Thursday, July 26, 2007

The secret to successful publishing

The learned heads of two small but successful independent publishers were locked in intense conversation in the pre-dessert mingle at the Australian Book Industry Awards this week.

'I wouldn't mind asking you some detailed questions about the financial side,' said one. 'Oh, there's no real secret to it,' said the other, 'just work yourself three times as hard as anyone you can afford to employ!'

There, the secret's out.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Brickbats to

Brickbats to the nitwits at who, at 8.28am on 20 July, decided to post an ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on their website, thereby ensuring that every killjoy in Australia potentially had the ammunition to spoil the experience of thousands of avid fans waiting to find out for themselves a day later. The fact that the ending was incorrect doesn't mitigate the crime. I suppose these are the same people who took delight in telling younger siblings there was no Father Christmas or Tooth Fairy.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Caught napping?

Fans of Japanese comics will be saddened to hear that publisher Asahi Sonorama is to close its doors and be absorbed into its parent, the Asahi Shimbun Company. The publisher of such celebrated titles as Night Parade of Spirits and Monsters and Crusher Joe (no, I hadn't heard of them either, but they're big in Japan) had, it seems, finally caused its parent company to run out of patience. Fair enough too, really, as Sonorama's president Mr. Takashi Iida freely admitted that business had been insolvent for at least 20 years! Indeed, Japanese Writers House suggests that Sonorama had been performing consistently - consistently badly, that is - since its founding in the 1970s and now has liabilities of 1.6 billion yen (just over A$15 million). You'd have to say they've been given every chance to make a go of it. Even so, it seems Sonorama may have continued into the future but for an HR crisis. 'With the aging of its employees over recent years, it became difficult to continue operations,' says Japanese Writers House. If only they hadn't taken all those afternoon naps. Talking of which, it's about time for mine now.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Warehouse of Secrets

Finally, the ADS warehouse in Tuggerah gets the recognition it deserves. No longer a mere distribution facility, it has been transformed quicker than you can say 'firm sale' into 'Harry Potter's Warehouse of Secrets ... where the final Harry Potter book will begin its magical journey across Australia into the hands of spellbound readers.' We have a couple of lyrical Fairfax journalists to thank for this alchemy. Thanks to them, readers of The Age now know that ADS has a 14,790-square-metre site, and that the books will be packed in boxes of 20 copies. It can only be a matter of time before Phill Knight starts receiving a deluge of CVs from logistics-smitten Muggles. Seriously, though, it's nice to see them get some well-deserved limelight.

Farewell to the Big Smoke

In times past, it has become common to warn Frankfurt visitors not to make appointments in the German halls after midday lest you risk early onset of emphysema. It seems smoking at Frankfurt has finally run out of puff, however, following the shattering news that the halls will be smoke-free this year. I expect this will be of particular concern to the model-thin, stilleto-healed European literary agents, who have somehow appeared to survive solely on smoke fumes and champagne in the LitAg centre in years gone by. I fear it may backfire, however, knowing how gregarious smokers tend to me. It wouldn't surprise me if industry power-smokers (and we have some of the best here in Australia) snap up even more of the hot deals while huddled in small groups outside the hall exits in between formal meetings. Just remember to take a scarf.

How can he live with himself?

Congratulations to Scribe and Penguin for accomplishing something truly historic, namely publishing a book of the same title about the same person on the same day at the same retail price, listed on the same invoice, packed by the same warehouse and delivered in the same box via the same courier. I speak, of course, of the two Kevin Rudd biographies. This huge coincidence has also led to the books appearing side-by-side in the same book reviews, and achieving almost identical media coverage, according to Thorpe-Bowker's Media Extra survey. And what about sales so far? Well, I think you might take an educated guess, dear reader.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Queer agenda

There's room for all sorts in our industry, thank goodness. The program for this month's Booksellers New Zealand conference in Auckland is a good case in point. It contains a session for 'Circle Users' - a group which one might think included almost all mankind (who doesn't use a circle at some stage of the day?). Circle users, I have now discovered, are actually those that use the Christchurch-based point-of-sale system of the same name. BNZ's program also features an 'Alternative Bindings Breakfast' for gay and lesbian members of the trade. I note the breakfast includes a 'compulsory AGM from 8.03 to 8.06am,' which suggests a very queer agenda indeed. The session also appears to be without a sponsor at present, but there's still time if you're interested.