Ah, Festival season is well and truly upon us. Hence, sorry, more from the personal snaps album to accompany this week's post. As I write, we are in the middle of my own local offering, Oxford Literary Festival. In many ways I am grateful to this lumbering monolith of a shambles, because it was this event, 7 years ago, that really propelled me into the world of indie event organising, setting up Not the Oxford Literary Festival, using the better known counterpart as a blueprint of what a festival should not do – no local authors unless they're the kind of name you'd fly in from hundreds of miles away; no fees; no out of the ordinary genres or formats; and absolutely, positively (the full Samuel L Jackson) no indies. I love the literary scene in Oxford. We have indie talent and bookstores who do amazing indie things coming out of every crack in the dreaming spires – I just wish our showcase to the world would open up. Just a little bit. Perhaps we should invite the organisers to Hawkesbury Upton next month to show them what I mean.
Last week we brought fabulous news of indie prize success. This week, there's more as Bill Millward joins a celebrated shortlist for the Arnold Bennett Prize, which carries a not insignificant prize fund of three £500 awards, for his book God's Finger. Let's keep them coming!
Amazon Author Insights
Amazon Author Insights is a new tumblr (yes, you read that right) that brings together, erm, insights on the subjects of writing, publishing, and marketing from the likes of Hugh Howey and Joanna Penn. That's great. Thank you, Amazon. But the ever-insightful Nate Hoffelder makes the key point, “It's not clear what they're trying to accomplish here.” Perhaps the clue is in the very extensively populated “Tools and services” page.
Tax and copyright
It's a good week when there's a tax or a copyright story. And this week there's both. From next month, Amazon will be collecting sales tax on online purchases in the four states where it doesn't do so already, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico and Idaho. Meanwhile, Australia has just introduced a bill that will allow the copying of books into accessible formats for disabled readers to provide wider than the current 5% coverage of works in accessible formats.
Medium adopts Subscription model
As a journalist, Medium is a platform that has interested me for a while, and I have featured it before in this column. Now, finally, it seems that the site has taken steps towards financial sustainability – by charging a $5 a month subscription for premium services.
What a Performance
For the past few years performance poetry has been my milieu of choice, and it's as indie friendly as it gets. So I was delighted when ALLi member Keith Dixon pointed me to this piece about the breakthrough of performance poetry to the mainstream. Of course, I could have told you about the sell-out audiences, the fanatical devotees. But it's so much better to read it in the regular media. One of the real signs that this indiest of literary forms is breaking through, and providing real opportunities to make something approaching a living is the hiring of several of the UK's highest profile performance poets to feature in a series of building society adverts. This has caused something of a furore and debate about whether this constitutes selling out and how a poet can be authentic. Hmm, sounds familiar!
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