Issue 5: Chronicle Books in hot water, Barnes & Noble have an app

Jiminy Cricket! You’re reading Issue 5 of Book The Trend — an industry newsletter on the future of publishing — released on April 3rd, 2018

You’re going to boycott the gay bunny? I don’t think we can do that. But we can have a constructive conversation about how we can do this better the next time.

— Laura Cummings, owner of White Birch Books and president of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, weighing in on the Chronicle Books controversy (see below).

Indie booksellers hopping mad over Amazon’s early access to bunny book
Chronicle books is under fire for distributing John Oliver’s satirical Marlon Bundo book via Amazon and NOT via local indie booksellers. Chronicle president Tyrrell Mahoney sent an apology to regional indie booksellers claiming, “We had to ensure that the book was a complete surprise for the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver audience… after much deliberation and exploration of other options, we ultimately agreed to make the book available for purchase at the time of the on-air surprise by allocating a percentage of the print run to Amazon and making the rest of the first print run available to all our other retailers as soon as possible.” This explanation didn’t wash with indie booksellers who spotlighted their tried and tested methods of keeping hot new titles under wraps and repeated that one channel shouldn’t be given an advantage. Read more on the outrage here.

What’s your favourite book discovery app?
Aaaah discoverability — publishing’s favourite talking point. Well, fear not: Barnes & Noble have an app for that! The retailer has launched a community-based book recommendation app called Browsery. To set themselves apart from mahoosive community-based book recommendation sites like Goodreads, Browsery is set up with a simple question and answer format. The user asks a question: e.g. “What’s your all-time favourite Kerry Wilkinson book?” and then the community answers. It claims to be “the first app to talk about books the way you do”. Read more here.

Is China Literature a harbinger of what’s to become of the future of literature?
China Literature, China’s largest online publisher and ebook website operator, reported a 15-fold increase in net profit in 2017 thanks to a surge in paying customers. The company, a spin-off from Chinese internet giant Tencent, sells millions of ebooks via online platforms including a reading function built into the hyper-popular WeChat messaging app (also part of Tencent). Their revenue comes from 11.1million readers who pay for their original online content. As of December 31st, 2017, China Literature has a mammoth library of works by 6.9 million writers — the vast majority of which are contracted and trained to produce original content for the company. There’s something dystopian about the sheer scale of this entire operation but then again, it’s precisely the scale that accounts for its success. Read more here.

Pulped fiction
As allegations of sexual harassment sweep through the publishing industry and a new culture and era is taking shape, this great NYT feature talks about how books are affected.

Apple’s new Pages app now allows for book creation
You know Pages? It’s like Word or Google Docs, except less dynamic? Well, Apple has blown the dust off the old app and added lots of fancy new features; among them is an improved book creation feature. Users can now create interactive digital books with templates, text, videos, images, and (if you fork out $99 for the Apple Pencil) freehand doodles and sketches. Completed digital masterpieces will then be exported in EPUB format so they can be read in iBooks and beyond. Read the cut-and-dry Apple press release here.

Kerry Wilkinson signs unconventional book deal with Bookouture
Amazon UK No. 1 bestselling author (so reads the title description of his website #madSEOskillz) Kerry Wilkinson has signed an out-of-the-box deal with Bookouture. The digital imprint has acquired World English rights (excluding the UK) to three more of Wilkinson’s Jessica Daniel novels & three titles in his Andrew Hunter series. Bookouture will release the books in the US while Wilkinson will publish the three new Jessica Daniel titles in the UK himself. (Maybe he’ll use Apple’s new book creation feature. jk). The Bookouture team says, “Kerry has always had an innovative and very smart approach to his publishing and Bookouture are incredibly proud to be a part of that.” Read full release here.

Bonus: check out Kerry’s tweet on why 99p ebooks are not too cheap here.

Amazon Publishing had budget for an April Fool’s Day video
Slow clap for Amazon Publishing for putting in the effort and making an April Fool’s Day video. It features Patricia Cornwell on a yacht, scuba-diving, and flying a helicopter. It’s actually pretty cool and Cornwell is a total bawse. I believe it deserves more than 2,521 views (*accurate at time of writing*). Add to the view count and check it out here.

Move over Zoella, there’s a new set of A-list influencers taking the world of publishing by storm  
Check out Publishers Weekly’s stellar feature on instagram-famous animals and the children’s books they’ve inspired here. #Squee

Finally, today in “Awkwardly Forced Brand Partnerships”
Zoë Ball is set to host a TV book club; it will be produced by CactusTV and is very loudly sponsored by Specsavers. Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, said: “We have long been an advocate of book publishing, having sponsored several book-related TV shows and events over the years, as I too Amanda’s and Zoe’s passion for reading. (sic) But obviously you need good sight to enjoy a good book and that’s where Specsavers fits in.” *crickets*

P.s. Zoë Ball is 47. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? She will be perpetually 20-something and hanging out with Jamie Theakston in my mind.

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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