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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 11 December 2018. In this issue:

Observations about publishing in Mexico and Latin America, from the Guadalajara Book Fair

This was my first Guadalajara Book Fair (FIL) and I hope it won’t be the last. It’s the most vibrant I’ve ever been to, with music, performance, readings and debates taking place across the stands. Booksellers are well-represented alongside publishers and all seem to do a roaring trade.

FIL is open to the general public from 4pm every day and all day Thursday, and there is real excitement at being able to see so many books in one place. Bookshops have it shockingly hard in Mexico, and only exist at all in the big cities, leaving the vast majority of the population without access. The country has significant logistical challenges, so ordering books by post is not a straightforward option. Amazon is in Mexico, but it’s expensive. All of this is why the 45 annual book fairs that happen here are buzzing and busy, and offer real opportunities for readers, publishers, and booksellers.

I was at FIL to give a talk to around 60 Latin American university press and academic publishers about the international challenges of marketing to the sector, but there were librarians, academics and booksellers in the session too. I had been advised that little marketing was being done, but I suspect in reality that plenty WAS although it wasn’t being thought about or planned for in a structured way – and may not even have been considered ‘marketing’.

Interestingly, Latin America seems to be way ahead of anywhere else in the world when it comes to publishing books open access, with over 50% of university presses already doing it. Academics in the region are committed to OA as they not only believe that research should be freely available, but crucially that this is how to get recognition internationally. And they could well be right.

This was also my third time working with CANIEM, the Mexican Publishers’ Association, running a Marketing Planning Workshop in Mexico City for 36 participants. Thank you to organisers, friends and participants for a well-run and enjoyable day – I hope for everyone concerned and not just me!

Our training courses do run regularly beyond the UK, either on an in-company basis or in conjunction with a local provider or publishing association. If you’d like our courses brought to your region, here’s our international page for more details.

Watch a short video of this year’s Guadalajara Book Fair

Read an excellent article in THE about open access book publishing in Latin American academic presses.


Why is Sci-Hub a threat to open access publishers too? Here’s why

Pirate website Sci-Hub is an obvious threat to any content behind a paywall, but why is it a bad thing for open access where the whole point is to make research available free of charge?

Well here’s why, explained in an article on The Scholarly Kitchen blog recently. Its author, Andrew Pitts, has been specialising in protecting libraries and publishers from IP intrusion for some years, and he pulls no punches:

‘Let me be clear: Sci-Hub is not just stealing PDFs. They’re phishing, they’re spamming, they’re hacking, they’re password-cracking, and basically doing anything to find personal credentials to get into academic institutions. While illegal access to published content is the most obvious target, this is just the tip of an iceberg concealing underlying efforts to steal multiple streams of personal and research data from the world’s academic institutions.’

Libraries that allow access to Sci-Hub through their secure networks are basically opening a door to thieves. Information online flows both ways and if Sci-Hub is presented with valuable data it seems highly unlikely that they will suddenly develop the moral scruples required to be selective.

Read on The Scholarly Kitchen

Our Academic Marketing Workshop is the place to be for more like this.


20 Marketability 2019 desk calendars up for grabs

Our 2019 desk calendars are mailing in the UK this week, but once again we’ve held a few back for the first 20 people who’d like to request one. These little calendars were first produced as a one-off back in 2004 but have been done every year since then having acquired quite a following as the ultimate neat little desk accessory. I’ve lost count of the times people have said ‘I keep it by my PC and refer to it all the time!’ over the years. We only print 300 each year and they end up on desks as far apart as India and Mexico.

If you’ve worked with us this year there’s probably one on its way to you already, but if not (or you would just like to make sure you get one) then reply to this email or use the contact us button on the website to request one. Don’t forget to include your full work address and job title when you do so. Limited to the UK and Europe due to prohibitive postage costs beyond (sorry), and strictly to the first 20 requests.

Got your 2019 desk calendar? Show us yours in position by posting a photo on The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook and tell us where you are.


Tip of the week: How do you write copy for a book that’s just not very good?

This was a real question put to me after a course I ran last month. Realistically we all get to work on titles that aren’t very good, once in a while. To make them sound fantastic would be dishonest, as one of the first rules of copy is to be true to the title you’re promoting. But another rule is to write with conviction.

The answer to this question is to focus on the positive – there will always be good points to make. Even if a book is not doing anything new or exciting you could describe it as ‘down to earth and reliable’, followed perhaps by the table of contents.

A conference venue client of a few years ago promoted an old-fashioned venue as ‘retro-chic’, which was another good example.

There’s a second tip to address this question too, which is that whatever you do, don’t spend long doing it, as the book in question is unlikely to merit it.

Our Copywriting Workshop is (of course) the place to be for more like this.




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