November 12   The state of publishing

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Not only for the current obvious reason, am I very interested in following what’s been going on lately in publishing.

As we hit the ground in Canada, the merger between Penguin and Random House was being announced and it was certainly a topic of conversation for the week long we were there. For small press publishing, I could sit down and look at how this is probably a good thing, in the short term. But in general, I feel quite depressed about the state of publishing – things are grim right now, there’s no pretending they aren’t.

Why the merger and what does it mean? Here is the final wrap up from Seattle Pi in their article A Merger in Publishing – and then there were five:

In the end, what does this merger mean for writers (and readers)? Will the Bertelsmann Foundation’s sink-or-swim economic stance bleed over into the realm of literature? Will Random House/Penguin, now in control of more than a quarter of the entire book market, stick to a bottom line that reduces the supply of ideas while increasing its intellectual price? Will Random House/Penguin, increasingly free from serious competition, no longer feel a need to invest in writers with new ideas, new concepts, new ways of interpreting the world?

The Metro says:
Like all things involving dead trees, the new chapter has been prompted in large part by the march of the digital giants, including Amazon, Apple and Google. The print publishers hope their merging of resources will leave them better placed to cope with the onset of the ebook era.
And this:
‘In the short term, I don’t see much changing for readers. The battle between retailers and publishers is always about price – the former want lower and the latter want higher. Choice might be affected adversely as there will be fewer publishers to fight over new writers and subsequently fewer risks might be taken by the publisher.
‘However, the book industry is fundamentally healthy in that people want to read and for the right handful of books they will read in big numbers.

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October 29   From the road

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Well, I’m in bed, just preparing to go to sleep in preparation for the second leg of the journey to World Fantasy con. We’re flying with a stopover in Dubai this time to see what happens when you break up the trip.

I stayed up last night since the taxi was booked for 3.30am. My mum very generously let me and the puppy keep her awake, first finishing off reading for the short story comp I was judging (I read 185 short stories in a week.  I will never ever do that again. Ever) and then watching some Dexter. I dropped off to sleep a couple of times but mostly was awake and ready to go. After the cab arrived and he was able to deal with my three suitcases, we swung past Jonathan’s house and then headed to the airport.

Ahhh there is nothing quite like those bright fluorescent nauseating lights of the early hour airport is there? We’d both been stressing about various things to do with this flight but we checked in 4 bags with not even a blink of an eye from the check in desk and we were able to check the bags through to Toronto. Then we headed off for coffee and waiting at the gate. We’d found out that the flight was not full but after we boarded, the flight attendants came round and told everyone there was so much room on the plane you could sit anywhere you like. It turned out basically everyone on the plane got their own row. I quickly abandoned Jonathan after takeover for the row of 4 seats just behind us and having taken something I’d be prescribed by my doctor, went to sleep for 5 hours and 2 more hours of dozing.

I feel like we hit the holy grail of travel. I’d been quite worried about travelling with this back issue that has reared its head in the last week. I’ve had a neck issue since April. And mostly that’s to do with desk job work and peering at computer screens for long periods of time and developing bad posture. If I don’t go to the physio every week,  my neck seizes up and I lose mobility. It’s happening now even after I visit the physio but with the exercises she’s given me and heat packs and so on, I’m able to manage it down from immobile. Basically we think it’s stress and once the wedding is done, we hope to make proper recovery. But this past week I’ve been developing something in my lower back. I think it’s freezing up with lack of movement – it’s the worst in the morning when I wake up. And I suspect I’ve worked too hard this last fortnight so I’m sleeping too deeply and not moving enough in my sleep. The back seems to get less sore throughout the day with movement. And hence, I’m a bit worried about the sitting on planes this week. It wasn’t great after today’s flight but I think being able to lie down made a big difference. (I’m also travelling with those heat packs you can get which are adhesive and warm up after you stick them on you? They are great).

Anyway. We got to Dubai and escaped the hideous experience that is LAX for once. A lovely man met us for the tour thing we’d organised which is basically stayover at a hotel and transfers covered by the airline. He directed us through passport control etc and CUSTOMS GAVE OUT PRESENTS. They gave everyone boxes of chocolates. Seriously. I mean, in LAX you practically get repeatedly body cavity searched walking in and out of rooms. This was NO COMPARISON.

The hotel is not fab. It’s ok. We’re here for the day and we took a brief walk in the 35 degree heat to vaguely glimpse some of the Dubai skyline off in the dusty distance. And we mostly sat and chatted and began the big long industry conversation that we will get to have from now til home time. I LOVE it. And yes, I have already taken notes and ideas are brewing.