High Society – The kind of press you don’t need

Eoin Purcell

UPDATE: THIS IS GETTING QUITE CONFUSING NOW. I WAS ON LUNCHTIME WITH EAMON KEANE COMMENTING ABOUT IT. MY ONLY TASK WAS TO SAY WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE IF PRESENTED WITH THE BOOK. I’M FAIRLY SURE G&M DID EVERYTHING I SUGGESTED.


Publishing is about risk

The risk of losing money and of a book flopping, the risk of missing the market and in some cases, the risk of believing someone you shouldn’t and taking the brunt of that when your error is uncovered. This has blown up in publishers faces recently. The James Frey episode being a glaring example of it. What seemed a true and exciting memoir was in fact an embellished, only partly true account.

There is no evidence that that is what has happened in the case of Gill & MacMillan’s recent book The High Society. In this case, it seems not to be a case of lying. By the account of RTÉ and G&M there are, at the very least, contemporaneous notes about every interview conducted for the book and accompanying TV series. That satisfies me if not others, we have always trusted journalists notes and I don’t see why we shouldn’t in this instance.

But it still must be unsettling when stories like this one emerge about a very controversial book:

RTÉ and Gill & Macmillan declined requests to see interview transcripts claiming confidentiality agreements, but they both said they remained confident about the authenticity of the material.

And when the follow up is a clip of the author on radio saying something that turns out not to be the case, its damn worrying. After all, we operate on a trusting basis with most authors and we rely on their word.

Feeling a little bad for G&M, RTÉ and Justine Delany-Wilson today, the whole affair strikes me as a concentrated effort to bring doubt onto a book that challenged the “great”, the “good” and the powerful in Ireland to face up to and tackle our Drugs problem (though the whole thing will most like sell more books).
Eoin

Kindle: Good luck avoiding that story today

UPDATED STORY MARK II: KINDLE LAUNCHES WORLDWIDE – 7 October 2009

UPDATED: From Endgadget’s Live blogging:
Seems very smart to me:

9:55 – “We didn’t like this solution either. So instead we chose EV-DO cellular. … as soon as I tell you we’re using EV-DO that should cause a second set of concerns, a whole new thing to worry about. Everybody knows that using these wireless cell networks there’s a data plan, a contract, a monthly bill. But we didn’t like that, either. So we built Amazon Whispernet. It’s built on top of Sprint’s EV-DO network. There’s no data plan, no contract, no bill. We pay for all of that behind the scenes so you can just read. What are you going to read?”

[hat tip to the bookseller]


MOST HYPED BOOK STORY OF ALL TIME (EXCEPTING HARRY POTTER, DAVINCI CODE and a few others)

Newsweek

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos already built a better bookstore. Now he believes he can improve upon one of humankind’s most divine creations: the book itself.

read/write web

Amazon Sets eBook World Alight with Kindle – Finally, Time For Read/Write Books!

O’Reilly

I’m rooting for Jeff and the Kindle. I’m not sure that he’s going to win his bet that people will use a single-purpose device rather than reading on a multi-function device like the iPhone and its successors. But I’m also not sure he needs to. Even if some other device becomes the reader of choice, Amazon will still become one of the leading sources of the books that feed it. All Amazon needs to do here is move the industry forward, and I think that’s already been accomplished.

Howard Owens
Seth Godin
Ryan Sholin
The Book Depository
PaidContent.org
Lorcan Dempsey’s Weblog
Book Patrol

Yup, you can run, but you sure a hell cannot hide!
Eoin

Quote of the day:

Eoin Purcell

guess it’s a constant cycle. “The greatest generation” is always the one that’s about to die. (Really, who can debate them? There’s no one around to argue that the greatest generation was actually those born between, say, 1620-1650.)

Oh there is more where that came from: here

Great Stuff:
Eoin

Hardbacks, Paperbacks & customer choice

Eoin Purcell

Sometimes I wonder about publishing
We seem happy to give the reader what they want in content terms and we seem happy to let them dictate the direction of our publishing. Witness the endless lists of celebrity biography, sports biography, misery memoirs and true crime. But, when it comes to format we have been forcing Hardbacks on them and pretending that they have some innate value.

Like most publishers, Mercier has encountered one of the main reasons why hardbacks happen, Authors. Mostly it happens like this:

    1) Author is happy to be signed and get a deal but expresses a desire to see book in hardback
    2) We explain that that decision will rest on out judgment of the market and a dozen or so factors around pricing, market segment, competition etc.
    3) Author agrees but is still reluctant to have paperback (hardback being perceived as more prestigious)
    4) Book is released in paperback and sells well
    5) author sees book of another author in hardback and feels that they have been short changed by publisher
    6) Publisher goes through the numbers, your book sold 3 time the number of that authors title. The markets in question were completely different and we priced and produced both books in market appropriate ways
    7) Author reluctantly accepts logic but expresses desire for hardback edition of next book. Process continues

I’m not dissing authors here. In their defense, often national papers make much more noise over hardback releases than paperback ones for reasons unknown to me (do journalists suffer from a belief in the super-prestigiousness of hardbacks?). But the evidence I have gained is that except for specific titles, when hardback release is a must, the bulk of non-fiction and fiction sells best in a paperback format and that is that. Even authors who can see past the lur eof hardbacks will agree, like Harry Bingham.

The reason I broach the topic is because Pan are moving to paperback and hardback releases simultaneously in the spring of 2008 and the comment this has generated has been impressive:
Scott Pack
The Bookseller News A
The Bookseller News B
Philip Jones

All formats at the same time seems to me the best option, be that hardback, paperback, e-book, audiobook of whatever. That we might force a reader to buy in a certain format seems bizarre to me. If hardbacks were cheaper I’d say split the run and do a few hundred hardbacks with every paperback and sell them as special edition like The Friday Project is proposing.

Perhaps I am best leaving the last word to Andrew Kidd writing on Pan’s very fine blog:

In the end, there is no one solution. However the work is delivered, our aim is for our writers to find as many readers as possible. The first two titles in the initiative will be Andrew Crumey’s Sputnik Caledonia and Joanne Proulx’s Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet. We look forward to seeing what happens.

Pleased by the news
Eoin