Month: November 2010

Faber teams up with Touch Press for galaxy iPad guide | theBookseller.com

Not much to see here you might think on the surface. A company announcing a new product and a partnership at an industry event.

But hold on! It’s Faber (yeah, that Faber) not DK making the announcement. Who would ever have expected a solar system App from them?

What’s more, the partnership is not just another sign of just how established brands face challenges from all across the board (and Faber’s own brand is threatened too), but it shows that savvy publishers like Faber can move fairly rapidly in the digital space.

Faber is publishing an e-book app on the solar system in its first collaboration with digital publishers Touch Press.

The new venture was unveiled today at The Bookseller’s FutureBook Conference in London where Henry Volans, head of Faber Digital and Max Whitby, co-founder of Touch Press showcased their launch title, Solar System for iPad.

The interactive book, priced £7.99 and available from the App store next month, is written by New Scientist cosmology consultant Marcus Chown. He previously wrote popular science book Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You (Faber). The new book, a complete guide to our solar system, uses interactive software to include ‘multi-touch’ 3D planets and custom-made animations and videos.

via Faber teams up with Touch Press for galaxy iPad guide | theBookseller.com.

The Arts & The Crisis! A Kiosk Appearance

I was on Nadine O’Regan’s The Kiosk show last Saturday discussing the impact of the economic crisis on the Arts. Critic and journalist Sara Keating was in studio with me and Angela Dorgan of First Music Contact (they of Hard Working Class Heroes) was on the line (the snow caused some travel trouble) and we had a lively discussion about whether or not the Arts had felt the positive impact of the Celtic Tiger or whether artists had largely been left behind.

On balance I was with Sara in much of what she said about the growth of Arts administration versus the funding for artists themselves and I think that comes through in my little rant about focusing funds on bursaries and direct funding to artists as the develop their skills.

However, I think myself and Angela were on the same page over the reality that most artists, writers, musicians, actors or playwrights make very little money, in good times or bad so the recession will hardly impact them. It’s one of the reasons why a reduction in the artists exemption doesn’t bother me too much.

The audio from the show can be listened to here (27 November clip)

While we are at it, The Arts Council’s Arts Audiences working group has released some interesting data on Arts Attendances in Ireland, worth a good look through.

Twitter And Creativity: The IMF Dublin Diary

One of the reasons I like Twitter is that people can use it to create personas and characters. Sometimes these are fake accounts of real characters or faux profiles mocking celebrities and sometimes they are the imagined accounts of fictional characters like the example below:

What happens far less, but something I believe will begin to happen more (and has been part of several projects I’ve seen), is original or newly created fictional characters inhabiting social and web spaces. Penguin used Twitter and blogs to tell Slice, one of the stories in their We Tell Stories experiment.

Which brings me to the IMF Dublin Diary a twitter and blog creation of another Twitterer and blogger, The Mire. That word creation is the important word, because this is creation, it is art in the true (if un-stuffy) sense. The imagined thoughts of the IMF’s (not) pointman in Dublin, it is rich satire and high comedy (though dark given its content) and what is more it uses the medium very well.

You could argue that all it does is take an old idea and transfer it to a new medium and while that’s true, I think it does it very well. The execution is precise and measured, the tone feels right and the reflections on Irish society, ministers and civil servants have, at least for those of us living through what are strange and interesting times, a ring of truth, along with a splash of whimsy and a sprinkle of insanity.

Go Read This | When Your Core Competency Is No Longer Core to the Business You’re In « The Scholarly Kitchen

So just what business are publishers in?

So how did Sears falter? (I’ll leave Montgomery Ward aside as by the mid-1990s they had a number of fatal problems with their management unrelated to the emergence of the Web).

It’s tempting to just say Sears didn’t understand the Internet, but that is not the case. Sears, after all, developed Prodigy with IBM in the 1980s. They did, in fact, know more about the Internet and the emerging Web than just about any other retailer. What they did not understand was the business they were in. They continued to cling to the wrong core competency (retail stores) while their online business remained secondary.

Sears thought it was in the catalog business and, more recently, in the retail store business. It was not. It was, and remains, in the retail sales and distribution business. The mechanisms of sales and distribution may change over time, and keeping ahead of those trends is the key to remaining successful.

via When Your Core Competency Is No Longer Core to the Business You’re In « The Scholarly Kitchen.

Go Read This | Introducing the new Angry Robot digital short story store :: Angry Robot Books

Meant to talk about this before. Frankly it’s a sensible and savvy move, like nearly everything Angry Robot/Osprey do.

Why books need to be substantial in a digital environment I don’t now. In fact brevity may now be a key winning element. That’s mostly the logic behind my own recent titles at The Irish Story.

The pricing is keen too, which I think makes them even more tempting!

On December 1st 2010, Angry Robot will be launching “Nano Editions”. Exclusive to the publisher’s own webstore at angryrobotstore.com, Nanos are digital short stories by Angry Robot novelists, sold at sensible prices in ePub format, ready to load onto the world’s most popular eBook readers.

Most Nanos will be in the 5,000 – 15,000 word range. Shorter works than that will be automatically bundled with another story to ensure value for money.

Talking of which – stories will cost just 59p each (approximately US $0.95). Readers can bundle a collection of any 10 by any combination of authors, for only £3.49 (US$5.59). The files will be DRM-free and available worldwide. If demand for the stories takes off, AR plan to also sell them via eBook retailers.

via Introducing the new Angry Robot digital short story store :: Angry Robot Books.

Quick Link | News « Quercus Books

Wow, big move this. I’ve a sense that Sci-Fi and Fantasy will be a hotbed of new things for some time to come!

Quercus Publishing is delighted to announce that Jo Fletcher is joining the company in January 2011 to launch a new fiction imprint, Jo Fletcher Books.

The new imprint will enhance Quercus’ award-winning fiction programme and is expected to quickly become a leader in the field of SF, fantasy and horror. Jo Fletcher is Associate Publisher of Gollancz, the fantasy and science fiction imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, where her authors include Sir Terry Pratchett, the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Charlaine Harris, Stephen Donaldson, Robert Rankin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joe Hill, and Polish superstar Andrzej Sapkowski.

via News « Quercus Books.

Go Read This | Book battle: Dymocks considers offshore option – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Fascinating story this. I’ve heard and been part of a few conversations about this phenomenon for some time. It is interesting both from the perspective of the booksellers and the publishing, and the state’s perspective. It demonstrates the way that external actors can undermine a state’s tax base. I wonder if, like in some US states, the government will actually start imposing a sales tax on foreign/non-state based outlets?

Take Stieg Larsson’s international bestseller, The Millennium Trilogy The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Even on sale, they’re still $16 more expensive in store than from the UK, including delivery.

That is the dilemma for one of Australia’s biggest book sellers. Dymocks is considering moving its online business offshore because it says it cannot compete with cheap, online sales.

Dymocks chief executive Don Grover says overseas retailers have an unfair advantage because they do not pay GST.

“Dymocks has been in the business for 130 years, and we’re actually now having to make a decision about whether or not to move our online business offshore,” he told the ABC.”

It would actually make more sense for us to send books from an overseas location back into Australia and avoid the GST. To give a competitive advantage to overseas web sites of 10 per cent is just unsustainable.”

Don Grover says his company is already trimming its margins, and the success of cheap, international web sites is making it hard to compete.

via Book battle: Dymocks considers offshore option – ABC News Australian Broadcasting Corporation.