In this week’s Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at a new tool for checking the effectiveness of book covers and the continued success of Bookshop.org.
This has been a unique week in indie history. For the first time in quarter of a century we find ourselves in an ecosystem without Jeff Bezos calling the shots (no coincidence, surely, that Richard Branson used the week to become the first of the billionaires to reach space). There’s a fascinating look at that world here. In this month’s self-publishing news podcast, Howard and I ask why there are so few young indie authors entering prestigious awards for which they are eligible, and what we can do to change that.
eBookFairs Launches a New Tool for Checking your Cover
These days a book cover has to do many things. And figuring out which of them it actually does isn’t always obvious. Your cover doesn’t just have to stand out on the bookshelf – or, if you’re lucky enough to get there, table. It has to work as a thumbnail. It has to look great in a newsletter. And it has to work in different colour displays as well as black and white. A new cover checker from eBookFairs seeks to give you a way of making sure your cover does all of those things.
(For transparency’s sake, I will add that eBookFairs is an ALLi partner member).
Bookshop.org Still Thriving
One of the main stories at the start of last year was the growth of Bookshop.org. The company, which allows independent bookstores to create an online storefront and receive money on sales to customers who want to support them but can’t get to the store, felt like the perfect platform for a critical moment at the start of Covid. But a year and more since many bookstores shut their bricks and mortar doors it is still thriving. Sales so far this year stand at $29m. Since Bookshop.org launched in 2019 it has passed on $15m from its sales to independent bookstores. Although year on year sales for April-June are down 20%.
The context for this of course is that last April the world’s bookstores closed their doors. Many of them didn’t have online storefronts. And a world gripped by pandemic fear was turning to books for comfort. Bookshop positioned itself as not only a way to meet this need but a way to do so without people having to turn to Amazon. At a time when bookstores were turning to Gofundme and there was a real fear that there would not be an indie bookselling business left after the pandemic, this gave Bookshop.org massive traction in the US and later its new UK markets.
Now, of course, bookstores are reopening and customers are rushing back to them. Bookshop.org’s head Andy Hunter has frequently suggested that he doesn’t mind at all if the company loses out to independents now they are back in business. But it seems that people still value what the company offers. Maybe these are customers still at risk from Covid. Maybe people are finally easing away from Amazon. Maybe the book business is actually going to emerge from the pandemic in reasonable shape.
Google fined 500 Million Euros in First Big Copyright Directive Case
The European Union’s Copyright Directive has been in the news this year as guidance on what it will mean in practice has appeared. This week we had the first actual real life indication of the implications of the legislation. The Directive aims to protect the rights of those who produce content to seek compensation from platforms who use it. It proved controversial because website owners feared it would stop them linking to material. What the guidance has sought to make clear is that the intent is much more about ensuring big tech does not use its influence to squeeze payment to content producers, especially journalists.
The first big case suggests this is indeed the intent of state legislators. French competition authorities have fined Google 500 million Euros. This was a response to Google refusing to display, in France, content from publishers based in the European Union if they could not do so for free. The content in question is the summary of news articles that would usually appear in your Google search as you decide whether to click through to the whole article. Courts decided this represented a failure on Google’s part to negotiate in good faith. It’s only a first case, but a significant one.
What The Rise of the Newsletter Means for Writing
For years the most common discussions on writers’ forums I frequented took a predictable course. Should I publish paperbacks through Ingram Spark or createspace or both? Should I enrol my book in KDP Select or should I go wide? Without noticing it, another question has started to emerge. Should I use Medium or Substack? This is particularly interesting because for many years, any questions about newsletters were about mailing list providers – mailchimp and Aweber, for example. Now the question is, “how can I monetise subscription to special content?”
A recet discussion among ALLi members circled around the question of which authors might benefit from a subscription-style newsletter. Journalists are the obvious candidates of course. And non-fiction writers more widely, especially if they write on contemporary themes, can create compelling content you would happily pay for in your inbox. But we agonised a little over whether that would translate to fiction. Which makes this article on the art of the newsletter particularly interesting. It looks at whether the rise of the newsletter might be shaping a new form of writing, and what opportunities that might bring. I can’t help thinking of previous medium-shaped-messages such as the cell phone novel and, of course, Instagram Poetry.What place does Bookshop.org have in the book industry's future and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months. I highly recommend this great list of online writers’ conferences from Nate Hoffelder, some of which are indie-inclusive.
Comic Con, 22-25 Jul