Irish Publishing

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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Putting Things In Perspective | E-book sales data, the truth is out there | FutureBook

The Bookseller released publisher sourced data on ebook sales. There’s reason to be somewhat skeptical of the information in the sense that it is seller supplied and while non-one is saying it, there is the minute danger that some padding or exaggeration could creep in. However, the reality is that these figures are probably a very good approximation of where sales are in the UK (with the caveat as The Bookseller notes, that self-publishers are not represented*):

The basic numbers are clear. The data shows that the e-book market for traditionally published digital books is much bigger than previously thought, with estimates suggesting that a total number of 65 million e-books were sold in 2012, representing a value of about £200m – at least double what it was in 2011 in volume terms more than double. That would mean the overall book market grew in 2012, despite spending on print books falling £74m.

via E-book sales data, the truth is out there | FutureBook.

To put that in perspective, Nielsen released figures for the 2012 calendar year in Ireland that put sales at “a total of €123.4m and 11.5m units in 2012.”

Even allow for the fact that the Nielsen numbers for Ireland are widely seen as covering maybe 80% of sales, we can assume fairly happily that Irish print sales were well less that €150m and 15m units at the retail level.

Which when you think about it means that the ebook market, just for the UK is already bigger than the entire print market in Ireland. There’s no reason an Irish publisher cant attack that space aggressively and with relevant ebooks just as well as a UK based publisher.

What’s more, even if we assume a smaller growth rate for that digital share (say 10 or 20% in 2013) the market will STILL be larger than the Irish market and the space for growth is STILL more significant that that for most Irish publishers in print form.

Publishers committed to print or still unconvinced by digital sales, the alarm is ringing and you’ve pressed snooze once too many times, ignore it once more and the alarm will stop warning you and you’ll sleep through this change!

 

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*They’ve also excluded some 20p bestsellers. Which I find a little odd, but I can see where they were coming from. Personally, I would have included them.

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.

Making Things Happen: The IPN Premium Annual Report On Irish Publishing

This series is designed to talk about some of the things I’ve been lucky/crazy/happy to get shipped (as Seth Godin might put it) in the last few months. The first post talked about The Irish Story’s first five Apps. This post is going to talk about the IPN Premium Annual Report On Irish Publishing. It might be a little long.

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Where it came from
I suppose I should say that IPN Premium is the paid for imprint of Irish Publishing News, the industry website I run that covers Irish publishing news, features and stories. The idea behind the site was to create a resource for the Irish publishing community. I have another post coming about the site itself, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

IPN Premium then comes from a realisation that Irish publishing, as distinct from other industries, is poorly served by business intelligence and business advice. There is little in the way of market resources with the exception of Nieslen’s impressive but flawed Bookscan service for the Irish Consumer Market. I say flawed because while the most comprehensive analysis available, it covers a debatable portion of the market from 60-75% depending on whose figures you accept. I wanted to change that.

The Irish bookselling industry is worth somewhere in the region of €200 million and has sales of around 18-20 million units a year. That’s not small beer, the industry shouldn’t be relying on guesses, educated or not, about industry information.

What’s more, with the approach of digital publishing and the likelihood that a portion of those sales will shift online into purely digital form over the next five years, it would be crazy not to have a dedicated source of professional information for publishers, booksellers and authors to work from.

The Report itself
So I set to creating the first product, the IPN Premium Annual Report on Irish Publishing which is, at over 30 pages, longer than I intended and filled with more information than I realised it could possibly hold.

It is also reasonably priced because while all that I’ve said above remains true, many smaller publishers don’t have large resources available to them to buy reports.

If you haven’t bought it, and you find publishing interesting you can do so by clicking here.

Over the next few years, the report will gain features, and several aspects of it will change, but I’m very pleased with the first iteration and I hope those who have bought it are too.

There is much more to come from IPN Premium and indeed from Irish Publishing News itself, but for now, I’m just enjoying the sales as they come and hoping that those who buy it, find it as useful as I intend.
Eoin

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.

Quick Link | Verbal Magazine Review Of Patrick Kavanagh & The Leader

Always nice to see one of my commissions getting a review, however late after release. Patrick Kavanagh & The Leader is the third book by the very talented Pat Walsh. His previous two were also published by companies I worked with (Nonsuch & Mercier). He has an ability to spot a great story and bring it to life and he does that again with this book.

Kavanagh was perennially poor, thoroughly abrasive and ready to bite all hands that tried to feed him. With no carapace to ease the world’s buffets he used an anonymous profile in a Dublin magazine as a chance to ease his hurt and make a bit of money. The resulting trial in 1954 became the finest piece of theatre ‘the blind and ignorant town’ had experienced for years.

via Verbal.

Blood & Thunder ~ Martina Devlin: Drumming up enthusiasm for the Glorious Twelfth – Martina Devlin, Columnists – Independent.ie

Blood & Thunder: Inside An Ulster Protestant Band was one of the books I commissioned towards the end of my time at Mercier Press. It sounded like it was going to be a cracker and the author Darrach MacDonald was great.

Since release, the book has attracted a lot of attention which I’m really pleased to see. It deserves it.

The allusion to blood and thunder, by the way, refers to the decibel levels and to the zeal of drummers playing until their wrists bleed and their drumsticks are stumps.

MacDonald concludes that marching bands are a vibrant manifestation of 21st Century loyalist culture. The Orange Order’s membership is dwindling in an increasingly secular society (it has fewer than 36,000 members in Ireland compared with more than 93,000 in 1968), but these bands offer an outlet to loyalist youths to celebrate their heritage.

If full reconciliation within the North’s divided society is to happen, MacDonald suggests that respect for loyalist traditions must be part of it. “Choosing to be entertained. . . rather than offended is the secret to a shared future,” he says.

via Martina Devlin: Drumming up enthusiasm for the Glorious Twelfth – Martina Devlin, Columnists – Independent.ie.