Morning. I think.

Lovely evening at the New Zealand Post Book Awards last night. Some hitches on the technical front, WordPress app for iPhone not really up to the task so had to late blog rather than live blog. Tweetdeck also got a bit tetchy. Or maybe a tad too much wine. But all in all a great night and particularly wonderful to see Chris Bourke’s Blue Smoke hit the jackpot.

For some follow-up on yesterday’s mention of Richard Nash, have a listen to this podcast.

Also nice to see others indulging in gratuitous use of Bernard Black pictures. Interesting post too.

I had a very nice time on the VUP table last night. Pip Adam was one of the winners and very nice to meet her. I also sat next to the Witch King of Angmar. Which was nice.


New Zealand Book Awards live blog

The Beatles at Wellington Town Hall

Welcome to the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2011, and is officially (technology permitting) my first live blog from Wellington Town Hall.

My tie is blue, just so you can picture the scene.

Okay so to remind you the categories and nominations are:

The Hut Builder-Laurence Fearnley (Penguin)

The Night Book-Charlotte Grimshaw (Random House)

Their Faces Were Shining-Tim Wilson (VUP)

The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls-Kate Camp (VUP)

The Radio Room-Cilla McQueen (OUP)

Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in EnglishWhetu Moana II
by Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan
(Auckland University Press)

General Non-fiction
99 Ways Into New Zealand Poetry-Paula Green and Harry Ricketts (Random House)

Blue Smoke-Chris Bourke (Auckland University Press)

Mune: An Autobiography by Ian Mune (Craig Potton Publishing)

No Fretful Sleeper: A Life of Bill Pearson by Paul Millar (Auckland University Press)

The Tasman: Biography of an Ocean by Neville Peat (Penguin Group NZ)

Illustrated Non-fiction
Brian Brake: Lens on the World by Athol McCredie (Te Papa Press)

Pounamu by Russell Beck, Maika Mason and Andris Apse (Viking, Penguin Group NZ)

Still Life: Inside the Antarctic Huts of Scott and Shackleton by Nigel Watson and Jane Ussher (Murdoch Books)

The Dress Circle by Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, Claire Regnault and Lucy Hammonds (Godwit, Random House NZ)

The Passing World: The Passage of Life: John Hovell and the Art of Kowhaiwhai by Damian Skinner (Rim Books)

Best first book
Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction: Everything We Hoped ForPip Adam (VUP)

Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry: Dear Sweet Harry-Lynne Jenner (Auckland University Press).

E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction for Whaikōrero: The World of Māori Oratory-Dr. Poia Rewi(Auckland University Press)

Okay few technical hitches this evening but here is the definitive list of winners.

Congratulations to them all.

Signing off N

Bookseller be my guide…

This is a great piece and is a good articulation of why we will continue (in whatever form) to need booksellers. The more choice we have, the fiercer the price war, the more we need a guide. A way of navigating the ocean of possible selections.

This is especially crucial in the area of fiction and why I think that fiction sales are going to come under increasing pressure as we advance deeper into digital fulfillment (of both print and digital books). Why? Because non-fiction predominantly answers a specific need while fiction caters to a general desire. Specific needs are far more amenable to search engines than vague ones. Which means that the answer to a non-fiction buying question is far more discoverable online than that of fiction.

Even now fiction is tough to publish and my view is that it is going to get much harder. Crucial to success here will be a level of attention paid as to why and how readers buy novels that will enable innovation in the way books are introduced to the market. We need to know what ‘word of mouth’ is and how to design a publication to achieve it rather than treating it as a mystical status attained by luck.

And that’s the subject I want to move into next.

Incidentally, I reckon that the relative sales success of the two genres is going to be a really interesting bellweather of the progress of the digital revolution.

P.S. More on Richard Nash who is definitely up to some interesting things, here and here.

Booker longlist

Drum roll please….

Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape – Random House)
Sebastian Barry On Canaan’s Side (Faber)
Carol Birch Jamrach’s Menagerie (Canongate Books)
Patrick deWitt The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
Esi Edugyan Half Blood Blues (Serpent’s Tail – Profile)
Yvvette Edwards A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld)
Alan Hollinghurst The Stranger’s Child (Picador – Pan Macmillan)
Stephen Kelman Pigeon English (Bloomsbury)
Patrick McGuinness The Last Hundred Days (Seren Books)
A.D. Miller Snowdrops (Atlantic)
Alison Pick Far to Go (Headline Review)
Jane Rogers The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
D.J. Taylor Derby Day (Chatto & Windus – Random House)

Will be pondering my tips for the shortlist. Four first timers which is interesting but no Anne Enright or Philip Hensher.

Tonight I will be live-tweeting the New Zealand Book Awards in my best bib and tucker (follow me at @MrGatsby).

Posting has been slow, I know. I’m wrestling with a piece on publishing fiction. It might actually be several pieces. Getting there. Slowly.

Flashlight: Strobing the book world #3

The final demise of Borders in the US is the big news, two good pieces here from Ed Nawotka on Publishing Perspectives and Mike Shatzkin over at The Shatzkin Files. Update: More on Borders from Slate.

With that context, developments at Waterstone’s in the UK are going to become hugely interesting as James Daunt takes a look at buying. I’m not yet sure how this new system is going to work but given the analyses of Border’s demise above, its obviously a crucial element in Waterstone’s survival. I’ll be watching how this develops with interest. This ‘alternate reality‘ article by a former Waterstone’s suitor is also well worth a read on what might have been.

And while we ponder the buying of print books, digital just keeps on rolling.

Here in New Zealand it’s National Poetry Day and our office is quieter than usual as people have popped off for a bit lunchtime verse.

On a personal note, I think my ‘MCing’ of the New Zealand Book Industry awards went okay though I might have chosen a better anecdote than the one about Waterstone’s Stratford’s septic tank. Still, you live and learn and it could have been much worse…

Or even worse…

Light blogging

Am a bit busy this week so blogging will be light. Next week however will be different. Next Tuesday will be my anniversary, 20 years in the book business. I’ve got a few things planned, looking at the old and the new. Looking forward to it. In the meantime its the Booksellers NZ conference on Sunday and I have been asked to host the annual industry awards. Am hoping that I won’t have some sort of brain storm and turn into Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes (or worse Sam Fox at the Brits). That is thankfully, quite unlikely.