Amongst the Boxes. Still.

We’re still somewhat awash in boxes so a short post rounding up some of the more interesting things I’ve been looking at over the past few days.

First of all Stephen Page’s Guardian article about the necessity of bookshops especially with regard to the ‘discoverability’ of books. Stephen always has an interesting insight into the future of publishing and I’ve got some longer thoughts on the issues thrown up by this article which I’ll post later. The thing I think he captures well is the peril of an unstable transition period and what might happen to the wide range of books (indeed nearly all of them) that lie between the top ten and the ‘long tail’ without traditional bookshops.

In contrast perhaps, (though in fairness I don’t really think they are that far apart) I’ve also been much taken with this interview from Mike Shatzkin (hat-tip to Publishing Perspectives) who has been taking the temperature of the US book trade at BEA. Mike’s views on the need to experiment with price are I think hugely important. The received pricing structures that publishers continue to work with are hugely vulnerable to a smart player with insight innovating with an eye to the consumer. Much to think about there.

Lastly, I’ve been catching up with Start the Week, which is my Desert Island podcast. The writer Elif Batuman was my star of the show in this episode as she talked about her book, The Possessed (Ian Sansom’s Guardian review of The Possessed, here and her excellent LRB article about creative writing here). Anyone who can make an academic obsession with Russian novels sound as wonderful and exciting (or utterly insane as she also often does) deserves to be read (great cover too). Had to go out and get it. Will report back.

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