As you’ve no doubt heard by now, J.K. Rowling yesterday posted a new, 1,500 word Harry Potter story on Pottermore, the series’ subscription-only web platform. “Dumbledore’s Army Reunites” is written as a newspaper article by the books’ resident tabloid hack Rita Skeeter, and finds Rowling’s teenage heroes now in their mid-30s and attending the Quidditch World Cup. Naturally, Rowling’s avid fans got a wee bit excited and, even though you might expect the site to brace itself for the inevitability that every one of its subscribers would instantly want to read the first new material in the series for seven years, Pottermore crashed soon after the story went live. The site is now fully operational again, however, so fans can read the story over and over as they wait in line at Universal Studios’ new Diagon Alley attraction, which coincidentally (ahem) also opened yesterday.
Happy Independence Day – the American arm of World Book Night is no more, having failed to secure outside funding. The independent charity’s US events began in 2011, with volunteers distributing half a million free books on 23 April each year to mark the UNESCO International Day of the Book and the anniversary of the deaths of both Shakespeare and Cervantes, who died on the same day in 1616. The primary aim of the scheme was to share a love of literature with adults who don’t regularly read for pleasure or own books, and that will presumably continue with the next British event this coming April, which is as yet unaffected by these developments (as is World Book Day, its counterpart aimed at children and teenagers).
American Gods, one of the most fervently beloved titles in the bibliography of the fervently beloved Neil Gaiman, has been mooted as a prospective show for American gods (of TV) HBO for the past three years but has struggled through the development stages, the network asking Gaiman to rewrite his pilot script to bring it closer to the book amidst rumours either pegging it as picked up for a six season run or with its chances damaged by the massive success of fellow cult-book-to-small-screen-hit Game of Thrones. Gaiman eventually confirmed last November that the network was no longer involved.
Finally, however, fans can expect some progress on this front: HBO may no longer be interested in taking the project further, but it has instead been picked up by fellow premium cable network Starz, with Hannibal‘s Bryan Fuller appointed to write the pilot and Kings creator Michael Green showrunner. Gaiman will executive produce.
“Even though we communicate through email nowadays, the fact that book fairs and events are all year round shows us just how important it still is to meet face-to-face. I believe that even in an online era in the future, when we are even more engaged in a digital way of life – that real events, and gatherings, will gain more power and meaning than ever.”
Maria Cardona Serra, Agent, Pontas Literary & Film Agency
I genuinely hope so. With so many online communication channels available, I think we should be using them all more often, certainly. They offer untold opportunities for engaging with our many different audiences. However, I am also a huge fan of meeting people in real life. The book industry is full of fabulous people who are mostly very sociable. Nothing can recreate real interaction and the odd glass of wine.”
Sam Missingham, Head of Events, Harper Collins
“Books have a subjective value and so require conversation and this will always work well face-to-face – which is why the industry is seen as a personal one – therefore there will always be a place for face-to-face meetings. However, this is no longer restricted to those with the time and financial resources to attend book fairs etc around the world and business no longer needs to be restricted to when those events happen – online platforms completely open up the market for business to be completed. Therefore, online platforms will provide the main current of business with face-to-face events operating on a smaller scale providing centres for closing business.”
Tom Chalmers, Managing Director, IPR License
Not long to go until our face-to-face meetings are replaced by virtual meet-ups. Where the familiarity of shaking someone’s hand is replaced by the opening of a Webcam.
This idea is just evolving. In June 2014, HarperCollins hosted its first ever virtual Romance Festival. If you were lucky enough to take part you’ll know that it was attended by several of the biggest authors in the world, as well as a number of industry experts.
Sam Missingham, Head of Events at HarperCollins, who organised the festival is kindly presenting it as a case study at BookMachine London on 22nd July. It was the first publisher-agnostic virtual event organised by a publisher ever, and we are chuffed that Sam will be joining us to present and answer questions about the event.
We would really like to thank Inspired Selection for sponsoring this event. Inspired Selection is a specialist recruitment consultancy dedicated to serving the publishing industry, across all markets, both in traditional print and digital media. The Inspired Selection team will also be attending BookMachine London on 22nd July.
As part of history festival Previously… this past weekend, Professor Germaine Greer unveiled a flagstone in Edinburgh commemorating the life and work of Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross, the first woman to be published in Scotland. The memorial is inscribed with suitably recalcitrant lines from Melville’s Ane Godlie Dream, her groundbreaking debut work, a narrative poem first printed in 1603: ‘Though tyrants threat, though Lyons rage and rore / Defy them all, and feare not to win out.’ The flagstone lies, appropriately, in the city’s Makars’ Court in the Lawnmarket (‘makar’ being a Scots word meaning poet). Greer previously included Melville in her Kissing the Rod: An Anthology of 17th-Century Women’s Verse.
2015 marks 150 years since the initial publication of Lewis Carroll’s immortal Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and to mark the occasion Carroll’s publisher, Macmillan, is releasing new editions of both Carroll’s own work and contextual material for the books
along with a remastered 48th anniversary limited edition 12″ of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”.
Curious readers, writers and journalists gathered at The Swan pub on the Southbank last night, for the launch of Filthy Creatures, a poetic tour of some of God’s best loved and most hated creatures.
Following the heartily read readings in which David Williams, the author, was described as: “The Chaucer of the 21st Century”, guests were entertained by the arrival of some live creatures…. Owls, bats and tarantulas; not for the faint-hearted.
A great launch by LiterallyPR
Sam Missingham is Head of Events at HarperCollins. She organised the Romance Festival, which was the first publisher-agnostic virtual event organised by a publisher. She is kindly presenting it as a case study at BookMachine London on 22nd July. We wanted to find out a little bit more before the event.
1) What initially sparked the idea to host the Romance Festival as a virtual event?
Talking to the editorial team from HarperImpulse and Avon – they told me that romance authors and readers were very digitally engaged – which got me thinking as to how we could connect with them and add value to the conversation.
2) Do you think we’ll be seeing many more virtual events over the next few years?
Certainly from HarperCollins, I’m hoping to run similar publisher-agnostic events in crime, fantasy, teen and possibly some other areas too. The Romance Festival showed that if you focus on what readers and authors would like out of an event, delivering a virtual festival with these elements is a fairly easy way to connect, engage and add value.
3) How could the book industry and rights networks adapt to, use and benefit from virtual events?
I’m sure more of our interactions and deals could be done using online platforms like Google Hangouts. As an industry, I’m not sure we are maximising the potential offered by these free communication channels. But, I’m also a great believer in touching the flesh, so long live Frankfurt and London Book fair as far as I’m concerned.
4) What is next for the events team at HarperCollins?
I’m organising an event with George RR Martin and Robin Hobb. To say it’s an exciting event to work on is an understatement.
5) Finally, could we please have a sneak peek of what you’re going to talk about at BookMachine?
I’m going to talk about the Romance Festival as a case study, so what our objectives were, how we went about it, things we learned and then results. Very happy to be very open and answer any questions along the way.
With the rise in online rights platforms, and HarperCollins’s recent virtual Romance Festival; the folks at BookMachine are starting to wonder about the future of the face-to-face meetings. The big question is: ‘Will we all be meeting face-to-face in 10 years time?’
On 9th July at 11am GMT, a number of publishers from Spain and the UK will gather on Twitter, using the hashtag #BookMachine to discuss ideas around the next generation of online conferences.
To participate is easy. Simply follow #BookMachine from 11am on the 9th, and join in with the debate, by Tweeting with the hashtag and sharing your thoughts.
The aim is to allow publishing professionals from Spain and the UK to share their knowledge, though do join in if you’re based elsewhere and have thoughts on the matter.
If you’d like to join us on the day, please sign up below:
Following a similar act of philanthropy in the US last year, hyperbestseller James Patterson is set to donate £250,000 to independent booksellers across Britain and Ireland in a bid to ensure no children have to live lives without books. Patterson’s pledge coincides with the beginning of Independent Booksellers Week, which starts this coming Saturday. The awards scheme is open to any independent bookshop featuring a dedicated children’s section whose annual turnover is under £1 million. Grants will be awarded ranging from £250 to £5,000 (which, for the maths-impaired, means somewhere between 50 and 1,000 bookshops stand to benefit).
Comic book publishers Dynamite Entertainment teaming with industry titans DC to publish the work of a writer new to the world of comics might not qualify as particularly huge news under regular circumstances, but most newcomers aren’t Quentin Tarantino and their debut series usually isn’t a sequel to their most recent, massively successful, Oscar-winning film, so in this case, it is in fact particularly huge news. Tarantino is co-plotting a series due to debut later this year that is not only a direct sequel to his 2012 slavery revenge western Django Unchained but also a crossover with another pulpy hero usually found in the more southerly regions of the United States: Zorro.
Django/Zorro will be written by Matt Wagner, famed creator of the series Mage and Grendel, with a plot devised by Wagner and Tarantino, and editorial input from Reginald Hudlin, a producer on Django Unchained whose comic book adaptation of that film earned an Eisner nomination. It is the first time Tarantino has authorised a direct sequel, in any medium, to any of his films (bearing in mind Kill Bill was originally intended as one long film). The Hollywood Reporter has described the series as ‘the least likely way imaginable’ for Tarantino to return to the world of the film, which suggests that The Hollywood Reporter has a severely limited imagination (just sitting here waiting for the licensing deal to come through on my commemorative postage stamp continuation of Jackie Brown).
Tarantino, with characteristic humility, says of the series: ‘I’m very very excited about both this story and the opportunity to work with Matt. It was reading his Zorro stories that convinced me what a good idea it was to join these two icons together. And the story idea we came up with is thrilling, and I think will be an exciting new chapter for both characters.‘