Tag Archives: book trade

Books Are My Bag Campaign Announced, Targeting Bookshops, Readers and Cockhats

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.
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Could Bookish Be The Next Big Online Retailer?

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. Continue Reading →

Futurebook 2012: For the Love of Data

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. Continue Reading →

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 →

Lower Ebook Prices Does Not Equal More Readers

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. 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 →

Cover Design: When Change is a Good Thing

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. Continue Reading →

The Odd Couple: Bundling Print and Digital Books

Bundling Print and Digital Books = The odd coupleLast 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:

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The ABC of Waterstones: A Bookseller’s ‘Promised Land’

Waterstones and Amazon Logos CombinedIt’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.

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Why Foyles Won Bookseller Of The Year

or ‘Know What You Do And Do It Well.’

I’m not sure the words ‘outrage’ or ‘controversy’ fully convey the level of disgust with which the publishing and bookselling industry responded to last year’s announcement of Sainsbury taking Bookseller of The Year at the Book Industry Awards. Thankfully, this year there will be no need for a riposte titled ‘On Sainsbury’s: A Defence’ (a name whose weighty resonance harks back to old school publishing, but whose content belies a shift away from leather bound hardbacks) from the judicial body, as the ever-loved darling of bookstores, Foyles, has walked away with the industry’s most esteemed accolade. Continue Reading →

Erotic novel serves as good fertiliser

If you don’t know about 50 Shades of Grey yet (ie: if you don’t have Twitter) then here’s a brief summary: it’s an erotic novel about a young girl who meets some older guy into BDSM. She works in a hardware shop and one seduces the other (my guess is he seduces her, because girls don’t typically do anything but swoon in romance novels), and I guess there are a lot of double entendres on the word ‘wood’. I hope there are.

That would make it readable. Wait, no. Funny. Continue Reading →

Not The End of The World – January publishing off to a good start

It’s pretty well documented that January is the most depressing month of the year if you live in the UK. We’ve got nothing to look forward to except the two long months between now and the possibility of Spring, which, to be honest, is likely to be late, cold and disappointing. It seems commentators in the book world have caught this negativity virus as I’ve read more articles bleating idiotically about the demise of the printed/edited/published world this year already than I did for all of December, but let me assure you there is plenty to be excited about this year in publishing. Before we all top ourselves, let’s run through a few things that have gone right lately.

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A plan to save the book perhaps?

Are we obsessed with going digital as a nation, as publishers or is it just me? Everyday I read the bookseller, follow my twitter feeds and browse eagerly, looking for further verification that the book has no future.

As someone who sells books, this obsession was starting to worry me a bit. Should we all abandon our jobs in the book trade and get on the digital band wagon? I started to look at my friends working in digital media and think they are ‘lucky’ to be in-the-know and at the forefront of the revolution.

And then it suddenly occurred to me that there are millions of us still working in the book trade, still sat in meetings discussing the cover, the page count and the trim size. So why is no one fighting for the life of the book and the jobs of authors, publishers and booksellers? (think civil rights movements!) Surely we can do more to keep the book alive.

I spent a few hours wondering around F***** (could have been any of the large chains) the other day, browsing the shelves and dreaming of having enough time to read all the books on display. However, I did get the impression that there was a lot of ‘space’, that the shelves weren’t bustling with choice of content (as you might find online). And what about customer reviews? Amazon has proven that what really pushes a consumer to buy – is reading a non-branded customer review. Where are the in-store forums? Surely bookshops should be inviting people in for copious amounts of alcohol and a place to air their views – now that’s something that the Internet can’t offer!

Despite the digital hype, publishers are still producing books. We are trying our hardest to keep hold of the versatile, tactile element of owning a book and the pride so many of us hold in the visual array of titles on our bookshelves.

So before we all get pushed out of our day jobs, into the unknown; why don’t booksellers look at their shelves and use the Internet as a model of how to market our brands. We could use the offline advantage of being able to browse the shelves, talk about books we’ve read whilst having a drink. How where’s the harm in that?