Hold onto your (unseasonable but necessary) snow boots! You’re reading Issue 3 of Book The Trend — an industry newsletter on the future of publishing — released on March 20th, 2018
Roll it there, Collette! We’ll start with the quote of the week:
“White men love to declare an end to things when they no longer succeed in that arena. The novel is fine.”
Is that a bodice I hear ripping?
Disclaimer: I’m not sponsored by The Pigeonhole. I’m simply obsessed with Alison Weir.
Alison Weir, a.k.a. The Queen Of Historical Fiction, a.k.a. The Doyenne Of My Tudor Obsession, has teamed up with the digital book club The Pigeonhole to promote her new book Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen. 350 readers will have the chance to read all about Henry VIII’s third wife alongside Weir herself before the book is released. *Breaks neck in haste to sign up* Check out the promo vid here. Spoiler: My favourite bit is when Alison says at the end of the video: “Thank you again, hopefully, I’ll see you inside the book.” Spoiler 2: Jane Seymour dies.
BookBeat / the word is on the street / that the fire in your heart is out
The audiobook streaming service BookBeat is pausing its UK activity. Owned by Bonnier Books, the subscription service has decided to scale back in the UK due to feedback from UK users that the library isn’t big enough.
Niclas Sandin, CEO of BookBeat, told The Bookseller, “We have more than 10,000 titles but if we want a sustainable business we need to show that we have more of the front list titles. We need more that add some credibility to our offer… The response from publishers has consistently been something along the lines of ‘We know the flat rate model probably is the future and the market really could use some competition, but we do not need to stress this and first want to see what happens in the next couple of years’.”
BookBeat differentiates itself from Audible as it offers unlimited audiobook listening for £14.90 per month, whereas with Audible, you have access to only one audiobook for £7.99 per month, with the option to purchase more audio titles if you need them.
Nearly 1 in 5 US readers now listen to audiobooks
While BookBeat is floundering in the UK, things are looking rosy for audiobooks in the US. According to the latest Pew Research, audiobooks are on the rise with 1 in 5 people now listening to them. That said, print books continue to be more popular than ebooks or audiobooks. Read more about readers here.
“He likes books, too.” — How Audible Founder Don Katz was introduced to Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos.
What an intro. This Bloomberg article on the history of Audible and how Amazon turbocharged its dominance of the audiobook market is well worth a read. #LoveStory
*Whisper* On the intimacy of audiobooks *Stop whispering*
The intimacy of the audiobook as a medium is changing how we absorb books, relate to them, and even how they are being written. Read more about the theatre of the mind, the magic of voice acting, and how author Matt Wesolowski was influenced by podcasts when writing his book Six Stories here.
Sure, even Tom Hanks is giving it a go.
“Cat Person IS AN INCREDIBLE SHORT STORY. So, short stories are the BEST thing ever. Even Tom Hanks is writing short stories. Wait, the short story is the medium of the future. QED!” According to Chris Power, this is absolutely not the case. He writes about how he’s tired of people rediscovering the short story even though it never gets lost in this fun, sobering essay.
Who needs booksellers?
Beijing has opened its first self-service bookstore. To enter, you have to stand on a weighing scales (to verify that you’re really there) and then have your face scanned (par for the course in China). Once that process is complete, you’re free to walk into the shop and browse around. If you see something you like, you scan a QR code to pay. There’s a droid in the shop. No word on whether it can answer difficult questions about shelf curation or engage in a heated debate about Will Self and the death of the novel. See a LOL pic of the droid here.
The future of publishing as political act, or, the importance of one homosexual bunny
I’ll leave you with the best thing that’s happened in publishing this week. US Vice President Mike Pence published a children’s book featuring the adventures of his pet bunny, Marlon Bundo. To protest against the anti-LGBT sentiments that Pence has represented, investigative comedian John Oliver published his own book, also featuring Pence’s bunny Marlon Bundo, entitled Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. In Oliver’s version, little Marlon falls in love with a male rabbit named Wesley and they work together to destroy a mean stink-bug who won’t let them marry. Oliver is currently outselling Pence; the former is No 1 on the Amazon Best Sellers list while the latter dwindles behind at no. 4. Proceeds from both books will go to charity: Oliver’s will go to The Trevor Project and AIDS United and Pence’s will go to A21 and Tracy’s Kids.
To get the full story, watch John Oliver’s 20-minute piece on Mike Pence and Marlon Bundo here. Invest in your own copy of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo here.
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