Tag Archives: Parthian

Books to watch in May

Promoters make it easy for film fans by preparing trailers months in advance. For book fans it’s a little more difficult, sometimes the first time we hear of a book is when it arrives on the shelves to be sold. I’ve picked four books from different genres to give you a glimpse of what this month has in store.  

The Newlyweds, Nell Freudenberger

To be published by Knopf Publishers 

Anima and George’s tale is a love story with a modern twist. After Anima meets George online she leaves her home in Bangladesh for a new life in Rochester, New York. But marriage is only the beginning. If the pair are to build a future together they must negotiate family demands and cultural differences from both sides.

Too Cold for Snow, John Gower

To be published by Parthian

An accomplished author and journalist, Gower is the winner of the John Morgan travel writing prize. This short story collection will transport readers to the frosty regions of northern Russia, promising tales of assassins, avalanches and prison ships. If you can’t wait to get your hands on the book you can purchase a sampler edition ahead of its release in two months time.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, James Runcie

To be published by Bloomsbury 

This will be the first in a series of exciting new detective stories, to be titled The Grantchester Mysteries. Sidney Chambers, the vicar of Grantchester, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor, whose unassuming appearance provides the perfect cover for a spot of detective work. In the course of the book he inquires into a suspicious suicide, a jewellery theft and an art forgery.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, Simon Mawr 

Published by Little, Brown

I read The Glass Room when it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize so I’m already a fan of Simon Mawr. Here he tells the story of Marian Sutro, who becomes a Special Operations Executive in wartime France. Her aim is to seek out an old flame, Clement Pelletier, a nuclear scientist who is busy building a lethal weapon. According to Daily Mail critic Amber Pearson the book is “utterly gripping from start to finish.”

What are you reading at the moment and what do you plan to read next? Let me know what you think of these books and what’s on your bookshelf at the moment. 


Author Susie Wild on eBooks

This post is the final of a trio of posts looking at the affect of eBooks on the literary industry.

Susie Wild is associate director for The Raconteur and Parthian Books. In 2010 her first book, The Art of Contraception, was published. This was followed by Arrivals, an eBook novella, which was published this year. With its publication Susie became the first Welsh writer to have her work published as a Kindle Single. These are shorter eBooks, designed especially for eReaders.

The Raconteur is available in print or as an eBook

Arrivals begins as 19-year-old Amy steps off a plane in Los Angeles. She has come to meet Alan, her estranged father and to find some space after the death of her ex-boyfriend Dan. It is split into two parts and the second of these focuses on Amy’s mother Maggie, who remains in England. It is a fast paced, enjoyable read. Events and emotions trigger flashbacks, giving the reader an insight into the mood swings of the main characters, allowing empathy with them.

How long have you been writing for? How has technology affected you as a writer since?

Since I could hold a pen. I still use pens, but my writing has got harder to decipher. I also use a laptop. I can edit on screen but I prefer to print out drafts and take them out of the office to read. Poetry usually starts in notebooks, stories also, but stories move to the screen faster. Journalism is always straight to screen.

What do you prefer? To have your work printed on paper or published digitally?

My preference is that my work is read. I have a Kindle, which is helpful in my line of work as an editor and a book reviewer.

The cover of Arrivals, Susie's eBook novella

I also like to buy individual short stories from the likes of Shortfire Press. Generally though, I still buy physical books and borrow them from the library. I prefer beautiful printed books, there has been a resurgence in popularity of the book as art object.

How has the introduction of the Kindle Single been helpful to writers?

It is good for people who write novellas, short stories or essays. It is helpful in terms of getting topical content out quickly, as many publishers have a backlog in terms of getting printed books out, which can stretch into two years or more. It also increases the reach that a title may have, as distribution becomes less of a problem. Newpapers are certainly embracing similar formats for hot topics.

Which is more beneficial financially, an eBook sold or a paperback sold?

Most writers don’t earn JK Rowling’s salary. That is why most have another job. It works out about the same, but if my eBook suddenly were to become a bestseller I’d make more from it than the paperback, as my terms change in relation to sales once overheads are covered.

Are there issues with eBook pricing and marketing?

I organised a launch for a number of Parthian’s Kindle eBooks and it was a strange event. There were no physical books on sale. People didn’t bring their Kindles and iPads along and buy the book there and then, though there was wifi so they could have done so. Still I wanted to mark the occasion, and we read from our Kindles on the night.

Amazon’s monopoly is another worry. I encourage people to support their local independent booksellers and small publishers by buying direct, where possible or using services like hive.co.uk. Best of all, go to an author event and buy the book direct from the author. That’s often when they make the most money. There are other arguments in relation to eBook pricing to do with the fact that authors don’t get paid much in the first place, a 10-12% cut of sales for new writers – considering that a book can take several years to write – and that though eBooks reduce overheads of printing and distribution, there are still the costs of editing and proofing and for publishers to cover.

Click here to see Susie’s author profile on Amazon

More on the subject: Author Amanda Hocking makes millions from eBooks

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The rise of eBooks in Welsh libraries

Waterstone's will launch its own eReader to compete against Amazon's Kindle next year

“eBooks are still selling well and we will see a surge in eBook downloads over Christmas as people unwrap their new readers.”

Jon Howells, press officer for Waterstone’s.

Earlier this year website figures for Waterstone’s showed eBooks were selling four times as fast as hardbacks. This Christmas book fans could find a parcel with a different shape waiting for them underneath the tree. eBook readers are becoming popular amongst book fans. Books can be downloaded instantly on these portable devices.

The challenge to meet digital demand

Publishers have reacted to digital demand by creating and commercialising online content. Parthian Books, based in Cardigan, has been selling books since 1993. Last October it started releasing eBooks and now sells the work of 30 Welsh authors online. “At the moment we’re trying to get our files to as many different places as possible, from iBook and Kobo to Amazon,” said Claire Houguez, marketing officer for Parthian Books.

But in some areas of England the availability of online resources has been used to justify library cuts, causing librarians to join the public sector strikes on Nov 30. For those like Dr Anthony Mandal, a senior lecturer at Cardiff University, this is concerning. “We need to ask ourselves what kind of world we will be bequeathing to future generations,” he said. “There should be no price and no restriction on access to the cultural capital of a society.”

Library cuts across Britain

Map built using data from Public Library News, click here to see original content.

Digital investment for public libraries in Wales

eBooks loans cannot be downloaded to Kindles as Amazon has no interest in joining the scheme.

Fortunately Welsh investment in libraries has continued and recent statistics released by CIPFA show the number of borrowers in Wales has risen by 8.3 per cent.

Welsh libraries are using the internet to engage with the public. Since the introduction of a new eBook loan system in August, library users can access facilities at home and outside of opening times. This pilot programme will last a year. It is funded by 12 Welsh library authorities and the Welsh government through cyMAL.

Members can download up to four eBooks onto their computers or eReaders. The loans last for three weeks before they are automatically wiped. So far people can choose from over 4,000 titles, 60 per cent of this is fiction, 15 per cent is for children and the rest is non-fiction.

“This is something people have looking and waiting for,” said Elspeth Morris, operational manager for libraries in Cardiff. “The supplier puts up what they have available but we’re still hoping it’s a good choice of books.”

Leah Hayes, from Port Talbot library, was one of the first to use the new system. “It encourages people to use our services,” she said. “Some people have joined the library via the internet after the scheme was introduced, they may have never stepped into a library before.”

  Leah Hayes on the popularity of eBooks

Online archives, digitisation at Cardiff University

New Turning the Pages software allows users to interact with archive material

At Cardiff University’s department for special collections and archives (SCHOLAR) digitisation has also become important. Last year the university contributed £500,000 to the re-housing of 14,000 items in the Cardiff Rare Books Collection at its Arts and Social Studies Library. By scanning pages from collections like these and publishing them online the team can bring them to a wider audience.

The scanning process is a lengthy one, it takes time and expertise and needs funding.“It is difficult at the moment because the university sector does require access to a lot of current information,” said Peter Keelan, head of special archives at Cardiff University. “Our budget goes to paying commercial publishers to gain access to major databases. We have to find additional resources if we want to digitise our materials in house.”

Robert Darnton on the monopoly of academic journal publishers

Robert Darnton, director at Harvard University Library, is one person who is trying to find a solution to this. Last week he spoke in Cardiff about the creation of the Digitial Public Library of America. If librarians pool their resources they could bypass paying for expensive subscriptions and have more money for further digitisation.

“Research libraries everywhere have been digitising their special collections, ” said Professor Darnton. “What we need to do is to find a way to make all these special collections interoperable and easily accessible to users.”

The message from librarians is that the rise of e-books does not replace library services. Shoppers may be spending on eBooks and eReaders this Christmas. But with libraries providing this as part of their service, access to information will remain fair and free.