Ireland

I Wrote A Comment On IPN | Irish Booksellers Are Missing Out On Digital Sales | Irish Publishing News

It’s about booksellers and ebooks:

Last week a new science-fiction and fantasy title, A Dance With Dragons, sold 2,200 copies in hardback in Ireland. What’s more, it did so at over €20 per copy. An impressive result and a great boost for the booksellers who sold it.

In countries like the US and the UK though the same book sold huge numbers of hardback copies AND huge numbers of ebook editions, 170,000 print copies and 110,000 e-book copies1 on its first day of sales alone in the US according to its US Publisher, Random House. In the UK, the Bookseller reports that, ‘HarperCollins sold more than 10,000 e-books’ and ‘ 28,840 copies last week in bookshops.’2

You would imagine that with a perfect opportunity to increase the visibility of ebooks in Ireland and with a clear market for the ebook version, Irish booksellers would have been keen to exploit the interest. You’d be wrong. No Irish bookseller sold a single copy of

via Friday Comment: Irish Booksellers Are Missing Out On Digital Sales | Irish Publishing News.

A counterpoint to this The British James Joyce by Brenda Maddox – TLS

So this month I published a book. It was an incredible experience, especially because it was with a talented author and about a fascinating topic. The book is called A Little Circle Of Kindred Minds: Joyce in Paris and it’s written by Conor Fennell. As you might imagine, it is about James Joyce and the group of friends he built up during the twenty years he spent in Paris. All of which serves as precursor to the article below from The Times Literary Supplement yesterday:

“There Joyce continued to retreat from formal Irish identity. At the end of 1931, when his father died in Dublin, he would not go to Ireland for the funeral, as he felt he would not be safe from prosecution. In 1932, he declined an invitation to a St Patrick’s Day party in Paris when told the Irish ambassador would be there; he feared his presence might imply an endorsement of the new Free State. That same year he refused an invitation from W. B. Yeats to become a member of the new Irish Academy of Letters as “I see no reason why my name should have arisen at all in connection with such an academy” (though he wished it success). Indeed, as he was writing Finnegans Wake, he asked Miss Weaver, “Why go on writing about a place I did not dare to go to at such a moment, where not three persons know me or understand me . . ?”.

via The British James Joyce by Brenda Maddox – TLS. I wanted to suggest that what Maddox is saying is just not plausible. Especially when you consider just how obsessed with Dublin Joyce was. Just as an example I thought I’d share a little of Conor’s excellent book:

Austin Clarke got similar treatment when, in the winter of
1923, he used to meet Joyce promptly at 6pm outside the
church of St Sulpice. The two would adjourn to a quiet café
where, after a long silence, Joyce would ask: ‘Is Mulvaney’s
shop still there at the corner?’ – the first of many
questions.
When Kenneth Reddin arrived at Joyce’s apartment in
Square Robiac he found it full of Irish newspapers, including
provincial ones. He was impressed that Joyce was able to
recall the smart remarks by witnesses at Kilmainham
District Court over which Reddin presided.
At dinner at the Trianons Joyce challenged him and the
artist Patrick Tuohy to name the shops from Amiens
Street station (now Connolly station) to Nelson’s Pillar,
first on one side then back on the other. ‘Mostly he was
three or four shops in front of us,’ said Reddin. ‘When
Tuohy and I left a gap, he filled it. When he named a new
proprietor, he named, and remembered the passing of, the
old.’

When you read about the man in that way it becomes impossible to believe he was anything but Irish in the true sense. Yes he might have, at times, had issues with the state and even some of the people, but there was no way he could be described a s British as Maddox seems to claim. I could say you should read more of Conor’s book to uncover the truth and I really do think that would help, but perhaps that might be just a little self-serving!

Garret FitzGerald

Some years ago, when Ciaran Lawlor was auditor of the Literary & Historical Society, I was asked if I’d like to deliver a paper to the society. I, of course, said yes and used the opportunity to speak pretty forcefully (there are those who will say crazily) about the need for the EU to be an active (military) force for good in the world, because no-one else would do it.

One of the respondents, the one who cut me right down to size, was Garret FitzGerald (who served as a vice-president of the society) who very sadly passed away this week.

Garret may have destroyed many of my arguments with considerable eloquence but he was also the one who before and after I delivered the paper was full of amazing stories and funny lines about his various adventures, and when he spoke of them, they did sound like adventures. He had no sense of superiority about him and engaged with everyone as equals.

I felt honoured then and I feel even more honoured now. More than that though I feel lucky, lucky that I have lived in a state that was home to such a man, that I had the fortune to meet and speak with him and had the opportunity to experience a firm intellectual drubbing (good for the soul) from him. I feel lucky to have lived in a time when his leadership was a force for such good in the country.

There’s just no replacing Garret FitzGerald. We are, as a nation, impoverished by his passing.

An LA Trip

So I travelled to LA for the LA Times Festival Of Books, an absolutely excellent event.

I was there to represent Irish Publishers at the Imagine Ireland stand and I was accompanied by a host of authors including Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Kevin Power, Peter Sirr, Tom McCarthy, Molly McCloskey, Brian Dillon and Joe Woods. Joe had a dual role, he was also representing Poetry Ireland alongside Jane O’Hanlon.

I had a great time and got to meet up with lots of folk while I was there including the wonderful Kassia and Kirk.

On the Thursday I took a trip down to the beach, Venice Beach, and took some pics. Hope you like them!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Monday ReformCard Meeting

Warning, NOT PUBLISHING RELATED

So it’s election time in Ireland. One of my friends, Johnny Ryan, is one of the bods behind ReformCard.com an interesting experiment to rate and rank Irish political parties’ plans for political reform. They are having a meeting at lunchtime on Monday where the parties will get a chance top respond to their assigned rank. It should be fun! See Johnny’s note below:

Re: Meeting – Monday

Hi!

Joe and I are hosting a Reformcard event on Monday that we would like to invite you to. Attendance is free, and all are welcome.

We’re bringing representatives from all the major political parties to the Sugarclub at lunch time on Monday 21st, and they are going to respond to their Reform Scorecards and to the crowd.

This will be the last opportunity for most people to directly engage with the political representatives before the election – which will be only 4 days away by Monday.

Details: Monday, 21 Feb, at 1.00 at the Sugar Club on Lesson St. Dublin 2. The event is a Reformcard public forum, and Pat Leahy of the Sunday Business Post will be moderating.

Pat Rabbitte, Labour Party; Eamon Ryan, Green Party; Phil Hogan, Fine Gael; Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Fein; and Averil Power, Fianna Fail; will be speaking.

Admission is free – Transparency International are covering costs.

Full details are on the event’s Facebook page (you can RSVP here too):
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198142726878511

Poster + map are at
http://www.reformcard.com/realreform

To see recent media coverage about Reformcard seehttp://www.reformcard.com/media

Please pass the word around – the more the merrier.

Johnny

Folks Quoting Me | Final chapter for much-loved Dublin bookstore – The Irish Times – Thu, Feb 03, 2011

I’m quoted (wearing my IPN hat) in the Irish Times today about the Waterstone’s closures in Dublin. Real shame those stores are closing:

Eoin Purcell editor of Irish Publishing News says the Dublin closures are particularly unfortunate given the city’s new title of Unesco City of Literature. “I think there is great sense among readers, writers and publishers that we are losing something. It is a real shame. People will miss it. The Dawson Street branch is a fantastic store with enormous range. Some books there you wouldn’t find in most stores. It has an amazing military history section, for example. You can find these books online but going to the shelf and browsing and looking through books – there’s nothing like it.”

via Final chapter for much-loved Dublin bookstore – The Irish Times – Thu, Feb 03, 2011.

A Writer’s Ire Misdirected & An Odd Counterpoint

Transworld Ireland gets quite a battering from Aiden O’Reilly’s 21 December open letter. He lambasted publisher Eoin McHugh* with a wonderfully amusing paragraph:

I decided not to bother sending my manuscript to you. I cannot have any trust that it would get serious attention. I would not fit in among the authors on your list. Even if you decided to publish me, I would not feel comfortable with your publishing house.

Personally I think the target poorly chosen and the tone a little too much for my liking, but I do understand the frustration of writers in Aiden’s position which regardless of my thoughts on the subject he puts well:

I put this question to you: What is your ethos? What is your company’s ethos?

When I go to my local restaurant, the owner tells me he wishes to bring authentic and excellent Indonesian cuisine to Dublin. A building company run by a friend will strive to use Irish materials in an energy-efficient manner. None of them will say: “I need to maximise income for my shareholders in a very difficult market.”

What is your ethos Sir? Do you have any sense of responsibility that you are shaping a new generation of writers?

I see also that you were previously a book buyer at Easons, a company known for playing a role in the literary life of the nation. Was there some sense when Transworld Ireland was set up in 2007, that it should promote new writing that reflects what’s happening in this country? Is there any sense of responsibility for seeking out good writing wherever it may be found?

via The Stoneybatter Files – News.

Oddly enough, I stumbled across another blog today, from a  writer too (one Stephen Leather), with a much different attitude to the world and for his good fortune a better outcome:

Last month I sold 44,334 books on Kindle UK. That’s a lot of books. I don’t know of any Indie author who even comes close to that in the UK. I know that I’m not a true Indie author in that I am also published by one of the best publishing houses around – Hodder and Stoughton. But I have published five books on my own and they are true Indie books.

I know of only one Indie author who sells more than me in the US and that’s paranormal romance writer Amanda Hocking – and she sells more than twice as many as me.

I’m putting my December sales figures onto my blog so that people can see for themselves where my sales are coming from.

In December it was my vampire book Once Bitten that sold best, accounting for 22,607 sales. Interestingly it is my New York serial killer story, The Basement, that is currently selling best – and heading the Kindle UK bestseller list. But in December it was lagging behind Once Bitten with 17,321 sales. For most of December Once Bitten and The Basement were Number 1 and Number 2 in the Kindle UK bestseller list respectively. As of today, it’s The Basement that’s Number 1.

via I Sold 44,334 Kindle Books in December

It is a strange phenomenon in this age of digital books, that authors CAN now serve very large markets with a single account and do darn well out of it.

I’m not saying that Aiden’s solution is to jump on the independent publishing bandwagon, perhaps that’s not his bag and not every independent author will sell such huge numbers, but I am saying that the things he writes about are the frustrations consequential to his choice. Had he chosen to publish independently his frustrations would be different ones, but real nonetheless.

Writing is a frustrating career choice, wether ploughing the traditional route or trying the newer independent forms, but it IS a choice. Commercial publishers, as crass as you might think their list to be, are not the cause of your problems, nor a suitable target for your ire.

Eoin

*It’d be wise for me to point out that I know Eoin, have met with him on several occasions in both a business and more recreational situations both since he joined Transworld and when he was at Easons and have a lot of respect for him.