Issue 8: Amazon’s new Book Box for kids, Fragmented reading takes China by storm

Workers unite! You’re reading Issue 8 of Book The Trend — an industry newsletter on the future of publishing — released on May 1st, 2018

Note: there was no Book The Trend last week as I was fighting crime on a fishing boat in the middle of the Atlantic. 

Quote of the week

Most people are delighted when a bookshop opens in their locality and make a special effort to support it. 

Dawn Behan on her bookshop in Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, that has just become Ireland’s Independant Bookshop of the Year. For more great independent bookshops, check out 62 of the best in the world.

From Amazon to Bloomsbury: subscription services come to children’s publishing
Amazon has introduced Prime Book Box for kids (for Prime members only). This subscription service will deliver children’s books every 1-3 months to your child. Aimed at kids up to 12 years old, each box contains 2 hardcover books selected by Amazon Books editors. It’s sounds like an ultra flexible subscription: parents can choose which books their children receive, how often the box arrives, and cancel anytime. Meanwhile, Bloomsbury have introduced a subscription service for their Early Years series. Educators (and parents and minders alike) can now pay a monthly fee to access reams of learning activities and materials for kids. Read more here.

Nosy Crow’s apps fly the nest
While we’re talking about innovation in children’s publishing, there’s slightly less cheerful news from Nosy Crow. The children’s publisher has shut down its app production and made their 3-person app production team redundant. Founder Kate Wilson said that apps were pricey to produce and “It seems that many parents don’t choose to spend money on digital content for children and fewer children and their parents are reading on screen than we had hoped.” With apps out the window, Nosy Crow will focus on their print business that’s up 35% (!) and continue to innovate in other ways. Wilson continued: “We have learned so much from making apps in-house. It has enabled us to better understand what print can do that the screen cannot, making us better print publishers in the process. It has also encouraged us into areas of digital innovation – such as our successful Stories Aloud initiative, offering free audio readings accessed via a QR code printed on the inside of paperback editions of all of our picture books – that we would not have had the expertise or enthusiasm for had we not been so engaged in making the apps.”

China’s obsession with fragmented Mint Reading
Thanks to bizzay bizzay schedules, fragmented reading is on the rise among young Chinese commuters. Mint Reading is an app that allows people to quickly read classic English novels in manageable chunks which means they can power through the literary canon and brush up on their English language skills. When a reader finishes a 100-day reading session, Mint Reading gives them a free printed version of the book they completed. In what’s probably one of my favourite quotes from a jaded media professor ever, Wang Yanling, professor at Tianjin Normal University, said “Fragmented reading is an inevitable result of the development of new media and technology. Though not a magical way to enrich people’s knowledge, it is certainly not a disaster.” For more info on Mint Reading, read a non-fragmented article all about it here.

Be careful what you say: publishers protect themselves against off-the-wall authors
In the era of #MeToo and important moral reckonings, morality clauses are becoming par for the course for publishers looking to protect themselves from unpredictable, potentially pernicious authors. Major publishers are now working clauses into contracts that allow them to terminate agreements with authors in cases where the author is found guilty of sexual harassment or hate speech reports Publisher Weekly. Mary Rasenberger, president of the Authors Guild, says “There are instances where it is appropriate to cancel a contract with someone—if, say, they are writing a book on investing and they’re convicted of insider trading.” But Rasenberger adds a caveat, “These clauses need to be very narrowly drawn. The fear is that clauses like these can quash speech that is unpopular, for whatever reason.” Get the full low-down here.

Apple News will preview John McCain’s memoir 
Move over Comey. According to CultOfMac, John McCain’s memoir The Restless Waves, set for release on May 22, is being previewed on Apple News. The Apple News app is showcasing an exclusive extract in advance to the book’s publication. At the end of the excerpt, readers see a link to pre-order the memoir on iBooks. This new departure coupled with Apple’s recent acquisition of digital magazine platform Texture and the rumours that Apple’s looking to overhaul iBooks reflects the company’s renewed interest in publishing. CultOfMac writes: “It’s not yet clear whether book excerpts for upcoming releases such as this will become a regular thing for Apple.” Let’s see.

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Want to read past issues? Yay! Check out the archives.

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