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
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
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
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]
It’s been a wildly busy fortnight my end, but in amongst it all I’ve managed to get out the BookBrunch weekly interview as normal, so here’s a pair of publishing chats for you perusal…
On boosting adult literacy with Jo Dawson from Quickreads
“As heavy readers, publishers have trouble imagining what it’s like not to be able to read well. It’s something we all forget about in the industry because we’re in this bubble of people who do read and believe that books are important.”
After the bestseller: an interview with author Kate Hamer
“I just try to focus on what’s going down on the page every day. What will happen will happen, but the page is the one thing I can control.”
This week for the BookBrunch interview, I got together with Ella Kahn and Bryony Woods of the Diamond, Kahn & Woods Literary Agency to discuss this year’s Trailblazer Award success and the future of agenting. For the full article, head over to BookBrunch, or read the snippet below:
As the deadline approaches for this year’s Trailblazers Awards, run by the London Book Fair (LBF) in partnership with the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) and BookBrunch, we catch up with two of last year’s winners, Ella Kahn and Bryony Woods, of Diamond Kahn & Woods Literary Agency. They discussed how the award has affected business for the better, why they made the decision to set up their own agency, and what the future holds.
In the four years since Diamond Kahn & Woods got started, the agency has accrued 50 clients and placed over 40 books, managed between Woods, Kahn and their colleague Elinor Cooper, who joined in April last year.
However, the agency was conceived long before this, when Woods and Kahn met during their Publishing MA at UCL in 2009-2010. “As friends, we had always known we both wanted to go into agenting, and joked about setting up our own agency together one day in the distant future, when we were both eminent agents with big lists of clients and grey hair,” Woods explains. Continue reading BookBrunch | The Weekly Interview with Ella Kahn and Bryony Woods of Diamond Kahn & Woods Literary Agency
I’ve been on a bit of an adventure since I last posted, reporting on Sharjah International Book Fair in the UAE for BookBrunch! What an extraordinary place it was and I’m very grateful to Sharjah Book Authority and Midas Public Relations, London who showed me such overwhelming hospitality while I was there.
If you’re interested in the news from the Fair, check out these articles – including an interview with Ahmed bin Rakkad al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority:
Continue reading Report from Sharjah International Book Fair 2016
I penned a little piece for the lovely folks over at BookMachine today. Get started with the excerpt below, or read the full piece for FREE over on the BookMachine blog.
Reader analytics are garnering huge attention at the moment and there are at least four major talks at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair discussing how and why publishers and authors can collect data on their readers. But with reader analytics taking the spotlight in publishing, the debate over the ethics of data harvesting and its uses has been brought to our doorstep.
Consensual data is happy data
The big issues around data harvesting are not just what information businesses and official organisations are collecting about us, it’s whether or not they’re doing it with our consent. For once, however, publishing is ahead of the curve on getting this one right.
Continue reading BookMachine | Observing the audience: how reader analytics are influencing the industry
You might remember that a couple of months ago, some of my articles from 2015 were selected for Snapshots III, the third annual collaborative book produced by BookMachine and Kingston University Press. I am pleased to say, you can now get you can get your mitts on your very own copy via Amazon!
If you’re in the industry or a publishing enthusiast, then it’s really worth picking up a copy. It’s full of insightful words from the industry’s movers and shakers as well as savvy predictions about where we’re headed next…
Hurrah and hooray, publication day is here for Stress Less and Believe in Yourself! It’s been a really lovely journey creating these books with Summersdale and I’m so thrilled that they’re finally out in the big wide world.
You can now buy them both from most major bookstores – they’re even listed on the Guardian bookstore! But here are some links for the eager among you… Continue reading Publication Day for Stress Less and Believe in Yourself!
It’s been a fortnight since I updated you all on the BookBrunch interviews, so here’s a double-whammy of industry experts for your Friday perusal…
Michael Bhaskar, co-founder of Canelo
“There’s sometimes this sense that if you’re involved in digital publishing that you wouldn’t celebrate a renaissance in print but we absolutely would! We think it’s brilliant news!”
Sheila Crowley, Curtis Brown
“Obviously, I’m always there to represent the author and try to get the best in terms of the campaign and everything, but I’m also very honest with authors, in terms of where the market is at. Authors do need that education as well. I really love collaborating with publishers and putting the author at the centre of everything. My style is very inclusive and very open.” Continue reading A pair of industry experts in the BookBrunch interview
One of the best things about working in publishing is that you regularly get really awesome post – you know, the kind involving free books.
And the most exciting books of all to unwrap are the ones with your name on the cover! Today, my first authors copies of Stress Less and Believe in Yourself arrived from Summersdale, just in time to welcome me back from holiday, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Continue reading Author copies of Stress Less & Believe in Yourself
This week for the BookBrunch interview, I spent a gorgeous couple of hours talking to top US crime writer Laura Lippman. We discussed her new book, WILD LAKE, the resurgence of crime in the US, and sad happy unicorns…
Without argument, Laura Lippman has to be one of the greatest American crime writers alive today. She speaks in a measured, well-formed manner, with one of those crisp, literary American accents, but there’s something malleable and lithe about her. I get the impression that to Lippman, one should think deeply or not bother to think at all. On a rare visit to the UK to speak at the Harrogate Crime Writers’ Festival, we discussed her new book, WILD LAKE, the resurgence of crime in the US, and sad happy unicorns.
“Wild Lake is from the first line a very conscious – it’s not a homage, a rethinking, or an updating of To Kill A Mockingbird – it’s a what-if scenario applied to the book’s most basic outlines,” begins Lippman. To Kill A Mockingbird is many stories, but at its heart, she says, it is the story of a man who is accused of rape. The woman making the accusation is of the lowest possible class a white woman could be in 1930s United States, and even though a black man would have been deemed of a lower class still, the narrative makes it clear he is a man of integrity, to be admired. Continue reading The BookBrunch Interview with US crime writer Laura Lippman
It’s been a super busy few weeks, but here’s a big update on all the BookBrunch interviews I’ve been doing…
Jeremy Trevathan, publisher at Pan Macmillan
“At its heart, publishing will still just be about books, people reading and the emotional relationship between the reader, the page and the author.”
Anna Jane Hughes from The Pigeonhole
“I would be so sad to see publishers go, because they do such incredible things and I think that the way that a book is supported and cultivated is wonderful. I’ve seen books flourish because someone has shown the author tiny gaps where it doesn’t work, or a marketing team showing the reader how good a book can be. It would be devastating to see that fall.”
George Burgess, founder of Gojimo
“Everyone these days talks about personalised and adaptive learning – the idea that software based on you performance can guide you to the relevant resources – and that’s all based on big data. Data is the key to all of these enhancements that we will see in the future.” Continue reading Big BookBrunch interviews update!
In amongst the post-Brexit chaos, last Friday’s weekly BookBrunch interview was with Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell. As a life-long fan, it was a complete and utter honour getting to talk with him. We talked libraries, political cartoons, getting children reading and a whole lot more. Read the full article over on BookBrunch, or read a snippet here…
Libraries as the source: An interview with Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell
I first met Chris Riddell some weeks ago sketching in the Green Room at Hay Festival. In amongst the cheery chatter, he seemed to exist in a pleasantly peaceful bubble, and that, once again, is the impression I get talking to him on the phone. He’s in his garden apparently, and there are birds singing in the background.
Riddell is a phenomenally successful illustrator, currently holding the title of Children’s Laureate, and on Monday night he became the first person to win the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal three times for his work on The Sleeper and the Spindle, written by Neil Gaiman. Continue reading BookBrunch | The Weekly Interview with Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell
It feels very hard to write anything post-referendum. I’ve been reading Lionel Shiver’s The Mandibles and she writes about “where-were-you-when” moments a lot – Friday morning really felt like one of those moments.
As someone who works in the arts, I find this an absolutely heartbreaking decision for our country to have taken, but it’s also painful more personally as well. I wrote a piece for BookBrunch today on Brexit and the future of literature funding and one of the translators I interviewed for it, Jen Calleja, said: “It feels like the UK has announced that being English and being European, or being English but part something else, is incompatible.” Continue reading BookBrunch | Brexit and the future of literature funding
UK folks, there’s a big old referendum happening tomorrow, so get your box-crossing pens at the ready! I don’t mind which way you vote but please, please make sure you do vote. For many of us this may be the most important issue we ever vote on and your voice counts as much as everyone else’s.
If your still on the fence, here’s a piece I wrote up for BookMachine on how the EU affects your rights as a worker. Read the full article right here.
Are yEUr rights protected? Workers’ rights and the EU
It has become fashionable to grumble about ‘EU Red Tape’. However, on closer inspection, these laws that we so easily complain about offer huge protection for workers across the UK.
Rights the EU enforces and protects
Amongst other things, EU law ensures that our government must give workers paid holidays, rights for new mothers, 18 weeks of parental leave, limits on how long we can be forced to work, protection from discrimination against religion, belief, gender assignment, sexuality, age and race. Continue reading BookMachine | Are yEUr rights protected? Workers’ rights & the EU
Once again, I’ve been remiss on BookBrunch interview updates, so here are a couple for your perusal…
“About a year ago, I noticed that some of the best writing in the world – and certainly in this country – is being published by small presses. If I felt I was fairly engaged and involved with the British literary world, and this stuff hadn’t reached my radar, that’s not a failure on my part, or the presses, but the bit in between, the media. It made me realise that I had to do something.”
Costa-shortlisted novelist Neil Griffiths on his latest endeavour: the Republic of Consciousness Prize for small independent publishers. Read the full article here. Continue reading BookBrunch | A Duo of Discussions
Last night saw the launch of Snapshots III, the third annual collaborative book produced by BookMachine and Kingston University Press. Once again, the Kingston Publishing MA students have got together to pick their favourite BookMachine articles and turn them into a blook – which this year included a few of mine!
To celebrate, myself and fellow featured columnists Seonaid McLeod and Alison Jones each gave a ten minute talk on where we thought publishing was headed. Alison talked about how publishers can succeed – and fail – at selling books in the current environment, while Seonaid highlighted the interconnectedness currently growing in publishing markets around the world. My talk was all about lobsters, which are more relevant to publishing that you might think.
Continue reading Lobsters & Publishing: BookMachine launches Snapshots III