Two & A Half Minutes With Elvis Shackleton
24 January 2011
As the new year blunders disastrously forward, driven by petty party politics, brutal murders, rising petrol prices and people you've never heard of dancing on ice, Long Midnight Publishing's Marketing Director Elvis Shackleton discusses what lies ahead for the nation's biggest publishing company as it faces up to the decline and eventual collapse, breakdown and complete buggeration of the industry.
Eldon Crayfish: So, I expect the readers would like to know what you're doing right now.
Elvis Shackleton: At this very minute I'm looking out of the window at the starlings washing in the Long Midnight Publishing Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Pond here at our HQ in Leith docks.
EC: That presents a very sanguine image, but shouldn't you, as one of the senior figures in British business, be working furiously every second of the day to prevent the collapse of the print publishing business as we know it?
ES: Eldon, I think we all know the way this is going. You'd be as well trying to stop the tide.
EC: You're saying that print books are dead?
ES: Now, you can't go putting words in my mouth or I'll pull the plug. You can go and interview Gail Rebuck if you're going to be like that.
EC: I interviewed her last week.
ES: Oh. Learn anything interesting?
EC: I started by trying to put words in her mouth about Tony Blair and she kicked me out. So, do you at least think that print books might be dead?
ES: It's early to say, and no one really wants to be the one to drive the final nail into the coffin, but without wishing to sit on the fence, I'd just say that print books are completely and utterly fucked and that by the end of the year virtually everyone in publishing will be looking for another job.
EC: So, you don't want to go on record as saying that print books are dead, but you will say that they're fucked?
ES: It's all a matter of finessing vocabulary.
EC: The big news this week is the massive reduction in costs for the LMP titles on Amazon Kindle. You're now practically giving away The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson at 71p. What's the thought process there?
ES: Margins are disappearing, but so are costs. Where are the costs with electronic books? Print costs? Nil. Storage costs? Nil. Obviously there's still a company to run and a business to promote, but there aren't the same kind of expenses to meet as there have been in the past. Rather than being defeated and crushed by the collapse of the industry, here at LMP we are going to embrace it.
EC: Surf the tidal wave for as long as you can, until it crashes into the mountain and you all drown and die?
ES: That's you putting words in my mouth again, but I like that, so yes. You can say I said it. The Abookalypse is coming.
EC: Thank you for talking to us.
ES: Next time if you like you can just make shit up. But run it by me first just in case.