Irish Books

Go Read This | Is This The End For New Zealand Publishing? | Stuff.co.nz

New Zealand MapReally wonderful piece over in The Dominion Post about book publishing in New Zealand. It has serious echoes of the Irish market and many of the same problems crop up for the publishers there.

I wrote a column for The Irish Times that touched on some of the issues mentioned. This really is interesting throughout and a must for anyone who wants to understand small market publishing:

Varnham struggles to secure writers. Who can afford to take months off to research and write a book for a $3000 advance? More government support – for writers and publishers – would help.
And, she says, ebooks are not the answer. They’re a fabulous way to get books out worldwide but sales are minimal and the return to the publisher is tiny.

“I think the answer for us is to persuade New Zealanders to buy more New Zealand books.”
She credits Awa’s survival to bookshops such as Wellington’s Unity, which stacks front windows with Kiwi stories.

“I always say I need valium before I go into the average bookstore in New Zealand. It’s so distressing if you don’t see your own books properly displayed and you just walk through a towering mountain of Dan Brown and The Hunger Games. Not to mention Fifty Shades of Grey.”

The only way bookshops will survive, says Booksellers chief executive Lincoln Gould, is if they work together with publishers to find new sales models.

In his less gloomy moments, Walker sees opportunity for small independents or writer co-operatives such as those emerging in the United States.

via Is This The End For New Zealand Publishing? | Stuff.co.nz.

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The Gill Family Takes Full Control Of Gill & Macmillan

Gill   Macmillan   HomeSome of the most interesting news in Irish publishing for some time tripped across my phone line and email inbox last night. The Gill Family has bought out Macmillan’s 50% share of one of Ireland’s largest trade and educational publishers, Gill & Macmillan.

It’s a fascinating move on many fronts. Firstly it’s nice to see such a large element of the Irish trade firmly in local hands, that’s healthy for the Irish industry given how heavily exposed to outside publishers it already is. Secondly it indicates that Macmillan’s strategic interests no longer include holding such a complex position in a joint venture like G&M. Lastly it lays the ground for interesting years ahead as the newly focused Gill (no longer & Macmillan?) faces the challenge of Penguin Random House which controls a large chunk of Irish publishing.


See the full press release below:

RELEASE DATE [ Wednesday 14 August at 10am ]
PRESS RELEASE
Gill family takes full ownership of Gill & Macmillan
The Gill family and Macmillan Science and Education, joint owners of Dublin-based publishing company, Gill & Macmillan, have announced that the Gill family has taken full ownership of the company.

The new ownership structure will have no trading consequences for the business and the Gill family, alongside the company’s Management Team, looks forward to building on its current success. A change in name and branding will take place at a later stage.

Gill & Macmillan was founded forty-five years ago in 1968 when Macmillan acquired an interest in the long-established Irish company, M. H. Gill & Son Ltd. Since then the company has become one of the most prominent book publishing and publishing services companies in Ireland. Publishing educational content for Irish schools and colleges has been a major part of Gill & Macmillan’s activities since its foundation. The company is also Ireland’s largest trade publisher as well as providing distribution services to the majority of the country’s independent publishers.

This development marks the next chapter for the Gill family, whose name has been synonymous with books in Ireland for 180 years, since Michael Henry Gill was appointed printer to Dublin University in 1833. Six generations of the family have now been actively involved in management of the business.

Michael Gill, Chairman of Gill & Macmillan said: “This is a very positive development for the company. Now wholly Irish-owned again and continuing to employ more than 70 talented and energetic people here in Dublin, we are excited by the transformative power and many opportunities and challenges provided by the digital age, both in Ireland and worldwide”.

Annette Thomas, CEO of Macmillan Science and Education, said: “The relationship between Macmillan and Gill has, over many years, been a model partnership of collegiate cooperation and shared business interests in this successful company. Whilst the sale of our 50% holding fits within our greater strategic objectives, we are delighted to maintain the many close friendships which have been forged with our colleagues in Dublin.”

The financial details of the sale have not been disclosed.

-ends-
Contacts:
For Gill:
Teresa Daly, Communications Manager, Dublin, Ireland
+353 (01) 500 9521 / +353 (0) 86 838 3559; tdaly@gillmacmillan.ie
For Macmillan Science and Education:
Sarah MacDonald, Group External Communications, London, UK
+44 (0)20 7833 5672 / +44 (0)7714 916798; sarah.macdonald@macmillan.com
Notes for Editors:

About Macmillan Science and Education
Macmillan Science and Education, part of the Holzbrinck Publishing Group, is home to the Macmillan businesses which empower those with curious minds to achieve great things. Through the provision of high-quality content and services to scientists, educationalists, students and academics around the world, Macmillan is changing the way students learn, teachers teach and scientists discover. Operating in over 50 countries with some 5000 employees, the division consists of Nature Publishing Group (NPG), Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education, Macmillan Higher Education, Digital Science, Digital Education and Macmillan New Ventures. For more information, please see http://www.learndiscover.com.

About Gill
Gill & Macmillan is the most prominent book publishing company in Ireland. Drawing on more than one hundred previous years of tradition and experience, Gill & Macmillan publishes educational content for primary and secondary schools as well text books for university, college and further-education courses. Its trade division publishes widely in history, politics, current affairs, sport, entertainment and lifestyle. The company has met the emergence of digital communication by providing e-book versions its bestselling titles alongside a rapidly evolving range of digital resources and tools for teachers and students. The company also provides a comprehensive distribution service for the majority of independent Irish trade publishers. For more information, please see http://www.gillmacmillan.ie.

LitNet NI Literature Forum, Belfast

On Wednesday I spoke at an inspiring event, the LitNet NI Literature Forum in Belfast. It was hosted by the Arts Council Of Northern Ireland and organised by Catherine McInerney of LitNet NI.

It brings together an amazing range of voices and opinions from the literary and publishing sectors in Northern Ireland, from agents to writers, arts officers to librarians, with a good sprinkling of organisers, poets, publishers and academics.

There was a great energy in the room and while the forum is ony a few months old, it seems to have a real head of steam. My read on the future was that it was secure. It seems ready to grow beyond its original founding and beyond indeed the LitNet NI beginnings into a truly inclusive voice for the literary & commercial publishing and reading sector in Norther Ireland.

So you can see why I found it inspiring, but there’s more.

The same day and the same event was the venue for the sectoral launch of PublishingNI a new company dedicated to promoting and growing Northern Irish publishing and writing.

There’s a real energy and passion at work in Northern Irish publishing sector right now and I was excited and pleased to be part of it.

As for what I spoke about, well I started off with a dispassionate overview of how digital publishing and distribution were fundamentally reshaping the world of books and literature, changing models we have come to see as ‘the right way’ of doing things. I got a little carried away towards the end of the talk and discussed the need for a concerted response from the entire reading and writing sector to the encroachment of technology firms intent and leading the sector in a direction of their choosing. Maybe it was in the air.

But then again, maybe it was a bit intemperate, but it’s not untrue.
Eoin

Announcement: The Irish Story & Collca Agree Co-Publishing Deal For Five Apps

I’m really pleased to be able to share this news, it means that at least one (and probably more) of the “Story Of Series” will be available as apps for iOS devices by Christmas.

Press Release
04/11/2010
For Immediate Release

The Irish Story & Collca to Co-publish 5 Titles as Apps
The Irish Story and Collca are delighted to announce that they’ve agreed to develop and co-publish iPhone apps for the first five books in The Story Of series of Irish histories.

The partnership will use Collca’s Condor software and data framework to bring the apps to market in rapid succession starting with John Dorney’s The Story Of The Easter Rising, 1916. The Irish Story and Collca will both actively market the apps which will be available from the Apple iTunes app store as soon they’re published.

The Irish Story publisher, Eoin Purcell, said “I’m very pleased with the deal we have reached. It allows The Irish Story to move beyond ebook formats and into the world of apps, something I’ve been keen to do since day one.”

Mike Hyman, managing director of Collca, added “these books provide a very good overview of key events in Irish history. This deal will help consolidate our position as an electronic publisher of shorter concise texts covering a variety of topics – not just history. I believe that this type of publication lends itself far better to electronic publication than to print.”

Notes to Editors
The Irish Story is a digital first publisher of Irish History titles.

Collca, the co-publishers of the acclaimed History In An Hour series, was founded specifically as an ePublisher. It currently publishes book-derived and other educational and reference mobile apps primarily for the Apple iOS platform (iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch). Collca is also actively planning to adopt the ePUB ebook standard as an additional platform for some new titles.

Further information from:
The Irish Story:
eoin AT eoinpurcell.com

Collca:
mike.hyman@collca.com
+44 7980 821222

Things I Like | Liffey Ships and Shipbuilding – Pat Sweeney | The Irish Catholic

Nice review in The Irish Catholic for Pat Sweeney’s Liffey Ships & Ship Building, one of my commissions while at Mercier Press.

The book is not only the result of very detailed archive research, it shows too the benefit of Pat Sweeney’s skills as a professional photographer in recording so many of the ships while they were still sea-going.

Attractively produced, this is not just a book for the enthusiast, but for anyone at all interested, not just in Dublin’s past, but in a much neglected aspect of our national history.

Over the last few months I have heard three different Government ministers, including Mr Cowen, extolling the importance of ”heritage” to tourism and the creation of those all important ”bed-nights” around which our economy seems to spins.

The ship builders chronicled in these pages are part of that heritage, part of the heritage which the Maritime Institute of Ireland museum was set up to foster, but which central funding has neglected. Let us hope that Pat Sweeny’s excellent book will be a foundation on which a new future for Ireland’s total maritime heritage may be built.

via Books: Liffey Ships and Shipbuilding – Pat Sweeney | The Irish Catholic – Ireland’s biggest and best-selling Catholic newspaper since 1888.

Things I Like | The cabbage plot rebels | Irish Examiner

What a week for books I’ve commissioned it is turning out to be! Laurence Fenton’s The Young Ireland Rebellion and Limerick was featured in the Irish Examiner at the weekend. I’m delighted, it’s a fine book on a fascinating topic:

LAURENCE FENTON has written a tantalising introduction to the events leading to the Young Ireland rebellion of 1848.

The author’s goal was to “explore the manner in which the men and women of Limerick reacted to the tumultuous year of revolutions”.

via The cabbage plot rebels | Irish Examiner.

Things I Like | Tales of the Burren, and other places – The Irish Times

Delighted to see two of my Commissions in the Irish Times at the weekend:

Burren Villages: Tales Of History And Imagination
by Sarah Poyntz

This sense of something beyond the everyday pervades the book, which is a collection of essays about the area and its people. There is a concise, well-put-together account of the history of the area by Poyntz and Jim Hyland, a lyrical description of the personal effect of the beauty of the Burren by Tony Hartnett (“There is something here that pulls at you inside”) and a deeply personal piece by Lelia Doolan, who spent her childhood summers in the Burren.

And

Bygone Limerick: The City And County In Days Gone By
by Hugh Oram

a lavishly illustrated portrait of the city and county, charting the changes in the historical areas, such as the Georgian Quarter and St John’s Castle, as well as towns and villages such as Adare, Bruree, Kilmallock and Newcastlewest. One of the more fascinating sections is about the building of the Shannon scheme at Ardnacrusha, which put Ireland on the map internationally and helped to raise the profile of the infant Irish Free State abroad.

via Tales of the Burren, and other places – The Irish Times – Sat, Aug 21, 2010.