A bookseller's 5%

When the French government moved to restrict Amazon.fr from offering free postage to customers along with the maximum discount of 5% on book sales, something odd occurred: the phone at Shakespeare and Company, where I've been selling books now for five or so years, rang day and night for responses to the proposed law. We all looked around at ourselves coyly and asked what account we could possibly add to the debate.  Apparently, I came up with the following for the BBC: “It doesn't seem to be discriminatory. Amazon has certain ways of looking at the free market which is Read more »

The future of the book: part 654

What is the future of the book? In this interesting but flawed piece from the New York Times, David Streitfeld notes that the 'book' is apparently "embedded so deeply in the collective unconsciousness that no one can bear to leave it behind". Read more »


Of Mills and Penguins

The Readmill-Penguin deal is being touted as all sorts of things - I was asked recently to comment on the possibility that it was the first blow in Random House-Penguin’s insurgency against Amazon. (And it would be an insurgency, which actually says a lot about where we stand.) I felt uncomfortable reading the Guardian piece, not because it’s not what I said - it is, if not absolutely verbatim - but because I came across unclearly. Read more »

Overfunding and Under-delivering | @Tom_Chalmers

The Next Big Thing – surely it’s got to come online; that is where all the Next Big Things happen. It’s highly likely to and it is great to see the pace picking up in the publishing industry with all the new digital ventures and initiatives. Particularly against the shadow of Amazon’s ceaselessly efficient business land-grab, the desire to spread the wealth and create competitions makes total sense. Read more »

The link

In AD 383, a twenty-nine-year-old professor of Latin rhetoric whom future centuries would know as Saint Augustine arrived in Rome from one of the empire's outposts in North Africa. He paid a visit to the city's bishop, the celebrated Ambrose. Ambrose (who, like Augustine, was later to be canonized) was an extremely popular speaker; his symbol in later Christian iconography was the beehive, emblematic of eloquence. Read more »

Winning essay: The Toast by Ian K Ellard

Thank you. Well firstly I’d like to thank the venue here which has laid on a lovely evening for us all for a very modest percentage of net receipts. Thank you.

Next, my beta readers, without whom none of this would have been plausible. Thank you, mrs_fantastic, xxBookSqueexx, martin1972. And booksbooksreadingbooksbooks. How could I forget you, books? You took a time-punt on this story when it was just a story, and your comments and helpful social shares made it into a book. I know you can’t be here with us tonight, but I’ll put this out on the Coretex in the morning. Thank you. Read more »


Lost and found: adventures in algorithms

There was a moment in the closing panel of the Society of Young Publisher's annual conference on Saturday when panellist Matthew Cashmore, Digital Director at Blackwell's, responded to a challenge from an audience member with "You don't know what we can do." Read more »

The bookselling brain

The business of selling books is run by a communal “brain,” managed by three personality types; those who lead the market, those who organize operations and those who task themselves (like me) with imagining its future. The balance of these types in this brain, this bookselling brain if you will, and the relationship between the parts, determines the behaviour and direction of the industry as a whole.

FutureBook 2013: as it happened

Last week more than 650 people from across the book business attended FutureBook 2013, The Bookseller's digital conference. It was our biggest yet, but also the most successful in spirit and mood, reflecting an industry that is, let's shout it out, having a good digital transition.


The creators of publishing

I want to start with a radical idea: the act of publishing has not changed at all since its inception, before the advent of the written word.

We are all aware of the origin of the modern verb “to publish” with it’s Latin root, publicāre, to make public. But, the word itself is not the act; attitudes toward activities shift over time and new words are invented to describe new realities. Read more »

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