While larger publishers continue to play a major role in shaping our industry, it is the smaller independent publishing houses that are pushing the boundaries more than ever. Many critics suggest that the heavyweights have become risk-averse, focusing instead on sure-fire wins, such as sequels and established authors. What’s more, some would argue that this opens up ground for more agile publishers to take risks on titles, authors and methods that are unproven.
In this series of interviews, I will be speaking to innovative publishers that are approaching the industry in new and exciting ways.
First up, we have Influx Press, a collaboration between native Londoners Gary Budden and Kit Caless. Focusing very much on their immediate environment, Budden and Caless have carved out a fascinating niche in their bustling hometown, and have branched out further afield with fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction.
Here’s what they had to say:
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The Lost Art of Indexes in Ebooks (Joe Wikert)
When was the last time you used an index in an ebook? Maybe the better question is this: Have you ever used an index in an ebook? One of the challenges here is that most ebooks don’t have indexes—the result of the misguided notion that text search is a better solution. Every so often I come across an ebook with an index. More often than not it’s just the print index at the end of the book, sometimes with nothing more than the physical page references that offer almost no value in a reflowable e-format.
Kobo’s Michael Tamblyn on the Age of E-Reading (Pub Perspectives)
“The uptake of ebooks is being driven by 50-, 60-, and 70-year-olds,” Kobo’s Michael Tamblyn tells us. We put ten questions to him and end up with one firm answer: “We aren’t going anywhere.”
Growth Curve: The Owl Field (Futurebook)
The latest in our series asking startups to share the challenges they face and lessons they learn as they grow catches up with Michel Lafrance, founder and managing director of The Owl Field, which was a finalist in the BookTech Company of the Year Award at the FutureBook Conference 2015.
What the Conclusion of the Apple Pricing-Fixing Case Means (PW)
After four years of litigation, Apple has run out of appeals in its ebook price-fixing case. At its March 4 conference, the Supreme Court declined to take up Apple’s appeal, letting stand a 2013 finding by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that Apple had conspired with five publishers to fix ebook prices, ending one of the publishing industry’s most closely watched cases. What happens now? Below are four issue to watch.
The New Indie and the Self-Publishing Revolution (PW)
Independent publishing doesn’t mean what it used to. When I started in publishing in 2000, indie publishers were simply non-corporate, or independently owned. The label was reserved for small traditional presses that wore the indie label with pride because of what “indie” signifies, then and now—a spirit of independence, of course, but also of not needing approval or to operate within the parameters of the existing paradigm.
Ask the #IndieExperts: Reviews and Getting Discovered (PW)
This month, BookLife’s panel of indie experts field self-publishing questions submitted by authors and readers via email and Twitter, and deliver answers on getting self-published books reviewed and getting discovered.
How Amazon Is Secretly Building Its Superfast Delivery Empire (Quartz)
Delivery in a day is just too slow. At least, that seems to be the philosophy at Amazon, which in the last year has quietly built out a network of at least 58 Amazon Prime Now hubs in the US to fulfill one- and two-hour deliveries. The buildout of the Prime Now hubs goes toward the goal of getting goods to the market faster, but it’s also one cog in a larger strategy to create a lean, cost-efficient logistics network that rivals anything its competitors can offer. That’s an important step for Amazon, which loses billions of dollars getting goods to consumers.
Amazon Continues to Write Its Own Playbook (Forbes)
Despite barely eking out a profit nearly a decade ago and losing billions ever since, Amazon’s ongoing expansion is unnerving the traditionalists. The company continues to shred Wall Street’s “unwritten rules.” Amazon’s net profit margin hit its high water mark at 2.8 percent in 2006 (on sales of approximately $10 billion). However, as its annual sales revenues continued to grow, its net profits continued to fall. In 2011, the new profit number was a meager .06 percent. For the year 2015, against annual sales revenues of $107 billion, the company posted losses of $241 million, despite double digit revenue growth and generating $2 billion in “free cash flow.”
Intellectual Property Is a Serious Subject (BookMachine)
Intellectual property and copyright have become big name terms in recent years. The rise of unlicensed digital file sharing, combined with subjective interpretations of what the concepts mean, has led to furious flurries of opinion on the subject, emphasising the divide between artists, consumers and industry leaders.
Using Kickstarter to Fund a Children’s Picture Book (Jane Friedman)
I never planned to produce a print edition of my children’s picture book, Tessalation! I had the text for the book sitting in a drawer for about a year and a half and decided on a whim in November 2015 to just get the thing illustrated, get it up on Amazon’s Kindle platform, and move on with my life. But the best ideas often move on their own. The illustrator I had found through Fiverr.com, a young art student in Indonesia, began sending me her illustrations of my story within a few days—delicately rendered watercolor illustrations of narrative and patterned pages.