Amazon to create 5,000 jobs in UK

20 February 2017

From The Bookseller:

Amazon has revealed plans to create 5,000 more jobs in the UK this year – boosting its workforce by over a quarter.

The company said the roles with “competitive pay” would be across the business, from software developers, engineers and technicians to entry-level positions and on-the-job training. They will be based across its UK head office in London; Customer Service Centre in Edinburgh; Fashion Photography Studio in Shoreditch and other fulfilment centres across the UK.

New jobs will also be created at its Development Centres in Cambridge, Edinburgh and London where employees work on global customer innovations like Alexa, Prime Air and Prime Video.

The extra staff will see the company’s overall UK employees grow by 26% to 24,000.

. . . .

Amazon said it plans to hire “as many individuals as possible” from staff occupying its seasonal positions into the new roles, and said that over 10,000 of its current 19,000 staff first began in a seasonal role.

The company has also announced a new apprenticeship programme today (20th February) , which it says will offer “hundreds” of apprenticeship opportunities in engineering, logistics and warehousing.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Reading Books Is on the Decline But Audiobooks Are Rising

20 February 2017

From Psychology Today:

A recent New York Times article reported that:

“Sales of adult books fell by 10.3 percent in the first three months of 2016, and children’s books dropped by 2.1 percent. E-book sales fell by 21.8 percent, and hardcover sales were down 8.5 percent. The strongest categories were digital audiobooks, which rose by 35.3 percent.”

The Times proffered several explanations including the lack of a “hit” book that draws readers to purchase that and other books and a decline in leisure reading (in one study the National Endowment of the Arts found that in 2015 only 43% of American adults had read a work of literature for pleasure in the previous year).

I think that the explanation is simpler. When you read a hardback, paperback or e-book it is very difficult to multitask and the research shows that we all – and I mean all – love to try to do more than one thing at a time. When you listen to a book your hands are free to type or tap and your mind is free to wander. No page turning required!

. . . .

Students, adults, office workers and other studied groups appear to be able to maintain attention and focus for 3-5 minutes at a time before being distracted.

Link to the rest at Psychology Today and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Brave New Booksellers: The Rise of E-reading

20 February 2017

From CKGSB Knowledge:

On November 18, 2007, the book business looked more or less the way it had for decades: an industry dominated by a handful of conglomerates that produced a set of products that hadn’t changed much since the 1940s and distributed those products through a familiar set of sales channels.

The next day, Amazon introduced its Kindle e-reader and everything changed. Not all at once, of course – the Seattle company’s first e-reader retailed for $399, and after selling out in 5.5 hours, remained out of stock until April 2008 – but over the next few years, the numbers grew at the same pace with which many digital innovations, from the Internet to social media, have taken off: by 2014, half of all Americans owned either an e-reader or a computer tablet, and 28% had read an e-book in the prior 12 months, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

All over the world, a similar shift has been underway – slower in markets where bookstores and book sales are regulated, such as France and Germany; faster in more open markets, such as China, where more than 2 million digital book titles are now available and nearly half (44%) of all books sold are sold online, according to a report by German Book Office Beijing.

. . . .

So was publishing’s digital revolution just a successful format change, like the invention of the paperback in the 1940s? Not entirely. Digitalization has also driven a much more profound story about how books are made and sold. From production to distribution, virtually every aspect of the publishing business has changed over the past decade.

To begin with, thanks to e-books and print-on-demand technology, the actual process of printing a book has changed. David Kudler, a small publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area, says that e-books and print-on-demand technology have been transformative. “When I first got into publishing, printing was real simple. You got the book ready about six months before you wanted it to go to press, and you sent it off to China – that’s where the good presses were and that’s where the people who knew how to really put together the book were. And whether you were in Europe or in North America you waited the six months that it took for that book to show up in the stores again.”

The growth of e-books and publishing on demand also helped drive changes in how books are sold. In the US, physical bookstores now represent roughly a quarter of all book sales. Since 2007, US brick-and-mortar bookstore sales have fallen from $17 billion to $11.17 billion in 2015, according to US Census figures. All told, 69% of US books are sold online, according to AuthorEarnings.com.

Link to the rest at CKGSB Knowledge and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Finding books in the least expected places around L.A.

20 February 2017

From The Los Angeles Times:

The back wall at the Blue Bottle Coffee in downtown Los Angeles is lined from top to bottom with books.

The airy coffee destination fills the corner of the historic Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles. Behind plate-glass windows, patrons can be seen drifting to the counter for personalized service at the newest Los Angeles outpost of the Oakland-based chain. Some settle down at shared tables; others sit on high stools. A few are drawn to the tall, book-filled wall.

. . . .

“If you can reach it, you can have it,” says Rose Bridges, the company’s local spokesperson.

This literary wall is Blue Bottle’s first “library” — a partnership with the nearby Library Foundation of Los Angeles, whose used books line the majority of the cafe’s reachable shelves. Titles range from “The Hunger Games” to “Hamlet” and are free for reading in-store or available for purchase at $7 each, with proceeds benefiting the foundation.

. . . .

In cafes and bars, skate shops and co-working spaces, books are popping up everywhere in Los Angeles — and as more than just decor.

“Instead of going to a coffee shop and reading, I could just come here,”  says Kat Bronstroup, a film production manager, admiring a copy of the literary vampire thriller “The Passage” by Justin Cronin at Catcher in the Rye, a bar in Toluca Lake.

When Eric Hodgkins opened Catcher in 2014, he bought a couple hundred used books to complement his literary-themed craft cocktails (the bar’s namesake is made with rye whiskey, his favorite spirit; other drinks include the Big Bukowski and Tequila Mockingbird). Stacked in a back corner next to a couch, the colorful texts give the space a “Friends” meets “How I Met Your Mother” vibe.

. . . .

Babylon is another fixture of the local skate scene. An unassuming white house on Highland Avenue, the space is a storefront for skater apparel and gear with a backyard bowl.

Inside, a small bookshelf shares the side wall with three skateboards carrying the Babylon logo. Flipping through dozens of zines and picture books, I came across “Legal Issues” by Adam Rossiter, 17 printed pages of the legal troubles of various pop culture icons, sourced from Wikipedia.

Link to the rest at The Los Angeles Times and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Presidents Day

20 February 2017

Today is Presidents Day, a national holiday in the United States.

Generally, the traditional publishing world shuts down on major holidays, so PG isn’t certain what he’s going to find to post about today. However, he’s happy to receive tips and will keep his eyes open for items originating elsewhere in the Anglosphere.

The Radical Argument of the New Oxford Shakespeare

19 February 2017

From The New Yorker:

In 1989, a young professor named Gary Taylor published “Reinventing Shakespeare,” in which he argued that Shakespeare’s unrivalled literary status derives less from the sheer greatness of his plays than from the cultural institutions that have mythologized the Bard, elevating him above equally talented Renaissance playwrights. “Shakespeare was a star, but never the only one in our galaxy,” Taylor wrote. The book was his second major attempt to counter the view of Shakespeare as a singular genius; a few years earlier, he had served as one of two general editors of the Oxford Shakespeare, which credited co-authors for five of Shakespeare’s plays. In “Reinventing Shakespeare,” Taylor wrote that the Oxford Shakespeare “repeatedly shocks its readers, and knows that it will.”

Late last year, Taylor shocked readers once again. The New Oxford Shakespeare, for which Taylor serves as lead general editor, is the first edition of the plays to credit Christopher Marlowe as a co-author of Shakespeare’s “Henry VI,” Parts 1, 2, and 3. It lists co-authors for fourteen other plays as well, ushering a host of playwrights—Thomas Nashe, George Peele, Thomas Heywood, Ben Jonson, George Wilkins, Thomas Middleton, and John Fletcher, along with Marlowe—into the big tent of the complete works. This past fall, headlines around the world trumpeted the Marlowe-Shakespeare connection, and spotlighted the editors’ methodology: computer-aided analysis of linguistic patterns across databases of early modern plays. “Shakespeare has now fully entered the era of Big Data,” Taylor announced in a press release.

It’s no longer controversial to give other authors a share in Shakespeare’s plays—not because he was a front for an aristocrat, as conspiracy theorists since the Victorian era have proposed, but because scholars have come to recognize that writing a play in the sixteenth century was a bit like writing a screenplay today, with many hands revising a company’s product. The New Oxford Shakespeare claims that its algorithms can tease out the work of individual hands—a possibility, although there are reasons to challenge its computational methods. But there is a deeper argument made by the edition that is both less definitive and more interesting. It’s not just that Shakespeare collaborated with other playwrights, and it’s not just that Shakespeare was one of a number of great Renaissance writers whose fame he outstripped in the ensuing centuries. It’s that the canonization of Shakespeare has made his way of telling stories—especially his monarch-centered view of history—seem like the norm to us, when there are other ways of telling stories, and other ways of staging history, that other playwrights did better. If Shakespeare worshippers have told one story in order to discredit his contemporary rivals, the New Oxford is telling a story that aims to give the credit back.

Link to the rest at The New Yorker

Newspaper readership

19 February 2017

Newspaper readership is declining like crazy. In fact, there’s a good chance that nobody is reading my column.

Dave Barry

The 9 Mistakes Every Beginner Writer Makes

19 February 2017

From author Elizabeth Andre via Medium:

1. Not Writing.

. . . .

3. Not writing until they can set aside the perfect dedicated two or three hour time slot and commit to doing so every day.

. . . .

9. Not writing because they’re creating the perfect marketing plan for a book that doesn’t exist yet.

Link to the rest at Medium

Here’s a link to Elizabeth Andre’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Top Hat Raises $22.5 Million to Go After Pearson, McGraw-Hill

19 February 2017

From Bloomberg Technology:

Top Hat, the Canadian education technology startup, completed a new round of funding to give it more firepower to go after textbook publishers like Pearson Plc.

The $22.5 million round is Top Hat’s biggest yet and brings its total funding to about $40 million, the Toronto-based company said in a statement Wednesday.

. . . .

Top Hat is one of a handful of startups trying to find ways to disrupt the traditional textbook publishing industry, dominated by companies like Pearson, Cengage Learning Inc. and McGraw-Hill Education Inc., which is owned by Apollo Global Management LLC. All of these firms have added digital educational materials to their range of products, but the transition has been rocky.

. . . .

Even as the big publishers work to increase the proportion of sales that come from digital products, they’re still largely dependent on physical books.

That’s a weakness Top Hat Chief Executive Officer Mike Silagadze said he’s trying to exploit. He started by selling software tools to professors that help them engage their students, such as smartphone apps that let them tell lecturers if they understand new concepts in real-time. The company, which launched in 2009, has 2 million students using its products.

The next step is to go directly after the textbooks and digital course content made by Pearson and McGraw, Silagadze said in an interview. In November, they launched an online content marketplace, where professors can create course materials and sell it around the world. The idea is to cut out the publisher and let professors sell directly to students and each other, Silagadze said.

“It fundamentally breaks the publisher’s traditional model of producing content,” he said. “Our aim is to disrupt the paradigm the publishers have created over the last 100 years.”

. . . .

The industry “has been dominated by really traditional publishers that come exclusively from the content side and not the technology side,” Wenger said in an interview. His son’s Intro to German textbook cost $230.

“That era is coming to an end,” he said.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg Technology and thanks to T.K. for the tip.

Is Chance The Rapper Turning Down $10 Million Advances From Record Labels? Read More: Is Chance The Rapper Turning Down $10 Million Advances From Record Labels?

19 February 2017

From XXL:

It’s been known for a long time that Chance The Rapper has been turning down record deals left and right, in order to keep his independence and creative control. And according to Page Six, the Chicago MC has been saying no to some very sizable offers. Offers that are in the $5-$10 million range.

“Every label is still trying to get him,” an insider told the site. “He’s making too much on his own … He was turning down $5 million advances before, and now it’s like $10 million.” The source added, “He may do something with Apple, but not a label per se … He is going to remain independent.”

Link to the rest at XXL and thanks to Alexis for the tip.

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