In a turn of events that many (well, some. A couple. I.) already consider a Christmas miracle, left-leaning broadsheet The Guardian and Tory London mayor Boris Johnson appear to have found some common ground. Mere months after the Grauniad launched its own hobo-friendly, lit(t)eracy-encouraging scheme comes news that Johnson is willing to consider implementing officially sanctioned book swapping networks at London Underground stations in advance of the 2012 Olympics, thereby dramatically increasing opportunities for the average Londoner to pick up hideous communicable diseases from the discarded property of strangers, and maybe a copy of The Girl Who Played With Fire while they’re at it.
Cast your mind back a few weeks to the creation of the Literature Prize. The what? The Literature Prize. Remember? It was set up in response to that Man Booker shortlist that destroyed the very concept of literature as we know it by making such radical demands as a desire for books to be readable? Remember when that happened? Well, anyway, it totally did. And you know whose fault it was? Stella Rimington. Single-handedly did more damage in her post as head of the 2011 Booker judging panel than she ever did when she was in charge of MI5, at least if certain hand-wringing quarters are to be believed.
Having already garrotted bookshops, kneecapped libraries and bludgeoned publishers the world over, Amazon – the omnimultihypernationalmegaconglomerate and torturously metaphorical professional hitman, whose previous assignments are detailed here (remember Clive Owen’s character in The Bourne Identity? If he could also sell you cut-price jewellery and do you a great deal on printer paper, that’d pretty much be Amazon) – is this week going one further to prove to its minions and hangers-on just how casually ruthless it can be, YOU WANNA PUSH IT? BECAUSE GOD HELP IT IT WILL CUT YOU, JUST SEE IF IT WON’T. Yes, this is the week Amazon comes for your children, with the announcement that its American publishing arm has acquired the rights to over 450 kids’ books from Marshall Cavendish.
Phew, a busy week of conferences this one, and lots of writing about ‘em.
First up was our own Publishing Now event, Part One and Part Two. Then on Monday, we discovered at the Bookseller’s Futurebook that The future for publishers is content creation, with a dash of Martini. Finally on Thursday there was A day of innovation on the future of the book.
But what else happened? Well it seems Reading is alive and increasingly electronic as Interactive ebooks take on fiction novels, and It’s A Book. It’s An App. It’s Do or Die And It’s Innovative.
Elsewhere, a Web-connected printer creates personalized mini newspapers. Does it have any potential for bookish things? And here’s What publishers can learn from Netflix’s problems.
Meanwhile, Publishers Gild Books With ‘Special Effects’ to Compete With E-Books, while many are Book Shopping in Stores, Then Buying Online. No surprise there unfortunately.
And finally, here’s Ten Free Classic Kindle Books Worth Reading. Enjoy.
With all the excitement of the past weekend (round-up forthcoming for all who weren’t there, and those who were but got hit on the head on the way home and subsequently forgot), you’d be forgiven for failing to realise conference season is still in full swing. This week it was The Bookseller’s busy FutureBook event…
If, like me, you didn’t go to Frankfurt (still with me? Good.) but followed the hashtags on Twitter when you should have been working, you might have seen the phrase ‘small demons’ springing up quite frequently. No, it’s not a crappy tattoo – it’s an amazing metadata engine and a new way of sourcing books. I got an invite to the Beta and dug on in to see what it’s all about.
In a move that will out once and for all everyone in your Twitter feed who never bothered to learn the actual definition of irony, Simon & Schuster has announced that it will publish the first ebook edition of Ray Bradbury’s seminal dystopian sci-fi novel Fahrenheit 451. The book is the first of Bradbury’s (many, many, many) works to make the leap to digital, and, yes, let’s just get all the jokes about the temperature at which ereaders burn out of the way up front, as well as all the insinuations about the sinister undertones of giving products that have led to the decline of print names like ‘Kindle’ and ‘Fire’.
We’ve got some great speakers lined up to talk about the theme of innovation, and many of them have written on this here site:
Dean Johnson of Brandwidth wrote about Apps for Digital Publishing: There are only 5 rules Part 1 and Part 2. Meanwhile Eamonn Carey wrote a 5 part series about Digital Promo Tools.
And finally, to get you thinking innovatively, here’s 5 non-digital book-based innovations.
Following quickly on the heels of Boxfiction and its attempts to
revive the concept of the serialised novel pioneer TV that you read comes the news that Knopf Doubleday imprint Pantheon Books has paid an advance reputedly in the millions of dollars to House of Leaves author Mark Z. Danielewski for the first ten instalments of a proposed 27-volume serial. That’s no small change to throw at a risky concept that demands audience loyalty and continued satisfaction over a substantial period of time in order to succeed, and suggests no shortage of confidence on the part of Pantheon that a return to serialisation will indeed be a profitable way forward for publishers of novels.
One of the most striking things about the shift in music consumption from LPs and CDs to mp3s is the way that digital technology has once again placed the emphasis on individual songs rather than albums as a whole. Before the late 60s, when the likes of Pet Sounds, Blonde on Blonde and The Beatles post-Rubber Soul defined the concept of the album as a unified artistic statement, the focus, from the industry and consumers alike, was on singles. Whilst the move to digital has allowed for new methods for musicians to find fans – witness, for example, the boom in free-to-download mixtapes from emergent hip-hop artists – this reversion to a pre-album mindset within the mainstream increasingly makes the 40 years or so where the album reigned seem like an aberration: the real money is in the methods of the past.