Monday, June 20, 2011

Big News from Black Dog

It has been a big day, and now all the contracts are properly signed: Black Dog has now joined Walker Books Australia. Black Dog is now an imprint of Walker Books.

I am the publisher (and director) of Red Dog Books and of Wild Dog Books. Red Dog is our imprint for adult readers (that always sounds wrong but there is no other simpler way to put it). Red Dog is being distributed by Dennis Jones and Associates. Wild Dog is packaging and publishing photographic non-fiction for young readers. It is the imprint we have been using in the US for those books.

Maryann is working with Walker as the publisher of the Black Dog imprint.

So exciting times. Walker is the perfect place for Black Dog's authors and illustrators. It is a like-minded imprint and this is an opportunity for the list to grow.

I would like to thank all the terrific people I have worked with, both those clever and creative people who have, and are, working within the kennel and those clever and creative people who were outhouse. I have learned a huge amount and there is yet more to learn.

So it has been a big day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

new flash - English improvements (thanks to Warwick Forge)

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will
be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was
the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English
spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in
plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c".. Sertainly, this will make
the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of
"k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the
troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f".. This will make words like
fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to
reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always
ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is
disgrasful and it should go away.
By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with
"z" and "w" with "v".
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou"
and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU
understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze
forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Inside the Story"

It was a pleasure to go down to Frankston to talk to the Chisholm Writing and Professional Publishing Students. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. (I heard from the lovely Shirley Marr that Mr Billington had enjoyed the talk.) It was fun to be in a dark smoky bar in the middle of the day - much better than any formal lecture theatre. Thanks to Julie Richards for inviting me. (I would also like to thank Shirley Marr again for allowing me to use the submission letter she wrote when she submitted Fury to black dog.)

I did say I would put up the links I had mentioned in my talk:

Kindle Direct for self-publishing on the kindle platform
Create Space the print-on-demand Amazon option for self-publishing
Smashwords ebook publishing for authors and independent publishers
Cursor and when you properly understand what Richard is doing do please let me know
Red Lemonade one of Richard/Cursor's first publishing ventures

A blog to follow about how publishing is changing:

If you are interested in what is happening in the publishing industry in a little more detail then two conferences worth following the buzz on are

And if I did not actually say it in these words: Public success as a writer for most writers is now 1% inspiration and 99% self-promotion and publicity. So don't be shy. The few who do it successfully work hard and spend a lot of time doing it - the promotion (as well as the writing).

Sue Lawson and sentences

I was talking to Sue Lawson in the office about this, that and the other, in the office, as you do in an editorial chat. It is always a delight when Sue comes down to visit the Gertrude Street office. We were talking about The Crucible and then drifted over to sentences and Stanley Fish's How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One, which I finished reading a week ago or so. (I am a fan.) There was a snap moment between Miller's play and the nasty sense of being the sole owner of truth and a sentence Fish quotes from Increase Mather's (what a name!) A Brief History of War with the Indians in New-England (1676). Mather asserts:

"That the Heathen People amongst whom we live, and whose Land the Lord God of our Fathers has given to us for a rightful Possession, have at sundry time been plotting mischievous devices against that part of the English Israel which is seated in these goings down of the Sun, no man that is an inhabitant of any considerable standing can be ignorant."

What a superb sentence for justifying out and out theft! Those Puritans were a scary bunch, which Miller's play does such a good job of putting on stage.

PS Be prepared for Sue's next book!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ebook market is very US-centric

One thing that has come through loudly and clearly to me while being in New York for BEA (I am Australian) is that the ebook market looks very different when you are standing on US soil. The ebook market is very US centric at the moment, and maybe will always be so. To give an example of the difference in the ebook markets, we have no Nook, we have no Barnes and Noble. That makes a difference as the Nook is 27% or so (the figures are rubbery) of the market here. Another example? The Blio is only available to those with a US credit card! Another? I wanted to look at an innovative Random House picture book this morning but when I went to do so, I was told that it was not available on the Australian iTunes Store, whence the link eventually routed me to. The internet is global but the markets are not necessarily so - or not yet. (That said: the ebook options offered from the Googles and the Amazons opens up opportunity for those of us living offshore - whether we are publishers or authors. Through POD we can sell stock in the US, without having to have inventory here, if we wish to. Promoting a book so it will actually sell here is a totally different question, though.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

IDPF Conference at BEA 2011

There were lots of impressive speeches, even if some were somewhat technical. (my head is whirling with ARIA roles). The one that grabbed my fantasy the most was from Barnes and Noble's Theresa Horner. She showed how B&N are integrating e and bricks-and-mortar and the Nook to drive sales. To give two examples: take your Nook into the bookstore and offers will appear on your screen, and, with some limitations, you can start reading any ebook available for the Nook. The website and the ereader is being use to drive custom into the store and towards p-books and the bricks-and-mortar shops are being used to drive ebook sales. Nice integration.
And then I got back to my hotel room and read in this morning's paper that noted contrarian investor John Malone's Liberty Media has made a bid for all shares not held by B&N chairman Leonard Riggio. Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser is reported to say that B&N is the undisputed No. 2 player in the e-book industry with some 28% or so share of the market. (We are not seeing that in Oz as B&N ain't there.) With Amazon saying it has some 70% of the ebook market it doesn't leave much for Kobo — and it will be interesting to see what happens to Google and Apple's shares.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

going to the movies

According to the latest issue of BRW, the most popular cultural activity is going to the movies with two out of every three Australians attending the cinema at least once a year. The spend at local cinemas? $1.3 billion in 2010, the highest spend yet. (We spent a bit of $2 bilion on books.)

I had a quick look at the ABS figures and the latest I could find were 2009, when 65% of Australians went to the movies, of that 65% a little over half went to the cinema five or more times. That's pretty enthusiastic movie going.

Interestingly (for a YA/childrens publisher) 95% of 15 to 17 year olds went to the cinema. Wow. I wish that many had read a book.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The coming Cloud

I am filled with astonishment by the coming changes the cloud will make to the way the next generation thinks, and possesses things. Just as our expenditure has shifted since say 1900 from owning goods to buying services, no longer will we (generally) feel the need to have more than a subscription, a right to access, what we want to use. That's what will happen to a good proportion of the coming generation. They won't own music or books they'll have the right to access their online services that will be showing them their slice, their library, of music and books and software and news and whatever else. It will be a seismic shift in thinking. People will have instantaneous access to a far greater range of information and culture and entertainment. You want to listen to something , you won't even have to wait for it to download. Same for books and news and of course social interaction. I can't imagine how that will alter the wetware, though it will,

Thursday, March 03, 2011

my Kobo fails again

My Kobo has died. The screen has gone. This is the second time. I have rung Borders - who were charming - and they'll fix or replace, when I find the receipt.

The other issue I've been having is that when I plugged it in, it would charge but the icon would not appear on my desktop, so it wouldn't synch my new purchases. I've returned it to the default settings by putting a paperclip in the back, but no luck. I'm wondering it is being in a mac environment.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Labor and jobs

Once Labor cared about jobs but now they are too dry for that.

Bill Shorten is happy for people to shop offshore, and Stephen Conroy is philosophical about the loss of jobs from the collapse of the REDgroup. He's right that in the case of the REDgroup that the reasons for the collapse are complex and not directly attributable to the growth of online shopping. He goes on to say that technology changes industries and new jobs are often created. He cites the example of Kodak, not mentioning that it is now a much smaller business than it once was. And he's missing the point about online shopping, deliberately or not, that there will be fewer of these new jobs and many of them will be offshore.

Where are the unions in this debate?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

pissed-off consumer

I'm feeling discriminated against as an Australian. I wanted to listen to Tobias Wolf's This Boys Life (a Year 12 book) as an audiobook, but I was not allowed to download the file as I have an Australian IP address. I wanted to watch the movie but when I finally legally borrowed a copy it was coded for another region. And I read this, this morning: My friend Brian, something of a computer guru (being in IT), says, "I hate DRM". Even though he endeavours to buy legally (and happens to be a huge fan of print books) he points out how easy it is to download anything you want from the internet if you want it enough. Frustrating the consumer so obviously legitimizes piracy. As a consumer, my response to this frustration is to say bring on a global market where I can buy what I see and what I know other people can buy.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Getting a book for sure onto my ereader (I hope)

I've been having a little trouble getting The Guardians of Ga'hoole loading onto my Kobo ereaeder via my Borders app. I did do a reset (aka a pin in the back) but that didn't help. I rang Borders and spoke to Kobo - those lines are blurry. And they said download a copy from my Borders account accessed via the webpage (not the application) and then click on the downloaded item which will then load into Adobe Digital Editions. I can then drag the file from ADE onto the icon of my ereader when I next connect.

The other advantage of this process is that I now have a copy of the file on my laptop, which is backed up, so if something happens to my reader and I can't access the web. I can still read the book.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wolf Hall Enhanced

I've downloaded the Enhanced Edition of Wolf Hall. I'm in the middle of reading the print edition - and I'm loving it. So having the ebook on my phone will help me complete the book faster (not that I need to find out what happens in the end). The Enhanced Edition comes with some video and extra text. If I wasn't interesting in a bit of app experimentation I don't think I'd be paying the extra $5 bucks for the enhancements. It is also kind of chunky at 20 megabytes. Reading the offer didn't convince me of the value. I never watch the extras on a DVD and suspect most people don't. Maybe after I've experienced the enhancements I'll feel differently, but I don't think publishers are making a convincing offer as yet. I'll keep you posted.