If the internet has proven anything, it’s that if someone famous does something, normos (everyone who is non-famous) will also do it in a misjudged attempt to be famous. That, and the fact there’s no such thing as private messages. Both these lessons came to the fore last week in the aftermath of the London Book Fair, where the Bookseller Association announced the advent of the Books Are My Bag campaign (a high street campaign to make reading seem even cooler than it already is with branded merchandise), and Tom Tivnan from The Bookseller sent an incredibly acerbic email to a photographer that was subsequently forwarded to the inbox of pretty much everyone in the trade.
Posts Tagged ‘book trade’
Last week saw the launch of Bookish in the US – a new, and frankly bloody stunning book discovery/online retailer (or as I call them, a ‘social retailer’). They’ve got a brilliant pitch, a stunning site, and features the rest of us have been discussing for a while that we thought may never come to fruition. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The golden egg, the holy grail, of online book discovery. An algorithm that recommends you books. Not ‘readers also bought’. Not ‘you might also like’. Something that says ‘what’s a book you have read and loved lately?’ and then picks you a bunch more based on what I can only assume is metadata more detailed than a fractal zoom on a mandelbrot set.
I hope you all brought spare underwear.
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.
“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.]
Last week saw the declaration by Amazon that the dissolution of agency pricing in the US was a “big win for customer” and that they look forward to lowering prices on more ebooks in the future. It’s slightly surreal for me to read that lower ebook prices is something anyone would ‘look forward’ to, given how much effort publishers are making (not across the board, but certainly in some places) to ensure the price of ebooks stays at a level that encourages a sense of worth for the format. Testament to Amazon’s place in the market, however, the news was not received badly.
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…
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.
True story: there are some really, absolutely, unquestionably terrible book covers in the world – ones that make you want to approach bookshelves with a flamethrower rather than an open wallet – and while we’d like to curse these to that terrible time in history when ‘fashionable’ was synonymous with ‘seizure’ (the 80s), this isn’t always going to be the case. Given that some people still believe a large stock image and a whacky font is a winning way to represent their title, I don’t think we’re going to be stuck for contenders for the worst book cover award any time soon.
Last week, after my observation that Waterstones is not in a better position to offer bundling now than it was last year, I had a brief debate on Twitter about pros and cons of bundling print and digital during which someone (oh so rightly) asked the question: ‘do customers even want an eBook version of the printed novel they just bought?’ This led to a couple of posts, and Sam Missingham brought out some numbers over on the Futurebook blog from a survey done with 4,000 customers 9 months ago. Here’s a summary:
It’s been a big week in the world of Waterstones. Last Monday, we had the shock announcement that they would be hand-selling Kindles – their long-awaited digital strategy finally coming to the fore – followed by their refurbishment plans, introducing branded coffee shops to over 130 stores. There are so many buzz words I could use here but instead I’m going to confine myself to a run through of what seems to have emerged over the past week in the Wacky World of Waterstones.