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Self-publishing News: The Challenge To Print Books

Self-publishing News: The Challenge to Print Books

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway

I spent this last weekend crewing for my wife at the London Marathon. As a distance runner, it's one of the big dates in the calendar. It was a great illustration of how writing differs from other great loves people have. Almost everyone who runs is simply happy to occasionally tread the same roads as the greats. Most people I have met who write, however, believe their place is among those who breathe the summit air of Olympus. I still don't quite know what it is about our great craft that makes it so.

Paper: The Challenge to Print Book Resurgence

paper: a challenge for the book business

Photo by Christa Dodoo on Unsplash

The bounce back of print books has been a consistent story in the past couple of years. This week the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) highlighted an important but underreported threat to that resurgence. There is, it seems, a shortage of paper. From closed paper mills to competition in demand from the packing industry, in 2018 there was a 40% reduction in the amount of paper available for printing books. Printing capacity is particularly low, it seems, for hardbacks. A concern as these are proving particularly popular at present.

There was also good news at the annual BISG meeting, though. Anyone who has ever searched for, and found, wisdom online will be delighted that the conference also saw the award of Sally Dedecker Award for Lifetime Service to the book publishing business to Mike Shatzkin. The Shatzkin Files is one of the go-to sites for indies. Indeed, for all writers. Congratulations, Mike, hugely deserved.

While we're on the subject of paper books, this is a lovely reflection on Independent Bookstore Day. Nearly 600 stores in the US officially participated in the event on Saturday, enjoying a boost in sales over last year's event. It was a fabulous opportunity for the stores to show what they can give to readers, writers, and communities.

Audiobooks: Past the Tipping Point?

Photo by Findaway Voices on Unsplash

Landmark figures came from the Audio Publishers Association this week. It shows half of their latest survey respondents had listened to an audiobook (up from 44%in 2018). More than half of those had carved out new time for audiobooks. And 55% of respondents had listened to a podcast  in the previous month.

One of the really interesting things about the London Marathon was the amount of sponsorship hoarding space given over to Audible. Just one more indicator of the growing audiobook trend. A Audible's big announcement this week is around customer service. You can now speak direct to a human. How? Well, the same way you can now listen to Audible books. Through Alexa.

Amazon's new Figures make Interesting Reading for Writers

Amazon's Q1 figures make interesting reading. Sales are up 17% to $59.7bn, with an operating profit of $4.4bn on that. But what is really interesting is reading through the “highlights” in their press release. Only one item on the pages-long list, the release of the $89.99 front-lit Kindle, relates to what we do. An indication of their priorities, maybe?

StreetLib and Wattpad continue Expansion

There can be no denying the priority of StreetLib, meanwhile. They want to give authors access to a truly global market. The latest step is to partner with Stary and Dreame, two Singapore-based reading apps with global reach. Also expanding their authors' pathways (again) is Wattpad, this time with a deal with French-based Lagardere Studios. It is just the latest in a long line of deals enabling a quick route to screen for the most promising writers.

Are book printers running out of paper & other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Share on X

Upcoming Conferences and Events

APRIL 2019

Bogota Book Fair, 25 Apr – 6 May [Columbia] Sydney Writers’ Festival, Apr 29 – May 5 [Sydney]

MAY 2019

Stockholm Writers' Festival, 3-5 May [Sweden] Boswell Book Festival, 10-12 May [Scotland] The Next Page, 11 May [online] Book Expo, 29-31 May [New York]

JUNE 2019

Dublin Writers Conference, 21-23 Jun [Dublin] Historical Novel Society, 20-22 June [Maryland]


Independent Self-publishing Authors Fair, 17 Nov [Henley-in-Arden]

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


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. The other issue with print books is the huge amount of books that end up on landfill sites as booksellers make their returns. Very few people realise that some 40% of all books in stores end up being returned to the publisher and shredded. With print on demand, this figure should be going down, but often publishers are over-ambitious about their sales and print far too many copies in advance.

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