The fall of the house of books

Format shift doesn't always work as you'd imagine. It is an interesting quirk of publishing history that when paperbacks began to drive the market in the 1970s and 80s, they were often published by specialist publishers unrelated to the publisher of the hardback edition. These paperback publishers licensed the rights off the hardback publisher--and only over time did these publishers get consumed into the bigger houses, and authors accept the inevitable verticalization of their output, whereby their primary publisher became their only publisher across all formats. Read more »

Hugh Howey's revolution

On Radio 4's Today programme this week I overheard a discussion between climate change denier Nigel Lawson and the climate scientist Sir Brian Hoskins. It ought to have been a slam-dunk for Hoskins. Not only is Britain experiencing the worst floods in a life-time, but no serious person now denies that man-made climate change is a reality. But actually Lawson came out on top. Where Hoskins expressed quite reasonable scientific doubt, Lawson was confident, bombastic, and assured. Lawson's best rhetorical technique was to use Hoskins' words against him. Read more »


Fifty Shades of Innovation

Fifty Shades of Innovation

Publishers need to stop flirting with innovation and tie the knot if they’re to avoid inevitable demise.  So says Elvin Turner, an innovation consultant to brands in disruptive industries.

“No-one has a clue what to do,” a global publishing CEO recently told me during a conference break.  “We’re permanently waiting for someone else to make the first move in case we get it wrong.” Read more »

The biggest books of 2013 across print and digital

What was the biggest selling book in 2013, across all editions, including digital? My former colleague Philip Stone reported the following in The Bookseller last week. Read more »


An industry awash with English graduates | @Tom_Chalmers

I read with interest that the Publishing Association had recruited a Communications Manager, who previously worked at the professional association for Anti-Money Laundering Officers.  Appointments don’t usually catch the attention but in this case it was just the bringing in of new skills from a different industry – an opportunity to bring in relevant but also fresh skills to add into the mix. It brought back to my mind what I have long thought an overlooked but major issue for publishing – the shockingly narrow experience range of those in the sector. Read more »

A Policeman's Lot Is Not A Happy One

[Lady Justice via Wikipedia, under CC Attribution-Share Alike Licence 3.0 Unported, see here for author etc.]

I've been a bit quiet recently, at least in these pages, because I've been working on actual books rather than thinking about publishing, but I have to put my head above the battlements to query some of Richard Mollet's polemic from Jan 3. Read more »

The OFT and children's apps

Last week, the UK Government Office of Fair Trading released their recommendations on freemium and free-to-play in children's apps.

The psychologist Dr Simon Moore (my partner at Kriel Sorrell & Moore) and I were advisors to the process, via the Children's Media Foundation. Read more »


What do we do if Amazon stops growing?

We have for so long thought of Amazon as a dominant player in the books market, that we might have forgotten to think about what will happen when the giant retailer stops growing. Read more »


Setting Up Communities: Author, Reader and Publisher

The first thing Hugh Howey would do, he said last month, if someone put him in charge of a publishing company would be to create a community for his authors. He says:  Read more »

A pirate's logic is not for me

When your enemy is making a mistake, suggested Napoleon, it is best not to interrupt them.

An equally valid axiom from Margaret Thatcher is that one shouldn't give the oxygen of publicity to those with opposing opinions.  But now and again, an opponent may make such a stultifyingly false move that the urge to expose the folly outweighs any possible disadvantages in doing so. In such cases, these historic pearls of advice should be ignored. Read more »

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