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Self-publishing News: Book Fair Confusion

Self-publishing News: Book Fair Confusion

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at the chaos facing spring book fairs as Leipzig cancels the week after announcing an in-person only event.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

The new Self-publishing News Podcast is out in which Howard and I discuss, among other things, why Amazon removed indie authors' books without warning or explanation earlier this year. I very much look forward to seeing many of you on tonight's #indieauthorchat at the usual 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK time when Tim will be leading a discussion that's important to me as a blogger and journalist: content marketing.

Leipzig Book Fair Cancels In-person Event a Week after Announcing Itself Open While Kolkata Goes Ahead

For two years this is the question we’ve kept coming back to. Will xyz book fair go ahead? And if it does, in what format will it be?

Nothing illustrates the confusion over the state of play better than this month’s news. Just last week, I reported that Leipzig Book Fair would be going ahead as an in-person only event. And, as surely as an unnecessary sequel follows a successful standalone, the inevitable happened. Just a few days later, the in-person event was cancelled. This perfectly illustrates the extent of the problem we face right now. To put it bluntly, no one knows what’s going on. So no one can make any real plans. Publishers don’t want to commit time and money to an event that may not happen. And if it does, may attract no more than a handful… of other publishers. Attendees don’t want to commit to diary space, tickets, and all the other stuff that goes with visiting a book fair.

Nonetheless Kolkata has this week insisted that it will go ahead in person at the end of February. I’m tempted to say, wait for next week’s news. Meanwhile, many of us have our tickets to London Book Fair where ALLi will be celebrating our 10th anniversary. And now we’re nervously waiting to see whether we all get to meet up and eat Amazon-sponsored food together!

Apple Launches a Book Club and Snapchat Launches Creator Payments

High profile book clubs sell a lot of books. Think Oprah in the US and Richard and Judy in the UK. Big names in tech sometimes don't have the impact we might expect. Mark Zuckerberg's 2015 project was, despite his huge audience, somewhat of a damp squib. So it will be interesting to see how Apple's new venture turns out. Strombo's Lit bears the name of Apple Music's George “Strombo” Stroumboulopoulos. It would be really fabulous to see Apple take a lead in promoting some indie titles.

Snapchat, meanwhile, has entered the fray in the debate on how to remunerate creators. It will introduce revenue sharing adverts for top creators' stories. This is of real interest because it is stands in direct contrast to TikTok's new creators' fund. As subscription increasingly dominates the consumption model for culture, it matters more and more how the creators of that content get paid. And right now there are two models. One is the revenue share, and one is the fixed pot divided up (like Kindle Unlimited). Creators across different media tend to prefer the former because the potential is uncapped. And they are not involved in what is, essentially, a zero sum game with other creators.

Stationery and the Analogue Revolution 

In the last couple of years, I’ve reported on the surprising strength of the printed word. Ebooks and audiobooks continue to grow. But that growth doesn’t seem to be at the expense of print. This raises a question. Could this be part of a larger trend? A movement back towards the analogue (I gave a talk 6 years ago this month at a Future of the Arts festival at Oxford University, called The Future Will Not be Digitised), maybe? 

This week sees the second story in quick succession about another trend in this direction. People still love notebooks. Even young people. Earlier in the year, I reported on Hachette’s takeover of journal giant Paperblanks. And this week comes the news that Papier.com received $50m backing. Papier.com make really nice quality and completely customisable notebooks. Which is something for us to think about as consumers and producers! It’s really dangerous to report on stories like this. It has taken me down rabbit holes I’m not sure my finances want me to go down!

Libraries and Publishers Continue Their Stand-off

It’s been a busy week in the complicated and confusing stand off between libraries and publishers in the USA. Tennessee and Missouri have now joined Maryland and New York in passing ebook licensing laws. These laws mean that publishers must offer libraries licenses to ebooks available for retail at a fair price. This comes in the same week that the association of American Publishers (AAP) took to the court in Maryland to challenge their law. A judgment in that case is expected soon.

I said that the situation is confusing. This is not just because the idea of publishers and libraries being at loggerheads is disturbing on quite a visceral level. But the same week the AAP was in court trying to overturn Maryland’s ebooks for libraries law, Penguin Random House announced that it would be extending its flexible terms to libraries until at least June. The move was an early response to Covid. It allows libraries to license ebooks yearly rather than being locked in for two years. 

It’s really interesting that the Publishers Weekly article has an editorial footnote. It comments that librarians have told them that this flexibility is helpful for managing their digital budget. Could it be a sign that even Publishers Weekly thinks Publishers are going too far in taking on libraries?

Confusion as Leipzig's in-person Book Fair cancelled a week after announcing its go ahead and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet

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Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


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