Friday, May 28, 2010

Book talk with Charlotte Williams, The Bookseller's sub-editor.
The Bookseller
Although the blazing sunshine of last weekend has tapered off to a hazy glow, the literary summer officially begins today with the Guardian Hay Festival. Authors such as Jonathan Coe, Kazuo Ishiguro and David Kynaston will be among those hosting events at the festival which takes over the bookshop-filled town on the Welsh/English border until Sunday 6th June. The Guardian will be be leading the publicity blitz that inevitably follows, with others trailing behind.

Also due to make an appearance is Ian McEwan, whose climate change novel Solar scooped the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction earlier this week. Festival director and prize judge Peter Florence will be presenting McEwan with his spoils—which will include a Gloucestershire Old Spot pig, re-named "Solar" in his honour.

Another lesser-spotted prize-winner this week is Ian Thomson, who won the £10,000 2010 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize with The Dead Yard—Tales of Modern Jamaica (Faber). The judges, including Penelope Lively, singled out his travel writing as "stimulating, educative and evocative".

Faber had further success, alongside other indie publishers Profile, Granta and Atlantic, in making the Samuel Johnson Prize shortlist. The non-fiction prize also sees a début author, Andrew Ross Sorkin make the cut, with his book on the banking crisis Too Big to Fail (Allen Lane). The shortlist of six will be whittled down to a single winner on 1st July.

But surely the main buzz this week is about the UK launch of the iPad—officially set to go on sale tomorrow—and speculation about what this new device will mean for e-book sales and all things booky and digital. Access to Apple's iBookstore is now open for those wishing to stock up their devices, but with the title list so far only made up of out of copyright classics, the jury is still out on the best way for readers to buy the latest e-book titles.
 No one is quite yet sure what impact the iPad will have on reading with suggestions that it may "destroy the book" now giving over to the notion that it is the dedicated e-book (reader) that will die first. Publishers' moves over the next few weeks will be particularly interesting to high street booksellers.

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