Saturday, May 31, 2008

From Publishers Lunch:

More Digital News
Simon & Schuster will make 5,000 more titles available for Kindle within the year, more than doubling the total collection from the publisher (currently at around 4,000 titles) to comprise "the vast majority of sales" from their catalog. Jeff Bezos calls it a "huge effort and great committment." Reidy says in the press release, "We are excited by how many Kindle books we're selling and the feedback from readers who want to read our titles on their Kindles. We have also learned that readers aren't just looking for new or bestselling books, but also books that are older or hard to find. These are the books that have proven themselves to be of enduring interest, and we want readers to be able to find them anytime, anywhere."
Amazon adds this small factoid in the release: "After purchasing a Kindle, customers purchase, on average, just as many physical books, and their total book purchases on Amazon increase by 2.6 times."
Thomas Nelson has signed with Ingram Digital to host, manage and distribute their digital content, including implementation of Ingram's Search and Discover program.

By Richard Russo writing in The New York Times, june 1, 2008

“Dear American Airlines,” Jonathan Miles’s fine first novel, takes the form of a letter to the titular air carrier, which has stranded Benjamin R. Ford, the book’s middle-aged protagonist, in O’Hare Airport on the way to his estranged daughter’s wedding. One doesn’t take this premise literally, of course. As Bennie waits to be put on another flight, he has a lot of time on his hands, enough to miss first the rehearsal dinner and then the “wedding” itself (quotation marks courtesy of Benjamin, who’s just found out that his daughter is marrying a woman), but not enough to write a novel. The premise works though, because, as anyone who’s ever been stalled in an airport knows, time crawls. It feels like eternity,

By Jonathan Miles.
180 pp. Houghton Miffin. $22.

The Book's Web Site

and once Bennie has cussed out the air carrier — energetically, colorfully, inventively — for its lying, cynical, careless ways (yes, exasperated fellow travelers, Bennie’s venting is a lot of fun) and demanded his money back, there’s plenty of fictional time left to reflect upon his entire crappy life to this crappy point, which he does. Indeed, airport time goes so slowly in the “purgatory” of O’Hare that there’s plenty left over for Benjamin, a former poet who now works as a translator, to read and translate large sections of a Polish novel, as well as to digress into an impressive array of cultural issues, large and small. Bennie’s digressions don’t all advance the story, but they’re great fun and serve an important purpose by lightening the narrative load.
This I have to read!


I usually have about four books on the go - a bedside book, a lavatory book, a downstairs book and the book in my study that I read sneakily while I should be writing. Short stories for the lavatory obviously. What I'm reading right now is NOTHING, because I've just been reading the books for the Guardian children's fiction prize - I'm one of the judges. It's been brilliant, but I'm suffering from logophobia, or maybe logogastritis as a result. I had to read about a dozen books in two or three weeks, while editing my own, which is much more than I'd normally be reading.

Read the full story from The Guardian overnight.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Arguably the most popular of all operas, La Boheme is much more than just another tragic love story. It's a timeless celebration of youthful rites of passage, the proletarian struggle against poverty and the artist's quest for integrity.

Annie and I went to the opening night of the NBR NZ Opera Company's production at the Aotea centre, Auckland last night and were absolutely enchanted. With a contemporary setting, a stunning set, and a young cast of beautiful and talented stars it is no wonder that the recent Wellington season was a total sell-out every night.

Don't miss this spectacular and heart-breaking show. Auckland season is Saturday 31 May, Tuesday 3 June (matinee at 1.00pm), Thursday 5 June, Saturday 7 June.

Pic above shows talented Australian soprano Antoinette Halloran who plays the role of Mimi.

And don't miss William Dart's thoughtful & enthusiastic review in the NZ Herald today.

Potter Was Still Magical, but Not All Books Rose
Story from The New York Times overnight.

J. K. Rowling may have given a much needed jolt to the publishing industry last July when the final installment in her celebrated series about the boy wizard, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” sold 8.3 million copies in the United States in 24 hours, but publishers still struggled to sell more books overall than they did in 2006, according to the Book Industry Study Group, a publishing trade association.

Duane A. Laverty (left)/Waco Tribune-Herald, via Associated Press
Four-year-old Emma Powers of Harker Heights, Texas, at a county library book sale in Waco in November 2007.

Publishers sold 3.13 billion books last year, compared with 3.1 billion in 2006, an increase of just 0.9 percent, according to Book Industry Trends 2008, an annual report that analyzes sales in the United States. Higher retail prices helped net revenue increase 4.4 percent, to $37.3 billion, from $35.7 billion.
The news is unlikely to surprise publishers as they gather in Los Angeles Friday for the second day of BookExpo America, the industry’s yearly convention. Booksellers, librarians, authors, agents and reporters are bouncing through a whirl of parties, celebrity appearances (the artist now known again as Prince, Alec Baldwin and Ted Turner are among those showing up) and author book-signings while being bombarded with advance copies and marketing for books slated for the fall season.
The full NYTimes story here.
Copyright Issues Become Cloudy When Content Owners Can't Be Found

Congress is considering changes to the way libraries, historians, museums, publishers, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and others can use copyright-protected works whose owners cannot be found.
By K.C. Jones writing in InformationWeek May 29, 2008

Orphan works reform took center stage at the Eighth Annual Intellectual Property Symposium this week. Orphan works refers to content whose owners can't be found.
Public Knowledge President and Co-Founder Gigi B. Sohn spoke about the issue Thursday, during the symposium at the University of Maryland University College. The group's aim is to represent consumers and the public on technology policy issues.
Read the full story on Information Week
5 – 7 SEPTEMBER 2008

Robert Fisk, Xinran Xue and Kate Atkinson confirmed-

Over twenty international and forty New Zealand writers will converge on the Christchurch Town Hall from 5 – 7 September for The Press Christchurch Writers' Festival 2008, an event which continues to grow in size and significance in New Zealand’s cultural landscape.

Three top writers Robert Fisk (Lebanon/UK), Xinran Xue (China /UK) and Kate Atkinson (UK) will head the diverse line-up in their only appearances in the South Island.

Robert Fisk is a bestselling author and journalist based in Beirut as Middle East Correspondent of the ‘Independent’. He has lived in the Middle East for three decades and holds more British and international journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent. His last book, The Great War for Civilisation, a history of his career and the numerous conflicts he has covered, was published internationally to great critical acclaim. He is also the author of Pity the Nation, a history of the Lebanese war.

Xinran Xue, author of The Good Women of China and Sky Burial, was born in Beijing during the throws of the Cultural Revolution. In 1997 she moved to London, where she began work on The Good Women of China, her book about Chinese women's lives. Since then she has written a regular column for the Guardian and published her novel, Miss Chopsticks, as well as a book of her Guardian columns called What the Chinese Don't Eat. Her latest book, China Witness unlocks the secret history of modern China. This unprecedented oral history comprises perhaps the only accurate record of modern Chinese history. It is a personal testimony of a generation whose stories have not yet been told.

Kate Atkinson was born in York, UK and now lives in Edinburgh. She won the Whitbread Book of the Year for her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has been an international bestselling author ever since. She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird. Her most recent bestseller, Case Histories, introduced the character Jackson Brodie, a former police inspector, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

Robert Fisk appears courtesy of The Press, in association with Amnesty International and Harper Collins Publishing. He will be undertaking speaking engagements in Wellington and Auckland on behalf of Amnesty International following his Festival appearances.

Bookings for all sessions and events for The Press Christchurch Writers' Festival 2008 will open July 16 at Ticketek with the release of the full festival programme.
For more information, interview and photo opportunities, please contact:

Marianne Hargreaves
Tel: 03 365 2223 ext 5
Fax: 03 365 5569
'Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and The Art of Cover Design'

A major exhibition ‘Bond Bound: Ian Fleming & The Art of Cover Design’ is on show at the Fleming Collection until 28 June 2008. The exhibition, covering each book published, charts the role of artists and designers in creating and defining the Bond look. Casino Royale, the first of the Bond novels spanning half a century, established the James Bond brand. It was a compelling mixture of sex, style and violence that soon turned Bond into the most famous fictional secret agent in history. This provided artists and designers with invaluable opportunities to maximise their talents.

The exhibition is a complete anthology of Ian Fleming’s literacy legacy, including the commissioning of Charlie Higson to write the bestselling Young Bond novels and ‘The Moneypenny Diaries’ by Samantha Weinberg, adding a female perspective to the Bond story though the eyes of the adoring secretary Miss Moneypenny, and the latest instalment in Bond’s adult life written as a tribute to Ian Fleming for the centenary by Sebastian Faulks.

The Fleming Collection
13 Berkeley Street
London W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7409 5730
Opening hours:
(Admission Free)
Monday Closed to general public - Open by appointment for group visits and educational events10am-5.30pm

Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5.30pm
Sunday Closed
Nearest Tube Green Park

The Bond Bound Exhibition will also be at The City Art Centre in Edinburgh from 5 July to 14 September 2008.
From Publishers Lunch:
Profiles of American Book Buyers

Zogby International released results from a nationwide online survey of the reading and book-buying habits of over 8,000 representative adults, commissioned by Random House (which will publish a book with Zogby later this year).

The overall portrait shows Americans as light readers and book purchasers (half buy fewer than 10 books a year; just 14 percent buy more than 20 a year for themselves) who are highly unlikely to buy an e-reading device (3 percent own one; 4 percent plan to buy); more influenced to buy a book by public radio (15 percent) than Jon Stewart (8 percent) who still rans above Oprah Winfrey (5 percent); light sellers of their books when finished with them (only 3 percent do so) and big online customers (more people buy often online, 43 percent, than anywhere else, including chains, at 32 percent) at Amazon in particular--which 66 percent named as online retailer they frequent.

The most-frequently named factor in making someone want to buy a book is suggestions from friends and family (60 percent), followed by book reviews (49 percent). Thirty-one percent of online shoppers "depend on online reviews for recommendations" (it's not clear if these are consumer reviews, though).In contrast to some previous data, 38 percent of the respondents said that "very often" they go into a bookstore knowing what they're looking for while 43 percent said that's the case "somewhat often." Still, 77 percent said they will at least some times make additional unplanned book purchases when were looking for a specific title. The subject is what draws most browsers first (48 percent).The single biggest factor in choosing books was the idea of making a special effort to look for other books by an author you have enjoyed, with 89 percent confirming this behavior.
Store placement influenced selection 33 percent of the time; 52 percent said they have sometimes judged a book by its cover, and 35 percent have been influenced by an author endorsement.And in a sensible conundrum, people are reading both less (30 percent said yes) and more (23 percent said yes) in the past year.Of course that paradox raises an important point in looking at all of the information, interesting as it may be: It measures what people *think* they do, which isn't necessarily the same as what they actually do.The full study is worth a read, and is said to be available via Results will also be presented in a forum at BEA on Friday morning.
Tim Winton - Hamish Hamilton – Hardcover - $50

This is a surprising, remarkable novel – a novel, amongst other things about surfing, (only a highly experienced surfer could have written it), adolescence, first sexual fumblings, schoolboy friendships, mental illness, marriage and living in small coastal community.
But primarily it is a riveting, unputdownable read about a West Australian of about 50 looking back on his life.

A stunning novel, Winton’s first in seven years. He is, of course, one of Australia’s foremost living fiction writers, he has been twice short-listed for the Booker, (and Breath will get him close again I’m sure), he has three times won Australia’s equivalent award, the Miles Franklin as well as numerous other awards.
Winton is a great, great writer, a genius no less.
Don’t miss BREATH.

Kim Knight’s interview with Tim Winton in the Sunday Star Times on May 18, 2008 was a good one. If you missed it then link here.
She saw the Boyd burn
Terri Kessell – Cape Catley - $26.99

This is a first novel from Auckland social historian Terri Kessell whose special interest is in the early contact period of Maori & European in the late 18th century and early 19th century.
Given this special interest then it is not surprising that she has set her debut novel around the burning of the Boyd in Whangaroa Harbour on the Northland coast of New Zealand in December 1809.

While on a voyage from Sydney to England the Boyd anchored at Whangaroa Harbour to load kauri spars and allow Māori to disembark. During the voyage a Māori chief, Te Ara, had been badly mistreated by the ship’s captain, Captain Thompson. In retaliation for this, a group of Māori boarded the ship and killed the captain, crew and passengers, and looted the ship. A barrel of gunpowder was accidentally exploded, which burnt the boat to water level. Only four of the 70 people aboard survived.

Kessell tells the gripping story using Ann Morley, one of the survivors, as her protagonist. The research has been thorough and the two settings, Sydney and the Northland coast, are convincing and her narrative and characterization skills have combined to make for a great read, even if it is somewhat bloodthirsty at times.

She says in the author’s note, “all the main characters in this novel actually lived and took part in these extraordinary events”
She also notes that “after the Boyd incident, ships worldwide would be warned off from visiting New Zealand shores. New Zealand became known as one of the most dangerous places on earth”.
I hope to see more historical novels from this talented writer.

This title is published by boutique publisher Cape Catley - check out their website here.

The lakes of mars – chris orsman - $24.99 – AUP
The Lakes of Mars will be launched tomorrow in Wellington by Vincent O’Sullivan at a function hosted by the US Deputy Chief of Mission David Keegan and Sally Lindfors.

everything talks – sam sampson - $24.99 – AUP
Everything Talks will be launched on 13 June at the Gus Fisher in conjunction with an exhibition by poet Sam Sampson and artist Peter Madden – all welcome!

The World’s Fastest Flower – Charlotte Simmonds - $25 – VUP

The Propaganda Poster Girl – Amy Brown - $25 - VUP

BOUNTY - Koenraad Kuiper
Canterbury University Press - $25

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Harry Potter Prequel to be sold
at Waterstone’s charity auction

On Tuesday, June 10, 2008, a unique storycard hand-written and signed by JK Rowling will be sold in a charity auction, revealing a never-before-seen prequel to the Harry Potter series.

JK Rowling is just one of thirteen internationally renowned authors who have donated an original, highly-collectable storycard to the What’s Your Story? auction, which will be held at Waterstone’s flagship store on Piccadilly in London, with the assistance of Sotheby’s. All proceeds will be donated to English PEN and Dyslexia Action.

JK Rowling’s story is around 800 words long and finishes with the handwritten words - “From the prequel I am not working on – but that was fun!” and signed JK Rowling 2008. All thirteen cards will be sold without a reserve price.

The full list of authors writing for What’s Your Story? includes: Lisa Appignanesi, Margaret Atwood, Lauren Child, Sebastian Faulks, Richard Ford, Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby, Doris Lessing, Michael Rosen, JK Rowling, Axel Scheffler, Tom Stoppard and Irvine Welsh.

Gerry Johnson, Managing Director, Waterstone’s comments:
"What’s Your Story? just gets more and more exciting – all these brilliant works by amazing writers and illustrators, every one a small masterpiece, and now this – the prequel to Harry Potter. We never dreamed that JK Rowling would donate something so precious, and we’re incredibly grateful. I can’t begin to guess how much it will raise at auction – suffice to say I think we will see some impressive sums being bid, and a lot of money raised for English PEN and Dyslexia Action.”

Reflecting on recent experience with a 93-word teaser card (sold in 2002 for £26,680), and The Tales of Beedle the Bard (which sold for £1,950,000 in 2007), Sotheby’s specialist Philip Errington said: “Given the enormous interest we have seen in recent times for autograph work by JK Rowling, the prospects for her storycard are good to say the least. There is just no telling how high the bidding might go.”

Shortly after the auction, facsimiles of all the cards will be displayed in branches of Waterstone’s nationwide and online at In August a printed postcard book featuring all thirteen storycards will be available to buy in Waterstone’s stores and online. The public can pre-order the book from Thursday 29th May 2008 at Waterstone’s branches and at All profits from the sale of the book will go to English PEN and Dyslexia Action. Waterstone’s National Press Officer Jon Howells said: “We expect this book to sell out within a matter of days – it will be the fastest selling book of the year.”

Blank storycards are also available in-store and online at, and customers and the public are invited to join in and write their own stories – over
1,300 have done so online already. These customer cards will also make their way into the window displays, and will be featured in the online gallery at

Highlights of the storycards include:

- Nick Hornby – Hornby calls on his love of pop-culture for this mixture of collage and text, introducing the newest, oddest superhero on the scene – Nightburner!
- Michael Rosen – The Children’s laureate delivers an acerbic tale that shows that not only can’t you fight City Hall, you can’t outbid it either
- Doris Lessing – The Nobel laureate’s story is one that celebrates the power of reading and will tug at the heartstrings of any booklover
- Tom Stoppard – Nothing gets past Inspector Chamberlain in Tom Stoppard’s brilliantly theatrical short mystery
- Axel Scheffler – In four perfect frames, Scheffler tells a small, but perfectly formed, tale of the Gruffalo,
- Neil Gaiman – Gaiman is a master of short fiction, and this story is a great example of his work – spooky, scary with a brilliant punchline- and with a killer twist. A great detective mulls over a series of gruesome murders: is the killer on the loose in the woods, or somewhere closer to home…
- Lisa Appignanesi – Appignanesi has delivered a clever, poignant tale of all-consuming love and the consequences of desire
- Richard Ford – Two strangers, who share similarly tragic reasons for travelling, cross paths on a train, in Ford’s typically thoughtful study
- Margaret Atwood will be joining the auction live from Paris to write her original storycard via her unique LongPen™ machine, which allows her to sign books remotely using a touch sensitive pad and a computer link-up to guide a robotic arm.
- Sebastian Faulks – Desire and obsession lie at the heart of Faulks classically-inspired erotic tale.
- Irvine Welsh - This tale of a taciturn oil rig worker at odds with his lot is vintage Welsh and full of earthy language and humour
A Night at the Opera
by Janet Frame June 2, 2008

We acted the cliché. We melted with laughter. Not the prickly melt that comes from sitting on a hot stove but the cool relaxing melt, in defiance of chemistry, like dropping deep into a liquid feather bed. We did not know or remember the reason for laughing. There was a film, yes: a dumb sad man with hair like wheat and round eyes like paddling pools; another man with a mustache like a toy hearth brush; and many other people and things—blondes, irate managers, stepladders, whitewash, all the stuff of farce. And there was a darkened opera house growing cardboard trees and shining wooden moons.
I shall never know why we laughed so much. Perhaps other films had been as funny, but this one seemed to contain for us a total laughter, a storehouse of laughter, like a hive where we children, spindly-legged as bees, would forever bring our foragings of fun to mellow and replenish this almost unbelievably collapsing mirth.
Nor was it the kind of laughter that cheats by turning in the end to tears, or by needing reinforcement with imagery. It was, simply, like being thrown on a swing into the sky, and the swing staying there, as in one of those trick pictures we had seen so often and marvelled at—divers leaping back to the springboard, horses racing back to the starting barrier. It was like stepping off the swing and promenading the sky.
After the film, we managed somehow to walk home. The afternoon was ragged with leaves and the dreary, hungry untidiness of a child’s half past four. Faces and streets seemed wet and serious. The hem of sky, undone, hung down dirty and gray.
This previously unpublished story is in The New Yorker, June 2 issue.
Thanks to Bill Manhire, presently in London, for bringing this to my attention. I will endeavour to establish when Janet Frame wrote this story.
Further Footnote 30 May, 2008
Janet Frame's niece and literary executor, Pamela Gordon has advised me that the story was written in early 1954, in Dunedin, prior to her moving to Auckland to stay with Frank Sargeson, and is one of a number of unpublished hospital stories. The New Yorker will publish another later in the year. Pamela Gordon told me that during this time in Dunedin Janet Frame worked as a live-in waitress at the Grand Hotel, today the Southern Cross Hotel, home of Dunedin's casino. She said that after showing her hospital stories to Charles Brasch, Frame was advised not to submit them for publication because they were in his opinion "too dark".
And yet another Footnote, 30 May. 5.00pm
Leaf Salon, yes they are up and running again, has also noted the story in The New Yorker and Pamela Gordon has posted the following comment on their site:
" Definitely "our" Janet Frame! The "A Night at the Opera" story was most likely written in 1954 around the same time that she wrote "Gorse is not people", another previously unpublished hospital story. The two have been found in Janet's papers along with some other stories from that era. In her autobiography Janet describes how she submitted "Gorse is not people" to Landfall, but Charles Brasch found it "too dark" to print. I think that this early rejection would have been discouraging enough to have caused Janet to suppress her other powerful hospital stories. She did of course cover some of the same territory years later with Faces in the Water. It is fascinating to compare the "Night at the Opera" story with chapter 16 of Faces in the Water, which briefly draws on the same apparently real life experience, undergone at Avondale Mental Hospital. It shows how Janet Frame was able to use her own life & observations as raw material, to produce two different texts, written years apart, with different rhetorical goals and structure, and coherence, and even different narrators. There is one significant phrase common to both descriptions of the showing of the Marx Brothers film: "the day's thin scenery", which in the short story "toppled over, revealing the true dark", but in the novel it "topples revealing, for those who sleep, the painted props of sleep". We didn't think that this duplicated phrase was enough reason to keep this superb story hidden any longer."

Storylines Festival is nearly here!

Events begin in Wellington on 8 June and inish in Auckland on 15 June, visiting Northland and Christchurch in between.

This year there is an exciting new writing competition for two age groups 4-8 and 9-12 years that children can enter before the festival begins, with the winning stories being read aloud by a celebrity at a Storylines free Family Days.
The story must be no longer than one A4 page and must include a radio and a book. Otherwise let your imaginations run wild!

Classic Hits have sponsored this competition and there will be book prizes
for the winners at each Family Day, with a grand winner selected from the
whole country who will win $500 plus have their story recorded to play on
the Classic Hits That’s the Story children’s programme.
Wellington entries should close on 30 May but I’ll accept entries from over
the weekend too, entries for Auckland, Northland and Christchurch close on 6
June so get those kids writing.

Entries must be submitted on an official entry form from the Classic Hits
website – select your area and click on the Storylines
banner on the page to find the entry form.

There will be writing and illustration competitions on the day at each
family day too, if children don’t get entries in on time for the advance
competition, and at Auckland Family Day we will have a photography
competition with the theme of Catch a Kid Reading with prizes for adults and
children so get those cameras clicking and bring your entries to the Aotea
Centre on 15 June.
Family Days are at Te Whaea, Wellington on Sunday 8 June, Whangarei Library
on 14 June, Heaton Intermediate School on 14 June and Aotea Centre, Auckland
on 15 June. Full details available on the Storylines website

Crissi Blair
Storylines Festival Manager
PO Box 21 265
Auckland 1231
Phone 09 836 1261
Mobile 021 163 2496

Ah, Mr Faulks, we've been expecting you
John Crace writing in The Guardian, Wednesday May 28, 2008

Pussy Galore threw back the blankets, exposing her firm, naked breasts. "Come to bed," she purred.
Faulks stiffened, his senses alert to muffled footsteps outside on the hotel landing. "Get back in your basket, Pussy," he barked.
The door swung open.
Moneypenny burst in. She stared quizzically at Pussy, before allowing her gaze to take in the half-finished vodka martinis and Armani dinner jacket that lay strewn across the floor of the George V penthouse suite.

That's good, Sebastian," she nodded. "Very good. You've got the casual sexism and double entendre down to a T. Just make sure you keep the brand names coming and the sentences short."

Faulks, whose Bond novel, Devil May Care, is published today, is only the latest writer to take up the Bond franchise. After Ian Fleming died in 1964, Kingsley Amis, writing as Robert Markham, revived 007 with Colonel Sun in 1968. Between 1981 and 1996, John Gardner wrote 14 Bond novels - equalling Fleming's output - and when he retired, the American, Raymond Benson, knocked out a further 12.
The full story at The Guardian online.
And for an exclusive interview with Faulks in The Times.

Mark Lawson, writing in The Guardian is won over by Sebastian Faulks's measured resurrection of Ian Fleming's James Bond in Devil May Care Wednesday May 28, 2008

Since Ian Fleming's death in 1964, his estate has authorised 32 James Bond novels from other writers. Most of these have made such little lasting impact for Devil May Care - the continuation by Sebastian Faulks published today - to be confidently declared as the first non-Fleming Bond.
Previous novelists on the Bondwagon, though, have lacked the distinction of being published on the day of the 007 creator's centenary or - with the exception of Kingsley Amis, who used the pseudonym Robert Markham for his Colonel Sun - of being a bestselling author in his own right. Faulks has also benefited from a marketing campaign aggressive even by the standards of modern media hysteria: the Royal Navy yesterday shipped the first locked-up copies of the book down the Thames. It was marginally easier for Auric Goldfinger to get into Fort Knox than for critics to review this book.

Link to The Guardian online to read the rest. cuts Kindle e-book reader price by $40

SEATTLE -- Web retailer Inc. has nipped $40 from the price of its Kindle e-book reader.
The $399 Kindle launched last November and sold out in hours. Amazon sorted out its supply chain and manufacturing problems, and the device was back on sale in April.
Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said Tuesday that Amazon's cost of manufacturing the Kindles dropped as it increased the number produced. He would not say how many of the e-book readers have been sold to date.
The Kindle's new $359 list price is still higher than Sony Corp.'s competing Reader, which retails for $299.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Microsoft hands Google the future of digital books
Here, have a monopoly
By Andrew Orlowski
Published Tuesday 27th May 2008

While Bill Gates now holds a lucrative monopoly on digital images, his successors don't see the same prosperous future for the digital word. Microsoft is withdrawing from the Open Content Alliance digitisation project and will cease to scan books, the company said on Friday. It's abandoning its Live Book Search venture - a curious decision, since it effectively hands the future of the book to arch-rival Google.

Why? Because the Open Content Alliance is out of money - and Microsoft was by far the biggest financial backer.
And another story from the same publication:
Failing Web 2.0 stars pray for copyright abolition
For this story link here.
007 Runs Full-Throttle Through a New Book

It’s the big day: the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming. Without Fleming, who died in 1964 at 56, we would never have had the debonair company of James Bond, the creative sadism of Goldfinger and Dr. No or the pet octopus named Octopussy. Without the benefit of Fleming, however, we’ve had Octopussy as a cinematic Bond Girl in 1983, part of a movie franchise that is miraculously resuscitated (most recently by Daniel Craig as Bond in “Casino Royale”) each time it falters, and a string of ersatz Bond books by fill-in writers. To this shaky bibliography we can now add “Devil May Care.”

Here’s what the new book’s title means: It means that the new book needed a title, and that everything else about it was an afterthought. Or so the book’s author, billed as “Sebastian Faulks writing as Ian Fleming,” makes it seem. Mr. Faulks-writing-as-Fleming does not fall short of the rest of Fleming’s posthumous output. Nor does he tinker with the series’s surefire recipe for success. What he delivers is a serviceable madeleine for Bond nostalgists and a decent replica of past Bond escapades. But if you didn’t pick up “Devil May Care” convinced that Bond was an enduring pop-cultural landmark, you would not come away with that conclusion.
This from The New York Times where you can read the full story online.

BPANZ After 5 Sessions

It’s time we all met.
Come and join us for a new series of BPANZ After 5 events.

The first of these will be Tuesday 17 June and throughout the rest of the year BPANZ will be hosting regular sessions on industry-related issues to keep you abreast of new developments and to provide you with insights into different aspects of publishing.

The BPANZ After 5 sessions are open to everyone in the industry. Whether you are new to publishing or an old hand, the BPANZ After 5 events will give you a chance to catch up with the latest industry issues and to meet and network with others.
And we’ve chosen a great bar called Grand Central which isn’t in New York but is New York inspired in Ponsonby! We have a room upstairs and after the event there’s time and space to chat downstairs by the fire.

A Day in the Life of….. a Publisher, with Sam Elworthy, Lorain Day and Kevin Chapman
Tuesday 17 June, 5.00pm, Grand Central 126 Ponsonby Road (near corner of MacKelvie St just past the Richmond Rd intersection)
Three successful publishers with very different publishing lists give us an insight into their everyday working life.

Sam Elworthy is Publishing Director of Auckland University Press, a dynamic and lively scholarly publisher of New Zealand history and biography, Maori and Pacific studies and new poetry; Publishing Manager Lorain Day heads the editorial department at HarperCollins New Zealand, which produces a large range of new books a year covering gardening, social history, biography and autobiography, lifestyle, health and cookery, as well as fiction and children’s books; Kevin Chapman is Publisher for Hachette Livre, whose New Zealand list has a big emphasis on sport and other books with wide popular appeal. Kevin has published many of New Zealand’s top celebrities.
Without giving away their very best secrets, this impressive line-up of publishers will most likely cover some of the following: the author/publisher relationship, strategies for developing a ‘good’ list, NZ vs global publishing, negotiating contracts. This is a fun, informative panel discussion with plenty of opportunity for lively audience participation.

A $10 cash charge is made for each event to cover costs and includes a first drink and nibbles.

Nelson Mandela turns 90.

The celebrations will be huge. There are over 20 official events planned but the biggest will be the 46664 90th Birthday Concert at Hyde Park in London, hosted by Hollywood actor Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Queen stars Brian May and Roger Taylor, Annie Lennox and British rockers Keane are rumoured to be among the acts while U2, The Spice Girls and Sir Paul MCCartney have also been approached to take part. This will take place on June 27.

Hachette Livre have the authorised biography, Mandela The Authorised Portrait, which was penned by two of his closest friends, Mac Maharaj & Ahmed Kathrada and published in October 2006.
Wellington-based maritime historian and author Joan Druett who has 18 titles published , in Australia, the U.S. and New Zealand, both fiction and non-fiction, ponders on the vexed question of best-seller lists in New Zealand.
I don't think it is generally understood that the best seller lists come from sales figures for New Zealand-published books only. Anna Hart of Nielson Bookscan says that this is because the computer programme works only with ISBNs which are generated in New Zealand. It is a reasonable method, as it would be very hard to pluck New Zealand authors from international lists, even though their books are sold here, involving all kinds of problematic decisions, such as whether the author must be resident or not, whether the work has sufficient New Zealand-relevant content or not, and so forth and so on.
However, I do think it should be made clear that they are lists of best sellers published in New Zealand by New Zealand publishing houses, and that books by New Zealand authors that are published overseas are not counted, no matter how well they might be selling here.
Bookman Beattie has always been somewhat wary of NZ best-seller lists and wonders if anyone out there would like to make a comment on Joan's remarks or on the subject generally?

Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers & Illustrators
8 - 15 June 2008

Writing and Illustration Workshops for Children
Saturday 14 June 2008
$15 per workshop

Writing Workshops

Finding the pieces of the writing jigsaw
Discover your personal store of ideas and try out new ways of putting the pieces together to create intriguing characters and spectacular settings
with Anna Mackenzie (NZ Post Book Awards YA Honour Book 2008).
Albany Junior High School. Appleby Road, Albany.
for ages 10-14 years

Blast off!
Get your stories off to a flying start and keep them moving. Learn to avoid long-winded intros, cut to the chase and learn how to make the most of the crucial moments in your stories, with Kyle Mewburn (NZ Post Awards Best Picture Book & Children’s Choice 2007).
Kings School. 258 Remuera Road, Remuera.
for ages 8-12 years

Growing your ideas
Learn how to take a simple idea and grow it into a well-planned story with Melanie Drewery (NZ Post Awards Best Picture Book 2008, Finalist Junior Fiction).
Manurewa Library. 4-7 Hill Road, Manurewa.
for ages 8-11 years

Conversations with a Kiwi
We'll consider the character of several New Zealand animals and see how they can express themselves in a story, with Des Hunt (Finalist NZ Post Awards Junior Fiction 2003).
Glen Eden Library. 12-32 Glendale Road, Glen Eden.
for ages 9-12 years

Illustration Workshops

Cartoon it! How to draw zany cartoons
Unlock your imagination and learn how to create great characters for films and books with Ross Kinnaird (NZ Post Awards Children’s Choice 2003).
Albany Junior High School. Appleby Road, Albany.
for ages 10-14 years

Brush Magic
Learn to use watercolour paint in loose and imaginative ways. Experimentation is encouraged! You will work with good quality paper and paint, and try out masking fluid, salt, stencil, spatter, sponging, scratching back and many other exciting techniques with Jenny Cooper (NZ Post Awards finalist 2008)
Kings School. 258 Remuera Road, Remuera.
for ages 8-12 years

Creating an Art Treasure
After the style of the Princess Mary gift tin featured in A Present from the Past illustrated by Lindy Fisher (NZ Post Awards Children’s Choice 2005, Picture Book Honour Award 2007)
Manurewa Library. 4-7 Hill Road, Manurewa.
for ages 8-11 years

Making a Bird Journal
Have fun making and decorating a journal and discover some simple techniques for drawing birds working from real bird specimens with Sandra Morris (Russell Clark Award for Illustration).
Glen Eden Library. 12-32 Glendale Road, Glen Eden.
for ages 9-12 years

Special Storyteller workshop for adults - Telling the Story
Cathy Spagnoli (US) helps participants explore the use of voice, gesture, language and props in storytelling and reviews the range of possible storytelling materials. She shares ways to guide young tellers, offering practical hints on story selection, practice, feedback, and more.
Kings School. 258 Remuera Road, Remuera.
1-3 pm, Saturday 14 June 2008. Cost $25

Tickets available online
or purchase at Jabberwocky Children's Bookshop
202 Dominion Road, Mt Eden. Ph 09 630 6827

Top writers in running for literary prize
A Man Booker Prize nominee, an award-winning poet, and a best-selling American author have been shortlisted for Britain's oldest literary award.

Press release from the University of Edinburgh.

Mohsin Hamid, John Burnside and Daniel Mason have been nominated for the James Tait Black Memorial Prizes, along with Rosalind Belben and newcomer Gee Williams.

The Prizes are awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh for the best work of fiction and the best biography published during the previous year.
Contenders for the biography prize include fascinating accounts on two influential names from the Victorian age - philosopher and political economist John Stuart Mill, and architect Augustus Pugin who designed the Houses of Parliament.
There is also a book about blues singer Blind Willie McTell, novelist Edith Wharton and Joseph Stalin's early years.

The novels and biographies competing for the £10,000 prizes are:
Fiction shortlist

Our Horses in Egypt by Rosalind Belben;
The Devil's Footprints by John Burnside;
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid;
A Far Country by Daniel Mason;
Salvage by Gee Williams.

Biography shortlist
Hand Me My Travelin' Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell by Michael Gray;
God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain by Rosemary Hill;
Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee;
Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore;
John Stuart Mill:Victorian Firebrand by Richard Reeves.

James Tait Black Memorial Prizes
The James Tait Black Memorial Prizes are the only major British book awards judged by scholars and students of Literature.
The broadcaster James Naughtie will announce the winners at a ceremony at the Edinburgh International Festival in August.
James Tait Black Memorial Prizes

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Len Deighton launches attack on Ian Fleming's heirs
As centenary of James Bond's creator approaches, a new book detailing his 1963 plagiarism case is itself the subject of a legal dispute.

The author Len Deighton has condemned the family of James Bond author Ian Fleming, accusing them of censorship and "bad taste".
The Fleming family, one of the richest in Britain thanks to its merchant banking history, is gearing up for the centenary of Fleming's birth on Wednesday with the publication of Devil May Care, the much-anticipated new Bond novel by Sebastian Faulks.

Three weeks later, however, family members will be bracing themselves for the publication of the new edition of The Battle for Bond, a book about the now infamous 1963 plagiarism trial over the authorship of Thunderball.
The book was scheduled for publication last year, but the Fleming family forced publishers to pulp the first edition. In the foreword to the reprinted book, seen by The Independent on Sunday, Deighton delivers a damning verdict on the beneficiaries of the James Bond author's estate.
Deighton, most famous for The Ipcress File, writes: "How Ian Fleming would have hated to know that this book had been censored ... As a gentleman he would have felt that harassing a fellow author to be the ultimate demonstration of bad taste."

At World’s End, Honing a Father-Son Dynamic

Scene from The Road, the movie. Photo and story from the New York Times.

ERIE, Pa. — Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Road,” takes place in a world that, because of some unexplained catastrophe, has just about ended. The sky is gray, the rivers are black, and color is just a memory. The landscape is covered in ash, with soot falling perpetually from the air. The cities are blasted and abandoned. The roads are littered with corpses either charred or melted, their dreams, Mr. McCarthy writes, “ensepulchred within their crozzled hearts.”

For the crew that has just finished filming the movie version of “The Road” — a joint production of 2929 and Bob Weinstein’s Dimension Films, set to open in November — that meant an upending of the usual rules of making a movie on location. Bad weather was good and good weather bad. “A little fog, a little drizzle — those are the good days,” Mark Forker, the movie’s director of special effects, remarked one morning in late April while the crew was shooting some of the final scenes in the book on a stretch of scraggly duneland by the shore of Lake Erie here. “Today is a bad day,” he added, shaking his head and squinting.

The full New York Times story here.............

The Big Question: What's behind the rise in literary festivals, and what's their purpose?

Why are we asking this now?
The 21st Hay Literary Festival
is in full swing this week at Hay-on-Wye. Despite the awful weather, around 80,000 book lovers have streamed into the small town on the Welsh borders to see their favourite authors speak. Since 1988, the event has become an essential feature of the cultural calendar, and has spawned an entire sub-industry of the book trade; nowadays, it seems every town with a reading population is required to host some kind of annual books-based shindig.
What's behind Hay's association with books?
A tiny town in the wet Welsh hills may seem an odd venue for one of the world's most popular literary get-togethers, but Hay is home to over 30 second-hand bookshops. It began when Richard Booth, the self-crowned "King of Hay" opened the first, Richard Booth's Bookshop, in 1961.
The festival was founded in 1988 by Peter Florence and his father Norman, with the help of just six volunteers. In 1989, the Florences put Hay on the map by persuading Arthur Miller to attend. In 2001, Bill Clinton turned up to publicise his autobiography and, with his masterful grasp of the soundbite, named the festival "The Woodstock of the Mind". Since then, the event has been unmissable for authors, publishers and other assorted literary types, exploiting the cult of the author to great effect.
This year, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan are joined on the Hay line-up by writers from other areas of public life, particularly politics. Cherie Blair, John Prescott and Lord Levy are plugging memoirs, while Clinton's predecessor Jimmy Carter topped the bill.


This is an excerpt from the 124th in a series of occasional newsletters from the Victoria University centre of the International Institute of Modern Letters. For more information about any of the items, please email . You can also read this newsletter online.

The School of Hard Knox

We have just discovered that later this year novelist sisters Sarah and Elizabeth Knox will be leading a course about world-building for fiction. Their one-off course will explore strategies for creating whole, real-seeming worlds in long fiction and will encourage writers to think about what kind of world they want to make in their novels.

“It will help you identify possible premises for your worlds, whether a character's predicament, a dramatic event, or a setting—a place, period, atmosphere. Through a combination of lectures, workshops, and discussion, you will explore how to find and recognise book-starting ideas and go on to follow the logic of ‘if this, then that’ by workshopping processes of consequential invention. The course covers choice of point-of-view, ways to float a reader on information (rather than to drown them in it) and the pleasures and pitfalls of research.”

Saturdays 20 & 27 September, 4 & 11 October. More information here.

King and Country

Dave Armstrong’s King and Country, which won Best Dramatic Production at the 2008 NZ Radio Awards will be broadcast on National Radio this Sunday 1 June at 3.00 p.m. King and Country is a powerful and evocative drama based on the personal
accounts of six New Zealanders during World War I. Stories of Māori and Pakeha soldiers, nurses, and civilians are interwoven with treasured New Zealand war songs and hymns, sung to the accompaniment of a live brass band. This radio version of King and Country directed by Prue Langbein features the original cast and offers listeners the chance to make a connection with a highly significant chapter of New Zealand’s history.

The Pohutukawa Garret

Author Doug Wilkins, who recently settled in Wellington, is in the process of replicating the writers’ colony success he had when he was based in San Francisco. Doug is currently finalising the purchase of a property in central Wellington that would become offices just for writers. Rent per office is TBA, but would be less than $95 a week. The colony, The Pohutukawa Garret, would be a place where writers could cogitate and incubate rather than procrastinate. The writers’ colony in San Francisco, The Sanchez Grotto Annex, has produced travel guides, novels, non-fiction books, freelance articles, web content, short stories and poetry.
Already two books from the San Francisco colony have become bestsellers, and a third won the PEN Award for Non-Fiction. “What worked in San Francisco will definitely work here,” he says.For further information contact Doug Wilkins at or at 021-138-5050.


This programme is compulsory listening for me although being on a Sunday I occasionally miss it because of weekend excursions. Last Sunday for example I was not able to hear it and I particularly wanted to hear Freeman's interviews with Joy Cowley and Maurice Gee, winners at the recent New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.

However the great thing is that you can always visit Radio New Zealand's website and listen to the interviews in the week following the broadcast which is what I have since done.

These two interviews are specially interesting, to listen to them use the link in the previous sentence.

Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators
08 - 15 June 2008

Storylines Festival brings celebration to Auckland

Meet the authors and illustrators of some of the best-loved children’s books as part of this year’s Storylines Festival, and enter a world of imagination and colour. With exciting events in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Northland, Kiwi kids around the country have the opportunity to share the joy reading can bring.

Children can enjoy writing and illustration workshops on Saturday 14 June, with gifted and inspiring authors and illustrators including NZ Post Book Awards 2007 winner Kyle Mewburn, 2008 Honour Book writer Anna Mackenzie, and illustrators Lindy Fisher and Ross Kinnaird.
Adults can learn to tell tales in a workshop with US storyteller/author Cathy Spagnoli.

The Heritage Hotels Seminar Series featuring UK picture-book star Babette Cole– author of the famous sex education book Mummy Laid an Egg and treasures like Princess Smartypants and Dr Dog, and award-winning Australian author Carole Wilkinson will be held on 11 June at the Heritage Hotel, from 6pm and will be chaired by Gavin Bishop. The seminars are always in high demand, with tickets selling out in past years so get in quick and book your tickets. Tickets for the workshops and seminars can be purchased at or from the Jabberwocky Children’s Bookshop.

The free family day at the Aotea Centre on 15 June attracts more than 20,000 children and their families, drawn by the chance to meet to the people who write the books they love.

Our international guests will all be there along with a throng of New Zealand authors and illustrators. Hear national treasures Joy Cowley and Margaret Mahy along with Dorothy Butler, David Hill and Anna Mackenzie. There are special features with comic artists Ant Sang (Bro’town) and Dylan Horrocks and a photography exhibition. Bring along a photo to enter in the Catch a Kid Reading photo competition with prizes for adults and children, and don’t forget the writing and illustration competitions where children have a chance to show their skills, with competitions on the day and the advance Classic Hits competition with winning stories read aloud at family day. See the website www for further information.

For more information contact Crissi Blair, Storylines Festival Manager on 09 836 1261 or 021 163 2496 or by email: or visit our website

$69m plan to extend National Library

The Government has announced a $69 million plan to redevelop the National Library, just days after a $47 million facelift for Government House was revealed.
Prime Minister Helen Clark today unveiled plans to extend and upgrade the six-storey building, just 20 years after it was opened to the public.
Miss Clark said the project would be completed in late 2011, expanding the building opposite Parliament and making heritage collections more accessible to the public.
An additional 4000 square metres of storage and exhibition space would be created.
Without the redevelopment, the library would run out of space within six years.
Miss Clark said the National Library held collections estimated to be worth a billion dollars.
The library was opened in 1987, and at the time there were warnings that it was too small.
"This development is a major milestone in the history of the National Library,'' Miss Clark said.
"A 21st century library for the digital age will be created."
To read the full story from the front page of today's Dominion Post link here to their website.
#127 Winter 2008

In the latest issue of this fine quarterly magazine there is a very interesting story by Gregory O’Brien about artist & illustrator Graham Percy (1938-2008).
I didn’t know Graham Percy but I long admired him from afar as a very fine children’s book illustrator. I mentioned this to art historian/artist/curator/poet O’Brien who has responded thus:

Thanks for the note about Graham Percy. He was certainly a great book illustrator and a wonderful man.
If you want to pop a note on your blog, readers can go to

This rather splendid website includes masses of the most excellent drawings. It also features drawings for a book Graham was working on (over some considerable time!) with Hamish Keith. They are in the ‘In Development’ section and are called ‘Stories of the Inflatable Boy’.

As the attached illustrations (and the images in BACK AND BEYOND) suggest, Graham had been working on a lot of images of kiwis of late.
Various people, myself included, are planning to develop an exhibition of Graham’s work for display in NZ sometime in the future.
Hay festival: Kureishi slams creative writing courses
Charlotte Higgins, arts correspondent, writing in The Guardian, Monday May 26, 2008

The celebrated novelist, screenwriter and playwright Hanif Kureishi has launched a withering attack on university creative writing courses, calling them "the new mental hospitals".
Kureishi, himself a research associate on the creative writing course at Kingston University in London said, "One of the things you notice is that when you switch on the television and a student has gone mad with a machine gun on a campus in America, it's always a writing student.

For the whole story go to The Guardian online.

Will Self wins
Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize

Will Self has won the ninth Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction for his latest novel, The Butt (Bloomsbury).

He was presented with his prize at the Guardian Hay Festival. He received a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a complete set of the Everyman Wodehouse, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année, and, as is customary, had the honour of a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig named after his triumphant novel.

Sadly the newly-named pig was unable to make the now-traditional visit to the Festival to meet the author due to restrictions on animal movements because of the threat of the Bluetongue virus. Instead, the two met virtually via a web cam at the Festival.

The Butt is a superbly imagined allegorical account of the Western liberal conscience in the aftermath of 9.11. Tom Brodzinski is a man who takes his own good intentions for granted. Flipping the butt of his final cigarette off the balcony of his holiday apartment, Tom is appalled when it lands on the head of one his fellow countrymen, Reggie Lincoln. A moment’s inattention to detail becomes his undoing ….

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction is given to the best comic novel published in the last twelve months. Comments David Campbell, Everyman’s publisher, “Will Self is a wonderfully brilliant, witty writer and I’m delighted he has won the ninth Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse.”

The judges for this year’s prize are broadcaster and author, James Naughtie; Everyman publisher, David Campbell; and Director of the Guardian Hay Festival, Peter Florence.

Everyman’s Library publishes more Wodehouse novels than any other publisher in the UK; this year, it will publish its sixtieth Wodehouse. The beautiful hardback editions (all £10.99 each) have all been re-edited and reset with specially commissioned jacket illustrations by Andrzej Klimowski.

The Butt was chosen from a shortlist of six which included:
The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett (Faber & Faber/Profile Books)
Submarine – Joe Dunthorne (Hamish Hamilton)
Jude: Level 1– Julian Gough (Old St Publishing)
Pontoon – Garrison Keillor (Faber &Faber)
The Butt – Will Self (Bloomsbury)
Sunday at the Cross Bones – John Walsh (Fourth Estate/Harper Perennial)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Now He’s Only Hunted by Cameras

By Patricia Cohen, New York Times
Published: May 25, 2008

THE written record cannot be trusted in Salman Rushdie’s newest novel, “The Enchantress of Florence,” a story that roams from the red sandstone palace of the great Mughal emperor Akbar to the towered Palazzo in Machiavelli’s Florence. One character is erased from official history, a second is imagined into existence, a third is hopelessly mischaracterized.

First Chapter: The Enchantress of Florence (May 25, 2008)
Times Topics: Salman Rushdie

Author pic, Dave Benett/Getty Images
It is a situation with which Mr. Rushdie is all too familiar. In books and periodicals, photographs and newspapers (like this one) that capture fragments of contemporary life, he is well known to millions of people who have never read him as a damnable blasphemer of Islam, an arrogant and ungrateful British subject, or a member of a literary Brat Pack with a preference for young models.
“A cartoon of yourself is created, then it is used to attack you with,” Mr. Rushdie said over a lunch of steak tartare, French fries and a Diet Coke on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.