In this week's Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at the way the book world is moving to online events.
Remember, ALLi publishes a summary of the questions and answers from its weekly #IndieAuthorChat Twitter chat on the ALLi blog. This will be published on the Tuesday after the chat. And a reminder that ALLi has created a resource that seeks to answer any questions you may have about Covid-19, from concerns about the impact on events to ideas and news about how the services we rely on are responding. And as we look at online events in the news, do read this fabulous ALLi post on how to host online events as an author.
Online Events and Offline Events
The first sign of what was to come was the impact of coronavirus on the large scale events that lubricate the machinery of the book world. While, as we saw in this week’s introduction, many of us are moving our attention to online events, the publishing world is starting to catch up. Publishing Perspectives reports that Georgia plans to hold major online events for World Book and Copyright Day online.
But the fallout from those early cancelled events still rumbles on. And London Book Fair is still at the heart of it. The event, run by event organisers Reed Exhibitions, came under intense pressure and scrutiny for its very late call in cancelling last month’s event. Now it's in the spotlight again. This week it contacted stallholders explaining how it would compensate them for the cancelled show this year. There seems to have been no uniform approach, but the most commonly-reported offer seems to be a roll-over of fees to next year or a 60% refund.
As many of you know, I am a runner. My races this year have been cancelled. Most offer a rollover or refund choice. Despite money being tight, it’s easier for me to just roll the entry over. But the amount we are talking about as a proportion of the turnover of some exhibitors means cashflow in already difficult times could become unmanageable if they did that. So many will need a refund – but again, a 40% deduction for something that was beyond their control while they’re in crisis? Reed’s explanation seems to be that this is the equivalent of an “administration charge”. I am an administrator by day job and my eyes are watering!
Ebooks: A Vital Role but Delayed Payments
As we start to get used to a world in which connections happen more remotely, it feels as though our lives have become increasingly digital. And as we move out of emergency footing into trying to understand what “normal” might mean for the time being, we are seeing more stories about the actual impact on our lives as authors. In particular, stories are emerging about the shift between physical and ebooks.
You can help give a survey of the landscape by responding to this request from Passive Guy who wants to hear specifically from indies how their sales have been affected.
Mark Williams has two very interesting articles on the importance of digital at this time. First, he looks at the move libraries have made from physical to digital purchases. He also reports a massive growth in subscriptions – 50,000 in Spain, for example. Subscription was already a business model whose time had come for reading. It could now be unstoppable, and we need to prepare for that.
Talking of Libraries, the controversy over the Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library continues. Publishing Perspectives has a very comprehensive account of where we are right now.
What we could do without having to prepare for, though, is the reported delay of royalty payments form Barnes and Noble. While Nook sales make up little of our income, this is nonetheless a potentially worrying sign of what might be to come. Authors are always at the end of the chain when it comes to getting paid. When every part of that chain is squeezed we are very vulnerable.
Bookstores and Amazon: A Tale of 2 Businesses
We have looked over the past couple of weeks at how bookstores are fairing in this crisis. We have seen the Bookshop.org initiative to provide a cut of online sales for local stores. And we’ve seen Barnes & Noble switch to click and collect. But many smaller stores have struggled greatly. And those include iconic names like Shakespeare and Co in Paris and – for a poet like me – the most legendary shop of all, San Francisco’s City Lights.
Many bookshops have taken to using the Gofundme platform to keep themselves afloat. And while campaigns have been successful – in the case of City Lights raising $450,000 – the money raised is struggling to reach the people who need it.
Amazon, meanwhile, have had a very mixed time. They are looking for 75,000 new workers to add to the 100,000 already taken on to meet increased demand. But the company has struggled to retain the trust of its customers. And stories of poorly protected workers do not do its image any good. All of which is to say that by the time this crisis is over, our book world – like the rest of the world – may look very different.The book world is moving to online events, Barnes and Noble warn of royalty delays and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet
Over to You
Let us know about great online events of interest to indies, and novel ways of moving what you do online in the comments below.
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