As some of you may have gathered from social media, I’ve been busy-beeing away running the Hay Festival Twitter feed again this year. What a joy it’s been too: so many insightful, though-provoking ideas flying around. Amazing to be there to help celebrate 30 years of Hay – I’m completely exhausted and completely inspired!
As well as Twitter, I wrote a summary of the industry news from the first half of the Festival for BookBrunch, and also joined the journalists in the media room to write a few Facebook posts for Hay: Continue reading Reporting from Hay Festival 2017
Roll up, roll up! It’s time to hear about the biggest publishing news from around the web over the past month, with the BookMachine May Publishing Wrap!
Big news from Amazon once again this month, as it hit an all-time high in the stock market and revenue from Q1 is up, prompting CEO Jeff Bezos to sell some of his stocks in the business for the largest sum yet. The tech giant’s Japanese expansion continues apace and they are widely considered to be “eating the world”, but all is not well with Amazon’s relationship with publishing. The introduction of a new buy button programme has drawn criticism from publishers and authors alike – including in the independent scene. What’s more, Amazon has this month announced and released a new book chart system, in which – perhaps unsurprisingly – their own books are notably faring better than anyone else’s. Continue reading BookMachine | The May Publishing Wrap
It seems fitting to end my collection of BookBrunch interviews over the last year with this blast of positivity and deep thought from author and philosopher Damon Young.
Thank you so much to BookBrunch (Nick, Neill, David & Tobias in particular) for letting me launch this new column of the magazine over a year ago now, and a huge big shout out to my successor Julie Vuong – do get in touch with her via the BookBrunch website if you’re interesting in being interviewed. I have enjoyed doing these interviews so much and will really miss them – big love to everyone who’s been involved along the way.
So, without further ado: Damon Young on his new book, The Art of Reading.
Young describes The Art of Reading as having three strands: autobiographical, philosophical, and “vaguely” sociological. But it quickly becomes clear that his analysis of reading is going to step outside the box…
Define ‘reading well’
“What I’ve suggested is that the best way to think about ‘reading well’ is that there is no law. It’s not an easy universal principle, you can’t just say, ‘The way to read is like this.’ Our experiences and books are too diverse for that to make sense. We can’t even read the same book in the same way, let alone all the different books.” He cites the Bible. “Love of God’s a perfectly reasonable Christian response to the Bible, sure, but it’s not enough. There are so many different ways to read the Bible, let alone Nietzsche, and Jane Austen, and Henry James… There is no law.”
Continue reading The final BookBrunch interview: a celebration of reading with Damon Young
As you all know, I’m moving on from BookBrunch soon – but there’s just time for three penultimate weekly interviews before the final one comes out next week!
Celebrating elite achievement and great writing, with Andrew Kidd, co-founder of the Rathbones Folio Prize
“It’s in service of the public, ultimately, of people to whom books matter. There’s a difference between an elite achievement and elitism. We can get excited about the idea of excellence – by people who can do something beyond what we can do. Good books can do that.”
Digital in the education sector, with John Donovan, MD of VitalSource
“There’s definitely a new breed of publisher emerging. There has been for the last 15 years. The challenge is moving your base from a print to a digital product, and the question is whether the digital is developing fast enough to counteract the decline in print.”
Continue reading The Penultimate Trio of BookBrunch interviews
Last week, ahead of this year’s Hay Festival, an event was held in London with 5×15 to celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary with stories from over the years. Snippet of my report for BookBrunch below, more after the link, as always. Thank you so much to Hay for such a lovely evening – cannot wait for this year’s festival! Get in touch if you’re going to be there too!
Last night saw Hay Festival mark its their 30th anniversary celebrations with an event at The Tabernacle in north-west London. In association with 5×15, Peter Florence and special guests, including Howard Jacobson, Elif Shafak, Helena Kennedy, Cressida Cowell, Tahmima Anam, Sarfraz Manzoor, Hannah Rothschild, Sarah Crossan and Philippe Sands shared some of their favourite memories of Hay throughout the years.
From Sands’ small and comical comment about long lunches at the Hague that turned into an international media sensation, to Anam’s recollections of bringing Hay to her hometown in Bangladesh, the night was by turns hilarious and serious. Every speaker was unanimously enthusiastic about Hay, with Safraz Manzoor coining the most popular phrase of the evening: “Hay is a drug-free way to get out of your head.” Continue reading Hay Festival celebrates its 30th birthday
Yep, that’s right, after a year and a half, over 1700 articles, more than 60 interviews, and literally hundreds of thousands of words, I’ve decided to move on from freelancing and from BookBrunch.
As of Monday, I will be taking on the role of Publishing Director at Endeavour Press. To say I’m excited would be the understatement of the century – I’m totally over the moon. I can’t wait to join the fabulous Endeavour team and find new ways to work with all my publishing friends and colleagues in my new role. Continue reading Joining Endeavour Press
Once in a while, a book comes along that totally blows your mind. The Hate U Give is one of those books and everyone should read it right now. Even better, the author Angie Thomas, is a total sweetheart, absolutely bursting with passion. Here’s our chat – and you should totally check out the full article on BookBrunch – but you should also buy the book.
Angie Thomas has shot to literary stardom in recent months, as her debut novel The Hate U Give, skyrockets to the top of the NYT bestseller charts. Set to be published in 18 territories and counting – and already out here through Walker Books – the YA novel follows 16-year-old Starr, who lives between the poor Mississippi neighbourhood where she was born and a posh high school in the suburbs. When she becomes the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, she comes face to face with police brutality and systemic racism
After the intensity of the book, Thomas herself is a slight surprise: a generous smile, regular laughter, and a soft Mississippi accent. Her passion and conviction shine through, however, and she has much to say on publishing, on the importance of books, and on America itself.
The struggle to write
Though Thomas has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, it took her a long time to believe that being an author was something she could do. “For one, I never saw or met any authors who looked like me. Mississippi has a rich literary history, but most of them are either white or dead and I was neither! So it felt like it was something that I, as a black girl in a poor neighbourhood in Mississippi, just couldn’t do.”
Continue reading BookBrunch | Hot new American novelist Angie Thomas, author of bestseller The Hate U Give, on race, writing and resistance
Here’s your monthly summary of hot publishing news from around the interwebs! Don’t forget, you can read the full article over on the BookMachine blog.
This month in publishing news, there has been an unusual obsession with the smell of books. Not only did scientists pin-point that distinctive smell of second-hand bookshops, but the Guardian discovered what you can tell about an individual book from its smell – and why the scent is so addictive.
In the bookselling sphere, Amazon once again dominated the opinions columns, as their forays into bricks and mortar bookshops continue. Plans for a second New York City bookstore, and another in Massachusetts are underway, while Seattle has been tipped as the next Amazon experiment ground. Continue reading BookMachine | April Wrap: Publishing stories from around the web
This week’s BookBrunch interview is with the lovely Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books – don’t forget to click the link for the full article!
Jasmin Kirkbride talks to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books about the slush pile, the frisson of finding the right book, advances, and giving attention to everything on the list
Two and a half years on from its launch, Orenda Books is going from strength to strength. Run by its founder, Karen Sullivan, Orenda publishes literary fiction, as well as “the high end of genre fiction”, with an emphasis on crime and thrillers. About half the list is translated fiction, and Sullivan is always keen to push the boundaries.
Striking out alone
Though Sullivan started in publishing at Sidgwick & Jackson, working her way up to commissioning editor, for much of her career she has written books on parenting. As her own children got older, she took what was supposed to be a one-day-a-week job at a small publisher; it turned into 15 months of non-stop work when it became clear all was not well with the business.
Continue reading The BookBrunch Interview with Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books
This week for the BookBrunch interview, I chatted with three of this year’s Trailblazer Award winners, Anna Russo, Heather McDaid, and Željka Maroševic. Check out the excerpt below or follow this link for the full article.
Two months on from the second annual Trailblazers Awards, organised by London Book Fair (LBF) and the Society of Young Publishers (SYP), we catch up with three of the five Trailblazer winners – Anna Russo, Željka Maroševic and Heather McDaid – to find out what they’ve been up to and their plans for the future. They provide a snapshot of an industry, not just expanding outside London, but around the world
Continue reading Blazing the trail with BookBrunch
Fellow space-nerds might be quite excited by reports over the last month of a brave group of scientists trying the capture an image of the supermassive black hole sitting in the centre of our twinkly Milky Way. It’s a thrilling proposition for many reasons, but my excitement was piqued further after reading Stephen Hawking’s Black Holes: The BBC Reith Lectures, with an introduction and commentary by David Shukman.
This slim, pocket-sized volume is easy to read in a lunchtime, but might take weeks or years to really comprehend. It illustrates once again that subtle boundary between physics and philosophy – and that black holes are no exception to the true weirdness of quantum physics. Continue reading Book Review | ‘Black Holes: The BBC Reith Lectures’ by Stephen Hawking
Another trio of interviews for you from BookBrunch, and each one is a real treat for publishing enthusiasts.
First, I caught up with Henry Rosenbloom from Scribe, who was so frustrated with the state of rights sales, he decided to expand his publishing house from down under to the UK. This is one publisher that’s serious about seriously good books!
“Later on in life, I’ve realised that what drives me as a publisher, in a strange kind of way, is the Holocaust. That’s what imprinted on me the seriousness of the world we live in, and how important it was to try to understand history, politics, people, and how to tell the truth. How to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’. Books have the power to change people’s lives, and we want to put out books that demand to be published because of their intrinsic significance.” Continue reading Publishing internationally, digitally and collaboratively with the BookBrunch interviews
It’s the time of the month where I round up all the internet’s top publishing stories and stick them in one place on the BookMachine blog for your perusal! Here’s a sneak peek – don’t forget to visit the BookMachine blog for more…
The big news from March in UK publishing is obviously the London Book Fair (LBF). Poland shone at this year’s Market Focus, and the Fair was busier than usual, with six-figure deals struck ahead of time and publishers cheerfully splashing cash as sales rose. This was seen as further evidence of the rise of print, with The Guardian stating that by the end of the month stats showing that print outperformed digital. Yet, despite the recent whopping $65m forward paid for the Obamas’ new book (which hasn’t pleased all and prompted a list of the biggest deals of all time) no single title emerged as this year’s big hitter. Continue reading BookMachine | The March Wrap
Very exciting times in the house of Jasmin this morning: I’m dancing around with my very first newspaper clipping!
The folks over at Daily Express have featured excerpts from Boost in a beautiful half page spread: 10 Unusual Ways to Boost Your Confidence Today! A big huge thanks to the Daily Express and Summersdale Publishers for making this happen.
Here’s a link to the web article as well, for those of you who prefer your news digitally – hope you enjoy!
In the midst of writing a dystopia of my own, it strikes me on an almost daily basis the degree to which society has come under the thumb of a very fickle dictator: money. Further, money within the context of an inherently unstable and unjust neoliberal capitalist system. For a searing criticism of the failures of this system, flawlessly melded with a scintillating story, I point you in the direction of Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047.
The Mandible family has a sizeable fortune, but when a bloodless world war wipes out their millions they, like the rest of America, find themselves out of their homes and on the brink of starvation. Crammed into their poorest relatives’ house, the financial crisis brings out the best in some, and the worst in others. But, as society continues to devolve and culture breaks down, the choices ahead only get tougher. Continue reading Book Review | ‘The Mandibles’ by Lionel Shriver
Spoiler alert: This review contains massive plot spoilers about Fahrenheit 451.
In a year when readers seem to be turning to dystopias for sanity, there seemed to be no better time to return to Bradbury’s sometimes overlooked book, Fahrenheit 451.
Named after the alleged temperature at which books burn, the story follows Guy Montag, who lives in a world where books are banned, as they are thought to be the source of discord and unhappiness. As a fireman, it is Montag’s job to burn any books that are found. Yet, unhappy in his marriage and unsatisfied with life, Montag finds the lure of books too much to resist – and once there are books in his house, there is nothing to stop the feared Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department from tracking him down.
Fifty years on from its initial publication, growing post-truth, anti-intellectual sentiments in Western society have given Fahrenheit 451 new relevance, indeed in parts with almost uncanny precognition on Bradbury’s part. Many elements come into play during this book: the frustrating loss that comes with conformism; the borderline madness that comes with rebellion; the senselessness that must, after a certain point of tyranny, accompany political hope. Yet, to me, it is the end which is most pertinent in the current climate. Continue reading Book review | ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury
I’ve been shamefully lax on updating everyone on the latest BookBrunch interviews, which means that I have not one, not two, not even five, but SEVEN interviews for you today!
We’ve also had a big, shiny new BookBrunch website built for us, and best of all it’s got its very own interviews section, so you can go back a read your favourite interviews quickly and easily. Continue reading A big bunch of BookBrunch interviews
I took my annual pilgrimage to the Summersdale Publishers stand at The London Book Fair – and guess what I found hidden away in the Spring/Summer catalogue:
How to calm your anxiety and stay chilled when life gets stressful
Yep, that’s right I’ve got a fourth book coming out with the lovely folk at Summersdale and it’ll be landing on shelves in August! I’ve been busying away on it for the last few weeks and I can’t wait to see it in print.
While I was there, I also spotted copies of Boost, Stress Less and Believe in Yourself – the cherry on top of the awesome publishing cake that is LBF!
When BookMachine asked for an opinion, I couldn’t not comment. Read the full article here, or grab the snippet below:
Outrage abounds in the wake of Philip Hammond’s 2017 Budget announcement on Wednesday. Amongst other controversial moves, National Insurance (NI) payments on the self-employed have been increased by 2%. But what effect will this raise have on the growing number of self-employed and freelance workers in the publishing industry?
Let’s start by looking at the cold, hard figures. The 2017 Budget has brought in a 2% rise in NI contributions for the UK’s self-employed workers. The self-employed normally pay one of two different kinds of NI: Class 2, if your profits are £5,965+ per year, and Class 4 if they are £8,060+ per year. Class 4 payments are divided into two categories: 9% on profits of £8,060-£43,000, and 2% on profits over £43,000. Continue reading BookMachine | A tax on the precariat: what the 2017 budget means for the self-employed in publishing
I’m really excited to be able to say I’ve been invited back to resurrect my byline at BookMachine with a monthly publishing wrap. The first month – February – went live today, and you can check it out right here.
This month in publishing, booksellers have taken the spotlight, with Waterstones announcing their first year of profit since the 2008 financial crash. In fact, Bookstore sales rose 2.5% in 2016 and Amazon is determined to get in on the action, with plans to open 10 books and mortar stores across the US by the end of 2017, in a move to “solve digital retail’s biggest design flaw.” They are also rumoured to be scouting for shops in London. However, the footing is not even: Amazon has been given tax cuts while high street stores suffer – though, as the FT points out, UK tax law isn’t actually Amazon’s fault… [READ MORE]