Book industry balance continues to tilt towards the author

Every week, it seems there is more evidence that the balance of power in the book industry continues to tilt towards the author and away from the all-powerful publisher. One of the latest examples is John Green, who writes fiction for young adults from his home in Indianapolis, and whose latest novel has hit number one before it has even been published.

Green gives credit for this phenomenon to his Twitter and YouTube followers, but the real credit should go to him for being willing to not just use social media as a promotional tool the way some do, but to actually reach out and engage with his readers and fans.

As the Wall Street Journal describes it, Green simply posted the title of his new book — a story about two young cancer patients called “The Fault In Our Stars” on his Twitter account — where he has built up a following of more than a million fans — and on his Tumblr blog, as well as a community forum based around Green’s work called

He then offered to sign the entire first print run of the book, and later followed that up with a live YouTube show, in which he discussed his plans for the book and read from a chapter of the uncompleted novel.

The whole process started on Tuesday afternoon, and by that evening, the book had apparently hit the number one spot on both the Amazon list of bestsellers and the Barnes & Noble list.

Not surprisingly, this kind of word-of-mouth marketing multiplied by the force of social media has caused a lot of raised eyebrows in the industry. As one senior editor at publisher Harper Collins told the Journal:

Everyone is now focused on it, because when it works, it can be a runaway train

Obviously, not everyone is going to have the million-plus followers that Green has, or the devoted following on YouTube that he and his brother Hank have built up over years of doing what used to be called “vlogging” or video-blogging… The point is that no publisher or agent or industry had to create those things; the author did it himself with help from his fans.

RTFA. More information, more compartments of experience and method open up. How and why an author can seize more control over growing their fans, their market. Because the capability is there for writers. Because publishers aren’t especially willing or able to do the same.

Fulham FC statue of Michael Jackson defended by club owner

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Fulham chairman Mohammed Al Fayed has told fans they can “go to hell” if they do not appreciate a new Michael Jackson statue at Craven Cottage stadium.

Mr Al Fayed unveiled the statue on Sunday prior to the west London Premier League team’s match against Blackpool.

The statue was commissioned following Jackson’s death in June 2009 and was due to be erected at Harrods before Mr Al Fayed sold the Knightsbridge store…

Outside the stadium, Fulham fan Michael Tune said: “We’re a laughing stock. It has nothing to do with football.”

Another Fulham fan, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “It makes the club look silly. I thought it was an April Fools joke.”

But Mr Al Fayed said: “If some stupid fans don’t understand and appreciate such a gift this guy gave to the world they can go to hell.

One fan said the Jackson statue made Fulham “a laughing stock“…

“If they don’t understand and don’t believe in things I believe in they can go to Chelsea, they can go to anywhere else,” he added…

The singer was a friend of Mr Al Fayed’s but his only known link to the football club is that he attended one game as a guest of the chairman, against Wigan Athletic in 1999.

As raucous as is the article, the fans were even louder. If Al Fayed had taken the time to attend the match he would have witnessed a number of fans poking fun at his hangup with Jackson.

Baseball game called “on account of gunfire!”

“I surrender, I surrender!”

The Mexican baseball league has been forced to suspend a game in progress because of gunfire at a stadium.

The game between the Broncos at their home stadium in Reynosa and the Monterrey Sultans was suddenly interrupted when gunshots were heard.

Witnesses said the baseball players ran for cover and dived into their dugouts.

Panic spread through the crowd of spectators after a group of unknown gunmen exchanged fire on Sunday.

Baseball officials then took the decision to stop the game

The game will resume on Friday in the city of Monterrey.

Uh, OK.

Soccer fans prefer restaurants, museums to hookers. Huh? Wha?

The influx of thousands of soccer fans would increase demand on South African sex workers; at least that was the belief of a leading expert prior to the start of the 2010 World Cup.

But it seems fans of the beautiful game that traveled to the Rainbow Nation have created a flop in sex-worker business — leaving prostitutes out-of-pocket and out of work — in favor of more high-brow pursuits.

“The World Cup has been devastating. We thought it was going to be a cash cow but it’s chased a lot of the business away. It’s been the worst month in my company’s history,” the owner and founder of one of Johannesburg’s most exclusive escort companies told CNN.

“No one is interested in sex at the moment. I think we’ve had three customers who traveled here for the World Cup which has seen my group’s business drop by 80 percent. I enjoyed watching the games, but I can’t wait for everyone to just go home now!” the madam, who works under the alias of “Tori,” added…

The tournament in 2010, if anything, has seen the modern-day soccer fan attracted to art galleries and museums over brothels.

“People went to the bars and stadiums to watch the games and afterwards they went home. They didn’t bother themselves with coming to us,” Zobwa, who works as a prostitute told CNN.

“Before the tournament we were getting good money but [over the month] it has not been busy at all. We thought it was going to be much better but it has been boring. I’ve actually left Johannesburg now because there has been so little trade.

RTFA for the details. Amazing to me. Is the sport attracting a better educated, more perceptive crowd?

Dare I hope?

Fans line-up in Asia 2 days before the 3G iPhone launch

Seeking to be one of the world’s first to grab the new-generation iPhone, fanatical Apple fans around Asia are queuing up two days before its launch, undiscouraged by rain or freezing temperatures.

The July 11 launch will be the first chance for Asian consumers to own an iPhone, and related websites have been swamped with inquiries and early orders…

“The big appeal (of the iPhone) is that this is an Apple product,” said Hiroyuki Sano, a 24-year-old graduate student who early on Tuesday arrived in rainy Tokyo from Nagoya, 225 miles west of the capital, to be first in line.

“I’ve told my professor I was going to go buy an iPhone, and he gave me permission,” said Sano, wearing a T-shirt with an Apple logo. “He is an Apple-lover too, and he sent me off cheerfully…”

Tee hee. Don’t you just love stories about people who wait in line for anything.