Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Still a lucky country in educational publishing

With all the changes currently going on in educational publishing, and the accompanying gloomy predictions for its future health, one could be forgiven for thinking the writing is on the wall. Sometimes you need to look over your neighbour's fence to be aware of just how lucky you actually are. Dudley Schroeder, executive director of the South African Publishers Association, gave some interesting statistics at a presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair. In South Africa, there are about 25,000 schools. Only 7% of schools have a library. Four thousand have no electricity, while fifty percent of South African households have no books at all. Yet, Schroeder was very optimistic about the future of his industry, saying there was 'a real place for the educational publisher.'

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lost in transition

It's a publisher's worst nightmare - you arrive at Frankfurt with a list of appointments a mile long, and your samples haven't arrived. One major Sydney trade publisher had to put on a very brave face after their books failed to arrive on time this year. Staff briefed, customers ready to buy, the fair opening for business and ... an empty stand. After many no doubt frantic phone calls, the books finally turned up, thank goodness, halfway through day one, so only half a day's business was lost. The fate of the particular courier isn't known, but it's probably safe to assume they will be a little less busy next year.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The worm has (re)turned

The general election has even reached the world of children's books. Inspired by the recent Howard vs Rudd TV debate and the infamous Channel Nine worm controversy, Kate Colley at Bloomin' Books in Sydney decided to have her own worm-themed window display. I have to say, I never knew there were so many vermicular tomes around. I expect Kate had to cast around a fair bit to find them all.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A pair of Crocs

Experienced Frankfurt attendess will always tell you that stout footwear is essential for walking the book fair's endless aisles. Two attendees at the Australian aisle party last week were clearly taking this advice very seriously indeed, if this picture is anything to go by. The shoes in question are, I'm advised by my youthful nephew, called Crocs. According to their manufacturer, they are 'a lightweight, comfortable, slip-resistant, fashionable and functional shoe.' Let's not forget colourful too. No doubt we can expect to see more Crocs at Frankfurt in years to come. In the meantime, why not guess which Melbourne-based independent these particular Crocs were representing. A bottle of passable red to the first correct answer pulled out of the hat.

Trump this

Clearly Donald Trump doesn't believe that free publicity is the best publicity. The New York Times has revealed that the snaking queue at a recent signing of his new book at a Barnes & Noble store in New York only existed because people were paid a total of US$30,000 to stand in it. According to an ad placed the previous day, the first 100 people were promised US$100, the next $200 received US$50, and the budget stretched to a further US$10 for the next 1000 people.

Apparently, quite a few Trump 'fans' ran off once they'd received their cash, foregoing the oportunity to meet the great man and buy his book. Time is money, after all.