International Industry Notes: English PEN on Political Cartooning; Open Road and Vistaar on Ebook Prices

In News by Porter Anderson

English PEN looks at the freedom of political cartooning and illustration, as Open Road engages Vistaar to draw a clearer picture of ebook pricing.
International illustration and political cartooning are featured in a November event with English PEN. Image by event speaker, cartoonist Martin Rowson

International illustration and political cartooning are featured in a November event with English PEN. Image by event speaker and cartoonist Martin Rowson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

To ‘Discuss, Draw, and Debate’

english PEN logo red 270Ten days after the US presidential election—which has prompted endless and sometimes anguished output from international political cartoonists and other illustrators—the UK’s English PEN, PEN International, Index on Censorship, and Front Line Defenders will stage “an illustrated talk” in London on human rights and political cartooning.

One of the featured speakers, Indian human rights activist Aseem Trivedi, has been jailed for sedition for his Cartoons Against Corruption series.

As press materials from PEN tell us, “When Trivedi was imprisoned in 2012, The Guardian’s political cartoonist Martin Rowson drew a cartoon condemning his arrest. Today, Trivedi is a renowned advocate for detained human rights defenders around the world. He has drawn cartoons in solidarity with activists including imprisoned activist Nabeel Rajab in Bahrain and detained blogger Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia.”

Aseem Trivedi

Aseem Trivedi

On the 18th, at London’s Free Word Centre in Farrington Road, Trivedi and Rowson will “discuss, draw and debate freedom of expression and solidarity across borders,” according to PEN’s announcement.

For his part, Rowson’s work has appeared not only in The Guardian, but also in the Daily Mirror, The Times, The New Statesman, The Spectator, The Morning Star, The Scotsman, Irish Times, Index on Censorship, and others.

Rowson has also produced a graphic novelization of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land and other classics, and was longlisted for the 2007 Samuel Johnson Prize for his memoir, Stuff. He is chairman of the British Cartoonists’ Association.

Information about the evening with Rowson and Trivedi is here.

Ebook Pricing and Consumer Demand

While not as fraught with political anguish as freedom-of-expression issues, the struggle to effectively price digital reading is an ongoing one for many publishers and independent authors.

open-road-new-logo-2016-linedIn one response to this, the digital backlist powerhouse Open Road Integrated Media has entered a partnership with Vistaar Technologies, which describes itself as a provider of price-management solutions.

In a prepared statement, Vistaar writes of “a global pricing initiative to drive optimized price management of Open Road’s ebook catalogue,” which is known to comprise more than 10,000 backlist titles by authors including them Albert Einstein, Jimmy Breslin, Erma Bombeck, Boris Pasternak, and Carl Hiaasen.

Vistaar’s material asserts that its pricing technology “will allow Open Road to react faster to the latest market trends and effectively scale the price management process across its entire catalog.”

Vistaar, based in Parsippany, New Jersey, says that its price and promotion management software platform “has been configured to meet the unique requirements of companies selling digital products.”

vistaar-logo-linedWhat’s involved is the proprietary gist of what Vistaar does. “The Vistaar solution for Open Road,” the company says, “will combine multiple sources of information alongside a sophisticated mechanism for aligning pricing with consumer demand and local trends. This approach will lay the foundation and empower Open Road to effectively manage the pricing of their entire catalogue.”

Venky Subramanian, vice president for Europe and head of global digital solutions at Vistaar is quoted in the news release, saying, in part, “Our experience identifying and solving unique pricing challenges across many industries ideally positions us to optimize pricing for the publishing industry, as well.”

Speaking for Open Road, Matthew Shatz, senior vice president for sales and business development, is quoted saying, in part, “With our large ebook catalogue, Vistaar’s technology will enable us to be more market- and data-driven in our pricing approach and in turn increase sales for our authors and our partners.”

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.