As I work through the course and the Effect Change Manager’s Handbook, I’ll write up some words that will hopefully be of use. The book starts out by noting how ‘interdisciplinary’ the field is and its fitting that my most recent post, as Publisher at Rowman and Littlefield International, involved heading up the editorial department at a interdisciplinary publisher – and striving to work out what that means, and how best to implement it in a concrete publishing programme. We sold, still, into silos – academic disciplines, third party wholesalers and distributors and the invariably tricky world of BIC and BISAC. So how might we improve? I’ll try to set out some ways we achieved that and some of the lessons I learned.
Ultimately, the days of the single function distributor are over, unless there is a pressing physicality or specificity around the type of item being sent out. If you send out fragile embossed glass or giant lead lining panels, maybe you need specialist gear. B and Q need their own warehouse. But to build a new, automated and robot assisted warehouse at great cost and to only ship out … books … is misguided at best and unprofitable at the bottom line. Amazon will ship books and high value electronics as the same ‘thing’ so the big box warehouses like MDL and Ingram are now competing with a company that will ship a book, a pair of headphones and a new watch, all for free, and all from the same warehouse tech. Add to this that Amazon has metadata and reporting that allows its self-published authors to see Unit by unit real time sales and be paid royalties by the book if necessary, and the publishing big box warehouses have … old systems that spit out CSV files.
So I made a besan, without really using any measures or scales. It came out all right. Recipe posted in case you would like to have a go.
So, the world changes, irrevocably.
I keep refreshing the news and Twitter until I feel slightly nauseous, my own sense of unease and powerlessness building. Leah Finnegan’s writing at The Outline seems to be to unusual perceptive and her piece, “The internet is making me sick” was a great read that I recommend you make time for. There was, quite obviously, something very unusual before this global pandemic about our relationship with the internet, with ‘new’ media, with the social networks. Much has been written, amongst the chattering classes and by theorists trying to work out what exactly the substance of these changes is. But now that state of unusual behaviour and its pathology in mental and physical illnesses is in overdrive, with every second a chancee to lever in an update, a hot take, a command or perform some moral piety via a tweet. The idea that two ideas could exist in the same space is steamrollered by a binary brinkmanship. The American Id, Donald Trump, rides the wave.
I bought a box of beer online, being as all the pubs are now shut. I have been working my way through them and trying to review them, and I’ll try to update here. I checking in to ‘Untappd’ of course, but somehow that isn’t enough. I need to laboriously detail the drinks in overwritten prose. I need space to talk about the resinous tastes and bitter hops, the sweet and sour ‘mariage parfait’ of the lambic sour. I’ll post artful pictures alongside them in the hope that my social cachet and intellectual standing will increase – which of course, it won’t.
I started with an IPA – it was called something or other, I forget. It tasted fine and wasn’t worth what I paid for it. I can’t really do this can I, in the face of such a huge moment in human history? Write a beer blog or update people on my DIY projects? Should I write purple prose, or carve out a novel that tries to synthesize the ‘lessons’ that I am learning? Is it okay to accept that this is perhaps beyond comprehension, and that the ordinary response is a sort of half-numbness, a slowness and heaviness in thought and action as the genuinely epoch-making actions of lockdown and quarantine bend an entire generation out of shape – perhaps permanently? I am sure that Frantzen and McEwan are hard at work writing the Great Q-Tine Novel, and there will be an explosion of literature out of this. But I am not sure I … care? I feel like we’re getting closer to the truth when I can be honest with myself about this. But the more truths that are uncovered, the more work that is done here, the harder it will be to row back.
New order of events, it appears. New way of thinking. In the dark twilight of the Western world, as the sun sets on the traditional superpowers, people cling to strongmen.
They do this despite the hurt it does their neighbours, their friends, their exotic friends from down the road. People need surety. They want Security.
So, we continue and we descend. This is the new normal, a spasmodic reaction to the falling living standards that are intolerable to those sold on the promise of eternal growth, sold on the promise of the sunlit uplands. Others, on their way to a comfortable middle class existence, won’t be told by the Western powers that their goals are unrealistic, dangerous, planet-destroying. After all, it’s bare faced hypocrisy, although quite plainly true that we can not have our cake and eat it too. We can’t have our planet and burn what we dig out of it.
And then throw into the mix a global pandemic.
Having tweaked the U-Sanz recipe it now works and smells fine so I can move on to the next task in hand, making sure that I drink at least once a day during this Covid times and don’t run out of whisky. I also slowly prepare my manuscript, Corona Poems, and work out if its okay to listen to that slabfaced racist Morrissey. Also, why did Bloc Party only make one good album and the rest were average to bad, why not space out the hits guys?
Today’s #DiversityInPublishing panel brought to you by Hodder Books
We sit and the world has changed. So I brew me up some weird concoctions to deal with the realness (to borrow from the Novelist). Even television shows just beam the past in to the house – a past that has ceased to exist, that never happened. This is my home made sanitizer, which I have called “U-Sanz”. All rights reserved.