When you play the game of thrones you either win or you die…

By Laura A Lacey, on 11 April 2013

By Stacey Riley

As a die hard fan with unshakeable love, I’ve been aware of the series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ for a few years now. However, the rest of the world has only just caught up. I’m no longer met with blank faces when I drop my coffee and complain, “Oh Seven hells!” or when I answer the phone to my friend Matthew with the greeting, “Morning, Blood of my Blood”.

The series’ new publicity is partly down to the fact that HBO acquired television rights to the books and is now shamelessly plugging the third series, Mondays, Sky Atlantic. 9pm. Sham

a_game_of_thrones_book_cover

elessly plugging. However, the television series has been a huge success. With a fantastic cast (particularly great performances by Peter Dinklage [Tyrion Lannister], earning him the Emmy and the Golden Globe Award for Supporting Actor), stunning backdrops and a great script (obviously – great books) it wasn’t ever going to be any other way.

The publisher of A Game of Thrones in the UK is HarperCollins Voyager.

Although I did give my Grandad the first book to read the other day,
Me: “Read this Grandad, you might like it. It’s really good.”
80-year old Grandad: “Yeah? What’s it like?”
Me: “It’s like.. Lord of the Rings meets -”
80-year old Grandad: “-what’s Lord of the Rings?”
Me: Facepalm.

Seven hells. Apparently not everyone in the world has caught up.

Read all the books you wish you’d read…

By Laura A Lacey, on 29 March 2013

Oyster last year announced they had raised $3million to create a service for eBooks that works along similar lines to Spotify. They seek to oystercollectively license eBooks from publishers: including fiction and non-fiction, and everything from bestsellers to classics.

Oyster have partnered with media and technology companies, as well as publishers. This mirrors the growing trend across the creative industries as owners of intellectual property seek to exploit their copyright in all possible formats, and sellers try to provide services above and beyond simple content delivery.

The trendy-looking New York-based team (pictured) are focusing on Access, Discovery and Mobile:

ACCESS: By adopting a subscription model they believe readers will be able to enjoy books more freely, dipping in and out of new authors without investing money: ‘This leads to a more fulfilling experience built exclusively on taste and relaxed reading’.

DISCOVERY: They realise that discoverability comes down to many factors and a lot of chance. They believe by combining ‘discovery with consumption’ they are removing frustration that comes from receiving recommendations in many locations.Readers will enjoy the process of discovery by sharing the same library with their friends, with no need to hunt for links.

MOBILE: Their claims as far as mobile goes are perhaps less easy to agree with: they claim their market research has shown that all readers (from avid to casual) ‘love reading on smartphones’. This has certainly has not been my experience. Perhaps it will be in future – as mobile devices become larger and more comfortable to read on it is thought ‘phablets’ will be one of the most prolific devices for sale.

Only time will tell if their venture will be successful and how many publishers will be willing to give up their content for a limited fee. Currently it is in testing mode with just a few. Their aspirational aims certainly sound idyllic:

“We are building Oyster for an audience that aspires to read more. Read all the books you wish you’d read. We hope to bring books to the center of people’s lives through a beautiful product and the feeling that the world is your oyster.”

SEX! KINK! EROTICA!

By Laura A Lacey, on 6 March 2013

50 shades of greyNow that I’ve got your attention you might be interested in this…

Thankfully, E.L. James and Random House did not favour this in-your-face approach to marketing Fifty Shades. This week, as part of a triple whammy of brilliant guests from marketing professionals, we were treated to a case study of the rise and rise of this unavoidable phenomenon. Sarah Page of Random House gave us an inside look at their massively ambitious marketing campaign and explained why they didn’t need to big up the content.

Traditional techniques were used in a big way: with posters on the underground, at railway stations, airports, and in the print media. The recurring message was ‘Discover the book everybody’s talking about’, giving no clues as to the erotic nature of the book. Nor did the cover give anything away, instead appearing more innocently like a crime thriller. The press coverage, twitter storm, and word of mouth among women up and down the UK did all this for them. Random House just wanted to encourage readers to get involved in the conversation by reading the book, the media frenzy increasingly did the work for them.

Amazingly Random House acquired the UK rights to the self-published eBook and six weeks later had it printed and on shelves. Sarah stressed that speed was essential if they were to trade off the buzz already created amongst Australian and American women. The sales team worked hard to get the retailers on board quickly, using statistics of how well it was selling across the pond. Spaces in shops were already booked up so the publishers provided good, old-fashioned dumpbins, especially in supermarkets where prices were rock bottom but volume was high. The publishers decided to release all three at once; it was feared that if readers had to wait they would lose their enthusiasm and, from a commercial perspective, sales would be driven to internet sources. This certainly paid off and the books famously became the fastest selling book in UK history.

Perhaps the most surprising part of Sarah’s presentation came next, as she revealed how they started to broaden the appeal of the books from the ‘mummy porn’ audience it had already satisfied. They ran advertising aimed at men who wanted to find out what their partners were reading, opening up the gift market with the cheeky line ‘Give her what she really wants this Christmas’, and women over 40… Yep, that’s right, they targeted the granny market with a full page ad in Saga magazine – who knew?

So what next for a woman who has saved hundreds of marriages, inspired the conception of a generation of babies, single-handedly kept Ann Summers in business, and generally upped the country’s libidos? Well, she’s keeping that a secret, but you can be sure it will be another publishing phenomenon.

By Laura Lacey, working towards a career in trade fiction.

Foyles Visit: “The joy of a good bookshop is discovery” (Bill Samuel)

By Samantha J Rayner, on 9 January 2013

Last night saw us crossing town to visit Foyles, and hear Bill Samuel speak about the bookshop’s past, present and future. An entertaining speaker, Bill gave us a verbal tour of some of the bookshop’s historical highlights:  for instance, that Christina Foyle used copies of Mein Kampfinstead of sandbags to help bomb-proof the flat roof of the shop during the Second World War, and that she wrote to Hitler to suggest that if he was burning books, he might like to send them to Foyles instead!  He was candid about life in a family business, and emphasised that trial and error was an integral part of learning what makes for success.  Foyles is not just a bookshop – they have tried all sorts of enterprises to generate more revenue:  sheet music, musical instruments, literary lunches, book clubs, film production and even aeroplanes!  “The book trade has always been in turmoil,” Bill said.  There is nothing new about the current arguments for the future of the book – these have been going on for centuries.  What the book trade seems to be extremely good at, and what Foyles exemplifies, is responding to the need to constantly innovate to refresh offerings and exploit readers’ appetite for all things book-(and culture) related.  In the 1990s Foyles seemed to be dying on its feet, but now it is a successful iconic destination for book-lovers, and looks set to take on the future with an assured optimism.

Outside the shop at the moment are giant hoardings, with a cartoon representation of the history of the shop. These images are amazing, and worth a trip to view (see http://www.johnmiers.com/Foylescomic/).

Foyles are about to relocate to the Central St Martin’s School of Art site, which will enable them to almost double square footage, and they are using this opportunity to completely redesign the layout and presentation of their stock.  In conjunction with The Bookseller, they will be holding workshops in February, allowing readers and book trade people to discuss their ideas for how the bookshop of the future should look.  The response to this idea has been overwhelming, (for details see: http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/future-bookshop.html) and it will be one to keep track of in coming weeks…