Book Country

Friday, September 06, 2013


Book Country is a website from Penguin Random House that enables thousands of amateur writers to exchange manuscripts and notes. Some even go on to get their work published. It's like an online MFA program from the comfort of your laptop. Bob speaks to Molly Barton the Global Digital Director for Penguin at Penguin Random House, and Carl E. Reed, an active Book Country user, about the site.


Molly Barton and Carl E. Reed

Comments [3]

derek from Chicago,IL

Thanks for a very important background info. OTB has a history of omission of relevant facts that stand in a way of good story. Listener BEWARE..

Sep. 15 2013 04:56 PM

I am huge fan of On the Media, but Bob's interview of Molly Barton came off as a quasi-advertisement for Penguin Random House. I can almost imagine the pitch coming into someone's inbox at OtM offering an interview, and then someone in the editorial meeting saying, "Let's do this, but we need an anecdote from someone who used the service." That assistant producer calls the PR agency, who tracks down Mr. Reed, who becomes the "real-life example." Easy way to fill seven minutes.

But maybe it didn't happen that way.

In any case, the producers missed an important part of the story. When Book Country was announced in 2011, the self-publishing community reamed Penguin for rip-off pricing for the self-publishing services offered on BC. According to the blog "Digital Reader," the outcry forced Penguin to shut down the service for a time. Penguin restarted it later with a new rate schedule that has tamped down the criticism slightly. While certainly providing a workshopping service, the real motivation behind Book Country is capturing some of the growing market for services to independent authors, which was underlined by its purchase of Author Solutions in 2012 for $116 million, as reported on the Author Solutions site. In May of this year, Penguin and Author Solutions were sued in a New York federal court for deceptive practices related to its claims meant to attract aspiring self-publishers. According to a report in Forbes, the same judge that heard the Apple ebook price-fixing case will hear this case.

Maybe that background isn't relevant. But it might have made a more useful story, reminding those in the audience thinking about self-publishing that "caveat emptor" is always a good idea.

Sep. 09 2013 06:35 PM
frank anasasio from Corning, ny WSKG

Thanks for useful information which I forwarded to those who may need it.

Sep. 08 2013 09:49 AM

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