Posts Tagged ‘publishers’

This week is the London Book Fair, and on Tuesday I went down to London for the first day of the Fair. I was a little low on funds after having already spent a fortnight there on placement recently, so I decided to just go for the one day, which turned out to be a l-o-n-g daytrip when you’re travelling from Cumbria to London and back in a day! I had to get the first train of the day just before 7am and and got to the Fair around 10.45am.

Earl's Court Exhibition Centre

Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre

This year is quite special because the LBF is moving next year to Olympia, so it’s their last year at Earl’s Court which is quite sad! This is my 4th year of visiting the LBF and I felt that I had to go to Earl’s Court one last time! I can’t believe they’re redeveloping it!

The writing on the ground about the history of the Fair at Earl's Court, and the future move to Olympia.

The writing on the ground about the history of the Fair at Earl’s Court, and the future move to Olympia.

I had planned to go to the Great Debate first at 11am, but by the time I’d checked my stuff into the cloakroom and worked out where everything was, I had missed the start of it so I decided not to bother and to check out something else instead.

My first seminar was at the Literary Translation Centre, one of my favourite sections of the Fair: Where are the Women in Translation?

Where are the Women in Translation? in the Literary Translation Centre

Where are the Women in Translation? in the Literary Translation Centre

I thought this was a really interesting discussion between a 4 woman panel, watched by a mainly female audience! Some important things that were covered:

  • The impossibly low amount of women in the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
  • Possible reasons that women aren’t being published in translation – assertiveness, sexism, etc.
  • The situation in Korea on women in translation.
  • Ways we can get women’s books out there.
  • Gender-biased book covers.

I really enjoyed the seminar, and learnt a lot from it! I’m determined to find some of these great female authors and translators and get their books the attention they deserve!

Then I went to the SYP’s event How to get into Publishing which was very useful, although I already knew a lot of what is required of people trying to get into publishing. I went mainly to see if there was anything new and to hear about the experiences of people already in the industry because they are always interesting to hear. Essentially, you need to have Curiosity, Initiative and Enthusiasm! My only problem was that they all said they were lucky and in the right place at the right time when they got their lucky break, which doesn’t really help those of us who are struggling to get a foot in the door!

I also went to How to get ahead in Publishing, also by the SYP. This event was also very useful, although probably more aimed at those already in publishing, but it’s useful to know what you need to aim for and the things to think about as your career progresses. The speakers were really interesting, and their advice and experiences were helpful too.

I went back to the Literary Translation Centre for Finest Foreign Literature at the Fair: The 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. This session discussed the books in the IFFP shortlist. Points that were made included:

  • There are 3 women’s titles in the 2014 shortlist, but they have taken their time to get into English and were originally published a while ago.
  • Good books last, even if they cover a popular or recent theme/topic.
  • Books have to succeed as an artefact in their own right.

It was great to hear the discussions of the books and translated fiction in general, and I would like to try to read the books in the shortlist, as I was inspired to read a few books from previous years’ shortlists!

The panel discussing the shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014

The panel discussing the shortlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014 at the Literary Translation Centre

I went to The English PEN Literary Salon to listen to two author interviews, Kyung-sook Shin in Conversation with Arifa Akbar, which was translated from Korean to English and took a bit of time, and Helen Dunmore in Conversation with Jane Shilling.

The English PEN

Kyung-sook Shin in Conversation with Arifa Akbar at the English PEN Literature Salon

Helen Dunmore in Conversation with Jane Shilling in the English PEN Literature Salon

Helen Dunmore in Conversation with Jane Shilling in the English PEN Literature Salon

I didn’t stay for long at either, as I was flagging by this point! They were interesting though. I then had some food and then wandered around the stands for a bit in an effort to perk myself up for the last session!

Then I went to my last seminar, Beyond Nordic Noir: An Overview of the Nordic Literary Market. This was a fascinating and informative session because I didn’t know much about the structure of the book industry in the Nordic countries. The things they discussed included:

  • How the Nordic market is trying to move away from the dark side of Nordic literature – the incoming trend seems to be comic books, the complete opposite!
  • How Norway supports its book industry through various measures, and some important data facts.
  • Examples of authors and books coming out of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.

It was a really good session, and I’ll go into more detail about it in my next blog post!

The Beyond Nordic Noir session

The Beyond Nordic Noir session

That was the end of my daytrip to the first day of the London Book Fair, and even though I can’t stay for the other two days, I’m glad I made the trip as it was a very informative day!

Aside from a copy of the Bookseller LBF daily for the first day of the Fair and a copy of Publishing Perspectives, I also picked up a Books Are My Bag tote bag!

Books are my Bag

Books are my Bag

Now I have a way to show the world that “Books are my Bag”!

I hope you enjoyed the London Book Fair if you went! I will be writing some more posts soon with more about the seminars I went to and my thoughts on the issues raised.

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I recently read this article on the Publishing Perspectives website called “What would happen if Amazon gave every Ebook away for free?”, and it was a thought-provoking read!

Last week, China’s answers to Amazon, Jingding and Dangdang, both gave away around 50,000 ebooks away in celebration of the upcoming World Book Day.

“The giveaway, which the ebooksellers said was being done to help promote commercial ebooks and raise reader awareness, has been criticized by publishers and authors alike. Zhao Chen, from People’s Literature Publishing House, told Beijing News that giving so many books away would “bring harm” to publishers, while Zhang Hongbo, secretary-general of the China Written Works Copyright Society, called the promotion “sloppy,” particularly if the companies had not sought permission of the publishers beforehand (a spokesperson from Dangdang would neither confirm nor deny whether the company had contacted publishers, though said the site would honor requests to stop offering a title if specific complaints were made).”

If Amazon was to do the same thing, it is suggested that people would simply download as many free ebooks to their reading devices as possible and then would be less eager to buy books either in print or ebook form.

The article closes with: “It is, if anything, likely to reinforce the idea that books should be free.

[For the whole article, see What Would Happen If Amazon Gave Every Ebook Away For Free? – Publishing Perspectives]

I think it is probably correct that people would take advantage of the offer and download as many ebooks as they could while they can. This raises a few concerns for me:

  1. I personally like free ebooks when they are on offer, and i will download the classics for free anyway as their authors are long deceased. But if i download too many, the odds are that even i won’t get through them all very quickly. It won’t stop me buying more books in the future, but in all fairness, it never feels like i actually own the ebooks, after all, Amazon could pull the plug and steal back the digital copies quite easily i’m sure.
  2. It isn’t fair to the authors who put so much hard work and time into their books, and ultimately get paid through royalties, which are non-existent for every free book that is “sold”. This makes a poor return for all that work.
  3. Similarly, it isn’t fair to the publishers who have spent a long time editing and producing the book, not to mention all the time spent working out costings and seeing if it would make money if published and the long marketing campaigns used for it.
  4. If these books were free, then people might demand that everyone else should make their books free as well. Print books would go into decline and bookshops would disappear completely from our streets.
  5. Online companies would be more popular, however they would lose out on profits if the books they “sold” were free.
  6. Sellers of reading devices and smartphones with reading apps would make a lot of money very quickly through increased sales due to demand so customers can download and read the free ebooks. We’d all be slaves to machines. Where’s the fun in that?
  7. It will be a sad day for me when all my books are only available as ebooks and end up as a list of files on my Kindle. I like having a mixture of print and ebooks, mainly for when i’m unable to charge up my Kindle or if it’s raining, or if the print book comes out first and i’m desperate to read it without waiting for the ebook! See, even though i have a Kindle and it saves physical space on my shelves, i still prefer print books!

So, there you go, my opinions and speculations on this topic. It seems horribly dystopian if you think about it!

What do you think?