Friday, October 21, 2011

Book talk with Graeme Neill

Graeme Neill is The Bookseller's News Editor

Back and (just about) rested from Frankfurt, I returned to a hectic and exciting week for the trade. Julian Barnes made it fourth time lucky on Tuesday night when he clinched the Man Booker for The Sense of an Ending (Cape) His win was warmly received and long overdue; it would have been rather cruel if he was to miss out for a fourth time under the media glare of a live news broadcast.

This year has seen a rollicking debate around the future of the prize and what its purpose is after suggestions by some that the award had dumbed down. On the night, Dame Stella Rimington, chair of the judges, staunchly defended suggestions the panel was promoting "readability" above all else. She said: "We were always looking at quality overall. I never had much experience of this prize before so I didn’t know what vehement   discussion there was going to be."

Regardless of this year's controversy, it has been an excellent year for independent publishers, with the Independent Alliance notching up four books on the shortlist. I was fortunate enough to go to its Booker party on Tuesday and while each publisher was disappointed not to win, they all swiftly decided to celebrate what was an excellent achievement in being shortlisted.

Staying with prizes, there's good news for poetry fans with the Poetry Society securing the future of the T S Eliot prize after signing a three year sponsorship deal with Aurum Funds. Four books from Faber are on the prestigious shortlist with the winner to be revealed in January.

An intriguing cross-industry initiative is being mooted by the Publishers and Booksellers Associations. A forthcoming website will offer publishers and retailers the chance to job-swap in order for people in the trade to better understand how the other half lives.

And easily my favourite book acquisition of the week was by Macmillan Children's Books, who have bought rights to the kids TV smash hit Rastamouse. Children (and no doubt their parents) will be clamouring to buy a range of products about the frontman of Da Easy Crew from next year.

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