shopping cart", with full intentions to eventually order them, I wasn't going to until about a month or so before each title was published. If other people did the same, than the actual number of orders Specialty might have gotten might have been rather higher than they had seen to this point.

I noticed today that all of those titles have disappeared from my "shopping cart" except, curiously, Mike Machat's book on the XF-11 and XF-12. I suspect that it, too, will disappear in time.

I think that most of these titles will eventually see the light of day. As I suggested on its own thread, "Scooter" seems like a natural for the Naval Institute Press. Tony Buttler's book will probably be published in Britain, possibly by Crecy (who might just pick up all of these titles). And I don't know if Ron Davies' Paladwr Press is still in business, but since Mike Machat has done some work with Ron over the years, possibly that will be a place for the XF-11/XF-12 book. Let's try and be optimistic.

I also suppose that Specialty's existing books will be discontinued as existing stock runs out on each?

I've seen stuff appear on Amazon before it shows up on a manufacturer's website a few times, and not just for books. Clearly, the company told Amazon about it.

Specialty says they will sell off their stock.

Ironically, if Crecy publishes any of these books, they will be distributed in the US by--Specialty Press!
 

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Found two more books Specialty Press had in the works:

U.S. Guided Missiles: An Illustrated History from the Cold War to the Present by Bill Yenne

Vought F-8 Crusader: First of the Navy Supersonics, Last of the Gunfighters by Bill Spidle
 

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My friend Alan Radecki was putting the finishing touches to his book on the RQ-4 Global Hawk for Specialty Press when he learned the news. So you can add this title as well.
 

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AL said:
Found two more books Specialty Press had in the works:

Vought F-8 Crusader: First of the Navy Supersonics, Last of the Gunfighters by Bill Spidle

Yes, that one is mine. I got the word about two weeks ago.
The volume is still in the works, just have to find a different publisher.

I wish them the best as they did nothing wrong by me.

Bill
 

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TinWing said:
edwest said:
It's sad that people dismiss piracy out of hand. Imagine working on a book for months and seeing it scanned cover to cover on a pirate site. Pretty funny, right? It happened at the company where I work. It seems people can become fond of outright theft as long as it's called "file sharing."

Despite the hype, ebook readers aren't all that common. Only 6 million in all of North America. Market trends also show that sales have plateaued as the demand from early adopters has already been satisfied.

I think you're worried about a problem that doesn't exist and probably won't ever exist. There's big difference between the senior citizens reading fiction on little tiny e-ink screens and the kids that were listening to the first MP3 players over ten years ago. Back in 2002, I remember seeing little white iPods all over, strapped to toned upper arms. Flash forward to 2010 and I've only seen a couple of Nooks and Kindles being read in public - and I can assure you that all such devices are centered around paid downloads from Amazon and other sources.

edwest said:
The trends for books are bad right now but creative solutions are still possible. I think it is no coincidence that as the internet has gained popularity, sales of various specialty items have decreased. Depending on the contracts offered by Specialty Press, I can imagine the authors can find homes elsewhere, even if publication is delayed by a few years. After being in this business for a few decades I've seen transfers and outright sales of rights and manuscripts. The whole trick is to keep your head while everyone's losing theirs.

The aviation publishing market has been in decline of the last 20 years. After the Cold War, there were few aerospace programs to capture public attention and interests shifted. Between speculation over low observability aircraft and emerging reports of unknown Soviet types in the late 80s, not to mention various manned spaceflight programs, there was a lot of marketable content before the end of the Cold War. All of that is gone. It has nothing to do with the internet.

I can still remember when mainstream New York publishing houses published aviation related books. Today, aviation publishing has become a cottage industry in Southern England.




Where did I mention ebook readers? I'm talking about file sharing, as in file sharing sites. There was a recent conviction of those operating Pirate Bay - winner of the Lack of Subtlty Award. In Germany, a site known as rapidshare was recently fined. And I can list a number of sites the company I work for had to contact so they could remove copies of our works that had somehow arrived there without our permission.

The Naval Institute Press in the United States has been contacted about picking up those yet to be published Specialty Press titles. I think Schiffer Publishing would also be a good fit.
 

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Bill S said:
AL said:
Found two more books Specialty Press had in the works:

Vought F-8 Crusader: First of the Navy Supersonics, Last of the Gunfighters by Bill Spidle

Yes, that one is mine. I got the word about two weeks ago.
The volume is still in the works, just have to find a different publisher.

I wish them the best as they did nothing wrong by me.

Bill
As with Tommy's book, Naval Institute Press would be a natural. Hopefully they may pick up all of Specialty's books on U.S. Naval aviation topics.
 

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overscan said:
Schiffer have lousy production values and poor editing.

That's an understatement.
 

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gatoraptor said:
I had wondered why a bunch of new Specialty Press books suddenly appeared on Amazon some time ago, months before publication, without ever appearing on Specialty's own website. I think I know the answer now: they were trying to gauge interest by seeing how many pre-orders that would generate.
My understanding is that publishers' salespeople meet with the buyers for the big stores (Amazon, Barnes& Noble, etc.) periodically to provide an early look at forthcoming books. This is long before the manuscript is complete, much less the book printed, so what is presented is the cover de jour, the table of contents and/or a summary of its content, and a few "dummy" pages to provide the buyer with an idea of what the book is about and its target market. The meeting also provides an opportunity for the buyers to comment on the book's cover, title, and price. The buyer will then place an order for some quantity of books or not. These preorders allow the publisher to refine its estimate of the number of books to print and to begin shipping large numbers of new books the moment that they arrive from the printer. This advance selling is neither new or limited to the book publishing business. Retailers of all matter of stuff are given the opportunity to place early orders of seasonal items and new gadgets. However, it's likely that in this instance, Specialty did use the pre-sale numbers (and the level of sales of existing books) to finally come to the conclusion that their publishing business wasn't viable.

As a result of being provided with a cover and a summary of its content, the big stores might then start to advertise the availability of a particular book months before it is delivered from the printer, well before it appears on Specialty's website, in order to capture more of the market for that book. One or some might even add to their preorder as a result of advance orders but again, I'm all but certain that it's a longstanding practice, not something Specialty did recently to decide whether to continue publishing. They already had evidence of a problem with the market. My Strike book is pretty good, if I do say so myself. It also received excellent reviews and a book award. Nevertheless, it's selling at about half the rate of Air Superiority did and at this point, I doubt that my royalties for its sales will fully cover the advance I got.

I was made aware of this preselling practice in the publishing business because the subtitle for Air Superiority was changed early on as a result of the process. I've also seen examples of a book cover that appeared in the preorder promotions not being exactly the same as the one that is printed. Scooter is an example; The title was originally to be Scooter! with an explanation point and the cover picture was similar but different; I provided an alternative picture after the initial "dummy" had been worked up that the publisher liked better and substituted for the original. The final cover was also to incorporate the badge of the Skyhawk Association.
 

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overscan said:
Schiffer have lousy production values and poor editing.
My main quibble with Schiffer's books is: lousy photo reproduction.
 

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Here's the complete title of Bradley's second volume:

Convair Advanced Designs: Secret Fighters, Transports, & Radical Concepts 1946-1962
 

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The word must be getting out. Amazon has removed all reference to Scooter (with no explanation), although Mike Machat's book on the XF-12 is still listed; will probably disappear soon.
 

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As someone who works in the publishing business, a few points. Bookstore sales are down across the board and ordering for all new titles has become more conservative. Even big name authors are getting lower pre-order numbers. Just go over to the Publishers Weekly web site to get a better idea.

Part of my job is to monitor media trends daily. As sales of electronic books begin to catch up with paper book sales, some publishers are releasing paper and digital versions of their titles. Some are yet to test the waters. Amazon's Kindle device has zero appeal to me, but Barnes & Noble has recently released a color version of their Nook reading device.

As the economy improves, book sales will gradually improve. The company I work for is in the same boat. Our sales are down but sustainable, and we are looking at some digital publishing options now.

For authors, present market conditions mean either books are delayed, possibly by about a few years, or simply cancelled. I sympathize with all concerned because the company I work for certainly cannot ramp up production since people simply cannot afford to buy as much. This trickles down to our writers and artists as less work. But we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel as United States politicians try to pummel each other into submission and eventually give a little hope to the working man, which includes the world.

"The Americans will always do the right thing . . . After they've exhausted all the alternatives."
Winston Churchill
 

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edwest said:
Part of my job is to monitor media trends daily. As sales of electronic books begin to catch up with paper book sales, some publishers are releasing paper and digital versions of their titles. Some are yet to test the waters. Amazon's Kindle device has zero appeal to me, but Barnes & Noble has recently released a color version of their Nook reading device.

Actually, that Nook Color is nothing but a very conventional LCD screen, which appears to be a less than optimal solution as it requires back-lighting. Right now, the choice is between the short battery life of a backlit LCD and the gray-on-gray viewing experience of E-ink.

I don't really see where the e-reader market is heading, whether it's toward convergence with Android smartphones and tablets, or towards extinction as single purpose e-readers are driven to extinction by Android smartphones and tablets. Did I forget to mention the looming threat of Chrome OS netbooks? After all, what's a tablet, if not a netbook with a touchscreen, minus the keyboard?

Overall, I think a lot early adopters have already got their e-readers and the holdouts are probably waiting for new screen technology. We'll know more about the future of the e-reader/e-book market after CES 2011.

As far as content, ebooks could allow publishers to economically re-release entire catalogs of out-of-print books. Getting away from the old fashioned paper-and-ink business model would allow even the smallest niche markets to be exploited. So far, I don't see it happening. Personally, I'm just confused by all the proprietary file types and competing readers with low end hardware and sluggish interfaces.
 

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edwest said:
Where did I mention ebook readers? I'm talking about file sharing, as in file sharing sites.

I'd say that ebooks are connected to ebook readers, and that's a market that hasn't been fully defined yet. I just don't see any real buzz about e-ink and the old folks who buy iPads don't look very tech savvy.

Hey, maybe there are kids downloading classics from project Gutenburg and reading them on the 3-inch screens of their smartphones? More likely than not, there's a lot more music and video content being consumed than ebooks.
 

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I received my iPad last week and I've tested it with illustrated pdf (S Lowther's eAPR and Jared Zicheck's American Aerospace Magazine) plus Zinio mags and work's great for me. iPad is not ideal for Dan Brown's one thousand page brick lovers but good enough for nice illustrated technical books.

The main problem to me is reading pdf files that come from works that were originally planed to be DIN A4 prints. Why not conceiving and editing the contents with the electronic edition in mind?.

In the next weeks I'll try to find some spare time to write a little iPad-friendly-edition to see how it looks...
 

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pometablava said:
I received my iPad last week and I've tested it with illustrated pdf (S Lowther's eAPR and Jared Zicheck's American Aerospace Magazine) plus Zinio mags and work's great for me. iPad is not ideal for Dan Brown's one thousand page brick lovers but good enough for nice illustrated technical books.

The main problem to me is reading pdf files that come from works that were originally planed to be DIN A4 prints. Why not conceiving and editing the contents with the electronic edition in mind?.

In the next weeks I'll try to find some spare time to write a little iPad-friendly-edition to see how it looks...

I think it's a waste of time to format .pdf files for the dated 4:3 aspect ratio. The current, soon to be superceded, iPad might have a 1024x768 resolution, but there's no guarantee that the upcoming model won't go to a 16:9 aspect ratio. It seems as if 1024x600 is the universal resolution for 10 inch netbooks, and perhaps for upcoming 10" Android tablets as well.

As far as LCD screens, backlighting not only burns through battery life, but the inherent eyestrain from back-lighting also acts as a deterrent to reading fiction - hence the non-backlit gray-on-gray E-ink screens. The Apple iPad feels very solid, but it's just about impossible to read that glossy LCD in bright sunlight.
 

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I think people are thinking a bit too narrowly here. Books on smartphones? I doubt it. Tablets at 7 inch? I doubt it. IPad, a bit better.

Finally, a proposal. Sell watermarked PDFs for view on regular computer screens. We're reading this forum just fine, right? I suggest an Aviation mega-site that focuses only on aviation titles broken down by year and/or conflict. Publishers could track sales right before they launch printed copies. It wouldn't be a perfect system but I think it has merit.
 
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