Day: April 4, 2006

Publishing & the Future

When I’m not ill I work in publishing which is neither as glamourous as people would have you believe nor as harsh as some career guides make it sound. At least I have not found it to be so.

It is an industry in transition and if you doubt that read this article on Cnet. Borders will be selling new Sony hand held e-readers if it is to be believed. I am not sure how successful e-readers will be, I am not sure actual readers will be willing to forgo the feel of a book in their hands or the sight of books on their shelf. Half the fun is showing off how well read your are surely! (Tongue firmly in cheek)

Even little old Ireland is open to change though, so there is room for me to be shown incorrect. Aforementioned Borders will soon be opening a 20,000 sq ft store in Dublin with, I don’t doubt, a few more to follow. I have to say I welcome them, both as a reader and a book publisher. The control that certain stores currently excercise over the market stifles competition. And Irish bookstores are nowhere near as impressive as their international rivals.

It has been great to see Hughes & Hughes rolling out new stores and suprisingly I am a huge fan of supermarkets selling books. Tesco and Dunnes are perfect locations to sell books. If consumers are willing to make decision on €200 electronics and €700 computers in such stores than deciding on a €6, €9 or €10 book is surely of little consequence. If anything it may even open up a new market and new readers for books.

Publishing is also faced with the need to respond to online challenges like lulu.com which frees authors and content producers from the need to ever engage with a publisher.

That is without even mentioning more boring threats such as industry wide price cutting, the rise and rise of publishing giants, the difficulties of getting good new authors and their work talked about and recognised (for an interesting development in this are see MacMillan New Writing which I rather admire) and the ever rising number of books being published.

All in all publishing has some fun ahead. And I intend to enjoy it.

Narrative History – An Underrated Genre

This post doesn't really have much to do with economics, politics and only historical relevance to Europe but I am unwell today so I needed to fill my time.

I recently read two Tom Holland Books, Persian Fire and Rubicon. Both are really excellent reads and should be thought of as excellent history books too. Persian Fire especially kept from interest from start to finish and Rubicon was truly excellent in bringing to life the characters of the major players in Rome towards the end of the Roman Republic.

Most certainly the best narrative histories I have read in a few years and beyond doubt the best classical history books I have read since finishing college.

I cannot help but admire the character of such figures as Gaius Julius Caesar, or Mark Anthony and even Pompey or Marius. The Greeks emerge as sparkling in their verve and toweringly proud. The descriptions of the dealings that went with Grecian politics during the Persian invasions and the creation of the massive Persian empire are excellently readable and very well captured.

Holland has an impressive talent in non-fiction and one I look forward to reading more from. Strangely enough he is also an successful fiction author and I have yet to sample his work in that field.