The Readmill-Penguin deal is being touted as all sorts of things - I was asked recently to comment on the possibility that it was the first blow in Random House-Penguin’s insurgency against Amazon. (And it would be an insurgency, which actually says a lot about where we stand.) I felt uncomfortable reading the Guardian piece, not because it’s not what I said - it is, if not absolutely verbatim - but because I came across unclearly.
The Next Big Thing – surely it’s got to come online; that is where all the Next Big Things happen. It’s highly likely to and it is great to see the pace picking up in the publishing industry with all the new digital ventures and initiatives. Particularly against the shadow of Amazon’s ceaselessly efficient business land-grab, the desire to spread the wealth and create competitions makes total sense.
In AD 383, a twenty-nine-year-old professor of Latin rhetoric whom future centuries would know as Saint Augustine arrived in Rome from one of the empire's outposts in North Africa. He paid a visit to the city's bishop, the celebrated Ambrose. Ambrose (who, like Augustine, was later to be canonized) was an extremely popular speaker; his symbol in later Christian iconography was the beehive, emblematic of eloquence.
Thank you. Well firstly I’d like to thank the venue here which has laid on a lovely evening for us all for a very modest percentage of net receipts. Thank you.
Next, my beta readers, without whom none of this would have been plausible. Thank you, mrs_fantastic, xxBookSqueexx, martin1972. And booksbooksreadingbooksbooks. How could I forget you, books? You took a time-punt on this story when it was just a story, and your comments and helpful social shares made it into a book. I know you can’t be here with us tonight, but I’ll put this out on the Coretex in the morning. Thank you.
There was a moment in the closing panel of the Society of Young Publisher's annual conference on Saturday when panellist Matthew Cashmore, Digital Director at Blackwell's, responded to a challenge from an audience member with "You don't know what we can do."
It has long seemed to me that my job would be less fun but by and large easier if, instead of pitching books to editors I went straight to the people who make the decisions – the marketing, sales and publicity teams. In place of the laborious and often grindingly slow process of sending out manuscripts to editors who are too overworked and demoralised to actually read anything unless they think other publishers are taking an interest in it, I could take my projects in quarterly and make a pitch to the business team.
The business of selling books is run by a communal “brain,” managed by three personality types; those who lead the market, those who organize operations and those who task themselves (like me) with imagining its future. The balance of these types in this brain, this bookselling brain if you will, and the relationship between the parts, determines the behaviour and direction of the industry as a whole.
Last week more than 650 people from across the book business attended FutureBook 2013, The Bookseller's digital conference. It was our biggest yet, but also the most successful in spirit and mood, reflecting an industry that is, let's shout it out, having a good digital transition.
I want to start with a radical idea: the act of publishing has not changed at all since its inception, before the advent of the written word.
We are all aware of the origin of the modern verb “to publish” with it’s Latin root, publicāre, to make public. But, the word itself is not the act; attitudes toward activities shift over time and new words are invented to describe new realities.
As we head to FutureBook 2013, I wonder what will dominate the conversation. Amazon? Slowing e-book growth? Tablets? Start-ups?
Last week in The Bookseller I asked four FutureBook speakers what their preoccupations had been over the past 10 months. Their responses spoke of an industry confident in itself, but aware that in this digital age the ground under them is never still.
Many people (including, I guess, most Futurebook readers) feel the publishing industry desperately needs innovation in many areas. But if publishing companies are poor at innovating themselves, which they clearly are in most cases, what do they do? Outsource innovation to tech giants like Amazon, Apple or Google, or to small, friendly startups?
A couple of pieces of news this week show some problems with this approach. In a DigitalBookWorld interview this week, Mike Shatzkin said:
Hachette's August e-book bump appeared to come as a surprise to some. The group reported earlier today that August was a “record-breaking month” in e-books for Hachette UK, with digital sales up 80% year-on-year.
To bundle or not to bundle? For publishers working out the best way to sell their digital content, it is an increasingly important question.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of addressing New Generation Publishing's Self-publishing Summit. The conference was laid out to take you through the process of self-publishing, with panels that took you in order through a general survey, editing, production, and finally marketing. I had been asked to talk on the first panel, and then the summary panel at the end, so whilst other panelists came and went, I got a fascinating insight into the whole picture.
After last year’s sock puppetry scandal it seems that some people are getting more inventive with their 'reviews' in a bid to harm sales of rivals' books at Amazon. And the sad thing is that Amazon is not prepared to do a thing about it. A case in example is a recent publication of ours 'Secrets of the Dead' by Michael Fowler.