The opposite of “anesthetic,” we might recall, is “aesthetic”—a word that originally referred to whatever could be perceived or felt but that came to refer to the nature of beauty. Beauty, in all its myriad forms, can only be created in opposition to numbness. That, at least for me, serves as a quiet manifesto for our times.
- "Love in the Time of Numbness; or. Doctor Checknov, Writer", Siddhartha Mukherjee
Hello and welcome to This Fortnight in Publishing!
With the beginning of the new financial year, it has been a few weeks of stock-taking for the industry as a whole. This edition brings you statistics from across the board - from the global state of the internet to the financial performance of the biggest publishing companies to the debate about whether print is coming back. Here are some highlights:
In short, we buy fewer books, are extremely budget-conscious when it comes to spending on books, and are increasingly relying on social media for news. All of which are causes for concern, and none of which seems to have any foreseeable solutions. Not all is doom and gloom, however; Delhi saw its first poetry biennale - a massive three-day event that showcased 45 poets from across 15 Indian languages. Perhaps a sign that poetry is indeed experiencing a revival in these turbulent times? In addition, publishers and editors can look forward to applying for the Frankfurt Fellowship Programme, The Hindu Prize 2017, or the PEN Translates award. There is a masked vigilante somewhere in Bristol adding apostrophes to banners in the dead of the night. All is not lost.
As always direct all feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a good week everyone!
The Frankfurt Fellowship Programme focuses on information exchange, professional dialogue and the creation of networks between young international publishers. Fellowship members get to participate in the book fair, visit publishing houses and booksellers in Germany, see market presentations, have match-making events and dinners, and pursue networking opportunities. They're taking applications now.
The Hindu Prize 2017, instituted to recognise the best in Indian literary fiction in English every year, is open for submissions.
With poetry readings by 45 poets from 15 Indian languages, and three panel discussions involving public intellectuals and poets, vak, Delhi's first poetry biennale, was truly an inter-regional, pan-Indian, national dialogue that is often missing these days in our lives. Relying largely on translations into either Hindi or English, the conversations flowed through verse and prose as the place, purpose, and meaning of poetry in contemporary India was discovered and articulated.
PEN Translates was launched in 2012, with support from Arts Council England, to encourage UK publishers to acquire more books from other languages. The award helps UK publishers to meet the costs of translating new works into English. They're open for submissions now.
Four of the five large publicly held trade publishers managed to improve their operating margins in 2016 over 2015, despite generally weak revenue performances. The article includes details about the operational performance of PRH, Lagardère, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade.
Discussions about the "resurgence" of print and the comeback of independent bookstores amounts to wishful thinking, not an understanding of the industry. Statistics from Jane Friedman.
The influence of social media platforms and technology companies is having a greater effect on American journalism than even the shift from print to digital. There is a rapid takeover of traditional publishers’ roles by companies including Facebook, Snapchat, Google, and Twitter that shows no sign of slowing, and which raises serious questions over how the costs of journalism will be supported.
More than 3.8 billion people around the world use the internet today, up 38 million since January 2017. This one percent increase takes global internet penetration to 51 percent – in other words, people who don’t use the internet are increasingly in the minority.
In 2014, the Associated Press began automating some of its coverage of corporate earnings reports. Instead of having humans cover the basic finance stories, the AP, working with the firm Automated Insights, was able to use algorithms to speed up the process and free up human reporters to pursue more complex stories. The AP estimates that the automated stories have freed up 20 percent of the time its journalists spent on earnings reports as well as allowed it to cover additional companies that it didn’t have the capacity to report on before.
British newspaper The Times has seen subscriptions sales jump 200 percent in the last year, since it pivoted from publishing on a breaking-news cycle to a digital editions-based publishing strategy a year ago. It isn't just the editorial processes that have changed radically since adopting a digital editions-based publishing schedule, but its marketing strategy too.
Full list of the 2017 Pulitzer Prizes. Colson Whitehead wins the prize for fiction for 'The Underground Railway'.
It was a long and difficult road to get the major publishing houses to open up to open access, but in the end the Dutch universities got their much awaited ‘gold deal’ for open access. A recently revealed contract between Elsevier and the Dutch research institutes lays bare the retardant tactics the publishing giant employs to stifle the growth of open access.
E-mail with now be email and Internet will become internet! But the use of singular they in place of a generic he or she is not recommended as a personal pronoun. Boo. In any case, look forward to a new CMOS in September this year.
Sylvia Plath alleged Ted Hughes beat her two days before she miscarried their second child and that Hughes wanted her dead, unpublished letters reveal. The two accusations are among explosive claims in unseen correspondence written in the bitter aftermath of one of literature’s most famous and destructive marriages.
Chekhov’s quest to inoculate himself against ennui offers lessons for writers working in our current climate of desensitization.
Why the midlist book, which was once a strong presence on Indian publishers’ list, is endangered.
Books worth Rs 3 lakh were sold during the seven-day book fair in Patna which concluded on 18 March. "Over 3,000 buyers visited the book fair. There was a huge demand for children books," organizers said.
Publishing houses specialising in books by and about Dalits are changing the discourse of the mainstream, one step at a time.
Kobo has acquired Shelfie, a platform where users could make a post-sale bundle consisting of a print and ebooks. When promoted in bookstores, Shelfie's service almost doubled one bookseller's sales of bundled titles.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the Soviet poet whose powerful voice transcended borders in the 1960s, died last week in Oklahoma.
Eruditus Executive Education, a provider of executive education programmes, has raised $8 million (about Rs 53 crore) in a series-B funding round from Bertelsmann India Investments.
A new survey provides an updated view of how and why researchers are using scholarly collaboration networks. Charlie Rapple shares key findings.
A profile in memory of Dainik Bhaskar Group chairman Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, who died on April 12 following a cardiac arrest in Ahmedabad. He was 72.
Lifealth is the fifth digital vertical launched by the Indian Express Digital in the past seven months. The website is available in English and Hindi, and hosts content around lifestyle, health, pregnancy, parenting, relationships and spirituality. The website is an infinite scroll and currently features no advertisements.
On 28 March 2017, Oxford Business College in the UK presented Arun Maheshwari, managing director, Vani Prakashan and chairman, Vani Foundation, with a special Award of Appreciation for his outstanding contribution in the field of Indian publishing.
Wielding an ‘apostrophiser’ – a broom handle laden with two sponges and a number of stickers – the man has corrected tens of missing and misplaced apostrophes on shop banners across Bristol over the past 13 years.
Dickens helped save bard’s birthplace from clutches of US showman PT Barnum back in 1847. Barnum intended to buy it anonymously, ship every brick and timber to the US, and reconstruct it as the star attraction of his museum of curiosities. A museum now commemorates the story.
Created in 2000, Publish Asia is an annual meeting place for the Asian newspaper and news publishing industry. More than 300 media executives from over 30 different countries will gather in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 18-20 April.
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This Fortnight in Publishing was started in April 2016 as a way to aggregate information on the publishing industry in India and abroad. Click here to view our archives.