Friday, 31 December 2010


“That was the year that was. It’s over, let it go,” to parody the old Millicent Martin TV intro ... though she did express it exactly that way in kissing goodbye to 1963. Gosh ... am I really so long-in-the-tooth now that I can remember every word she sang?

And what a year 2010 was for writers, editors, publishers, retailers, readers – the whole book thing we love so much has shot off in a direction old  Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg could never have dreamed of back in the fifteenth century when he came up with movable type and ran off the first printed book for the common man.

In fact, not even the big boys of the modern publishing industry saw it coming until well into this passing decade:

*The emergence of the ebook.

*The introduction of dedicated reading devices.

*The 2010 explosion of the ebook into the mainstream.

The e-revolution eclipses even the printing press in terms of its reach and value. The world’s biggest retailers are now regularly reporting more ebooks sold than print books, hundreds of thousands of freely downloadable classics and other public domain works are now available to the bookish professor in his Oxford study and the literature-starved children of remote villages in the developing world, new and previously unpublished authors are by-passing the traditional publishing gatekeepers to rush into e-print with their own raw material, offered freely or cheaply ... and by no means always without worth.

The word is out!

The doomsday prophets who have been predicting the death of reading since the advent of radio, TV and cinema are now eating their own words. Reading has been rejuvenated in the age of computer games and instant movies. Jane Austen entered the 2010 best-seller lists.

Why? Because a book is its content and not its means of presentation. Carved in stone, stamped into a clay tablet, on a scroll, crafted into a hand-tooled leather-bound hardback, web-offsetted for a mass-run paperback, an ebook reader screen ... it’s the words that matter. The message, not the messenger.

Easier and cheaper access to literature does not reduce its value, it merely finds it a greater readership.

BeWrite Books spearheaded the ebook movement, as old friends know. We predicted dedicated-readers and an ebook revolution back in the mists of the last century. So we’re ahead of the game with every single title in our catalogue now offered in all major digital formats and available internationally at all the huge new ebook stores.

Many BB authors will have a pleasant surprise when their next royalty cheques arrive. Many new BB readers will have a pleasant surprise when they are introduced to our top-drawer authors and their work.

Even so, 2010 hasn't been plain sailing for us at mission control. Tony and I have been working at least 14x7 to keep ahead of the game. We had to re-register BeWrite Books, first in Canada and then in the USA just to get our ebooks into the new retail outlets. Tony’s technical talent, energy and sheer guts has taken my breath away. Unfailing and enthusiastic support from the excellent and diligent Hugh McCracken and Sam Smith on the editorial team and from our authors has been wonderful and energising.

Some of you might know that we have felt badly let down by our printers over recent months. (In fact, you can’t currently even buy print books from our own site because of an unforgivable hitch with a company we now call Laughing Stock – pick them up elsewhere and we’ll eat the retail commissions. And, of course, all ebook versions are available from site for instant download.) But even that set back we are taking in our stride, tackling head-on and making progress with.

In 2011, we will take seven-league strides. We will most probably release more new titles than at any time since we launched our publishing side in 2002. We are extending the genres in which we publish.

We will NOT be less selective in the books we publish or editorially less than top-whack. Our design and technical side is second to none. With ebooks, the playing field is levelling out ... we can now, for the first time, compete with the Big Six in terms of sheer quality and availability if not yet on star-appeal.

This new decade will see our authors and our readers more satisfied than ever.

Happy Hogmanay, folks. Here’s to the future. Here's to you all. Here's to e-volution!

Love and luck: Neil, Tony, Hugh, Sam et al


  1. Meredith Whitford1 January 2011 at 08:58

    A great post, Neil. CAn't say I remember every word of what MM sang, but then I'm so old (tho a smidge younger than thee) that we only got our first TV set in 1963. Sheesh, how old does that make me feel?

    How typical of you to rattle of Gutenberg's full name. Did you see that excellent doco on the first press, by Stephen Fry? The one where they re-created the actual press first used. If all these great docos by comedians and the Top Gear crew had been around when I was young I'd know a lot more than I do.

    Love "Laughing Stock".

    All best wishes to everyone at my lovely publisher for a great 2011.

  2. Thanks, Meredith. Now off to track down Stephen Fry on Gutenberg. Slainte ba. Neil

  3. Your energy jumps off the page and with good reason. I loved this paragraph:

    "Why? Because a book is its content and not its means of presentation. Carved in stone, stamped into a clay tablet, on a scroll, crafted into a hand-tooled leather-bound hardback, web-offsetted for a mass-run paperback, an ebook reader screen ... it’s the words that matter. The message, not the messenger."

    I couldn't agree more. I think I'll print it for myself and read it often. Good news, Neil; I know you are happy.


  4. Loads o' love to you Carmen, ol' pal. Thanks for dropping by. Yup, I'm a happy chappy ... always am (apart from when I'm not). Hoots toots and a grand new year. Neil