In the run up to Publishing: the next 5 years, BookMachine will be featuring a number of opinions about what might be next for the industry. This is a guest blog from Lottie Chase. Lottie is the Sales Manager of Legend Press, a publisher passionate about championing new and high-profile authors and ensuring the book remains a product of beauty, enjoyment and fulfilment. She was the Chair of the Society of Young Publishers and has previously worked in export sales at both Walker Books and Quercus.
Posts Tagged ‘bookshops’
Penguin Random House today launched My Independent Bookshop, a combination social network and e-commerce platform that hopes to benefit independent booksellers whilst providing a virtual counterpart to browsing their shelves. The site allows users to create their own ‘bookshops’, selecting 12 titles they would recommend to others and giving them space to tell other users why, hoping to capture the feeling of a personal recommendation that might be found in brick and mortar bookshops, outside of the standard Amazon algorithms. Those 12 titles can be rotated as often as desired, and the bookshop containing them can also be personalised to users’ own tastes.
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.
The Booksellers Association last week released its annual membership figures, and they made for grim reading for lovers of independent bookshops: for the sixth year running, the total number of indies on the UK high street remained in decline.
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.
At some stage last week while I was asleep, buy buttons were removed from Big 6 (5?) publishers Hachette, Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. What followed was a brief turd storm of concern, blame and speculation about what these publishers had done to bring forth the wrath of Bezos, followed by a ‘statement’ from Amazon a while later saying it was a technical glitch (ie: they sent out an email with ‘technical glitch’ as the subject line and blank body text, probs).
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.
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.
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.
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.