This week is Banned Books Week. I'm not going to get political, but that has got me thinking about the freedom we have as indies. We can never be “no platformed” by publishers. On the other hand, many platforms are closed completely to us. We have the freedom to say anything, but often very limited spaces in which to say it. Which is why ALLi's Opening Up campaign remains so important.
First of all a reminder that next week sees the first holding of the newly revamped DigitalBookWorld conference. The event was a mainstay of the literary scene for many years. But in recent years the conference had grown somewhat stale and increasingly aloof from the indie world.
Now, though, as we have been reporting through the year, things have changed. Now that DigitalBookWorld is under new ownership and with self-publishing well and truly on the agenda, ALLi is proud to have our logo on the conference masthead.
And to be able to offer you some significant discounts if you'd like to book a last-minute ticket. Regular price for DBW is between $895–$1,595. ALLi members using the code ALLI2018REGULARADMISSION can take the price down to $239.
With everything from blockchain to audio, how to use Alexa to Orna Ross delivering a plenary session on self-publishing 3.0 this is an event not to be missed. If, of course, you do have to miss it in Nashville, we will be bringing it to you through our Self-Publishing Advice Conference on Saturday 6th.
The Rise of Audio Around the World
DigitalBookWorld will have a heavy emphasis on audio. That's a theme we're getting used to. We constantly see publishing figures where ebooks tail off, print books just hold their own, and audio is booming. But we are also used to that being, in part, because audio remains a relatively small, if fast-growing, segment of the market. Which is why Mark Williams' look at the scene in Sweden is very interesting. Two fascinating things emerge there. First, audio is leading the digital march ahead of ebooks. Second, 40% of books sold are through a subscription. I talk a lot about subscription models in this column, but this reinforces why we need to think about them. And the potential benefits if we do.
Meanwhile, the big audio news of the week is that Audible is now available for the Apple watch. Another reason not to ignore the audiobook.
Magic Leap: Offering New Possibilities for Writers?
I've talked about Magic Leap before. The company, often cited as the most secretive start-up in Silicon Valley (and the most attractive to investors) is at the forefront of the augmented reality industry. They launched their headsets earlier this year. This week they launched their first game, a version of Angry Birds. Nothing exactly game changing there. Only, well it is. Completely game-changing. For a while we have thought about how narrative gaming is changing storytelling. And platforms like Toplayfor and Charisma are already allowing authors to use nascent AI in their storytelling. Augmented reality now gives not only a new method of storytelling, but a new medium. There will be a land grab on superb content any month or year now. We as indies could be at the forefront of that if we start working now.
Last week was the week of EU copyright reform. It is somewhat alarming that this week the person in charge of seeing the reform through admitted he didn't know some of what was in the legislation. But rights, and their role in ensuring we get paid, have been stirring up feelings again this week. First, there was the announcement from Futurebook that this year's conference would include a prize for the best short story on the future of reading. Great! But no so great for the writer, who would be signing away all rights and receiving nothing in return. Except a seat on a panel at the event. Where one hopes they might talk about the future of reward for writers.
The question of rights and remuneration is increasingly coming to the fore. It can feel as though, as indies, we are protected from this somewhat. We might need to check the small print for competitions. But aside from that we have control. And we know what a vanity press looks like. Which is why one story emerging on The Passive Voice this week is so alarming. It centres on Kboards, the biggest forum used by indie writers to discuss anything and everything. Kboards has recently been taken over by Verticalscope, a massive umbrella company for hundreds of special interest forums. What has been of most special interest to users is the accompanying terms of service change. Which requires posters to give up the rights to their posts. Users are deleting and leaving in droves. Watch this space.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Digital Book World, Oct 2-4 [Nashville] (ALLi discount and scholarships available)
Ness Book Fest, Oct 4-7 [Scotland] Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct 10-14 [Frankfurt] Urban Writers' Retreat, 18 Oct [Newcastle] (ALLi discount)
Helsinki Book Fair, 25-28 Oct [Helsinki] Croydon Litfest, 27 October [Croydon, UK]