Last Friday evening, I went to a highly informative talk organised by The Friends of Watlington Library. The speaker was Anthony Forbes-Watson, Chief Executive and Managing Director of Pan-Macmillan. His subject was

The World of Publishing

In his talk, Anthony addressed the ways in which publishers were adapting to changes in the modern digital world, how they were facing the challenges posed by international markets and how they were handling the aspirations of today’s authors.

Anthony Forbes-Watson, addressing a packed audience in the Town Hall, Watlington

I’m assuming that many of you will have attended talks given under the auspices of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Verulam Writers’ Circle, to name but two, and that you already know a great deal about the state of the publishing industry today so, instead of summing up the content of this stimulating talk, I intend to pick out some of the points that I found particularly interesting.

Did you know that…

1. … Jeffrey Archer has women to thank for the fact that he’s now doing a five-book saga? Readers were given pages of his work without knowing who wrote it, or even if the author was a man or a woman. 65% of the readers thought that the pages had been written by a woman. As a result, Jeffrey Archer was asked to write a saga.

Jeffrey Archer, courtesy of Wikipedia

2.  … fewer than 50% of the population buy books; 30% of fiction sales are electronic purchases; 27% of the population have no internet access?

3.   … in India, ten times more is spent on ring tones for mobile phones than is spent on purchasing/downloading music?

4.  … the UK market is small, but the reach of English is huge and the publishers, needing more markets, are increasingly looking overseas? US publishers, with a huge potential market, have no need to be internationally minded.

5.  … Germany, France and Spain still have Retail Price Maintenance and don’t have an ebook market?

6. …  the lack of demand for audio books, for which there’s only one distributor in the UK, relates to the short length of car journeys in the UK? Audio books are in great demand in the US, where car journeys are much longer.

7. … In France, entry to literary festivals is free?

8. … 3 reasons given by Amanda Hocking as to why, after becoming a self-publishing dollar millionaire, she signed with a traditional publisher were a)  self-publishing was lonely; b)  it was time-consuming being a businesswoman; c)  she thought that if she stayed alone, she might lose her fame as swiftly as she’d gained it?


Watlington Town Hall, on a damp St. George's Day


Bye for now! Have a good week, all of you.