October 21, 2018

Why Buying Books Will Not Save Our Beloved Bookstores
Electric Lit

While it may be easy to slip into a kind of dangerous daydream of the better days of yesteryear — ”when people still bought books” — you shouldn’t do that. Because while buying books is important, that “call to action” distracts us from the real problem. Capitalism is not good for small, low return-on-investment businesses that we need in our community. So what are we going to do about that?

Luckily, we have bookstore proprietors like Lexi Beach, the co-owner of Astoria Bookshop in Queens, New York. In a tweet thread on Tuesday, Beach declared: “At a certain point, buying books from the store you love is not going to be enough to keep it open.” She went on to explain that the bigger problem lies in the relationship between capitalism, the commercial real estate market, and the toxic marriage between the two for low-margin businesses like bookstores.

The Number of Self-Published Titles Cracked 1 Million in 2017
Publishers Weekly

The number of self-published books topped the 1 million mark for the first time in 2017, according to Bowker’s annual report on the number of ISBNs that were issued to self-published authors. The total number of ISBNs issued last year rose 28% over 2016, to 1,009,188.

The gain was due entirely to the increase in the number of print ISBNs issued by Bowker last year—879,587, a jump of 38% over 2016. The number of ISBNs issued for e-books released by self-published authors fell 13% from 2016, to 129,601.

While Bowker noted that the 2017 decline is the third consecutive year the number of ISBNs issued for e-books fell, the drop is more likely due to authors moving to Amazon’s KDP self-publishing platform than an overall decline in the number e-books that were self-published last year. Bowker’s e-book numbers are based on ISBNs issued, and since KDP uses Amazon’s own ASIN identifiers, KDP’s titles do not appear in the Bowker data. Amazon does not disclose the number of KDP titles that it releases annually.

Booker judges shouldn’t blame editors for overlong novels
The Guardian

Every year, there is a controversy at the Man Booker prize; this year, it is all about the work of editors. Or rather, the supposed lack of work that editors are doing.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, chair of the judges, implicitly blamed editors for the poor quality of some of this year’s submissions while announcing the 2018 shortlist: “We occasionally felt that inside the book we read was a better one, sometimes a thinner one, wildly signalling to be let out.” Fellow judge Val McDermid went further by suggesting modern editors don’t know what they’re doing. “I think,” she said, “young editors coming through are not necessarily getting the kind of training and experience-building apprenticeship that happened when I was starting out.”

As an editor, my immediate reaction was to bite back. Yes, I’ve read a few saggy titles over the past few months. (Two of them crime novels endorsed by none other than Val McDermid.) And when you read a book you think is overlong, it’s hard not to wonder why it wasn’t cut into shape. But I’d still caution against the reflexive tendency to blame editors. A title belongs to an author, first and last. We at the publishing end are there to make suggestions, not to implement changes with an iron rod. If an author is determined to save a few darlings that we want to slaughter, it’s their call. We can’t force a writer to do anything. Nor should we try.

October 10, 2018

Why we need an award for writers who start later in life
The Guardian

Sitting in a coffee shop just around the corner from the publishers, Canongate, of which Christopher Bland had once been chair, members of Christopher’s family and of the Royal Society of Literature were brainstorming a title for the new prize to be announced in his name. “Late writers” risked conjuring up the dead, while “older writers” raised the question of what, in an industry that is often obsessed with youth, would be considered old: Google this query and you will find writers over 30 bemoaning the fact that they will soon be over the hill.

In the end we opted for a prize in Christopher’s name, to be awarded to a first novel or work of non-fiction published when the winner is 50 or older. Not before, however, we had worried about the quality of future entrants: what kind of writer, we wondered, apart from Christopher, who published two novels while in his 70s, would be eligible for such a prize?

Print Unit Sales Up in 2018 to Date
Publishers Weekly

Three-quarters of the way through 2018, unit sales of print books were up 2.5% over the January through September period in 2017 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan.

The adult nonfiction segment, the largest of the major book categories, posted a solid gain, with units up 5.7%. The category has the biggest seller to date, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, which is the only print title to crack the one-million-copies-sold level so far this year. Another political book was not far behind Fury: Bob Woodward’s Fear sold more than 760,000 copies since its release in September, making it the third-biggest seller so far this year. In between those two titles is another adult nonfiction book, Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines, which sold nearly 980,000 copies. And in fourth place on the year-to-date bestseller list is Girl, Wash Your Face, a self-help title by Rachel Hollis. Overall, 10 of the 20 bestselling books so far this year are in the adult nonfiction category.

September 18, 2018

How Apps Are Changing the Fiction Market – and Why Thrillers Lead the Way
Tech.co

Telling stories has been an essential part of the human experience since the dawn of time. But the way we tell those stories has changed hugely along the way. The ebook, the audiobook and even the novel were all brand-new formats once. With the rise of mobile, there’s a new format in the world of storytelling – interactive fiction apps.

The fiction app can take many different forms, but it runs on the same principles that power the rest of the internet. The stories tend to be fast-paced and delivering more dynamically than just words on a page. Readers can interact with the story in some way, either through video and audio options or by impacting what happens next.

We explain how fiction apps work, how they are monetized, and why the horror and thriller fiction genres are ideal for this new form of story-telling.

September 10, 2018

Traditional Publishers Are Selling Way More Non-Fiction Than Fiction
Forbes

In the publishing industry, adult non-fiction revenues are soaring above fiction revenues and have been widening the gap for the past five years. Adult non-fiction revenue totalled $6.18 billion across the publishing industry in 2017, while adult fiction revenues reached $4.3 billion, according to Penguin Random House, using data from Association of American Publishers (AAP), the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Bookscan.

Is Social Media Influencing Book Cover Design?
The Guardian

For a time, it seemed that eBooks and kindles would displace their physical counterparts, but this didn’t quite come to pass. Like the recent revival of zines, the encroach of digital has resulted in a renewed appreciation for the physical – and beautiful. Part of this has been in direct response to eBooks; a tactic to boost the sales of physical books is to remake them as desirable objects, and a way to make objects desirable is, of course, to make them aesthetically appealing. But social media – specifically Instagram, which promotes the coveting of beautiful covers on hashtags such as #bookstagram – is putting a new emphasis on cover aesthetics. We no longer need to go home with someone in order to see their bookcase.

“With social media, people display their books in more places than their personal libraries at home. They’ve almost become an accessory in some cases,” says Rachel Willey, a designer behind covers including Patricia Lockwood’s Priestdaddy (the title takes the form of a nameplate necklace against a freckled chest) and Melissa Broder’s merman-romance The Pisces (a woman passionately embracing a fish).

New Tax Deduction for Authors

Authors, Take Advantage of the New Tax Deduction

The Authors Guild

As we continue to monitor the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we wanted to bring you up to speed on an important, new tax break for authors. As you may recall, the new tax code, effective this calendar year, provides that owners of certain pass-through entities may take a 20% deduction on their qualified business income—whether earned through a pass-through entity such as an S corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or as an unincorporated self-employed individual. The question has been: can authors take advantage of this deduction, and if so, to what extent?

August 6, 2018

Amazon’s New ‘Buy For Others’ Kindle Feature Lets Authors Buy Giftable Ebooks

Forbes
Amazon just gave authors the ability to buy bulk quantities of their ebooks as a way to provide free copies to readers. Amazon hopes this will help authors better market their books through giveaways and advance reviews. However, many are not convinced. There are plenty of other, much cheaper ways for an author to get someone a copy of their ebook, and some believe this feature will only give people the ability to manipulate bestseller lists.

How to Write a Book Without Losing Your Mind

The Atlantic
“How to write that book” advice is everywhere, but how to do so without completely losing it is another step entirely. Here, The Atlantic offers honest advice on dealing with procrastination and commentary on the mental burden it can bring. One of their tips might help with your next undertaking.

High Court Could Give Copyright Lawyers’ Advice Extra Strength

Bloomberg
A case headed for the Supreme Court could change the future of copyright lawsuits. The case will decide whether someone can sue for copyright infringement the moment they submit the application for a copyright or if they have to wait until that application is accepted. Not requiring the lengthy wait would allow creators greater ability to protect their work.

July 20, 2018

Only 1% of Children’s Books Have BAME Main Characters—UK Study

The Guardian
A recent UK study conducted by Arts Council England found that only 1% of children’s books have a main character who is black or minority ethnic. Additionally, those that do are disproportionately focused on political issues. The director of the study called the findings “stark and shocking.”

Writing a Book or Article? Now’s the Time to Create Your ‘Author Platform’

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Even if you’re more interested in reach than sales, success requires effective marketing—and that requires the intense involvement of the author. Not having a well-developed author platform means missing out on one of the best ways to ensure the success of your work. Just relying on your publisher to get your name out is never enough.

Book Sales Boom but Authors Report Shrinking Incomes

The Guardian
Despite UK publishers’ record-breaking £5.7 billion in sales for 2017, authors’ earnings are down, and publishers are not necessarily seeing higher profits. Overpaying celebrity authors and underpaying those who write for a living is one part of the problem. Others accuse Amazon “of using its power to keep book prices artificially low, which had undermined authors’ incomes.”

July 9, 2018

Book Clubs Are Really Having a Moment Right Now

Fortune

It’s not just Oprah Winfrey or even your friends trying to coordinate a suitable date on a never-ending reply-all Gmail thread anymore. Book clubs are more popular than ever, with bookworms meeting up through more and more social media-based communities moderated by publishers, celebrities, popular newsletters, and even “influencers.”

While book clubs themselves are nothing new and a rather old school version of socializing, there has been a proliferation as of late for book clubs as a method for connecting with readers (a.k.a. consumers) while boost branding, whether it be for a company or personality. With some book clubs being advertised on city subways and even national TV shows, lucrative opportunities are ripe for marketers, publishers, and authors.

What Audiobooks.com’s CEO Thinks of the Industry’s Double-Digit Growth

Forbes

Ian Small, CEO of Audiobooks.com, speaks on the current success and future promise of audiobooks: “With the more recent adoption of smartwatches, smart home speakers and other connected devices, audiobooks are able to integrate with people’s lifestyles more than ever before, and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon.”

July 2, 2018

Science Fiction And Fantasy Book Sales Have Doubled Since 2010

Forbes

Combined print and digital book sales in the genres of science fiction and fantasy have doubled since 2010, according to data from the publishing industry analysis blog Author Earnings. This reality is going unreported, Author Earnings notes, largely because of a lack of transparency surrounding the amount of sales from nontraditional publishers.

The news, from a presentation given in May 2018 at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s 52nd Annual Nebula Conference, relies on new data covering 2017 book sales from a raft of different sources: NPD Pubtrack, NPD Bookscan, and Amazon ebook sales.

Newsprint tariffs threaten ‘hundreds of thousands of jobs’ in journalism and publishing

Northwest Indiana Times

An industry group is asking for signatures to a petition against newsprint tariffs it says could threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs in journalism and publishing nationwide.

Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers, or STOPP, is gearing up for a hearing before the International Trade Commission on tariffs of up to 32 percent on newsprint imported from Canada.

“Our members want to make sure decision makers understand the impact this case will have on over 600,000 jobs in the publishing and printing industries,” said Paul Boyle, senior vice president of public policy at the Arlington, Virginia-based News Media Alliance. “These tariffs have already had a disruptive impact on the news industry with increased costs, job loss and supply issues. We are doing everything we can to make sure that local newspapers do not become extinct.”

This Week’s Bestsellers: July 2, 2018

Publishers Weekly

June 18, 2018

Amazon comes under fire for removal of book reviews.

The Bookseller

Author Isabella May told The Bookseller that she had had a “hellish week” of losing reviews for her two novels, published by a small independent Crooked Cat Books. “I have lost a whopping 11 reviews for my two novels in the space of just a week,” the novelist said. “Everything I am doing now as an author is about raising my profile and following my long-term vision, so as you can imagine, it’s quite upsetting to see one book plummet from a very respectable 55 reviews down to 49, and the other (more recently published title) fall from 36 reviews to 31. For a high profile author who may no longer feel the need to check their reviews, this is but a drop in the ocean. But for a new voice, it’s everything, and very distressing – particularly as my publisher retail solely online and solely via Amazon.”

Fiction writers turn their attention to Donald Trump.

Tampa Bay Times

He might not have intended it, but Donald Trump has been good for book publishing.

It has been well documented that reaction to his presidency boosted the sales of such classic novels as The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and 1984 by George Orwell.

Nonfiction books about Trump — many of them critical — have dominated bestseller lists for most of this year. Michael Wolff’s scorching Fire and Fury has sold 2 million copies and been optioned for television, and Wolff recently announced he’s working on a sequel (though his White House access is pretty well shot).

Book Deals: Week of June 18, 2018.

Publishers Weekly