Back on deck

I’ve been busy this past few weeks but I’m now coming up for air. I’ve had much to think about this past couple of months and therefore I suspect also that there are some things in the offing which will make for an interesting rest of year. I’ve no doubt I’ll be sharing them here, when they become real. Anyway, I’ve haven’t been entirely idle on the internet which you may have seen if you follow me on twitter (@MrGatsby) and the little feed to right has been quite busy.

Featuring heavily on that was the PANZ conference in Auckland last week (Lisa Buchan’s report on Publishing Perspectives here) which was a hugely useful and enjoyable experience that slotted many things into place for me. Highlights for me were Mark Higginson from HarperCollins Australia on social media, the excellent Elizabeth Weiss from Allen and Unwin on their digital publishing experiences and David Shelley from Little Brown UK on why publishers remain relevant in the digital revolution.

Sadly Shelley didn’t reveal much about his day job as JK Rowling’s new publisher.

The whole thing was smart, upbeat and from my perspective at least, very uplifting about the possibilities for publishers who embrace a more vibrantly creative and innovative approach.

Mind you the antidote to that is possibly to read Mike Shatzkin’s latest, which looks at the seemingly inexorable rise of Amazon’s market dominance by asking two questions:

When will the growth in Amazon’s share of the consumer book business stop?

Who will be left standing when it does?

It’s certainly a must read, and while as a consumer I’m always impressed by Amazon I cannot but find the potential monopolisation of the book industry by them (or anyone for that matter) a concern. Joe Wikert clearly thinks so.

But back to innovation, John Lanchester’s Capital appears to be book with its finger on the pulse of contemporary London (Claire Tomalin’s review here) and while I’ve not yet read, I’m hearing great things from those who have. It seems also that Lanchester’s publisher Faber wanted to capture the book visually in its promotion and have created this (this blog is a big fan of book promos):

And they’ve also put up an interview with John:

It’s a good combination of intriguing and contextual and I’d be interested to see its results in promoting the book.

If you’re in Wellington, you’ll know that the NZ International Arts Festival is in town and its Writers and Readers Week starts this Friday with a keynote from Tim Flannery. I am lucky enough to interviewing author and Dr Who screen writer Robert Shearman on Monday at the Embassy Cinema. Interview comes with a full showing of the Dalek episode. Apparently, a cyberman came along to his appearance in Adelaide. I’m hoping for the Master myself or a Dalek of course.


New Zealand at Frankfurt round-up

New Zealand at Frankfurt 2012

It really looks like the New Zealand at Frankfurt programme got off to a good start. The stunning video here with the press conference. Additionally here are radio interviews with publisher Fergus Barrowman, Ministry of Culture and Heritage Communications Manager Lucy Orbell and poet Kate Camp. Publisher Peter Dowling gives his view over on Beattie’s blog.

The official website is at

‘I live at the edge of the universe, like everybody else’

New Zealand launches it’s 2012 Frankfurt campaign and it does so in style.
This launch video is absolutely beautiful.

Creative by Colenso BBDO and words by a host of New Zealand Writers ending with Bill Manhire on the line above. Colenso have a great track record with this kind of work.

Update: Here is the press conference.


Ah but its good to come home to memory lane. I’ve been out and about a bit in rather a busy way over the past couple of weeks.

However, I have been doing some interesting things. A couple of weeks ago I was part of a  panel discussion on the future of books at the Taranaki Arts Festival. Among other things, I discovered that New Plymouth is a rather excellent town to go for your first weekend away with partner but without kids in seven years. Great art gallery, museum and pub. The festival was also rather memorable in that it introduced me to the concept and reality of the Spiegeltent. I never knew such things existed but am now very glad to know that they do.

The panel was fun, a good discussion and plenty of questions from the 60 or so strong audience. Bookseller Tilly Lloyd’s view is online here.  My talk was delivered from notes rather than a written out speech, but you are likely to read its main themes here very soon. Interestingly, about a third of the audience were already using an ereader and well over half expected to be using one soon. I’m not sure why I was surprised at this as the world is, after all, increasingly joined up.  Perhaps this Guardian editorial is right.

In other news I’ve done a my first review for the New Zealand Listener on Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test. Loved it.

I’ve found some new sources that I’m quite taken with, especially the Elitzr podcast series which is excellent. I very much enjoyed the Richard Nash interview (who is also worth looking at here) and Seth Godin’s talk. There was a lot of stuff in the Godin edition I found fascinating, particularly his view that books need to be designed to be infectious. But I confess that I found myself strangely saddened by his comment that bookshops will become ‘giftshops for smart people’. He may be right but somehow  I can’t quite buy into that just yet. Indeed I’m not even sure why I can’t buy into it. Which means I’ll probably have to write about it.

September is shaping up to be rather full-on, but will be posting and I still have a good deal to get down on the publishing of fiction.