Welcome to the first news roundup of 2014! The year has certainly begun with a bang with all manner of changes including the upcoming editorial transition for the much-loved Books Ireland along with a shift in gears for Poetry Ireland as newly-appointed director Maureen Kennelly has called for a national poetry centre. In other news poetical it was fantastic to see Sinead Morrissey winning the TS Eliot Prize for poetry with her collection Parallax as well as the appointment of Chris Morash as the very first professor of Irish Writing at Trinity College Dublin. It was also lovely to see that Declan Meade of The Stinging Fly headed up a literary panel as part of the Hyderabad Literary Festival in India, where Ireland was this year’s guest of honour.
Trials and Tribulations for the Arts as Funding Continues its Descent
This month saw the much-awaited announcement of Arts Council’s funding allocations for 2014. There were some changes on last year’s grants, including a 12 ½ % rise on last year’s €8,000 for Leabhar Breac to €9,000 and a fairly impressive hike for Dalkey Archive Press who have risen from €8,000 in 2012 to a much healthier €14,250 this year. For more details on funding decisions for Publishing Ireland members including percentage differences between 2013 and 2014, go to http://www.publishingireland.com/membership/file-cabinet/. The rain keeps on pouring for the arts in Ireland as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan has once again rolled out his argument for private funding sources implying that it was up to arts organisations to find alternatives to state funding in order to supplement themselves (see http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/arts-organisations-must-seek-out-private-as-well-as-public-sources-for-funding-1.1674082 )
In more positive news for the council, however, the new chairwoman appointment of Sheila Pratschke has been widely welcomed as a more dynamic move for the organisation. Literary editor of the Irish Times Fintan O’Toole was particularly pleased with the appointment saying that she had done a ‘superb job’ during her time in Paris as director of Centre Culturel Irlandais from to 2007 to 2013 and is a hugely respected figure in the industry.
Launches and Other Happenings
January has seen many exciting launches, not least of which was the end of an era for Books Ireland as Friends and contributors gathered together in the Duke for the outgoing veteran Jeremy Addis who remarked that it was ‘a funny thing attending your own funeral’ in the wake of a wave of nostalgic anecdotes from the audience. The poet and long-time colleague of Addis ,Seamus Cashman, along with reminiscences of editorial humour (which included misplaced accents of all languages) dedicated his rather wonderful poem ‘Lotan Baba’ to the man of the hour. This dedication was added to a beautiful illustrated edition of Ireland’s Coast with images from Carsten Krieger which was then signed by the group. We at Publishing Ireland would once again like to wish Jeremy all the best in his retirement. This month also saw the launch of the new Liberties Press bookshop upstairs during which much wine and lively debate were consumed for what was a great night. Looking forward to browsing the Liberties shelves!
Beyond the Shore: Amazon’s Rollercoaster and IPA Congress Postponed
Amazon have had a fairly interesting if not terribly consistent few weeks of late. Not only have they been curtailed in Scandinavia on account of not being forthcoming about their turnover figures (for the full story on how countries like Norway and Sweden are slowing them down in their expansion go tohttp://www.thebookseller.com/news/amazons-scandinavian-plans-slow.html )but having announced a significant increase in profits at the end of 2013, it now appears that share prices have very definitely dropped in spite of this. With the company now moving into its much larger Dublin centre of operations in the Burlington Plaza shortly this year will undoubtedly be an interesting one for the online giant.
The upcoming congress of the International Publishers Association has had to be postponed until next year as events in Bangkok have taken a turn for the worse. Following the Thai government declaring a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces in addition to a protest leader being killed in Bangkok last week.
The Publisher Blogspot
Here are some of the more interesting blog pieces this month coming from around the twittersphere and all things cyber-spaced:
Rebecca Smart gives the publishing industry a good shake saying that the current stale model of publishing and selling books is like a ‘crumbling edifice’ Check it out Via The Bookseller: http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/harder-better-faster-stronger.html
Mike Shatzkin maps out where publishers are going wrong in their relationships with booksellers and what they can do to fix it: http://www.idealog.com/blog/future-bookstores-key-understanding-future-publishing/
Really nice piece by author Chris Pavone on the vital need for professional publishing in an era that threatens it: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/columns-and-blogs/soapbox/article/60759-let-s-hear-it-for-the-gatekeepers.html
Excellent piece in the Guardian at the beginning of the year with a very useful potted summary of what publishers can expect from the ‘digisphere’ in 2014