Content focused on healthy living and looking good was popular long before the advent of social media. The difference now is that platforms like Instagram and Youtube have made the visual manifestations of health and beauty so quantifiably accessible that, for many, gazing at an avocado has become both commercially relevant and a beautifully framed creative lifestyle choice.
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Although it may be a little early to start predicting hard and fast trends, the recent successes of two to all intents and purposes self-published health books may be highlighting an interesting phenomenon. Anxiety Rebalance by Carl Vernon made the overall Amazon UK bestseller list last month and is still hanging in and around the top 20. Learn to Live by Mats and Susan Billmark stayed on the top of the Swedish bestseller list for weeks last year and its English release looks to be following suit.
On reading Geoffrey Household’s 1939 classic thriller Rogue Male, I was intrigued to see the word free-lance hyphenated and it got us thinking about the original derivation of the term that is the very basis of the whitefox business model. Opinion is divided as to when the word or words were first used. But the general consensus seems to be the early 19th century, possibly within Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe referencing the mercenary fighters of their day.
I always like scouring the top 100 best-selling titles on amazon.co.uk on the first day of the New Year. All life is there. It’s the publishing equivalent of seeing the leaves fall from the trees as the seasons change. There are still some celebrity memoirs and humour books hanging around after their Christmas gifting peak. And the colouring books of course. But they have now been joined by a host of self-help, diet and detox titles, jostling for prominence after the excesses of the holidays.
In our experience, there are plenty of pure play tech companies merely succeeding in negotiating investment bingo ( if you include the magic words mobile / crowd-funding / marketplace / freemium / data / platform in your ten slide deck ) and lots of seemingly analogue 20th century businesses expanding rapidly, but who may have taken five or more years to prove their particular concept by doing good, recommendable work and start making profits.
You would had to have been on a long vacation from planet publishing not to be aware of the high profile success stories in and around indie publishing from the last few years. Hugh Howey. Joanna Penn. Amanda Hocking. No matter which routes to market they have ended up taking, these are the often-quoted big beasts, the patron saints of DIY.
whitefox CEO John Bond describes the age of the specialist, where there is real value in exact knowledge and skill. In a world obsessed with peer review and a marketplace driven by innovation, the big winners will be those who aspire to be better than the rest. This article first appeared in the Publishers Weekly London Show Daily on April 16th 2013.