Red Lemonade

My 2010 Publishing Heroes

Last year I chose some folks who I though had made 2009 interesting in publishing terms and I believed would do the same in 2010. I think I was broadly right about them. You can see the 2009 list here. For 2010 I’m doing the same.

Richard Nash ~ The Risk Taker
Nash is moving ahead with Cursor a new type of publishing company based on communities, authors, shorter contracts and generally many of the ideas that have been floating around books for a few years now. He’s fiery, inspiring and willing to take a gamble (and be wrong too). He has spoken several times over the last few years about where publishing is going and he never fails to offer rich and convincing arguments to back up his point of view. I’m hoping he’ll be successful, not least because his first imprint community is called Red Lemonade!

Gareth Cuddy ~ The Doer
Sometimes you need people who just get down on the ground and shift dirt. IN many ways that is what Gareth Cuddy has done in Ireland. His DirectEbooks has been selling ebooks for some time now and as he would no doubt concede himself, right now the market is not mainstream, but it is getting there. He’s been pushing for more Irish publishers and small publishers to get into epublishing and through his EpubDirect service he’s offering publishers a decent way to get digital fairly quickly.

Rebecca Smart ~ The Changer
Osprey really shouldn’t be cool (except maybe to military history nerds) but it is. It has created an online community for military history buffs and pioneered direct marketing methods that keep the company engaged with its readers and released a book on Zombies (complete with accompanying video). It recently bought the apparently unconnected Angry Robot Sci-fi imprint from HarperCollins and have shepherded it to great success. Much of this is down to Rebecca Smart’s savvy leadership and ability to drive change. She’ll no doubt say that the great staff behind her at Osprey are as much responsible and I think she’d be right, but even the best Army needs a good general.

Mike Shatzkin ~ The Thinker
Mike is pretty darn smart. What’s more, he’s pretty darn good at putting his thoughts down in a clear, concise and accessible way. If you don’t read his blog, you really, really should. As one of the brains behind Digital Book World (a conference I’ll sadly not be attending this year) he has managed to start the in-depth conversations that US Trade Publishers NEED to have if they are to survive the shifting playing field of digital publishing.  For that alone and the pleasure of reading the posts he shares so freely, he makes the list.

The FutureBook Team
The last choice is always a hard one when one is creating a small list. So I’ve cheated and chosen a team. I’ve done this for a few reasons. Firstly I think FutureBook (a blog and conference run by The Bookseller) came to life quickly, embraced the web rapidly and grew by engaging in a fashion that felt very web native and very focused on community and providing value. Secondly I felt that in doing that they provided a critical hub for debate and discussion about ebooks outside of the US but in the English language. It made ebooks real for many publishers and booksellers outside of the US and that was pretty useful in a year that has been dominated by digital developments. So well done to Samantha Missingham, Philip Jones et al, a fine job, well done.

The Frankfurt Marriot

Frankfurt Day One 2010: TOC Frankfurt, Canada Livres International Rights Seminar

The Frankfurt MarriotIt has been an excellent if somewhat tiring first day here in Frankfurt.

First up was O’Reilly’s Tools Of Change Frankfurt, which started with an interesting overview from Andrew Savikas followed by Pablo Arrieta and Douglas Rushkoff who gave the highlight quote of the morning y telling the room that 60% of them were superfluous to the needs of publishing.

Rushkoff was both right and wrong in his prophecy I suspect, but time will tell. It has certainly been the topic of more than a few conversations I’ve shared in recent years and numbers both higher and lower have bounced around, the emphasis being in a 40-60% range.

My session seemed to go okay, but it is always hard to call these things. I was lucky to have an engaged audience for the questions and answer portion of the session though.

While I was there the rather interesting news about Richard Nash‘s (a longtime American based Irishman) first list at his Red Lemonade (get it!) imprint broke. This is kind of the first of two shoes to drop so wait for the community type announcement when it comes, I expect it will be very interesting indeed.

On top of that, during my session, in another room, where he was giving his own talk (one I’d have loved to see) clever old James Bridle only went and announced a rather cool new project, Open Booksmarks. I wish him, and the project, luck, it’s interesting and I think it has legs too.

Once my session was over it was off to the Messe for the Canada Livres International Digital Rights Seminar, which had at least one Irish attendee other than myself, Ivan O’Brien of O’Brien Press.

That series of talks and the panel discussion that followed was excellent. The speakers gave such a diverse view of how ebooks are shaping their markets and their realities.

John Oakes of O/R books has a model that makes their own website the primary sales channel. They sell ebooks and print editions direct to customers and have had some success, notably Going Rouge, a title on Sarah Palin that parodied her Autobiography, Going Rogue. They also license paperback editions of the books to other publishers for sale in traditional bookstores which seems like a reversion to the days of paperback houses to me, not such a terrible idea in some ways.

Perhaps the two most eye-opening talks for me were from Ronald Schild from MVB Marketing (a subsidiary of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association) and Silvia Clemares head of digital publishing at Grup62. They were eye-opening because both talked about efforts by their native book industries to respond to digital change in strategic focussed ways. In Ronald’s case it was Libreka and for Silvia, Libranda.

But they weren’t the only innovators either, Erin Creasy from ECW Press outlined not just the sheer complexity of their ebook rights situation, but also their new digital only press, Joyland a smart play if ever their was one.

Michael Tamblyn of Kobo Books also spoke and he was (as he always seems to be) excellent. he focussed on international sales and how they have taken off for Kobo. One fascinating slice of a day in the life of Kobo, May 21st 2010 showed them selling ebooks into over 150 countries, which is frankly amazing and shows you what a scrappy upstart can do.

I had a great day and met (if for some, MUCH too briefly like Richard Padley, Sophie Rochester and Kate Pullinger) some great people, much more busyness ahead tomorrow!
Eoin