Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pippi Longstocking: the Swedish superhero

On the centenary of Astrid Lindgren's birth, Pippi Longstocking has been redrawn for a new generation.

Susanna Forest reports:

It is hard to resist Pippilotta Comestibles Windowshade Curlymint Ephraimsdaughter Longstocking, with her "hair the colour of a carrot…plaited in two tight plaits that stuck straight out", and a nose "the shape of a very small potato… completely covered in freckles".

Pippi is strong enough to benchpress a horse
If this Swedish girl doesn't bamboozle you with tall tales of her time on the high seas, charm you with a gift bought with her inexhaustible pile of gold coins or turn the world as you know it upside down, then she can always pick you up and leave you hanging from a tree branch, because she's strong enough to benchpress a horse.
If Pippi met Voldemort she'd make mincemeat of him and then, because she's a generous, forgiving soul, sit him down and feed him ginger snaps.
This year she turns 62 (although she's forever nine) and it will be 100 years since her creator, Astrid Lindgren, was born in a small town called Vimmerby in southern Sweden.
Oxford University Press – Pippi's British publisher for half a century – is bringing out a commemorative edition, with a new translation by Tiina Nunnally and illustrations by the wildly popular Lauren Child, who is responsible for the smash hits Clarice Bean and Charlie and Lola. She's an inspired choice to hook a new generation of children on Sweden's greatest literary export.

Child's Pippi has the same droll, slanting eyes as Lola; she looks as though she thinks a little harder than most Longstockings, who tend to be all toothy grins and freckles. She zings about, disappearing over the page on a horse, slipping away from nasty grown-ups and dropping out of the bottom of the book. Child found the red, blue and white print fabrics for the collages at jumble sales, and they have a bright, clean Scandinavian style.
When OUP approached Lauren, she knew she had to say yes: "I have memories of other books from my childhood, but they've faded into a certain feeling or just bits of the book. The Pippi stories are so vivid. They were a shared love with my best friend and we used to talk about the books for hours."

Rebus to the tune of auld lang syne

It's hard to believe that Ian Rankin's curmudgeonly detective is about to retire from the force. Sue Turnbull laments his departure but hails his creator.

THE BACK ROOM AT THE Oxford Bar has been cordoned off with crime-scene tape for a private party. The retirement gifts have been purchased; a 25-year-old malt, a book of Edinburgh historical walking tours, and an iPod pre-loaded with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Wishbone Ash and Hawkwind. But can it be true? After 30 years on the force and 20 years in print, is Detective Inspector John Rebus really heading for the exit?

It would seem so. In Exit Music, Rebus appears resigned to his fate, philosophical and even uncharacteristically good-humoured. Returning home after the discovery of a dead Russian poet, beaten to death with a blunt instrument in the vicinity of a multi-storey car park, Rebus chuckles at his own maudlin tendencies, acknowledging that if called upon to do so, he could "maudle for Scotland". And yes, it is a real verb, although regrettably "rare".

As is Rebus, who has come a long way since would-be literary novelist Rankin discovered crime fiction as a genre in which he felt able to say everything he wanted about the world "and still give readers a pacy, gripping narrative".
Bookman Beattie reviewed Exit Music last week on the blog and regrettted Rebus' retirement.
Here is another view from Melbourne's The Age. use this link to read the full story.



Where's My Free Wi-Fi?Why municipal wireless networks have been such a flop.
By Tim Wu

It's hard to dislike the idea of free municipal wireless Internet access.

Imagine your town as an oversized Internet cafe, with invisible packets floating everywhere as free as the air we breathe. That fanciful vision inspired many cities to announce the creation of free wireless networks in recent years. This summer, reality hit—one city after another has either canceled deployments or offered a product that's hardly up to the hype. In Houston, Chicago, St. Louis, and even San Francisco, once-promising projects are in trouble. What happened—was the idea all wrong?

Not quite. The basic idea of offering Internet access as a public service is sound. The problem is that cities haven't thought of the Internet as a form of public infrastructure that—like subway lines, sewers, or roads—must be paid for. Instead, cities have labored under the illusion that, somehow, everything could be built easily and for free by private parties. That illusion has run straight into the ancient economics of infrastructure and natural monopoly. The bottom line: City dwellers won't be able to get high-quality wireless Internet access for free. If they want it, collectively, they'll have to pay for it.

For the last 20 years or so, the thorniest economic issue in the telecommunications world has been the "last mile." Physically, the last mile consists of the wires that run from your home or business to the local phone or cable company. It's pricey and uses old technology, but almost everything depends on it and a few giant companies—like AT&T and Comcast—control it. The last mile is a bottleneck: The price and speed of the whole Internet depends on it. When people talk about the United States lagging behind the world in broadband speed and access, they're talking about the last-mile problem.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tending to gardens for 110 years

The Yates Garden Guide has been helping New Zealanders with their plants since 1895.
From traditional English roses to bursts of tropical plants and back, New Zealand gardens have done a complete circle over the past 110 years.
And right throughout the Yates Garden Guide has offered hints and tips to over a million keen gardeners.
The 77th edition of the book, which first hit shelves in 1895, was released last week.

Story from NZ Herald today (Saturday).

Janet Frame speaks from the grave.

Report from North Shore Times Advertiser

An 'embarrassingly personal' posthumous novel by the celebrated Kiwi author is to be unveiled.
The novel, Towards Another Summer, is so revealing the one-time Shore resident didn't want it published while she was alive, says her niece and literary executor Pamela Gordon, who once worked at the library.
"It's quite clearly based on her - on a weekend she spent at someone's place and on her childhood. The picture we see in the book is of a woman who is very shy and incredibly sensitive and observing everything with a very clear eye."

Towards Another Summer follows aspiring author Grace Cleave as she holidays in the north of England.
It explores her longing for a place in the world and almost unwelcome affection for a homeland where she had been thought crazy.
The book takes an unflinching look at its protagonist as she launches into perceptive and sometimes comical self-examination.
The themes of homesickness and belonging come from Frame's own experience around the time it was written in 1963, says Mrs Gordon.

Then Frame had been living overseas for eight years and was writing The Adaptable Man.
While on holiday at a friend's house she began reminiscing about her homeland.
"The novel speaks about someone learning about social convention and wondering where she fits in. That was what happened to Janet Frame," says Mrs Gordon.

Frame uses magical realism throughout the book with Grace described as a migratory bird, an image that will be familiar to many Kiwis, says Mrs Gordon.
"There's this longing for her homeland and also criticism of it, which Kiwis on their OE could relate to.
"It's like she really is this migratory bird, only no one else knows it. It's a good metaphor because where does a migratory bird belong, where is its home?"
Frame was born in Dunedin in 1924 into a working class family.
She experienced tragedy as a child when two of her sisters drowned in separate incidents.
She was later committed to a mental hospital where she had more than 200 shock treatments.
She avoided a lobotomy when her first collection of short stories won a prestigious literary award.
Later she lived in an outbuilding at author Frank Sargeson's house in Takapuna and became a frequent patron of Takapuna library.
Toward Another Summer was found among Frame's manuscripts after she died in January, 2004.
Although she never kept it a secret, Frame resisted the urge to publish it while she was alive, says Mrs Gordon.
That doesn't mean she wanted it closeted up or destroyed after she died, she says.
"I'm quite sure she wanted it published. She thought some works were better published after you're dead."

Frame eventually returned to New Zealand to live in Northcote with the Gordon family.
Her strong North Shore connection persuaded publishers Random House to launch Towards Another Summer in Takapuna.


Some challenging ideas, this from Publishing News:

Victoria Hunt reports from the Small Business Forum

MARKETING STRATEGIST DAMIAN Horner threw down a challenge to booksellers at last week's Small Business Forum in Oxford, organised by the BA. “Don't just think of yourselves as booksellers,” he said. “You're selling an experience: the romance of a book shop. That's what the consumer wants to buy into.”

He urged booksellers to avoid becoming “a watered-down Waterstone's” and to “be professional, but with a human twist.” On a practical note, he suggested selling subscription gifts for a specific genre, so the recipient might have a new thriller every month landing on their doormat. Other ideas included setting up a personal shopper service; offering wi-fi and desks for workers-on-the-go; inviting local art college students to design the window displays, and creating Amazon parcel collection points. “In times of pressure we must keep thinking and inventing.”

BML MD Jo Henry said that indies were in fact bucking an otherwise worrying trend. Between 2003 and 2006 sources of purchase by value have fallen 2% through chains and increased by 11% through independents.

Between 2005 and 2006 volume sales fell by 3% through chains and increased by 4% through independents Alastair Giles, director of Agile Marketing, stressed the importance of communicating with buyers. He cited Amazon's powerful e-mail database, which enables it to email its customers daily, and said that independent booksellers should not just wait for passing trade to step in. He believes it should be possible for them to obtain customers' email addresses and keep in touch with them that way.

PUBLISHERS HAVE WELCOMED the success of David Roche's £20m MBO of Borders, secured last Friday with backing from entrepreneur Luke Johnson's Risk Capital Partners.

HarperCollins Sales and Marketing Director David Swarbrick said: “We are delighted. Every publisher wanted this scenario. The reason it is exciting is that we get some new DNA on the high street. Borders now has a charter to do what they want do to - there is this great release of creative energy.”

Tim Hely Hutchinson, CEO of Hachette Livre UK, said: “It is in all our interests that a rich variety of booksellers flourish on the high street and we look forward to hearing more from David and his team about their plans for Borders' future.” The deal sees a brand license agreement in place which allows the new venture to trade under the Borders brand. The US company retains a 17% equity, described by Roche as “a big vote of confidence in the future of the UK and Ireland businesses.

At the outset, Borders US were clear that they were seeking strategic alternatives, that this wasn't about getting rid of an ailing bus.

The above story from Publishing News where you can read it in full


It is hard to imagine that New Zealand publishers will react with any pleasure to the news that Whitcoulls now looks likely to take over Borders NZ stores following their application yesterday for compettition clearance.

Rather than adding new DNA as in the UK situation, here in NZ such a takeover will reduce DNA, read competition and frankly its hard to imagine anyone being excited about the NZ Borders' stores becoming part of the Whitcoulls chain.

Friday, September 28, 2007


The second annual New Zealand Book Month ends this Sunday 30th September with a reprint, due to popular demand, of the Six Pack Two anthology; currently number one on the Booksellers New Zealand Bestsellers List for New Zealand Fiction. 30,000 copies of The Six Pack Two were published to celebrate NZ Book Month 2007.
To ensure that it was accessible to all New Zealanders 14,000 copies were sold through bookshops for only $6, and 16,000 copies are being distributed free to all secondary schools, all public libraries and several other non-profit organisations such as Literacy Aotearoa.
Its sister publication, the 2006 Six Pack, has also returned to the Bestsellers List at number five. Last year it spent a total of fourteen weeks on the Bestsellers List

Profile goes green as Ellingham and Clark set up environmental imprint

Profile are delighted to announce today that Mark Ellingham and Duncan Clark will be joining the company in November to set up a green and ethical imprint.

Ellingham and Clark will commission books into a new imprint, GreenProfile, as well as into Profile’s general trade list. They will represent Profile at environment events and provide custom publishing for companies looking to create material around green issues. A further, innovative part of their brief is to offer publishing support to a range of charities. Ellingham and Clark were instrumental in the promotional launch of the rainforest charity Cool Earth ( earlier this year.

Mark Ellingham is one of the most respected figures in UK publishing, and joins Profile from Rough Guides, which he founded in 1982 (and which was bought by Penguin in 2002). In 25 years at the helm, he established Rough Guides as a trusted brand not only for travel but in areas ranging from world music to the Internet. In addition, Ellingham is co-publisher of Sort Of Books (whose bestselling authors include Chris Stewart and Tove Jansson), and a director of Songlines, the world music magazine. Duncan Clark has been a key figure in Rough Guides non-travel publishing for eight years, both as an editor and as author of titles such as The Rough Guide to Ethical Living. He also owns a low-energy light bulb business and is consultant editor for a major new environment project at the BBC.

Andrew Franklin, MD of Profile says:

‘We’re thrilled that Mark and Duncan will be joining us. Two of the most dynamic editors in the industry come to one of the most dynamic publishers: it’s a good fit.
‘We are convinced we can publish these books well – and profitably – but the purpose is not just financial. We at Profile are personally highly committed to the green idea. Globally, few subject areas are more pressing and there is a real need for incisive writing in the field. Incidentally Mark and Duncan will help us sharpen our internal operations too!’

Mark Ellingham says:

‘After 25 years at Rough Guides, I’m just about ready for a fresh challenge – and for some time I’ve wanted to put my energy into green and ethical issues. GreenProfile will allow me to do just that, as well as to try my hand at other publishing ideas, which wouldn’t have fitted into Rough Guides. I feel distinctly energised by returning to a small company environment, too, and especially to one with such an evidently can-do, no-set-rules attitude.’

Duncan Clark says:

‘This is a superb opportunity – both for Profile and for Mark and myself – to do groundbreaking publishing around some of the most important issues of our day. The environment is no longer a niche interest; it’s a key priority in every aspect of society. GreenProfile will reflect this with top-class books aimed at large audiences. I can’t think of a better place to be setting up this imprint than Profile, a fantastic, fast-moving independent run by people with strong environmental convictions.’

Notes for editors:

Duncan Clark
Duncan Clark is an editor and author specialising in environmental issues. His own books, which have sold more than quarter of a million copies, include The Rough Guide to Ethical Living. He’s a consultant editor at BBC Worldwide, an advisor to rainforest charity Cool Earth, owner of a low-energy light-bulb business and contributes to media such as Sky News, Radio 4 and The Guardian. Duncan helped to create the Eco Committee at Penguin and to set-up GreenerLiving magazine.

Mark Ellingham
Mark Ellingham founded Rough Guides in 1982 and is leaving the company after celebrating its 25th anniversary. He authored many of the early Rough Guides and created the company’s all-time bestseller, The Rough Guide to the Internet, which was on the Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller chart for three years. He is on the advisory board of Cool Earth; co-publisher of Sort Of Books; and is a director of the world music magazine Songlines and the travel magazine, Wanderlust.

Profile Books
Profile is one of the UK’s leading independent publishers, publishing across a wide range of subjects including history, biography, memoir, politics, current affairs, travel, business, humour, popular science and a little fiction. In 2007 Profile bought Serpent’s Tail. Profile authors include Susan Hill, Deborah Ross, John Cornwell, Lynne Truss, Alan Bennett (sometimes co-published with Faber), Lionel Shriver, Walter Moseley and many, many more.

Cool Earth
Cool Earth (, was co-founded by Frank Field MP and Johann Eliasch (Gordon Brown’s new environmental advisor). Its aim is to buy at risk rainforest to prevent its destruction and consequent release of CO2 (rainforest destruction accounts for nearly a quarter of global carbon emissions).
FOOTNOTE from Bookman Beattie
Andrew Franklin was with Penguin Books for many years and during my time with Penguin I always enjoyed meeting up with him when visiting the London office.
Read more about him, and his impressive publishing career on this link -

Bloomsbury lures Charkin for post-Harry future BLOOMSBURY HAS ANNOUNCED the surprise appointment of Macmillan CEO Richard Charkin to the position of Executive Director.

The move, in CEO Nigel Newton's words, is “to help the Board put in place plans for the post-Harry Potter era”. He joins the company on 1 October with “responsibilities for our operations worldwide, including Bloomsbury UK, A&C Black, Berlin Verlag and Bloomsbury USA, and he will have particular focus on spearheading growth through acquisitions, new publishing areas and international expansion”.

Speaking to PN shortly before leaving for Bloomsbury's 21st birthday party, Newton said: “Richard is a publisher that I have respected immensely for years. He is one of my unofficial cadre of peer group advisors. He's a maverick, an iconoclast, he has a great sense of humour, he's combative and he does not accept the status quo. He's the most Bloomsbury person I know who has never worked for the company in its 21 years - and I am happy to correct that now.”

He added: “To put it in Harry Potter terms, he is joining us as the Minister for Growth, to help us put in place the plans we have and also help us remain the fiercely independent publisher we have been for 21 years.” Newton said that he was also attracted by Charkin's evident interest in new technology and new developments, which clearly chimes with Bloomsbury's own track record - whether it be the Encarta deal all those years ago, or, more recently, its arrangement with Qatar Finance Centre Authority to develop a banking and finance information resource. As Newton put it: “He is probably the only chief executive in this industry with a blog. He's 58 but he's living this e-world more than people half his age. He's energetic and dynamic and willing to take risks.”

Charkin said that his 10 years at Macmillan had been “the best 10 years of my career. We've achieved a huge amount, but I have a restless spirit and it's time for a new opportunity. I am completely enthusiastic about the team at Bloomsbury and they are in a great position to grow.”

Announcing the news to Macmillan staff, he said: ”The decade has seen significant growth in all our diverse areas of publishing and we have been able to do this mainly organically but also with some excellent acquisitions. We are in the middle of a digital revolution and Macmillan has embraced the changes without losing sight of the importance of our authors, our staff, our customers and our history. ”This success is down to everyone at Macmillan everywhere in the world. I hope I have been able to contribute to it a bit.” Stefan von Holtzbrinck, CEO of Holtzbrinck Group, the owners of Macmillan, paid tribute to Richard's contribution to the company, saying: “Richard and I joined Macmillan at more or less the same time and from the beginning it was an inspiring, creative and successful relationship. It is a great joy for me, my sister Monika and all of us at the Holtzbrinck Group to see Macmillan thriving in every way which is the result of strong leadership and a loyal and successful team.”

Mike Barnard, who retired from the main board of Macmillan in May after 35 years, will return as Deputy Chairman until a new CEO is appointed.
Footnote from The Bookman:
A great appointment for Bloomsbury and a great loss for MacMillan.
Bookman Beattie hopes he will continue to blog at Bloomsbury?


Our first film at the Documentary Film Festival., and we loved it.

This commentary from the website catalogue.
A classic election nail-biter set in a third grade classroom is undoubtedly one of this year’s must see offerings.
Three 8 year olds launch their campaigns to become the class monitor. Therein begins a mini experiment in democracy in a central Chinese elementary school in the world’s largest Communist country that will leave a trail of tears, lies and name-calling.
The incumbent, Luo Lei is also the wiry class bully and the son of an important Police Inspector. Luo Lei’s autocratic style is in stark contrast to his challengers; the fast-talking tubby Machiavellian Cheng Cheng who professes that he will listen to his constituents and rule by fairness, and the sweet pigtailed approval-seeking Xio Fei, the only girl in the group.
The pint sized candidates take to their task with relish but it is the sensitive Xio Fei who breaks down in tears from heckling at her inaugural speech by Cheng Cheng’s supporters, cracking under pressure and making it a two “boy” race. The two boys with the help of interfering parents engage in all forms of chicanery, including bribery and deal-making, and slug it out right down to the finish line.
Director Weijun Chan manages to capture the tremendous exchange that takes place between the children as well as the children and their parents.
Can a 55 minute documentary about a junior school election campaign provide fresh insight into the wider politics of one of the 21st century’s largest free-market experiments? Whether it does or not, the antics of the charming subjects and their parents make Please Vote for Me superb eye-opening entertainment for all age groups.

4th Bravado International Poetry Competition 2007
Judge’s Report from Elizabeth Smither

What a box of poems! 667 entries to spread about the house, to read in various rooms, to attach little stickies to.
Only thirteen needed on voyage; it feels like the sinking of the Titanic but at least, and perhaps the most moving image we now have, the orchestra went on playing.
(Imagining those last moments, the water rising, the bow sliding for one last time across the strings would make a fine poem).
I found so much variety and so much to enjoy:

I stroke the back of South Africa,
and kiss the nape of South Africa,
as sleep takes him from me’
(The heat of South Africa)

Wow, look at that hot chick,
her car’s broken down.
Hey, mate shall we help her?
(Litany of our Sons)

Many of the poems practically jumped out of the box:

The day, when I awoke and it jumped in the window
(The day)

There were splendid titles (so much can be said in a title that is then not required in the body of the poem) such as The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator’s Wife:

like rockets
about to launch,
the bed and he
are wedded;
though aching to shrill,
I must keep still.

The market place was there in the delightfully coined words of The Bottom Line:

the glozzins and grizzmands that dissipate
when technotubbification and sockdogalery proliferate

and these most delightful lines that concluded a nightmare of a dog named Sal being chased by an alligator – nurses is the most perfect rhyme. White uniforms and alligator purses.

I took a gun and shot him dead
I skinned him and made purses
And shoes and handbags that are worn
By office girls and nurses.
(Alligator Nightmare)

What I was looking for was in each case determined by the poem itself. Sometimes it is directness that captivates (as in the Melbourne street); sometimes complexity (as in The Tryst) where the exactness of image has to be scrupulously maintained. Sometimes movement (A Day on the Hustings) or Shostakovich in a De Soto. Sometimes an elusive mood is the main subject of the poem and it has to be judged on what is left as a residue (Learning to Fall and Another Name). Or it can be almost choked and incoherent with emotion (I.V.F.) and still triumph. Each poem creates its own world, it own terms and determines its own form.
Poem is not meant to compete with poem and yet this happens every time a poem is submitted to a magazine or a competition. But at least in the Bravado competition there is no house style, no preference for rhymed or unrhymed, conventional or unconventional. (Several entries regretted the good old days of rhyme but I think they are mistaken, except of course, that where rhyme rises naturally in a poem, it is brilliant, and like adding bling). Nor are there ‘poetic’ subjects: landscapes, estuaries, loneliness, loving.
The best advice is still probably Allen Curnow’s: ‘Look back harder’. It is the hard looking that makes the best poems. I very much enjoyed the task of judging. Congratulations to the winners and everyone who entered. Keep writing.

Prizewinners – all poems to be published in Bravado 11, November 2007

1st Prize Rosemary Wildblood A scene at the Wellington Festival (for Nigel Cox)
2nd Prize Sue Wootton The confidential sofa
3rd Prize Tim Jones Shostakovich in America

Highly Commended

Emily Adlam Learning to Fall
Michele Amas Boy in a bar
Sarah Broom Under the Hospital
Amy Donovan One Night in Melbourne
David Gregory Another Name
Michael Harlow The Return
Susan Minot A Day on the Hustings
Gill Ward I.V.F.
Kiri Piahana Wong Leaving
Sue Wootton The Tryst

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Here are three books for booklovers, all being published in the first week of October:


Alan Bennett Profile Books $30

Utterly delightful, witty, charming, subversive, playful, exquisite, and read in one joyous sitting.

The uncommon reader is of course, H.M.Queen Elizabeth 2, and this is Bennett's fantasy of her life after she discovers the pleaures of reading.


Kate Camp Penguin $29.95

Kate Camp is a Wellington poet, writer and broadcaster with an honours degree in English Literature and this thoughtful but entertaining book is based on her popular Saturday morning chats with Kim Hill on the classics. Here she picks out ten classics including Crime & Punishment, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, War & Peace and Middlemarch. Intelligent and often irreverent, if there are some here you haven't read, buy this book and save yourself some time!


John Sutherland Profile $28

Rather than how to read a novel Sutherland's book is really how to get the most out of reading a novel. This is the most serious of our three gems and it does take a bit of reading but when you have finished it you may well find the way you look at books in the future will be greatly changed. I especially found chapter four, Fiction- a four minute history, both interesting and useful.


In what is excellent news for the NZ book publishing industry, and can only be described as a coup for Craig Potton Publishing, Jane Connor is to take up the position as Managing Director & Publisher at the Nelson-based publisher in early November.

Jane has enjoyed a long & distinguished career in publishing. She was a co-founder of Godwit Press, now part of Random House NZ where she was Publishing Director for a number of years before joining Timber Press in Portland, Oregon six years ago where she has been Executive Vice President and Publisher.
Welcome home Jane, and congratulations to Robbie Burton at Craig Potton Publishing on making this appointment.

HarperCollins' new online author tool

This Harper Collins story from The Bookseller:

Authors can now create and connect online through HarperCollins Publisher's new content-rich author network. AuthorAssistant allows authors to create and post personalised information and gives readers a chance to learn more about their favorite authors.

"Our AuthorAssistant tool, and these stunning new Author Pages, demonstrate how we are harnessing our power and scale as a publisher to add value for authors, while connecting them with fans who want more from them," said Jane Friedman, president and c.e.o. of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. On the author pages, readers can see comprehensive biographical information, links to press and articles, author blogs and favorite websites, photo albums, news, essays and more.

"Author Assistant gives me the power to provide information and keep my Author Page on fresh and relevant," said participating author Teresa Medeiros. "It's original and incredibly easy to use."

Currently, more than 40 authors from HarperCollins' Avon imprint are participating, including many from the Avon Romance imprint, chosen because of the strong romance community and existing connection between authors and fans. HarperCollins hopes to expand the program to other imprints all over the world.

"The Author Assistant tool and the new Web pages it helps us create enriches and expands our authors' online reach and enables new fans to discover them through our Avon community," said Liate Stehlik, senior vice president and publisher of Avon. "We are committed to serving our authors by helping them navigate and embrace the quickly changing online marketing landscape."

Great excitement - the third annual Documentray Film Festival starts in Auckland today with movies being screened at The Academy and Skycity. Check the programme on the website.

Bookman Beattie was privileged to attend the Festival launch event last evening where we were teased and tempted by brief clips from many of the featured documentary movies. Wow, movie-goers are in a for a great time.

I had an interesting chat to Neil Parker about the making of his 75 minute film, Billy's Christmas, which tells the story of an outback Australian farming family and the hard decisions being forced on them by the seven year long drought.

Billy's Christmas is screening at The Academy on Sunday 30 September at 3.20pm and again on Wednesday 10 October at 2.35pm.
Here is the Festival schedule:

Auckland 27 September - 10 October
Dunedin 11 - 21 October
Christchurch 25 October - 4 November4
Wellington 8-21 November

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The books that changed our lives
Six leading feminists recall the writing
that first opened their eyes to the women's movement

From The Guardian overnight.

Exemplary inspirations ... (left to right) Kate Millett, Virginia Woolf, Naomi Wolf. Photographs: Guardian/Corbis

Jessica Valenti

When I first saw my mother's copy of Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women, I remember being a little afraid of the cover, which featured a picture of a bizarre woman-like mask reflected in a compact mirror. Being the morbidly curious 13-year-old that I was though, I picked it up. I've never read a book faster.
Almost immediately, I was confronted with ideas that made sense of the thoughts I'd been having - that I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. It was such an incredible feeling to know that so many of my insecurities weren't really about me, but were manifestations of a culture hell-bent on keeping women in their place.
Books That Changed Our Lives would be a good Festival topic I reckon. Get 3 or 4 interesting persons to speak about those books that changed their lives,

'The only way to deal with tragedy is to laugh at it'

Indra Sinha, shortlisted for this year's Man Booker prize for Animal's People, explains the story behind his novel Indra Sinha: 'I don't insist that writers have a duty to change things'.

Author photograph: Guardian/Martin Godwin

Khaufpur, the city in which your novel is set, is a thinly disguised representation of the Indian city of Bhopal, which suffered one of the world's worst industrial disasters in 1984 when a pesticide plant released over 40 tonnes of poisonous gas. Did you write Animal's People in order to help the world remember its victims?
"You think books should change things," the Kakadu jarnalis tells Animal. "So do I. When you speak, talk straight to the people who'll read your words. If you tell the truth from the heart, they will listen."

This is a whole page advertisment featuring AUP titles placed by UBS Auckland in the latest issue of the student magazine Craccum.
You need to click on the ad to see it in full size.
Bookman Beattie thanks UBS for the nice mention!

Business book prize shortlist unveiled

From The Bookseller 25 September:

Alan Greenspan's new high-profile memoir The Age of Turbulence (Allen Lane) features among the shortlisted titles for this year's Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.

Announced today (25th September), the shortlist also includes Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future by Iain Carson and Vijay V Vaitheeswaran (Twelve/HGB USA), The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co by William D Cohan (Doubleday), Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them by Philippe Legrain (Little, Brown), The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Allen Lane) and Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D Williams (Atlantic).

The six books were chosen as "the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues" by a panel of judges, which included Financial Times editor Lionel Barber and Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd C Blankfein.

The winner will receive £30,000 and the other five shortlisted authors will each receive £5,000.
The overall winner will be announced at a gala event at The British Library on 25th October.

And from the same issue of The Bookseller good news for poets!

Poetry award increases prize pot

The Poetry Book Society has increased the prize money awarded for the T S Eliot Prize for poetry, making it the largest cash prize in British poetry. The winner of the 2007 Prize will receive £15,000-up from previous years' £10,000-and shortlisted poets will receive a cheque for £1,000 for the first time.

This year's shortlist will comprise the Poetry Book Society’s four Choice collections for 2007-The Speed of Dark by Ian Duhig (Picador), The Pomegranates of Kandahar by Sarah Maguire (Chatto), The Drowned Book by Sean O’Brien (Picador) and Pessimism for Beginners by Sophie Hannah(Carcanet)-and another six books to be chosen by the panel of judges.

The shortlist will be announced in early November, and the winner is announced on 14th January. The prize money is donated by T S Eliot's widow Valerie Eliot.

Fergus Barrowman, Publisher at Victoria University Press makes his debut on Beatties Book Blog.

For review: four latest issues of leading US literary magazines, chosen by Graham in a recent New York shopping spree. Thanks for the loan, Graham.

The humble NZ litmag editor is immediately struck by the sumptuous production values, especially of McSweeney’s 23, a medium-format hardback, with colour illustrations bracketing each of ten stories, and a dustjacket that opens out into a 70cm square poster featuring dozens of very short stories by Dave Eggers, arranged like an astrological chart (in type that’s almost too small to read).

But that’s almost modest compared to the splendour of earlier issues, some of which are described in the Sydney Morning Herald article posted recently. With McSweeney’s, Dave Eggers and his gang set out to change the rules of literary publishing. The production of completely different issue was to make absolutely no concessions to the efficiencies and uniformities insisted upon by conventional publishing. And the contents were to be completely free of literary airs and graces. The aim was to bust open the predictable codes and cliques of literary publishing by making each new issue an unignorable one-off.

It’s possibly too soon to judge the success of this enterprise. There have been some brilliant issues, and I’m a bit sorry not to have collected them all, rather than just the one in three or four that contained something that particularly interested me. And McSweeney’s has a very high profile amongst hip American readers and writers. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to have caused other publishers to significantly alter the ways they do things. And some unscientific enquiries amongst bookish New Zealanders, even the sort who might subscribe to the New Yorker (same price as the Listener, today), indicates limited recognition in the wider world. And I’m tempted to wonder whether the motto pressed discreetly into the case, ‘McSweeney’s 23 / STILL GOING STRONG / LIKE CASTRO’, is a wry acknowledgement that the crew are tiring a little? Certainly these ten stories, although all good, and adding up to a satisfying evening’s reading, don’t offer anything as extraordinary as the packaging. The best is ‘Girls in Bad Weather’, by the veteran Ann Beattie.

The Paris Review is one of the world’s venerable litmags, and on the evidence of this issue (181, Summer 2007) is going strong, sticking to the format developed by founder George Plimpton, editor until his death in 2003. The centrepiece, as always, is a long interview, this time with Norman Mailer, whom I have to confess I’d never expect to find interesting any more, but this is a great performance, which will certainly ring bells for writers and those who live with them:

Might it be said, in any event, that writing is a sort of self-annihilation?

It uses you profoundly. There’s simply less of you after you finish a book, which is why writers can be so absolutely enraged at cruel criticisms that they feel are unfair. We feel we have killed ourselves once writing the book, and now they are seeking to kill us again for too little. Gary Gilmore once remarked, ‘Padre, there’s nothing fair.’ And I’ve used that over and over again. Yet if you’re writing a good novel then you’re being an explorer – you’re getting into something where you don’t know the end, where the end is not given. There’s a mixture of dread and excitement that keeps you going. To my mind, it’s not worth writing a novel unless you’re tackling something where your chances of success are open. You can fail. You’re gambling with your psychic reserves. It’s as if you were the general of an army of one, and this general can really drive that army into a cul-de-sac.

The Paris Review gains a lot of character from limiting the number of contributors, this time to eight in 180 pages. As if inspired by Mailer’s presence, there are two good long blokey stories, by Andre Aciman (homosociality in the city) and Uzodinma Iweala (homosexuality in the army), and a 40-page colour photo essay, ‘Cities’ by Raymond Depardon.

There was a power struggle after Plimpton’s death (I’m sure the details are out there on the Net somewhere) and his appointed successor Brigid Hughes was ousted and replaced by New Yorker veteran Philip Gourevitch.

Hughes went on to found A Public Space, a much busier and more consciously contemporary magazine. Issue 4 contains 35 contributions, including a dozen poems, of which Sean Hopkinson’s ‘Why Do the Outmoded Maintain Themselves So Resolutely?’ is perhaps most telling.

There is a New Zealand connection in ‘Focus Antarctica’, some of which is reprinted from Bill Manhire’s anthology The Wide White Page, though there is also an interview with Bill, and a story by Valery Bryusov. Bryusov’s story of the dreadful catastrophe wrought by the disease of contradiction in the Republic of the Southern Cross is a great piece of early 20th century story speculative fiction and political satire. There’s also a typically outrageous story by William T, Vollmann, and an excellent orthodox coming-of-age story by Jim Shepard. The literary styles displayed in A Public Space are noticeably wider than those in The Paris Review and even McSweeney’s 23, both of which stick much closer to conventional naturalism.

The best mag of the four, the closest thing to a full balanced diet, is Tin House (vol 8, no. 4), edited by Rob Spillman. It has the flavour of an edgier New Yorker, which is to say, it’s not all that far out, and I enjoyed everything in it. There are five excellent and substantial stories, ranging from very dirty realism to a Jim Crace-like fable by Rick Bass; five good poets, none of whom I’d heard of before; and interviews with Irishman John Banville, Somalian Nuruddin Farah, and Nicaraguan Claribel Alegria. The essays are especially good: Helen Schulman’s frank and moving account of her father’s descent into arteriosclerotic dementia; linguist Arika Okrent’s sincere and hilarious account of learning Klingon; and two sharply opposed opinions of Ryszard Kapuscinski, the immensely influential Polish writer who died in January this year. Helpfully, both writers cite some of the same passages as evidence, notably the famous ‘Dog Urine Wiper (Satin Cloth) of the Peed-Upon Shoes of Dignitaries of the Palace of His Venerable Highness, the King of Kings, and of Ethiopia’, from The Emperor. The American Steve Almond celebrates ‘the Kapuscinski method: he eschews the accretion of bloodless fact, presenting instead tableaux that read like dark parables.’ The Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina, however, wonders at publishers and readers who accept fabrications and errors a school pupil could pick up in a minute on Google, and concludes mildly:

‘There are many small magical moments in The Emperor, but they are drowned by Kapuscinski’s general loss of perspective, his now-arrogant speculations, his confusing and difficult-to-justify desire to fictionalise fact. His over-atmospherics excite, but do not provide much in the way of meaningful insight.’

A literary debate of much wider significance, there in a nutshell.

Although weekly visitors continue to number around the 3000 mark there has been a slight shift in where viewers hail from.
Here are the percentages for the past week:
New Zealand 59%
USA 15%
UK 11%
Aust 4%
Canada 2%
France, Japan & Taiwan 1% each
Remaining 6% spread over 22 other countries.


October Saturday 13 - Friday 19 at Britomart

Don't miss this. Go to their impressive website - - and check out the terrific programme.

There are lectures from international architects, debates, tours, displays, indoor & outdoor exhibitions and even a Pecha Kucha evening. Don't know what Pecha Kucha is? Then check this site, you need to know all about it if you want to be up with the play!

The Morgan Library & Museum

Great news this morning about one of my favourite places in New York from the latest IBook Collector Newsletter.

The Morgan Library & Museum has received a grant of $450,000 from the Leon Levy Foundation for a three-year project to upgrade catalog records for its renowned collection of literary and historical manuscripts.
The Morgan’s holdings range from love letters of Voltaire to diaries of Henry David Thoreau to lyric sheets by Bob Dylan. This grant will facilitate greater access to these documents via the institution’s online public catalog, CORSAIR.“The Leon Levy Foundation has made an extraordinary gift to scholarship and public enjoyment of the Morgan’s rich resources,” said Charles E. Pierce, Jr., director of the Morgan. “Accurate collection information is the foundation of all that we do-from providing scholarly access to mounting public exhibitions. Every major improvement we make to our online catalog results in the use of the Morgan’s collections in new and unexpected ways.”

“The Morgan Library & Museum is a national treasure, housing such historic manuscripts as a volume of Edward Gibbon’s diary,” said Shelby White, trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation. “His work, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, inspired my husband’s interest in history and antiquities. The Leon Levy Foundation is pleased to play a major role in enhancing the Morgan’s catalog records.”

As a result of the grant, the Morgan will hire a team of project catalogers to examine targeted areas of the collection to ensure that items are described fully and accurately in CORSAIR. Though most of the Morgan’s collections are represented in the catalog, in some cases the content of the entries has not been revisited in many decades.

The grant will also enable the Morgan to examine undocumented materials and graphic items-such as individual letters of major authors and portraits and photographs-and make certain they are properly cataloged. Moreover, it will allow for the upgrading of tools used for the physical tracking of collection items, an essential part of responsible collection management


They are the generation of children’s authors and illustrators who have grown old and lost their rights. They come from a time before J. K. Rowling, before Alcatraz-tight copyright laws and global merchandising, and as they near their dotage they have seen their beloved characters put to work advertising fizzy drinks, toilet paper and yeast spreads.

Earlier this week it was Michael Bond, bemoaning the fact that his creation, marmalade-loving Paddington Bear, was being used to advertise Marmite. Yesterday Raymond Briggs, author of The Snowman, joined Bond in complaining about the thousand unnatural uses that his character had been put to. The Snowman had suffered “crass exploitation” at the hands of marketing men hoping to “cast a charming glow over products which are so charmless”, Briggs, 73, said in a letter to The Times.
He said that “as a fellow sufferer (and beneficiary) of the commercial exploitation of a character”, he could sympathise with Bond.

Briggs complains that his iconic Snowman, with his soft curves and floppy felt hat, has been used to sell everything from fizzy drinks to fried chicken. “It is galling to find that the innocent character one has created for young children is being used to promote junk food and drink, and also to decorate the packaging of lavatory paper,” he said.

This story overnight from The Times.


HarperCollins to print entire paperbacks on green grown paper

In a move that now sees the majority its books printed on environmentally-friendly paper, HarperCollins Publishers UK announced today that it will be printing its entire mass market paperback list on FSC paper. Its first green mass market paperback - The Loner by Josephine Cox - hits bookshop shelves today. From October onwards all books on the paperback trade lists will be printed on FSC. Together with the hardbacks, trade paperbacks and selected four colour titles already printed on FSC and recycled papers, this will mean that 33m books, almost 55% of all books produced by HCUK, will now be on environmentally-friendly paper.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Until last month, when she was overtaken by J.K.Rowling, Enid Blyton was the biggest selling children's author ever.

Now there is a new biography about to be published, and it contains some surprises.

Here is what the publisher has to say.

And here is a story about the book from yesterday's Guardian.

This fascinating story from The Bookseller 24.09.07

It is almost 10 years to the day that the giant US bookseller Borders bought the small London chain Books Etc, bringing "unbridled" joy to publishers across the UK.

"The future is not what it used to be", the Bookseller pronounced (click the image on the right to read the original report). Borders paid £40m for a chain that had 21 shops and an annual turnover of £31m. Last week the US bookseller announced the sale of a business more than seven times larger for roughly half the original price.It would be fair to point out that Borders will retain a 17% stake, worth about £4m, but that doesn't look like much when compared to the $115m loss it is taking on sale of the business.It was all very different back in 1997. Booksellers Association president Jonathan Chowen, then managing director of Sussex Stationers, said: "The UK book trade has changed overnight."

UK publishers were joyous. Tim Hely Hutchinson, then Hodder Headline chief executive, said: "I am delighted to see a high quality superstore operator move to the UK." Nigel Newton, then as now chief executive of Bloomsbury, said: "I have a very high opinion of Borders, based on the empire it has built in the US."Rival retailers were less happy. James Heneage, then managing director of Ottakar's, provided a note of caution, warning that its large superstores could struggle in the UK: "I would be amazed if they worked here." Heneage also warned of "price cutting". Alan Giles, then managing director of Waterstone's, said: "Publishers must be concerned whether the UK book market is going the same way as the US book market, where the chains' expansion has been reckless."The Bookseller's Leader column said the deal would have a "monumental impact on the UK book market".

But it warned: "The entry of the US giants will be successful only if they help to bring about a substantial increase in the size of the UK book market. Unless that happens there will be much blood on the floor, spilled for no better reason than a desire for increased market share."

The Bookseller got it half right. Sales rose, but somehow the bottom line failed to follow.In 1997 the UK consumer book market was reported to be worth £2.3bn. Ten years on the value of that market is now said to be £3.3bn. Borders UK has clearly contributed to that growth: it now has UK sales of £223m, and operates from 69 stores.
But it made a profit of £2m–a figure scarcely different from the £2.2m profit reported by Books Etc back in 1997.

As David Roche chief executive of the new Borders said today: that is a lot of effort for little reward.
Luke Johnson is likely to receive a similarly warm reception. He is already saying all the things publishers love to hear.

As The Bookseller of 1997 might have commented, the future is not what it used to be–again. But Paul from Books Etc probably has it better: "For the first time in a long time, the future looks exciting."
As an addendum, I cannot resist referring to another story we had in the magazine that week. It began: "The board of W H Smith has rejected an audacious bid to buy the company led by Tim Waterstone." It seems that we might have had it wrong about the future after all.

This has nothing to do with books but I was greatly intrigued by the following story in the Weekend Herald by Brian Gaynor, one of NZ's most respected writers on financial & investment matters. I believe it deserves a wider audience so I am posting it here on my blog.

Sir Robert Muldoon painted Labour's fledgling super scheme as a step on the way to turning New Zealand into a Soviet clone.
A dreadful political decision, announced on December 15, 1975, transformed New Zealand from the potential Switzerland of the Southern Hemisphere into a low-ranking OECD economy.

Without this decision we would now be called "The Antipodean Tiger" and be the envy of the rest of the world. We would have a current account surplus, one of the lowest interest-rate structures in the world and would probably rank as one of the top five OECD economies.

We would still own ASB Bank, Bank of New Zealand and most of the other major companies now overseas-owned. Our entrepreneurs would have a plentiful supply of risk capital and would probably own a large number of Australian companies.
Most New Zealanders would face a comfortable retirement and would be the envy of their Australian peers.

The Government would have a substantial Budget surplus and we would have one of the best educational and healthcare systems in the world.

The full story here..........


The Surface of the Sea- Encounters with New Zealand’s Upper Ocean Life
Iain Anderson Reed $45

Out West – A Photographic Journey Through Auckland’s West
Chris Hoult Reed $$$

Unclaimed Coast- The first kayak journey around Shackleton’s South Georgia
Graham Charles, Mark Jones & Marcus Waters
Penguin $39.95

The Surface of the Sea, the first of the three is by Dr, Iain Anderson of Auckland University who describes how, through a painful, experience with jellyfish, first became interested in the top 10 metres or so of water that it the key to the entire ocean’s great food web.
Although an academic Anderson writes in an accessible manner and this book with its profusion of astounding photographs is a must for all interested in the sea particularly recreational fishers and the many thousands of keen kiwis who dive and snorkel around our coastline.

I was especially intrigued with the chapter called turtle navigators and the story of one green turtle named Reeve who had a satellite transmitter placed on his back at Kelly Tarlton’s and since has had his movements around the Northland coast tracked.
Many of Anderson’s other experiences with marine life are encountered in this appealing and informative publication.

In Out West, Chris Hoult enters a publishing area that has largely been the domain of Bob Harvey in recent years, that is West Auckland. And it is clear from this most appealing book that he is just as familiar with and as fond of the district and its people as is Mayor Harvey.
Hoult was the photographer for the community newspaper, the Western Leader, for 12 years and it is clear that during that time he got to every nook and cranny out West as well as meeting many of its most interesting citizens. Both the glorious landscapes and its diverse citizenry feature in the photographs which are both thoughtful and appealing. So much so that after spending an hour browsing through Out West one just wants to drive across to the Waitakeres and those spectacular wild, west coast beaches.

Unclaimed Coast, as the subtitle tells us, is the story of the first kayak journey around Shackleton’s South Georgia. Not only is it a gripping account of that remarkable feat carried out by three Kiwi adventurers, who must in my view be slightly crazy, but it’s also a most stunning pictorial account and includes some of the finest wilderness and wildlife photographs I have ever seen. The three authors are all exceptional climbers, highly experienced kayakers, mountaineers and photographers and collectively make up Adventure Philosophy one of the world’s most successful expedition teams having completed three world-first expeditions.
I spent several hours at the weekend happily reading Unclaimed Coast, it is quite a tale and the pics are truly very special. Congratulations to our three intrepid kayakers.

Garrison Keillor wins 2007 Steinbeck Award

Famed American cultural commentator and entertainer Garrison Keillor, most popularly noted for his radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion,” will receive the 2007 John Steinbeck Award from San Jose State University and the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.
Keillor’s contributions to American culture range from hosting his popular radio show on National Public Radio to screenwriting, music, acting and writing. His latest novel, “Pontoon,” has just been published.

The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University created the Steinbeck award in 1996. Named for the Salinas-born, Nobel Prize-winning writer who died in 1968, the award honors writers and artists whose work captures the spirit of Steinbeck’s empathy for and belief in the common man.According to Thomas Steinbeck, the writer’s son, his father once said, “The basic responsibility of all committed artists must be to remind people of their own inherent and unwavering humanity, and to do so without critical bias.
The artist must learn to rely upon and nurture empathy and compassion, and do so with a joyful heart.”

Thomas Steinbeck will present the award Sept. 25 (that is today!) prior to Keillor’s appearance at the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium. Past recipients include playwright Arthur Miller, songwriter Jackson Browne, singer Joan Baez and actor Sean Penn.

Above story from
For a fuller story use this link to the San Jose State University site.
And for more on Keillor go to Garrison Keillor News website
Pic of author/broadcaster from Garrison Keillor pictures.


Report from Publishers News:

Harlequin said yesterday that from this point forward it is making its complete frontlist catalogue available in e-book format. Active in the e-book marketplace since October 2005, with an initial publication schedule of nine titles a month, Harlequin will now be releasing more than 120 titles per month in both print and digital formats.

Harlequin’s e-books will be priced slightly lower than their print books and be available in Adobe, Microsoft Reader, MobiPocket, Palm and Sony formats. The company said it is launching this initiative because its customers embrace the immediacy and portability of the format and the titles do not go out of stock.