Monday, June 30, 2008

The BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize 2008

As the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction approaches its 10th anniversary, the first winner, Antony Beevor, explains its value

Some need the money to pay off their debts or fund their research. Despite the publicity given to a tiny number of large advances, the truth is that only a very small minority of writers can live off what they earn.
For young writers especially, a prize is their greatest hope of attracting attention for their work. More books than ever are published each year - close to 200,000 titles in Britain at the latest count. So the chances of being reviewed in the main newspapers and periodicals are stacked against them.
30 June 2008
Kite Runner helps Bloomsbury post-Potter

Books by Khaled Hosseini have aided publisher Bloomsbury keep its position in its post-Harry Potter era.The Bloomsbury editions of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns between them have sold four million copies since publication, the publisher revealed ahead of its AGM, with the latter the highest selling book in the UK for the first six months of 2008.

Bloomsbury chief executive Nigel Newton said: "The group's operating performance for the period has been encouraging and is in line with management's expectations."The remarkable success story for Bloomsbury in the first six months of 2008 has been the incredible growth in the popularity of the books of Khaled Hosseini.

"Looking forward, Mr Newton expected success for Mary Ann Shaffer's novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, due out in August but already receiving "extraordinary advance quotes from critics", and Sheila Hancock's second book Just Me.Turning forward, he expected "progress in all areas" for the group in 2008."The measures that we are taking to improve efficiency, streamline systems, and innovate in both publishing and marketing are already delivering positive results," the Bloomsbury chief concluded.JK Rowling's seven Harry Potter books have now sold over 400 million copies in all editions from its publishers worldwide.
Story from
DreamWorks nabs rights to adventure series- Steven Spielberg follows '39 Clues'
By Michael Fleming

DreamWorks has acquired screen rights to "The 39 Clues," a multiplatform adventure series to be launched in the fall by Scholastic Media. Steven Spielberg is eyeing the project as a directing vehicle.
DreamWorks co-chair/CEO Stacey Snider struck the deal with Scholastic Media president Deborah Forte.
Forte and Spielberg will produce; Spielberg is expected to set a screenwriter in the next few weeks.
It's unclear whether "Clues" would remain at Paramount after Spielberg and Snider exit the studio and re-establish DreamWorks as an indie.
"The 39 Clues," which launches Sept. 9, is envisioned as a 10-book series to be released over two years. It's described as a multimedia adventure that will include a set of collectible cards and an online game that will serve as a portal as young readers try to solve a mystery for a grand prize of $10,000. The contest will run for two years.

The focus of "The 39 Clues" is the most powerful family in the world, the Cahills, who count Napoleon and Houdini among their relatives. Readers will be challenged to discover the source of the family's powers, revealed through 39 clubs that are hidden around the world and scattered throughout history.
First book in the series, "The Maze of Bones," has been completed by Rick Riordan, who also has outlined the series' 10-book arc. The adventure kicks off with the death of Cahill clan matriarch Grace, who changes her will at the last moment, giving her descendants the choice between $1 million or a clue.
"The 39 Clues" takes "creative leaps to expand the story experience from the pages of the books to multiple stages of discovery and imagination," Spielberg said in a statement.
"There is enough material here for three or four movies," Snider told Daily Variety. "Steven is very involved and passionate. This excites me as an executive but also as a mother. It is an educational, challenging interactive experience that hits kids where they live."
Story from Variety.
By Charlotte Grimshawe
Metro, June 2008

City of Stories
Under the puddles in Auckland Two

One night, after a party, I was given a lift. In the car were Hamish Keith and two other people. Someone said to me, ‘In your story The Body, you used the phrase, ‘intellectual slum.’ But your father has already used it in one of his novels.’
There was a silence. Was this an accusation of plagiarism? It would have to be dealt with. Rolling round in the back seat I considered my response. Finally I came out with this: ‘Yeah, I stole it.’
Hamish began to say something sympathetic, also subtle. ‘In art, we build on what has gone before. It’s not so much stealing as…’
We listened. He was his usual brilliant self. He was right, but there was something more to explain. It had been a long night; clearly I was over-tired. ‘I stole it,’ I shot from the back. I nearly added, ‘Are we there yet?’

In families there’s a private language. There are in-jokes, built up over decades, that no outsider can know. There are stock phrases. ‘Intellectual slum’ was always a favourite of mine. My father once used it to describe the church. I inherited the phrase; it was part of the family silver. I used it with a sense of entitlement. But only in a particular place; only where it seemed to fit. In my story, The Body, it’s uttered by a father figure. An artist, the parent of three adult children. You could almost say he resembles…
My father: teller of stories. When I was a child, he and I had imaginary games. In London, we had a fantasy: under the puddles there was a second city. Extraordinary things could happen, in London Two. These days, when I walk through Auckland, I don’t see stories in the pavement. I see people I’ve changed into fiction. I see a person and what I’ve made of him; they are entirely different beings. In adulthood I have my own double world: my Auckland and my Auckland Two.

One day I saw someone I’d met in strange circumstances, a long time ago. I’d written a story, using detail of our encounter, and it had been published. I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He gave me a glare. He looked dark, disdainful. I went on my way. He must have read the story, I thought. He must be angry about that.
I did something impulsive. I sent him an email. I wanted to cancel out that terrible look. Dear X, I said. I wrote a story, and used some details from that day. But fiction is fiction. Please don’t take offence. You may have seen things you recognised, but they were nothing to do with you.
X sent me a polite message. He thanked me for my explanation. He hadn’t read my story. His look had not been foul. Write anything you like, he said. It wouldn’t bother him.
That was that. No further communication was possible. I did the only thing I could, in the circumstances. I put the exchange into fiction.

In the story, a woman writes a story. It contains details of a real incident: ‘the disaster with Mr Jones.’ After it’s published the writer (a solipsistic failure) is coldly snubbed by Mr. Jones. She sends him a message, trying to put things right. But ‘putting things right’ is always a fantasy. It’s never going to work. She only creates more uncertainty, more of a tangle – her second disaster with Mr. Jones.
I made this writer character an idiot, and punished her with self-revelation. I dealt with her firmly and pitilessly. I wrote her into the ground, and moved on.

But two weeks later, I ran into someone. Uninvited, out of the blue, he told me this: he had known X for years. He was an old friend. Why, just the other day he’d been talking to X. Did I know him? (Oh, vaguely.) Then he told me a series of anecdotes – innocuous, everyday ones – that were all about X’s life. I listened, in neutral silence. Startling. Strange. As if a door had been thrown open and there X was. His life of worthy service. His charitable ways. He sounds like a saint, I murmured. But the details got me thinking. I wrote another story. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t stop there. It isn’t X in these stories. I don’t know X. It’s the made-up one. It’s the X who was invented a long time ago, when he stepped into Auckland Two.

This is what it’s like with writing. You sit at home, at your desk in the suburbs, playing with data. And then you go out, into the city. Everywhere you look there are stories. The ones already told and the ones about to happen, those that have grown from the ones before.
Time passed. I saw the mayor out walking, John Key at the supermarket, Helen Clark at a book party. I saw Joe Karam beside a sculpture on Gladstone Rd. I saw David Bain at Iguacu, Clint Rickards at the Warehouse, John Campbell looking pensive in a mall. These people: stories swarm around them like bees. They are the subject of everyone’s make-believe. We see them, recognise them, we make up who they are. Real people, flesh and blood, shadowed by fictional selves.

Charlotte Grimshaw’s column appears each month in Metro magazine. This column, from the June 2008 issue, is reproduced with the magazine’s permission.


Thanks to both Charlotte Grimshaw and Metro for permission to reproduce this story. Charlotte Grimshaw's latest work of fiction, OPPORTUNITY, Random House $27.99, is shortlisted for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

Emily Perkins at Time Out Bookshop, Auckland, NZ
Wednesday 2 July, 6pm

The uber-talented Ms Perkins will be reading from her stunning new book, Novel About My Wife. This is her first novel in six years and it marks a return to her finest form.

RSVP essential.
432 Mt Eden Road 09 630 3331
Outback quest for insight - review from The Australian, Saturday June 28.

Murray Bail - Text Publishing - A$34.95

MURRAY Bail's wry and quirky oeuvre has always been about seeing. In novels, short stories and commentary on the visual arts, he plays continually with vision -- the ability to perceive -- as an individual aptitude and as a defining national characteristic. Cultural blindness, the inability to see ourselves and others, has humoured and energised him.

The Pages, Bail's first novel in 10 years (after Eucalyptus), focuses on realms beyond the visual: philosophy and psychoanalysis. When the philosophy department at a stuffy Sydney university hears that unpublished philosopher Wesley Antill (scion of a wealthy pastoralist family out west) has left in his will an endowment for the publication of his lifetime work, lecturer Erica Hazelhurst is sent to assess his collected manuscripts.

To accompany her on the 700km trip across the Blue Mountains and past West Wyalong (even farther west than the setting for Eucalyptus), stolid Erica invites her flighty psychoanalyst friend Sophie Perloff.
Two city women, single, career secure, relationship vulnerable, roughly middle-aged, overly analytical and brittle, they attract and repulse each other, and everyone else they contact, in alarming and amusing ways.
From The Sunday Times
June 29, 2008

The 100 best holiday reads
Whether you're spending the summer on a far-flung beach or in your back garden, settle back in your deckchair with a selection from The Sunday Times guide to summer reading.

Check out how many of these you have read:
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (Faber/Profile £6.99) A visit from a mobile library opens the Queen's eyes to other worlds in this delightful comedy

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey (Faber £16.99) The Booker prize-winner is back on form in this likable tale about a boy's misadventures in an alternative community

Sepulchre by Kate Mosse (Orion £7.99) Lovers of Labyrinth won't be disappointed by this complex tale of a secret that resonates across the centuries

Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins (Bloomsbury £12.99) A chilling tale of delusion, as an expectant mother becomes convinced she is being shadowed by a mysterious man

The Road Home by Rose Tremain (Vintage £7.99) This year's Orange prize winner, a thoughtful tale of an east European immigrant searching for a new life in London

Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones (J Murray £7.99) South Sea islanders are shown the world through the eyes of Dickens, in the novel that should have won last year's Man Booker prize

Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka (Penguin £7.99) From the author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, a spirited black comedy about the lives of immigrant fruit pickers in Kent

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A lost weekend in the north -
Posthumous publishing is often a bad idea, but Janet Frame's early novel about a nightmarish 48 hours is a piercing, poetic revelation
Rachel Cooke writing on Sunday June 29, 2008 in The Observer.

Towards Another Summer
by Janet Frame Virago £12.99,
Random House in NZ & Australia

The recent history of posthumous publishing has not been terribly happy. While we offer up grateful thanks that Virgil did not get his way over The Aeneid (he asked that the manuscript be burned), or that Boswell's journals were not 'lost' after all (they were found in an ebony cabinet), these days you have to wonder why the executors of literary estates are so willing to leave their consciences - not to mention their brains - at the library door. Is there any true admirer of Philip Larkin who found the decision by his executors to publish Trouble at Willow Gables, the risqué schoolgirl fiction that he showed only to friends in his lifetime, wise or even remotely edifying?
And a story on the Janet Frame novel on this blog earlier this month.

New Zealand has three national Sunday papers - Sunday Star Times, Herald on Sunday, and Sunday News. What sort of space to they give to books? I went out and bought today's issues, here are my findings.

From the Fairfax stable, the sole broadsheet, and the most serious of the three Sundays, the books editor is respected journalist and commentator Finlay Macdonald, pic left. The book reviews, author interviews and features are accorded two, sometimes three pages.
There are usually two longish reviews (800-1000+ words) by local reviewers, along with a selection of briefer reviews (400 words) of five themed titles - crime fiction, fantasy, children's books etc - , along with author interviews, a what's on my bedside table piece from a local celebrity, and occasionally a syndicated piece from a London newspaper.

Today's issue (June 29) for example includes a long piece by veteran reviewer, author/librarian/poet Iain Sharp in which he interviews the much-travelled Kapka Kassabova whom he points out at only age 34 as an author has in print four collections of poetry, two novels, as well as a dozen or so short stories published in literary magazines. The main focus of Sharp's interesting story though is Kassabova's recently published childhood memoir, Street without a Name, which provides a fascinating look into a little-known part of Europe.
Cheryl Sucher, New York bookseller and reviewer, and married to a New Zealander, reviews Unaccustomed Earth by Jumpa Lahiri; actor/director/tv presenter Oliver Driver reveals what is on his bedside table( it is an ecelectic bunch!); and Tina Shaw talks to literary prodigy Richard Mason, about handling success and his new book The Lighted Rooms.


Novelist/journalist Nicky Pellegrino edits the books pages at this Sunday, part of the APN Group, and while she also has two pages being in tabloid format they are smaller pages and her reviews and features therefore tend to be shorter.

Sadly, I think, the book review pages are tucked away in the lift-out Detours section of the paper which also includes travel and cooking.

In today's edition there are brief reviews of Taking Pictures by Anne Enwright, Love Marriage by V.V.Ganeshanathan, Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam; author and Montana shortlister Charlotte Grimshaw tells us what she is presently reading; Charoltte Evans sinks her teeth into three recent crime fiction titles; and there is a longish piece from London's Telegraph newspaper about Nobel Prize winner, 88 year old Doris Lessing, and her new book, Alfred & Emily.

Also out of the Fairfax stable, I guess this is the NZ equivalent of News of the World, very definitely in the true tabloid style in both content and presentation with the first half comprising sensational headlines above brief stories, and the second half comprising entirely sports news and stories.
There is a double page spread devoted to Entertainmant but it comprises stories about various music and acting celebrities, certainly no space for books!
Overall you would definitely give the top marks to the Sunday Star Times in terms of depth of review and other book coverage but Nicky Pellegrino at the Herald on Sunday is doing an excellent job at the more popular end of the literary spectrum.
Congratualtions to the Sunday Star Times by the way for being shortlisted for the best book review coverage awards; their fellow shortlisters are The Listener, and Landfall.
Declaration of interest - Bookman Beattie reviews crime fiction for the Sunday Star Times and is an occasional contributor to the Herald on Sunday.

Martin Calder – Nicholas Brealey - $37.99

Sub-titled “Discovering the Other South of France", Calder tells the story of a summer he spent during his university student days living and working with a farming family in their remote village in southwest France.
Gascony, he tells us in his prologue, has a distinct identity and a particular history, which sets it aside from the rest of France. It has old affinities and friendships with England and indeed in the Middle Ages sided with the British army against the French. The Gascons regard northern France as another country and are particularly suspicious of Parisians.

Calder, now a senior lecturer in French at Bristol University, developed a lifelong love affair with Gascony with its village festivals, dusty roads and sun baked wine country, which lasts to this day. His love for the place glows off the pages but I could have done with a little less of the history of Gascony and more of his own personal experiences. For example his summer romance with Anja, a German student also working on the property, is frustratingly short on detail.

If you are especially fond of this part of France or are planning to visit then this is the book for you. But in a genre that is cluttered with competitors this book did not really stand out for The Bookman.
If you would like to learn more the book has its own website.

By Daniel J. Wakin writing in The New York Times , June 28, 2008

We visited Spoleto a few years back, sadly not at the time of the renowned Festival, (established in 1958), although we greatly enjoyed our stay in the beautiful Perugian hilltop town.
Here Daniel Wakin writes about this year's Festival for The New York Times.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Stranded by construction, book store will close its doors
By James S. Woodman writing in NYC's Downtown Express

Strand Bookstore announced this week that its annex at 95 Fulton St. will soon join the multitude of New York bookstores that have succumbed to increasing rents in recent years. The decision to close the bookstore came after its landlord announced a 300 percent rise in rent for the Strand Annex, which will go into effect August 31 when the location’s lease expires.

The recent notice that the water main construction work on Fulton St., directly outside the bookstore, will continue into next year gave the management another grim forewarning for the Strand Annex’s survival. After the construction on Fulton St. began nearly a year ago, the Strand has been unable to place their characteristic racks of used books on the sidewalk and has seen a drop in pedestrian traffic. “Sales just fell tremendously after the construction began,” owner Fred Bass said in a phone interview.

Bass, however, does not see the store’s closing as signifying its failure as a business, but rather sees the annex as a victim of circumstance.
“The numbers just didn’t add up,” Bass said. “It was a great store. We sold a lot of books. I’m sad to see the store going because it was doing very well, but given the circumstances it wasn’t worth it to stay in that location.”
Bookman Beattie is greatly saddened by this development. This superb bookstore, that has both new and used books side by side, is his favourite bookstore in all of New York, it is only a few hundred metres from his NYC-based daughter's home and he has spent many happy hours, and hundreds of dollars there over recent years.
Read about his last visit there in January 2008.
Heinrich Heine Prize

Israeli author Amos Oz , (pic left, Getty Images), has won the 2008 Heinrich Heine Prize, which has an award of 50,000 euros (about US$79,000) and is sponsored by the city of Duesseldorf, Germany, the poet's birthplace.

The jury lauded Oz for his literary creativity, political sensibility and humanistic engagement. Oz will accept the award on December 13, Heine's 211th birthday.
Gifted By Nikita Lalwani Wins The Desmond Elliott Prize

Nikita Lalwani was tonight (Thursday, 26th June) named the winner of the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize for Gifted, a story about a maths prodigy growing up in 1980s Cardiff, published by Penguin Books.

Penny Vincenzi, Chair of the Judges, comments,
"Gifted is a book of extraordinary range; it is touching, tender, funny and at the same time truly compelling. It covers the issues of duty and family loyalty, and the demands of an extraordinary talent, while holding at its heart the story of a young girl struggling with the agony of first love and her own, very particular, identity. Above all, it has a wonderfully bittersweet charm and for that reason Desmond Elliott would have loved it."

The Desmond Elliott Prize is a new prize for first novels designed to reward "a sparkling good read", a book which is both profound and has wide appeal.
Nikita Lalwani was born in Kota, Rajasthan in 1973 and raised in Cardiff. Gifted is her first novel and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007 and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2007and the Glen Dimplex Fiction Award 2007.

Amazon dispute: new warehouse but 'battle of buttons' rages
Roger Tagholm, writing in PN Online assesses the positions and, below, hears from independents

Amazon's giant new warehouse in Swansea may be the size of 10 football pitches, but bulk stock of various best-selling Hachette group titles are still not to be found inside as the retailer's dispute with the publisher continues.

As PN went to press, 'Buy New' buttons for Kate Mosse's Labyrinth (Orion), Stephen King's Duma Key (Hodder), James Patterson's The 6th Target (Headline) and Michael Connelly's The Overlook (Orion) had still not been reinstated, more than a month after they were first removed. However, the 'Buy New' button for Richard & Judy pick No Time for Goodbye (Orion) had reappeared, demonstrating, perhaps, that Hachette has the upper hand: this title is too important to be left to Amazon Marketplace.
Among fellow publishers and agents there is increasing sympathy for Hachette's stance. “If anything, the support has strengthened,” said LAW's Philippa Milnes-Smith, President of the Association of Authors' Agents. “We understand the pressures being brought to bear on publishers by retailers, and it's good to see someone standing up to them.”

Friday, June 27, 2008

Expressions of Interest Called for the proposed
Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference
Wellington 2009.

The Wellington Children’s Book Association is proposing to host a conference for New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators and the wider Children’s Literature community in 2009.

In the mid 90s three hui for children’s writers and illustrators were held, the first at Joy Cowley’s home in the Marlborough Sounds and then in Wellington. Up to 50 writers and illustrators attended each one. From the first, organized by Joy, the late Gaelyn Gordon and Tessa Duder, came the idea of the Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators, now in its 15th year. Storylines ran Writers’ Hui in Auckland in 2006 and 2008, and will be pleased to support the proposed 2009 conference in Wellington, along with others in the children’s literature community including Kate de Goldi and John McIntyre (The Children’s Book Shop).

What We Propose for September 2009
A two day residential conference, consisting of Keynote speakers, panel discussions, workshops
and an informal chance to meet others in the industry.
What would YOU like us to Offer?
This is your chance to tell us what topics you would like to see covered! Ideas so far... tax, contracts, master-classes, promotion.... What would you like to do or learn? Let US know!
Are you available to present a workshop, be on a panel,(drink wine)?

Would you like to sponsor something, have a stand or promotion, do business, at the conference?
If you would like to meet other Authors, Illustrators, Editors, Publishers, Agents, Booksellers, in the Children’s Literature community?

Email us at:
Or write to us at : Conference
Wellington Children’s Book Association
P.O.BOX 1242, Wellington

With YOUR ideas, and proposed attendance, at the conference, by the end of July 2008.
This would help us to plan, and apply for funding, to give you the conference YOU deserve. We look forward to hearing from you.
The committee of the Wellington Children’s Book Association
Recent kids books to cross my desk

Sandy McKay – Mallinson Rendel - $18

Dunedin-based writer McKay is an experienced and award-winning author for children and her latest title is an hilarious look at scientific invention that will be loved by those in the 8-12 age group, especially boys I suspect. Great fun and her wry treatment of the frenetic single parent family will ring true with many readers.
Jamie Lawrence & Mark Russell – Puffin - $14.95

When my kids were pre-schoolers I must have listened to Flick the Little Fire Engine on the radio many hundreds of times as well as reading them the book which my memory suggests was a Little Golden Book. These days Flick and his fire station friends are published as Picture Puffins. This new one, out next week, is the second in the series and there are more to come. Great fun.
And on the last page Flick’s storm safety tips for the family.

Heather Amery & Stephen Cartwright – Huia - $20

Forerunner to the First Thousand Words in Maori these two titles were originally published in English by the noted UK children’s non-fiction book publisher Usborne, and have been translated into Maori by the good folk at Huia Publishers.
They are bright and entertaining books which include at the end of the book a pronunciation guide and an alphabetical Maori/English list of all the words used.

Simon Grant & Jenny Cooper
Scholastic – Hardback $29.99 Paperback $16.99

Peter was a pirate.
One day he went into a pet shop.
“I’d like a parrot,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” said the pet shop owner.
“I’ve run out of parrots.
Would you like a pig instead?”

So begins a read-aloud for 3-5 year olds that will have them laughing out loud.

Grant Walker & Geoff Tobin
Scholastic - $17.99 (includes CD)

Captain Cough–a-lot was a pirate.
He was small and rather old.
He coughed at night,
He coughed at lunch,
He always had a cold.

His nose was big and always sore,
His eyes were always red.
He kept a giant hanky
In his hat upon his head.

There is nothing quite like rhyming verse for reading aloud to the kids. And if you are too tired to read then slip the CD out of the inside back cover sleeve……………And by way of a bonus the reading on the CD is done by the author, well known broadcaster Grant Walker.

New Zealand novelist Paul Shannon is doing his bit to help out the Auckland City Mission with their appeal this year by offering to write the auction winner into his next novel "Poppy the King".

The winner of the auction will appear as themselves, under their real name, in whatever capacity Paul decides. (Don't worry, he's promised he'll be nice.)

The winner will also receive 2 signed copies of his second novel 'The Totem Hole' published by Penguin NZ.
Go to:

ACM Auctions

Tomorrow morning, June 28, on her very popular Saturday Morning programme Kim Hill is talking to the following authors:

Martin Edmond (pic left)
Oh, and Michael Bond too of course, see previous posting.
50-year milestone for Paddington -
Paddington Bear dusted off his duffle coat for his 50th birthday celebrations

Paddington Bear fans have held a party in London to mark the popular character's 50th anniversary.
The first story was published in 1958, when the bear was found at Paddington station with a note attached saying: "Please look after this bear."

More than 200 local schoolchildren attended the party, which was held near the railway station.
Paddington was guest of honour at the event, which raised money for the charity Action Medical

Bond's latest book Paddington Here and Now, the first new novel in three decades, was published earlier this month.
Last year he revealed the book would be about the marmalade-loving bear, famously from darkest Peru, being arrested and interrogated over his immigration status.
Queen of the airwaves, Kim Hill, will be talking to Michael Bond on her
Saturday Morning programme tomorrow at 11.05 am on Radio New Zealand National.

A New Chapter in Bookselling: Social Networking Sites

By Frank Fortunato writing in, June 24, 2008

Back in 1999, Internet sales accounted for just 5.45 percent of all books sold in the United States, the number grew to 7 percent by 2001, then "stabilized" at 10-12 percent of the total market by 2004, according to analysis by CL King Associated quoted in the New York Times. Since then the market "destabilized" in an upward spiral to the point that Bowkers Pub Track, quoted in Publisher's Weekly, estimated that a full 20 percent of all U. S. book sales in 2007 occurred on the Internet.
While this still leaves 80 percent of book sales occurring elsewhere, (chain and independent brick and mortar stores, live auctions, flea markets, etc.,) the online numbers are formidable: from the $477 million online gross at Barnes & Noble to the $4.63 billion in 2007 sales for Amazon Media, (including books, music and DVDs). Add to this eBay and the other dozen Internet book-selling auction sites, the approximately 20 U. S. and international multi-dealer listing services and the thousands of individual booksellers maintaining their own Web sites, and you have a robust and complicated market.

In fact, a recent Neilsen survey quoted by the BBC indicates that more books are sold on the Internet than any other product. As of early 2008, according to Neilsen, 41 percent of all Internet users have bought books online, a number that is expected to grow going forward.
Read the rest of this interesting piece here.

Best Of The Best Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel Of The Year

Press Release:Thursday 26 Jun 2008

Announced today by Waterstone's and the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival the shortlist represents authors from all over the country and all aspects of the crime genre. Set in places as varied as Norfolk to Aberdeen and from Africa to the wilds of Canada. With DI's, DCI's, Detective Superintendents and forensic anthropologists to an investigator in the time of Henry VIII, the shortlist represents the very best of crime writing in Britain today.

Simon Robertson, Waterstone's Crime Buyer today said 'This shortlist is a who's who of Crime writers at the moment. Sherlock Holmes couldn't guess the winner from this lot.'
Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston said 'This is a really strong shortlist and the competition is growing stronger each year. It represents a broad range of authors and I am really looking forward to the debate'

The short list is:

Simon Beckett (The Chemistry of Death),
Mark Billingham (Buried),
Christopher Brookmyre (A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil),
Reginald Hill (The Death of Dalzeil),
Graham Hurley (One Under),
Peter James (Not Dead Enough),
Simon Kernick (Relentless), Stuart MacBride (Dying Light),
Alexander McCall Smith (Blue Shoes and Happiness),
Stef Penney (The Tenderness of Wolves),
Peter Robinson (Piece Of My Heart),
C.J. Sansom (Sovereign)

A letter from Philip Pullman who has been leading the author revolt on this matter:

A meeting has been arranged with representatives of the publishers,
including Simon Juden, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association,
Kate Bostock of the PA, and Elaine McQuade of Scholastic. I will
putting our case, and I will be joined by Mark Le Fanu and Celia Rees
of the Society of Authors. The meeting will take place on Thursday 3
July at Scholastic Children's books.

There isn't an agenda yet, but the purpose of the meeting is to
clarify and reiterate our objections to the age-ranging proposal and
see if we can help the PA see what a blunder they've made. I would
also like to discover several things about the 'research' which so far
remain opaque.

All your comments and experiences have been very helpful. If there is
anything in particular you would like me to raise on your behalf, do
please contact me at
I can't guarantee to do so, of course, because I don't know how many
people will respond, but anything you can let me know in addition to
what you've already communicated to us would be extremely helpful. It
would be especially helpful to hear from teachers and experts in
reading development, since the PA's research obviously took no account
of the problems their proposal might cause in this field.

I shall report on the outcome of the meeting very soon after it's

Philip Pullman
2008 CARNEGIE MEDAL WINNER - Report from Time Out.

Philip Reeve has been awarded the 2008 Carnegie Medal, the most prestigious of the children's book prizes, which is longlisted and judged by children's librarians who know their audience, care passionately about books – and tend not to hang out at publishing launch parties.

Here lies Arthur’ (Scholastic, age 12+) is sensitive and cynical, bloody and beautiful, humorous and lyrical. These apparent contradictions add up to a novel which was an entirely unexpected pleasure. Not another version of the King Arthur and Merlin story, I thought, and read everything else on the shortlist first. But ‘Here lies Arthur’ seduced me completely.

What makes Reeve's book exceptional is the way he simultaneously lays bare the smoke and mirrors of the not-so-noble art of spindoctoring and delivers his own, utterly convincing and hauntingly atmospheric version of events. Reeve’s novel – which, refreshingly, has a female protagonist – is an exploration of mythmaking that more sophisticated readers will enjoy for the quality of the writing and the bite of its political overtones while younger ones will be captivated by a well-told, gripping adventure. Feature continues.
The Best of the Booker

Vote now online for The Best of the Booker. Pat Barker, Peter Carey, JM Coetzee, JG Farrell, Nadine Gordimer and Salman Rushdie are all in the running to win this one-off award, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Booker Prize.

The six shortlisted books, chosen from the list of 41 Booker Prize and Man Booker Prize winners, are:

Pat Barker’s The Ghost Road (1995, Viking; paperback Penguin)
Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda (1988, Faber & Faber; paperback Faber)
JM Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999, Secker & Warburg; paperback Vintage)
Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist (1974, Cape; paperback Bloomsbury)
JG Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur (1973, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, paperback Phoenix)
Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981, Cape; paperback Vintage)

The only time that a celebratory award has previously been created for ‘the Booker’ was in 1993 – the 25th anniversary - when Salman Rushdie won the Booker of Bookers with Midnight’s Children. Now 15 years on, William Hill has offered Rushdie 6/4 odds as the favourite to win again. Second favourite is Pat Barker at 3/1, followed by Peter Carey (4/1) and JM Coetzee at 5/1, Nadine Gordimer (8/1) and JG Farrell (10/1).

The six books span three decades – the earliest winner being JG Farrell in 1973, and the most recent, JM Coetzee in 1999. Winning The Best of the Booker could mean a hat-trick for either Coetzee or Peter Carey who are the only two writers to have won the Booker Prize twice.

The shortlist was selected by a panel of judges – the biographer, novelist and critic Victoria Glendinning, (Chair); writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, and John Mullan, Professor of English at University College, London.

The overall winner of The Best of the Booker will be announced as part of the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre on 10 July where the winner will be awarded a custom-made trophy.

I have cast my vote, now what about casting yours? Have your say now, it will take you less than a minute.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

“The Internet has many pathways. One of the oldest are the myriad of professional mailing lists – or listservs. This example comes from the NZ school world. A member posts a query – and her answer is there by lunchtime.

From: Bridget Schaumann
Sent: Wednesday, 25 June 2008 10:04 a.m.
Subject: Re: New Zealand War Poetry

Hello all,
A quick query from one of my students.
We are on the hunt for poetry from the wars, must be New Zealand poetry, any war that New Zealand has been involved in. We want poems that are grunty and have punch, they are for use in a Speech Competition at the weekend. Any suggestions gratefully received.Cheers and thanks in advance
Bridget Schaumann
King's High Dunedin

From: Fran McGowan
Subject: RE: New Zealand War Poetry has online examples of New Zealand poems from the Boer War at

One of New Zealand’s leading poets, Vincent O’Sullivan wrote a piece for the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior unveiling ceremony held in 2004. You can read (and listen) to this piece on

Other New Zealand poets include Alistair Te Ariki Campbell’s 1999 publication, Gallipoli and other poems and Jock McKenzie’s The Menin Road, which was also published in 1999.
Regards Fran McGowan
Research and Library AdviserMinistry for Culture and Heritage

From: Sanya Baker
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 14:20:29 +1200To:
Subject: RE: New Zealand War Poetry help please

Hi Bridget,
Can I also suggest Maori Battalion: a poetic sequence by Alister Te Ariki Campbell, James K Baxter’s Returned Soldier and Elegy for an Unknown Soldier (both in the anthology Selected Poems : James K. Baxter selected and edited by J. E. Weir) and, apparently there are some poems by kiwi soldiers in the anthology: The Happy Warrior: an anthology of Australian and New Zealand military poetry selected and compiled by Paul Barrett and Kerry B. Collison.
Kind regards,
Sanya Baker
Librarian Auckland Grammar School
'MY BELOVED HACKNEYED - Paintings and Poetry'

Liz Maw - Distributed by Craig Potton - $64.95

Laminated slip case with linen covered book, full colour plates with smaller internal pages of poetry.

Over the years many artists have published artist's books, especially among the artist photographer community. Now Liz Maw has self-published My Beloved Hackneyed, a most impressive and beautifully packaged volume featuring her own stunning, sometimes almost erotic art, along with her verse.

I guess with all the new technologies now available we can expect to see more self publishing. This is a fine example. Available at Parsons Bookshop, Auckland and wherever fine books are sold.

Liz Maw has an impressive website where you can see a great selection of her art. It is worth a look.

Also from Allen & Unwin:
Visit Granta Magazine's new website: is the website of Granta magazine, with information about all our issues and exclusive online only material. We will be uploading archive and new material every day and our archive of 100 issues will soon be freely available to all subscribers. In the summer we will be offering even more features, such as comment and tagging facilities, as we move towards full interactivity.

Our new ‘Online Only’ section features a wealth of additional free content that you won’t find in the magazine – including Tim Lott, Andrew Hussey and Xan Rice on the art of non-fiction; an interview with Charlotte Roche, the author of Germany’s most provocative debut novel in years; and the pick of what Granta staff are reading.