Archive for the ‘Fancy Goods’ Category

And …

Written by: Tim Coronel
Posted: 26 May 2010 at 1:47 pm

I’m an absolute Twit. There, I’ve said it. I’m referring, of course, to the social networking phenomenon of Twitter, where (it could be argued) I’m spending way too much of my time. But it is a fascinating—and, I would argue, extremely useful and valuable—‘virtual agora’, where ideas and opinions are flying around in all directions, all the time (one of the reasons it’s so addictive).

I’m involved in a lot of threads on Twitter about ‘the future of the book’, and clearly a lot of the discourse revolves around digital publishing, ebooks, ereaders, etc. But I’m keenly aware that ‘the future of the book’ discussion is pulling in a few contradictory directions, and I’m increasingly concerned that far too much of the ‘noise’ is about an ‘inevitable’ shift to digital, about disruption and new ways of doing things;  and far too little is about print, and bricks-and-mortar stores, and the degree to which many things will stay the same … and that new and old will live alongside each other.

I’m increasingly placing myself in a position where I’m encouraging digital pundits (themselves online seemingly 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, iPhones gripped in cramped fingers from dawn till midnight …) to think of ‘and’ scenarios:

  • There will be ebooks and print books, alongside each other, for a long time to come
  • There will be small, dynamic publishers and big, slow ones
  • There will be more content with a global aspect and more things that are small and local
  • Large players will dominate and small players will have more access than ever to the mainstream
  • Authors will publish directly to readers, bypassing traditional gatekeepers and authors will want and need agents, editors, publishers and booksellers in order to reach their audience
  • Audiences will engage directly with authors and readers will seek the expertise and authority of gatekeepers (reviews, retailers, publishers)
  • Events will be small and innovative (Emerging Writers Festival) and large and traditional (Sydney or Melbourne Writers Festival)
  • Territorial copyright and separate editions will be old hat and will continue to be important.

Confused yet? I sure am! Enthused and energised by the changes, challenges and opportunities? I sure am.

But what do you think?

Australian Book Design Awards: winners announced

Written by: Fancy Goods
Posted: 21 May 2010 at 2:59 pm

The winners of this year’s Australian Publishers Association Book Design Awards were announced in a special event in Sydney last night. The winning books were:

Best designed cover Best designed book Best designed cookbook
Best designed nonfiction book Best designed fiction book Best designed literary fiction book
Best designed reference/scholarly book Best designed specialist illustrated book Best designed general illustrated book
Best designed YA book Best designed children’s fiction book Best designed children’s nonfiction book
Best designed children’s picture book Best designed children’s cover Best designed children’s series
Best designed primary education book Best designed secondary education book Best designed tertiary & further education book

Also announced on the night was the Young Designer of the Year award, which went this year to Swerve designer Adam Laszczuk for a body of work that also included the following titles:


What do you think? You can check out the shortlisted books on the Australian Publishers Association site here.

Excuse us while we take a moment…

Written by: Fancy Goods
Posted: 20 May 2010 at 5:42 pm

We’re pretty snowed under here at Bookseller+Publisher headquarters, putting the finishing touches on the July issue after getting out this week’s bumper issue of the Weekly Book Newsletter.

Last week, Matthia was sweating it out at Darwin’s Wordstorm writers festival (you can read her post on Wordstorm here) and this week Andrea is soaking up Sydney Writers Festival (and heading to tonight’s Book Design Awards to see what titles are declared Australia’s best-looking: see the contenders here). This is what Andrea’s desk looks like now:

Also, as we reported in the Weekly Book Newsletter, REDgroup Retail, which owns Borders Asia-Pacific (and Angus & Robertson and Whitcoulls in New Zealand), launched its Kobo ebook platform yesterday, as well as its Kobo ereader: (more…)

Thirty-seven territories and counting: ‘Beautiful Malice’ launched in Sydney

Written by: Fancy Goods
Posted: 6 May 2010 at 9:48 am

Rebecca James’ Beautiful Malice—one of the most highly anticipated teen novels of the year—was launched in Leichhardt, Sydney, on Monday night. Despite the large turnout, this was a relaxed and intimate event hosted by Shearers Bookshop at the Palace Norton Street Cinema.

Allen & Unwin publisher Erica Wagner—who was the first to acquire rights to Beautiful Malice and in so doing set the ball rolling worldwide—kicked things off with an enthusiastic speech about this now-famous ‘dream’ publishing story of a virtual unknown plucked from the slush pile, propelled into an international bidding frenzy and declared ‘the next JK Rowling’ by The Wall Street Journal.

Beautiful Malice was then officially launched by ABC media personality James O’Loughlin. After musing on why he was asked to do so (‘Was it because Andrew Denton said no?’), he went on to earnestly praise the book as a brilliant psychological thriller in which you just want to know what happens next: ‘The kind of book that’d go well if Joe Tripodi launched it’.

After the book was formally declared ‘open’, Rebecca James took centre stage to give a warm, humble and wryly amusing speech. She expressed how ‘overwhelming and amazingly exciting’ everything was and that, while she never imagined the extraordinary reaction that Beautiful Malice would be met with around the world, she was pleasantly surprised and very proud.

Her affectionate and generous acknowledgments were followed by an insightful Q&A session in which she discussed the hard work involved in juggling both the writing and editorial process with raising four young children. (Her answer: ‘Duct tape.’) While she was noticeably reticent about discussing her ‘real’ first book, Nightswimming, she happily mentioned that she is working away on a follow-up, tentatively titled Cooper Bartholomew is Dead.

Afterwards, everyone gathered in Shearers Bookshop for food and drinks where Rebecca signed copies of Beautiful Malice for her new and eager fans.

Beautiful Malice ($24.99) is reviewed in the latest edition of Junior Bookseller and Publisher (you can read the review on page 23 of the magazine online here). The book has been sold into 37 territories around the world and is now available to buy in Australian bookstores.

 Meredith Tate is a Bookseller+Publisher reviewer, freelance editor and writer and has worked for a children’s publisher.

Google Editions: about ‘surfacing books’ not replacing bookstores, says Palma

Written by: Fancy Goods
Posted: 5 May 2010 at 6:29 pm

The article below originally appeared in our Weekly Book Newsletter, back in February, but with the recent mainstream coverage of the fact Google is planning to sell ebooks, we thought it might be worth re-posting here: 

As an addendum event to the digital publishing symposium in Melbourne, a ‘digital chat’ session featuring Google’s Chris Palma, was held in February at the State Library of Victoria.

Palma took the audience through the concepts of the Google Books publisher partner program, in which publishers allow Google to scan the full text of books and then make percentages of this content viewable by customers on the publisher’s website or through Google’s search engine.

Interestingly, Palma said that when publishers in the program increased the percentage of the full-text that was viewable, the hits on the publisher’s ‘buy’ button for those books increased. While he did not recommend making the full 100% available to read he did say that ‘north of 20%’ resulted in more purchases.

Google Editions
Palma also outlined the workings of Google Editions, an ebook warehouse ‘in the cloud’ that would allow readers to purchase ebooks (in the case of Google Editions a license to read the electronic version of the book anywhere ‘in perpetuity’) via Google, a publisher’s website or through retailers’ sites (the latter being Google’s professed preference).

Under the Google Editions model, a book’s publisher retains 63% of revenue from a book sale while Google retains the remaining 37% or splits it with any retailer (in a split that is individually negotiated).

Some in the audience voiced concern that Google would ultimately push booksellers out of the supply chain, a claim that Palma insisted was not the case, emphasising that Google was not good at ‘merchandising’ and that its speciality was its search capability. ‘It’s about surfacing books’ for Google users who might not otherwise even have considered purchasing one, he said.

[Then] Australian Booksellers Association CEO Malcolm Neil [update: Neil has since joined REDgroup Retail, owner of Borders, Angus & Robertson and Whitcoulls in Australia and New Zealand, as Communications manager] said he was not concerned about Google’s entry into the digital supply chain and that it could in fact be of benefit, especially to independent booksellers. ‘I’m particularly excited about Google Editions,’ he said. ‘In the world of internet behemoths Google is more bookseller-friendly than most.’

Most mentioned books this week

Written by: Media Extra
Posted: 3 May 2010 at 2:57 pm

Yann Martel, winner of the Man Booker Prize for his novel Life of Pi (Canongate) has just published a new book Beatrice and Virgil (Text), which is receiving mixed reviews in local media. Philip Pullman’s controversial new book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ (Text) has of course received several mentions in the media. Lionel Shriver’s So Much for That (Fourth Estate) has cropped up in book news a number of times in the past few weeks and continues to receive favourable mentions–Media Extra.

Small(er) publishers to the fore: a surprise Australian Publishers Association election result

Written by: Tim Coronel
Posted: 3 May 2010 at 12:08 pm

Annual general meetings are usually pretty dreary affairs: financial reports are read out, there is lots of proposing and seconding on the previous year’s minutes and the like, and then new office-bearers are announced. AGMs of the Australian Publishers Association (APA) usually follow much the same pattern, but this year’s APA AGM, held last Thursday in Sydney, held some surprises.

The main surprise was that there was an election for the presidency of the APA, and that the likely favourite didn’t win. Running against the high-profile Penguin Australia CEO Gabrielle Coyne was the little-known Stephen May, a psychologist and the founder of Brisbane-based Australian Academic Press. May apparently sent a letter introducing himself to all APA members and did some concerted lobbying, particularly among the smaller publishers and the academic/scholarly members, and he gained a majority of the votes from the APA’s diverse membership of 230 companies to seal the result.

There was also a strong range of candidates for the eight positions on the APA’s Independent Publishers Committee, with elections to decide the convenor (Rex Finch of Finch Publishing was elected) and the committee members, who represent publishers such as UQP, UNSW Press, Magabala, Spinifex and the National Library of Australia.

For many years there has been grumbling among the smaller publishers that the APA was dominated by the all-powerful Trade Publishers Committee, which in turn was dominated by the multinational companies (Penguin, Random, HarperCollins, Hachette, etc). The last few years have seen the composition of the APA’s senior office-bearers become more diverse and to better represent the breadth of publishing activity undertaken in Australia (for a start, it’s not often acknowledged in public ‘bookish’ spheres that educational publishing, from primary through to tertiary, makes up at least half of the publishing business in Australia).

When the election for the presidency was announced a few weeks ago, APA CEO Maree McKaskill told the Weekly Book Newsletter that it was ‘the sign of a healthy organisation that is not dormant’. She added: ‘The campaign on parallel importation of books [last year] has certainly created a real bond between the publishers and re-invigorated the membership so that they value the organisation and as such the elections reflect that.’

The composition of the new board of the APA is certainly more diverse than ever, with representatives from Black Dog Books, LemonFizz Media and Cengage sitting alongside those from Allen & Unwin, Random House and Pearson. Stephen May is to be congratulated on his election as president. His challenge is to bring together the differing views and priorities of publishers from varying sectors and to be able to present a united stance when needed (for the government’s Book Industry Study Group, for example).

Fancy Goods questionnaire: new Bookseller+Publisher editor Andrea Hanke

Written by: Fancy Goods
Posted: 29 April 2010 at 4:38 pm

Andrea Hanke first worked at Bookseller+Publisher as a very over-qualified editorial assistant back in 2006. After a couple of years in London she has returned to the fold as editor of the magazine. What better way to introduce her, we thought, than to have her answer our Fancy Goods questionnaire? Read her answers and judge her for yourselves…

What are you reading right now?

The Master (Colm Tóibín, Picador)—it moved to the top of my bedside reading pile when I found out Tóibín was coming to the Sydney Writers Festival. It toppled Vertigo—a tough break for W G Sebald.

What book do you always recommend?

Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin (Little, Brown) and Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (HarperCollins).

What book are you most looking forward to?

It’s already out, but Chloe Hooper’s The Tall Man (Penguin)—because everyone keeps telling me how fantastic it is.

What book made you wonder what all the fuss was about?

Wuthering Heights.

What’s the best book you’ve read that no-one’s ever heard of?

My top picks share a Booker and a Pulitzer between them so I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer this question.

Obligatory desert island question—which book would you want with you?

The other Brontë —Jane Eyre.

Is there a book you’ve bought for the cover?

I have a weakness for highly detailed, whimsical covers. I also like it when publishers make an effort with their endpapers.

Hardback, paperback or digital?

Paperbacks, for their affordability and portability.

If I were a literary character I’d be…

Edith Campbell Berry from Frank Moorhouse’s Grand Days (Vintage)—I’d like to say for her (not quite effortless) sophistication but really it’s for her obsessive attention to detail.

The best thing about books is…

They create imaginative, curious people.

You can find previous Fancy Goods questionnaires under ‘Interviews’ in our categories menu.

Books, history, dress-ups: dare we say the Clunes ‘Back to Booktown’ fair has it all?

Written by: Fancy Goods
Posted: 28 April 2010 at 1:59 pm

To quote our Weekly Book Newsletter (circa May 2009) at last year’s annual Clunes ‘Back to Booktown’ fair:

Rose Michael and her Arcade Publications colleague Dale Campisi (pictured) garnered local press attention by dressing up to promote the Arcade Publications title Madame Brussels: This Moral Pandemonium (L M Robinson).

‘From established antiquarian dealers like John Sainsbury to the woman in the bluestone church on the hill who didn’t even have a shop but was a passionate buyer and traipsed her collection to markets, the town was overrun with secondhand books,’ said Michael. ‘One bookseller [was] even selling by the pound!’

The annual Clunes fair is designed to attract visitors to the historic Victorian goldmining town and is celebrating its fourth year this weekend, 1 to 2 May. The 2010 event features writers Sonya Hartnett, Stefan Laszcsuk, Margaret Simons, Arnold Zable, Nigel Krauth, Malcolm Fraser, Toni Jordan and Commonwealth Prize Best First Book winner Glenda Guest.

Arcade Publishing’s Dale Campisi has promised Fancy Goods he will be donning a fake moustache when he attends again this year and encourages others to break out their most dashing gold rush attire and come along too. ‘Bustles, bonnets, crinolines, leg o’ mutton sleeves, top hats, tails, cross-bow ties, mutton chops, sovereign purses and penny farthings encouraged,’ he says.

You can find out more about the event here:

Most mentioned books this week

Written by: Media Extra
Posted: 27 April 2010 at 8:19 pm

As the nation stopped to honour our Anzac soldiers this weekend, the book world was abuzz with new Anzac titles. The most mentioned chart usually features a few war-related titles every year on the Anzac Day weekend, but there’s never been a time when every book in the top five was Anzac-related (including three from UNSW Press). The most mentioned title was Michael Challinger’s Anzacs in Arkhangel: The Untold Story of Australia and the Invasion of Russia 1918-1919 (Hardie Grant). It goes to show that Australian readers continue to be enchanted by the image of the Anzac–Media Extra.