Sunday, March 31, 2013

'School Journal' to continue

Otago Daily Times - By John Lewis on Thu, 28 Mar 2013

The publisher of New Zealand's School Journal has allayed fears the educational reading tool will be discontinued.
The journal, published by Learning Media, is believed to be the longest-running serial publication for children in the world, and provides 7 to 13-year-olds with New Zealand-based reading material that is relevant to their lives.

Until recently, Learning Media produced the majority of the Ministry of Education's curriculum related print publishing through an uncontested preferred supplier agreement.
However, this agreement lapsed last September, and the company recently announced it was no longer in a position to publish unsolicited manuscripts from New Zealand authors.
The announcement worried teachers and writers around the country - some believing publication of the journal had been suspended.

New Zealand Society of Authors chief executive Maggie Tarver said there had been ''a bit of drama'' surrounding the issue.
''It's my understanding that the preferred providers agreement that the ministry have with 

Learning Media is coming to an end and the ministry is putting out for tender all the educational material currently printed by Learning Media.
''Our concerns are that the School Journal will be discontinued.
''We hope it is not becoming a cost-cutting exercise.
''If it goes out to tender to several different providers, we want assurances quality and quantity won't change, and that it won't be tendered offshore,'' she said.

Ministry group manager Pauline Barnes said the process would not result in any charge to schools, production going offshore, or changes in content, particularly that submitted by New Zealand writers.
She said the ministry began a process in 2009 to establish a panel of preferred suppliers that could meet the ministry's present and future needs, given the ongoing economic environment and the evolving publication situation.

The panel started in September last year and Learning Media won a place on the panel for content, print and digital design, digital development, online support and print services.
When tendering for work, suppliers on the panel respond to ''requests for quote'', and then a preferred supplier is selected. 

If appropriate for the nature of the work, several preferred suppliers may be selected.
Learning Media chief executive David Glover said he was ''confident'' it would continue to publish the School Journal.
He said the company would also continue to receive manuscripts, but had stopped corresponding with the authors at this time because it had enough content to produce the School Journal for ''this year's run''.
''We've changed our policy. We're not in a position to proactively manage unsolicited manuscripts at this time.
''Everyone wants to be the next Margaret Mahy. It's the one publication that everyone aspires to be published in.
''We're trying to slow down the torrent of stuff that comes through.''
''It's not true that the publication will be discontinued,'' he said.
''We are working on several editions of the journal right now.''

The School Journal was initiated in 1907, by inspector-general of schools George Hogben, to provide New Zealand schoolchildren with a free publication containing information on history, geography and civics.
Many of New Zealand's foremost authors and illustrators have had their work published in the School Journal, including Rita Angus, James K. Baxter, Alistair Campbell, Russell Clark, Jack Lasenby and Mervyn Taylor.

Facebook's ‘New Home’ on Android

Facebook's ‘New Home’ on Android

Photo - Paul Sakuma/AP

As if you weren't on Facebook enough already. The social network is allegedly teaming up with Google to put information from users' accounts on the home screen of Android phones—making it the first thing to appear when a user turns their device on. Sources say that the move is a way to boost both ad revenue and the amount of time users spend on Facebook. Currently, users have to navigate Facebook through an app, but the new smartphone capability will simplify the process, making it even easier to see every single picture of your second-cousins new puppy. Critics remain skeptical of the move—an easy position to take after looking back at the things Facebook almost did... but then didn’t.

Turow on Amazon/Goodreads: This is how modern monopolies can be built

The Author's Guild - Posted

Amazon’s garden walls are about to grow much higher. In a truly devastating act of vertical integration, Amazon is buying Goodreads, its only sizable competitor for reader reviews and a site known for the depth and breadth of its users’ book recommendations. Recommendations from like-minded readers appear to be the Holy Grail of online book marketing. By combining Goodreads’ recommendation database with Amazon’s own vast databases of readers’ 
purchase histories, Amazon’s control of online bookselling approaches the insurmountable.

“Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads is a textbook example of how modern Internet monopolies can be built,” said Scott Turow, Authors Guild president. “The key is to eliminate or absorb competitors before they pose a serious threat. With its 16 million subscribers, Goodreads could easily have become a competing on-line bookseller, or played a role in directing buyers to a site other than Amazon. Instead, Amazon has scuttled that potential and also squelched what was fast becoming the go-to venue for on-line reviews, attracting far more attention than Amazon for those seeking independent assessment and discussion of books. As those in advertising have long known, the key to driving sales is controlling information.”

One example should make it clear how formidable this combination is. For “Animals Make Us Human” by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, Amazon has 123 customer reviews, and B&N has about 40 (they report 150, but that figure includes ratings as well as reviews). Goodreads swamps these figures, with 469 reviews and 2,266 ratings for the book.
As an independent platform, Goodreads, with its 16 million members, posed a serious competitive threat to Amazon. No more.

Here’s Bloomberg’s story on this.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Review: Non-fiction books

By Mark Fryer, Jim Eagles Email Jim- Saturday Mar 30, 2013 - New Zealand Herald

Photo / Supplied

William Colenso: His life and journeys by A.G. Bagnall and G.C. Petersen, edited by Ian St George
(Otago University Press $65)

Colenso, pioneer printer, missionary, botanist, linguist, explorer, trader, politician and, for many years, outcast, has enjoyed a revival. Last year there was Peter Wells' personal exploration of Colenso's life, The Hungry Heart, and Ian St George's selection of his many letters to the editor, Give Your Thoughts Life. Now comes a slightly updated edition of this classic biography, first published in 1948.
It's a fascinating read and further underlines what a remarkable - albeit flawed - human being Colenso was.

Raffles and the Golden Opportunity by Victoria Glendinning
(Profile Books $55)

Sir Stamford Raffles, who founded the British trading settlement of Singapore and gave his name to a string of hotels, turns out to have come from rather more humble beginnings than the poshness his name suggests. All of which makes his success, when breeding was all and in the teeth of opposition from the British East India Company, the more remarkable. An excellent biography about a fascinating subject.

Paper: An elegy by Ian Sansom

(Fourth Estate $29.99)
"Without paper," writes Ian Sansom, "our lives would be unimaginable." The paperless future is taking its time arriving, and paper remains one of civilisation's vital materials. This is partly a history, but also a celebration of the many diverse and sometimes weird ways in which paper has been used: to write on, of course, but also for board games, cigarette papers, Post-it notes, teabags, lampshades, confetti, coffins. Fittingly, it's an attractive book, printed on rather nice paper.

Fallout From Fukushima by Richard Broinowski
(Scribe $35)

A scary account of the horror unleashed when an earthquake and tsunami hit a nuclear power station in Japan. It's unashamed propaganda. But such was the level of destruction, incompetence and dishonesty resulting from the disaster, a partisan approach seems understandable.

The World's Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somaliaby James Fergusson
(Random House $39.99)

As failed states go, Somalia is about as failed as can be. Blame two decades of war, famine and epic levels of corruption. There's the local al Qaeda offshoot, which would be comic if it wasn't so deadly (sample madness: banning samosas, because the triangular shape is a symbol of the Christian trinity). Depressing?
Could be, if it weren't for Fergusson's skill as a good old-fashioned, on-the-ground reporter who goes where things are happening and listens to the people involved.
By Mark Fryer, Jim Eagles Email Jim

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia - a novel

jacket image for How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia by Mohsin HamidOver the past two days I have been totally intrigued and enchanted by this astonishing, albeit quite brief novel. Coincidentally it has just been reviewed in the New York Times and part of this review is below.
We are off to Amsterdam on Monday and coincidentally I see that Mohsin Hamid is there presently promoting his book.

By Mohsin Hamid
228 pp. Riverhead Books.US $26.95. Hamish Hamilton pds.14.99

Cleverly, Hamid sets “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia” in an unnamed country, stripping away almost every signifier save a few that suggest we are in Pakistan. No mangoes, no mullahs, no preconceived notions. Defamiliarizing Pakistan also obviates another criticism. “Although globalization is universally acknowledged as one of the most pressing issues of our time, it has usually proved a poor subject for fiction,” the writer Siddhartha Deb observes. Too many books exhibit “an endless fascination for pop-culture trivia, poststructuralist meta-theories and self-referential irony.” With only a few props — an assault rifle, a packet of milk, a white radish — and only the slightest tinge of tear gas in the air, the novel feels mythic, eternal rather than frenetic. And the bare stage is the best showcase for the narrator’s one-man show.

Hamid, like Kazuo Ishiguro, specializes in voices in transition, split at the root, straining for cultivation and tripping over clumsy constructions. This narrator speaks to us in two tongues, in self-help’s slick banalities and the bewilderment of the striver. He’s magnificently fraudulent and full of uses; he swoops in to do exposition, pans away to turn prophetic or play sociologist (“You witness a passage of time that outstrips its chronological equivalent. Just as when headed into the mountains a quick shift in altitude can vault one from subtropical jungle to semi-arctic tundra, so too can a few hours on a bus from rural remoteness to urban centrality appear to span millennia”). He can be chilling and chummy, and very hard to shake. Some of the book’s more serious sections, on mortality, say, are imbued with a vestigial phoniness, and a self-referential ode to storytelling has the soul-lessness of a TED talk. It’s a shame; Hamid is a stronger, stranger writer than that.

Witness the final reversal. The book ends with you, the hero, in your eighth decade, a Gatsby we never knew: an old man in a hotel room, trying to remember to take your medicines regularly. And as it turns out, there is still something left to learn, something more vital than how to get Filthy Rich. You teach us how to lose. How to relinquish health and hope; how to surrender assets to thieving relatives and one’s children to America. “Slough off your wealth, like an animal molting in the autumn,” Hamid writes. Look up the pretty girls of your youth. Find someone to play cards with. “Have an exit strategy.” 

Nick Laird: It is necessary to spell your poetry correctly

No pictures, frost or footnotes in your submissions please, begs National Poetry Competition judge Nick Laird

Patricia McCarthy, winner of the National Poetry Competition
Subtle observations … Patricia McCarthy, winner of the National Poetry Competition Photograph: Kevin Lake for the Poetry Society

I spent a few weeks recently reading through 10,000 of the 13,000 entries for the National Poetry Competition. Many were very good; a few hundred were excellent. Of those, I picked my final 50, as did my fellow judges Vicki Feaver and Bill Herbert and, over the course of a long day, we whittled down our combined 150 to a few prize-winning poems, which you can read, and read about, at the National Poetry Competition website.

The winning poem, by Patricia McCarthy, which comes at its subject, the Great War, in a tender, oblique fashion, convinced us with its quiet technique and subtle observations. Jane Draycott's runnerup was dense, mysterious, and swept from a London living room across the whole world. John Freeman's third-place entry was neatly constructed, both love poem and elegy.

It was heartening to see poetry take a central role in so many people's lives, to read the evidence that thousands of people frequently sit alone for an hour or two, trying to capture or clarify something in words. Still, reading the poems was also, sometimes, depressing. There were poems that weren't good, and they tended to have features in common: a lack of control or occasion, a lack of linguistic felicity or surprise. A judge must be hard-hearted, looking for anything that will let him drop the poem into the No box. He wants to fault the poem.


50 Shades of Pam Ayres pastiche. Join the BDSM fun

Her take on EL James isn't really hers, alas. But different poets taking command of Christian and Ana sounds like fun. Who wants to play?

Thursday 28 March 2013   
Pam Ayres
I wish I'd looked after my tawse ... Pam Ayres. Photograph: Ken McKay / Rex Features
So the "Pam Ayres" Fifty Shades of Grey poem isn't by Pam Ayres after all. This little ditty, told from the husband's perspective, has been doing the rounds online, and has been linked to Ayres on various forums.

The missus bought a Paperback,
down Shepton Mallet way,
I had a look inside her bag;
Twas Fifty Shades of Grey.

Well I just left her to it,
And at ten I went to bed.
An hour later she appeared;
The sight filled me with dread…

Ayres, though, took to Twitter this morning after actor Tanya Franks told her that she'd "just read your 50 Shades of Grey poem - the mental images of Mabel and hubby are laughingly and howlingly disturbing". Indeed. Ayres, though, says she "DID NOT write this poem. It is doing the rounds on the internet etc, but it is nothing to do with me".

Ah well. I'd have loved it if the author of "I wish I'd looked after me teeth" had turned to BDSM, but it looks like it was actually one John Summers.

But Fifty Shades, Pam Ayres style - I like it. And I wonder if we could amuse ourselves, this gloomy last-day-of-work-before-Easter, with the adventures of Christian and Ana done in the style of various other authors. Here's Fifty Shades of Eliot:

April is the cruellest month, Christian tells Ana, time for
Whips and chains, pains, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring kinky sex through
Dull fiction to add spice to readers' lives ...

I'm sure you can do better. The floor is yours. The best, judged by me, wins a collected edition of Ayres's verse - if they want it.

10 Hidden Places Around the World

By Moses Gates | Mar 29, 2013 - PW

Moses Gates's Hidden Cities: A Memoir of Urban Exploration is a wildly entertaining journey beyond barriers to find the off-the-radar places in locales around the world. Gates has some hidden places for you to explore on your next trip. 

After writing Hidden Cities, I’ve gotten asked one question more than any other: some variation of “so – I’d love to see a part of a city that’s hidden and secret and unknown, but also, you know, safely and legally.” It doesn’t really work like that (in today’s day and age, excursions that are safe, legal, and interesting enough to be found in major publications usually don’t stay hidden and secret for too long), but there are a few off-the-beaten path destinations around the world where you can see the forgotten corners, hidden infrastructure, and underground tunnels of some of the great cities of the world in a safe and legal way - but also get your feet slightly dirtier than your average tourist. 10 of my favorites are:

1. Le Musée des Égouts de Paris (Paris Sewer Museum) - A wonderful, up-close way to see one of the most significant engineering accomplishments of the 19th century. Descend into the bowels of the city, and walk alongside an active part of the Parisian sewer system. The entrance can be found across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower, on the Quai d’Orsay near the Pont de l’Alma

Read the rest here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Amazon Buys Goodreads

NEW YORK -- Inc., the world's biggest online retailer that got its start in bookselling, has agreed to buy book recommendations site Goodreads.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Amazon said Thursday that it "shares a passion for reinventing reading," with Goodreads.

"Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world," said Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle content for Amazon. 

via HuffPost

More detailed report at PW

And at PublishersLunch:

The basics have been well reported within minutes of Amazon's announcement on Thursday after the close the of market. In what is widely recognized as a very smart move by the retailer, they have an agreement to acquire Goodreads for an undisclosed sum. Started seven years ago, the social network for books had been interviewing experienced publishing executives in recent months as part of an exploration of selling books directly from the site to their 16 million members. Goodreads and its staff of about 40 expects to remain in San Francisco and the deal is set to close in the second quarter of 2013 subject to various closing conditions.

In a statement vp, Kindle content Russ Grandinetti "Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike."

What Happens Next
The Goodreads blog makes it clear what some of the pathways to "delight" readers are likely to include:
"Our members have been asking us to bring the Goodreads experience to an e-reader for a long time. Now we're looking forward to bringing Goodreads to the most popular e-reader in the world, Kindle, and further reinventing what reading can be."
As eBookFriendly first posted, Amazon has quickly gone from the last purchase option list in the Goodreads' drop-down to the first one listed.Goodreads had stopped using the Amazon book data API just over a year ago as their stated terms became "more and more restrictive," licensing data from Ingram and supplementing it.

Now Goodreads co-founder Otis Chandler writes, "For all of you Kindle readers, there's obviously an extra bonus in this announcement. You've asked us for a long time to be able to integrate your Kindle and Goodreads experiences. Making that option a reality is one of our top priorities," Chandler said.
Also telling is that Chandler's post about the acquisition to Goodreads members doesn't ask for open comments on the deal; rather, it asks: "Please let us know – what integration with Kindle would you love to see the most?"

One likely possibility that Chandler described to the LA Times is to let Goodreads users add a Kindle ebook file to their Goodreads Shelf. Indeed, that's one of the integrations that many Goodreads members mention in their comments. Users also asked to cross-post reviews to both Goodreads and Amazon; to integrate Goodreads with Amazon wishlists; to share to Goodreads from within Kindle ebooks.

Separately, Chandler tells paidContent, "I think, short-term, the thing we're most excited about is actually bringing the book into Goodreads and enabling people to just start reading right there from the Kindle Cloud Reader. We've never had a good book preview feature."

Users' Concerns
At the same time, many Goodreads members posted disappointment that Goodreads was forsaking its independence, and concern that feature changes might weaken their attachment to the site. Some users asked that any Amazon and Kindle integration be optional rather than automatic. Many wondered if Amazon's policy on acceptable reviews would be carried over to Goodreads, and others asked if they would still own their Goodreads reviews.

More Likely Changes from the Outside
Goodreads had emerged as a significant independent influencer of book discovery and purchases, and publishers had increased their support of the site through pre-publication giveaways, ads and other programs. For some houses that support may change.

Goodreads' reviews api is also widely used, as an alternative non-commercial source. Those reviews are currently featured on the ebookstores of Kobo, Sony and Google, as well as sites like USA Today (and they are integrated on our own Bookateria title pages). Chandler tells paidContent "we're not going to shut off" the feed to Kobo, but you can logically expect a number of the core api users to start looking for other solutions.(A self plug: we have significant databases of professional book reviews and years of archived bestseller lists available for license.)

Other Communities
Amazon already owns another online book community, Shelfari, and they have a minority stake in Library Thing, acquired when they bought AbeBooks. But Bowker is another minority owner of Library Thing, and founder Tim Spalding remains the controlling owner. His blog contains some interesting thoughts. For starters, he writes: "People keep reporting that Amazon has 40 percent [of LT]. That's simply not true—it fails to take account of our second funder, Bowker." He also vows, "As I've said before, I don't want to sell. LibraryThing wasn't set up as a startup that would get flipped. And our business—split between .com and the library side—always made us easier to partner with than buy."

Spalding believes the Amazon Goodreads purchase is good for Library Thing: "we gained a lot of friends today." Among his thoughts: "We need to make common cause with the publishers and booksellers the Amz/Goodreads move leaves out in the cold. I'm hoping some come to us." He suggests they might in turn support independent booksellers by "releas[ing] our data to indies for free." At the same time, it's clear that for LT to fill the void and rise to the occasion, somehow they need to access significantly more resources: "We have limited but real development resources, and a TON of work to do. LibraryThing has a very large codebase and feature set for a company with only a few developers."

Goodreads does let users export their data, and other reader communities include anobii and weRead. Separately, the recently-launched Bookish and Random House's BookScout Facebook app are trying to establish themselves as sources of reading recommendations.

And at Publishing Perspectives:

Amazon Acquires Goodreads, Twitter Shock Ensues announced on Thursday that it would acquire Goodreads, a social networking site for readers and book recommendations. With 16 million members and 23 million book reviews on the site, Goodreads is hub for avid readers and one of the leading sites where publishers promote books.
Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler appears regularly at publishing conferences to present data on how Goodreads users share, recommend and buy books. With a limited number of sources for focused data like this, Chandler’s willingness to share this valuable data is a boon to many book marketers and publicists.
It’s safe to assume that also gathers a lot of data about book buyers, though the online retailer has been reluctant to share much of it with publishers. Following the acquisition, will Goodreads become subject to Amazon’s tight-lipped policy?
Moments after the news broke, Twitter erupted with reactions from publishing folks, readers and authors.

And from Shelf Awareness:
Amazon Buying Goodreads: Industry Reactions
Amazon is buying the popular book-focused social networking site Goodreads, which was founded in 2007 and now has more than 16 million members. The acquisition is expected to close by July. Goodreads' headquarters will remain in San Francisco, and its management is expected to stay in place.

As the leading social networking site devoted to books, GoodReads has been considered an important element in addressing the "discoverability" problem that grew with spread of e-books and Amazon and the collapse of Borders: How would readers discover books if fewer of them were visiting the best source for learning about new books, bricks-and-mortar bookstores?

In one fell swoop, Amazon, whose algorithms for recommending books have shown limited effectiveness, now owns one of the major tools built to address the problem it created.
On the Goodreads blog, CEO and co-founder Otis Chandler said the site "will continue to be the wonderful community that we all cherish. We plan to continue offering you everything that you love about the site--the ability to track what you read, discover great books, discuss and share them with fellow book lovers, and connect directly with your favorite authors--and your reviews and ratings will remain here on Goodreads. And it's incredibly important to us that we remain a home for all types of readers, no matter if you read on paper, audio, digitally, from scrolls, or even stone tablets."

But judging from the reaction of booksellers, publishers and some Goodreads users, the process may not be so easy. The overwhelming feeling expressed yesterday on Twitter and Facebook was surprise and disappointment. ‏@NextGenAuthors tweeted us: "Hey, your April Fool's edition doesn't come out until Monday!" Many indies and their fans promptly cancelled their accounts.
The question is how a site that was prized for its independence and noncommercial cred will fare as a part of the Amazon empire. As one person commented on Otis Chandler's own blog on Goodreads: "I liked/would prefer a community of readers not backed by someone with motives to a) unrelentingly mine my data and b) sell me stuff."

In response to Chandler's comment that "We truly could not think of a more perfect partner for Goodreads as we both share a love of books and an appreciation for the authors who write them," Jarek Steele of Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., wrote on his blog: "Really, Goodreads? You've forsaken all the other opportunities to partner with independent bookstores, Kobo, even Barnes & Noble & the Nook? How about iPad? Also, who at Amazon has a love of books or authors?"
The Amazon record concerning book world companies it's purchased isn't encouraging. While some non-book purchases, like Zappos, have remained independent and fared well, some book purchases are either merged into Amazon World or left to die on the Internet vine, such as Lexcycle and, most tellingly, Shelfari, which, like Goodreads, is a social media site focused on books.

Only last year, Amazon and Goodreads had a public fight that led to Goodreads choosing to use Ingram data instead of Amazon's because of Amazon's requirement that its data not link to another retailer. There was no word on how this might change.

Goodreads has also been marked by a kind of openness that runs contrary to Amazon's penchant for secret. Otis Chandler has spoken at many conferences, giving details about site usage, and Goodreads shares information with publishers. It's likely all that will change very soon.The move also adds to the sense that Amazon is slowly buying up much of the book world. Over some 15 years, the company has bought,, Brilliance Audio, the Book Depository, Shelfari,, Lexcycle, BookSurge, CreateSpace, and (through AbeBooks) 40% of Library Thing.

Wired summed up this feeling well, beginning its story on the Amazon purchase of Goodreads with this: "Amazon looked back to its roots in bookselling and forward to its future as the global overlord of all reading and writing by announcing its plan today to purchase social reading site Goodreads."

Forbes called the move a slap in the face of publishers, writing that it's no coincidence that the deal came seven weeks after Penguin, Hachette and Simon & Schuster launched Bookish.

"It's a brilliant move by Amazon," Mike Shatzkin of the Idea Logical Co. told the Wall Street Journal. "If you are a book marketer, the two places you think about the most in terms of online marketing opportunities are Amazon and Goodreads." He added, "It makes me question whether Amazon's competitors are awake. How could they let this happen?"

And in his inimitable style, Knopf's Paul Bogaards tweeted, "That's what all you morons get for sharing your books online."

And more:

How Much? Amazon Bought Goodreads For $150 Million, According To Reports 

Kate Tempest wins Ted Hughes poetry prize for 'spoken story'

Young poet was recognised for Brand New Ancients, which reincarnates the gods of old in members of two London families
Kate Tempest
Kate Tempest performing Brand New Ancients at Battersea arts centre. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

Kate Tempest – one of the few well-known poets to have performed at Glastonbury and with grime MCs – has pipped six others to win the Ted Hughes award for innovation in poetry. The 26-year-old Londoner, who started out rapping on night buses and at raves, is one of a new generation who are bridging the divide between poetry and theatre.
She won the £5,000 prize with Brand New Ancients, an hour-long "spoken story" with orchestral backing, which – in the spirit of Hughes' own engagement with classical myth – reincarnates the gods of old in members of two London families.

The award was presented at a ceremony at the Savile Club on Wednesday by Carol Ann Duffy, who funded it with her poet laureate's stipend as part of a mission to "recognise excellence and innovation in poetry – not just in books, but beyond".
Artist Cornelia Parker, who with poets Ian Duhig and Maura Dooley was on the judging panel, said: "The brief was to choose the poet who has made the most exciting contribution to poetry in the last year and I think Kate's performance piece is a shining example. I read it first as a piece of prose and thought it was compulsive. But when I heard it as an audio piece it was electrifying. It's a new departure which has informed the way I see the world since. It rings in my head."
Seven poets were shortlisted for the award, including Mario Petrucci, whose Tales from the Bridge was billed as "the world's largest 3D poetry soundscape" when it began life on London's Millennium Bridge during the Olympics.
Tempest – who released her debut album Balance in 2011 and has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Channel 4 and the BBC as well as performing on the festival circuit – is one of the rising stars of a performance community that is viewed with some suspicion by the poetry establishment.
On hearing of her shortlisting, she tweeted: "Brand New Ancients been shortlisted for the Ted Hughes award for poetry!! And people love to say 'performance' poets arent proper. Yes Mate." She spent the afternoon before the awards performing her work for inmates in Holloway prison.
Lavinia Greenlaw, Kaite O'Reilly and Alice Oswald have previously won the prize, which is now in its fourth year.
Brand New Ancients was co-produced by Battersea Arts Centre and featured a score composed by Nell Catchpole. The Guardian's reviewer, Lyn Gardner, wrote: "Spoken-word theatre is often heavy on words and light on theatre. Tempest's piece follows these conventions, but transcends them. Just as in her narrative, the ordinary is lifted into the extraordinary; score, writing, band and voice come together to create a package that never makes you question why you aren't just reading or listening to this.
"That's because Tempest, fierce and shy in the same moment, is such a genuinely galvanising presence and acutely responsive to her audience. It matters that we are there; it matters that these stories are told. It matters that we listen."

Pulitzer Winner Elizabeth Strout on Her New Novel, The Burgess Boys

The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout's follow-up to her 2008 Pulitzer Prize–winning book Olive Kitteridge, follows two brothers who've returned to their hometown to help their sister manage her troubled son. Strout set the psychologically rich story in Maine's Shirley Falls, the same fictional hamlet she imagined in her 1998 debut, Amy and Isabelle — only this time she explores how the state's growing population of Somali immigrants is impacting the community. Strout spoke with Vulture about Maine's lack of diversity, writing post-Pulitzer, and novels in the iPhone age.

Junot Díaz, also with you in the Pulitzer winners club, has said he imagined he’d have twenty books by now, then realized it’s a lot slower and tougher than that. Do you get frustrated with your pace?It seems to me that I should be able to be faster, at this point, having been writing all my life. I feel some frustration about that, but it doesn’t seem to be anything I can help. 

This is your first book since you won the Pulitzer. Jennifer Egan got it two years after you, for A Visit From the Goon Squad, and she recently wrote about the pressure she was feeling about her follow-up. She wrote, "You’re going to hate the next [book]. The whole world’s going to hate the next one. I have no idea why this one got so much love." Can you relate?Well, I certainly sympathize with what she’s saying there. I think that when I’m working, which is a lot, I’m really just so involved in the work that I don’t think about that. But often when I’m not working — when I look up, let’s say — then I think, Oh, man. People are gonna be mad because it’s not Olive, and … But the fact of the matter is I always have a really high sense of responsibility to the reader, whether it’s a few readers that I get or a lot of readers, which I was lucky enough to get with Olive. I feel responsible to them, to deliver something as truthful and straight as I can. And so I don’t remember that there was a whole lot of excessive worry about the post-Pulitzer thing, but I look back now and think there must have been and I was just submerging it or something, or just putting in the work.

Penguin to Allow Libraries to Lend New eBook Releases

Penguin will lift their six-month windowing on new hardcover releases for libraries, allowing libraries to purchase/license and lend those titles immediately upon publication. Director of online sales and marketing Tim McCall tells the AP it's an evolution of their lending experiments (under which they have been working with 3M and Baker & Taylor). "We feel that we're ready to take the next step and offer what consumers and libraries have been asking for."

Penguin sells ebooks to libraries at the consumer ebook price, for one-at-a-time lending for one year only. Their soon-to-be partners at Random House offer ebooks to a broader set of libraries, with "unrestricted and perpetual availability"--but at prices exponentially higher than ebook or even print list.

Print Book 'Stablization'

via Shelf Awareness

"I do think that the low-hanging fruit has been picked as it relates to digital. There's nothing on the horizon from a technology perspective that leads us to conclude that there would be technology to push dramatically different consumption levels of digital book, and prices are already very low. So all of that being said, we do think we've reached a certain stabilization point."

--Terrance G. Finley, CEO and president of Books-A-Million, asked about stabilization in the sales of printed books, in a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

Bologna 2013: An Emphasis on Middle-Grade and Realistic Fiction

Despite cold, rainy weather and scheduling that rubbed up against Passover and Easter, attendees at this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair reported that foot traffic was heavy, moods were optimistic, and business was getting done. 

Agents, publishers, and rights managers alike reported increased interest in middle-grade fiction. “People want lightly illustrated middle-grade or standalone contemporary,” said agent Ginger Clark. “They’re skeptical of trilogies. I haven’t heard a specific genre that people want, except contemporary YA – that’s refreshing.” more »

Two Industries, One Job Market: Book Translation in the US vs. UK

Today's Feature:
Lower rates and a lack of royalties make the US a less appealing market than the UK for translators, but there are some advantages and work is crossing the Atlantic.
In France, the government will add €5 million in funding to help indie bookstores in the form of tax breaks, interest-free loans and stronger enforcement of fixed price laws.
More News from PP:
Online magazine Words Without Borders has created the James H. Ottaway, Jr. Award which honors an individual for the promotion of international literature.
Publishing Perspectives’ epic examination of the complete plays of William Shakespeare, The Play's the Thing, begins its reading of Measure for Measure. Join us.
From the Archives:
Not everyone can become a polyglot, so we still need translators — but the two treat the fact that all humans don’t speak the same language very differently.

10 of the Coolest Librarians Alive

By Emily Temple on 

Face it: most librarians are probably cooler than you. 

After all, their job is to wrangle books, attract readers, and then get the two together — one of our own favorite activities. Though for many years, the librarian stereotype was a severe old lady who couldn’t stand excessive noise, the mold has changed (to the extent that even the New York Times has noticed). Now, many librarians are punk-rock agents of social change, complete with tattoos, tech savvy, and new ideas to get books to the people. After the jump, meet just a few of the very coolest librarians alive — and since we know there are hundreds out there, add your favorite book lender (or yourself) in the comments.

Lauren Comito and Christian Zabriskie

W&N buys Malala's story

Weidenfeld & Nicolson's deputy publishing director Arzu Tahsin has bought rights to memoir I am Malala by Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.
Tahsin bought UK and Commonwealth rights for an undisclosed sum in conjunction with Little, Brown in the USA, which holds world rights. Yousafzai is represented by Karolina Sutton at Curtis Brown.
The book will be published this autumn on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in India.

Last October 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the face for standing up to the Taliban, after penning a blog about her life for the BBC Urdu service. She has since had lengthy medical treatment in the UK for her injuries and recently began to attend a Birmingham girls' school.
Since her shooting she has received peace awards around the world and 12th July has been designated by the United Nations secretary general as "Malala Day". The Malala Fund has been set up on behalf of her and her family, dedicated to the education and empowerment of girls in Pakistan and around the world.

Her memoir will tell in her own words what happened on the day of her shooting and the story of her determination not to be intimidated by extremists.
Yousafzai said: "I hope this book will reach people around the world, so they realise how difficult it is for some children to get access to education. I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61m children who can't get education. I want it to be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right."

Tahsin said the book would be "a document to bravery, courage and vision". She said: "Malala is so young to have experienced so much and I have no doubt that her story will be an inspiration to readers from all generations who believe in the right to education and the freedom to pursue it."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The book was better..............

via Text Publishing
  • Yeah it was.

First world war poem wins National Poetry Competition 2013

Patricia McCarthy wins £5,000 prize and comparisons with Wilfred Own and Siegfried Sassoon

National Poetry Competition
First world war today ... National Poetry Competition

A poem inspired by her late mother's stories of the first world war, which has drawn comparisons with Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, has won the poetry journal Agenda's editor Patricia McCarthy the National Poetry Competition.

McCarthy, who has published several poetry collections of her own, beat 13,040 other entries to win the anonymously-judged prize. Her winning poem, "Clothes that escaped the Great War", tells of the plodding carthorse who would take boys away to war, and then return, later, with just their clothes. "These were the most scary, my mother recalled: clothes / piled high on the wobbly cart, their wearers gone," writes McCarthy.

Judges and poets Vicki Feaver, Nick Laird and WN Herbert said they were first struck by the poem's unusual title, but then drawn in by its atmosphere. "We loved the journey it takes – both literally, as the horse and cart piled high with old work-clothes trundles down the lanes, and metaphorically, as these clothes come to represent the ghosts of all the young men lost in the Great War," said Feaver. "It follows on from the wonderful poems written by poets like Owen and Sassoon about their war experience, to show the grief of the women left behind."

McCarthy said winning the £5,000 prize was "just extraordinary". "I've never even won a raffle. I don't go in for competitions – the only other time I did was decades back, when I got runner-up," she said. "But I'm really down on my finances – I edit Agenda, and was really struggling, and thought this was probably better than a gamble on the horses. I'm just delighted ... I am very honoured to win with this particular poem as it is a small part of our oral history, transcribed here into a poem – which will now live on."

She was inspired to write it, she said, by her mother, who lived to be nearly 100. "She was a tiny girl in the First World War, living in a little market town in Yorkshire," said McCarthy. "She remembered this old horse, who would collect all the young fresh lads from the farms, and would come back with their old dungarees piled high … She gave me the poem, really."

The National Poetry Competition, for a previously unpublished poem, has been running since 1978, and has been won in the past by Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Shapcott and Tony Harrison. Second place this year went to Jane Draycott for "Italy to Lord" (£2,000), and third place to John Freeman for "My Grandfather's Hat" (£1000).

Click here to read Patricia McCarthy's winning poem