Free webinar about online content: 15th November, 1pm

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Bookswarm is teaming up with the wonderful Byte The Book to do a FREE webinar about website content for authors.

If authors and publishers want to engage audiences it’s important that you don’t just ask people to buy the book. You need to create exciting, exclusive content for your website and social media feeds. We will talk through how you can connect to your readers using the power of content, including looking at lots of creative and inspiring examples.

Our own Simon Appleby will give a short presentation, followed by plenty of time for participants to ask questions.

This event is open to Byte The Book members, Bookswarm clients and anyone else for whom it may be of interest. Byte The Book members will also be able to access a recording after the event takes place.

Register on Eventbrite

Nice to e-meet you

If you’ve ever struggled with the etiquette of ‘meeting’ new people via e-mail, and the phrase ‘nice to e-meet you’ makes you want to weep, here’s the ideal solution, courtesy of the sublime webcomic XKCD.

XKCD is always guaranteed to brighten our day – and for added publishing topicality, its creator Randall Munroe will be over in the UK soon as part of his book tour.

We are all data slurpers now

A new ruling by the European Court of Justice has a potentially big impact on websites that deploy Facebook’s Like button.

There are actually several kinds of ‘Like’ button – they can allow the user to Like the page or product they’re looking at, or to Like the Facebook Page that accompanies the website they’re on – and the ruling seems to say that because clicking the button gives Facebook the user’s IP address and browser identification string, and sets cookies on their device, users should not be allowed to click it before they have provided their consent to that data collection.

The ruling also says that using these widgets makes the website’s owner a “joint data controller, along with Facebook” – which seems a stretch to us, as the host website never sees any data it collects and has no role in its subsequent processing. Crucially, that means that the website owner “must obtain that prior consent (solely) in respect of operations for which it is the (joint) controller, namely the collection and transmission of the data.” The “solely” part of hat sentence is a big deal, as it means we can’t rely on anything Facebook does or doesn’t do to allow users to give their consent.

This raises a number of questions:

  • Is it acceptable to treat the use of a cookie pop-up and / or clearly available privacy policy as “obtaining prior consent”?
  • Does the principle of the ruling apply to other embedded data collection mechanisms equally, such as the increasingly popular Facebook Pixel?
  • Will websites and brands want to take the risk of being treated as jointly responsible with big Internet companies for data that their websites collect?

The truth is, we need more GDPR test cases before we will really understand what the courts consider to be good practice in this area – but the web could be a pretty horrific user experience if every social interaction was disabled until the user gave explicit consent for it to be enabled.

We will watch the case with interest. In the meantime, clients who have any concerns about the implications should contact us for a chat.

You can read more about this story on The Register

Happy publication day to Lap of Honour

Today sees the publication of Tim Hain’s unique photographic tome Lap of Honour. When we designed and built the Lap of Honour site for Tim, he and his agent were working on finding a home for it, and we’re pleased that it’s now been brought to market by sports specialists Pitch Publishing.

Lap of Honour offers a journey back to the golden age of motor racing, through the lens of a revived 60s photographer. Tim Hain revisits his favourite haunts and heroes, and hitches a ride with Sir Stirling Moss, whose colourful foreword kick-starts the journey. ‘I can’t believe Tim has never held a press pass,’ Stirling writes. ‘His pictures are really great.’ Here is a true ‘fan’s eye view’ with evocative pictures and stories spanning 56 years, from 1962 to 2018. At the first Goodwood Revival in 1998, Hain’s interest was reawakened after 35 years. All he wanted was a picture of his first hero; but he went on to photograph Moss in 33 cars, with his input on each, creating a unique portrait of ‘The Maestro’. Tim encounters and interviews other 60s legends, candidly snaps a host of stars on and off the track, and gathers contributions from the likes of Murray Walker and musician Mark Knopfler. Lap of Honour has an intimacy, a sense of humour and a story behind every picture that makes it unlike any other book on motor racing.

On his experience of working with Bookswarm, Tim says:

“I find Simon and Bookswarm to be responsive, creative, easy to work with, eager to interpret my vision in an appropriate way, and above all prompt.  I am in safe hands. Bottom line – the page they created helped secure the signing of Lap Of Honour.”

We’re really pleased to have played a small part in Tim’s journey to being a published author, and wish him a happy publication day!

Lap of Honour is available to buy now

Barrington Stoke go nuts for new website

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It’s been several years since we stepped in to help Barrington Stoke with hosting, support and maintenance of their existing WordPress- and WooCommerce-based website – but behind the scenes we have been working with them on a major design and content update to the site, which went live last week.

Edinburgh-based Barrington Stoke publishes fiction and non-fiction adapted to different reading ages for reluctant, under-confident and dyslexic children and teens.

We really enjoyed injecting more of Barrington Stoke’s personality and brand in to the site – as well as thinking about the needs of their different audiences, and sorting out some ‘behind the scenes’ issues, such as shipping costs and order processing. The lovely illustrations by Maisie Paradise Shearring introduce a new sense of coherence around the website content, which is lovely to see, and Barrington Stoke also worked with Laura Jones, publisher and co-founder of Scottish indie publishers 404 Ink, who focused on reorganising and updating content in time for the re-launch.

We asked Lucy Juckes, co-founder Chair of Barrington Stoke, about their experience of working with Bookswarm:

“Bookswarm have been excellent to work with on the redesign of our website. They always give careful consideration to our proposals, advising us how to achieve and improve what we have suggested. They are great to work with, going above and beyond what’s been agreed, full of initiative, reliable on deadlines, problem solvers rather than problem creators. We would not hesitate to recommend their expertise.”

So that’s nice!

View the new website in our portfolio

Bookswarm create new website for Yale Representation

Yale Representation provides a managed sales representation service in the UK for a number of prestigious publishers, including Verso, Saqi and of course Yale University Press.

Bookswarm recently created a new website for them, to replace their old Drupal-based site. The new site includes a bookshops section with dynamic map, and different ways to explore Yale Representation’s clients and their wonderful books.

During our initial discussions with the client we realised how important it would be for the site to be focused on the core content that changes regularly – in this case, client books, news and reviews. We made book uploading as streamlined as possible, and news and reviews are designed so they are always links out to content on other websites. This simplifies data entry for Yale, and reduces the need to source images for news stories. The bookshop map was easy to do and a fun way of visualising all of the shops featured on the website.

We asked Lisa Kemmer, Sales and Operations Manager for Yale Representation, about their experience of working with Bookswarm on the project:

“I’d wholeheartedly recommend Bookswarm.  Simon is efficient, patient and communicative.  He did everything he said he would and more and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about him and his colleagues.  Perhaps most importantly, I didn’t get any sense that he was bored with the project and wanting to move on once the site was delivered but there was lots of tweaking to do.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that sort of start to finish service with an IT-type project before – or any other sort of project, for that matter.”

Take a look at the Yale Representation site in our portfolio


Bookswarm and The Bestseller Experiment – Q&A on author websites

Simon’s made another foray in to the world of podcasting, this time joining Mark Stay over at The Bestseller Experiment.

The Bestseller Experiment is a weekly podcast presented by Mark Stay and Mark Desvaux, in which they talk with leading lights from the publishing industry, million-selling, chart-topping authors such as Michael Connelly, Joanne Harris, Bryan Cranston, Ian Rankin, John Connolly, Scott Lynch, Michelle Paver, Maria Semple, million-selling indie sensation Shannon Mayer, agents, editors, and social media experts. And Simon!

Simon’s podcast was one of the podcasts’s trademark ‘Deep Dives’, and was all about the challenges facing authors when it comes to their websites (a topic on which we do have some experience). We answered questions from Bestseller Experiment subscribers, and hopefully helped them focus on the issues that really matter.

The full podcast is available to the podcast’s Patreon supporters – however you can listen to a teaser-length version here, or below, and become a supporter of The Bestseller Experiment for only $5 per month to hear the full Q&A.

Bookswarm advises The Literary Consultancy on website strategy

Last year we were asked by renowned UK-based editorial consultancy service The Literary Consultancy (TLC) to come and work with them to help them streamline their website offering and assist their users to navigate more easily to the services and content relevant to them.

The work consisted of:

  • Initial desk research, and planning a workshop where we could explore all of the different approaches that service providers can take to Information Architecture
  • Delivery of the workshop (armed with copious quantities of sticky notes, a whiteboard, flash-cards and LOTS of biscuits)
  • Writing up the chosen approach, including creating sample wireframes that could be used to brief TLC’s incumbent web developers

The new website is now live, incorporating a much simpler home page which signposts users to the key service areas, and the Writers’ Wizard, which helps writers work out where they are in their writing journey and how TLC can help them.

TLC Director Aki Schilz explains how the process worked for them:

“Following a strategic review of the business in 2018, we realised that whilst the design elements of our website still felt fresh, the overall site ‘journey’ didn’t quite chime with the writer journey we’d been tracking for some time. We wanted it to be upmarket, but approachable (like us!) and to genuinely help writers, pointing them to various resources, links, and a whole load of useful content which we hadn’t quite organised properly. We were also extremely excited about various new elements we were keen to introduce, but didn’t want to overload the site. Simon was absolutely fantastic. He read through our branding and marketing briefs, totally understood what we wanted, and gave brilliant, creative suggestions for a range of solutions, which either his team could implement, or we could go back to our web team with. His approach was open-hearted, and I felt he really understood what TLC is about, rather than simply rushing in with ‘design solutions’ that had little resonance with our ethos. The whole thing came together organically, but was also time-efficient, and targeted. The net result is a gorgeous website that’s zippier, and that writers can really feel supported through navigating. And, we’ve a funky little Writers’ Wizard which we’re particularly proud of, and which was Simon’s original idea. Thank you, Bookswarm!”

It really was a pleasure working with TLC. Please do contact us if we can help you with web strategy and information architecture, even if you aren’t looking to change web agencies.

Our home for the next three days

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Did we mention we’re at London Book Fair for the next three days? OK, we did, repeatedly – but we’re mentioning it again, because now we can show you what our sexy stand looks like. Isn’t it marvellous?

Do come and say hi to us and all the other IPAC companies we’re sharing with if you’re at the fair.

And if you’ve not been to LBF before – we think you’ll enjoy this!

Bookswarm client deal news: Lap of Honour

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Tim Hain’s Lap of Honour is a pictorial journey back to the golden age of motor racing, in which a 60s schoolboy photographer revisits his favourite haunts and heroes, and hitches a ride with the legendary Stirling Moss, whose foreword kickstarts the journey.

We created a website for Lap of Honour last year and we are pleased to hear that it has been picked up for publication in September 2019 by Pitch Publishing.

Congratulations to Tim! We look forward to seeing the book take shape.

The Book Fair beckons

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London Book Fair is next week! Eeek!

If you’d like to talk about how Bookswarm can help you with your website design, build or management needs, it’s not too late – just drop us a line.

We will be on stand 2C60 if you want to come and say hello, but please bear in mind we have lots of meetings booked already so may not always be available for spontaneous chat.

We’re sharing the IPAC stand with many other wonderful, beautiful and knowledgeable people who know all sorts of things about all sorts of things, so do come and say hello to them as well. They are:

  • Agile Marketing
  • Arkesis
  • Cameron Publicity & Marketing
  • Children’s Reading Company
  • Circular Software
  • Colibrio
  • Erudition Digital
  • Florence Production
  • Frequency
  • Hybert Design
  • Think Big Books
  • We Are Futureproofs

If you’re going to LBF and we don’t see you there… have a good fair!

Meet Bookswarm at London Book Fair 2019

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London Book Fair is fast approaching in its new, earlier, March time-slot, and Bookswarm will once again be in attendance.

We will be there for all three days (12th to 14th March) so if you would like to meet up and chat about how our website services can help you, just let us know! You can fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you work out the best slot.

We will be on the IPAC stand at the fair, along with a number of our fellow IPAC members – the stand number is 2C60.

Hopefully see you there!

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