In an effort to win kids back from popular online platforms like Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Facebook, the BBC is set to spend an additional US$44 million (£34 million) over its existing budgets in British kids content—representing the corporation’s largest investment in children’s services in a generation.
Announced by director general Tony Hall as part of the BBC’s 2017/18 annual plan, the funding will be spent over the next three years and will significantly boost BBC Children’s online budget. The investment, which was made possible by recent savings across the BBC, will see BBC’s Children’s budget increase from US$143 million (£110 million) today to US$161 million (£124.4 million) by 2019/20.
BBC Children’s will continue to spend the majority of its budget on its kids TV channels CBeebies and CBBC across every genre, including drama, comedy, factual and news. However, there will be fewer new TV brands commissioned going forward to make room for online growth. In fact, by 2019/20, a quarter or US$41 million (£31.4 million) will be spent online. The funding will cover cross-platform multimedia content including video, live online program extensions and clips, as well as pictures, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, quizzes, guides, games and apps.
The move is designed to give BBC Children’s audiences more ways to create, connect and share interactive content across channel websites and apps, as well as via the popular BBC iPlayer and newly launched iPlayer Kids app.
I didn’t know quite what to expect from yesterday’s Secret Sauce Conference, organised by Vincent Dignan of Magnific and hosted by Google Campus. ACHUKA is not exactly a startup and not by any stretch of the imagination can I be described as a young entrepreneur. But I AM looking to revamp/relaunch and I have long suspected that, active though I am on Twitter, Instagram etc., I am not sufficiently businesslike about the time I spend on such networks.
I have used the ‘achuka’ soubriquet for all my online activities ever since founding the ACHUKA website in 1997. This means it makes no difference whether the reason you are following me is primarily books, photography or web matters – you get everything I post. There are good things and bad things about this setup. Yesterday has prompted me to consider separating out these different interest streams, but I am not yet decided either way.
The short talks (20 mins with questions afterwards) were all of an excellent standard – brief, pacy and thought-provoking. Vincent Dignam himself delivered four of them – 3 during the main conference, and one at the after-party, held at WeWork Soho. These four talks were packed with practical suggestions for maximising time spent on social networks. He offered to email participants the slides, an offer I am dearly hoping he will honour, since I was able to note down less than a tenth of his suggestions, such was the momentum with which he delivered each talk.
Equally impressive were the presentations by Adnam Ebrahim of Car Throttle and Steven Bartlett of The Social Chain (especially helpful in terms of creating and then targeting an online community). There was much to take away from the day with regard to publicising and promoting children’s books and authors and I am guessing in the months to come there will be developments and changes in ACHUKA that can be traced back to this Secret Sauce conference. The same can be said for increasing exposure of my photography portfolio.
Thinking of all the dull, anodyne educational conferences and inset days I have attended in my previous life, I have to ask myself why there should be such a contrast.
The three presenters I have mentioned are each still very young (early 20s) and now heading up organisations of a significant size.
The adroitly placed after-lunch session was an amusing presentation by Hermione Way, talking about how she went about promoting Vibease, a vibrator capable of responding to remote input, either provided by an absent partner (the device was first conceived for couples living a long distance apart) or the ebb and flow of erotic stories in an accompanying app. Writers so-inclined take note – you are able to submit stories to this app, set the price for the story then earn 50% of sales.
Occasionally during the day I did question the apparent obsession with online exposure and connections for their own sake, and a cavalier willingness to plaster the web with silly stories just to prove a point (control of the medium). But I had to keep reminding myself that these were white-bearded thoughts, out of keeping with the sprightly go-get-it young crowd I had been fortunate enough to be welcomed amongst.
At long last Waterstones has a website worthy of a big bookselling retailer.
The new look/design is a huge improvement on the ‘pathetic’ [Daunt’s own description] previous offering.
The site is beautifully ‘responsive’, making it user-friendly on whatever device you’re using.
The landing page is crisp and clear.
And the navigation tab opens up to show a full listing of the online shop’s different ‘departments’.
I would like to see more detail on the individual title listings. The Publisher and ISBN should be included in the box that shows the price, rather than underneath the synopsis.
Amazon is more successful in summarising basic descriptive information. For the same title:
And also in linking to other editions.
But all good websites are works in progress and I’m sure Waterstones will want to make improvements in its listings design in the weeks and months ahead.
What the site does really well is promoting its John Lewis style Click-and-Collect service. A good deal of thought has clearly been given to making the website a user-friendly experience for this type of buying. In most cases, the online price will be lower than the store price.
How well this works out in practice will be a determining factor on customer satisfaction. It does mean that individual stores will need to be very on top of their stock audits and that this information will need to be updated to a central database. I assume that this will be done through the till, at point of sale. It is not altogether clear whether the click-and-collect service will apply to same day purchases.
A shame that the site’s copy-editors have let that ‘recieve’ slip through 🙁
It’s been a time a-coming, but on the whole then, an extremely promising relaunch.
The Book Quiz: Irish children’s fiction
Irish writers have produced some of the best children’s novels in the world, so put your local literary knowledge to the test from old favourites to modern classics
The David Fickling Books website now includes an online shop and to mark its opening there is a ’13 Days of Christmas’ promotion – 13 titles have been published since DFB went independent.
“Secretly, I have always wanted to run a sweetshop. The DFB Shop is my way of doing the next best thing,” Fickling told The Bookseller. “We’re not looking to compete with the big boys, but to make a more personal connection with our readers – and the books they love.”
This from a piece in The Observer by Anna Baddeley, who opened her own online page at myindependentbookshop.com only to find her nearest independent bookshop was not participationg.
"I was appalled by My Independent Bookshop," its owner, Jo De Guia, tells me. "It’s a cynical attempt by a multinational to appear soft and fluffy." She’s not a luddite (she tweets and her husband, who helps run the shop, is a computer programmer); her opposition is financial. If existing customers buy online at a discounted price, it will eat into her margins.
It would be interesting to hear other independent booksellers’ views on this.