Friday News: The dynamic conditions of publishing and reading
Book publishing is a resilient business: Kobo CEO – An interview with Kobo’s CEO Michael Tambyln, who argues that “every year [the publishing industry] finds a new driver for growth,” and this year it is the dynamic between print and digital books. Despite the digital slowdown, Tambyln notes the continuing growth of self-publishing and the omnivorous reading habits of power readers:
According to Tamblyn, the industry’s most valuable customers, those who buy several books a month, are reading both print books and digital e-books, rather than one or the other.
“Those people who are buying the most have allowed those two things to co-exist,” he said. “We are seeing the two formats kind of living together, rather than one supplanting the other.” – CNBC
Chill. It’s Not Books vs. Amazon. You Can Have Both! – A decent article on the zero sum language often used when discussing publishing (traditional publishing is dead! Amazon is the evil empire! self-published books are trash!) and the inaccuracy of the doom and gloom all v. nothing rhetoric. Rather than one force dominating another, Davey Alba points out that in reality there are different forces and factors pushing against each other all the time and in different proportions.
It’s perhaps because book lovers are so ardent that we tend to gobble up news that makes the claims we want to hear about the future of the medium we hold so dear. “Print is back, ebooks are dead!”is the latest refrain to catch our ears. Bookstores are coming back and, you guys, Amazon isn’t doing that well.
Every one of these claims contains some truth. But for book lovers, embracing them also involves a little bit of wish fulfillment. The book industry is too complicated to distill into any one of those sweeping theses. Print books have persisted, but ebooks are not going away. Amazon is powerful, but physical bookstores are still here. The book is not immune to the powerful digital forces that have re-shaped so much of the rest of the world. At the same time, books have been able to resist the forces of change because books really are different. – Wired
These Were 2015’s Most Challenged Books – The most challenged book of 2015 in the U.S.? John Green’s Looking for Alaska. Followed by Fifty Shades of Grey. And for the very first time, The Bible made it into the top ten (#6). The reasons are complicated, extending from challenges based on Constitutional issues to retaliation against a religious group that challenged another book. Not a completely shocking list, but check out the article linked in the entry for book #8, Craig Thompson’s Habibi – it’s a very thoughtful discussion of the relationship between reproducing and critiquing Orientalism.
In 2015, the Office of Intellectual Freedom recorded 275 challenges to books, though research indicates as many as 85 percent of book challenges are never reported or publicized. Nine of the top 10 challenged books contain diverse content that highlights non-white, disabled, or LGBT main or secondary characters and stories that highlight things like religion, LGBT issues and mental illness.
Forty-five percent of the attempts to remove books from readers were centered around public libraries, though school curriculums and school libraries were also book battlegrounds. A full 40 percent of people challenging reading material were parents, followed by library patrons (27 percent), boards or administrations (10 percent) and pressure groups (6 percent). – Smithsonian Magazine
The inspiring worldwide book club you need to know about – Social media seems to be driving a number of new book clubs. Take Poppy Loves Book Club, the creation of blogger Poppy Loves London, which is becoming a global collective with more than 50 chapters worldwide. Each month, Poppy picks a book (no YA or kid lit) and sends the title and discussion questions to each chapter’s “captain,” for the monthly meeting. The club began in 2014, and Poppy is focused on promoting female participation in a “safe haven for discussion.” Clubs meet on the last Wednesday of each month to discuss the chosen title:
Why? Because Poppy holds a live stream with the author (YUP) of the book on Facebook, which allows all 54 book clubs to chat together, ask questions and mull those niggling thoughts the novel has left with the person who created them.
At this moment in time Poppy Loves Book Club has over 2,000 members and is rapidly expanding – there’s four in New Zealand, one in Iraq, four in America and more further afield. It’s 100 per cent free for every member, and opening your own branch is easy – you become a Captain Book, pop a little print out poster in a cafe window and wait for other book fanatics to roll in. – Cosmopolitan UK
I really enjoyed both the Kobo and Amazon articles, because I happen to agree with both — publishing IS pretty robust and it’s not something people have given up on. I still buy books in both formats, albeit physical books tend to be either very special to me, copies I get signed, or copies I want to easily pass on to the giant reading vortex that is my extended family and their friends. They’re books I don’t intend to get back.
(Also, for sake of disclosure, I worked with Mike for several years, so that tends to colour my opinion — he was remarkably in-touch with the front lines for a CEO and frequently came out to product soft launches etc to talk to customers like any other salesperson, solicited feedback from every level, and I think all of this was critical in turning Kobo’s abysmal customer service into something more reasonable.)
ALSO I might need to join this book club, I really enjoyed the SBTB book clubs and chats with the authors. That was special for me. :)