Unless you’ve had regular contact with very small people over the past three years, you may be unaware of the existence of CITV’s pro-literacy kids show Bookaboo. Since 2009, 26 episodes have been broadcast starring the eponymous ‘rock puppy’, a drummer in a band who refuses to perform on stage (or maybe is physically unable to do so – it’s not entirely clear from the online research if this is actually some sort of psychological disorder) unless he is read a story by a celebrity guest (well, their being a celebrity isn’t a crucial requirement, it seems, but it tends to be the way of things). His problem is summed up by what appears to be his catchphrase, ‘a story a day or I just can’t play’. No word as yet on whether or not he’s also a kung fu hippie from gangsta city.
It seems the publishing and music industry parallels that we all love to hate (and apparently can’t help but point out at every possible opportunity) has taken a hit this week, with Beck announcing that his next album won’t be released as a record but rather a book of sheet music, published in the UK by Faber and in the US by ultra-indie, underground-before-it-was-cool McSweeneys.
It continues to dominate (ohoho) seemingly every news story to come out of the publishing world, so let’s get all of this week’s Fifty Shades of Grey news out of the way in one quick go, shall we? It’ll be just like ripping off an Elastoplast. Unless that’s the kind of thing you’re into, in which case, ew.
It’s a moment everyone always knew was coming, and it’s finally here: Amazon said yesterday that sales of Kindle downloads have officially sailed past print sales in the UK. Of course, it can say anything it likes, because its figures remain unaudited and, given the lack of further comment on the matter, look likely to remain that way. If you’re prepared to take the omnimegahyperconglomerate (or whatever) at its word, however, then for every 100 print books it has sold so far in 2012 in the UK, 114 of its paid-for e-books have been downloaded (and if you’re really, really bad at maths, that means that e-book sales are 14% higher than print sales). UK Kindle owners are apparently buying on average four times as many books now as they did before buying the device.
On BookMachine over the past couple of weeks it was all Fitba, Shades and Gray as Cargo announced three new signings, there were 6 Questions for Jon Reed and we asked Should Children’s Books Come with Age Certifications?
In the news it was announced They’re Making Another Hobbit Film Now, and while Steidl launches book-scented perfume, Fifty Shades beats Harry Potter into submission on Amazon.
Yes, yes, it’s another post about another sales record broken by Fifty Shades of Grey, but look: we’ll stop reporting on it just as soon as you convince people to stop buying it. Vintage has unleashed the Kraken here, and the second it can stuff it back into the depths (oo-er missus, etc.) from whence it came, we can all shut up about it, finally, and get on with our decidedly non-sexy day to day lives. Until that glorious day, however, we’re stuck with letting you know that the trilogy has now collectively outsold all seven Harry Potter books on Amazon UK, making EL James the biggest selling author in the site’s nearly-fourteen year history.
In further news of literary adaptations being stretched as far as they can go in the name of fidelity, as long as fidelity is what you call great heaping piles of cash, Peter Jackson yesterday posted on his Facebook page that his already-pushing-it-length-wise cinematic rendering of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit will, in fact, be spread over three films, and not the previously mooted two. Just so we’re clear: that means that once he’s completed this trilogy, Jackson will have devoted roughly as much screen time to Tolkien’s 310 page prologue to Lord of the Rings as he did a decade ago to the 1137 pages (plus maps) of Rings’ three volumes, which only got one film apiece, and at Jackson’s current rate would seemingly have ballooned to a nine film lifestyle choice.
To be filed under Things That Will Definitely Save The Publishing Industry, No Questions Asked: stern-sounding independent publishing house Steidl is now selling Paper Passion, a perfume ‘for booklovers’ that attempts to replicate the smell of of a book and then convince you that that is something you want to squirt on your neck before, say, a first date or a job interview. Presumably, there are quite a few Patrick Süskind fans at Steidl.
When last we checked in with the young upstarts currently fomenting a Scottish literary revolution at Cargo Publishing, they were sticking two fingers up to Glasgow’s Aye Write! festival with the second year of their own Margins festival. It was a bit alright. More than that, it provided a focal point to the ever-evolving overlap between disciplines in the Glaswegian arts scene, with literature bleeding into music and theatre, and music and theatre contributing some bodily fluids of their own to literature.
Riding high on the success of the festival, Ewan Morrison’s recently published Tales From The Mall and the publication later this week of their hugely ambitious Second Lives project, the publishers took to Twitter last Friday to announce three new signings that are very, uh, them.
On BookMachine this week, a Seven Figure Book Deal Proves Talent Beats Data, Summer reading scheme is Olympics of the mind, say sport-fearing kids, we saw the Winner of Eyewear’s inaugural Melita Hume Poetry Prize announced, and ELT Teachers can become authors.
Elsewhere in the publishing world, it’s big news as Pearson Acquires Self-Publishing Vendor Author Solutions For $116 Million and Osprey buys Duncan Baird.
There’s thoughts on the indie writing scene in this Straight Up Q&A with Mark Coke of Smashwords, while in the doomsayers corner this week, here’s Five mistakes that are killing traditional publishing, according to bestselling author Kristen Lamb and the Ebooks Suit Could ‘Wipe Out Publishing Industry As We Know It,’ Senator Says.
And now for some stats: it seems More People Are Buying Dirty E-Books Than Hardcover Books, E-book sales revenue and number of books sold are up, publishing market size down but Do These New Book Sale Statistics Shock You?
And to close this BookWrap semi-seriously, check out DIY Ereader or Tablet Boom Gives You Handsfree Reading.