Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
publishes a monthly e-newsletter and the following is an excerpt from the latest issue which came out this week and is reproduced with their permission.
Blogging good advice
If it weren’t for a shortening of Graham Beattie's book review on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon show in late 2006 Beattie's Book Blog might never have happened. As it was, Graham had prepared a review of Martin Amis’s House Of Meetings and due to programming time schedules was forced to cut it short. He arrived home frustrated at his inability to finish what it was he wanted to say and wondering how he could put the rest of it out into the public domain – Voila! Beattie's Book Blog was born.
Today it is one of the most visited sites in the NZ book trade, filling a much-needed service for readers – updates on new books, allowing space for book trade grievances and links to interesting industry articles. Beattie gets the pick of books he wants to review and publishers are always grateful that there’s an active and lively site out there promoting books. His site has been so successful, he received one of the highly sought-after invitations to last years Man Booker Prize awards in Guildhall, because the organizers were aware of his awards coverage on his site. The former publisher and bookseller blogs from his Freemans Bay home, where he lives within a one mile radius of inner city Auckland with excellent cafes and bookshops (three in walking distance). It’s a good life. Check it out: www.beattiesbookblog.blogspot.com/
The tough questions, with Graham Beattie:
From your blogs-eye view of the book world, what do you see are the trends in publishing for 2008?
1. A further increase in the number of original titles going straight into paperback. Before long the hardback novel will be a thing of the past.
2. Publishers developing websites that are both increasingly sophisticated and easy for visitors to navigate. This will include increasing information about their authors to include interviews and readings especially aimed at book groups/clubs.
3. A gradual rise in popularity of the e-book, as Kindle, Sony Reader and other brands become available around the world
What is on your bedside table right now?
The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, a wonderfully dramatic and plaintive novel set in Ireland both today and 100 years ago.
Kindle – friend or foe?
A bit early to say yet but I’m inclined to think friend.
I suspect a lot of fine titles that are out of print and uneconomic to reissue in standard book format may once again be made available. But I do not see the Kindle or the like replacing the printed book this century. Supplement, not replace.
If you had to leave your house in a blazing fire but had the chance to rescue one book, what would it be?
The thought of a fire and only being able to save one book is a terrible thought to which I had great difficulty responding, but in the end I opted for The Portable Graham Greene (Penguin USA, 1977), because in the front it carries the following handwritten inscription – For Graham Beattie with all good wishes from Graham Greene. He gave it to me in February 1978, during one of his rare visits to London, he was famously reclusive and media-shy in his later years. The board of directors of Penguin Books put on a luncheon for him to which I was invited. After the lunch, as we were saying goodbye, he picked up this book from a display of his Penguin titles, signed it and presented it to me.
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