Innovation is in the blood

If there was one dominant theme coming of out the London Book Fair last week it was of an industry taking a pause, drawing in a big deep breath and working out what comes next. At Digital Minds, the author Nick Harkaway said that publishers liked to reach a plateau and then wait for the next innovation to run them down. In my Leader column for The Bookseller last week, I took issue with this. Just because the activity isn’t visible, and the answers are not forthcoming, does not mean that publishing isn’t thinking about it. Read more »

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The end of the beginning

After the excesses of the early years, did we all wake up in 2013 with a digital hangover? It can sometimes feel like it. Coming off the back of three years of treble-digit e-book growth, last year’s growth rate, of around 20%, was a detoxifier. In truth though, this party has barely even begun. As Amara’s Law argues, we tend to overestimate the impact of digital changes in the short term, but underestimate them in the long run. Read more »

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We need to talk about start-ups

Last week the reading platform Readmill announced that it was slipping into oblivion after failing to make a business case to funders for its continuation. Like too many publishing start-ups, Readmill floundered not because it wasn’t a good idea, well executed, but simply because it ran out of time. Read more »

Talking the talk

Anyone who has met her will know that Simon & Schuster's US chief executive Carolyn Reidy is not shy of speaking her mind. I interviewed her at Frankfurt some years ago and found myself wondering whether I should run ALL of the quotes she gave me. Read more »

What Penguin Random House isn't doing

Publishers are not short of advice from social media. But are they listening? My hunch is no. Read more »

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The secret e-book market: 8 months of digital rankings

The Bookseller published its first e-book ranking in August reporting on publisher digital sales in June. Eight rankings later and we are beginning to see the shape of the market, and how it has developed over the half-year. Read more »

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Old possum's piece of publishing wisdom

Anyone involved in the book business will have found it impossible to read Robert McCrum's Observer piece, From bestseller to bust: is this the end of an author's life?, without a mixture of emotions. If the twitter response was anything to go by there would have been a range, from defensiveness to denial; from anger to agony. And so on. Read more »

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Publishing's hits and misses

"Self-publishing through Amazon changed my life but the way Macmillan have handled me has made that grow." And so writes the author Kerry Wilkinson in a blog about his journey from self-published 'Kindle King' to Pan Macmillan author. Read more »

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The fall of the house of books

Format shift doesn't always work as you'd imagine. It is an interesting quirk of publishing history that when paperbacks began to drive the market in the 1970s and 80s, they were often published by specialist publishers unrelated to the publisher of the hardback edition. These paperback publishers licensed the rights off the hardback publisher--and only over time did these publishers get consumed into the bigger houses, and authors accept the inevitable verticalization of their output, whereby their primary publisher became their only publisher across all formats. Read more »

Hugh Howey's revolution

On Radio 4's Today programme this week I overheard a discussion between climate change denier Nigel Lawson and the climate scientist Sir Brian Hoskins. It ought to have been a slam-dunk for Hoskins. Not only is Britain experiencing the worst floods in a life-time, but no serious person now denies that man-made climate change is a reality. But actually Lawson came out on top. Where Hoskins expressed quite reasonable scientific doubt, Lawson was confident, bombastic, and assured. Lawson's best rhetorical technique was to use Hoskins' words against him. Read more »

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