France’s Strasbourg is to begin its tenure as UNESCO’s World Book Capital on April 23, 2024, as Accra concludes its year in the role.
By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief
Strasbourg Will Follow Guadalajara and Accra
As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, the World Book Capital handoff from Tbilisi to Guadalajara was made on schedule in April, in association with the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association‘s first Caucasus and Black Sea Basin Countries’ Regional Publishing Conference.
As was discussed in a World Book Capital network meeting at the House of Wisdom in Sharjah in November, Accra has been given the green light for 2023.
And we learn today (July 20) that Strasbourg will be the 2024 World Book Capital, according to media messaging from the offices of UNESCO in Paris.
There will be something of a homecoming in this designation for the director0-general of UNESCO. Audrey Azoulay is a past French minister of culture (2016 and 2017).
In today’s announcement, Azoulay is quoted, saying, “In uncertain times, many are turning to books as a refuge and a source of dreams.
“Indeed, books have the unique ability both to entertain and to teach. This is why we must ensure everyone has access to knowledge and reflection through books and reading.
“This is why each year UNESCO designates a World Book Capital. After Guadalajara in 2022, and Accra in 2023, I am pleased to announce the designation of Strasbourg as World Book Capital for 2024.”
To attract the World Book Capital designation, a city prepares a program supportive of books and reading–normally with a heavy educational component for young readers, of course–and competes with other cities’ proposals for the honor. An advisory committee oversees the process and includes representatives of the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF), the International Authors Forum (IAF), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), the International Publishers Association (IPA), and UNESCO.
Today’s announcement says that the committee members were “impressed by Strasbourg’s strong focus on books to meet the challenges of social tensions and climate change, with programs like ‘Reading for the Planet.’ The city emphasizes books’ ability to encourage debate and discussion of environmental concerns and scientific knowledge, focusing on young people as agents of change.”
Strasbourg, in UNESCO’s purview, is an attractive designee, in addition, for “its literary heritage and the activities it organized highlighting many artistic disciplines, from music, to theater and illustration. The city has significant experience in organizing large-scale outward-looking events.”
As usual, April 23 (2024) will mark the start of Strasbourg’s year as World Book Capital.
The World Book Capital concept itself is just over 25 years old, having been launched in 1996 at the suggestion of the International Publishers Association. In 2001, Madrid became the first city to call itself a World Book Capital. And over the years, a symbolic handoff tradition has been growing in which each successive city passes the baton to the next, not unlike the ceremony seen annually at Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 19 to 23), as one guest of honor country gives over to the next.
In 2019, the World Book Capital was the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah—home to Bodour Al Qasimi who now is the IPA’s president.
The “new year” for each World Book Capital falls on April 23—recognized in many (but not all) countries as the annual date of World Book and Copyright Day, another UNESCO designation, usually referred to simply as World Book Day.
The full list of UNESCO World Book Capital Cities so far designated:
Madrid (Spain) in 2001
Alexandria (Egypt) in 2002
New Delhi (India) in 2003
Antwerp (Belgium) for 2004
Montreal (Canada) for 2005
Turin (Italy) for 2006
Bogota (Colombia) for 2007
Amsterdam (the Netherlands) for 2008,
Beirut (Lebanon) for 2009
Ljubljana (Slovenia) for 2010
Buenos Aires (Argentina) for 2011
Yerevan (Armenia) for 2012)
Bangkok (Thailand) for 2013
Port Harcourt (Nigeria) in 2014
Incheon (South Korea) in 2015
Wroclaw (Poland) in 2016
Conakry (Republic of Guinea) in 2017
Athens (Greece) in 2018
Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) in 2019
Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 2020
Tbilisi (Georgia) in 2021
Guadalajara (Mexico) in 2022
Accra (Ghana) in 2023
Strasbourg (France) in 2024
Audiobooks in the slow lane
Indian publishing houses are yet to build capabilities to produce audiobooks
Written by Venkata Susmita Biswas for Financial Express
January 31, 2022
According to a 2020 Nielsen India report on books, around 63% of consumers still read physical books though, while 31% read ebooks, and the remaining 6% opt for the nascent market of audiobooks.
The ongoing pandemic has given a fillip to the habit of listening to content. As per a report by Redseer Consulting, by the end of 2021, India was estimated to have 95 million monthly active users (MAUs) in the overall audio category. This is a 34% increase from 71 million active users in 2020.
According to a 2020 Nielsen India report on books, around 63% of consumers still read physical books though, while 31% read ebooks, and the remaining 6% opt for the nascent market of audiobooks. Audible and Storytel are the dominant players in this market, with the former promoting its audiobooks through Alexa by making more than 100 Audible titles free to listen. Storytel has introduced a Rs 399 per year plan for regional language audiobooks alone.
Playing by the ear
Yogesh Dashrath, country manager, Storytel India says that in the four years that the company has been operating in India, he has witnessed the audiobooks market mature, not only “in terms of the number of trials taking place, but also the amount of time people spend on listening to books”. Dashrath estimates that an average listener on the app consumes about 15 hours of content every month.
Shailesh Sawlani, VP and country GM, Audible India, observes that listening patterns have shifted during the last two years. “Earlier we would see peaks in user traffic to the app in the morning and evening, possibly when people were commuting, but now that has spread out during the day,” he says.
Spirituality, wellbeing, and self-development are among the most sought-after genres of audiobooks on these platforms. Both these platforms are also doubling down on short-form content to engage users. Storytel has released three Marathi audio dramas and developed five-minute romance stories and podcasts. “The low-entry barrier in creating non-scripted host-based podcasts means there are many such podcasts out there. Consequently, podcasting is bigger than audiobooks at the moment,” admits Dashrath.
Audible, too, ventured into podcasts hosted by celebrities. It hosts 150 exclusive podcasts and Audible Originals, in addition to over 40,000 other podcasts. “New Audible Originals that are free to listen to include shows featuring celebrities like Sanya Malhotra, Varun Sharma, Kubbra Sait, etc,” says Sawlani.
Both Audible and Storytel follow a paid subscription model. Users can earn one credit to buy a book every month on Audible at Rs 200 per month. Storytel’s unlimited plan costs Rs 299 per month. Platforms hope that making a part of their library free to listen will draw audiences that do not want to subscribe. Dashrath reveals that 60% of Storytel’s paying subscribers reside in metro cities.
Not a page turner?
Even celebrated personalities like Barack Obama, Priyanka Chopra and Stephen Fry opt for simultaneous releases of their audiobooks along with the paperback/ ebook versions, and narrate their own books, Indian publishing houses and authors are yet to take the plunge.
Thomas Abraham, MD, Hachette India, explains that an audiobook is not a natural part of a book deal in India. “Creating an audiobook requires extra investments behind studio recording, hiring talent to narrate it, and packaging,” he says. As a result, publishers currently license out the rights to creating an audiobook to platforms that have the relevant infrastructure.
Publishers in the US and European countries tend to own studios to create audio content. Indian publishers are not there yet. According to industry estimates, the cost of producing a basic audiobook is about Rs 1 lakh in India.
Dheeraj Sinha, the CEO and chief strategy officer, South Asia — Leo Burnett, says podcasts are currently more popular than audiobooks as people are able to learn something new within a 30-60-minute listen.
In News by Jaroslaw Adamowski – Appearing in Publishing Perspective
A newly drafted bill, expected to be approved by the Polish Parliament, creates a new Chamber of Artists to administer a benefits plan for creative workers.
The Bill Creates a ‘Chamber of Artists’
The Polish ministry of culture and national heritage has drafted a bill to enable the country’s artists—including writers—to register as professionals, gaining access to pensions, health insurance, social security, and other benefits they currently don’t have.
Senior government officials say the bill is expected to be passed by the parliament this year, paving the way for its implementation.
Robert Pietrzak, writing for the Polish news agency Polska Agencja Prasowa, quotes Jaroslaw Sellin, deputy culture minister, saying that the bill has been developed “in strong cooperation with artists’ organizations. The consultations [on its provisions] have already been completed. We have a draft of this bill and … I think we’ll complete our work this year.
“This bill on professional artists,” Sellin is quoted from an appearance on Radio Gdańsk, “is intended to provide artists with stability in regard to social and retirement security.”
Among its other provisions, Article 39.2 of the draft bill states that artists who register as professionals and pay the required social and health insurance contributions—but whose average monthly earnings are lower than 80 percent of Poland’s average salary—can apply to have between 20 and 80 percent of those contributions covered by the state on their behalf.
Under the plan, local artists will register with the Polish Chamber of Artists—an entity that will be created by the bill. The chamber’s council will comprise 21 members, of which 14 will be appointed by Polish artists’ associations and seven by various state institutions. The council and the culture minister will together appoint the chamber’s director.
Nasiłowska: Making a Living ‘From Other Sources’
Anna Nasiłowska is a writer and professor at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. She serves as the current president of Stowarzyszenia Pisarzy Polskich (SPP), the Polish Writers’ Association.
Talking with Publishing Perspectives, Nasiłowska says that the bill represents a step in the right direction, but that despite its promise, many of the association’s members will not directly benefit from its provisions. This is because writers’ work frequently isn’t structured in a way recognized by the new program.
“The majority of writers in Poland,” she says, “make their living from other sources. Some are employed by universities, others work as journalists.
“There are also those who work at cultural institutions, theater, and some who are retired. Writers work in various institutions. They work as doctors, public servants, or teachers. But there’s also a large group of writers who don’t have employment contracts. For instance, they may work for the film industry or for theaters.”
Most Polish writers’ earnings, Nasiłowska says, “are very irregular. Sometimes they’re high, but those are one-off payments that occur only once in several years.
“It also happens that writers must temporarily quit their jobs because they’re finishing a book, and creative writing requires them to take a trip, or simply focus on a single task.”
The new initiative, however, comes in response to demands formulated by the wider community of Polish artists, themselves, as indicated by recently collected data.
A 2020 report published by a group of researchers from the Warsaw-based University of Social Sciences and Humanities polled almost 60,000 people working in the arts in Poland, including 2,830 persons who identified themselves as working in the field of literature.
Among respondents, 88 percent backed the idea of introducing regulations that would separate artists from other professional groups. Additionally, 87 percent surveyed said they support the idea of allowing artists to pay a reduced social insurance contribution that would provide them with a minimal social security package.
Legislative work on the draft bill hasn’t yet been finalized.
Nasiłowska says that further measures could be introduced by the state to safeguard writers’ social security.
“During the legislative work at the parliament’s commission,” she says, “I also proposed they create a fund for temporary financial assistance. At the Polish Writers’ Association, we often encounter real life drama: writers, for example, who are suddenly unable to work because of aging and/or sudden deteriorations in health or lack of money for medication.
“There are also many writers,” she says, “who receive pensions lower than the standard minimum because various career paths may have been at odds with their primary professional goals, which were in writing.
Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®
I've been expending a lot of words and time lately warning about the latest scam phenomenon to hit the writing world: fake publishers, marketers, and "literary agencies" that, through outrageous prices and worthless services, extract enormous amounts of money from unwary writers.
Based in the Philippines (despite their apparent US or Canadian addresses, phone numbers, and telemarketer names) and preying primarily on the elderly and on writers who've self-published (particularly with one of the Author Solutions imprints), these companies recruit authors with relentless--and highly deceptive--phone and email solicitations.
The scams' focus has shifted over the years. When I first discovered them in 2014, they were primarily selling publishing and marketing services, but currently they're more likely to approach potential victims by posing as literary agencies that can transition authors to traditional contracts, or companies that can market books to major film studios and streaming services. They may also impersonate real, reputable agents, editors. and publishers, or falsely use the logos of major publishers and publishing industry groups like the Authors Guild.
Some of the scams do provide at least some of the services authors pay for, albeit at seriously inflated prices and often of poor quality. Others just take the money and run. I've heard from writers who've paid thousands, or even tens of thousands, to one--or, in some cases, more than one--of these scams, with next to nothing to show for it.
The scams share a cluster of characteristics that make them reasonably easy to identify. If a company exhibits three or more of these characteristics--especially if it has contacted you out of the blue--be extremely skeptical.
- Cold-call solicitations by phone and email (this is the number one sign of a scam: real literary agents and publishers do not typically reach out to authors they don't represent, while for scammers it's their main mode of recruitment)
- Re-publishing offers (since most of their targets are self-published authors)
- Claims of expertise that can't be verified, since staff names and biographies are not provided, or can be easily refuted (for instance if they claim years of experience but their web domain was only registered a few months ago)
- English-language errors on websites and in emails, and telemarketers with foreign accents (since the scams are owned and staffed primarily by people for whom English is a second language)
- A catalog of junk marketing services (services of dubious value that are cheap to provide and can be sold at a huge markup, including press releases, email blasts, book trailers, social media posts, paid reviews and radio interviews, and the like).
A few of my posts about the scams--where they come from, how they work, and how to recognize them:
Below is a list of the scams themselves--at least, the more than 125 I've identified so far (the list is also posted in the sidebar of this blog). You'll note that a number of them operate under more than one name--I suspect the interconnection is much greater than this, but I've only indicated additional names where I've been able to reliably document them.
Some have perished since I began the list--I've noted this, but left their names for the sake of authors who may have been scammed while they were operational.
- Access Media Group (aka Quill Space Media) (Quill Space Media is defunct)
- Ace Media Creative Publication / Ace Media International / APM Media Production (aka Pearson Media Group) (defunct under the Ace name, still doing business as Pearson Media)
- Adaptations Tide
- ADBooks Press (aka Coffee Press / Okir Publishing) (all three names are defunct)
- Adverters, The (aka Sherlock Press)
- Alpha Books Solutions
- Alpha Books United
- Amelia Book Company (defunct) (aka Amelia Publishing / Litfire Publishing / GoToPublish)
- Amelia Publishing (aka Amelia Book Company / LitFire Publishing / GoToPublish)
- AnalytIQ (defunct)
- Ascribed LLC (defunct)
- Atheneum Literary
- Author Aide
- Author Codex (aka BookSpine Press) (BookSpine Press is defunct)
- Author Media Express (aka Book Art Press Solutions / Booktimes / Bookwhip / Carter Press / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Groups / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- Author Pro Creatives and Marketing (aka Matchstick Literary) (Author Pro Creatives is defunct)
- Author Reputation Press
- Author University
- AuthorCentrix (formerly BookBlastPro) (defunct)
- Authors Avenue Media Group
- Authors Press (aka Westwood Books Publishing [formerly Greenberry] / Creative Books)
- Beacon Books Agency (aka Fact & Fiction Entertainment and Literary Agency)
- Black Lacquer Press & Marketing
- BooConn Marketing
- Book Agency Plus (aka BookTrail Agency)
- Book Art Press Solutions (aka Author Media Express / Booktimes / Bookwhip / Carter Press / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Groups / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- Book Avenue Publishing (aka Nivra Press) (both are defunct)
- Book Magnets
- Book Reads Publishing (defunct)
- BookSpine Press (aka Author Codex) (defunct, but still doing business as Author Codex)
- Booktimes (aka Book Art Press Solutions / Book Art Press Solutions / Bookwhip / Carter Press / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Group / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- BookTrail Agency (aka Book Agency Plus)
- Books Scribe
- BookVenture Publishing
- BookWhip (aka Author Media Express / Book Art Press Solutions / Booktimes / Carter Press / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Group / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (Carter Press, PR Media Solutions, and Window Press Club are defunct)
- Box Office Media Creatives (aka Buzz Media Creatives) (Buzz Media Creatives is defunct)
- Buzz Media Creatives (aka Box Office Media Creatives) (defunct under the Buzz name, still doing business as Box Office Media Creatives)
- Capstone Media Services (aka Stampa / Stampa Global) (defunct under the Capstone name, still doing business as Stampa)
- Carter Press (aka Author Media Express / Book Art Press Solutions / Booktimes / BookWhip / PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Groups / Stephenson and Queen / Window Press Club) (defunct, but still doing business as Author Media Express, Book Art Press Solutions, Booktimes, BookWhip, and Pearson Media Group)
- Chapters Media & Advertising (aka PaperBytes Marketing Solutions / Fresh Pages Media and Advertising (defunct) / TechBooks Media (defunct)) (does business in the Philippines as BridgeBooks)
- Creative Books (aka Westwood Books Publishing / Authors Press)
- Creative Titles Media (aka TrueMedia Creatives) (both defunct)
- Crest Media Distribution (defunct)
- Diamond Media Press
- Dream Books Distribution (website is dead)
- Editor's Creative Media (website is dead) (aka Editor's Press and Media / Silver Ink Literary Agency / Global Review Press / Quantum Discovery)
- Editor's Press and Media (aka Editor's Creative Media (website is dead) / Silver Ink Literary Agency / Global Review Press /Quantum Discovery)
- Global Summit House (aka Best Books Media / The Universal Breakthrough)
- Gold Touch Press
- Golden Ink Media Services (website has a "dangerous page" warning) (aka Great Writers Media / Green Sage Agency / Pen Culture Solutions / P One Media Marketing Consultancy)
- Goldman Agency
- GoToPublish (aka LitFire Publishing / Amelia Publishing / Amelia Book Company)
- Happy Media Consulting (website is dead)
- IdeoPage Press Solutions (aka The Writer Central) (defunct under both names)
- Legaia Books (defunct) (aka Get Started Books / West Literary Agency (website is down) / Right Choice Multimedia)
- Lettra Press (aka Pen House LLC)
- LitFire Publishing (website is mostly nonfunctional, except for a Bookstore page) (aka Amelia Publishing / Amelia Book Company / GoToPublish)
- Maple Leaf Publishing
- MatchStick Literary (aka Author Pro Creatives and Marketing, which is defunct)
- McNaughton Books / McNaughton Publishing (website is currently dead)
- The Mulberry Books
- Netsfilm & Media Press (defunct)
- New Reader Media
- Nivra Press (aka Book Avenue Publishing) (both are defunct)
- Okir Publishing (aka ADbooks Press / Coffee Press) (all three names are defunct)
- Outstrip (defunct)
- Pacific Books Publishing (defunct)
- PageClapp Media (defunct)
- PageTurner, Press and Media (aka Innocentrix / Fox Media Studios Agency / Pioneer Media Productions / Silver Fox Media / Orions Media Agency / Experttell) (Orions Media Agency and Pioneer Media Productions are defunct)
- Parchment Global Publishing (aka Word Dominion International, which is defunct)
- Paradigm Print (no longer has a website)
- Paramount Books Media (website is dead)
- Quill Space Media (aka Access Media Group) (defunct, but still doing business as Access Media Group)
- Royale House (defunct)
- Rushmore Press
- Sherlock Press (aka The Adverters) (Sherlock is defunct, Adverters still in business)
- Silver Fox Media (aka Fox Media Studios Agency / Orions Media Agency / Pioneer Media Productions / Experttell / PageTurner Press and Media / Innocentrix) (Orions Media Agency and Pioneer Media Productions are defunct)
- Stampa Global (formerly Capstone Media Services)
- Techbooks Media (defunct) (see Chapters Media & Advertising)
- Toplink Publishing
- TrueMedia Creatives (aka Creative Titles Media) (both defunct)
- Universal Book Solutions (website is dead)
- Vivlio Hill Publishing (aka Vivlio Solutions / Vivlio Marketing Solutions)
- WestPoint Print and Media
- Westwood Books Publishing (formerly Greenberry) (aka Authors Press / Creative Books)
- Window Press Club (aka Author Media Express / Book Art Press Solutions, Booktimes, Bookwhip / Carter Press, PR Media Solutions / Pearson Media Group / Stephenson and Queen) (defunct, but still doing business as Author Media Express, Book Art Press Solutions, Booktimes, and BookWhip)
- The Writer Central (aka IdeoPage Press Solutions, which is defunct)
- YourOnlinePublicist (aka YOP)
- Zeta Publishing
(I'm continuously updating this list--adding new companies as I discover them, noting the ones that disappear.)
Sharjah Book Authority and Ingram Content Group announced a joint venture, Lightning Source Sharjah, a print-on-demand installation at the Sharjah Publishing City free trade zone.
by Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | Publishing Perspective
Ahmed Al Ameri: ‘Outreach Into Regional Markets’
Creating one of the Middle East’s first large-scale print-on-demand installations, Ingram Lightning Source and Sharjah Book Authority have announced today (November 23) the opening of a major facility at the world’s first free trade zone for publishing, Sharjah Publishing City.
The news comes more than two years after the Book Authority’s chair Ahmed Al Ameri and Shawn Morin, president and CEO of Ingram Content Group, signed their agreement of intent at what would be the final iteration of BookExpo in New York.
The development of this printing center has been understood to be an essential component in the promise of Sharjah Publishing City to become a publishing gateway into the Arab world and African markets of world publishing.
The potential importance of the new facility lies in the region’s longstanding need for robust production and distribution. As today’s media messaging puts it, this new capacity–put together as a joint venture named Lightning Source Sharjah between Ingram Content Group and Al Ameri’s Sharjah Book Authority–”will expand access to content and enable publishers to meet consumer demand more rapidly in the area.”
In making the announcement that the new facility is now becoming a reality, Al Ameri says, “Sharjah Publishing City is pleased to partner with Lightning Source in creating this print-on-demand facility.
“It represents an important addition to the free zone’s operational capabilities and will offer publishers, retailers, and other stakeholders significant opportunities to expand their access to books and content, as well as their outreach into regional markets.
“The establishment of Lightning Source Sharjah, Ingram’s first print-on-demand facility in the region, is indicative of the strategic opportunities Sharjah provides to publishing business in the region, and also firmly reflects on the emirate’s leading status on the global cultural stage.”
John Ingram: ‘Fueling the Modern-Day Publishing Industry’
John Ingram, the chair of Ingram Content Group, says, “We have long enjoyed a strong partnership with Sharjah Book Authority and are excited about the opportunity this new venture brings for Sharjah, Ingram, and the broader Middle East and Gulf region.
“I would also like to personally thank His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi for allowing us to be part of this important initiative in Sharjah.
“Print-on-demand is fueling the modern-day publishing industry, making the digital and physical distribution of diverse content across different languages and regions seamless. “This new facility will bring these world-class innovations to scale in the Middle East in a way that will benefit the publishing world and consumers alike.”
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Sharjah Publishing City was opened by Sheikh Sultan during Sharjah International Book Fair in 2017 and comprises a facility of more than 40,000 square meters. Its offices and operational spaces have been renting since then to various publishing-related companies and enterprises, as the concept of its free-trade hub for the region came together.
The announcement in 2019 that Ingram would indeed be coming in as the over-arching anchor tenant of this new facility was a major one: many commercial and creative parties interested in Sharjah’s development as the United Arab Emirates’ leading emirate in book publishing have watched for the fulfillment of Ingram’s plan to place its print-on-demand installation at Sharjah Publishing City.
David Taylor, the London-based senior vice-president at Ingram for content acquisition, is quoted today, saying, “The creation of this facility is a significant development for the book trade within this region.
“It will bring pioneering technology and innovation to the forefront of meeting consumer demands in a rapidly growing and important part of the world.
“Ingram works with tens of thousands of publishers from around the world and is trusted with many millions of their titles in our Lightning Source print on demand supply model.
“The Sharjah operation will be an additional distribution option for our publishers and there’s great excitement about the potential. We’re excited to work with our publishers, retailers and others to enable them to use the power of print-on-demand to facilitate global distribution in powerful new ways through this joint venture.”
And this new announcement caps a big month for Sharjah Book Authority and the emirate, which reports an attendance of 1.69 million at its 2021 Sharjah International Book Fair, the 11-day run of which was preceded by the largest-yet professional programs for this fair, a three-day trade-show event with more than 500 book-publishing professionals in place. This was the 40th iteration of the fair and it opened what will be a year of observances and celebrations of the United Arab Emirates’ 50th jubilee.
More from Publishing Perspectives on Sharjah and the United Arab Emirates’ publishing market is here, and more on Sharjah Publishing City is here. More from us on Ingram Content Group is here, more on Sharjah Book Authority is here, more on Sharjah International Book Fair is here, and more on publishing’s trade shows, book fairs, and festivals is here.
More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.
Since the conception of self-publishing, we have all heard of the vultures known as Vanity Press. Those are the publishers that guarantee more than they ever can deliver and charge high prices for their services. When an author wakes up and realizes the publisher has overpriced their paper and eBooks, and taken them for a ride by pushing for more paid services, separating themselves from the vanity press the author finds it to not be easy. Most often, the author tries to walk away with something and usually gets nothing. Legal battles can then ensue, and the company usually files for bankruptcy, leaving the author farther in the hole, with zilch, and dismay in the publishing world.
For me, it is disturbing that this is still happening today. Many of those services have closed shop only to reopen under a different name, but using the same underhanded business model. For them, it is always about making money from the authors who don’t know better. I have hoped and wished many times to be able to get information to these authors before they make a horrible mistake. Sadly, I often don’t learn about them until it is too late.
We see this played out with Amazon in a slightly different manner. While they don’t charge outrageous fees, they’re promising that by being published through them, they can give you more exposure, and you can make more money than through traditional services. What they fail to tell you is that they don’t open their distribution channel to all the bookstores. They keep everything in-house with exclusive contracts and slightly lower printing prices to make the author believe they are getting a better deal. It all sounds great, but when you step back and look at the bigger picture, it’s causing authors to lose even more money because they have to compete against millions of other authors doing the same thing. Thus, Amazon has created a monster of a machine that pushes authors to spend more money through their advertising programs, in hopes of making more money through their exclusive contracts that pay higher than others. It’s a perfect con game of drawing attention to what can be while sticking their hands in your pockets and taking from you without you realizing it.
To be noticed on Amazon, there are several factors to take into consideration. Reviews are a free valuable aspect, but they still cost the author money since the reviews can only come from direct sales through Amazon. If that doesn’t work, then an Amazon author has to spend money on their advertising program to get recognized in some format by the Amazon reader. This cost of advertising is not cheap and needs to be done regularly so that the author remains relevant. Few authors understand the concept of keywords, and other tricks of the trade to help lower the cost of advertising, while also improving sales. It can be done, but for a small number of authors. As more and more authors begin to learn this process, the process itself becomes invalid and everyone has to create a new way to stay ahead of the game. A vicious cycle that most authors don’t have time for, nor the desire to deal with it.
With Amazon being the largest bookseller in the world, what is the alternative? Keep giving them the money and allowing them to take advantage of authors in their system? Authors know that they need to be listed on Amazon to have more opportunities to sell their books. But what if there were other ways to walk away from Amazon, and create a system that pays authors their fair share so they can make a living and have their investments in advertising pay off for them? Would the authors abandon Amazon?
The answer would seem like a logical, yes. However, to do that, whatever system is created must have enough buyers in their market to give the author a reason to leave Amazon. The Amazon book market is such a small part of their system these days. Amazon would not even notice a rival taking that small part of their business away. At the same time, they know that they have hooked buyers in such a way that what amount of business they would lose would barely be noticeable in their profit margin. Thus, their attitude is one of not caring what the authors do or do not do.
Still, for another online bookstore to accomplish the goal of paying authors their fair share, they must spend millions on advertising their business to both readers and authors to convert both of them from Amazon, and build the business.
In today’s mental mindset of being against the 1%, the growing resentment of Amazon’s founder, who will become the first trillionaire by 2023, is being seen. Both authors and readers can help each other. It is a partnership between authors and readers. Authors provide great books to readers, and readers will pay fair prices, knowing that the majority of the money is going to authors as their fair share, which means they make more money through the new system, then they ever would through Amazon. Whether an author makes enough to earn a living, is entirely up to how good their book is, both storyline and quality of writing, and how much effort the author puts into marketing.
All of this has come together in a grassroots company known as Indie Lector, LLC. Their business model is designed such that authors can earn up to 80% from book sales while giving readers great stories. Also, the business is set up, so authors learn how to better market and sell their books through their sister organization, Authors Marketing Guild, LLC, a membership owned business.
But none of this means anything if authors have not reached their point of frustration about not earning their fair share. Slowly, indie authors realize that they must market their books properly to compete against big publishing houses and other authors. It is the cost of marketing and general publishing that is causing authors to finally, even if slowly, wake up to the fact that they cannot make money unless they sell a lot of books. But why do that if Amazon is getting the bulk of the money?
Authors can see the value of earning from $5 - $8 profit from the sale of their book vs. only $1 - $2 of profit per purchase through Amazon. Why spend the same amount of advertising dollars if you are earning less with Amazon than you would with another company that is dedicated to teaching you a more effective ways to market?
The answer seems logical, but sadly it continues to be lost in the blinding glory of Amazon. The Authors Revolution is slowly gaining momentum, and it’s time for authors to wake up and stop feeding the monster of false hopes and dreams. Their dream of writing and becoming successful now has a partner that helps them achieve that on many levels. Join the Revolution at https://IndieLector.Store
B Alan Bourgeois is an award-winning author, an award-winning speaker, and the founder of many organizations that help authors and readers, including Indie Lector and Authors Marketing Guild. He has been working with thousands of authors over the past 10 years educating them and giving them an opportunity to earn their fair share. He is the author of the Authors Revolution Workbook and soon the Authors Revolution fictional book.