Tuesday, 29 March 2011

London’s Calling

London calling to the faraway towns

Now that war is declared-and battle come down

London calling to the underworld

Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls

The Clash weren’t talking about publishing over 30 years ago but after the disaster of the LBF in 2010 this song could well be the theme tune for the 2011 event. Despite a particularly stiff upper lip at Earls Court in 2010, there is no denying it was a complete waste of time and money for all concerned.

All that phoney Beatlemania has bitten the dust

London calling, see we ain't got no swing

Let’s hope this is not the message this year and that London finds its swing. God knows the publishing industry needs it. It can no longer bury its head in the sand as far as digital and POD is concerned.

The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in

Engines stop running and the wheat is growing thin

A nuclear error, but I have no fear

London is drowning-and I live by the river

The digital age is coming and the creditors closing in.

Bookshops have stopped running and profits grow thin.

A DRM error but I have no fear

Publishing is drowning and I live by the river


London calling to the imitation zone

Forget it, brother, an' go it alone

London calling upon the zombies of death

Quit holding out-and draw another breath

London calling-and I don't wanna shout

But when we were talking-I saw you nodding out

London calling, see we ain't got no highs

Except for that one with the yellowy eyes

With London’s Calling, The Clash wrote one of the truly great rock’n’roll punk songs ever.

And every word of it is now an analogy for the state of publishing today.

London’s calling and I’m gonna respond in 2011

Let’s hope the industry survives.

Fantastic lyrics of London’s Calling belong in their entirety to Joe Strummer & Mick Jones

Saturday, 19 March 2011

World e-Reading Congress 2011…You are cordially so uninvited

Well, this morning I received my invitation to the World e-Reading Congress 2011 in London. I opened the mail with anticipation thinking here is an event which could be very interesting. My eyes were immediately drawn to the box-out in the centre of the letter which accompanied the 8 page colour brochure. The box read “If you register before 1st April you can save up to £290!”, at this point my heart sank and I realised here is another event which is not aimed at opening up the debate beyond the publishing big boys. Another BS back-slapping affair designed to make them feel comfortable with their own knowledge and without any real sense of what is happening in the real world. Entry to the event is only £3,822 though to be fair special publisher rates reduce this to £2,634 and if you cut out the Pre-conference workshop a bargain at only £1,710…get real! Have the organisers of this event really lost so much touch with reality that they think small publishers in this austere times can afford that sort of money, no matter how jam packed with goodies the 2 day conference is?

I don’t think so, I think it has been priced to make this nothing more than away-day for the big publishers. Publishing in the UK isn’t far from being on its knees and here is my ticket to gorge at the table of kings, if I am willing to put my business at risk to purchase a ticket for the pleasure. Let me think long and hard about this, what is a better way to spend (let’s be generous to conference and go cheap) £1710.00 the answer to that sadly is almost anyway. Clearly this event is nothing more that the same old closed shop of publishing trying to monopolise its usual position in the industry when threatened with a world of publishing which is becoming more open and more democratic.

It is truly a shame because I have no doubt that much of this conference will be useful, clearly though by adopting such a pricing policy the message being given out by the organisers is clear…”Small guys, you are so not welcome.”

Saturday, 5 March 2011

World Book Night

A huge success or just another case of a middle to upper class industry happily patting itself on the back. The chattering classes seem obsessively pleased and smug about getting books out to the masses (might as well say proletariat). Publishing seems so comfortable with itself with no good reason. The industry is in a mess, unable to cope with change but happily selling itself down the path of self-destruction. Listening to the gushing sentiments about World Book Day pouring or should I say spewing forth from the chatteratti is like listening to the banality of Labour declaring a bi-election win in Barnsley Central as an achievement and indictment of the government. Both of them nothing more than sickeningly self-serving verbal masturbations. I am not knocking the idea of World Book Day, just the execution. I would rather have seen 1 million books given to libraries which are currently under threat from spineless councils who would rather close much needed community services than sack half a dozen highly over paid county council leaders earning twice as much as the Prime Minister. I would also rather see the current Government putting pressure on councils to ensure that libraries are protected.  As for the greedy bankers crippling industry and about to lead the country toward further ruin while their greasy sweaty hands find even more deceptive ways to fulfil their unquenchable thirst for mammon, well…don’t get me started.