In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at Draft2Digital's expanded library distribution and a new prize for graphic novelists.
In this month's podcast, Howard and I dedicate the whole show to the latest developments in AI. We talk everything from Apple and Google's AI narration, through Midjourney and AI art, to what ChatGPT and similar tools mean for us as writers. We also talk about our own experiences of using these tools.
Draft2Digital Expands its Distribution to Libraries
Draft2Digital has just expanded its library distribution. The platform already allows indie authors to get their books into libraries through distributors like Overdrive. Last week it added Palace Marketplace to its roster. Palace Marketplace distributes ebooks to 400 libraries and library groups in the US. It is a not-for-profit platform run with the Digital Public Library of America that specialises in indie titles. Palace will distribute the half million ebook titles available through Draft2Digital and Smashwords under the new arrangement.
AI Latest: Google loses $100bn with one wrong answer
It’s been a bad week for many of the AI evangelists in the tech industry. Of course, any new technology has ups and downs. But by any measure, wiping $100bn off the value of a company is quite a big bump in the road. But that’s what happened to Google’s parent company Alphabet after they trumpeted the launch of their new AI platform, Bard.
Maybe Google could have taken a leaf out of Steve Jobs’ product launch playbook and rigged up something that looked real if they couldn’t rely on things going to plan. Or maybe they could have just employed some fact checkers. Bard was asked the kind of question that would be really useful for an AI to answer, blending fact and context. That question was, “What new discoveries from the James Webb Space Telescope can I tell my 9-year-old about?” Unfortunately, the answer was not so great. It explained that the James Webb Telescope, launched in 2021, took the first pictures of a planet outside of our solar system. Pictures that had, in fact, been taken in 2004.
Of course, it’s easy to chuckle and feel some schadenfreude. Bard’s misstep continues a trend of AIs tending to be rather better at form than substance. But we’d be mistaken to think of this as a derailment rather than a brief stumble. Those of us who are excited about the possibility of technology might fruitfully spend time reading how Joanna Penn used AI to help her write a short story. And to bring things round to a balanced conclusion, Miles Oliver has a great piece in The Independent Publishing Magazine this week. He examines the question of whether indie authors should use AI art for our covers. After a nicely rounded piece, he concludes, “Before you use any type of AI, consider how it will truly impact your work, and how it might also impact the lives of others who are trying to boost their business, too.” Which is a great note to finish on.
New £2500 Caliburn Prize for Graphic Novelists
It’s always great to announce new prizes. And this week sees the launch of a great new prize that ALLi is proud to be a part of. The Caliburn Prize will offer a £2500 Prize for unpublished graphic novelists based in the UK. Entry runs from the 9th of February until the 31st of May 2023, with the winner being announced at the 2023 London Film & Comic Con on July 8th. In addition to the prize money, the winning creator/team will also gain a free table and hotel at 2024 London Film & Comic Con, a year's membership of both the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
I was particularly happy to see the way self-published work was handled in the eligibility criteria. The criteria are designed to ensure that people realise the prize is intended for writers and teams of writers and illustrators who aren’t professionally published. This is defined less by the kind of contract people have had and more about the level of income they make.
Storytel Expansion and Barnes and Noble's Good Year
Storytel used to be a staple in the news. After a quiet period, this week they are back. This comes courtesy of a fascinating dissection of the markets they serve and are looking to serve from Mark Williams. Williams' headline is, “Storytel prepares a global all you can eat rollout.” The article itself contains a lot of spade work that he believes uncovers exactly this kind of plan. I look forward to reporting on how it plays out.
Another company that's back in the news is Barnes and Noble. The US wing of James Daunt inc. has reported substantial sales growth in 2022. This bucks a trend of disappointing print sales that have been a staple of industry news for some time now. It comes as Daunt looks to double down on the store's central offering. That is, he wants to focus on books, not on the frills of merchandise and coffee that, for a while, represented the received wisdom about how bookstores could stay alive. What I found particularly interesting was that audiobook subscription had helped grow the company's number. New Nook devices also seem to have played a part. So while Barnes and Noble are back in the news, maybe the decade old reporting of the imminent death of the Nook is not!
Self-publishing News: Wider Library Distribution from Draft2Digital Click To Tweet