In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at Draft2Digital's acquisition of Self Pub Book Covers and the changing print landscape.
Do have a listen to the new self-publishing news podcast. Howard and I have been talking about the way the legal cases that are being brought against Open AI as well as the FTC investigation. We've also been considering whether Meta's new Threads social media platform will be a viable alternative to Twitter.
Draft2Digital Acquires Self Pub Book Covers
Draft2Digital continues to grow. The platform has just acquired Self Pub Book Covers, a marketplace for premade book covers. SPBC will become part of a new Division called Author Success. This is another step towards making D2D a potential one stop shop for authors. D2D are of course an ALLi partner and have an excellent services rating. While not previously an ALLi partner, SPBC nonetheless hold a recommended rating. Which is one reason this is an acquisition I’m very pleased to cover.
I want to add here that press releases make me nervous. I get a lot of them and always like to pick them apart and point out the bits that our readers will find useful rather than simply reproducing them en masse. But one part of the press release from D2D really stood out for me. And that’s the way that this acquisition, while clearly a benefit for authors, is pitched as a way of serving cover designers and bringing them further into the indie community’s heart where they belong. In the current climate of AI concerns in the art world, reading this pleased me greatly.
The Changing Landscape of Print: from Sustainability to Sales
It’s interesting that as technology to enable digital reading and the selling of digital products gets more advanced, more of the news seems to focus on the printed word.
This week three separate items with a print angle caught my eye, so I thought I would not only bring them to you but try to put them in a broader perspective.
Amazon Tell US Publishers to Print in Europe or On Demand Rather than Shipping Between Continents
I will start with Amazon, because this picks up from a story I ran last week. You may remember that Amazon had challenged the European Union over new regulations on transparency. The requirements of the new Digital Services Act were behind changes that had caused some concern among ALLi members I had spoken to.
Now Amazon is making its literary stakeholders unhappy again. And yet again EU regulations seem to be at the heart of the issue. This time the issue is sourcing of products. What that means is that publishers are under pressure not to ship goods from the US into Europe in order for Amazon to meet its sustainability goals if it is to keep their books in stock. Amazon has suggested printing within Europe instead. Or, indies take note, print on demand. US-based publishers say that this has seen sales of books previously shipped to Europe fall by up to 50%
Taylor & Francis to Tackle Plastic Packaging
The second story comes from academic publishing. Taylor and Francis are one of the largest academic journal publishers. Working in a university, one feature of my daily life is the arrival of sacks full of individually posted academic journals. Traditionally, these have arrived in plastic packaging. Taylor and Francis, one of the signatories to the Publishers’ Compact on environmental sustainability, have committed to doing something about this. They will now be sending out their journals in paper rather than plastic wrapping.
The logistics side of the publishing industry often fall under the spotlight when it comes to environmental concerns. We have seen that already with the first story in this section. But this places the spotlight on another part of the supply chain. It's not just the movement of books between (in both directions) printers and warehouses that creates an issue. It's the onward movement from those warehouses to customers (of course print on demand cuts out that whole warehouse bit).
These two stories show what a complex picture the print world is right now. There is a huge amount for us to consider when we decide to make paper copies of our book available. And we make those considerations in the context of an increasingly questioning audience.
Sales of Print: On the Up or On the Down?
Finally, we come to the subject of sales. Print sales are part of the news I read so often that I probably pass that news on too little. But this week, Mark Williams' commentary on the UK's latest sales figures highlighted a key point. Sales revenue in the UK jumped to record levels. Great. But wait, actual sales volume is down 4.2%. The records come from an average per book cost of around an extra 50 cents. Hardly surprising given the cost of living. Though what is really of note is that this is not so much that the base price is rising. Rather, discounts are falling (the average of 23% reduction on recommended retail price is the lowest in two decades). And given that discounts are a main reason why bookstores struggle to stock indie books, maybe that reduces the differentials between us and trade published titles. So maybe not all bad after all. Like I said earlier, it's a complicated landscape.
World of Warcraft Fans Unmask AI
A few weeks ago, I reported on a fandom setting out to troll AI. The Omegaverse thought Sudowrite was clearly being trained on the fandom’s works without asking permission. And they set out to play with that suspicion to out the AI tool.
Now, one of the biggest fandoms out there actually succeeded in outing AI. World of Warcraft is, of course, a huge part of the cultural landscape. And last week, World of Warcraft subreddit users posted fake stories that found their way into a story from gaming site The Z League. The article purported to have a human author. “Lucy Reed” is a prolific content producer for the site. But if she is indeed a real human then her standards fall far below those usually expected. Like not regurgitating utterly false stories about a new World of Warcraft character called Glorbo from a random subreddit. Far more likely, it seems, is that Lucy Reed is a pseudonym for an AI-powered bot. I feel a little bit less disposable in my role here at ALLi. Until, that is, I find a really exciting story on my trawl through the dark corners of the internet and forget to fully fact check…Draft2Digital acquires Self Pub Book Covers, and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet