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.
The decolonization of African studies extends beyond content to ethical partnerships between the North and the African continent. One key component of realizing partnership is through publishing. African studies research published by Northern publishers is not often even minimally available in Africa; and this is despite scholars on the continent often being partners or facilitators in research undertaken by Northern scholars. Northern publishers have perceived no commercial gain, given small African markets, lack of purchasing power, and lack of distribution systems. Conversely, African publishers have efficient distribution into the North through African Books Collective, owned and governed by them. But in suitable rare cases the African publisher can broker co-publications with Northern publishers who want the originating rights. In the light of these issues, African Books Collective launched an initiative to seek to break the deadlock. In partnership with the International African Institute, and with the active support of the African Studies Associations of the UK and the US, work is proceeding with publishers in the North and the South to broker co-publishing or co-editions to address this historic marginalization of Africa.
Following Peter Elbow’s work on ‘resonant voice’ or ‘presence’, this essay examines the seldom-explored resonance between a text and its writer in the moment of its creation. The essay asks what the boundaries and content of this space might look like, and how this knowledge might positively affect the creative product. It challenges the popular search for a writer’s ‘voice’, instead positing that each writer has a perpetually shifting internal plurality of voices, which unifies the constructivist and social constructionist views of the self. By arguing that the resonance between writer and writing is the experience of this plurality coming to harmony, the essay posits that to create such a resonance involves a balance of simultaneously relinquishing control to the internal choir and learning how to better conduct it.
‘My Africa Reads’ is a memoir that looks back at my reading history. The ‘Preamble’ identifies authors who influenced my worldview during my secondary and tertiary education in the UK and who remained my companions during the first decade of my return to Nigeria. From this immersion in Eurocentric literature, the memoir progresses to my encounter with postcolonial African literature in the collective setting of the Africa Book Group (ABG), which I joined in 2002 and led from 2014 to 2018. The memoir looks at authors and literature that the international women of ABG have engaged with, and at meetings at which guest experts spoke on aspects of African studies and affairs. It highlights the power of ABG—a shared reading experience—to advance that part of my cultural liberation facilitated by good postcolonial literature and open, unconstrained discussions with other women.