You have to try new things …

I’m really excited about an exciting new collaboration between us and Movies @ cinemas. Later this week the pre-launch hype is going to start for The Secret of Kells movie, which is released on 6 March in Ireland. Movies @ are going to see how many of their customers, in both Dundrum and Swords, want to “take the magic of Kells home” with them, in the form of our lovely picture book and novelisation of the film.

Not only that, but they are being amazingly generous with display space in their cinemas, with banners, posters and time on their plasma screens: here is one of the banners.kellsbanner-copy

I didn’t mention the great fun that was had at the premiere of the film on Sunday in Savoy 1, as the closing film for the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. We walked up the steps to avoid the indignity of being physically removed from the world’s shortest red carpet! The cinema was jammed, the film looked and sounded great and director Tomm Moore pulled about 50 people onto the stage at the end to take a well-deserved bow.

After that it was off the to Long Library in Trinity College, where the real Book of Kells is held, for a great after-show party: I  have never been there at midnight with a glass of wine in my hand, and it is certainly to be recommended. Lots of people were buying our books to get them signed by Brendan Gleeson, Mick Lally, the other actors, director, producers (including the producer of Les Triplettes de Belleville, one of my favourite animated movies, who were also the main producers on this film) and the only downside was that it was a school night, so we had to leave before the real partying began …

I could get used to all this movie business stuff, you know …

Clé Conference: The Burning Issues

A very interesting Clé Conference at the weekend (Clé is the Irish Publishing trade body): lots of very worried publishers (and booksellers: we went mad and all sat in the same room this year!) were throwing around the ideas we all need to consider for the survival of the industry in the Current Economic Environment. The change has been incredibly rapid and, unfortunately, started at the beginning of what should have been our peak selling season last year: returns of unsold Christmas stock risk crippling lots of publishers. The major loss of market share by Irish “euro publishers” (ie not the Irish arms of multinationals) has slipped dramatically, particularly at the bestseller end of the market. I’ll stop moaning now 🙂

We were very lucky to have Will Atkinson, Sales and Marketing Director for Faber, and Robin Wood, head honcho from Anova, present to talk about selling outside the conventional book trade, and developing special products for existing and new customers. Some of the creative ideas were just brilliant, but I do wish we had a country of 50 million people instead of 5, so that you can do a clever “nichy” thing and still make a few bob. Naturally, the subject of websites came up quite a lot!

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So what was the Blogs And Books event like?

A very interesting event. Quite a decent audience for a gig of that type. In truth, the subject was so wide that there were no blinding insights or specific messages to be drawn from it, but a few things struck me. While Blogging is a young person’s game, the audience was older than I was expecting: when I asked how many there were under 25, about 5 hands went up.

Also, while the people in the room were all at the leading or bleeding edge of technology, there was a huge affection for books, from a number of perspectives:

  • They pretty much all wanted to get published in books form, even though they were publishing on the web at will
  • Quite a lot of them already were being published (which may account for the age profile — the people who are still learning how to write simply were not there)
  • The all loved reading in book form: the whole paper-and-ink experience that us conventional publishers hope that people retain a deep affection for, for as long as possible
  • They didn’t seem too put out at the process of producing a book: the editing, compromising and struggles involved

The blogging form is still young, but seems to be gaining a large degree of maturity, and it is inevitable that lots of great writers will cut their teeth on blogs, as well as continuing to use is as a means of self-expression along with whatever other writing they may do. Thanks to the organisers, and best of luck to them all at the blog awards on Saturday!


German cover for The Poison Throne


We have just seen the cover approach being used by Heyne, the German publisher for The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan: they are calling it “SchattenPfade” which, the internet assures me, translates as “Shade Paths”. The second book in the Moorehawke trilogy is called “The Crowded Shadows” in English, so I wonder what they’ll go with for that!?

Interestingly, while we published this as teenage fiction, the Germans are going with a dual approach — the Heyne edition (to be published this autumn) is aimed at a general audience, and a children’s/teenage edition will follow.

P.J. Lynch doing new covers for classic children’s trilogy

Best-selling children’s author Marita Conlon-McKenna’s most famous books are getting a great makeover. PJ Lynch, Ireland’s most celebrated children’s illustrator, is creating new covers for all three books in the best-selling Children of the Famine trilogy. It’s the first time PJ has worked with us, and it’s really exciting.
The first one he’s done is Under The Hawthorn Tree, and we now have the full painting in the office!

The three new editions will be available from all good bookshops in April 2009. Perfect for PJ Lynch fans.


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