Showing posts from October, 2015

What Turns a Police Thriller into a Bestseller? Lessons from Faceless Killers

Let me start with a confession: I'm not a habitual reader of police thrillers and murder stories. Like everyone, I've read Agatha Christie when I was young, I've gone through all the classics from Arthur Conan Doyle to Ngaio Marsh but I'm not a fan, call me a dispassionate reader.
Why? Because too often, I can see through the plot and it all looks depressingly formulaic.

When Henning Mankell died this month (see this excellent article in the Atlantic Monthly, here),  I was reminded of his stature in Scandinavian literature - the Atlantic Monthly calls him the "dean of Nordic Noir", with 30 million copies of his Kurt Wallander series sold since the first one came out, 25 years ago, in 1990.

Of course, I'm familiar with the character of Kurt Wallander, an ordinary, middle-aged policeman working in a small town in Southern Sweden, having seen several episodes of a series featuring him on ARTE TV. But now I wanted to find out more, I thought I would try and …

Water is Life

Another one of my articles published on Impakter:

THE BATTLE FOR WATER on 19 October, 2015 at 12:45 Water is life. Water is essential to food security and nutrition: who could disagree? There is a “right to food” and now we have an emerging “right to water” and “right to land”. And a coming battle for water. This – “water is life” – is a direct quote from a major United Nations document put out by a unique Committee in the United Nations System, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) that has just concluded its 42nd annual meeting, held in Rome at FAO Headquarters, from 12 to 15 October 2015. CFS 42 – First Day October 12, 2015, Plenary Hall, FAO Rome.Over 1,000 participants attended, a majority from civil society and the private sector. The CFS is unique in the United Nations system in that it is an open “multi-stakeholder platform”, as we were reminded by the CFS Chair, Gerda Verburg, Ambassador of the Netherland, in her closing remarks – she is outgoing after serv…

Amazon Has Done It Again for Self-Publishing!

The wonderful case of Swedish self-published author Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin is there to prove it! Thanks to Amazon, this author, a psychologist who has founded a psychological coaching company and published several "help" books in various genres since 2006, has hit the jackpot.

News came out in this summer that something strange was happening on Amazon's printed books best selling list: big best-sellers from established authors (like Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman) were being displaced from their top position by a book for children from an unknown Swedish author with the weird title The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep - a book specially designed to lull restless children to sleep.

The news were repeated in the press both in America and in the UK (for example, here and here, both pieces dated August 15) and now the New York Times has just learned that in September Mr. Forssen Ehrlin had landed a juicy deal for multiple books, including re-issuing his first book unc…

Boomer Lit Three Years Later: What Next?

In a way, Boomer Lit has been around for ever. Any book dealing with the challenges of "mature life" (meaning over 50) could be said to be "Boomer Lit".

And now that some 78 million baby boomers in the US have reached 50 or are older - and that's a big segment of the American population - the term Boomer Lit given to the kind of books they want to read has truly come into its own.

Why do I claim "Boomer Lit" was founded three years ago? Some people may say they'd heard the term before, that it was "floating in the air" and they could well be right.

But something specific happened three years ago that made it literally come out of its chrysalis and be born as a new genre -  a genre, I'm convinced, destined to become a great marketing success, given the sheer number of baby boomers. Not just in the US but around the world. And these are people who are rapidly reaching retirement age or are already retired...which means they've got…

The Power of Amazon to Kick Down Newbies

Let's face it, the new tech world's giants, Google, Apple, Amazon (and others for the Chinese) have incredible power over our lives. Some of it sweet, some not so sweet.

First, a sweet example, Google's doodle to wish you a happy birthday:

Those are some of the doodles you see when you do a search on your birthday (I just got the top one on the left). Surprised? Of course not, when you signed up for any of Google's services from Gmail to YouTube, you gave away your birthday. So the friendly giant with the clever algorithms whose famous motto is "don't be evil" gave you a pat on the back.
Not everyone is happy with this (see this person's complaint to the Daily Telegraph, here) but I must confess I was happy. I thought it was a rather nice touch.
Next, a not so sweet example, Amazon's book recommendations to you. The principle, of course, is the same: clever algorithms that "remember" your past purchases, possibly even the samples you downl…