Thursday, 13 June 2013

‘paranormal romance’

Here’s a link to a fine talk on publishing I stumbled across this week (it dates from 2010, I think, but still): He’s in Canada and he’s addressing, I assume, a conference of publishers.

He has notes but on the whole he’s improvising, and his delivery is engaging. Lots of quotable stuff (including the phrase above). The so-called golden age of publishing, 1950s: ‘white men in tweed suits’. ‘Oprah needed books more than books needed Oprah’. A book: ‘fifteen hours of another’s voice inside your head’. ‘Pulped wood bound in cardboard isn’t culture … the words in it are culture’. ‘We’re a tiny industry perched above a massive hobby.’ ‘It is too risky not to completely reconceive our business.’ Engage with new technology and media (‘you can get any text you want for free, it’s not going to not happen’), but not in the way of ‘throwing a whole bunch of tools against a wall and seeing what sticks’.

Also this week, informally, I heard Meike Zeirvogel talk about Peirene Press. Because it seems right now to be poetry-world folk especially who are worrying about publishing models, and because among them CBe seems to be understood as a poetry press (it’s not: there are more not-poetry books than poetry on the list), I’m rashly assuming that some readers here may not have read their books. But they’re doing fine, since you ask. They publish short (under 200 pages) European novels in translation, by authors unknown in the UK, with no UK track record, but their print runs put every poetry publisher, including Faber, to shame. For comparable titles, they out-sell what Random House can do. And they do this from a house in north London with no full-time staff other than Meike herself.

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