Articles tagged with: the bookseller
Posted by Kate on Mar 22, 2013
The video above is a really lovely little stop-motion animation celebrating physical books in a physical bookshop
On 7 February 2013, the BBC Radio 4 programme, The Bottom Line, was about the book trade. Agent, Jonny Geller; head of HarperCollins, Vicky Barnsley; and Michael Tamblyn, now chief content officer at ereading service and device company, Kobo, were interviewed by Evan Davis. About 12 minutes into the programme (and you can still listen to it by downloading it here), Evan Davis said, “When we look at the three roles… am I wrong to say that one of you is surplus to requirements?”.
A month later at the Independent Publishers Guild conference, Philip Jones quoted Stephen Page’s comment that there was a lot of cross-dressing going on in the industry between agents, publishers and booksellers, but Philip added that it seemed to him that “booksellers were slow to remove their clothes”. Actually, I was thinking that all of us are slow to remove our clothes, in that we are happy to take on other roles (Amazon becoming a publisher, publishers selling direct to consumers, agents publishing ebooks of their clients’ backlists… but none of us wants to give up any part of our existing role.
Agents, publishers and etailers are all working out their role in the new world of online selling and digital content, but there is a growing focus on the sector that’s been cast as the Cinderella of the whole book industry: the bricks-and-mortar bookshop. There is, too, a proper recognition of its crucial role in introducing readers, particularly child readers, to books.
While children’s book sales through physical bookshops are still relatively robust, and while ebook sales for children is a market that is proving slow to grow (just 2% of the children’s books sold in the UK last year were ebooks), bricks-and-mortar bookshops cannot sustain themselves by children’s book sales alone.
Tom wrote a blog post about what bookshops should be prompted by Foyles investigation into the subject.
And our Stories Aloud initiative was partly inspired by a desire to offer independent bookstores a way of offering digital content (in this case, a digital audio file with a voice reading of the whole book, sound effects and specially-composed music) to their customers in a “bundle” with the book.
Today, there’s a report in The Bookseller on new research by Bowker Market Reasearch adn Enders Analysis that underlines the importance of bricks and mortar bookshops.to publishing and confirms their role in enabling readers to discover books.
The data, presented at the Books and Consumers conference on Wednesday, emphasised the importance of physical book shops in the discovery of children’s books for 0-12 year-olds, where the request of the child remains the strongest purchase prompt: 41% of children’s book spend in 2012 happened in bookshops, and 24% happened in other kinds of bricks-and-mortar shops.
The link to The Bookseller piece is here.
As the piece says, both Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis, and Jo Henry of Bowker Market Research agreed on the crucial role of bookshop browsing. Enders Analysis estimates that serendipity and discovery generate as much as two-thirds of UK general book sales, much of this down to bookshops. ‘There is almost nothing that can be done to sustain the health of the network of bookshops that should be collectively considered too extravagant,’ McCabe said. ‘Without bookshops, publishing would have to rethink its model at every level.’
Jo Henry estimated that physical booksellers were responsible for the discovery of some 21% of all consumer book purchases in 2012, representing £450m in value. A total of 45% of purchases where the buyer hadn’t yet decided what to buy were made through bricks-and-mortar shops.
But the research showed a higher number of books being bought from internet-only businesses than from bricks-and-mortar stores for the first time in 2012 and consumers who bought e-books also bought more of their physical books through internet retailers, suggesting that when readers move to buying e-books they also switch from bookshops to e-tailers to buy their physical books.
So if you value your local bookshop, buy your books there.
Posted by Kate on Mar 14, 2013
After our double win at the Independent Publishers Guild Awards last week, we were surprised and delighted to be shortlisted in the Children’s Publisher of the Year and Digital Strategy of the Year categories of The Bookseller Industry Awards 2013.
These awards are for all sectors of the industry, agents, publishers, booksellers, libraries and distributors.
In each category, we’re up against the big boys, so we are really pleased to be included, particularly as this just the second year we’ve been eligible for any of these awards.
The shortlist for Children’s Publisher of the Year is:
HarperCollins Children’s Books
Penguin Children’s Books
Scholastic Children’s Books
The shortlist for Digital Strategy of the Year (and we were shortlisted in this category last year) is:
Orion Publishing Group
The Random House Group
You can read all of the shortlists here.
Posted by Tom on Feb 12, 2013
Later this year, the independent book chain Foyles will move their flagship store from its current location on Charing Cross Road to a new, purpose-built bookshop build on the site of the former premises of Central St Martins School of Art. In preparation for the move, Foyles are holding a series of workshops – called “Future Foyles” – with publishers, agents, booksellers, members of the trade and interested punters in attendance, and with the aim of producing some ideas about what the new store should “be”. You can read The Bookseller’s report of the first workshop here.
I think the project is an excellent one, not least because, in order to compete with Amazon – who will always be able to offer lower prices, particularly if they’re not under pressure to make a profit, and are focussed, instead, on building market share – bookshops need to be just as innovative in offering other things. Their core, irreplacable strengths – the things that Internet shopping can’t replicate – are things that Foyles already “do” very well: knowledgeable staff, an enjoyable, physical browsing experience, and thoughtful, intelligent content curation that’s based on human experience rather than algorithms.
But if those aspects are merely necessary – but not sufficient – what should come next? How should bookshops “evolve” to cope with the increasing pressures of online retail’s low prices and e-offerings, a concomitant shift away from high street shopping, and economic downturn? I was intrigued by HarperCollins CEO Victoria Barnsley’s suggestion to BBC Radio4 that bookshops could consider levying a browsing fee upon customers, though judging from Foyles’ CEO Sam Husain’s distinctly measured response – “It is a fairly challenging thought to take on board, but really, it is ideas like that we want to think about and have to brainstorm” – it’s probably a touch more left-field than he had in mind.
The Bookseller reports that one person in attendance at yesterday’s event, Matt Finch, a freelance community outreach consultant, was interested “in how the future Foyles could appeal to people as a cultural space”, which strikes me as another of the things that the book chain has begun to do really well (last year they held events related to plays, visual art exhibitions, concerts, and more) and could expand upon easily with a dedicated space. It’s something that Rebecca Smart of the Osprey Group spoke about at Digital Book World, linking up ideas around the challenges to bookshops specifically, a Mary Portas-style vision of a revived town centre, and the closure of libraries.
I’ll be particularly interested to see how Foyles treat the children’s section of the new store, which perhaps more than any other area has the potential to be something truly imaginative and wonderful.
When I think about my favourite book shops, the elements that immediately stand out are their beauty (which can be harder to achieve for a chain – though Apple Stores often succeed), friendliness, and a more intangible quality; atmosphere – the best bookshops exude a quiet sense of calm that no other sort of shop can equal. I’m not at all averse to bookshops with cafes attached to them, but I say why stop there – why not a wine bar, or really decent food?
What do you look for in a good bookshop? How do you think current stores could improve their children’s sections? And what would you like to see in Foyles’ new headquarters? If you’d like to participate in the Future Foyles events, they’re free to anyone who’d like to attend – you can find out more here.
Posted by Tom on Dec 10, 2012
There were some incredibly unhappy statistics reported in The Bookseller today: newly released numbers from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) show that more than 200 libraries have closed in the past year.
The one bright spot in this otherwise entirely gloomy piece of news is that children’s fiction has seen an increase in borrowing (the only area to have done so) for a second year running.
I don’t think there’s anything left to be said on the subject of how terrible an idea it is to close libraries: it represents a tragic combination of nonsensical, short-term economic vision, cultural philistinism, and an abject lack of empathy.
For an impassioned account of what libraries mean to an individual, Caitlin Moran’s column on the subject – which we re-printed with her permission on this blog – makes excellent reading, as does Philip Pullman’s speech from January of last year.
Posted by Tom on Oct 31, 2012
We were thrilled to learn last night that Rounds: Franklin Frog, our first non-fiction app which teaches young children about the life-cycle of frogs with an engaging, looping narrative and lots of interactivity, has been shortlisted for a FutureBook Innovation Award in the Best Children’s App category!
It’s a tough category with a lot of strong competition this year, and we couldn’t be happier that Rounds has made the shortlist. It’s in excellent company: last year’s winner in the same category was Cinderella, and at the very first FutureBook Innovation Awards, The Three Little Pigs received a special commendation in the Best App category. Rounds: Franklin Frog has already been awarded a Kirkus Star, an Editor’s Choice Award from Children’s Technology Review, and was an Editor’s Choice app in the Education Category of the App Store (where it has an average 5* rating). USA Today wrote that, “It is fabulous. We can’t wait for the next one.”
The full shortlist in the Best Children’s App category is:
★ Mindshapes – Magic Town
★ Khoya – Khoya
★ Barefoot Books / Touch Press – Barefoot World Atlas
★ Penguin – Ladybird: I’m Ready for Phonics
★ Nosy Crow – Rounds: Franklin Frog
★ StoryToys – Farm123
★ DK/Cogapp – Dr Frankenstein’s Body Lab
And you can read the full list of nominees across every category (whittled down from 221 entries across 19 different countries!) here. The awards will be announced at the FutureBook conference on December 3 – wish us luck!
Posted by Kate on Jun 13, 2011
Young British illustrator Frann Preston-Gannon has said that new British illustration talent is being forced to go abroad in search of work as the UK picture book market becomes increasingly conservative.
Comments on The Bookseller article reporting Frann Preston-Gannon’s remarks point out that library cutbacks and the shrinking of the independent bookshop sector are a factor in this increased conservatism in the UK market, and I do think that both libraries and independent bookshops have, historically, been particularly strong and important supporters of more experimental illustration styles in the UK.
However, from the point of view of an independent children’s book pulbisher, I’d say a couple of things:
The first is that the UK has always looked outside the UK to launch new artists. Selling co-editions (i.e. co-ordinating a single printing of full-colour books in several different languages for different countries so that some of the costs of the printing are spread across many copies, and each country benefits from a sort of “bulk discount” with the printer) has been at the heart of the picture book’s financial viability for over two decades. If opportunities for artists exist outside the UK, even if the UK market itself might not be a big market for a particular artist, UK publishers are often keen to find them, and to support new talent with international sales. So a book originating in the UK may sell better abroad. At Nosy Crow, and at other UK publishers, the UK print-run can be just a tenth of the total print-run – the rest is made up of co-editions.
Second, there are many illustrators who, initially, frightened the UK retail horses at the early stages of their career, but who are now well and truly part of the illustration establishment. Axel Scheffler is a good example. When I first published Axel, I was told his work was looked “too continental European”; that the eyes were too goggly and the noses too big. The first UK print run of The Gruffalo was very small – perhaps 1,500 or 2,000 copies, I seem to remember, and, whatever it was, UK sales were smaller! We persisted (as did Axel, of course) and great, distinctive, witty illustration won through.
Third, at Nosy Crow, we’re always looking for new illustrators. We’ve a small picture book list, but over the next 18 months it will include, among other new illustrators:
Nadia Shireen who graduated in 2010, and whose art complements a dark and funny text (involving characters being eaten) called The Baby That Roared by Simon Puttock publishing in January 2012 (her first book, Good Little Wolf, published by Random House, is out now);
Nicola O’Byrne who graduates this summer and whose book, Open Very Carefully is a witty celebration of the printed book that publishes in autumn 2012.
Of course there are some publishers who play very safe, and there are others who are a bit more edgy. Not being part of their decision-making process, I can’t speak for them. But I can speak for Nosy Crow. We’re somewhere in the middle, I’d say. We need to feel that an artists work will appeal to a child (rather than appeal just to an adult), and that’s really our starting point. we have to feel that there’s a market for an illustrator’s work somewhere in the world, especially if we think that the UK market won’t rush to embrace a particular style. We don’t always agree: as in so many areas of publishing, we’re making subjective judgements based on a complicated mix of taste, experience and knowledge.
The book market – UK and international – doesn’t owe us (or any particular artist for that matter), a living: we have to publish books that are commercially viable, but, at Nosy Crow, we’re always looking for new talent, and we’re willing to take risks on it.
And we congratulate Frann Preston-Gannon and wish her the best of luck, wherever she publishes.
Posted by Kate on Feb 22, 2011
We are one today.
I’ve written about it about it for The Bookseller online, but you can read about it here too:
I’m dating the start of the company from our announcement of our existence, which we sent to the trade press and others on 22 February 2010. In some ways, we didn’t feel quite ready to announce, but our hand was forced by two things. The first was that I had been asked to judge the British Book Awards and had given my job title as “MD of Nosy Crow” for an announcement of the make-up of the judging panels that came out in the week of 22 February 2010. The second was that I’d been messing around with Facebook on the evening of 21 February, working out how to set up a fan page and invite people to it, when I inadvertently sent out a message to my entire address book for a profile that referred to Nosy Crow.
We had, from memory, just three projects signed at the time we announced, and a stated intention to acquire from established talent and from newcomers. We also clearly stated that we intended to create apps from scratch. There were four of us – me, co-founders Camilla Reid and Adrian Soar, and Imogen Blundell – in a single room in an office complex in a Victorian school building.
One year on…
We have three print titles published. In mid-January, we published Small Blue Thing, a debut romantic fantasy that was written by the colleague of the headhunter I consulted when I was thinking I’d get the hell out of the industry. In mid-February, we published Mega Mash-up: Romans v Dinosaurs on Mars Mega Mash-up: Robots v Gorillas in the Desert, innovative two-colour combinations of fiction and doodle-book drawing on popular boy themes by a team who came to us because I’d worked with one of them at Scholastic when he was a designer there.
This year, we will publish 23 print titles for children from 0 to 14, most acquired since February 22 2010. True to our original vision, these are books that children will really enjoy reading: when we acquire a book, we do so with a strong sense of who it’s for. Our books are by established names like Axel Scheffler and Penny Dale and from newer exciting talents. The list – and we’ll be announcing the first six months of 2012 before Bologna – will grow in 2012.
We have one e-book published. Small Blue Thing is our only black-and-white book so far and was the first ebook we created with the support of Faber Factory. I decided that we’d focus our digital aspirations on illustrated publishing and apps.
This year, we will publish 5 straight ebooks.
We have one app published. Last week, we published a cutting-edge story book app, The Three Little Pigs, to quite remarkable reviews (including one from FutureBook, The Bookseller’s digital publishing blog).
This year, we will publish at least 5 highly-interactive, cutting-edge, multimedia apps.
From the beginning, we were interested in using websites and social media to communicate with potential consumers – mainly parents in our case – as well as with potential suppliers in the form of authors and illustrators and customers. We launched with a lively website that has evolved over time but remains true to our original plan. We wanted to create something with real personality, that was professional but also warm, honest and informal… and that was updated constantly: we blog several times a week to provide a window into what we do. In our first year, we’ve had a over a quarter of a million page-views from over 20,000 visitors in 129 countries, and, since we’ve had books and apps on the market, visitor numbers have risen sharply. Thank you very much for visiting us.
We’ve also used Twitter (@nosycrow and @NosyCrowApps) and Nosy Crow on Facebook to connect to the rest of the world. And we built two websites for our first two publications: www.smallbluething.com, featuring a cinema-style trailer and www.megamash-up.com, featuring videos and book-linked activities.
We’ve sold in our first list via Bounce and have promotions with Sainsbury’s, Tesco, ELC/Mothercare, WH Smith, WH Smith Travel, Waterstones and Foyles. Our books are in shops from museum giftshops to Toys ‘R’ Us.
We’ve been active internationally too. In May, Allen and Unwin begins distributing our books in Australia and New Zealand. So far, we’ve sold rights in our books to Germany, France, Holland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, China, Korea and Israel with more good news lined up for announcement over the next few weeks.
There are 11 of us now. We’ve been able to attract the most extraordinary talent to work with us, from games coding genius, Will Bryan, to picture book supremo, Kate Burns. Most of us are parents; several of us work part-time; and several of us work from home and only come into our (slightly bigger) open-plan office occasionally.
There have been challenges and disappointments, and there will undoubtedly be more ahead! There has been constant, grinding, sometimes dull hard work.
We worry – of course we do – about the book market and our place in the print and digital future that is unfolding. But it’s been fun.
It’s been a good year!
Things we haven’t loved so much about this year:
- Queuing at the post-office.
- Being responsible for all the boring stuff like printer maintenance.
- Cold-calling people without a big name behind us.
Things we’ve loved:
- Being able to buy great books from authors and illustrators we want to work with as they develop.
- Being able to act quickly and decisively.
- The conversations that have opened up online between us and readers, parents, creators and sellers.
- Working with great colleagues in a relaxed and fun environment fuelled by cake.
Posted by Kate on Nov 17, 2010
On Monday, we had a pre-launch lunch for Nosy Crow. Adrian cooked up a storm (Indian food – a speciality of his), and we invited journalists and other influencial people in the world of children’s books to talk to them about our 2011 programme of books and apps. For some of them, the lunch was the first time they’d seen a children’s app.
Here’s Damian Kelleher talking to Nicholas Tucker of The Independent and Nicki Marsh of Book Trust talking to Abigail Moss of The National Literacy Trust.
It was a sort of celebration for the Nosy Crows too, as we have finished copies of our first two books and proofs of many others, so we are in the final run-up to publication.
Graeme Neill from The Bookseller came, and wrote a short article in yesterday’s electronic edition of The Bookseller.
Posted by Kate on Jun 18, 2010
Well, we owe you an apology: we haven’t posted for a week, which is unlike us.
We have been busy bees, with no time for posting, and we just got out of the habit, but normal service will now be resumed.
And, honestly, we have been doing some Secret Stuff that we can’t yet tell you about.
But we can say that we met an enthusiastic and efficient illustration agent, two important customers and three talented and, as it happens, exceptionally nice potential fiction authors, one of whom made us an excellent quiche, which has to be a good sign, we feel. We’ve been to a big WHSmith presentation for the unveiling of the Richard and Judy Book Club, which impacts on children’s books from February 2011, and which gave us some ideas that we’ll be talking to WHSmith about. We went to a big and wine-fuelled Clays (the printers) knees-up yesterday evening. Oh, and Kate and Sue Ransom met up for a Suzanne Vega concert. Not only was Suzanne Vega part of the sound-track to their early 20s, but her song, Small Blue Thing – which, very cheeringly, she sang second – provided the title for Sue’s novel.
And, of course, we read and edited and wrote and made cakes just as we do every week.
The 11 June edition of The Bookseller ran a category preview for Picture Books, Novelty and Baby Books which focussed on Autumn 2010 titles but looked at titles as far ahead as April 2011. Both of the things we submitted were covered (which was a surprise and relief, to be honest, we had very little to send by the deadline!).
Vanessa Lewis of The Book Nook, Hove, says of Pip and Posy and the Little Puddle and Pip and Posy and the Super Scooter
“Not only do these two stories deal with the ups and downs of toddler life but the two endearing animal friends are artfully brought to life by the renowned and enchanging pen of Axel Scheffler. Sure to attract attention.”
And here’s what she says about Bizzy Bear: Fun on the Farm and Bizzy Bear: Ready, Steady, Go:
“I am always looking for exciting new board books for the very young and with bright bold illustrations, a cute central character and strong rhyme, this offering from fledgling company Nosy Crow looks very appealing.”
So that’s all good, isn’t it? Hooray for perspicacious independent book shop people!
Posted by Kate on Apr 15, 2010
Kate went to the offices of The Bookseller today, to be one of the judges for the publishing category of The Bookseller Industry Awards. Glitzy stuff. And pains au chocolat and everything. The other judges included Judy Piatkus, founder of Piatkus Publishing, and Eddie Bell, agent and former head of HarperCollins (both pictured – sorry for terrible photo quality). It was the best fun. We got to debate and finally settle on the publicist of the year, the independent publisher of the year, the agent of the year, the digital innovation of the year and the full-monty publisher of the year among others. Some categories were more hotly debated than others, but there was a lot of discussion. You get a big lever-arch file of all the submissions to read as homework beforehand, and, on the basis of that, you come to the meeting with views, and those views, of course, are also affected by what you know about some of the organisations/people. Kate was very cheered that the people/organisations she thought should win won in every single category.
At the end of the day, she got a sneak preview of this week’s print edition of The Bookseller, and there was Nosy Crow’s news about Deb’s appointment and our forthcoming apps as the third item in the magazine. Excellent!
There were elements of the day that were not great, though. First, Kate had entirely forgotten that there was filming involved so had failed to blow-dry her hair, put on any make-up or give any real thought to appropriate clothes … something that will be entirely obvious to anyone at the awards dinner who will see the results blown up on a screen some 10 meters square. Hey ho. The second downer was that she was hit by a visual-disturbance-migraine thing (had them before) about 15 minutes later (she blames the 7 cups of coffee) and, sightless in her left eye, fell spectacularly and not unpainfully down the steps into Charing Cross tube staion, and is now hobbling around on sprained ankle. Boo hoo.
Still, she nursed it while watching the Leader’s Debate on TV (Clegg vs Cameron vs Brown – a UK first for those of you coming to the site from outside the UK) and following viewer’s responses on Twitter at the same time. The sheer volume of tweets and the need to concentrate on two things at once, combined with some of the more inane/scary things at least two of the boys on the stage were saying, were enough to bring on another migraine.
Posted by Kate on Feb 26, 2010
So, to you, this is just a big brown chest of drawers. To us, it’s a hard-won plans chest where we’ll store great illustrations while we’re working with them. Plans chests are RIDICULOUSLY expensive and we have lost four ebay auctions for one so far. This one was in Cambridge, and Adrian drove there in a big old Volvo to discover that he could only fit half of it in the car. So he had to go back the next day for the top half, thus adding to both the cost and our carbon footprint: so much for “doing the right thing” (see “What’s important to us” on the About us page). Still, at least we are reusing.
Kate turned down some books today. This is harder to do when you don’t have many books than it is when you have a nice, meaty programme and a backlist, as Kate and Camilla are discovering. But we don’t feel that we can compromise on what we really think works as a read and what we really think works for the market: we think we’ve set our standards high, and we have to stick to them.
There’s good coverage in today’s The Bookseller about our launch, following their briefer coverage on Monday.
So, we have flowers, and a plans chest and, most importantly, a really warm welcome from so many people in the book industry. This website’s received 1,600 visits from 34 countries in its first five days and we’ve had scores of comments directly and posted on the site. Thank you very much if you’ve written to us personally, if you’ve posted a comment, or if you’ve wished us well silently. It’s good to be here.
Posted by Kate on Feb 18, 2010
The Nosy Crow sign is up in the hallway of our offices. Kate’s been asked to judge a Book Industry Award, which is GREAT and sounds like fun, and nice Sally Poulier from The Bookseller asks for Kate’s job title. We have to decide whether to say she’s MD of Nosy Crow and break the bird’s cover. We decide to do so. As the Bookseller will publish on 26 February, this commits us to launch next week.