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Authors United has issued a letter from the author Daniel Handler – a.k.a. Lemony Snicket – encouraging writers to take part in Upstream, a new program set up to help promote independent bookstores. Upstream, “cooked up” by Handler and “assorted interested parties”, aims to connect writers with their local independent booksellers. Read all about it on Publishingperspectives.com

The total number of books in print hit 28 million worldwide in 2013 , as calculated by all the titles that acquired ISBNs. In the United States, some 390,000 ISBNs were taken by the self-published authors, while approximately 300,000 were solicited by the traditional trade publishers. At Frankfurt this led to a discussion around the long tail, which is getting fatter, and how to market it. Read the full debate on Publishingperspecitves.com

Kalahari.com and takealot.com, two of the leading general etailers in South Africa, have announced that they are merging their operations.

The move was driven by the fact that, without scale, SA etailers simply can’t compete successfully against the local brick and mortar retailers and foreign companies such as Amazon and Alibaba. “After many years of losses on Kalahari and 4 years on takealot, we realise we have to work together if we are to survive and prosper”, said Oliver Rippel, senior executive responsible for Kalahari. “If you also take into account an uneven playing field against foreign operators who do not pay tax in South Africa, and the fact that high broadband costs are impeding the speed of growth in local online shoppers, combining forces gives us a better chance of success”.

See more at paymentsafrika.com

Michiel Kolman of Elsevier was elected IPA Vice President in Frankfurt recently while Brian Wafawarowa of Pearson South Africa and Bodour Al Qasimi of Kalimat Publishing Group have joined the IPA Executive Committee (EC). Trasvin Jittidecharak of Silkworm Books, Riccardo Cavallero of Mondadori and Asoke Ghosh of PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd have all been re-appointed to the EC. Simon Littlewood of Random House will replace Bloomsbury’s Richard Charkin on the EC once Mr Charkin takes up office as IPA President in January 2015.
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“Often, in relationships, there comes a time when partners go their separate ways. It’s not always a lack of love that kills the relationship, but sometimes it’s a focus on one’s own interests and, more often, there is also a lack of respect for the other’s position. Unfortunately, all too often these days, publishing is starting to look like a bad relationship,” writes Ed Nawotka in his latest editorial on Publishing perspectives.

Snapplify is looking to fulfill 4 Account Manager Roles in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. The successful candidate is someone who has experience in publishing and a background with Academic Publishers and institutions.
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Managing Director of Exclusive Books, Benjamin Trisk was a guest speaker at the SA Booksellers AGM in KwaZulu Natal. We reproduce here a small excerpt of his highly engaging and encouraging speech. He has put the support of Exclusive Books firmly behind the SA Booksellers Association and the future of the book in South Africa.

.”..We are summoned by all books to a moveable feast. It was this reason, primus inter pares, that drew me back to books and bookselling. All the while, during the long, arduous months of due diligence, we were told that the book represented an old technology, that sales of the physical were in decline (which they were), that the digital world offered immediacy, mobility, pricing benefits, convenience, storage, technical conversion and text-interaction: all true.
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The trick is to be agile…
“Spring is the time of plans and projects” – so wrote Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina in the 1870s. In the Spring of 2014, this certainly holds true.
Both the local publishing and bookselling sectors have experienced a major sea change in 2013/14. This has been brought on by the first meaningful levels of demand and interest in digital alternatives to print-based products, changing consumer behaviours, and increased disruption to traditional business models from new technology-orientated players.

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Attending SA Booksellers executive members at the Sefika awards this year. Front row: Mohamed Kharwa, Samantha Faure, Sydwell Molosi, Riaz Hassim, Back row: Peter Adams, Richard Hargraves, Guru Redhi, Hentie Gericke

The August meetings are always the highlight of the SABA year. They not only bring together our members but they enable us to exchange information and learn from the best informed speakers on some critical subjects and they give your executive guidance on what to do in the coming year.
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Following two very successful Digital Sector Meetings in the Western Cape, with 24 members attending the meeting in October 2013 at OUP, and 19 members representing 12 companies attending the meeting on 5 March 2014 at Pearson, all Digital Booksellers were invited to the 2014 South African Book Fair (SABF) which took place from 13 to 15 June 2014 at the CTICC. Coinciding with the Book Fair in Cape Town was this year’s Footnote Summit – Africa’s largest Digital Publishing Conference. The conference had a strong focus on education, looking at e-learning and the accessibility of e-books in schools. Digital Publishing solutions provider, Snapplify, announced at the event that they will be providing all South African schools with a free e-book store.

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The past twelve months have been difficult for the Book Trade, as the recession continued to affect consumers and the weakness of the rand against the pound and dollar pushed up the prices of imported books. Sales in the second half of 2013 were lower than 2012 for every week including Christmas week. The first 10 weeks of 2014 were difficult weeks, with revenues down on 2013. From mid March, however the situation started to improve, with revenues improving every week on the 2013 sales.
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New library sector chairperson Richard Hargraves accepts the award for Library Supplier of the Year from Mandla Balisa of Macmillan, former chairperson of PASA.

The SA Booksellers owe librarians throughout the country a huge vote of thanks – they are growing our future leaders.

Far from being archaic institutions of dusty shelves of books, libraries are keeping up with changing information technologies. Libraries have embraced technologies to enhance reading, access to information and learning.

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Hentie Gericke, Treasurer, Education and Southern Region Chairperson, goes up to receive his award for Educational Bookseller of the year 2014, voted for by publishers.

Eastern region:
With the ever changing procurement methods of the Department of Education many booksellers are concerned and it remains a trying time for booksellers and stationers. In 2013 numerous meetings took place with the Department of Education and the publishers to contribute inputs and secure business. Many booksellers were selected as distributors to deliver pre-packed textbooks to schools. The deliveries to schools started as early as July 2013 and were completed successfully. Read more…

The Oxford University Press team. Winners of the Academic Publisher of the year award 2014. Voted for by booksellers.

2013-2014 has proven to be one of the most challenging for Academic Booksellers. It has been punctuated with the closure and sale of a bookstores/chains and uncertainty and changes with student funding models and technologies and enrollments. Strikes at various institutions were numerous and long.

These industry issues have been further exacerbated by external factors ranging from a sudden and substantial drop in the value of the Rand against our supplier currencies, protracted strikes in the mining and later the metal working industries, the introduction of the e-toll “tax” in Gauteng and the disruptive nature of national elections.

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The South African Department of Basic Education just released a draft policy document, open for public comment, explaining how the department plans to handle textbooks in the future. This is an important document for Booksellers and publishers to comprehend, because the situation is serious.

Arthur Atwell, the co-founder and director of Electric Book Works (and also the founder of Paperight POD bookstores) warned in his blog www.arthurattwell.com that, “It’s rare that a national industry is confronted with a single threat to its future. That just happened to South African publishing.” This piece is worth a read as it sums up the issue very well.
The document does contain many important ideals, with an emphasis on making sure that each child has textbooks, however their plan to buy a single textbook in each subject for the entire country, is one with dire consequences.

Please download the full document here and comment on it.

Draft LTSM Policy for Public Comment 2014

As you may know, there have been a few glitches with regards to ticket purchases for Open Book Festival this year, which has (thankfully) since been resolved. The team would like to apologise for any inconveniences and by way of apology we’re offering a “buy one get one free ticket special” which is running till Friday 5th September. This is valid for all standard R40 events at the festival.

More information about the ticket special can be viewed here: Ticket Deal

Download the full programme of events here: Programme

At the annual Sefika Awards dinner held on Tuesday 26th of August, outstanding service to the publishing and bookselling industry was celebrated in style, with this year’s theme: “Black and white”. Publishers, booksellers and authors congregated at the Coastlands Umhlanga Hotel and Convention Centre in KwaZulu Natal to applaud and be applauded for the roles they play in promoting literacy and a culture of reading by writing, producing and selling quality books in South Africa.

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Reflecting on the Amazon/Hachette battle, Tom Roberge of New Directions notes  in an excellent editorial on publishing perspectives that “publishers simply cannot function without independent bookstores.” Read it here.

The Center For Book Arts in New York offers a matrix for re-envisioned book-making as fine art.  Read current exhibitors, author David Unger and artist Anne Gilman’s, explanation on publishingperspectives.com. It is an interesting diversion.

In the place where gladiators once fought, the city of Rome is hosting a summer exhibition of the public and private libraries of the Ancient World. Read this post by Roger Tagholm on Publishingperspectives.com

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