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Geopolitics and environmental issues affect sponsors of the book industry

Costa axing its book awards hints at fate of future book sponsorships; Jack in the Green revived for ecological causes; Kindle device update requirements a setback for circular economy of second-hand market; Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi off to a shaky start but could get better like Moon Knight. Maybe.

Costa axes book awards, hurts PR money for exposure

The news is out: Costa Coffee, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, will no longer sponsor Costa Book Awards after five decades. The one held in February 2022 was their last.

The book publishing industry was dismayed. However, the axing shouldn’t come as a surprise. The food and retail industry is facing a serious crisis in the supply chain at a global scale. Food security, procurement, health and safety, and sustainability are being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and geopolitics. These, in turn, affect marketing expenses. Potential sponsors have to refocus time and energy to rebuild their supply chain.

Recently, we reported on the damage the cost of living crisis inflicted on self-publishing. This is a segment that largely doesn’t rely on corporate sponsorship for PR energy, unlike mainstream publishers. Today, however, a run of 100 hard copies of a 20-page magazine is as expensive as a month’s rent in London. Self-publishers, like mainstream publishers, have to think creatively around this problem.

Creativity alone is no guarantee for financial survival… It’s sad to see an establishment such as the British Journal Of Photography being sold for something like £50,000 – about 0.8% of its former value of £6 million.

The time is ripe for the creatives to collaborate and mobilise with the ‘number people’. The financially astute we call bean-counters, not just the sponsors swimming around in marketing money. Because we know creativity alone is no guarantee for financial survival. For instance, it’s sad to see an establishment such as the British Journal Of Photography being sold for something like £50,000 – about 0.8% of its former value of £6 million. It’s former Twitter account of 252.6k followers was then sold to an NFT company.

We don’t want to rabbit on about how hubris clouds judgement and make artists – or shall we say, ‘some’ photographers – poor. But there’s a cautionary tale for book people. We know you to be more resilient and not hesitant to eat the humble pie. What would you do to stretch your publishing money further?

More on nature on Story Of Books

Jack in the Green: a figurehead for ecological causes

We were excited to receive the photobook, Jack in the Green, in the post. It was sold to us directly by Piers Golden, one of the trio of photographers who contributed to the book.

Golden and his fellow photographers Barry Pitman and David Wares covered the Hastings Jack in the Green festival and turned the images into this book, an idea realised after the pandemic.

Really enjoyed reading this in our garden. Thanks to Piers Golden for bringing this book to our attention. Lovely photos in colour and black-and-white of Jack in the Green revellers and Morris dancers in garlands. Photo: ©Story Of Books

Jack’s revival is here. He becomes a potential figurehead for modern ecological causes.

The book features two essays, the first being A Brief History of Hastings’ Jack in the Green by Keith Leech. It’s about the history of May Day garlands. The essay mentions Samuel Pepys, who observes that the custom of wearing garlands was popularised by milkmaids and chimney sweeps. The chimney sweeps then travelled throughout southeast England, taking the custom of May Day garlands with them. That was how Jack in the Green got to be popular.

The second essay, The Appropriation and Re-invention of the Foliate Head by Simon Costin, is on the history of Jack in the Green. Myths conflate Jack with the Green Man, the King of May and so on. This, according to Costin, is disinformation. But the most important thing is that Jack’s revival is here. He becomes a potential figurehead for modern ecological causes. Jack isn’t forgotten.

More on Jack in the Green

Upgrade to a new Kindle device – if you’re using Android

We’ve been eyeing second-hand Kindle devices in the hope of buying new e-books. But it looks like we might have to hang on to the app on our iPad. Starting this August:

  • You can’t buy e-book using your Kindle app for Android
  • You can’t buy e-book using old Kindle hardware – 5th generation or earlier
  • You can’t rent or subscribe to Kindle Unlimited via Android devices

Google, the system provider for Android software, wants partners to comply with its compliance policy. The Amazon workaround is to remove ability to purchase via Android devices.

Amazon will also stop selling Kindle in China after 30 June 2023.

This isn’t the first time Amazon has had to deal with the complexities around its partner’s billing requirements and payment compliance. In January 2022, Amazon reached a resolution with Visa on payment processing issues.

How does this encourage a post-Covid circular economy? Maybe not much in terms of hardware upcycling. The second-hand Kindle devices you see in shops such as CEX where you can barter or buy gadgets at knock-off prices may not be compatible anymore for future purchases. But it’s either that, or Amazon is put at risk for not being compliant with payment regulations.

How does this encourage a post-Covid circular economy? Maybe not much in terms of hardware upcycling.

Is Obi-Wan Kenobi a bore? Too early to tell

More on our post-Covid convalescence activity. The autumn blockbusters on Netflix and Crunchyroll haven’t arrived yet, so we’ve been enjoying Disney+ a bit more than usual. Housebound, of course.

Is the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series a bore as some fans alleged? This is the problem with sharing the same social media platform with sci-fi fans. When the show is shit, you inadvertently discover their gripes on your timeline. Well, it’s too early to tell but we ghosted after three episodes to watch Moon Knight instead. We will return to it.

Moon Knight doesn’t disappoint, happily. Oscar Isaac’s North London accent is a bit strange in Episode 1 (whoever says “mar-ke-‘ing”?) but it improves in the subsequent episodes. Isaac is funny to watch throughout the series. Steve Grant, the English alter ego of the protagonist Mark Spectre, can hold a feature-length movie, we reckon. Watch out, Dr Strange. There might be a superhero mummy coming your way.

We think fans should be a bit patient with Obi-Wan Kenobi. That’s just the way they have to consume the ‘universe’ concept. Take, for instance, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). We don’t like the Shang Chi movie ourselves. Not to do with the cast but with the poor storyline. And the dragon. If it’s Asian in theme, does it have to feature a magical bearded dragon? At all? But we watched it anyway because we need to know the whole MCU storyline.

If fans don’t like it, there is always fan fiction. You write your own plot and come up with your own ending.

If fans don’t like it, there is always fan fiction. You write your own plot and come up with your own ending.