Posts Tagged ‘Aleph’

Our life is a constant journey …

December 30, 2013
Our Life is a Constant Journey ...

Our Life is a Constant Journey …

From Aleph, a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, by Paulo Coelho.

Thanks to Pandora.

Why bookshops are failing

April 3, 2013
Manuscript Found in Accra No 28 in WHSmith

Manuscript Found in Accra No 28 in WHSmith

Within a space of five years we lost a quarter of all our indie bookshops. The chains are faring little better.

It is easy to see why they are failing, and it is not the internet or Amazon which are simply scapegoats for bad practices, bad businesses acumen, and failure to know anything about books.

Independent bookshops are being put out of business because we do not operate in a level playing field. The chains Waterstone’s and WHSmith are offered massive discounts which are not available to the little guys, which enable the chains to offer books at anything up to 75% off.

But even with these massive discounts the chains are failing.

A couple of years ago we saw the Aleph fiasco. Walk into Waterstone’s they did not have it on display, the staff did not have clue what it was. A book by a leading author, an international best seller, and the staff did not have a clue, the shops did not have on display.

The same happened last year with NeverSeconds, by Martha and David Payne. There can be few books that has as much publicity, it was a potential Christmas best seller, it was launched in Waterstone’s in Glasgow, and yet lucky to find a copy in Waterstone’s, the staff did not have a clue, it was not on display.

Last Thursday, the eagerly awaited Manuscript Found in Accra was published. Another international best seller from an internationally acclaimed author.

Thanks to the publisher failing to set an embargo (at least better than Aleph where they actually forgot the book was published), Waterstone’s and a few indie bookshops stole a march on Amazon and not only put it on sale, but put it on display. But why not on display in the window? No mention in e-mails from Waterstone’s, that has been published, is in their bookshops.

Last week WHSmith had Manuscript Found in Accra on display in store (if you looked hard enough) at half price. But why not on display in the window and why so few copies? In one store three copies, in another store two copies. The day before publication they did not have a clue when I asked.

Note: Manuscript Found in Accra, opened at No 2 in Barnes and Noble on day of publication. Maybe unlike WHSmith, they made it readily available.

Note: Manuscript Found in Accra, opened at No 2 on Amazon. Which only goes to show the demand and where it could be in WHSmith if they got their act together and actually sold books!

The Alchemist and Aleph on special offer

December 22, 2012
The Alchemist

The Alchemist

The entire Paulo Coelho back catalogue, with the exception of The Alchemist, was made available earlier this year at download for 99 cents per e-book, but restricted to US only.

The 10th anniversary edition of The Alchemist is available for download at $3.99. This is not restricted to US only.

If you receive an e-reader for Christmas and nothing to read, then download The Alchemist.

Still expensive for an e-book, but better than the usual price.

E-books are way over-priced. They are priced at what the market will bear and bear no resemblance to the actual cost of e-books which is close to zero. The manuscript is delivered to the publisher electronically, robots convert to the appropriate download format, the cost of the download platforms have been written off years ago. Contrast this with real books where there are real costs: printing, warehousing, distribution, retail.

At the e-book debate at the Guildford Book Festival the former head of digital marketing at HarperCollins said no matter how off the scale were their forecasts for e-books sales, these were far exceeded.

Calibre is a must for managing e-book libraries, stripping off DRM and converting between e-book formats.

If using a Kindle, be aware that Amazon can at any time without rhyme nor reason delete all your e-books. Keep the wifi turned off (saves battery too), download to computer, then transfer to Kindle via cable. Other reasons for not using a Kindle: a propriety format not an Open Source format for example ePub, Amazon dodge UK tax.

Aleph is available in The Works at £2.99. UK only.

The Works is a remainder bookshop chain, 99% rubbish but occasionally something worth having. The last two books of the trilogy by Carlos Ruiz Zafón set in Barcelona, The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven are on offer, but not The Shadow of the Wind.

And do not forget audio book of The Way of the Bow is free!

Out next year, Manuscript Found in Accra.

Wintry afternoon in Farnham

November 3, 2012
coffee and Aleph

coffee and Aleph

Now that the clocks have gone back and it gets dark and cold earlier, I decided I would set off for Farnham earlier than last week.

I stayed on the bus to the bus station. I saw a bus about to leave, hopped on and asked was this the xx:50 about to leave. No, said the driver, this is the 30 minutes past running late.

I like going to Farnham, as I always pick up a Paulo Coelho book, this time The Winner Stands Alone, hardback. Not that Farnham is not worth a visit in its own right as it is a very pleasant market town. But I decided not to wander around, do a bit of shopping, grab something to eat, then head back out.

Farnham has a very good Oxfam music cum record shop, very good staff, and always very busy, which I discovered a couple of weeks ago when I came in on the bus. It was from there I picked up a couple of films last week. This afternoon The Winner Stands Alone.

I looked in Waterstone’s. I was curious. They sell Amazon Kindle, but if you go to their website and click on e-books, it warns you they are epub format and cannot be read on a Kindle. It was confirmed this was correct, a historic legacy from when they sold Sony e-readers. Buy from Amazon. Bizarre.

Quick lunch in The Barn, then home.

In The Barn the lovely girl behind the bar saw I had The Winner Stands Alone. She said she had read The Alchemist. I told her it was nothing like The Alchemist, and let her have a look whilst I went shopping. I suggested she might like to try Aleph.

We were talking of publishers going the same way as the music industry, books nothing other than commodities churned out by global corporations, doing as much damage to literature as music industry has done to music. The latest, me-too, copycat best seller.

For some reason she mentioned Dracula. I said there had been excellent dramatisation recently by BBC Radio 4, and suggested she might like to read The Historian, a modern retelling of Dracula.

Bus was on time. I was in time with no wait to catch the next bus from Aldershot, but decided to pop into Aldershot. Possibly fortunate I did, as there was a lot of people at the bus stop for the next bus and the bus busy. I suspect the previous one had not run.

It had been cold all day. Now as the sun was dropping, it was turning colder.

Synchronicity: Around the time when I was in The Barn, Paulo Coelho posted a picture of coffee with Aleph. The Barn is one of the best places in Farnham for coffee.

Download Aleph for 99¢

July 26, 2012
Aleph - Paulo Coelho

Aleph – Paulo Coelho

A couple of months ago Paul Coelho sent shock waves through the publishing world when he made his entire back catalogue (excluding The Alchemist) available for download at 99 cents per e-book.

Within days, downloads of his books had increased by 4,000%, more than recouping any so-called loss in revenue.

The list did not include Aleph as that was a published through a different publisher. That oversight has now been rectified and Aleph is now available for download at 99 cents for an unknown limited period.

The price of e-books is an obscenity. The costs involved are virtually zero. The author delivers the manuscript in electronic format, robots convert to the appropriate download format, the cost of the platforms have been written off long ago.

Contrast with a physical book which has very real associated costs of printing, distribution, warehousing and retailing.

For e-books the normal economics of supply and demand do not apply. We have an infinite store. No matter how many e-books are sold (downloaded) the store is never empty, more copies are available to sold.

The offer is restricted to US only.

It is time publishers in UK and Europe got their act together and stopped ripping off readers. This will only happen when readers put pressure on them and demand e-books at 99 pence and 99 cents.

A Conversation With Paulo Coelho

June 30, 2012
A conversation with Paulo Coelho

A conversation with Paulo Coelho

As Lady Gaga says: Hello little monsters. — Paulo Coelho

James Joyce is such a boring writer. — Paulo Coelho

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. — 2 Peter 3:8

Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho in live video conference.

I recently posted an interview Paulo Coelho did with DLT about making use of social media.

There are those who know how to make use of social media and those who do not. Paulo Coelho has taken it into a whole new dimension with a live video conference with over 600 participants. A few minutes in and it was at 678.

The previous day I listened to a dramatisation of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Much reappeared in the conversation with Paulo Coelho.

I was so busy posting on the net that Paulo Coelho was on live, that I was caught completely unawares when Paulo Coelho was talking to me.

What is your question Keith? I had no question. I commented on Christina’s painting in the background.

People were meant to post a question. I assume Paulo saw someone he knew.

I was busy with all the controls. Along the bottom tiny thumbnails of a sample of the people in the video conference. Some were who I knew.

What is the problem in failing? We all fail. Better to have failed than to have never tried. Failing is part of life. It is through failing we learn.

Aleph is an account of a journey in 2006 on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Advice on writing: Start writing. As Imogen Heap said in a recent webcast the artist’s best friend is procrastination. If you delay, you are not following your dreams.

Paulo Coelho started writing when he was 40. That was his dream. He had no idea if it would be a success.

Most important thing is to start. Second is to share. It is not just about writing, it is sharing your soul.

Economic crisis is paranoia, it is easy to spread panic. Fear is the most powerful tool to control our minds.

Nearly twenty years ago Paulo Coelho made the mistake of selling the film rights to The Alchemist. A book that has now sold over 65 million copies. Once you sell the rights, you lose control.

Thoughts on young people: Am I at 64 in a position to comment? There is a lack of values. Less adventurous. Lack of creativity.

A personal legend is a term from alchemy, your mission in life. Who am I? What am a doing here? God will help you follow the right path in life.

You may not be writing a biography, but your writing will be biographical, it will draw on your life experience.

We are surrounded by symbols.

Inspired by interacting with people on internet, reading, walking in the woods, archery.

Archery is a method of meditation.

Inspiration for writing Aleph: Journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Aleph is a point in space and time.

Aleph not an easy book to write. How can you explain a moment that explains all moments?

Talking to Monica, she suggested writing about the experience on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Then one week later, saw how to explain Aleph. Explain in a way that others could understand.

Aleph No 1 in Brazil. An international best seller. A surprise!

Very proud to be published [in US] by Knopf.

The Alchemist was first contact with Islamic culture. Travelled from Tarifa in Spain from where you can see Africa.

Is modern literature going into decline like music?

Music is not dying. The major record labels are dying, who do not realise there has been a paradigm shift.

Earlier in the day I signed two young lads to a record label. I explained to them it was more important to be on twitter than be on a record label.

I gave three examples of people who know how to use social media: Paulo Coelho, Steve Lawson and Imogen Heap.

Writers are not making use of social media to communicate with their readers.

Who is going to read Ulysses by James Joyce?

Three weeks ago BBC Radio 4 dramatised Ulysses. A five and a half dramatisation to coincide with Bloomsday. There was discussions on Ulysses. Academics for who it was their subject matter admitted it was incomprehensible.

If the role of a writer is to communicate, how can James Joyce be considered a great writer? It is claimed he is influential. Influenced who?

Aleph is about reincarnation. A problem in the Catholic Church.

Put in a mental institution. Arrested by paramilitaries, tortured. Paranoid. Time heals. Don’t let the person who hurts you destroy you.

In writing a book, have an ending in mind, and a beginning, the question is how to get to one from the other. The Alchemist is taken from a short story in the Arabian Nights. Aleph is known as it is what happened on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Pilgrimage is also autobiographical.

The writer has to create what happens between the beginning and the end.

As a writer you are on a journey and it is the journey is what counts. A new book is a new journey.

A gardener takes care of the plants but depends on many things out of his control.

New book, Manuscrito encontrado em Accra, published in Brazil in one month, rest of the world end of this year and early next year.

Draw on all your senses including sixth sense. Intuition.

Mystery. There are things we cannot define, but we recognise when we see or experience, for example love. We cannot explain love, but we can experience love.

In Zen and the Art of Maintenance, Phaedrus cannot define quality, but we all recognise quality. Eventually it drives him insane.

Aleph is a point that contains every single point. You can experience, how can you explain?

Deja vu, synchronicity?

Time is a mystery, time is elastic.

When I am with my lovely friend Lena, time stands still. We were in a restaurant having a drink. The staff came to us at midnight, said goodnight, and left us a candle. I noticed it was very quiet. I asked Lena what time did she think it was? It was gone 2am in the early hours of the morning.

What books are you reading? Currently reading In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. Hitler’s ascent to power. No one saw or understood what was happening.

Peace is state of mind, We have to fight injustice. Read Bhagavad Gita

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Each time we embrace someone

June 22, 2012
Each time we embrace someone

Each time we embrace someone

It is said that each time we embrace someone warmly, we gain an extra day of life. So please embrace me now.

— Paulo Coelho, Aleph

Aleph, a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, by Paulo Coelho

My Transiberian by Paulo Coelho

April 1, 2012

One of the classic metaphors of life is journey. — Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho found he was losing his faith. He went on a journey of rediscovery on the Trans-Siberian railway. A journey he recounts in Aleph.

Aleph is now available in paperback in UK, in US in June.

Paulo Coelho: How I Write
Paulo Coelho on writing I (followed by parts II, II & IV)

Paulo Coelho talking on Aleph

March 31, 2012

Aleph is the story of loss of faith, of rediscovering that faith on a journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Aleph is now available in paperback in UK, in US in June.

Paulo Coelho: How I Write
Paulo Coelho on writing I (followed by parts II, II & IV)

Aleph now out in paperback!

March 30, 2012
Aleph and The Alchemist joint No 7 (in non fiction chart)

Aleph and The Alchemist joint No 7 (in non fiction chart)

Wonderful display of Paulo Coelho books in window of Libreria Palazzo Roberti

Wonderful display of Paulo Coelho books in window of Libreria Palazzo Roberti

HarperCollins have produced a rather tacky video to promote that Aleph is now available in paperback.

This appalling New-Age-light video from HarperCollins merely serves to reinforce the worse prejudices from critics that Paulo Coelho is a pedlar of psycho-babble and pseudo-crap.

In many ways it is much worse than the critics. At least with the vicious personal attacks by critics masquerading as book reviews, the intelligent reader can see there is something wrong, wrong that is with the critic not the books or author.

Had I never read Paulo Coelho, this awful video would have put me off Paulo Coelho for life, or at the very least it would have taken a lot of persuading for me to have picked up and read one of his books.

I learnt Aleph was out in paperback on passing through an airport and finding it on display on a book stand. It was joint No 7 with The Alchemist. Odd though, I thought, in the non-fiction chart.

The Alchemist has a new cover. This I discovered on meeting and chatting with a man who like me was in transit between terminal buildings and waiting for the shuttle. Strangers passing by in brief encounters.

Reading the signs

Was Aleph on display in Waterstone’s?

Friday of last week, I checked Waterstone’s in Guildford. No, Aleph was not on display. It was not on display in the window, not on display in-store. At least it was on display on the shelves after I passed through.

Same story, Waterstone’s in Lincoln, Tuesday of this week. No Aleph on display.

What is wrong with Waterstone’s?

Last year when Aleph came out in hardback, it was not on display in Waterstone’s

Paulo Coelho in Waterstone’s and the author the publisher forgot

If nothing else an opportunity for independent bookshops. But will they grasp the opportunity? On past track record, the sad reality is no, which is one reason they are all going out of business.

What’s gone wrong with our bookshops?

Last year Aleph was released across Europe. It shot straight to No 1 in all countries apart from UK.

Waterstone’s is a very depressing place to visit. A marked contrast to the four bookshops I found happily coexisting in Bassano del Grappa.

Bookshops in Bassano del Grappa

One, Libreria Palazzo Roberti, located in a former palace that was once owned by the Comte Roberti where Napoleon slept the night, was a delight to visit. As one wandered around one could see the love of books. Wonderful enticing book displays.

I mentioned Paulo Coelho was in Bassano del Grappa. When I passed by a couple of days later, Libreria Plazzo Roberti had a wonderful display of Paulo Coelho books in one of their windows. Somehow I cannot imagine that happening with Waterstone’s.

Guildford has an annual book festival which takes place mid-October. Pass by Waterstone’s and you would not know, as no mention of the Guildford Book Festival. Sour grapes because they are not the official festival bookseller.

But please do not let the tacky HarperCollins video put you off reading Aleph. It is excellent and highly recommended.

Aleph is available in paperback the UK now, in the US in June.

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