Posts Tagged ‘Guildford Book Festival 2012’

Guildford Book Festival 2012

November 15, 2012
Robert Cotton speaking from the pulpit used by Lewis Carroll

Robert Cotton speaking from the pulpit used by Lewis Carroll

Now in its 23rd year, the Guildford Book Festival is a ten day annual event that takes place in October. This year 18-27 October 2012.

It used to be well worth going to, spoilt for choice, but sadly in the last few years very poor, the emphasis on trash fiction and celebrity culture, rather than books and authors worth reading.

This year a noticeable improvement, but still a long way to go to what it used to be. The emphasis is still on trash fiction, celebrity culture, but if you looked hard enough, it was possible to find something worth going to, usually the more obscure fringe events.

I usually go to the Amnesty International event as it is always worth going to, but unfortunately this year it clashed with the e-books debate, and it was on the same night as poet Alwyn Marriage.

A friend who went along to the Amnesty event said it was good, she was impressed by the speaker, but less than impressed by the local Amnesty group that hosted the event.

The book festival website was poor, mainly lack of links.

Peter James knocked 50 Shades of Crap off the best seller list. Probably because at 20p a download, his latest book was virtually being given away. The Festival writes about it, says see events, but no link. It was billed as Friday night at the Electric Theatre. Had I realised it followed the e-book debate I may have stayed.

Follow this through to the session, click on the authors, highlighted in blue, but no links, it goes nowhere.

This was true for all authors on all pages. If you wanted to know more about an author you had to do your own search on google. Bad web sdesign.

As an aside I note that during the festival, or maybe shortly thereafter, Paulo Coelho knocked 50 Shades of Crap off the top spot in Italy, without having to churn out rubbish or give away at 20p a download.

I am pleased to note that following criticism, listening to and responding to that criticism, Guildford Book Festival has become far more interactive in their use of twitter.

Social networks

– social – interactions
– network – many to many

cf broadcast – one to many.

They are also making use of #gfordbookfest as the hashtag for the Guildford Book Festival. I would also recommend using #Guildford and #books as then gets picked up by folks who may not know about the Book Festival.

During the second half of the festival they were tweeting two for the price of one. What did this mean as it was not clear? Did it mean two events, two books? I asked at the Tourist Information Office (who are also the festival ticket office). They did not know either, but to their credit they will always try to find out. The offer was two events for the price of one, but only if you could quote the code sent out on twitter. Did I have the code? Unfortunately not.

A steep learning curve when only ten days once a year.

The Guildford Book Festival can only be a success when made a community event and that means interaction on twitter

But at least to the credit of Guildford it has a book festival, unlike nearby Aldershot and Farnborough which are cultural wastelands, and host not a single cultural event.

I only made two events.

The e-book debate was as much about the pros and cons of self-publishing as it was about e-books.

It was stated Amazon is good at what it does. True, good at shafting authors, publishers and readers, good at dodging tax.

The Random House House Penguin merger is being driven by the bullying tactics of Amazon. But this is the wrong approach. What is needed is for the Big Six (hopefully not soon the Big Five) publishers to establish an e-book digital platform, open to all, not just the Big Six, using non-propriety open source format with no DRM e-books, available for download at one dollar, with the revenue (less costs of running the platform) split 50:50 author and publisher. The low price would reflect the zero costs involved in e-books, lead to more downloads, make piracy irrelevant, like bandcamp, readers would be encouraged to share.

The e-book debate was in the Electric Theatre. Infantile the prohibition on photography. Something the book festival organiser must resolve for future festivals.

The book launch by Canon Robert Cotton in St Mary’s Church of Reimagining Discipleship was very well attended. Robert Cotton spoke from the very same pulpit used by Lewis Carroll. It was unfortunate that he only spoke for about ten minutes as he is a very good speaker.

I regret I did not attend Kate Mosse as she is a good writer, but why put her with someone else, and why the tacky TV interview format? Good writers are more than capable of talking about their work and answering questions.

Other writers I missed out on: R J Ellory, but again why with another writer? Tom Holland talking about the early rise of Islam looked interesting.

There were workshops, how to write, how to aim at a specific market, how you too can write the next me-too 50 Shades of Crap.

It always possible to tell those who have been to these workshops, their writing is so bad, wooden, as though writing in a straitjacket.

Write because you want to write, because you have something to say, because you want to be read. Not write for a market.

Had anyone wandered into Waterstone’s, they would have been forgiven for not knowing there was book festival as not a mention. The usual sour grapes from Waterstone’s at not being selected as official festival bookseller.

Another example of how useless Waterstone’s. NeverSeconds, the story of Martha Payne and her food blog NeverSeconds was published today. Waterstone’s do not even have it on order!

NeverSeconds is published by Cargo Publishing, based in Glasgow. Not one of the Big Six publishers. Books in Waterstone’s are there as a measure of the clout of the publisher, not merit of the book. To be on display, a bribe is paid by the publisher.

And yet, NeverSeconds in advance of publication, had already made it into the Top 100 for biographies on Amazon.

It once again raises a question mark as Waterstone’s as a serious bookshop.

I was pleased to see W H Smith had the festival programme on display at Guildford Station and outside their store in the High Street. W H Smith was also a festival sponsor.

Kobo were running workshops on their range of e-readers. It is a pity only on two days not throughout the ten days. I wanted to know were they behaving like Amazon and arbitrarily deleting books off e-book readers without rhyme nor reason. A big advantage of Kobo, is that they are using open source e-book formats, not proprietary formats as does Amazon or Apple.

I have dropped into W H Smith three times since the book festival. They have an area laid out like a mobile phone shop with several Kobo devices on display. Not once seen any customers, not once seen a member of staff. I hung around for several minutes, no one came to ask did I require help or assistance. So much for support for users of Kobo devices.

An absolute must if using e-books is to download Calibre: manage e-book library, find and download cheapest e-book, built-in e-book reader, convert between e-book formats, copy books to and from e-book readers and other devices, strip e-books of DRM.

The best advice is stick to books. Try getting an e-book signed by an author at the Guildford Book Festival.

Writers and authors for Guildford Book Festival 2013: Paulo Coelho, Canon Andrew White, Martha and David Payne …

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