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July 31, 2012

Are Audiobooks Preparing to Overtake Ebooks?

Filed under: Audiobooks — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:58 pm

  By Joe Daly

If you were the CEO of a large company and your board of directors earmarked $20 million to be allocated at your discretion, what would you do? Build a new office complex? Increase marketing costs? Install one of those fancy toilet seats with a built-in heater and satellite radio?

How about give it away?

That is precisely what is doing and unsurprisingly, it has nothing to do with altruism.

In 2012, the Amazon-owned offered authors a $1 “honorarium” for every audiobook sale made through their website. If attracting the attention of authors is your goal, free money is a slam dunk way of achieving it. There is, however, far more to the offer than its attractive financial component—authors who agree to make their titles available in audiobook format through not only reap a buck for every sale, but they additionally receive the expertise and manpower of Audible’s sales and marketing divisions, as well as additional advertising materials for promoting their work. And just for the heck of it, authors get a free copy of their audiobook.

Notice that the preceding paragraph made no reference to the role of the publisher in this financial arrangement. This is because the publisher is cut straight out of the deal. The buck passes freely and without encumbrance from the teeming coffers of Audible to the back pocket of the grateful author. While such an arrangement cannot impede or alter publishing rights previously negotiated between the author and publisher, it nonetheless offers writers a substantial incentive to cut their own side deal.

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Why social media isn’t the magic bullet for self-epublished authors

Social media: great white hope, or albatross? Photograph: Alamy

In the third in a series of essays on digital media and publishing, Ewan Morrison, who will appear at the Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference, claims that as the project to monetise social media falters the self-epublishing industry’s defects will be laid bare

“Authors – become a success through building an ‘internet platform’!”. For almost five years we’ve been subjected to the same message. At the London College of Communication’s iGeneration conference this year, I heard that social media was now the only way to sell books, and witnessed glowing examples of the successful use of SM from epub authors such as Joanna Penn (who has her own consultancy and sells $99 multimedia courses on How to Write A Novel). At the Hay festival last month, I heard Scott Pack – self-described “blogger, publisher and author of moderately successful toilet books” – declare that mainstream media, papers and TV “no longer function in selling books”; that the net is now the only way for authors to – you’ve heard it before – “build a platform”. Already every fourth tweet I receive is from an “indie” author trying to self-promote, saying things like “Hoping for a cheeky RT of my last tweet on my book & the 99p offer. B v grateful.” And another – “Hope all is well! My dad just published his latest book on Amazon – if possible, I was wondering if you had any tips for him getting his book reviewed by any relevant bloggers. Appreciate any insight.” And then there are the hundreds of tweets from social media ebook consultants and so-called specialists offering “the key to online marketing success”.

I’m convinced that epublishing is another tech bubble, and that it will burst within the next 18 months. The reason is this: epublishing is inextricably tied to the structures of social media marketing and the myth that social media functions as a way of selling products. It doesn’t, and we’re just starting to get the true stats on that. When social media marketing collapses it will destroy the platform that the dream of a self-epublishing industry was based upon.

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Hindsight: Sarah Lotz

Welcome to the first of a new blog feature. We’ve asked some of our favourite authors a particularly nasty question: what would you change about one of your books?* 

The first to respond was Sarah Lotz, who isn’t just one of the most talented writers, but clearly one of the bravest.


To really get into the nitty gritty of what I’d like to change in my books, I’d have to reread my own work. And because I’m a coward, I can’t. Even looking at proofs makes me feel like puking and the You Could Have Done Better demons start stabbing me with their hindsight pitchforks. So – from memory – here are the top five things I’d change (I can’t even bear to consider the short stories – seriously, the horror):

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Author Maeve Binchy dies aged 72

Filed under: Obituaries — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 4:46 pm

Binchy had sold more than 40 million books worldwide

Best-selling Irish author Maeve Binchy has died aged 72 after a short illness.

Binchy, born in Dalkey, Co Dublin, has sold more than 40 million books. Her works were often set in Ireland and have been translated into 37 languages.

They include The Lilac Bus as well as Tara Road and Circle of Friends, which were both adapted for screen.

Binchy trained as a teacher before moving into journalism and writing, publishing her first novel – Light a Penny Candle – in 1982.

She had written the novel in her spare time from her day job as a journalist at The Irish Times.

Fellow novelist Jilly Cooper paid tribute, saying Binchy was “a natural storyteller”.

“She was a darling – I’m very, very sad,” she told Radio 4’s Today programme.

“She was so kind and funny and captivating, and was a brilliant writer.”

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July 30, 2012

Trollope returns to Short Story Award panel

30.07.12 | Charlotte Williams

Novelist Joanna Trollope has returned to the judging panel of the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award for the second year in a row, with the submissions  rocess now open.

Also on the panel will be authors Lionel Shriver, Sarah Waters, Andrew O’Hagan, as well as Sunday Times literary editor Andrew Holgate and Matthew Evans, chairman of EFG Private Bank and the non-voting chair of judges.

The prize is open to any novelist or short story writer from around the world who is published in the UK or Ireland. The deadline for submissions is 21st September 2012, and a longlist of 16 will be announced in January.

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Social Media Power a Novel

Halle Berry and Tom Hanks, appearing in the trailer for the movie made from the novel ‘Cloud Atlas.’


Last Monday, David Mitchell’s eight-year-old novel “Cloud Atlas” was ranked 2,509 on Inc.’s best seller list. On Friday, it was No. 7.

The surge of sales was thanks to a trailer for a film version of the novel that debuted on Apple Inc’s website Thursday, combined with the power of social media.

“Almost as soon as the trailer went up, we saw chatter on Twitter and sales on Amazon really jumped,” said Jane von Mehren, publisher of trade paperbacks for the Random House Publishing Group, a unit of Bertelsmann AG’s Random House Inc.

To cash in on the renewed interest, Random House has ordered a new paperback printing of 25,000 copies, to hit stores before a special movie-tie in edition of the book is released in September. Currently, “Cloud Atlas” has 227,000 paperback copies in print in the U.S.

It isn’t unusual for a movie version of a book to spark fresh interest in an old title, of course. What’s uncommon in this case was the speed at which a mere trailer of a film had an impact.

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The Bronte Novels Ranked

By Juliet Barker

Juliet Barker’s landmark biography, The Brontës: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family, has just received an update–making the feat of chronicling literature’s most famous family even more heroic, and making the 1,200 page volume even more comprehensive. Barker, the former curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum at Howarth, ranked the books of the sisters for Tip Sheet.

Ranking Jane Austen’s novels may cause controversy – but it’s a storm in a tea-cup compared to the elemental forces unleashed when asked to choose between the Brontë novels. The three weird sisters of Haworth arouse passions like no other writers: Austen has fans but the Brontës have devotees and, believe me, there’s a very big difference – criticising Pride and Prejudice doesn’tprovoke a baying lynch-mob in quite the same way as hinting that all is not perfection in Wuthering Heights.

Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have consistently spent decades in the top five best-selling and most popular novels of all time, so doesn’t that make them the obvious candidates for joint first? But I’d like to make the case for…

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Harvill Secker to rush out Brink novel

| By Joshua Farrington

Harvill Secker is bringing forward the release of André Brink’s novel Philida, after it was included in the Man Booker Prize longlist on Wednesday (25th July).

The book was due to be released on September 6th, but has been moved to August 2nd after the announcement raised interest in the novel.

Liz Foley, publishing director at Harvill Secker, said: “We’re delighted that Philida is on the longlist and we’ve had a lot of people contacting us who are eager to get their hands on it. Because of this we’ve decided to bring the publication date forward so we can make it available to everyone as quickly as possible.”

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The Man Booker 2012 longlist tells a story about the landscape of fiction

Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies, Michael Frayn’s Skios and Nicola Barker’s The Yips

This year’s Booker longlist supports ambition and experiment, writes Telegraph head of books Gaby Wood.

It seems obvious that the most exciting event related to the Man Booker Prize should be the announcement of the winner. That is, after all, who gets the money, the prestige and sales – and whose life is dramatically altered, whether it’s an established writer wondering what took the judges so long, or a first time novelist whose second effort is cramped by expectation.

But in my view the moment that holds the most potential is the announcement of the longlist, because a longlist is the least freighted with compromise, and has the greatest capacity to tell a story about the landscape of fiction in any given year.

Never the less, the story that was told with the list, arrived at by this year’s Man Booker judges on Wednesday over lunch, of 12 books for 2012, was not perhaps about fiction this year, but about what literary prizes should be for.

We are, at this moment, more or less in the middle of an excellent year for big British fiction. What does that mean? Well, that people from whom we are always excited to hear have new novels out: Hilary Mantel, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, John Lanchester, John Banville, Peter Carey, Pat Barker, Rose Tremain, to name a few.

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Little Free Libraries pop up in Toronto

Filed under: Libraries — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:01 am

By Katie Gowrie

It was only a matter of time before the Little Free Library project, which has been trending around the world, caught on in Toronto.

The program, which was initiated in 2009 by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, as a way to honour his late schoolteacher mother, provides a different option for borrowing books through a system of small, house-like structures set up on front lawns and community parks.

The project works on an honour system in which passersby can take a book, leave a book, or return a book to other little free libraries in the area. No charges, late fees, hold lists, or memberships apply.

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