Tag Archives: booksellers

A ‘digital-first’ future for publishing?

Whilst carrying out my regular scouring of the internet for anything publishing related, I came across the term digital-first. On looking more into the term, it appears that many publishers are looking to release new titles in digital format only, in order to predict as to whether the book can sell well in print format. Some of the first publishers to trial this new concept are HarperCollins and Harlequin.

The former announced earlier this year that mystery line, Witness Impulse, would be one of the first lines which the publisher would release digital-first. The first ten titles shall be released in October under the imprint, William Morrow.

Dan Mallory, the man behind the line noted that digital-first publishing was the most effective way to market unknown books and authors. He also highlighted that the launch involved libraries as they aim to deliver titles through ebook loans. Shawn Nicholls, marketing director for Impulse (an imprint of Morrow), mentioned that digital-first is ‘part of a larger branding campaign to build sales for midlist authors overall and to help readers discover’.

As  my previous blog entry suggests, discovering books through digital formats, i.e. the internet in particular, will become easier with apps such as BookVibe. Integration with digital is increasingly becoming a part of everybody’s daily life. Should ‘digital-first’ be embraced by more publishers in the future, it can be suggested that browsing for books online will become easier. (Now don’t even get me started on what this will mean for bricks-and-mortar booksellers!)

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The week for independent booksellers!

independent-booksellers-week29th June – 6th July 2013 hosts a week dedicated to celebrating independent booksellers. With the ever-rising surge of online conglomerates, our bookshops are in danger and are increasingly becoming victim to ‘showrooming’.

Despite this, with large companies reportedly evading tax, many people have been put off from using them to buy books. BBC News posted this article to its site today suggesting that authors need to do more to support local bookshops.

Earlier this week, there was an event at the Southbank Centre in London, entitled: ‘The Perfect Storm: Why Bookshops are in the Frontline in the Battle for the High Street’. Anne Sebba, chair of the Society of Authors, stated that encouraging authors to visit their local bookshops and engage with customers will in turn encourage them to buy books from the shop. She says that customers will feel like they are taking away a part of the author, and not just the book.

This is certainly the case with Toppings and Company Booksellers of Ely and Bath bookshops. Living relatively near to Ely, I know that the Ely branch regularly hosts author talks which receives a fantastic response from customers. Past author visits have included Audrey Niffenegger and during this summer in particular, Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood are due to stage talks about their latest novels. I recently attended the talk by Audrey Niffenegger and a good majority of the people who attended the talk bought her book afterwards. Seeing this in practice, I can honestly say that I think Sebba makes a great point. Encouraging authors to visit local bookshops and talking to customers about their works allows people to feel that they understand the book better, as well as the author. In addition, by attending author talks and engaging in your local bookshop’s events, you are supporting the shop currently and for the future, too.

The BBC’s article highlighted that fact that between 2007 and 2012, around 400 independent booksellers closed on high streets across the country. It’s a scary thought that if this persists, we could be down to between 5 and 600 shops on our high streets by 2018.

Do I think independent booksellers will die out? No. I believe that the general public will fight to keep booksellers in business. I feel that despite the Booksellers’ Association’s alarming static that two-thirds of shoppers use bookshops as showrooms, the fact that younger customers are ‘feeling guilty’ for not using bookshops shows that consumer behaviours are shifting and that people want to preserve our heritage and culture which is partially made up of independent booksellers.

I also found this interesting article on The Guardian’s website: 5 reasons to support your local indie bookshop


Books Are My Bag

The Books are My Bag campaign was one of the prominent sights of the London Book Fair this year. I heard about the campaign on Twitter and immediately looked at the website to see what it was all about.

The campaign promotBooks-are-my-bag-logo-textes the UK’s bookshops. (If you look in the ‘Bookshops’ category, you can see that I have mentioned them a lot on my blog!) Bookshops have been featured in the news over the past few months for numerous reasons. M&C Saatchi are behind the project and are focusing on two main strategies: a PR campaign and a street campaign. The former will launch mid-September 2013 through til Christmas and will celebrate bookshops with many celebrities and authors supporting the project. There will also be opportunities for bookshops themselves to promote the campaign in stores. The latter is in the form of Books Are My Bag tote bags. (After following someone around half of the LBF yesterday, I managed to get one!) The campaign has been backed by booksellers, publishers and authors, as well as the Publisher’s Association and is said to be the biggest promotion of books and bookshops in publishing history.

“BOOKS ARE MY BAG celebrates books and bookshops and the simple truth that bookshops do more physically to let people enjoy their passion for books.” – taken from the BAMB website.

I believe the BAMB campaign is a fantastic way to promote bookshops. I believe it will encourage the public to think twice before they decide to log onto Amazon and make them think differently about the importance of bookshops. In addition, I feel that it will make publishers value sellers a lot more. With the threat of bookshops increasingly becoming extinct, I feel that the push to celebrate bookshops will be the right move in keeping booksellers on the high street.

Moreover, I also feel that the Foyles bookshop move and the #FutureFoyles project next year will also allow the public to see  bookshops in a brand new light.


Publishing metaphors

The Bookseller alongside its FutureBook blog recently posted about the Digital Minds conference which took place earlier today, starting this year’s London Book Fair.

Philip Jones reported that numerous metaphors were used to describe the current status of the publishing industry during the conference with the digital transformation of the industry being compared to climate change. Pan Macmillan’s digital director, Sara Lloyd, stated that while digital will pose a threat to certain parts of the business, others will survive and thrive.

I think my favourite was Neil Gaiman voicing that people within the book business need to be like dandelions, ‘spreading seeds and accepting that some will fall on stony ground’. He further reiterated that publishers need to try everything and accept that some things will fail and ‘fail better’. Keeping an open mind in this day and age is key and Gaiman stated that for the ‘dinosaurs’ in the industry, digital could end up making them extinct if they don’t adapt to survive. One of the positives that Gaiman highlighted was the fact that whatever was made would most likely be right, as publishers can make or break rules which are yet to be thought of.

Will Atkinson added that the digital age had slowed down in recent months stating ‘we are in the changing rooms at half time’. The recent articles in The Bookseller reporting the vast rise in print sales, shows that indeed the digital age is slowing down. I feel that the hype of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD release at Christmas has died down somewhat. Whilst digital is still very active, I do not feel that ebooks are mentioned as much as they were a few months ago. I feel that it has reached a stage in its growth where most publishers have acknowledged what is happening in the industry and are adapting accordingly. Sara Lloyd also observed that particularly for self-publishers, they have adapted to the changes, and also voiced three Rs: Recognition of change in the industry, respect for one another and recycling of skills/resources as the world evolved. Certainly I believe that publishers have more respect for one another as they are ‘all in the same boat’. There has been an influx of mergers over the past few months as many publishers/other related companies are joining forces to get through this ‘climate change’ in order to stay afloat.

I also feel that publishing houses across the Trade and Academic sphere have definitely recognised that they need to change. In addition, booksellers have also embraced the change, with obvious examples of Amazon’s Kindle creation and the fact that Waterstones are also selling its competitors’ devices in their stores.

The publishing sector is definitely an interesting place to be at the moment. Who knows what else 2013 could bring…

Mixed Metaphors – FutureBook, digital blog from The Bookseller

Digital Minds: Industry must try more, fail betterThe Bookseller