It might be due to the fact I’ve watched the movies far too many times, or perhaps some inherent nerd gene I was born with, but whenever some big publishing new breaks, I am generally reminded of a scene from one of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings films. I’ve tried to work out the directly applicable analogy between The Two Towers and our industry, and have come pretty close: Saruman is Amazon, the hill men are self-published authors. Traditionally published authors are the Elves – our best hope and strongest ally, but our most unlikely saviours. And we, the traditional publishers, the men of Rohan, must fight our own corner.
Andrew Buck is a Graphic Design teacher at Hastingsbury Upper School in Bedfordshire. He and his design students have created an app that is hopefully going to transform the way students can prepare and succeed when it comes to the dreaded exam season. Whilst the app isn’t necessarily linked to Publishers, it’s an interesting app and has come from identifying a real need in the market. I asked him more about ExamPal, how they’ve priced the app, how he got the attention of Apple and what he thinks about technology in the classroom.
Helen is a ‘Teen fiction fiend’. She works as a Sales and Marketing Assistant for McGraw-Hill Education by day and is a rugby player and all-round dreamer by night. She has strong ideas on tea and civil rights! This was her third Bookmachine event.
“Overdue a BookMachine fix, it was time I headed to an event outside of London. I’d been missing out – £5 cocktails and space at the bar? Oxford, we’ll get along fine. As usual, an intriguing mix of people and a welcoming atmosphere made for absorbing conversation. The time flew and I left full of radical digital possibilities, clutching a proudly customised Santa hat.
Katie Stileman has recently graduated from Jesus College, Oxford, where she studied Medieval History. She has worked in schools since the summer teaching study skills and is now looking to pursue a career in publishing. Last week she attended BookMachine Oxford. Here is her review.
Digital: that was the topic of conversation at BookMachine’s inaugural New York event as more than 70 publishing folks gathered at The Iguana, club on W 54th St.
I always wonder what book folks mean when they say “digital.” It’s so broad.
Do they mean publishing on an electronic platform? Making pdfs of existing books? Or exploring the limits? The technology allows so much, but, sadly, few publishers are able to financially support the exploration.
And while I’m a big proponent of the democratization of publishing which digital allows, I worry about the erosion of our aesthetic standards. I love that anyone can publish, but if work isn’t good—and, lets face it, lots of mediocre and bad work is published—the audience has no guide to what is truly good and we, as a society, can lose our collective sense of what is considered great. We all need good editors.
(Full disclosure, I come from traditional publishing, am and also am an app creator, having published Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night, the first 3D book app for kids.)
So, with all this in mind, I was delighted to have an event where traditional publishing folks and non-traditional disrupters could mingle.
Here are some of voices I heard…
Hey, you know who hasn’t taken all the money yet? James Bond. True, the recently released Skyfall – the 23rd of the film series featuring Ian Fleming’s most famous literary creation (sorry, Caractacus Pott, but you know it’s true) – is already the highest grossing release in UK box office history less than two months since its premiere, and increasingly looks like it could be the first Bond to break $1 billion worldwide, but what about the aesthetic purists who disdain the sorcery of the moving image and prefer to picture Bond as not looking like Daniel Craig? What about their wads of cash just waiting to be seduced by some casual misogyny?
Cast your mind back a ways, if you will – no, further back… STOP! too far back – specifically to October of this year, and the announcement of the nominees for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize’s ‘best of the best’ award, a field drawn from previous winners of the prize in celebration of 250 years of the study of literature at the University of Edinburgh and automatically preferable to the similarly styled ‘best of the Booker’ by dint of its not even nominating Salman Rushdie, much less having him win twice. No, instead, the prize has gone to Angela Carter’s 1984 novel Nights at the Circus, and if 16 was your guess on how many comments it would take before a Guardian contrarian suggested Carter’s continued popularity was down to a combination of her early death and politically correct feminism in universities, well, bully for you.
Last week was the Futurebook Conference 2012, run by The Bookseller – a must-attend for most of the publishing industry that goes well beyond the book to look at how our rapidly-changing industry has evolved over the past year, and what our major concerns are at the moment. With an impressive program covering agents, international retailers, self-publishing, and consumer insight, for me the most telling session of the day was the first I attended – a panel on pricing strategies with Paul Rhodes from Orb Entertainment, Michael Tamblyn from Kobo, Eloy Sasot from HarperCollins, Rachel Willmer founder of Luzme.com, and Orna Ross founder of The Alliance of Independent Authors and self-published author.