Trendwatch: Twitter stickers, retro games, the truth

Trendwatch: Twitter stickers, retro games, the truth

From Dalek stickers to gatekeeper pride, here are three trends that publishing professionals might just want to take notice of this month.

Twitter stickers

They may have been released in June, but Twitter stickers have only just started to penetrate the public consciousness. These Snapchat-influenced emojis are essentially 'visual hashtags' users can add to their photos to "unleash their creativity" and connect their images to others tweeting about the same topics.

You can already get ones featuring Pokémon and images from AMC's The Walking Dead, and over the past month UK brands have finally got on board. John Lewis created some for its Buster the Boxer Christmas ad and the BBC used them to mark the release of its lost Doctor Who saga, The Power of the Daleks

So where are all our literary Twitter stickers? Shouldn't your Christmas book launches arrive with a suite of relevant character emojis to pimp readers' pics? Couldn't a set of Dickens icons give your classics extra seasonal mileage? Wouldn't your self-help tome benefit from some positive affirmations for people to pop over their selfies? Yes, marketing team, step away from the mince pies and get back to work...

Retro games

With the world crashing about their ears, Gen Y consumers appear to be retreating to a nostalgic tech past where everything, including gameplay, was simpler. In the US, Nintendo has released the NES Classic Edition, a reworking of their 1980s console complete with the original grey-box look and pixellated games, while Super Mario Run has been relaunched for iOS. In Brazil, demand is so high for retro consoles that a company called TecToy is re-manufacturing the iconic Sega Mega Drive, while TV and film adaptations of classic Sega games are underway.

This appetite for a far-from-VR digital experience has been trickling down into publishing. Last month Penguin released Default Man, a witty little Mario-style browser game to support the release of Grayson Perry's The Descent of Man. Cubus Games, a team of app developers from Barcelona, has launched a series of 'Gamebooks' which digitise the 80s chose-your-own-adventure experience. And art publishing house Cook & Becker has just announced it's producing a coffee table book of Sonic the Hedgehog art for April 2017. 

Nostalgia marketing is a tried and tested strategy for a thirtysomething audience - the #TBT or Throw Back Thursday hashtag is one of the simplest examples, the success of Netflix's 80s-set series Stranger Things one of the most profitable - and combining it with childhood tech packs a meaty emotional punch. So whether you're designing a book cover or a marketing campaign, it might well pay off to take inspiration from Sonic, Ecco and co. 

The truth

Yes, in an officially "post-truth" age - the term was, depressingly, Oxford Dictionaries's word of the year - the smart money's on, well, the truth. With Zuckerberg struggling to stem the tide of false news on Facebook, and academics highlighting the psychological damage that parents continue to wreak with that damn annual globetrotting-grandad-in-a-red-suit lie, editorial integrity has never been a more sought-after or valuable commodity.

As Andrew Keen so persuasively argued in his #FutureBook16 keynote last Friday, the traditional book industry remains one of the few that people still trust to serve up authoritative, quality content. Michael Bhaskar's recent book Curation: The Power of Selection in a World of Excess made a similar point; as he wrote in a Bookseller blog, "who chooses what and how matters as never before. It’s always been a central part of publishing and bookselling; now it’s becoming the central part. Making decisions, saying no, putting together lists and ranges; curating, for want of a better word, is at the heart of the book business."

Perhaps it is time to take pride in being a 'gatekeeper', which has for so long been a dirty word. Perhaps it is time to throw off the dictatorish anxieties ushured in by the digital age and be ever more outspoken about the need to impose discriminatory standards and values - be they literary, pro-diversity or simply anti-populist-shit - on the books and authors you support.

In short, you are the biggest trend to watch right now, publishing people. Happy Christmas.