Writer

Amazon Encore Signs JA Konrath

Shaen By J. A. KonrathAmazon Encore the publishing imprint of the internet retailer has signed a deal with JA Konrath to publish his next ‘Jack’ Daniel title, Shaken.

This is pretty big news, as Mike Shatzkin points out:

this is a significant jolt to conventional publishing economics. Sales of Konrath’s $2.99 ebook will deliver him about $2.10 a copy (Konrath says $2.04; not sure where the other six cents is going…), as much or more as he would make on a $14.95 paperback from a trade publisher, and significantly more than he’d make on a $9.99 ebook distributed under “Agency” terms and current major publisher royalty conventions.

I noted here and elsewhere how Authors will drive change and pointed specifically to Konrath. It is very interesting that this deal is with Encore whose efforts I have also been watching warily for some time.

Publishers who didn’t see this coming, having been warned that such moves were on the horizon and in the aftermath of a series of similar deals really only have themselves to blame. I wonder what the reaction will be.

Print may wither much sooner than we expect!
Eoin

Sometimes You Just Get A Feeling

Colm & The Lazarus Key

Some time ago, while I was still working at Mercier Press, probably back in early 2008 in fact, I read a submission. It was for a book by a young man called Kieran Mark Crowley. The pitch was great, the text was zingy and the whole thing just read exceptionally well.

I met Mark, liked, him, pitched the book at the new title meeting and before we knew what was happening, Colm & The Lazarus Key was published and on bookshelves (complete with a rocking cover by the wonderful Snowbooks folks).

Last week the shortlist for the 20th Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Awards was announced and Kieran’s wonderful book was one of the ten books chosen for that shortlist. I’m delighted because I honestly believe that Kieran has many more fine books in him and that Colm & The Lazarus Key is one of the finest Irish children’s debut novels for some time.

Check out Kieran’s website or read an interview with him over at Mercier’s site. And buy and read the book!

Having a decent evening, but thinking about Great Aunts and Apple Tarts.
Eoin

Robin Sloan’s book has arrived

a strange packet

Click to see the full set

I got a strange package in the post today (which is always fun).

It turned out to be the package containing Robin Sloan’s new book, Annabel Scheme, which I along with several hundred others contributed towards bringing about.

I’m very excited about this, looking forward to the read!
Eoin

Branding & Publishing

The things that get you thinking
I’ll be speaking during the Pech Chang session at TOC Frankfurt in October. I’m going first and frankly, I’m terrified. Even so I’m looking forward to it. It feels like an opportunity to talk about some of the forces shaping the future of publishing and books.

I mention it because one of the things I will be talking about is Branding and why, in a nichified world, it will become increasingly important. This has been an absolutely huge meme online in the last few days and it’s worth sharing some of those thoughts here.

Mike Shatzkin, as ever, was there ahead of me and many others, with an interesting piece on his blog. He focused on the reason why publishers need to understand brand:

In the next 20 years or so, the brands that will dominate for a very long time will be created.

Why?

Because the organization and delivery of stuff — including information — is being realigned into verticals; that is: subjects. The requirements of physical delivery required aggregation across interests that the Internet does not. So enduring horizontal brands of content like newspapers or book publishers but also outside content, among retailers, for example, that thrived across interest groups will find themselves challenged by new brands that are narrower and deeper. Being narrower and deeper permits a much more involved engagement with the audience. It strengthens the brand.

Read the rest of the article, it makes complete sense, echoes much of what I think and places the conversation in context from a publishers perspective.

Then Seth Godin spoke at a small event organised by the DPG in New York and touched off a firestorm! And for reasons I cannot quite get a handle on. The video’s don’t seem too radical to me, but you be the judge:

And Eugene G. Schwartz’s blog about the talk over at Personanondata make me think that the ony issue is that some people haven’t seen the truth, that the digitisation of reading, makes publishers largely irrelevant unless they react adapt and change.

Patrick over at the Vroman’s blog has a wonderful post that nicely sums up some of the arguments of Stein, alludes to some of and suggests some positive views too. The subsequent discussion is worth reading as well.

What this all comes down to of course is that as Don Linn noted in the tweet below, business models are all very well, but profitable business models are hard to find.

Profit is good!

Profit is good!

Bob Miller, in this video from Ron Hogan, says pretty much what Don and Seth are saying but from the finance side of the fence.

Changing a brand and making it matter will not be THE panacea, publishers will still shrink and they may well not survive as large companies. If they do, they will publish books (as Richard Eoin Nash has said and wouldn’t you know it, I cannot find the link, but here is a general one for Richard) like movies are currently produced.

That is because the internet and digital media enables the removal of every single point in the value chain except author and consumer. In this model the only scale that needs large capital (and furthermore justifies the application of capital with large rewards) is when you need to market to everyone, brand will enable you to connect with niche reader and writers at as granular a level as you can building something that is worthwhile to readers, so worthwhile that they give you money. Of course, who YOU are may not be a publisher.

Working on letters and notes, thoughts and ideas, trying to avoid too many down thoughts!
Eoin

I’m looking for a writer with a huge interest in Irish History

Eoin Purcell

Do you write about the Famine?

I need a non-fiction writer who knows quite a bit about the Great Irish Famine who can write 7,500 -10,000 words by the end of September 2009.

I can’t reveal the project yet, but anyone who is interested should drop me a line with a sample of your writing and a short 1 page cv @ eoin{dot}purcell{at}gmail.com

If you don’t write about the Famine, but do write non-fiction about Irish History, drop me a line anyway, there are several projects on the way that might suit. Ideally I’d have this locked down by the end of next week. Feel free to share this blog post as widely as possible.

Windy day today,
Eoin

Publishing, but not as we know it

Eoin Purcell

A screenshot of SCD Library Website

A screenshot of SCD Library Website

Hopes & Dreams
I went to Children’s Books Ireland’s talk on Thursday 11th June on the future: Publishing but not as we know it | ebooks, digital publishing and children’. Aside from the very minor quibble, that the panel had no publisher (odd given the topic) it was nonetheless by far the most interesting group assembled to talk about the topic that I have seen for some time in Ireland.

I arrived late and so missed Samatha Holman of the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency who I have seen talk recently about Google and possess probably the best understanding of Copyright law (both national and international) in Ireland. This added greatly to the discussion because it enabled her to cut through the hopes, dreams and wishes right down to the what was allowed and what had yet to be agreed, always useful when discussing the future!

I also missed Peadar Ó Guilín which annoyed me, as I found his contributions to the discussion after the main talks, fascinating, even if he seemed an evangelist for no longer needing publishers*. If I have him wrong, I’ll apologize.

Two other panelists really fascinated me too. The first was speaking as I arrived, John McNamee, President European Booksellers Federation spoke about the challenges of bookselling in the future and spoke of a vision where he sold the customer the intellectual property for a fee and then asked what format he would prefer it in. Seems a nice idea, though my gut told me that it wouldn’t work at a decentralized level and would work at a much more central level. But then, being proved wrong on that one, would be a bonus.

By far the most revelatory though was the South County Dublin Librarian, Georgina Byrne. She revealed the extent of their download services something its seems that has floated beneath the radar of nearly everybody in Irish publishing (certainly non-one has ever mentioned it to me).

They have partnered with Overdrive and now deliver up to 3000 titles in ebook and audio book form to members via their download zone.

If you like paper and love paper books then the message Georgina had to share was a depressing one. Children love the libraries Tumblebooks service which offers children’s books online. And, if you listen, read an watch one, you can see why. I tried Dinotrain and it is fun!

As Samantha Holamn said during the discussion, the panel and teh subsequent discussion was by far the best she had attended because it looked forward and I think that was due in large part to Oisín McGann who chaired the event quick wonderfully offering his well considered contributions and links out to funny and informative videos throughout.

I’ve left numerous side issues out but needless to say there was much discussion on Agents, Publishers, Contracts, Google, a little about Amazon, Scribd and a little about revenue models and changing cultural norms. It was a shame I had to leave so quickly when it ended I’d have liked to discuss some of the issues more with the panelists. Still, a thoroughly thought provoking evening.
Eoin

* It always amazes me that people would relish the disappearance of publishers wholesale. Yes some publishers might not be excellent and sometimes working relationship have become strained or just plain broken, but surely as an industry over the lifetime of their existence, publishers have been more than simply blood suckers?

The Listowel Fringe Blog

Eoin Purcell

Links & Whatnot
About two years ago I had a wonderful strategy session with a group of arts professionals. It was led by the engaging and intelligent Paul O’Mahony who is from the O’Mahony bookselling clan. I recall that day because Paul was forceful in saying that “survival is not guaranteed” for a publisher like Mercier, a thought that had been floating in my mind but had not taken the form of a concrete reality.

Reasons
Anyway. The point in telling you this is that Paul has been engaged this week in an exciting blogging project: The Listowel Writer’s Week Fringe. I love the idea of a fringe blog for Listowel Writers Week Festival which I think is a fantastic festival but one I think prone to circles and groups (I don’t think it is alone in this. Given the nature of Irish society, most festivals here go that way), the kind that can damage a festival.

Paul and his collaborators are blogging and updating on the weeks events. You should go read some of their thoughts!
Eoin