Non-US

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

Being an Irish author is more of a Grimm fairytale than a Cinderella story

18 February 2017

From The Irish Times:

Signing with a publisher is the ultimate fairytale for every new writer. We slave away like modern-day Cinderellas on our manuscripts, not entirely sure of what our happy-ever-after will entail, but still we long for the day when we can squeeze our toes into that glass slipper.

However, a recent article by Donal Ryan on the harsh realities of being a published writer in Ireland has put paid to the fairytale notion of big advances and handsome royalties. Ryan revealed that for the first contract he signed he earned a sobering 40c per book, which left a lot of people asking, where does the rest of the cover price go?

Most people outside of the industry assume that once you have a contract and your book is in the shop window, you’re on the pig’s back, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Traditional publishing is a bit like fight club – nobody really knows what goes on because nobody talks about it. So for new writers, it can be a bit of a blow to discover the truth.

. . . .

 When I began submitting my debut novel back in 2013, while quietly humming “Some day my prince will come”, my expectations of the publishing contract were embarrassingly Cinderella-like. I may not have been expecting a gilded carriage, but I assumed that they would take care of everything and more importantly, take care of me. This is why I am so glad that I didn’t get that publishing deal, because I would have naively left everything in the hands of the publisher.

. . . .

 Becoming a self-published author has forced me to take sole responsibility of my writing career by learning everything I could about this industry from the ground up. If you want to be an author, you have to focus on the long game and I’m not sure that traditional publishing can give authors that kind of luxury anymore.

. . . .

 There is still a lot of snobbery around self-publishing and while there are those who still view it as the poor relation, statistics show that the popularity of indie books is on the rise. A new report from Enders Analysis found that 40 of the 100 top-selling ebooks on Amazon US in March 2016 were self-published.

. . . .

 The publishing world is in flux. More and more, we are seeing traditionally published authors moving into self-publishing. Polly Courtney, author of Feral Youth, decided to ditch Harper Collins because of what she felt was their chick-lit marketing approach to her books. Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs, left her publisher and her agent once she realised she could earn more through self-publishing: 70 per cent royalties on ebook sales compared to the standard 25 per cent a traditional author receives is hard to ignore.

. . . .

 Traditional publishing is positively glacial in its approach to change. Digital publishing is a fast-paced environment and Amazon has responded to that. They have even created their own imprints for agented authors, showing that they can evolve and respond to the market. I believe it’s time for traditional publishers to do the same and put the author at the centre of the industry. Authors need a fair return for their work and it just doesn’t seem right to me that they are at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to earnings. And yet, that is how the publishing industry is structured.

Link to the rest at The Irish Times

Retail wars begin as Pullman shoots to number one in pre-orders

16 February 2017

From The Bookseller:

Less than 24 hours after the announcement that Philip Pullman is to release a new epic fantasy series entitled The Book of Dust, the first volume has shot to number one in Amazon’s bestseller charts through pre-order sales.

Retail wars have already commenced with both Amazon and Waterstones offering the first instalment, due out on 19th October, with a 50% discount off the £20 book. Independent booksellers meanwhile have vowed to think “creatively” about how best to secure a share of the sales. Waterstones m.d James Daunt has said the first book could be worth around £8m in sales to the chain alone – 2% of its overall revenue.

Zool Verjee, deputy manager of Blackwell’s Oxford, said the store is planning something “stupendous” to mark the publication of the book. Pullman lives in Oxford and is well-known in the bookshop. “Everyone in this shop is floating”, he said. “It is fantastic, we know him really well and he’s done a number of events with us. This news has got us thinking of how to make people aware. We’ll have our own ‘Philip Pullman campaign’. We want to pull out all the stops and do something stupendous.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

A new wave of Canadian book companies taps in to the popularity of self-publishing

14 February 2017

From The Globe and Mail:

A new wave of Canadian publishers is looking to tap in to the popularity of self-publishing and help authors do it in a more professional way.

“Everything we do is totally customized for the author and their book and their audience,” says Trena White, principal and co-founder of Vancouver-based Page Two Strategies.

Her company offers a variety of services to authors, such as editing, design, marketing and distribution support on a fee-for-service basis. In other cases, it acts as a traditional agent, representing authors to publishers.

“We felt that there are a lot of authors with really great book ideas that deserve a market that just are not getting picked up by traditional publishers,” Ms. White says.

. . . .

For self-published authors, standing out from the crowd is a challenge. After all, even big publishers don’t always get the marketing right, says Chris Hall, the co-owner of McNally Robinson, a Winnipeg bookstore that also has a location in Saskatoon.

“The vast majority of self-published authors sell to friends and family,” says Mr. Hall. He says that authors who use self-publishing services are often setting themselves up for disappointment. “They end up with hundreds of copies of their book and, realistically, most of them don’t get sold,” Mr. Hall.

He is wary of marketing services aimed at self-published authors and says writers should be careful they’re not getting taken advantage of. “People want to believe that their book is the best,” he says. “I hate to be the person to bring the realistic news, but the chances of success are very low.”

Link to the rest at The Globe and Mail

Thieves steal £2m of rare books by abseiling into warehouse

14 February 2017

From The Guardian:

Antiquarian books worth more than £2m have been stolen by a gang who avoided a security system by abseiling into a west London warehouse.

The three thieves made off with more than 160 publications after raiding the storage facility near Heathrow in what has been labelled a Mission: Impossible-style break-in.

The gang are reported to have climbed on to the building’s roof and bored holes through the reinforced glass-fibre skylights before rappelling down 40ft of rope while avoiding motion-sensor alarms.

Scotland Yard confirmed that “a number of valuable books”, many from the 15th and 16th centuries, were stolen during the burglary in Feltham between 29 and 30 January.

. . . .

One source familiar with the case said: “They would be impossible to sell to any reputable dealer or auction house. We’re not talking Picassos or Rembrandts or even gold bars – these books would be impossible to fence. It must be for some one specialist. There must be a collector behind it. The books belong to three different dealers working at the very top of the market and altogether they form a fantastic collection.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to MKS for the tip.

PG learned that abseil is another word for rappel.

This Small Village In Spain Is Home To More Books Than People

12 February 2017

From All That is Interesting:

Imagine a small medieval town behind a high wall. A castle stands on one end, and all around are vineyards and fields of wheat. Imagine that within the walls the entire town is devoted to reading and writing. Imagine that the entire town is, in essence, one magical bookstore.

One of many European wonders, this fairytale for bibliophiles exists in Spain. The place is called Urueña, and it is only a two hour drive northwest from Madrid. The town sits within a medieval wall, surrounded by vast plains, in the region of Castilla y León. In recent years, it has transformed itself into a Villa del Libro, a village that celebrates books.

. . . .

Fewer than 200 people live in Urueña, according to the 2014 census. But these few villagers run 12 different bookstores, meaning that there’s one bookstore for every sixteen or so people. Some are general interest shops; others specialize in old and rare books. One focuses on the region of Castilla y León, another on children’s books. A shop called El 7 Bookshop specializes in books about bullfighting. Another concentrates its collection on books about wine, and this one is called The Cellar.

Link to the rest at All That is Interesting

PG says there are some nice photos at the link.

Toronto Public Library Discusses Audiobook and e-Book Curation

11 February 2017

From GoodEReader:

The Toronto Public Library had 3.7 million audiobook and e-book checkouts via OverDrive in 2016 and their total digital circulation was over 5 million if you factor in Hoopla, OneClickDigital and Zinio. These type of loan figures are the byproduct of a unified strategy to put the emphasis on e-book discovery via their website and promote the library system in the city of Toronto.

The city of Toronto is the e-book capital of Canada and many of the most popular digital companies are located there. Wattpad is the current undisputed market leader in fan-fiction, short stories and serialized fiction. Readers spend 15 billion minutes on Wattpad every month and more than 500 writers have published completed works that have been read more than a million times. There are over 350 million stories, in 50 languages, on the site. Kobo is also located in Toronto and they are known all over the world as being the number 2 e-reading company, next to Amazon. They have a digital catalog of over 5.1 million titles and millions of readers consume digital content each month. Booknet Canada specializes in analytics and data on the entire Canadian digital publishing and traditional publishing industry.

The Toronto Public Library loans out the most digital titles consistently for the past three years. Maria Cipriano is in charge of adult eBook purchasing and curating and gave her thoughts on how she approaches audiobook and e-book curation to serve the needs of the community.

“Our ultimate goal is to promote the enjoyment of reading and to facilitate this by uniting readers with the books they are seeking in the most user friendly way possible. The curation of eBook collections is an integral part of our service and providing easy access to great content significantly enhances the user experience for our customers, here are some key points.”

. . . .

Libraries have finite budgets and are unable to purchase enough copies to provide immediate access to his week’s best sellers (unlike bookstores) and the hottest titles will, inevitably,  be checked out with lengthy holds lists.  This is where curation plays a key role in providing a readers advisory service – we can create collections of great reads with available copies that allow customers to find something to read immediately.  Customers can read something else while they wait for the latest blockbuster title they placed on hold on.   We guide customers to last year’s bestsellers  (books that they never got around to reading and forgot about),  award-winning titles,  best books lists, slightly older books that had media attention,  books library staff personally enjoyed, etc.   We actually have to work at this a lot harder than online bookstores who have unlimited copies of new books and don’t have to promote mid and backlist titles that much.

. . . .

In Canada, our customers like to read books by Canadian authors and we can easily gather these together for them.   Libraries play a role in promoting indie titles as well.  For example, I curated a list of 295 titles of books set in Toronto – it is fun to read books set in your own backyard.   I am sure this is the case for readers in  San Francisco, Auckland, etc.

Link to the rest at GoodEReader

How To Get Published

8 February 2017

From The Writing Cooperative:

“Sorry we don’t publish unpublished authors.”

This is the conundrum I found myself in when I finished writing Hellbound. I had sent submission letters to as many agents and publishers as I could find on the Internet. Their responses were largely saying the same thing; unless you have a successful body of recognised work behind you, we won’t even read your manuscript.

Somewhat disheartened, I turned to my contacts to see what I could do, or whom I could approach to at least get an unbiased opinion on the story. My search led me to Michael Williams, a man connected with a radio station I was doing the weekly surf report on Friday mornings. Michael had previously worked for one of Australia’s largest independent publishing houses, Text Publishing. He ever so kindly accepted my request to take a look, and offer some advice.

 We met for a beer one night in Melbourne near his home, I having emailed him the manuscript a month prior. I’ll never forget what he said. “I’m glad I don’t have to give you the ‘stick to your day-job’ talk. But, you need to know, getting any kind of novel published is incredibly tough and this one will be near impossible. The genre isn’t huge in Australia. It has big, and maybe too many, original ideas. It is the kind of manuscript every publisher dreams of taking a chance on but never, ever does.” So what do I do? I asked. “Firstly you need to edit it. It’s really only about fifty percent complete, there are some plot holes you need to fill, and you need to build the main character more. But more importantly you need to get the right people to read it, without them thinking they need to make a yes or no decision on it.”

Link to the rest at The Writing Cooperative

Amazon launches £20,000 prize for self-published ebooks

8 February 2017

From The Telegraph:

Online retailer Amazon UK has taken on big awards such as the Man Booker and Costa Book Awards by launching its own literary prize – for self-published ebooks.

The Kindle Storyteller Prize carries a cash award of £20,000: far smaller than the £50,000 Man Booker Prize, but equal to the winner’s purse offered by the country’s two biggest poetry book awards, the TS Eliot Prize and Forward Prize.

The prize is open to any author who publishes their book through Kindle Direct Publishing between February 20 and May 19 this year. Entries from any genre are eligible – including fiction, non-fiction and collections of short stories – so long as they are more than 5,000 words and previously unpublished. Once published, individual printed copies of any of the books can also be ordered via Amazon’s print-on-demand service.

. . . .

“Great books deserve to be celebrated and that’s what we want to do with the Kindle Storyteller competition,” said an Amazon spokesperson. “Publishing a book has never been easier, and the Kindle Storyteller Award will reward the author whose story resonates most with both readers and literary experts.” Amazon will use readers’ interest in different titles online to help decide the shortlist, before the winner is chosen by an as-yet-unannounced panel of “both Amazon experts and literary authorities.”

Link to the rest at The Telegraph and thanks to Valerie for the tip.

PG suggests Amazon would have been more disruptive if it had offered a prize larger than the Mann Booker Prize.

As celebrity books boom, professional authors are driven out of full-time work

7 February 2017

From The Guardian:

Despite scoring three bestsellers in five years and a clutch of awards, The Spinning Heart author Donal Ryan has been forced to return to his day job in the Irish civil service in order to pay his mortgage.

Ryan has become the latest casualty of tumbling incomes for writers. Despite receiving advances and signing a deal to write three more books with his publisher, the Irish novelist said he had found it impossible to earn a living wage as a full-time writer.

. . . .

Saying his earnings amounted to about 40 cents per copy sold, he told the newspaper he had taken a job in the Workplace Relations Commission.

. . . .

Ryan’s decision came as children’s authors hit out at celebrity children’s books. Tales of Terror author Chris Priestley told the Bookseller that professional authors were finding it hard to compete for advances and shelf space. “It’s a tricky time in publishing at the moment,” he said. “I met a lot of writers last year who were having a hard time and in negotiations they were finding it harder to get the advances they got a couple of years ago.”

Priestley said that while the market was tough for all writers, celebrities were at an advantage competing for book deals. “It seems as though if you’re a celebrity you can just express the idea you would like to do a book – like [radio DJ] Christian O’Connell did on Twitter – and you will get a deal. I still have to pitch my books.”

In the last two years comedians and YouTubers have rushed into the market, some signing six-figure deals, while professional authors’ advances slipped to as low as three and four figures. Adding “children’s author” to their CV are the likes of David Walliams, Russell Brand, Danny Baker, Frank Lampard and Pharrell Williams.

CJ Daugherty, who writes thrillers for young adults, claimed ghostwritten children’s books risked undermining readers’ trust. “We can tell ourselves that readers must know a C-List celebrity, famous for opening makeup boxes on YouTube, isn’t capable of writing an 80,000-word novel,” she told the Bookseller. “But the whole system seems designed to fool people into thinking they are.”

Author and children’s book critic Amanda Craig told the trade magazine: “It’s distasteful [that] celebrities and their agents seem to think publishing a novel is a way to use their brand to make more money and, with the exception of David Walliams, they’re not very good.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Dave for the tip.

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