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Finding gold in the backlist

Tom Chalmers

Many will know I have an unashamed love for Haruki Murakami. So when I heard that his debut work, which is almost impossible to find in English, will be translated and re-released next year my heart missed a beat.

Hear the Wind Sing was first published in Japanese in 1979 and released in English eight years later, translated by Alfred Birnbaum. It is no longer in print, and copies of the novella are said to be changing hands for huge sums online.

Of course the Murakami phenomenon is in itself a pretty rare thing in the publishing world. A writer who has become an actual celebrity in their own right is neigh on a miracle these days, forgive me J.K., especially when you see bestseller lists dominated by ‘celebrities’ turned ‘writers’ week after week.

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Study publishing at City University, London

makernan_course_photo_2006_400x400

This is a guest post from Mary Ann Kernan of City University, London. Interested in exploring a Publishing MA and UK/EU postgrad fee bursaries? Sign up for City’s Postgraduate Open Evening for 2014-15, 5-7pm on 10 September.

 

It’s great to be working with BookMachine this year to spread the word about City’s two top-rated Publishing MAs in 2014-15 (thanks, Laura & Gavin!). We’ve done a lot together since 2010, when City’s students ran a conference and networking event with BookMachine. Since then, our alums have interned with them, organised BookMachine events (keep an eye out for Tahira’s in Toronto?) and blogged (I especially enjoyed Emma Smith’s recent blog about Faber Factory). I also hosted a joint NY event with BookMachine in 2013, and enjoyed meeting some of the publishing community there; and we were one of the 2014 BookMachine event sponsors in London. (Time to plan for 2014-15, Bookmachiners?!)

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The Digital Challenge: Disintermediation [AN EXTRACT FROM 'THE CONTENT MACHINE']

This is an extract from The Content Machine: Towards a Theory of Publishing from the Printing Press to the Digital Network, by Michael  Bhaskar.

 

In conversation with publishers, one sometimes gets the sense disintermediation – a cutting out or unbundling of publishers from the literary value chain – isn’t taken seriously. Publishers assume they’ll always be wanted and needed and that their imprimatur means any attempt to disintermediate will be at worst equivocal, at best footnotes in the grand history of the written word.

Such thinking is mistaken. Papyrus workers, scribes, rubricators, hot metal typesetters and even map publishers probably all once thought themselves relatively secure, yet they have all been rendered irrelevant by new technology. For publishing, digital technology is an ‘out-of-context’ problem: like the Conquistadors in America being technologically more advanced and following imperatives incomprehensible to the indigenous population. Even recognising the true nature of the problem isn’t obvious. It can’t be couched in the usual terms.

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One Big Book Launch [EVENT]

Last week, 10 outstanding authors presented their novels at CompletelyNovel and LiterallyPR‘s ‘One Big Book Launch‘.

Even the tube strike didn’t stop hoards of existing fans, and curious readers attending the event which gave the independent authors the opportunity to simultaneously launch their books.

Being read to is somewhat cathartic. When we read to ourselves, we are taken on a journey, but we dictate the speed and impact of the words. When someone who has written a novel or a play reads the text, as it was meant to be communicated; as a listener you have no choice but to relax, and take in the story.

So #OBBL was inspiring. It was moving to hear authors themselves reading through their own work. I was slightly in awe of the way each author took something so close to their heart; and read it to a room full of strangers – seeing their reaction to the final version.

I’d like to go to more events like #OBBL, more events where authors get to ‘go on tour’ and get the kind of publicity that can only be achieved by an event of this scale.

I took home The Clean Collection by Sabrina Mahfouz. A collection of plays and poems that Sabrina eloquently and expertly read from at the event. Not something I would have normally picked off the shelf as I tend to read non-fiction, but I was influenced by the sheer impact of hearing the spoken word.

Well done to all the organisers. It was a great evening and there’s plenty to think about in terms of raising the profile of independent authors.

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My London Book Fair Week #lbf14 [DIARY]

LBF 2014

Photo © BookMachine

 

Monday

The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014 shortlist was announced in style at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Kensington Gardens. The party was buzzing with creative and passionate women including Kate Mosse, Mary Beard, Helen Fraser and Sarah Walters. It was a beautiful event to celebrate excellent writing from the following female novelists:

  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • Burial Rights – Hannah Kent
  • The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri
  • A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – Eimear McBride
  • The Undertaking – Audrey Magee
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

The winner will be announced on 4 June 2014.

 

Tuesday

The first day of the fair saw a giant choccywoccydoodah cake, the SYP seminars How to get into publishing & How to get ahead in publishing and the announcement of another shortlist.

I announced the Kim Scott Walwyn shortlist at the beginning of our second seminar. This is an award that celebrates exceptional female publishers:

  • Melissa Cox – Children’s New Titles Buyer at Waterstones
  • Lindsey Dalladay – Community Manager at Penguin Random House
  • Sarah Hesketh – Freelance Project Manager at The Poetry Translation Centre
  • Hellie Ogden – Literary Agent at Janklow & Nesbit
  • Anne Perry- Editor at Hodder & Stoughton

The winner will be announced on 13 May 2014.

 

Wednesday

The place to be was BookMachine pre-drinks at the fair and then the rockin Kobo party at Underbelly in Hoxton Square.

 

Thursday

A few of us from the SYP went along to The Bookseller drinks — I had a Q&A in Tuesday’s LBF Daily and wanted to celebrate my newfound fame.

 

Friday

After a fabulous week, I was well and truly ready for bed! Instead I went out in Soho with a friend I met interning a couple of years ago. #TGIF

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BookMachine’s blook: the project and the process

So, you may have heard, BookMachine have teamed up with Kingston University Press to publish a collection of blog posts. It’s called Snapshots: Bookmachine on digital, discoverability and collaboration and will be available in print and as an ebook. The blook was edited, designed and produced by a small team of students with next-to-no experience in book production, and they had just 7 weeks do it in. Sounds like a tall order? This is how we did it …

Lecturers Anna Faherty and Judith Watts from Kingston University’s Publishing MA course instigated, organised and have overseen the process. Without their round-the-clock dedication this project wouldn’t have even made it out of the pipeline.

They appointed an editor and project manager from the course (myself) to contact the 46 authors and contributors, collate the manuscript, brief the students and communicate with everyone (a lot).

Entrusted with content from some of the biggest names in the industry, what the student production team achieved in the given time was no mean feat. They took the basic manuscript and copy-edited, designed, typeset, proofread and converted it into an ebook – all the while juggling their other deadlines, internships and jobs.

And the result? We now have a professional-looking product that will sit proudly on our bookshelves (and e-readers) for years to come, and the practical knowledge and experience we need to fuel our future careers.

So take two amazing tutors, a dynamic and future-focused client and students with buckets full of enthusiasm, and you can get a lot more done than you might think.

You can read more about the blook here, or meet the team and get a sneak preview at BookMachine’s event at The London Book Fair.

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Book-ish events in NYC in December

As the holiday season picks up, New York does not forget the gift of words. Check out these bookish December events.

December 2: The Half King Reading Series
Featuring: Jeffrey Lewis, “The Inquisitor’s Diary”

Jeffrey Lewis is the author of Meritocracy: A Love Story, The Conference of the Birds, Theme Song for an Old Show, and Adam the King—four novels that comprise The Meritocracy Quartet, to be published as one volume in 2013 by Haus—and Berlin Cantata. He has twice been the recipient of the Independent Publishers Gold Medals for Literary Fiction and has won two Emmys and the Writers’ Guild Award for his work as a writer and producer on the critically acclaimed television series Hill Street Blues.

Where: The Half King, 505 w. 23rd Street
Time: 7pm
Price: Free

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New tech company Saundz enters the world of English Language Teaching (ELT)

Sophie O’Rourke has a keen interest in ELT developments. Here she speaks to Milena Jerkov Bibic at Saundz, a high-tech pronunciation software for language learners, to find out how they are intending to help English Language Learners across the world. 

It is estimated that there are around 2 billion English language learners around the world currently trying to learn English. And of those who are being taught, in schools, on-line and with one to one tuition, very few students have access to native English-speaking teachers. And the one area of English language learning that becomes much more difficult to teach with a non-native speaking teacher is the pronunciation of sounds, phrases and words. There are many tools being developed by start-ups who are seeing the gaps in the market and identifying and creating programmes to reach large audiences. One of those new companies which is doing just this is American based Saundz.com. They are interesting because they are using technology to fill a face to face skills gap at grass-roots level but are also building a community at the same time.

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Literacy research: Is writing cool? [VIEWPOINT]

Tom ChalmersTom Chalmers is Managing Director at IPR License.

Is writing cool? Actually is the word cool cool? What exactly is cool anyway? Well not writing, at least according to 8-16 year old boys.

Recent research compiled in the report “Children and Young People’s Writing in 2012″ by the National Literacy Trust suggested that one in five boys said they would be embarrassed if friends saw them write, compared to one in eight girls, and boys were less likely to say writing was “cool” (26.8% compared to 35.2%).

Out of the 35,000 8-16 year olds surveyed for the report, 8.6% of the boys said they didn’t enjoy writing, compared to 20.9% of girls. And while 32.6% of girls said they write outside of class on a daily basis, 30.2% of boys said they never or rarely did.

Now I’m certainly not having a go at the National Literary Trust but including the very 90’s word of cool is indicative of how publishing, writing and reading is reflected amongst the 8-16 age bracket. Maybe if words such as sick, dope, the shiz, nasty, or even awesome had been used percentages might have risen.

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From Jeffbots to editorbots

Piers Blofield

This is a guest post from Piers Blofeld. Piers is an Agent at Sheil Land Associates where he represents both fiction and non-fiction clients. He represented the Frankenstein app by Dave Morris which topped the app charts on both sides of the Atlantic this summer. A recent success is Jamie Thomson’s Dark Lord: The Teenage Years, the winner of the Roald Dahl Prize.

The most amazing thing – of all the amazing things – that Amazon has done is to have gathered a wholly unprecedented body of data about the world’s reading habits. Traditionally, publishers and booksellers have simply known what people buy. Once the book is in the hands of the reader and out of the store it is, quite literally, a closed book to them. For Amazon it is different. They not only know what people buy, but when they buy, and, much more importantly, how they read.

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Stop building communities. Join one instead.

Gareth CuddyGareth Cuddy is CEO of ePubDirect, known as one of the leading experts on eBooks and Digital Publishing in the UK and Ireland. We are looking forward to creating a profile for Gareth on BookMachine.me; in the meantime, here are some of this thoughts on publishing, communities and BookMachine.

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