You may not have heard of The Martian yet, but I suspect soon enough you will have.
Matt Damon is about to star in the big budget Hollywood version of the book. Trailer here.
Damon is a big name to play the role of astronaut Mark Watney. This big name actor and Hollywood movie are an indication of the immense success the novel has had.
If the film follows the book closely enough, it should be a good film and a huge box office success.
Perhaps this blog will cover the film after it is released (or perhaps not).
The novel is a rare thing, a self-publishing smash hit. Andy Weir released the ebook in 2011 and it sold and sold and sold by word of mouth alone of just how good the narrative is.
A publishing deal followed with an imprint of Random House, hardback edition followed by paperback.
The novel is really well written in the vein if your classic adventure story of a stranded man trying to survive in a hostile environment (Robinson Crusoe in space anyone?).
The pacing is superb. You roll along with Watney at a great speed bouncing from one problem to another sharing his highs and lows.
There is a fair amount of science in the novel too. The technical challenges of growing vegetable matter on Mars should bore the pants of you, but it doesn’t.
You find yourself wanting to understand the process as it is a matter of life and death to Watney. Making you care about this biological problem demonstrates Weir’s masterful writing.
Bearing in mind the majority of the text is about one man alone in a hostile environment, the narrative races along.
definitely read the novel, if you like it, try the film when it comes out too.

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Print is dead?

September 20, 2010

Anyone with a big interest in digital publishing should check out this book: Print is Dead by Jeff Gomez. (At time of writing I can only see a paperback and hardback version available on Amazon, think someone is missing a trick here by not having a digital version…)

Jeff is a  senior director of online consumer sales and marketing for Penguin Group USA – so he knows his apples.

I read his book while in Zante last year sat by the pool and mostly found it enlightening.

The only real area I disagreed with him was on pricing of digital books. As I recall his argument was that publishers needed to charge the prices they do to ensure they could keep their staff in their offices doing the fine work they do.

This mostly amounts to quality control of submissions that go on to become books and then editing the text and laying them out before distributing them.

In my previous post I mentioned Gail Rebuck of Random House, in her Media Guardian interview she said: “Publishers are relevant. We have practical expertise and, of course, money. We give our authors advances which enable them to concentrate on their work in hand … My idea of hell is a website with 80,000 self-published works on it – some of which might be jewels, but, frankly, who’s got the time? What people want is selection and frankly that’s what we do.”

The argument from the established publishing houses appears to be the high prices of digital books needs to be maintained so THEY can offer the paying public quality control.

For some reason I quite like the idea of a website with 80,000 self published works – I suspect the collective readers of the internet will let you know what is good and what isn’t – hasn’t Gail just described YouTube (I recommend the video I link to here btw) but for books???

Anyone interested in setting up such a site should email me at edd@edwardkeating.co.uk

I mentioned the Blair book a while ago.

The publisher is well respected in the industry and was interviewed by Media Guardian earlier this week:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/sep/13/gail-rebuck-tony-blair-random-house

This is an interesting article for lots of reasons – Tony Blair was PM for a long time and there is a lot of controversy around him. But my interest here is in digital publishing.

So , from where I’m coming from, one of the more interesting aspects of the interview is where Gail Rebuck says in 10 years time digital will make up “25-30% of revenue” for Random House.

I respect her a lot – she is head of Random House and you don’t get there by accident, but I think she is wrong on this one.

But hey, time will tell.

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