According to Homi Bhabha, hybridity in the context of identity where two cultures or languages collide is a third space where new views and stances can emerge. I explored the concept of this third space by writing a novel in English, which is my second language, instead of in my mother tongue, Slovenian. I investigated the effects of language switch on my choice of subject matter, my writing process, and my perception of my work and myself as a writer and as a person. I examined language-related challenges of writing in my second language, the benefits of a new insight a second language offers, and how multilingualism leads to a more fluid identity and a change in perspective.
Launched in 1999, at a time of radical change for the publishing industry, Persephone Books has become a successful independent publisher of neglected female authors mainly from the 20th-century inter-war period. Publishing being an industry primarily shaped by the differential distribution of symbolic and economic capital (Bourdieu, ‘The Market for Symbolic Goods’, in The Rules of Art, Polity Press, 1996, p. 9), competing principles of cultural legitimacy within an increasingly commercial climate clarify the position of modern publishing at the intersection of culture and commerce (Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production, Columbia University Press, 1993, p. 27). This article explores how Persephone Books’ understated assertion of publishing’s ‘middle ground’ and commitment to the historically reviled ‘middlebrow’ genre have reconciled the perennial tension between culture and commerce to create a thriving yet unintentional publishing brand.
Streaming services for audiobooks and ebooks have grown rapidly in recent years. The shift in consumption patterns has transformed both reading and publishing. One visible change is the attraction and importance of backlist titles. The article investigates how the relationship between frontlist and backlist in the bestseller segment has developed, and discusses the shift in the power balance between the two. By examining large-scale consumer behaviour data (6.23 million streams) from one of the key players in subscription-based digital bookselling – Storytel – we track book consumption both in detail and at a structural level. Our results show that backlist titles are increasingly important for bestselling authors who continue to publish frontlist titles, especially for fiction written in series. Streaming services foster new types of book consumption behaviour thanks to a combination of technology, media, reading habits, and social change.
Online book fairs are being held in Vietnam to replace traditional offline events that have been shelved owing to the COVID-19 crisis. This study aims to explore book consumers’ perceptions regarding digital book fairs and their evaluation of the first-ever national online book fair held in Vietnam. In-depth interviews were conducted to obtain insights from people who had attended the online book event. The findings provide acceptance of and support for the organization of digital book fairs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees generally appreciated the convenience of the national online book fair and the promotional programmes offered by various publishers and distributors. Furthermore, some attendees enjoyed the novelty of the event and the feeling of being included in the reading community. Nevertheless, most of the attendees highlighted several limitations, especially the lack of social and face-to-face interaction. These findings have implications for online book fair organizers, publishers, and book distributors alike.
As Children’s Laureate 2013–2015, Malorie Blackman raised awareness of the lack of racial diversity in children’s fiction. Underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in fiction and the publishing industry’s infrastructure is a severe problem in the world of children’s books, as illuminated by research into the publishing environment of the past 15 years, and the books populating current bestseller charts. Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of economic and symbolic capital is important to understanding how diversity is highlighted in the contemporary literary field, but his polarization of the different form of capital as motivation for creating art is reductive. Storytelling is about combining voices and experiences, and publishers can, and should, combine economic and symbolic motivations in publishing diverse fiction for children. Publishing a book because it will be successful economically and because it is the right thing to do are not mutually exclusive; in publishing diverse children’s fiction, both motives can and should inspire us.
This essay is based on a talk the author gave at the By the Book conference in Florence in June 2019. It examines the power dynamics in the Italian publishing world from the perspective of a fiction writer. Writing and publishing are two completely different worlds that can be differently approached. What’s the point of writing? Should writers write about what they know, or about what they do not know? Can publishing be put off? What’s the role of literary agents in the publishing process? The author’s answers to these questions are based on her personal experience.
To sell a novel as socially relevant, the book cover, prefaces, and other paratext can help convey why readers should care and how the story should be read. But relevance can expire as society moves on. Reprints of groundbreaking classics that no longer engage contemporary concerns adapt their paratext to reach new readers, often by emphasizing the book’s historical and/or literary position. This article examines paratextual strategies across time and space for three Scandinavian novels with exceptional influence. Enlightenment-promoting Niels Klim’s Underground Travels (1741) was the region’s first novel; Hunger (1890) is praised by many as the world’s first modernist novel; and The Man on the Balcony (1967) became the progenitor of Nordic Noir. Early paratext used anonymity, false veracity, or documentary elements to sell relevance. But with commercial success, and temporal and geographical distance, paratext became increasingly author focused and self-referential, at times all but ignoring the author’s intent for the story.
This two-part article is a sequel to a two-part paper published in Logos in 2008–2009. It provides a round-up of the current situation of the book industry in Africa today (primarily that in English-speaking sub-Saharan Africa), together with a brief review of the activities of the various organizations that have supported African publishing over the years. Part 1 examines the persistent failure of African governments to support their book industries and public libraries in a tangible and positive fashion. It reviews the current status of book development councils in Africa, the unsatisfactory progress in establishing national book policies, the challenges of generating book industry data, and the opportunities presented to African publishers by the new digital environment. An Appendix provides a list of conferences, meetings, and seminars on publishing and book development held in Africa between 1968 and 2019. Part 2 of this article will appear in Logos, 30 (4).