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ValoBox introduces ‘pay as you go’ books

Last year at Publishing Now, we were intrigued by Anna Lewis and Oliver Brooks, and their plans to launch Valobox, a platform to allow bite-sized purchasing from books. A year later and they have just announced that they are working with O’Reilly in the US and Profile, Guardian Books, Constable & Robinson and SnowBooks in the UK. Exciting times for Valobox. Anna Lewis explains their model and how it works.

Last week I was really happy to announce the official launch of ValoBox.

Like a ‘YouTube for books’, with an iTunes purchase model ValoBox makes books available on demand through your web browser, and lets you buy individual chapters or even pages.

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Mergers and Acquisitions: Random House and Penguin

“The two companies have not reached agreement and there is no certainty that the discussions will lead to a transaction.” I think it’s safe to say it is far too early for us to be predicting what colour hair children of a union between Penguin and Random House would lead to, given they themselves haven’t committed to anything more than a date with one another, but when has the lack of a concrete announcement of something stopped media speculation in the past? Still, I feel I’d be remiss to ignore it, given the second most exciting publishing news last week was the appearance of Kindle in bookshops. [Author note: it is not too early. They have finalised the details of the merge this morning, but I'm leaving this paragraph in. News moves fast.] Continue Reading →

Censored “Night Before Christmas” lights up debate

Parents, lock up your kids: The Guardian brings news of the latest apparent threat to their wellbeing, and this one hasn’t been dead and buried in a golden coffin for nearly a year. Stopping just short of pleading for someone to think of the children, Canadian publisher Pamela McColl has drawn flak from anti-censorship groups for her new edition of Clement Moore’s venerable yule log in rhyming couplets A Visit From St Nicholas (more commonly known as “T’was The Night Before Christmas”), in which two lines referring to dear old Sandy Claws puffing on a pipe have been removed, along with an illustration of same. Continue Reading →

Nominees for ‘Best of Best’ James Tait Black Prize Announced

Following on the heels of some ostensibly more low-key prize announcements, Britian’s oldest literary award has revealed the shortlist for its ‘best of the best’ award. The James Tait Black Memorial Prize, awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh to the year’s best in the fields of fiction and biography, will celebrate 250 years of the study of literature at the seat of learning by naming the greatest book to have won the prize since its inception in 1919, in a manner similar to the ‘Best of the Booker’ award only with 100% less Salman Rushdie victory guaranteed, so really, everyone’s a winner. Continue Reading →

Johnny Depp Launches Imprint Exactly As You’d Expect

Seemingly confirming that the tyrannical hold of Tim Burton over Johnny Depp works on some kind of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari close-proximity hypnosis basis (Burton’s Frankenweenie, currently in cinemas, is his first film since 2003′s Big Fish not to feature Depp in some capacity), the erstwhile Edward Scissorhands has revealed he is using the time away from his sinister overlord to launch his own publishing imprint with HarperCollins US. Talks are presumably underway on just how much money it would take to 1) retrieve the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson from the atmosphere 2) reconstitute them into some corporeal form that could type, or at least dictate, and 3) lock said ash being into a five book deal. Continue Reading →

Storm in a crap mug: Ewan Morrison wins Not The Booker

Yeah, so Mo Yan won the Nobel, and it’s a big deal because he’s the first Chinese citizen to be made a laureate, and it’s all very exciting, but another, usually far more low-key prize has also seen more than its share of thrills, spills and assorted other rhymes over the past few days: Ewan Morrison’s Tales From The Mall took this year’s Guardian-arranged, self-explanatory Not The Booker Prize but, as is inevitable with the ever-provocative author, took it with no small dose of controversy.

(N.B.: in the interests of full disclosure, I am acquainted with several people involved in the publication of the book, and so am going to try to keep this account as straightforward and impartial as I can, but feel free to argue the ins and outs in the comments. Please, do read the source articles linked to above and below for a full picture of exactly what has transpired over the past couple of days.) Continue Reading →

(Another) Spotify For Books

Here’s how to alienate a large portion of possible content sources in one go: compare your product to their greatest fear. Perhaps Oyster didn’t call themselves the ‘Spotify for books’ in their pitch to publishers – I wasn’t at Frankfurt – but it’s certainly how they’ve been branded in the aftermath. And it doesn’t, as far as I can see, do them any favours. Continue Reading →

Fifty Shades film finds writer, still isn’t finished

As the leaves fall from the trees, autumn descends and the turn of the seasons rolls relentlessly onward, it’s nice to be reminded that some things are, indeed, constant and unchanging, such as the neverending news cycle about the forthcoming film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, which still hasn’t been made even though it feels like we’ve been writing about it since some time before the Boer War. Continue Reading →

Christmas Crackers: (Auto)Biographies of 2012

The first Christmas trees are starting to spring horridly in corners of supermarkets everywhere; turkeys all over the world are being fattened for the kill; pubs are instructing everyone to book their office parties NOW to avoid disappointment;  there’s a chill in the air and it’s raining in earnest; and mince pies have gone on sale. Yes, Christmas approaches, and with this festive season so, too, to we begin to see the race for top biography (celeb memoir) in the publishing charts. Start your engines… Continue Reading →

Casual Vacancy tops charts; in unrelated news, world keeps turning

If you have yet to reclaim your jaw from its position on the floor after last week’s totally unhyped revelation that JK Rowling had a new book coming out, maybe don’t bother making the effort for now – at least, not until you’ve heard that The Casual Vacancy racked up the highest first week UK sales of any book published since Dan Brown’s 2009 effort The Lost Symbol (whose 550,946 copies sold in its first week I’m sure are all still with their original owners). Continue Reading →

Terry Pratchett sets up no doubt whimsical media empire

Widely beloved man with a hat Terry Pratchett has announced the formation of his own fledgling multimedia empire, operating under the name Narrativia. Named for Pratchett’s self-invented goddess of narrative, the Soho-based company will assume responsibility for all things Discworld and beyond in formats other than books, which in the immediate future appears to include assorted TV and film projects: Pratchett himself talks of ‘working closely with the team to develop new stories in areas other than just print and e-books and, of course, seeing my first big screen project come to fruition.’ Continue Reading →

5 Questions for Peter McKay and Rachel Maund [INTERVIEW]

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Publishing Training Centre and Marketability are working together to promote training.

Preliminary step towards takeover? Absolutely not, says the PTC’s Peter McKay and Marketability’s Rachel Maund, who are cheerfully adamant that recent announcement is a pragmatic response to falling training budgets and recognition that it makes more sense to collaborate than it does to compete. Lottie Chase, Marketing Executive interviews the two about the new partnership.

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Penguin sues authors for advances. Books are a business.

Cash it in‘I don’t get up in the morning and say: Am I inspired? …No, I’m not. I won’t work. ‘cos, God, how often would I ever work, you know?’

These words were spoken last week by one of the world’s most prolific authors, J.K. Rowling, and summed up quite nicely something I think many people want to forget about literature: books are a business; writing is work. Our explosive amnesia surrounding the b-word was highlighted again after reading the incredible reaction to news that Penguin US decided to sue a few authors after the books they were paid to write were not written. Continue Reading →

Did you hear JK Rowling has a book out today? No, really!

In news that has gone so far from the definition of ‘news’ that it has circled back round upon itself to become newsworthy again, today sees the publication of JK Rowling’s first post-Harry Potter novel, the adult-orientated The Casual Vacancy. I know, it caught me utterly unawares too. Take a minute to regain your composure and lift your jaw off the floor, why don’t you.

Little, Brown is the company currently looking at its logo on the spine of the book, then looking at the rest of the publishing world, then looking at the Harry Potter series’ sales figures, then looking back at the rest of the publishing world and pointing and laughing. Continue Reading →

Kevin Costner lands book deal, inevitable film

In a piece of news that we somehow missed in the whirlwind of prescient cats and Philip Roth-baiting that has been the past fortnight, none other than Kevin Costner has landed a deal with Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books, and not for a cash-grab memoir either. Costner will ‘produce and develop’ the illustrated, serialised adventure novel The Explorers Guild, about the titular ‘clandestine group of adventurers who seek out the places where light gives way to shadow, and reason is usurped by myth’, so I dunno, maybe it does contain elements of memoir after all. Continue Reading →

Stephen King to publish Shining sequel featuring ‘prescient cat’

As has been promised/threatened for some time now, the distressingly prolific Stephen King has made official his plans to release Doctor Sleep, a sequel to his much-loved The Shining, some time next year. A page for the new novel has gone live on King’s website, complete with plot synopsis that you should avoid if you want to go in unspoiled, either in terms of what’s going to happen or in terms of what has already happened that has made you love The Shining so much to begin with. Continue Reading →

Cory Doctorow & Charlie Stross release novel for free download

As he has in the past, Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow yesterday posted his new novel – co-written with British sci-fi author Charlie Stross – online for free download under a Creative Commons License. In a post on Boing Boing Doctorow provided a link to his own site, Craphound, which is hosting HTML and PDF files of The Rapture of the Nerds, and asked that those who enjoy the novel ‘buy a personal hardcopy at your local bookseller, or from your favorite online seller, or donate a copy to a library or school’, adding ‘if you’d like to reward us for our use of Creative Commons licenses, and reward Tor Books for its decision to drop DRM on all its ebooks, we hope you’ll buy an ebook at your favorite ebook retailer.’ The link was accompanied by further links to both physical and digital retailers. Continue Reading →

Harper Voyager looking for un-agented submissions

HarperCollins’ sci-fi, horror and otherwise otherworldly imprint Harper Voyager has announced that, for the first time in over a decade, it will be accepting un-agented submissions from authors, with a view to building a backlog it can then publish as monthly e-books. For the fortnight spanning 1 October to 14 October, new writers can head to http://www.harpervoyagersubmissions.com/ and, having filled out the accompanying form and checked that they have complied with the publisher’s guidelines, submit their long-brewing masterpiece about the grim dystopian future where the hair cuts you!, or whatever. Continue Reading →

Wikipedia: Philip Roth ‘not credible source’ on Philip Roth

In a case we might call The Plot Against the Literati, were we at the intersection where readers familiar with the work of Philip Roth meet babbling, hyperbolic idiocy (we have never claimed to be familiar with the work of Philip Roth, ohohoho etc.), this past weekend saw the selfsame author of Portnoy’s Complaint and American Pastoral take to the pages of The New Yorker to pen an open letter/potential future memoir chapter directed at Wikipedia. Continue Reading →