Sunday, January 31, 2010

Marsden research to investigate English language

When do fish become fishes and mice become mouses? The answers are not as apparent as you think, according to Victoria University of Wellington Professor of Linguistics Laurie Bauer.

The highly regarded linguist says research he is conducting with two other world-leading linguists will fill a much needed gap in our understanding of the complexities of modern English.

Professor Bauer, who has been awarded a $619,000 Marsden research grant for the project, is working on the most comprehensive book ever on the morphology of English.

Morphology is the branch of linguistics that studies patterns of word formation in languages, and attempts to formulate rules that model the knowledge of the speakers of those languages.

“This particular project is setting out what the rules are of English. We are looking at how words are made up of smaller bits, and how those words are then interpreted. For example, ‘unfriendliness’ is made up from un, friend, ly, and ness,” says Professor Bauer.

“There are a lot of ‘rules’ in English we assume everyone knows, because the language has been around for so long, and we’ve been teaching it to foreigners for so long. But the fact is we don’t. An example is the plural of fish—when do you say two fish, and when do you say two fishes? There are various suggestions, but there is not one simple answer.”

Professor Bauer has been studying morphology for over 30 years.

“I was very aware that there’s a huge gap in the literature—we do not have a specialist book on the morphology of English, whereas we do have those books for many other languages. Given that there are so many people who are trying to learn English as a foreign language, we really need this.”

He is working on the project with two other experts in the area, Rochelle Lieber from the University of New Hampshire, the United States, and Ingo Plag from the University of Siegen, Germany.

The research will present a mammoth task, requiring the analysis of a massive body of text stored in a database.

“We have access to the British and American national corpuses which both have something like 100 million words of text entered into them. You can search for words that have similar patterns—for example all the words that end in ‘ist’. That way we can see what kind of things people are doing with the English language.”

He says there are hundreds of thousands of examples in the English language of areas that still trip us up, even ones where we think we might have the answer.

“Imagine you are at Disneyland looking at stuffed toys—Donald Ducks and Mickey… Mouses, right? Yet a foreign learner would have learned that the plural of mouse is mice in all circumstances. There are so many complications in the English language that have never really been explored before. That’s what this book will attempt to do.”

For more information, please contact Professor Laurie Bauer on (04) 463 5619 or at
Clouds, Bruce Russell & The High Seas present a book launch and performance:
Bruce Russell Left-handed blows: writing on sound, 1993-2009
Saturday 6th February 6.00 – 11.00pm
The High Seas
12 Beresford Square
Book launch: 6.00 – 7.30pm
Performances: from 8.30pm by Bruce Russell and
Richard Francis (followed by Russell/Francis duo).
Special book launch price: $20
Left-handed blows gathers together, for the first time, the writings of outstanding sound artist Bruce Russell.
Russell, member of the groups The Dead C. and Handful of Dust and founder of the renowned record labels Corpus Hermeticum and Xpressway, is reputed to have driven a substantial wedge into New Zealand music.
Besides his acclaimed work as a performer, recording artist and producer, Russell is a respected as a writer who theorises improvisation from a leftist perspective. His collected writing, fluidly unequivocal, effectively tracks the thinking of the group of free music luminaries to which he belongs.
This book consists of essays written over the last 16 years, reflecting on sound and its role in culture. It compiles online essays, liner notes, catalogue contributions and most of the previously published contents of Logopandocy: the journal of vain erudition.
This publication was funded by Creative New Zealand and was supported by the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.

Left-handed blows is available from selected bookshops and, for $35 (includes GST).

Clouds publishing
PO Box 68-187
Newton, Auckland 1145
Aotearoa New Zealand
+64 9 309 2604
Children's column: Judging the Carnegie
Written by Nicolette Jones in BookBrunch
Friday, 29 January 2010 10:05

I had the privilege this week of sitting in on part of the CILIP Carnegie Medal judging. The judges are a group of volunteer librarians, 12 women and three men, plus the chair, who diligently read a longlist of more than 50 nominations from fellow librarians and whittled it down to a shortlist of seven. This list is embargoed until 23 April, so I can say no more about what is on it; but readers of Bookbrunch may be interested in a flavour of the judging process.

Carnegie judges have a reputation (based on the awarding of previous medals to novels with themes of drug addiction, homelessness, euthanasia, dyslexia, immigration ...) for looking for "issues" books. But it was clear that a worthy issue alone would never carry the day. One judge remarked of one book: "I think issues were raised but I had no emotional response." Qualities I saw the judges address included style, credibility, character development, use of research, evocation of place and time, construction, plot, and, evidently important, and in line with the Carnegie criteria, emotional impact.

Every book was discussed in detail, even those about which some judges were dismissive: "boring and offensive"; "the construct didn’t work at all"; "too contrived", "pilfered tears". Sometimes there was a wide divergence of opinion, and there were books that did not make it onto the shortlist that nevertheless had passionate and articulate advocates. There was recognition that the nominations included something for everyone. As one judge remarked: "With all of these books there is an audience out there somewhere."

The judges came up with some entertaining comparisons: "Stephenie Meyer without the vampires", "Like an extended EastEnders episode”, "Stephen King’s Carrie brought up to date", "It sounded like a 1940s melodrama", "Kevin Brooks with a fairy godmother". Some comments damned with faint praise: "You can recommend it with an almost straight face"; "Some of the set-pieces worked well"; "It was a good read, and lots of people will enjoy it, but would you go and read it more than once?"; "You can read it but you did have to hang your brain outside."

Clearly the judges had a hinterland of other reading of books for young people, were familiar with writers’ other work ("far and away his finest"; "one of the best I have read by her yet"), and knew their audience: "I bought it for the library because I knew it would be really popular with 14-year-old girls, and it was."; "Young people are loving this book." It meant that they had insights into what was current, to the point of being overdone: "This is another dystopian futuristic nightmare that can only be resolved by teenagers ... we need help, call up the 12-year-olds"; "They are on the run again", "The one-dimensional racist bully comes up as the villain in teenage fiction all the time."

They confessed, and overcame, their own preconceptions: "I thought, 'Oh no, there’s a map'"; "I have a hard time with fairies"; "I like demons and possession", and even, "I’m fed up with resourceful, intelligent teenagers." They considered both the big picture and the details, finding turns of phrase they loved, and small faults of information, such as “They went from Victoria to Cornwall on the train."

Expectations were high, and there was recognition that children’s books could embrace big themes: "It looks at humanity and cruelty"; "It was about what it means to be a man." And there was praise for all kinds of merit: "It had a brilliant first line"; "It is really good at dialogue"; "She loves the form"; "He is such an assured writer", "He does adolescent friendships really well"; "She is so expressive in her writing"; "A fascinating insight"; "It had beautiful descriptive passages”; "It really captured the sense of place"; "It felt like a proper book for children"; "I loved the family background"; "It was so visually arresting"; "He knows this world absolutely"; "It needs to be applauded for its compassion"; "You can’t ever discount a writer of that quality."

Especially enjoyable to listen to was out-and-out enthusiasm. "I really loved it", "I thought: 'What a brilliant way to put that'", "I felt the story would stay with me for a long time, and it has"; "Tthe imagination and the detail were fantastic"; "Everything comes together beautifully"; "It opened up something I wouldn’t have thought to think about"; "It was so poignant and believable"; "You felt like you had read a much longer book: it enveloped me"; "It feels like a classic to me already"; "It makes the hairs prickle on your arms"; and "It excited me so much I wrote upside down in my notebook." Which the books were that inspired these remarks, you will have to wait to find out.
From author,teacher,journalist,
traveller Jules Older

(who lives in San Francisco but is presently in Auckland)

On the same day Apple announced the iPad, it app-roved our app, San Francisco Restaurants, Take II.

It’s roughly 25% bigger than Take I, with new emphasis on the area around the Moscone Center, where many San Francisco conventions are held... and where Steve Jobs birthed the iPad.

The iPad costs $499. San Francisco Restaurants still costs 99 US cents.

Six New Zealand writers have been invited to attend prestigious Australian, Asian and American literary festivals as a result of Creative New Zealand’s Te Manu Ka Tau (Flying Friends) programme.

CK Stead (left) and Lloyd Jones have been invited to attend the prestigious PEN International World Voices Festival in New York after the festival director Caro Lewellyn was hosted in New Zealand as part of the 2009 Te Manu Ka Tau programme.

Meanwhile Emily Perkins (right) and Mo Zi Hong will travel to the Man Hong Kong International and Shanghai International Literary Festivals and Kate De Goldi and Eleanor Catton to the Perth Writers Festival. Emily Perkins will also travel to Adelaide Writers Week.

The invitations are the result Creative New Zealand initiatives:

Te Manu Ka Tau – which brings key people from the international performing arts, literature and visual arts sectors to New Zealand to meet the local arts community and see their work
International Travel Fund for New Zealand Writers – a fund administered by the New Zealand Book Council which targets key international literary festivals.

Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright said the invitations as well as connections made with international literarti last year reflect the exceptional standard of New Zealand literature.

“It’s a Creative New Zealand priority to build on the relationships fostered through the Te Manu Ka Tau programme to raise the profile of New Zealand artists and increase the international market for their work.“

Te Manu Ka Tau at New Zealand Post Writers & Readers Week

Creative New Zealand in partnership with New Zealand Post Writers & Readers Week (9-14 March) is also hosting directors, publishers, festival directors and literary agents from Toronto, New York, London , Korea and Australia.
The confirmed line up of international guests includes:

• Michael Hayward - Publisher, Text Publishing (Australia)
• Caroline Baum - Director Two Heads Media and regular contributor to national newspapers and magazines (Australia)
• Grace Chang - Rights Manager BOOK, the pioneer of the e-book service in the Chinese language territory (Taiwan based)
• Derek Johns - Literary Agent and Director of A P Watt (UK)
• Geoffrey Taylor - Director of Authors at Harbourfront Centre & International Festival of Authors (Canada)
• Laurie Chittenden - Executive Editor, William Morrow/HarperCollins (USA)
• Timothy Travaglini - Senior Editor for G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group (USA)

Laurie Chittenden, Michael Heywood and Derek Johns will take part in a discussion panel with New Zealander Sam Elworthy during the New Zealand Post Writers & Readers Week on Publishing in the 21st Century, 12 March 12.30pm, Downstage Theatre.

In 2009 more than forty international engagements for New Zealand artists were secured as a result of Te Manu Ka Tau programmes for literature, visual and performing arts.

Judges announced for NZSA/Pindar Publishing Prize

The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc.) in association with Pindar, Whitcoulls, The New Zealand Herald and Astra Print are delighted to announce the judges of the inaugural NZSA/Pindar Publishing Prize.

The three judges are Mary Egan, Managing Director of Pindar Publishing, Linda Herrick, Arts and Books Editor of the New Zealand Herald, and Graeme Lay, Auckland National Council Delegate, the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc.).

The NZSA/Pindar Publishing Prize was the brainstorm of The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc.) and Pindar Publishing. Maggie Tarver, CEO for The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc.) comments, ‘We are delighted to be so generously sponsored by The NZ Herald, Whitcoulls and Astra Print, without whom this inaugural prize would not be possible’.
Tina Shaw, who administers the prize, stated ‘We have had an enormous amount of interest in the award so far. The website banner has received 1,493 hits since the award was launched in December and applications are already starting to flood in. I think the judges are going to have their work cut out for them.’
The deadline for applications is 30 March 2010. Writers must send a sample of writing, synopsis and application form to The New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc.). To check out terms and conditions and to download the application form visit or email

Reclusive author J.D. Salinger dies at 91
Ros Krasny, Reuters
Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:01pm EST

BOSTON (Reuters) - Reclusive U.S. author J.D. Salinger, who wrote the American post-war literary classic "The Catcher in the Rye," has died of natural causes aged 91.

Full story at Reuters.

Will J.D. Salinger's Manuscripts Be Published?
Link here.

And New York Times story.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The London Book Fair, 19th – 21st April 2010

The London Book Fair is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels.

Even in the digital age, the power of meeting face-to-face cannot be underestimated. Wherever in the world you want to do business, you can do so much more, at The London Book Fair.

E-books Should Be Like Television (And Other Ideas from Digital Book World)
By Edward Nawotka - Publishing Perpectives

"E-books should be like television," said literary agent Larry Kirshbaum, founder of LJK Literary Management, at the first annual Digital Book World conference held in New York this past Tuesday and Wednesday. The former publisher-turned-agent offered a vision of e-books that resembles the way a television works, where you can turn on a Nokia device in Finland, an iTouch (or iPad, if you will) in America, and a not-yet-imagined i-book in China and the "books will look all the same."

(read on ...)

Is Territorial Copyright Defensible in the Age of E-books?
By Edward Nawotka

The instant and virtually frictionless digital distribution of e-books is posing a real challenge to the enforcement of territorial copyright. As discussed in our lead article today, English language e-books are in demand all over the globe. But that demand is likely to put US, UK and even Australian publishers in conflict over territorial copyright.

The answer for the publishers, as suggested by Larry Kirshbaum, is to shift to a model of purchasing world rights.

(read on ...)
After Booker snub, Adam Roberts in running for SF honour
Yellow Blue Tibia joins a distinguished shortlist for the British Science Fiction Association's best novel award

Alison Flood,, Tuesday 26 January 2010

Tipped as the science fiction novel that would finally win a Booker prize for the genre, Adam Roberts's Yellow Blue Tibia failed to even make the longlist for the UK's most prestigious literary award last year, but has just been shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association's best novel prize alongside some of the biggest names in the genre.

Set in Russia in 1946, Roberts's novel sees a group of Soviet SF authors concocting a story about aliens poised to invade the earth which, post-Chernobyl, starts to come true. Last summer, acclaimed science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson said it ought to have won the Booker. A professor of 19th-century literature at the Royal Holloway as well as an author, Roberts is shortlisted alongside Ursula K LeGuin for her historical fantasy Lavinia, China Miéville's surreal venture into crime fiction, The City and the City, and previous winner Stephen Baxter's tale of the survivors of a drowned earth, Ark.

"I am really delighted to be shortlisted ... The list of winners of the novel prize, going back to John Brunner's marvellous Stand on Zanzibar in 1970, doesn't contain a single second-rate book – not one in all that time," said Roberts on learning of his shortlisting. He pronounced himself "surprised" to be among the finalists, "provoked in part by the fact that I've never been shortlisted for this award before". "That only makes me more chuffed to be on the list this year, of course," he said. "It's particularly nice to be in such extraordinary company: any of the other three could win and deserve it."

The contenders for the prize are nominated by BSFA members who then vote for their favourite, with the winners to be announced on 4 April at the Eastercon convention. Niall Harrison, editor of the BSFA's journal, Vector, said he was surprised to see some "much-discussed" books fail to make the shortlist, including Robinson's Galileo's Dream, the late Robert Holdstock's Avilion and Kit Whitfield's In Great Waters. Margaret Atwood's post-apocalyptic The Year of the Flood and Iain Banks's Transition also missed out on a shortlisting.

"But the four nominees do showcase the strength and breadth of the SF and fantasy being published in the UK at the moment – from metafictional historical fantasy (Lavinia) to a deep-space voyage (Ark) – and it's hard to pick a front-runner," Harrison said. "It's particularly pleasing to see Adam Roberts receive his (overdue) first nomination, in the light of the Booker fuss kicked up by Kim Stanley Robinson last summer."

This year's awards also saw science fiction author Hal Duncan withdraw from contention for the non-fiction prize, after being nominated for his essay "Ethics and Enthusiasm". "There are other voices you should be listening to first," Duncan wrote on his blog, pointing to fellow shortlist Deepa D's essay "I Didn't Dream of Dragons", an exploration of being an Indian fantasy reader/writer which Duncan called "intelligent, illuminating and important".

Read the rest of Alison Flood's piece at The Guardian.

The British Science Fiction Association finalists for the 2009 awards.

Best Novel
Ark , Stephen Baxter (Gollancz)
Lavinia , Ursula K. Le Guin (Gollancz)
The City & The City , China Miéville (Macmillan)
Yellow Blue Tibia , Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
Best Short Fiction
"Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast", Eugie Foster (Interzone #220)
The Push , Dave Hutchinson (Newcon Press)
"Johnnie and Emmie-Lou Get Married", Kim Lakin-Smith (Interzone #222)
"Vishnu at the Cat Circus", Ian McDonald (Cyberabad Days )
"The Beloved Time of Their Lives", Ian Watson & Roberto Quaglia (The Beloved of My Beloved )
"The Assistant", Ian Whates (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume Three )

Best Non-Fiction
Canary Fever: Reviews , John Clute (Beccon)
"I Didn't Dream of Dragons", Deepa D. (Deepa D.'s Blog)
"Mutant Popcorn" film column, Nick Lowe (Interzone )
A Short History of Fantasy , Farah Mendlesohn & Edward James (Middlesex University Press)
Best Artwork
Cover art project for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Nitzan Klamer
Cover of Desolation Road, by Stephan Martinière
"Emerald", Stephanie Pui-Min Law
Covers of Interzone issues #220, #224, and #225, by Adam Tredowski

There are only four nominees in the Best Novel category, and six nominees in the Short Fiction and Best Artwork categories, due to multiple ties.
The awards are voted on by members of BSFA and the British Annual Science Fiction Convention (Eastercon). Winners will be announced during Odyssey (Eastercon 2010), to be held April 2-5, 2010 in Heathrow, London.
Poet Chosen Over Toibin in Literary Prize Shocker
By Dave Itzkoff writing in The New York Times

Left - Colm Toibin

It was supposed to be the literary prize that Colm Toibin was going to win in a walk — the one for which his novel “Brooklyn” was named the “runaway favorite” by one British newspaper, for which one British bookmaker gave 6-to-4 odds in the author’s favor and another declared it dead even.

Instead, Mr. Toibin has gone home a runner-up in the Costa book of the year competition, having lost to a poet. The Guardian reported that Christopher Reid was named the winner of the Costa award for his collection “A Scattering,” about his wife, Lucinda Gane, who died in 2005. Mr. Reid became only the fourth poet to win the prestigious British literary award — and its prize of about $48,000 — following Douglas Dunn, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney (who was the most recent poet to claim victory, in 1999).

Josephine Hart, one of the prize’s 11 jurors, told The Guardian, “It is a devastating piece of work and all of us on the jury felt it was a book we would wish everybody to read.” In addition to “Brooklyn,” other finalists for the award included Patrick Ness’s children’s book “The Ask and the Answer”; Raphael Selbourne’s first novel, “Beauty”; and Graham Farmelo’s biography of the quantum physicist Paul Dirac, “The Strangest Man.”
Books on iPad Offer Publishers a Pricing Edge
By Motoko Rich Published New York Times: January 27, 2010

With a few notable exceptions, the print world welcomed Apple’s new iPad on Wednesday, eager to tap into the 125 million customers who already have iTunes accounts and are predisposed to buying more content from Apple.
In negotiations with Apple, publishers agreed to a business model that gives them more power over the price that customers pay for e-books.

iPad Blurs Line Between Devices (January 28, 2010)
As Devices Pull More Data, Patience May Be Required (January 28, 2010)
Times Topics: iPad

“We have learned that it is never wise to stand between a consumer and a preference” for how they get their content, said John Makinson, chief executive of Penguin Group, the book publisher.

The iPad may offer an even more attractive prospect: the chance to reset the downward spiral in e-book prices.

When Steven P. Jobs announced the new iBooks app, he said five of the six largest publishers — Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster— had signed on to provide e-book content for the new tablet.

In negotiations with Apple, publishers agreed to a business model that gives them more power over the price that customers pay for e-books. Publishers had all but lost that power on’s Kindle e-reader.

With Apple, under a formula that tethers the maximum e-book price to the print price on the same book, publishers will be able to charge $12.99 to $14.99 for most general fiction and nonfiction titles — higher than the common $9.99 price that Amazon had effectively set for new releases and best sellers. Apple will keep 30 percent of each sale, and publishers will take 70 percent.

One book publisher did not sign on to the iPad: Random House, the world’s largest publisher of trade books. Stuart Applebaum, a Random House spokesman, said the company would “look forward to our continuing conversations” with Apple.

In the short term, authors and publishers will most likely earn less from book sales on the iPad. On the Kindle, Amazon subsidizes the $9.99 price by paying publishers a higher wholesale price equivalent to what booksellers typically pay for print editions. But publishers were concerned that Amazon, as the dominant player, would eventually demand lower digital wholesale prices.

The agreement with Apple gives publishers leverage to negotiate with Amazon on future pricing.
The rest at NYT.

Apple iPad: the first review
You may wonder what the Apple iPad is for. The answer: everything, but could that be too much?
Bobbie Johnson, technology correspondent,, Wednesday 27 January 2010

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs shows off the much-hyped iPad, which he hopes will come to define a new category of wireless device Link to this video

Like everything Apple designs, the iPad is intended to satisfy our cravings for simplicity and clarity. Steve Jobs had already sneered at the idea of ­netbooks, labelling the cheap, low-powered ­laptops that have proved phenomenally popular with consumers slow and clunky – but it's clear that this is the ­market the iPad is aiming for.

On the surface it appears to be little more than an oversized iPhone, a flat, black screen with a single button but underneath it wants to be a laptop.

As one of a small group of people given a sneak, hands-on preview of the iPad, my first impressions were good: it's hefty but not heavy, feeling solid and responsive in the hand. The screen is about the size of a large paperback, but it's just half an inch deep. That big, glassy screen does leave it vulnerable to breakages, but could also prove ­liberating for people who are used to toting a laptop around with them.

Using it will be familiar to anybody who has tried an iPhone: it uses the same combination of swipes, pokes, jabs and sweeps of the finger of its smaller cousin. Sweep your hand across its reactive 9.7-inch screen, though, and everything feels more satisfying and natural.

The big problem I had was in trying to understand what the iPad was for: the answer, it seems, is everything.

It attempts to do almost everything that your laptop can, while also offering almost everything your smartphone can do as well. Surfing the web was a breeze, while it plays video smoothly and ­handles a variety of games pretty well. You can use any of the existing iPhone applications straight away, though it is disappointing when you realise that they become blocky and almost childlike when expanded to fill the larger screen.
The rest at The Guardian.

Media reacts to iPad launch

28.01.10 Katie Allen in The Bookseller

The media has reacted with delight to the launch of Apple's iPad, although the e-reader capability attracted mixed reviews.

Claudine Beaumont, Telegraph technology editor, commented that it "looks exactly like a giant iPhone, right down to the "home" button at the bottom of its 9.7in touch-screen." But she added, "the best feature is ibooks, the e-book reading software that knocks Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader into a cocked hat. Novels are beautifully presented . . . The pages of the books resemble proper printed pages, with a sense of texture and authenticity to them. Turning pages is achieved with a swiping gesture, or a single tap in the right-hand margins."

"Downloading books is incredibly easy too."

The Times' Mike Harvey said the iPad is "slim and elegant" and pointed out that with the ibook function, "More than 125 million people already have one-touch purchase with Apple and even if a fraction of these use the bookstore, the other e-reader companies such as Amazon had better look out."

The Guardian's technology correspondent, Bobbie Johnson, described the device as "hefty but not heavy, feeling solid and responsive in the hand. The screen is about the size of a large paperback, but it's just half an inch deep."

However, he added, "a bright LED screen is never going to be perfect for an e-reader" and "switched into e-book mode, the way the iPad emulates the printed page feels fairly natural, if not entirely on a par with rival e-book readers such as Amazon's Kindle.

"The backlit screen doesn't come anywhere near the clarity of electronic ink, which means it's going to prove a lot harder on the eyes of bookworms (it's great for reading in bed, one Apple flunky told me, keen to stress the positive side)."

Gadget magazine Stuff’s Tom Dunmore described it as "the most desirable tablet - or e-reader - on the market." although he too added "Certainly the iBooks app is beautiful, but the screen is so bright that reading will be much more strenuous than on the Kindle. I'd guess that future versions of the iPad will feature screens that can switch between easy-on-the-eye eInk and fast moving colour - but those screens are only in the prototype stage right now."
UK publishers hail the iBook moment

28.01.10 The Bookseller Staff

Publishers have welcomed the launch of Apple's iPad as an "important step" in the transition towards digital books, with one branding it "the most significant development yet". Dan Franklin, digital editor at Canongate, said: "I sat there and thought 'this is what we've been waiting for'." John Makinson, chief executive at Penguin, said the announcement represented "an important step in the development of a digital audience for books".

Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs unveiled the much-anticipated iPad, alongside the iBook and its iBook Store, at a press conference, with the iBook Store launched with the backing of five publishers, Hachette, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and HarperCollins.

The Bookseller, like many publishers, followed the event via live video streams with news of the iBook Store not breaking until about 90 minutes into the press conference which began at 6pm GMT. The Apple chief insisted that the iBook Store would sit alongside its popular iTunes and Apps stores. Jobs said that the company was ready to open "the floodgates" to other publishers, adding that he wanted to "go a bit further" than's Kindle.

Dan Franklin, digital editor at Canongate, told The Bookseller: "It's the most significant development yet. Everyone's been talking about the iPod moment [for e-books] and who else was going to deliver it but Apple!"

The device is 0.5inches thin, weighs 1.5 pounds and has a 9.7inch display. It will not be available internationally until "June/July" at the earliest, shipping in 60 days, with 3G models to follow after 90. It is not yet clear whether international users will be able to buy the device without internet access, or what price it will be sold at outside of the US.

But publishers are already eagerly anticipating the iPad's arrival in the UK, with Franklin pointing out that Amazon's Kindle "hasn't taken root here". He highlighted the $499 price point as "not too expensive" for a multi-purpose device, and said he was "encouraged" by signs that publishers would be able to set their own prices.

Franklin added the iBooks Store, effectively an iTunes for books, was one of the biggest draws, as well as the "slick and sexy as hell" user experience. Makinson agreed: "The iPad and iBook Store will, we believe, appeal to existing Penguin customers and also attract millions of new readers to the world’s best books."

Tim Cooper, director of direct and digital marketing at Mills and Boon, added: "It looks great, fundamentally it's going to make a pretty big difference. It's fantastic news for publishers and the consumers as well, it must have sent a few shivers down the spines of other companies with e-reading devices. At that price point and with those multimedia opportunities, it's
great for everyone. I think this will definitely help the e-book market."

Agents spoken to by The Bookseller at the A W Bruna party held at the Groucho last night were also thrilled to learn the news of the launch, with one quipping that Andrew Wylie had already begun offering "iRights" to his authors' books.

Blog: Publishers respond to the launch of the iPad

Thursday, January 28, 2010

From The Historical Novel Review

June Hutton,
Cormorant Books – Can$21.00

Underground by June Hutton is a compelling novel about one man’s journey to rediscover and redefine himself after a set of devastating experiences in World War I.

Al Fraser volunteered for war. He finds himself in a trench on the front line of a battle in Somme. Before long he is struck down by an explosion that buries him alive in the mud and muck. He manages to climb out and survives, shell-shocked and riddled with shrapnel. When physically able, he is returned home to British Columbia a lost soul, broken and desperate to overcome the horrors in his mind. Somehow, he must create a new life for himself.

Life is hard and his family poor. He finds work as a painter of ceilings for the homes of the affluent. But luck runs out when is engulfed by the desperation of the Great Depression and is forced to live as a hobo. He finds himself in a bit of trouble with the law and travels to northern Canada where he finds home and love for a while. But something inside of him demands that he fight again in order to fully heal, and Al soon volunteers to fight again in the Spanish Civil War.

The prose is intuitive, discerning, and often gut-wrenching. The story has a very realistic and eerie feel to it because it is based on June Hutton’s own grandfather who actually suffered the protaganist’s fate in the battle at Somme, and to some extent, thereafter. It is a compelling tale of one man’s journey of self-discovery through pain, love, war, and hardship. And for a debut novel, it’s incredibly engrossing.
Sadly few Canadian titles make it down to New Zealand and I suspect the reverse is also true with few NZ titles, especially fiction, ever making their way to Canada.
Here is one that crossed my desk recently but sadly it is in a large pile awaiting my attention so meantime I have picked up a review from The Historical Novel review website. The subject matter will be of interest to many in this part of the world.
Saturday Morning with Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand National: 30 January 2010

Kim Hill returns to the national airwaves this Saturday with the first full-length programme of new material for 2010.
Book related guests include the following:

Philip Hoare will be a guest at New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week (8-14 March) during the New Zealand International Arts Festival 2010. He has written biographies of Noel Coward and aesthete Stephen Tennant, and histories of the military hospital at Spike Island, and Victorian utopian sects, but now he is obsessed by whales. His latest book - Leviathan or, The Whale (Fourth Estate, - won the 2009 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

Iranian-born writer Fariba Hachtroudi is the author of a number of books in French, including L’Exilée (1985) and Khomeyni Express (2009), and is currently the French writer in residence at the Randell Cottage in Wellington.

Molecular biologist Nina V. Fedoroff was appointed to the post of Science and Technology Adviser to then US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, in 2007; a position she still holds for the current Secretary, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She is the author of the 2004 book Mendel in the Kitchen: a Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Food

In her Children’s Books slot, Kate De Goldi will discuss four books found on the children’s shelves of the Canterbury Public Library that are not widely available in shops: Marcelo in the Real World by Franciso X Stork (Arthur Levine Books/Scholastic), On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck (Dial Books/Penguin), The Locked Garden by Gloria Whelan (HarperCollins), and Rodzina by Karen Cushman (Clarion Books).
Kate also provides the foreword to the reissue of 1968 novel Sydney Bridge Upside Down by New Zealand writer David Ballantyne (Text Publishing).

The Bookman is especially interested in Sydney Bridge Upside Down as way back in the early 1980's when I was CEO/Publisher at Penguin Books my then senior editor John Barnett convinced me that this was a NZ classic that deserved to be back in print so we reissued it. The title had orginally been published by Whitcome & Tombs in 1968. Our reissue did not sell very well and it again went out of print but it was a title I always felt proud to have published.
There is a touch of irony in that it is now being reissued by impressive Melbourne-based outfit Text Publishing, (they also publish Lloyd Jones in Australia), who are represented in NZ by Penguin Books.
I hope a new generation of New Zealanders will now discover David Ballantyne's great book.

In 2004 Auckland University Press published Bryan Reid's After the Fireworks - A Life of David Ballantyne .
I imagine this title will be out of print by now but it should be available second hand or from your library should anyone wish to read more about this highly rated but comparatively little know NZ writer.

Aurealis Awards - Winners Discover the best Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror of 2009.

The winners were announced at the thirteenth annual Aurealis Awards ceremony at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane on Saturday 24 January 2010.


peter mcnamara convenors' award
Justin Ackroyd, Proprietor, Slow Glass Books

best science fiction novel
Andrew McGahan, Wonders of a Godless World, Allen & Unwin

best science fiction short story
Peter M. Ball, ‘Clockwork, Patchwork and Ravens’, Apex Magazine May 2009

best fantasy novel
Trudi Canavan, Magician's Apprentice, Orbit

best fantasy short story - Joint winners
Christopher Green, ‘Father’s Kill’, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #24
Ian McHugh, 'Once a Month, On a Sunday’, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #40, Andromeda Spaceways Publishing Co-operative Ltd

best horror novel
Honey Brown, Red Queen, Penguin Australia

best horror short story - Joint winners
Paul Haines, 'Wives', X6, Coeur de Lion Publishing
Paul Haines, 'Slice of Life - A Spot of Liver', The Mayne Press

best anthology
Jonathan Strahan (editor), Eclipse 3, Night Shade Books

best collection
Greg Egan, Oceanic, Gollancz

best illustated book/graphic novel
Nathan Jurevicius, Scarygirl, Allen & Unwin

best young adult novel
Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan Trilogy: Book One, Penguin

best young adult short story
Cat Sparks, ‘Seventeen’, Masques, CSFG
best children’s (8-12 years) novel

Gabrielle Wang, A Ghost in My Suitcase, Puffin Books

best children’s (8-12 years) short fiction/illustrated work/picture book
Pamela Freeman (author), Kim Gamble (illustrator), Victor's Challenge, Walker Books Australia
Lee Child

Bantam Press - NZ$39.99:

The heart-stopping 14th new thriller starring today’s most admired action hero, the gallant and enigmatic loner, Jack Reacher is being released by Random House in New Zealand on Friday 19 March, 2010.

However The Bookman was fortunate enough to secure an advance reading copy. Be warned now that this is an unputdownable book and you shouldn't start reading it unless you have hours of free time ahead of you. It is the perfect plane or holiday read although the tension I felt as the story developed almost overwhelmed me so I'm not sure about reading it on holiday!

Winter in South Dakota. Blowing snow, icy roads, a tired driver. A bus skids and crashes and is stranded in a gathering storm.
There’s a small town twenty miles away, where a vulnerable witness is guarded around the clock. There’s a strange stone building five miles further on, all alone on the prairie. There’s a ruthless man who controls everything from the warmth of Mexico.
Jack Reacher hitched a ride in the back of the bus. A life without baggage has many advantages. And crucial disadvantages too, when it means facing the arctic cold without a coat. But he’s equipped for the rest of his task. He doesn’t want to put the world to rights. He just doesn’t like people who put it to wrongs.
The whole story is played out in just 61 hours.

Along with thousands of others The Bookman is a great fan of Jack Reacher. I wish Lee Child could produce several a year.........And my goodness how I envy Jack Reacher's ability to travel entirely without luggage, not to mention his unarmed combat skills.

Here is Reacher’s CV:
Name: Jack Reacher (no middle name)
Born: October 29, 1960
Measurements: 6’5”, 220-250 lbs., 50” chest

* Left home at 18, graduated from West Point.
* Performed 13 years of service, demoted from Major to Captain in 1990, mustered out with the rank of Major in 1997.
* Has a scar on his arm where his brother struck him with a retaliatory chisel
* Service Awards (circa 1990): Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit,
Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart
* Doesn’t have a driver’s licence, Federal benefits (doesn’t want them), tax returns (doesn’t do them; he hasn’t filed taxes since he left the

And now the low down on Jack's creator Lee Child who is visiting New Zealand in April.

Lee Child is British but moved with his family from Cumbria to the United States to start a new career as an American thriller writer. His first novel, KILLING FLOOR, won the Anthony Award, and his second, DIE TRYING, won W H Smith’s Thumping Good Read Award. His most recent thrillers featuring Jack Reacher, the former US military cop and maverick drifter have all been bestsellers.

Lee Child was born in the exact geographic centre of England, in the heart of the industrial badlands. Never saw a tree until he was twelve.
It was the sort of place where if you fell in the river, you had to go to the hospital for a mandatory stomach pump. The sort of place where minor disputes were settled with box cutters and bicycle chains. He’s got the scars to prove it.

But he survived, got an education, and went to law school, but only because he didn’t want to be a lawyer. Without the pressure of aiming for a job in the field, he figured it would be a relaxing subject to study. He spent most of the time in the university theater - to the extent that he had to repeat several courses, because he failed the exams - and then went to work for Granada Television in Manchester, England.

Back then, Granada was a world-famous production company, known for shows like ‘Brideshead Revisited’, ‘Jewel in the Crown’, ‘Prime Suspect’ and ‘Cracker’. Lee worked on the broadcast side of the company. He wrote thousands of links, trailers, commercials and news stories, most of them on deadlines that ranged from fifteen minutes to fifteen seconds. So the thought of a novel-a-year didn’t worry him too much, in his next career.

But why a next career? He was fired, back in 1995, that’s why. It was the usual Nineties downsizing thing. After eighteen years, he was an expensive veteran, and he was also the union organiser, and neither thing fit the company’s plan for the future. So he became a writer, because he couldn’t think of anything else to do. He had an idea for a character who had suffered the same downsizing experience but who was taking it completely in his stride. He named the character Jack Reacher and wrote KILLING FLOOR. The rest, as they say, is history.

• Kiwis are mad for Jack. Per capita, NZ out-sells (per capita) most other Lee Child markets
• All of the 13 Reacher thrillers have been instant NZ & international bestsellers
• A Jack Reacher thriller is sold every second somewhere in the world
• Lee Child’s worldwide sales now top 16 million copies
• Film rights to the Jack Reacher character have been bought by Paramount. A one shot script has now been commissioned.
• Why did Lee choose to make Reacher an ex-MP?
Lee wanted Reacher to be:
1) suddenly downsized from something;
2) suddenly adrift in a world he wasn’t familiar with;
3) accustomed to doing things in a rough-and-ready and very non-civilian way. So a previous career in the Army made sense, because it would explain all of the above.
He made him an ex-MP because
1) he needed some forensic and detective-type skills; and
2) the Navy Seal or Special Forces thing had already been done.
He made him an officer purely because a higher rank might give Reacher better networking capabilities when calling on old buddies for help. It’s been mentioned that Army personnel undergo the type of officer candidate school training which eliminates the mavericks, but Lee was hoping Reacher would be regarded as “the one that got away.”

Meet Lee Child in:

· Auckland (11-13 April)
· Wellington (13-14 April)
· Nelson (14 April)
· Christchurch (15 April)
· Dunedin (16 April)
Venue and other details will be here on the blog once they have been finalised.
Left - Author photo by Sigrid Estrada.

I was sharing enthusiasms for 61 Hours with one of my friends over there at Random House and she made the following comment that I thought was right on the button:

He sure is a master of detail and doesn’t he do understated cruelty and evil so well. It’s the psychology/anatomy of the scenario as it plays out that is so exhausting but totally compelling.