I’d like to apologise to readers in America for the long wait for the most recent Bryant & May novel ‘The Invisible Code’, but this is beyond my control. After the date was put back it became clear something was afoot, and now it has emerged that Penguin and Random House are currently in merger talks to form one huge powerhouse publisher.
A merger would bring together two of the world’s “big six” publishers to create a new powerhouse that would publish 25% of all books sold in the UK, and Bertelsmann, the privately owned German company that owns Random House, would then own more than 50% of the conglomerate. This does not necessarily bode well for authors, many of whom will no doubt be given the order of the boot. But it helps explain why so many of my friends have had their publication dates shifted.
Here in the UK as we emerge from recession and return to growth, books are doing rather well, with hardbacks now seen in their own niche market as both gifts and ‘keepers’, while e-books cannibalise the old mass-market trade. In short, people are reading more than they were before, and the shakeout may prove invigorating.
Quite where this leaves Bryant & May will become clearer in the weeks ahead, but it’s likely they’ll continue to be published one way or another, while I explore other fiction and non-fiction avenues. With both ‘Plastic’ and ‘Film Freak’ coming out in the coming months I have now sold everything I’ve ever written with the exception of one big novel, which I’m still tinkering with.
One thing continues to puzzle me. With the new interest in reading as a pastime, why aren’t publishers encouraging their readership to branch out into trying new authors? The Big Six still prefer to burn their fingers with celebrity memoirs and novelists who have TV shows are far more likely to get into print. Yet I have never seen any empirical evidence correlating TV and book sales figures. If ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (which we can be generous about and call ‘rubbish’) can appear from nowhere without a TV show or a pedigree of any kind, why can’t other novels?
Meanwhile for American readers, ‘The Invisible Code’ remains, well, invisible.