Issue 1: Ebooks are stupid, Serial Box is seeded

Woop! Break out the champers! Let the music play! You’re reading Issue 1, March 6, 2018, of Book The Trend.

Each week, Book The Trend gives you a run-down of the most important innovations and advancements in the world of publishing.

Don’t listen to him, ebook. He didn’t mean it… or did he?
Dissenting voice ahoy-hoy: Hachette Group CEO Arnaud Nourry caused a stir last week when he called the ebook “stupid”. In an interview with Scroll.in, when asked whether the ebook market has plateaued, he answered (and here’s the full quote):

“I think the plateau, or rather slight decline, that we’re seeing in the US and UK is not going to reverse. It’s the limit of the ebook format. The ebook is a stupid product. It is exactly the same as print, except it’s electronic. There is no creativity, no enhancement, no real digital experience. We, as publishers, have not done a great job going digital. We’ve tried. We’ve tried enhanced or enriched ebooks – didn’t work. We’ve tried apps, websites with our content – we have one or two successes among a hundred failures. I’m talking about the entire industry. We’ve not done very well.”

Cue uproar and people rushing to defend the humble ebook including author Erin Kelly who lauds its life-changing power. While the conversation around the efficacy, nuance, and power of the ebook continues, the most compelling part of this conversation is Nourry’s point that the ebook in its current format isn’t innovative enough. He seems to ask: where is the industry-changing innovation?

‘Cause we are living in a serial world and I am a serial girl
Hang on Nourry, it’s innovation you want? Enter Molly Barton and her start-up Serial Box. Proving once and for all that puns are the ultimate gateway to success, Serial Box has bagged $1.65m in seed funding. Their subscription-based service, dubbed the HBO of reading, offers readers original, weekly ebook and audiobook content. With the combination of compelling serial content and the popularity of audio, Barton says that Serial Box is successfully attracting and retaining a loyal premium audience.” Gooo serialization: it worked for Charles Dickens & Sarah Koenig, things are looking good. #OneToWatch 👀

Unagented? Digital-only imprint Avon is looking for you
Avon, a digital-only HarperCollins imprint, is calling for open submissions for the first time. Why is this important? Because it reflects the company’s general drive to try and reach more customers digitally. In December, Oliver Malcolm, (*deep breath before his title*) HarperCollins Publishing Strategy Director of Fiction, Non-fiction and Avon (*aaaand exhale*), waxed lyrical on ebooks. He said, “The ebook landscape continues to shift – and it is important to find a competitive advantage wherever possible. What remains critical for our authors is our ability to reach more readers digitally, and so we will continue to prioritise the recruitment of experts in this area.” So, they’re hiring social media experts and glossing their website with the hope that exploring this digital wonderland will open them up to a world of new writers (and readers). Let’s see how it unfolds.

Amazon’s Bookstore v. Barnes & Noble
Ermahgahd, Amazon now has 15 actual physical bookstores. An intrepid explorer from BusinessInsider visited the larger of their two bookstores in NYC to find out who wears brick and mortar better: Amazon or a traditional Barnes & Noble. The article concludes that Amazon’s shelves are compact and hyper-organized (in a way that kinda hurts your eyes) but they fall down due to confusion over pricing and the fact that “Amazon Books feels like it was created by an algorithm, right down to the coffee shop that sits next to the main retail space. It’s so spare and minimal that it’s a better environment for taking Instagram photos than reading or chatting with a friend.” Read the entire article here.

“Don’t scare me like that, colonizer!”
With the release of her debut novel The Continents, YA author Keira Drake endured a TweetStorm from author Justina Ireland who called the book “racist garbage fire.” Rather than rankle, Drake took the criticism on the chin and used it as an opportunity to rewrite the book. “Criticism is the thing that’s going to make you better at what you do,” she said. Meanwhile, Justina Ireland’s new book Dread Nation is out next month.

If you like Book The Trend, please subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the future of publishing in your inbox every Tuesday. #BTTFam

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