‘Authors should become more involved in the industry and take greater responsibility as part of a wider ecosystem,’ Ann Patchett told The Bookseller recently. ‘“If you had asked me two years ago, I would not have thought it was my responsibility. But I do think authors need to get involved with all sort of aspects of publishing and health of the publishing industry,” she said.’
The European and International Booksellers Federation this week upped it lobbying efforts around the threat posed to its members by Amazon (and Apple) in the way they have developed the e-book market.
Pottermore picked up the Digital Strategy of the Year award at The Bookseller Industry Awards, beating an incredibly strong shortlist that included Orion's SF Gateway, Nosy Crow, Kobo, Random House, Harlequin, Penguin and Bloomsbury. I thought it was worth reflecting on the award and why Pottermore won it.
No doubt the big news this week for the digerati, the surprise decision by Tim O'Reilly to 'shutter' the Tools of Change conference and cull the community.
The recent news that publishing is growing despite the introduction of digital seems to have lifted the spirits of many in the industry. Why is this such a shock? The only thing the introduction of digital has reinforced has been the fact that people love reading and are prepared to take on more convenient ways to do this via eBooks and online shopping. The cold chill that should be sweeping through James Daunt, Alexander Mamut and book shop owners everywhere is ‘if publishing is flourishing, why are bookshops struggling?’.
With those words Tim O’Reilly CEO of O'Reilly Media brought the curtain down on seven years of Tools of Change with the shock announcement of the end of both the TOC conferences and the TOC blog.
The BBC reports today that the WorldWideWeb (W3) is 20 years old, a moment that will be marked by the recreation of the first ever web page by Cern.
I finally did it; wrote a book. Better yet I got it published. After 44 years, 9 months and 28 days on this planet I achieved pretty much the only goal I can ever remember having had. If you believe the growing number of 5-star reviews on Amazon it’s pretty good too (although admittedly one of those is by my mother). But these days it’s not enough just to be a good writer with the drive to make your dream happen. As I tell my multimedia journalism students all the time, you have to be able to sell yourself too.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in the summer of 2012, leading American novelist Scott Turow voiced his frustration at the publishing industry’s failure to study its customer base. He recalled saying to one of his publishers, “I’ve been publishing with you for a long time and you still don’t know who buys my books” and receiving the reply, “Well, nobody in publishing knows that.”
The Self-Publishing industry has boomed over the last year – or maybe more accurately has been accepted. And no-one on Twitter and with an interest in the book industry can have missed the deluge of articles heralding the sector with a kick into the apparently dead dog of traditional publishing for good measure.
A while ago I stumbled on this post from Eric Hellman exploring the question of what sort of front- and endmatter makes sense for ebooks, given that many of the pages that we see in the front of paper books have a purpose related to the printing process. Hellman gives the example of the bastard or half title page:
Everyone knows the doom and gloom stories. Publishers are facing the apocalypse. Amazon is the Anti-Christ.
Apparently agents and publishers don’t like being told they risk being redundant. Quite a few people have commented on this – at considerable length, so I’ll keep this brief.
The US author Barry Eisler writes very well about self-publishing and what he needlessly refers to as 'legacy' publishing. He is also prepared to debate his points, and does so in good spirit. He recently caused a stir when he gave one of the keynotes at the 21st annual Pike's Peak Writers Convention, which he says led to "a bit of upset here and there" and an apparent walkout.
It's crisis. Yes, still. When it will end? Nobody knows. Although, according to Bernard Wientjes of the Dutch labour union VNO-NCW, the crisis will end on 1 January 2016. Right… From previous crises, or attenuated variants thereof, the book world experienced little to no problems. Books are traditionally sold mostly to people who have a bit more to spend. You can at least clearly state that the largest group of book buyers is not on the lower end of the income level.
A few weeks ago my first solo novel, The Magpies, was published via my agent using Amazon’s new White Glove service. As I write this, The Magpies is at number 2 in the Kindle chart, priced at 99p, and selling 2,000 copies a day. It is also having the very pleasing effect of pulling several of my other novels, co-written with Louise Voss and published by HarperCollins, up the rankings.