I spent the weekend imbibing the indie spirit (along with copious quantities of suitably rough coffee) at the fabulous Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival (Whence the photos used here). I was involved in three of the panels – poetry readings, writing about disability, and creativity. Most mainstream festivals would struggle to cover one of those bases let alone all three. It's a wonderful reminder of what can be done when you try something new, when you forget what the rules tell you about how it should be done and just go ahead and do stuff. And that, for me, is the most valuable aspect of all of the indie spirit.
Amazon in Australia
It would be fair to say there's pretty much one story in town this week, which is the news that Amazon is bringing retail and delivery to Australia, potentially slashing book prices and opening up wide a hungry market for print that has struggled with sky high prices. Amazon's announcement states:
“Amazon Web Services launched an Australian region in 2012, we launched a Kindle store on amazon.com.au in 2013 and we now have almost 1000 employees in the country. The next step is to bring a retail offering to Australia, and we are making those plans now.”
Plans will begin with a massive warehousing operation followed by hiring and infrastructure building. Exciting times.
And as one door opens…It would appear that Audible has suspended the gifting mechanism whereby authors or voice actors could gift copies of their books to readers, ostensibly to focus on the selling of gift subscriptions and the “send this book” feature, though possibly in response to potential gaming of the gifting system. I would add that while this is most definitely newsworthy, I have only found the story in the linked article and the associated, referenced Reddit, so maybe watch this space.
Opportunities for indies
Conflict of interest or no, I would be remiss if I didn't highlight this fabulous masterclass brought to you by four of ALLi's finest partner members. Roz Morris (editor), Jessica Bell (designer), Ben Cameron (marketer) and Robin Cutler (Ingram Spark) have joined forces to create a wonderful one-stop self-publishing masterclass in London on September 23rd. I was also delighted to hear of the second year of the Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival, an event dedicated to indie authors and small presses that seems to be gathering quite a head of steam. It's wonderful to see so many brazenly unapologetic celebrations of all things indie.
Writing for Posterity
Why do we write? I would wager that most of us, if asked to come up wit our reasons, would at some point use the word “legacy” or one of its synonyms. Which is what makes this article on a particular problem of the digital age so important. One of the biggest challenges I face in my day job as a university administrator is ensuring the ongoing legacy of the research we do. And given that much of our research involves massive digital datasets and sound corpora as well as research papers, that's a massive problem. Our words and our work has the potential to change the world for centuries to come. But only if it survives. And each step in the continual march of digital progress (which, in itself, is by and large a cause for celebration) raises the spectre of our work's transience. As indies in particular, whilst we talk of the long tail and a lifetime of potential sales, it behoves us to look beyond that to how our words will be preserved for posterity.
Going back to the day job, because I do my administering at a Linguistics Faculty, I spend every part of every day immersed in language. Which is something like heaven. If you love language as much as I do, this might just be the best story of the year so far, a guide to the internet-based language of “doggolingo”.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Thrillerfest, Jul 11-15 [New York]
Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival, Sep 23 [Fredericksburg]
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