Posts Tagged ‘writers’

Amazon v Hachette-publishers-readers-writers

August 28, 2014


Amazon is locked into a bitter dispute with French publisher Hachette, but this is not the first dispute, previously it was with Macmillan.

What Amazon is trying to do is drive down the price it pays, it demands ever larger discounts, whilst pretending it is acting for readers.

The techniques Amazon adopts are those of medieval siege warfare.

With MacMillan, the buy button for any of their titles no longer worked.

With Hachette, long delays on a book, advance orders not possible.

The Penguin Random House merger, was an attempt to produce an even bigger conglomerate to challenge Amazon, or at least put up a fight.

Amazon has now not only upset publishers, it has upset writers whose books are not available, it has upset readers who are seeing much loved indie bookshops close.

The current issue is the price of e-books. Amazon wants to set the price at $9.99, Hachette wants $14-99.

Both are wrong, there are zero marginal costs associated with e-books, the price for an e-book should be less than a dollar.

The figure of $9-99 came from if a song is a 99 cents, then let us make a book $9-99. It is also a holy grail $9-99.

There are other players in the market, though they are small fry.

Publish a book and apart from well known best-selling authors, you take a risk. The majority of books go from published to remainder, or published to recycled.

Crowd sourcing removes the risk, you do not publish until you have a guaranteed number of buyers. That is the route Unbound have followed, though their books are expensive, and they have published very few books.

Writers can cut out the middle men, publish a book direct on Amazon, they retain 70%, much better than traditional publisher, but not as good as leanpub.

Disadvantage of Amazon, it is a proprietary format for a Kindle.

Kindle is an inferior e-book reader to a Kobo Touch, and the Kobo Touch uses epub, an open source format.

Leanpub, download in various formats, and with a minimum price, the reader can set what they wish to pay, and they see what goes to the publisher, what goes to the writer. The writer retains the rights.

For an audio book, there is bandcamp. Leanpub is very much offering for the written word what bandcamp offers for music and the spoken word. As with leanpub, the author retains the rights.

Publishers and the book chains have very much themselves to blame for the dire straits everyone now finds themselves in.

Adultery is an international best-seller from an international best selling author. Now if you are in the business of selling books, do you not, if you have an international best seller on your hands, pile it up and sell it fast? Not if you are Waterstone’s or WHSmith.

With Waterstone’s, you may find it on display with new releases, you may find someone who knows what your are asking for.

With WHSmith, it is far far worse. You will not find a member of staff who knows what you are asking for, you will search high and low in the store and not find it, you will probably find it not even in stock. And yet, WHSmith has Adultery on special offer at half price, and a further 20% off with a 20% off voucher. This is less than buying from Amazon. I repeat, cheaper than buying from Amazon.

Publishers are to blame. They offer the chains who cannot deliver, deep discounts, leaving indie bookshops to go bust. Offer the same discounts to indie bookshops, where they know about books, and you will sell more books.

An analogy would be indie coffee shops. An indie coffee shop, serving quality coffee, is more than able to see off the big chains with their disgusting coffee.

Amazon started with books. Books are cheap, easy to ship, fairly indestructible.

Amazon may have overstepped the mark. They are seen as a bully. They have poor working conditions, they dodge tax. They are now abusing their near monopoly position and stranglehold on the book market. Writers who are not published by Hachette may not be seeing their books blacklisted, for now. Their turn will come when the Amazon siege engines pitch up outside their publishers. And if this is what happens to the giant publishing conglomerates, what of the little publishers, where they care about books, where books have not been reduced to commodities, pile em high, sell em cheap?

Books are important, like music and art, they are part of our culture.

BookStop Cafe

January 15, 2014
Norman House

Norman House

Bookstop Cafe located in the undercroft of Norman House

Bookstop Cafe located in the undercroft of Norman House

BookStop Cafe is conveniently located halfway up Steep Hill, ideal location, for a tea, a rest, then carry on up the hill to Castle Hill, Lincoln Castle, Lincoln Cathedral and Bailgate.

I looked in last week, or was it the week before, and found a very charming and helpful girl. I asked was it her business, she said no, she helped to run it.

I asked how long had it been there? I think she said since last May.

BookStop Cafe is literally located in the undercroft of a Norman House, and I was surprised how far it extends back. The ground floor is occupied by Imperial Teas, and it is their teas BookStop Cafe serve. Also served in Pimieno Tea Rooms, which are also worth a visit.

A bookshop cum cafe, clearly a labour of love.

The books are a mix of second hand, local authors and independent authors. They have authors talking about their books, book signing, and occasional live music.

I said time permitting, I would pop back. Today, I finally found the time to pop back.

Today I was in luck and found the owner.

I suggested invite Steve Lawson and Karl Svarc to play. I suggested a couple of writers who may be interested, including Steph Bradley for story telling. I also suggested act as a distribution hub for Transition Free Press. Room permitting, I also suggest act as a BookCrossing zone. Indeed, I would go so far as to suggest, any author on sale or who gives a talk, they donate at least one book for BookCrossing.

Looking out from BookStop Cafe a marvellous view, down Steep Hill, across the valley, to South Common.

“Twitter is art”

July 7, 2012
Paulo Coelho Zeit Online

Paulo Coelho Zeit Online

Pirated copies of his books, he welcomes the intellectual shock old died for him, the Internet, it is a global village. Brazil’s best-selling author Paulo Coelho celebrates the Skype call, the digital revolution – with all its consequences for the book market.

Zeit Online: Mr. Coelho, what you mean bookstores?

Paulo Coelho: Book stores are temples for me. You are viewing books , you can browse, you can talk to the booksellers. This is great.

Zeit Online: Mr. Coelho, what you mean bookstores?

Paulo Coelho: Book stores are temples for me. You are viewing books , you can browse, you can talk to the booksellers. This is great.

Zeit Online: Are you not afraid that this temple must close when selling authors like to e-books to sell junk for 99 cents?

Coelho: Let me put it this way: When Gutenberg invented the printing press, the monks shouted: “O God, we prefer to pull back from this world, it has become too fast. Previously, we have made drawings, our books were works of art, and now we have these cheap Gutenberg printing “But each technological revolution creates a platform for a cultural revolution. And I really do not think that this temple, the bookstores will disappear. The film has not even the theater killed.

Zeit Online: How does the revolution of which you speak, from the publishers?

Coelho: I have over eight million fans on Facebook, my blog read two million people a month. I get to speak directly to my readers. The publishers have no idea how important something is. Nevertheless, the power of traditional marketing is publishers and bookstores continue to be indispensable. We can not lift authors alone.

Zeit Online: Many writers grumble about the social networks : They would eat only the amount of time it took for writing books. And the readers deserve to read the snout and hold dear.

Coelho: I find that strange. I always have time for that: I have time to write my books, I have to work period, I have time to do a bit of sport. So I think: One of the most important parts in the life of an author is to directly interact with its readers in touch. This refers to herself better. It helps me as a person, not only as a writer. Yesterday I spoke with a friend from Montenegro, who told me of Montenegrin legend, I’ve chatted with a Chinese man. They are my friends, even though I never met physically. I talk with them, I’m learning very much and have very much fun. It’s like you go to a bar. Writers should definitely go to bars!

Zeit Online: Why not go for many writers in the digital bar?

Coelho: You are afraid of the direct contact that is very human. What you do not know, until you come and see.

Zeit Online: Do we need to actually before Amazon fear? And the network logic The winner takes it all?

Coelho: This is not the logic of the network. This is the logic of our world. Now just the European football championship. Does it matter who is in second or third? No, it’s all about who wins. And I am sure that Germany wins. But honestly, now it looks as if Amazon would take over everything. Only: Morning invents a rival anything else, and the situation changes completely. We can not stop it’s progress. We can adapt, but the change must go on. Let us use it all the possibilities of new technologies.

Zeit Online: How do you do that?

Coelho: I have a few weeks ago I asked my publisher if he all of my e-books can be downloaded progressively to 99 cents, but the alchemist, he did it for three weeks because there is no distribution and no printing costs for e-books. there. Then we have stopped the promotion. What has happened? The 99-cent books have pulled the alchemists. He climbed the New York Times bestseller list from, I do not know, 39 on the 7th Place up. For me this means: If you’re not stingy, your application will be rewarded.

“If you are a victim of piracy, then it is an honor, a medal!”

Zeit Online: This only works with successful authors. What is writing to all the little writers, important books, but have only a small readership? How to survive in this new world?

Coelho: If you start writing or dancing, then you do it with conviction. You do it because you have to do it. I’m Brazilian, I never thought that I could get rich with my books. On the contrary, each time told me that it was impossible. Money comes only after work, that’s for sure. And if you make money, it’s because your whole heart is in your work. And even if you earn no money, what with me for many years was the case, then you’re working on anyway.

Zeit Online: It is in your system, but one problem: If the readers get used to it, e-books to get for 99 cents, they are less and less willing to pay $ 30 for a hardcover. With the 30-dollar sellers but publishers support the other major writers who are economically not so successful.

Coelho: This is what the publishers. But what the authors say?

Zeit Online: The Same?

Coelho: Really? Ask four or five writers, and they say, selling authors are terrible. They are of poor quality, they are stupid, blah, blah, blah. Indeed, with these writers but selling authors would if they brave enough were and say, best-selling authors are great, because I may publish with the money my book, if they would then say: selling authors are great because they touch the hearts of many people, then it would be different. But I know their views on best-seller. And I tell them: Your time is over, ha!

Zeit Online: No sympathy for these authors?

Coelho: Yes. You have an aristocratic opinion of bestsellers. Camus was a bestseller, was a bestseller Baudelaire, Henry Miller was one, and Shakespeare. So if the authors want to publish lamenting with the help of best-sellers, they should only say a few times nice things about bestsellers.

Zeit Online: What do you think of piracy? Bestseller books are often illegally copied and distributed. Many fear: If people get used to it, they eventually pay nothing for books.

Coelho: Yes, there is a risk. But after I put down my price to 99 cents, there was no more piracy. Only I did not say that piracy is bad! The ultimate goal of my life is to be read. And if it is piracy, then they are just there, in front of you may have no fear. Honestly, if you are a victim of piracy, then it is an honor, a medal! Pirate copy but only illegal books that people really want to read. When I walk through the streets of India, a child can see the smallest bookstore in the world, has only ten tracks, and two of which are pirated copies of my books, I’m proud! I am so proud, because that means that these are all people who want to read me. When I was in Lima, I have all my books in pirated editions discovered. I was happy and wanted to talk to the boy who sold them. But when I told him that I was the author, he ran away. He thought that I would complain terribly. But I did not complain. I wanted to thank him.

Zeit Online: If you find piracy not so bad – what do you think it over intellectual property ?

Coelho: Copyright is a creation of the business world, not the authors. It protects the business and not copyright. My idea is the idea of ​​sharing. Meister Eckhart, the German mystic, said, belongs to the parts of human beings. If you are not sharing, then you do not exist too. Now we share this interview via Skype. I see you, you see me. It costs nothing for you, and it costs nothing for me. Is not that wonderful?

Zeit Online: The advantage of Skype is that we can look into your office. What’s that picture on the wall behind you?

Coelho: It is the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, a subject of my first book. My wife painted it, and now it hangs in my office. Actually I was supposed to have a large bookcase crammed impressive as the old intelligentsia, to show how cultured I am. I’m very cultured, but I do not have to show people. Simplicity is the new thing, the Internet is simplicity. So I think that the classic intellectual is dead. He is replaced by the “internetual,” the Internetuellen.

Zeit Online: And what role does this new character?

Coelho: The Internetuelle will change the style of writing. It will be much straighter without hollow. It will be much more directly, without being superficial. You just need to tell and to penetrate to the heart of the matter. The imagination of the reader keeps alive. The revolution is still this: Today you have several ways to express as a writer for you. You can write 140 characters on Twitter or five paragraphs on the blog, or you can put out a book. I see a future in which “the title of” writer is no longer reserved for people who write books. We have a very wide range of possibilities.

Zeit Online: So you would see your blog entries as part of literature as art?

Coelho: Of course! And my tweets too.

Google translation from an article “Twittern ist Kunst” in Zeit Online.

Copyright and patents are for the protection of intellectual property rights of the individual but in reality protect the monopolies of Big Business. It is Big Business that complains the loudest about sharing, not creative artists.

Writers want to be read, musicians heard.

Sites like bandcamp encourage sharing, make sharing easy.

E-books have what is in essence zero costs. There is also an infinite store. No matter how many are downloaded or sold, there are still more in the store, the store does not run out of stock.

Nothing is as good at being a book as a book is

April 22, 2012
The Book of the Future

The Book of the Future

Nothing is as good at being a book as a book is. — Douglas Adams

You can’t hand a Kindle to a friend and say give it back to me in six months. -– Steve Lawson

If you think about it, a very profound statement.

You can sit on a book. You cannot sit on a Kindle, it breaks.

You can share a book. How many people do you see sharing a Kindle?

You see people doing this all the time. They read a book, then pass it on either to a friend or to a charity shop.

I must admit I tend not to. My house is a black hole for books. And as the mass of books increases, more books get sucked in.

What though I do do, if I know a book to be good, I pick up extra copies and pass to friends and people I meet.

The more people share books, then it follows more people will read the books.

Sharing is thus a good thing.

Books are very good at being books!

The worst fear of a writer is not piracy, it is obscurity, remaining unknown or sinking into obscurity.

A writer writes because he wishes to be read.

When you hear whining about piracy, be it books or music, it is not the writers or musicians, it is global corporations. And since when have they been concerned about artists starving in their garrets?

Paulo Coelho wanted to be a writer, he always wanted to be a writer.

When he first wrote The Alchemist, it did not sell very well. He would hand out flyers to cinema audiences.

The Alchemist is now one of the Top Ten most read books in the world.

Paulo Coelho was dropped by his publisher in Russia. Then a strange thing happened. A pirate edition was published. He is now a very popular writer in Russia.

Give a person a good book and they will curl up and read it.

What is destroying books, what is destroying music, is the greed of global corporations.

The search for the next me-too, copycat blockbuster.

Publishers, in their search for a fast buck, offering best-sellers to chains, are killing off the small independent booksellers, leaving nothing left.

What a pleasure it was in Bassano del Grappa, a small town, and yet it had four independent bookshops, bookshops where they cared about books.

World Book Night: Monday 23 April 2012, a million books, 25 titles to be given away.

John Stott

August 19, 2011
John Stott

John Stott

John Stott

John Stott

John Stott, an extraordinary Christian – writer, preacher, theologian – died recently at the age of 90. Reading his life, you have to wonder how on earth he managed to do so much. He wrote many books, some deeply theological, others lighter and easier to read for the newer Christian. — Triangle bookshop cum tea shop

John Stott

John Stott

John Stott (1921-2011), curate, rector, Rector Emeritus at All Souls Church, Langham Place, a prolific writer, recently died at the age of 90.

There are those – Paulo Coelho, Philip Yancey, Canon Andrew White, William Young, Rob Bell, Bishop Michael Baughen – who can write, whose writing is a joy to read. John Stott may be counted among this select group.

John Stott lived in a small flat by his church. It was here that he wrote. The money he made from his writing he used to finance scholarships for students to study theology.

In the spring I read Why I am a Christian, which I borrowed from a lovely Scandinavian church in Puerto de la Cruz. It is a fascinating and highly readable account of why John Stott was a Christian.

A couple of weeks ago Last Word on BBC Radio 4 had a lovely account of his life and work.

The Hound of Heaven
The Rev John Stott
The Rev John Stott obituary
Reverend John Stott dies aged 90

Paulo Coelho unknown author

August 17, 2011
Aleph - Paulo Coelho: A spiritual journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Aleph - Paulo Coelho: A spiritual journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho

In 2006 I was called to my 3rd sacred pilgrimage. … I went to several countries, but the epiphany happened while crossing Asia in the Transiberian train ( 15 days, 7 different time zones, 9.2528 km from Moscow to Vladivostok). I was travelling with a Turkish girl, Hilal (not her real name), for reasons that you are going to discover in the book. This point where time and space converge is called ‘The Aleph’ (J.L.Borges has a wonderful short story about this point). Therefore, this is the title of my new book: ‘The Aleph’. … Why did I take so long to write about this pilgrimage? Because it took me three full years to understand it. — Paulo Coelho

We are a business that has not satisfied its customers for some time and is paying the price for that. — James Daunt, boss Waterstone’s

We need much, much better bookshops. — James Daunt, boss Waterstone’s

I was in Waterstone’s bookshop in Guildford yesterday. Behind the counter was chalked up on a big board latest releases. No mention of Aleph by Paulo Coelho due out in September.

Curious as to this noticeable ommission, I asked.

The staffer behinder the counter looked at me blankly.

He must be an unknown author, I was told, or not very popular.

Unknown author! Not very popular!

I explained that since publication of O Aleph in Brazil last summer, publication in English was eagerly awaited, that in the first six countries of publication it had jumped straight to No One.

I added that Paulo Coelho had over 2 million followers on twitter, more than five million on facebook!

I could have added that The Alechemist had been in the New York Times best seller list for a continuous 188 weeks. Not bad for a book that was published over twenty years ago!

It will probably come as a surprise to readers in Latin America, Middle East or Europe, especially Eastern Europe and Russia, that Paulo Coelho is not well known in England. I once put this to the test.

I asked a friend in Cyprus, receptionist at a hotel, did she know who Paulo Coelho was? Of course I do, she replied, in a tone that implied I was questioning her intelligence. When I explained why I had asked, that he was not well known in England, she did not believe me. We then asked guests at the hotel. None of the English knew who he was, all the others did!

Not that this can be any excuse in a bookshop. It is not that I expect the staff to know every single writer, I do not, but in this case Waterstone’s was running a promotion of a free trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway to coincide with publication of Aleph on 1 September 2011. Not that anyone walking into Waterstone’s would know this as no mention in the store, or at least not obvious.

The irony was that the only reason I was in Waterstone’s was to obtain a Waterstone’s card as it was required to participate in this promotion.

If bookshops are to compete with on-line retailers they need two things: Physical presence off books, to handle and look at. Staff that actually know about writers and their books.

Waterstone’s Guildford used to have staff with who one could chat about books, but then it was Ottakar’s flagship store. Against strong public opposition the Ottakar’s chain founded by James Heneage was taken over by Waterstone’s. Staff who chatted with customers were told off!

Earlier in the week, James Daunt, boss of Waterstone’s said the stores were in much need of improvement. Not a truer word said.

To be fair to Waterstone’s they do help new writers. Stuart Olds has been booksigning in Waterstone’s and shifting 50 books at a time. The record 68 copies of Hope’s Truth

Guildford Book Festival 13-22 October 2011. Hopefully this year will be a better book festival than last year which was very poor compared with previous years. [see Guildford Book Festival 2010]

Top story The Writer’s Cafe Daily Friday 19 August 2011.

Paulo Coelho announces details about next book release
Tears are words that need to be written
Aleph in Farsi

the first faint line

June 18, 2010

…. and I wrote the first faint line, faint, without substance, pure nonsense, pure wisdom of someone who knows nothing … and suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened and open …

— Pablo Neruda

Chilean writer and poet Pablo Neruda (1904–1973) is the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean writer and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He chose his pen name in honour of the famous Czech poet Jan Neruda.

Pablo Neruda was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

Pablo Neruda is referred to as The Poet in The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende.

Thanks to Hildegarde Follon.

also see

Las Alturas de Macchu Picchu

The soul of a writer

October 29, 2009

‘ … the only way you can truly get to know an author is through the trail of ink he leaves behind him; the person you think you see is only an empty character: truth is always hidden in fiction.’ — Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel’s Game

The Angel’s Game, the latest novel from Carlos Ruiz Zafón is, like his previous novel, The Shadow of the Wind, set in Barcelona.

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