Book sales, self-publishing and Wool

I was reading through a (full-size!) Sydney Morning Herald article from January. Interesting to see that the number and value of books sold in Aust. in 2012 decreased (56.6 million sold – a fall of 6.3% from 2011). The top 6 bestsellers were the Fifty shades series and The Hunger Games series. Without the Fifty shades series, the decrease would have been 11.2%. However, Dymocks stated that their 74 shops sold 500 000 more books than previous years – but the average price was down from $23 to $15.60. They noted that the tablet and e-reader have taken over. (Steger, J. 2013, ‘Readers hunger for two trilogies”, SMH, 5-6 Jan, p. 6.).

In the US, many writers are now turning their backs on traditional publishing and each week self-published authors make the ebook bestseller lists, as well as lists by the New York Times, Wall St Journal, USA Today etc. A year ago this was rare.

Self-publishing platforms include:

CreateSpace (Amazon offshoot)


Bookpal (Aust. company begun 2002)

Some ideas for high school fiction collections:

Wool by Hugh Howey

In a dystopian future, a community exists in an underground silo. Their lives are full of rules and regulations, secrets and lies. The dangerous ones are those that hope and dream – their punishment is being allowed outside.

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi bestseller began in 2011 as a “self-pubbed” digital “novelette” that grew into a novel after thousands of online rave reviews. Howey finally agreed to sell the print rights in Dec. 2012 whilst retaining electronic rights and profits – a first in the industry. The print version hits US bookstores 12 March. Available as 8 books & omnibus. Film rights have been sold to Ridley Scott. Howey’s Molly Fyde series also sounds good for young adult sci-fi fans.

Wool series:

Book review:

Amanda Hocking

US writer of paranormal romance young adult fiction. In April 2010 Hocking self-published 9 novels as ebooks. By March 2011 she had sold over 1 million copies and earned $2 million in sales – previously unheard of for self-published authors. In March 2011 she signed a $2 million publishing contract for 4 print books in the Watersong paranormal series. Other series: My blood approves (vampire romance); Trylle trilogy (urban fantasy); Hollowland (zombie fiction).



Some excellent upcoming films!

It’s time for the Oscars! Some good films nominated that tie in with curriculum areas – Life of Pi (novels, philosophy, psychology – just wonderful); Argo (history; global relations); Silver linings playbook (psychology, mental health – really good film); Zero dark thirty (global relations, psychology, crime & deviance, history); Lincoln (history); Les mis (history, novels, great songs). Good luck Hugh Jackman and Jacki Weaver!
All the awards through the years – Oscars, Globes, SAGs, BAFTAs etc – IMDB is certainly an excellent site!

Other upcoming films to look forward to – good for courses in sci-fi, fantasy, fiction to film, media, popular culture…rather a long list…sorry – film fever!

Star Wars: episode VII
3 new Star Wars films are coming & 2 peripheral movies (since George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to the Walt Disney Co last year). The first will be Star Wars: episode VII – directed by J. J. Abrams (Star trek 2009, Super 8, Lost – TV series). To be released 2015. Some (including William Shatner) feel that Abrams should not be directing 2 of the biggest franchises – Star wars AND Star trek!

Star trek: into darkness
Director: J.J.Abrams. Follow-on from Star trek (2009). Opens May 2013. Stars Chris Pine as a young Kirk and Benedict Cumberbatch as villain John Harrison…aww Sherlock! “After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction”.

Beautiful creatures
Now showing. Based on the well-regarded young adult Gothic romance novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, their debut novel. Directed by Richard LaGravenese. Stars Alice Englert (daughter of Jane Campion), Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons. Not Bella and Edward this time, but Lena and Ethan. A young man in a small Southern town falls for troubled new girl Lena – a witch who will be claimed for the light or dark on her 16th birthday. Apparently much better than the Twilight series!
Movie info:
Movie review:
Book info:

Oz the great and powerful
Previews look excellent! Prequel to the Wizard of Oz. Directed by Sam Raimi (Spider-Man). Stars James Franco, Mila Kunis (Wicked Witch of the West) and Michelle Williams (Glinda). Opens 7 March 2013. A small-time unethical magician lands in Oz and is drawn into the problems facing the inhabitants, where he must find out who is good and evil in order to redeem himself.

Great expectations
Based on Dickens’ novel about the orphan who becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor. Directed by Mike Newel. Stars Jeremy Irvine as Pip, Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch and Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham. Opens 7 March 2013.

Jack the giant slayer
Directed by Bryan Singer. Stars Nicholas Hoult (the cute kid from About a boy), Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor. Opens 21 March. A young farmhand fighting for a kingdom and the love of a princess, opens a gateway between the world of humans and a race of giants, thus reigniting an ancient war.

Warm bodies
A paranormal romantic zombie comedy based on the novel by Isaac Marion; directed by Jonathan Levine. Stars Nicholas Hoult (yes the cute kid from About a boy). The film is told from the zombie’s perspective – “R” falls in love with Julie, a living human and love helps him develop some human characteristics again. Extensive voice-overs are used, as zombies have trouble speaking. Opens 11 April.
The Steve Jobs biopic recently screened at the Sundance Film Festival, to mixed reviews. Stars Ashton Kutcher as Jobs and Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak. Directed by Joshua Stern. Opens here June 2013. The film focuses on Job’s life from when he dropped out of college to when the first iPod came out in 2001. They even filmed in the Silicon Valley garage where the first Apple computer was created. Sony Pictures is also planning a separate Jobs biopic, based on Walter Isaacson’s bestselling biography and to be written by Aaron Sorkin (The social network).

The Fifth Estate
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Julian Assange in the drama depicting the early days of WikiLeaks. He looks different with that hair!
Directed by Bill Condon, who explores “the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age”. Opens late 2013.
Assange accuses the film of being a “massive propaganda attack”:

The mortal instruments: City of bones
Based on the popular urban fantasy book series by Cassandra Clare. Stars Lily Collins. Opens here Aug 2013. When her mother is taken by a demon in New York, a teenage girl finds out truths about her past and bloodline that changes her entire life.

Ender’s game
Based on the acclaimed sci-fi novels Ender’s game & Ender’s shadow by Orson Scott Card. Directed by Gavin Hood. Stars Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, an unusually gifted child, is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future alien invasion. There he is honed into an empathetic killer who begins to despise himself as he learns to fight in order to save Earth and his family. Opens late 2013.

Hunger Games 2 : Catching fire
Katniss and Peeta head back into the Games in Nov 2013.

The graveyard book
Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed 2008 children’s book will be filmed as a live-action movie (instead of animated), directed by Ron Howard. The book is the only title to ever win both the Carnegie and Newbery Medals for Best Children’s Book. Young Nobody Owens is raised by ghosts in a cemetery after his family is murdered. As a teen, he is pursued again by the murderer.

20 000 leagues under the sea
Based on Jules Verne’s 1870 novel. Currently in development with Disney with David Fincher (The social network) to direct in 3D. The Federal Government has offered an incentive for it to be filmed in Aust. – but despite rumours, there will be no Brad Pitt in a wetsuit…

Relax with a good film – based on a good book!

Cloud atlas and some good TV shows coming up

Cloud atlas

I’m loving this Booker nominated novel – don’t know why I missed reading it in 2004. It’s a great read that mixes spec fiction, dystopian fiction and realistic fiction in an intriguing pyramid-style narrative that spans generations – from the 19th to 24th centuries.
Theme: everything is connected. Cloud atlas is 6 intertwined stories in 6 time periods and genres – an 1849 diary of a Pacific Ocean voyage; letters from a composer to his friend; a thriller about a murder at a nuclear power plant; a farce about a publisher in a nursing home; an interview with a rebellious clone in futuristic Korea; and the memoirs of an old man who lived in a tribal community in post-apocalyptic Hawaii, far in the future.

Book review: “A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles of genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian lore of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction that reveals how disparate people connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky”.
More reviews:

“The novel is a series of nested dolls or Chinese boxes, a puzzle-book, and yet—not just dazzling, amusing, or clever but heartbreaking and passionate, too. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I’m grateful to have lived, for a while, in all its many worlds.”—Michael Chabon.

Cloud atlas the movie opens 28 Feb. Directed by Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, run) and Andy & Lana (previously Larry) Wachowski (The Matrix).

Movie review: “Cloud Atlas is profound in its reach, its visual and acoustic impact, its mesmerizing flow and its completely ground-breaking storytelling, and movie goers will see it and feel it in their guts. It is a movie that is a product of our age of internet-driven universal knowledge and vision, and the freedom we have to travel the world and jump between ages, genres, images and identities at our will. It reminds us that we are human and that we can still hear our heart beat, if we listen.” – C. Lutz

More details, trailer & reviews:

Positive review:
Negative review:

Check the multiple characters played by stars (often unrecognisable) – Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent:

Can’t wait to see it! And I definitely want to read more of Mitchell’s books (all nominated for awards).

Some good TV shows also coming up this year:

Batavia – 6 hour miniseries on Ch. 10, based on the book by Peter FitzSimons, about the 1629 wreck of a Dutch ship off the W.A. coast. “The book is a sea-faring adventure full of mutiny, love, lust, criminality, slavery and the birth of the world’s first corporation.”- IMDB.

Game of thrones – series 3 starts 1 April (Pay TV). This series of fantasy books by George R.R. Martin went to the top of the best-seller lists after the TV series was aired. Readers say the first 2 TV series follow the books very closely. Many senior students watch the show – it is often rather graphic – schools would have to carefully consider viewing episodes with senior students.

Chris Lilley – new 6 part series to be released in 2013. Let’s hope it’s better than the disappointing Angry boys – his first 2 series were excellent!

The walking dead – series 3 starts 12 Feb (Pay TV). Graphically gruesome – not really suitable to show at school, but students are watching it. The series has been nominated for several awards. Yes there are hungry & violent zombies but people are trying to survive as best they can – with the usual social & moral questions. The humans have some success – zombies are slow & they suck at climbing & swimming. Based on the Eisner award-winning graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman and others (popular in senior high school). There is also a web series based on the novels & TV series and video games.

Paper giants: magazine wars – Stars Rachel Griffiths as Dulcie Boling (editor New Idea), Mandy McElhinney as Nene King (editor Women’s Day) and Rob Carlton (Kerry Packer). Explores the rivalry of 2 powerful women in Australian publishing. Coming to ABC.

Power games: the Packer-Murdoch story – Set in 1960-75, the story of how the epic ambitions of Rupert Murdoch and Sir Frank Packer collided as they battled for control of Australia’s newspaper and television industries. Coming to Ch. 9.

The time of our lives – Follows 3 generations of a modern Aust. family. Stars Claudia Karvan, Shane Jacobson, William McInnes & Stephen Curry. Coming to ABC.