In this week’s Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at whether the prospect of a Covid vaccine will bring changes to the book world, and a new series feature from KDP.
Will a Vaccine Change the Book World?
Who would have thought last Wednesday that there would only be one thing people are talking about this week – and it wouldn’t be a certain election. News of progress towards a widely available Covid vaccine is obviously welcome on many levels. But I want to take a moment to look at how it might specifically affect us in the book world. We have, like other sectors, found many new ways of working and being. Our events have moved online. Book launches look very different. And the way we read and sell has changed. But no matter how much we have grown to love some of the new ways, we will not simply carry on as we are now.
The first story that struck me this week was the response of the financial markets to the vaccine announcement. It’s no surprise that the general reaction has been an uptick. But some areas have seen substantial losses. Some are obvious – Zoom for example. Indeed, after “wahey, yes!” my first reaction to the vaccine news was “someone at Pfizer will make a fortune short selling Zoom.” And then of course, I was lost in potential plot land. It’s interesting that another high profile casualty is Etsy. In large part this will be because of the implosion of the crafted face mask market. Peloton is a really interesting one. The implication here is that things we have learned to do remotely are things that we would rather do together. And that’s a potential indicator of events and bookstore prospects.
Which brings me to bookstores. We have had several stories about Bookshop.org, the app that lets you support your local store through online paper book orders. But recent figures about the growth of digital sales raise a fascinating question. What if there are no bookstores left to support? When Bloomsbury announced recently that digital accounted for 30% of its sales, this felt like something of a landmark. But Philip Jones in The Bookseller seem to think it might be a very negative one. The danger as he sees it is that this is another nail in the fate of bookstores. If people don’t really think of bookstores as the places they go for their books, then no amount of apps like Bookshop.org will protect them. And like other trends, the worry is that Covid might have accelerated the demise.
Amazon’s Adventures in Sweden
It’s always news when Amazon enters a new market. But when that market is Sweden, the news is far bigger for the book world than you might imagine if you didn’t know something about the situation in Sweden. Mark Williams noted that the one thing Amazon’s Sweden rollout didn’t include was a Kindle store. A piece in Wired this week goes into a lot of detail about the difficulties Amazon is already facing in Sweden. It notes that only 10,000 products on the whole store are from local suppliers. Sweden, it seems, has a really strong set of local digital marketplaces. And Amazon is going to struggle to convince consumers to leave them.
Of course, this really matters when it comes to ebooks and audiobooks. That’s because Sweden is home to Storytel, Nextory, and Bookbeat among others. All of them are strong and growing players in the digital book market. And the way the rest of Amazon is struggling to change the country’s habits suggests they might not be all that vulnerable either.
Lindisfarne Prize and London Book Fair
L J Ross and Sam Missingham are names that many of us know well. Now these two indie heroes are working together on the Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction. The winner will receive £2500 and free ALLi and Society of Authors membership for a year. Indies are, of course, eligible.
Meanwhile, London Book Fair has announced dates for 2021. The very first times I started writing about Covid it was in the context of London Book Fair. Would they cancel or wouldn’t they? What a lifetime ago that seems! Next LBF will run from June 29 to July 1st, the organisers hope as a physical event. The aim will be to return to March thereafter.
Many of you will, like me, have noticed that your KDP dashboard looks different. I noticed it because the first book on my shelf no longer had its cover showing. Without that, I wouldn’t have known what was happening before reading Nate’s post about it. What’s happening is that KDP has given us the ability to create series of books.
This feature allows you to do a lot of things, and the guidance page is full of useful information. You can decide whether a series is linear (one book comes after another) or thematic, for example. What I found it harder to ascertain was why I’d want to do all this. Maybe that’s because I don’t really write series. I’m sure for the many of us who do it will be something exciting to explore.
What a Covid vaccine might mean for the book world, and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months.
Over to You
Let us know about online events of interest to indies in the comments below.