October 17, 2014

From papyrus to pixels (The Economist)


To all Members: Some of you may not know that the October 11th-17th issue of The Economist has an interesting essay titled From papyrus to pixels that I found extremely informative for authors.

A few highlights:

In 2013 around 1.4 million International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNS) were issued, according to Bowker, a research firm, up from around 8,100 in 1960. Those figures do not capture the many e-books that are being self-published without an ISBN.
... last year e-books accounted for around 30% of consumer book sales (not including professional and educational books) in America... In Germany... e-books were around 5% of consumer book sales last year.
Amazon is believed to control nearly half of total book sales and about two-thirds of e-book sales in America.
Already the average amount American consumers say the paid for a book (averaging both print and e-books) has declined around 40% since 2009, from $15.45 in 2009 to $9.31 last year.

There are many more fascinating data and evaluations about publishers, authors, prices, standards, ideas and genres. I strongly recommend it.

José Latour

José Latour

José Latour was born in Havana, Cuba, on April 24, 1940. He started reading at a very tender age, progressing from Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimm brothers as a child to Raymond Chandler and Erle Stanley Gardner in his late teens.

By the time the Cuban Revolution came to power, José, who was 19, had become an ardent supporter. He joined the Ministry of Treasury as a junior financial analyst and translator and later moved on to the Cuban Central Bank. From there he transferred to the Ministry of Sugar, ending up in the State Committee of Finance, where from 1977 onwards he swelled the ranks.

Shuffling papers, however, was not challenging enough. In that same year José started writing crime fiction in his spare time. His first three novels (Preludio a la Noche, Medianoche Enemiga and Fauna Noctura), set in pre-revolutionary Havana, were published by Editorial Letras Cubanas in 1982, 1986 and 1989. The fourth (Choque de Leyendas), was launched in 1998, nine years after he first delivered the manuscript to the publisher.

José also joined the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists and the International Association of Crime Writers (IACW) in1988. Two years later he resigned his position as global financial analyst in the Ministry of Finance to become a full-time writer. In 1998 he was elected vice-president for Latin America of the International Association of Crime Writers.

In 1994 José delivered to his publisher The Fool, a novel based on a real-life case of corruption in the ministries of the Interior and the Armed Forces that was uncovered in 1989. This book was considered counterrevolutionary and José was labeled an “enemy of the people.”

Certain that neither The Fool nor the books he wanted to write would get published in Cuba as long as all publishing houses were state-owned, rejecting ideological subservience and adamant about pursuing a career as a novelist, José took a shot at writing in English.

His first novel in that language, Outcast, was published in the U.S., six Western European countries, Brazil and Japan. It got flattering reviews and was nominated for an Edgar. Since, he has penned Havana Best Friends (2002), Havana World Series (2003), Comrades in Miami (2005), The Faraway War, under the pseudonym Enrique Clio (2009) and Crime of Fashion (2009).

Seeking creative fiction and fearing dictatorial repression, the author and his family moved to Spain in August 2002 and to Canada in September 2004. In October 2012 he released as an ebook Riders of Land and Tide.

Website: www.joselatourauthor.com/


  • Charles den Tex (Australië, 1952) studeerde fotografie en film in Londen, doceerde Engels in Parijs,…
  • In 1988 publiceerde Chris Rippen (Haarlem, 1940) zijn eersteling Sporen en maakte als auteur van…
  • Eva Waiblinger, MSc, PhD (Dr. sc. nat.), is a Swiss zoologist and science journalist as…
  • Prof. Jim Madison Davis is the author of several crime novels and several nonfiction books,…
  • José Latour was born in Havana, Cuba, on April 24, 1940. He started reading at…
  • Jutta Motz wurde in Halle an der Saale geboren und ging in Frankfurt am Main…
  • Kriminalromansekundärliteraturexperte mit einer Vorliebe für lange Wörter, die es nur im Deutschen gibt. Hat Österreichs…
  • Sabina Naber arbeitete nach ihrem Studium in Wien u.a. als Regisseurin, Journalistin und Drehbuchautorin. 2002…
  • Sandra Balzo turned to mystery writing after twenty years in corporate public relations, event management…



While there are some excellent books on writing, the web is also filled with terrific sites on the topic. Now Novel has made an extensive list of the very best writing websites, and they’re organised for you by subject and genre.