Event report

Conference 2014 - The role of booksellers, publishers and agents in a new age

Report published 22 July 2014

This talk was lively, interesting and current, the panel members warm, welcoming and unafraid of tough questions!

There was a wealth of  different experience in Lisa Eveleigh, Agent; Gillian Green, Fiction Director for Ebury/Del Rey UK/Black Lace at Penguin Random House; Lyn Vernham, Managing Director and Co-founder of independent publisher Choc Lit and Matt Bates, Fiction Buyer for WH Smith Travel.

The majority of audience members, by a show of hands, read either electronic books or paperbacks rather than hardbacks, with the split between ebooks and paperbacks even.
Feedback was that ebooks are great for convenience and price point, but the desire to hold a ‘real’ book still exists, with both bought from a range of outlets including bookshops, supermarkets, Amazon, and other online retailers/e-tailers.

There was a debate about Amazon’s dominant marketshare, although interestingly in Canada the Kobo is king and in Australia it’s Apple, with GooglePlay becoming popular in the UK. More publishers are also moving to direct selling via their websites e.g. Harlequin.

Topics of discussion also included Spotify and linked advertising, monthly subscription models for book buying/borrowing and the appropriateness of agents being publishers too (poachers and gatekeepers?).

Both publishers were willing to consider submissions from self-published authors but had slightly different criteria including sales volumes, price point, rankings and social media presence.

When asked about trends, these couldn’t be predicted but at heart it’s still all about the story, with bigger, deeper and more complex reads doing well at the moment.

The overall message was bookselling is rapid and exciting, with better innovation and technology. The positive message for authors? There are more opportunities than ever before; traditional deals, self-publishing, independent presses, widening genres, experimentation with story lengths. Stick with it and hail the rise of the hybrid author.

Report by Nikki Moore

It's a fact

In terms of the value, romance accounted for 12% of all fiction sales in 2013