Flashlight: Strobing the Book World #6

As I predicted September is proving to be a very hectic month. However I’m on course for normal so bear with me.

And so to keep the pilot light on, here are some more of the things I’ve been watching and reading.

Firstly, the latest Mike Shatzkin post which demonstrates that we are still a long way from having a settled ebook marketplace. Could this confuse the average consumer? Absolutely yes. I think it’s also relevant to the point I make here about the discoverability of fiction. Mike is finding things difficult when he knows what he wants. How much harder is it when you don’t?

This interesting branching out of publisher into bookseller, cafe and event space is something I think (and hope) we will see more of as book companies start thinking of themselves as experience brands as much as product brands.

A couple of other new business models are worth checking out here and these guys at Paper Radio are great.

I think these two articles (New York Times and Teleread) on who can now be a publisher are really fascinating and link clearly to the opening up of long form writing (beyond journalism but shorter than a book). Interesting territory this and because its where a lot of my reading is at these days, I’m hoping it will lead to more dynamic and timely publishing.

There’s an interesting debate, started by an article from writer Seanan McGuire, being had over on Teleread about the potential social impact of e-reading.

The Economist and Harvard’s student newspaper The Crimson both run pieces about the rapid changes in book industry economics. Makes me think that maybe we should run a ‘stats of the week’ counter here on the blog and chart the changes.

Sadly, this last weekend saw the final demise of Borders in the US. Some of their staff composed this widely circulated ‘ode to a bookstore death‘. I understand their frustration and lord knows I’ve had some ‘customer encounters’ myself working in bookshops, but somehow I read this and I can also understand why trucking off to Amazon could save a customer a lot of hassle. Many people are intimidated by bookshops and having people look down their noses at you for liking Nicholas Sparks is not terribly helpful in the great scheme of things. Reading is a journey and I’ve met too many people (working in bookshops) who with little formal education found their way to War and Peace by beginning with Pet Sematary. Just starting is an enormously powerful step into an imaginative world.
They are right about Glenn Beck though.

It might also be the case that genre is really where its at. Go plot!

I’m not sure about this article or indeed this (though full marks for effort guys) but I do think that one of the interesting elements of technological convergence is that it may also provoke an artistic convergence. Games are becoming increasingly sophisticated narratively and perhaps we should push that further rather than being appalled by it. We need good stories, if a great game can provide engagement with them, why should we worry?

And finally two excellent sites on the art of book covers, which I will really have to do a post on at some point. 20 best here and the absolutely wonderful gallery site The Jacket Museum here.

Flashlight: Strobing the book world #2

Second part of the BBC programme, some sobering thoughts and stats from my friend, John Mitchinson.

Another interesting app, this time for Penguin Classics on the iphone. Untested by me as yet, though only a matter of time before iTunes gets fired up.

Following on from yesterday’s link to Unbound here are seven more ways that publishing may evolve (more on this from me later).

A new find for me and another way of sating my need for long form essay writing: Writing in public.
And finally, something to test on my children.