Friday, July 31, 2015

How The Man Booker Fiction Prize Became Stacked In Favour Of The Big Publishers

Book2Book Wednesday 29 July 2015

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction has announced its longlist for the 2015 award. Now in its 46th year, the award is among the most prestigious in the literary world. It is also incredibly generous to the big publishing houses. Five of the six books shortlisted last year came from Penguin Random House, following a longlist where nine out of the 13 books came from the big publishers. 
This year it is eight out of 13. But whether or not you think this sounds too much, the real problem lies in submission rules that risk locking in this dominance and making it progressively worse in years to come.

The Conversation

Man Booker prize 2015: the longlist - in pictures

This year’s Man Booker longlist sees five American authors named, along with nominees from Ireland, Nigeria, New Zealand and India as well as the UK.

The shortlist will be announced on 15 September, with a winner named on 13 October

More at The Guardian


Anna Smaill (New Zealand): The Chimes (Sceptre)

A daring and unusual dystopia based around music and memory, and a fiction debut from the New Zealand violinist and poet. In a quasi-medieval London, a totalitarian regime inflicts daily amnesia on a brainwashed populace through discordant music. And then one teenager fights back…

Catherine Taylor’s Guardian review - lexical ingenuity that rewards patience



We have hugely exciting news! New Zealand poet and novelist Anna Smaill, who is heading to Christchurch for WORD Christchurch's Shifting Points of View programme in the Christchurch Arts Festival, has just been long-listed for the Man Booker prize for her superb novel The Chimes. The novel is set in a dystopian future where music has replaced the written word, and people's memories are wiped every evening. It is written using exquisite language and tense plotting, and is a favourite in our office.

Anna joins luminaries such as Marilynne Robinson, Anne Tyler and Anne Enright to compete for a place on the shortlist, and for the final prize of
£50,000. Anna is only the fifth New Zealander to secure a place on the list, after Keri Hulme, Patricia Grace, Lloyd Jones and of course Eleanor Catton. We wish her very warm congratulations and look forward to welcoming her to the Imaginary Cities panel on 30 August.

Anna Smaill was born in Auckland in 1979. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the IIML, and a PhD in contemporary American poetry from University College London. She is the author of a book of poetry, The Violinist in Spring, and her poems have been published in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. She has lived and worked in both Tokyo and London, and now lives in Wellington, with her husband, novelist Carl Shuker, and their daughter. The Chimes, her first novel, was published in 2015 to great international acclaim.

The Independent called Anna “2015’s most impressive new novelist”.

You can hear Anna interviewed by
Kim Hill
, and read an interview in
The Independent

And congratulations too from The Auckland Writers Festival:


Our warmest congratulations to NZ's Anna Smaill who has been selected for the Man Booker Prize longlist for her debut novel The Chimes which constructs a world ruled by a large musical instrument, and navigated via a musical language. Anna appeared at this year's Festival in a session with Bernard Beckett titled Memory Loss as well as our Life Beyond reading session. You can listen to Anna in Memory Loss online or via itunes.

Congratulations also to 2008 Festival guest and 2007 Man Booker Prize winner Anne Enright who has also been longlisted for her novel The Green Road.

View the full
2015 Man Booker Prize longlist.

Ann Rule's true crime books: what made them so compelling?

She may not have been the best writer, or the sharpest assessor of psychology. But she had a gift for tapping into our collective obsession with crime

Ann Rule: went back to the dark well again and again.
Ann Rule: went back to the dark well again and again. Photograph: Betty Udeson/AP
Usually, when a writer as widely read as Ann Rule dies, the internet gets papered over with heartfelt tributes. That didn’t happen for her – there are obituaries everywhere, but few eulogies – and I’ve been ruminating on why. My own adolescent bookshelf held battered paperback copies of some of her books – I must have read The Stranger Beside Me and Small Sacrifices at least 10 times each – and I was hardly alone: she was the kind of writer whose sales counted in the tens of millions.

In other words: she was doing something that inspired devotion. It just wasn’t the kind that people have been willing to cop to, now or ever. Even I wouldn’t call myself a “fan”, exactly.

Rule never claimed literary status. She never seemed to mind, either, that she wasn’t accorded it. She told one interviewer that as far as she was concerned, “financial success is critical acceptance”, and she certainly did make money.

a “Gritty,” Dystopian ‘Little Women’ Series


The CW Is Developing a “Gritty,” Dystopian ‘Little Women’ Series

We all know the feeling. You’re watching/reading Divergent, The Hunger Games, The Giver, the Whatever, and you realize you just need to skip ahead to see if Jo will contract Beth’s Scarlet Fever or whether Amy and Laurie will make it as a couple.

…Read More

The Roundup with PW

'Watchman' Sells 220K in Week Two, Stays Put at #1
According to data from Nielsen Bookscan, which accounts for approximately 80% of print sales, 'Go Set a Watchman' sold more than three times the number of copies than the #2 book on the chart, E.L. James's 'Grey,' in it second week on sale. more »

Lonely Planet Rolling Out New Cookbook Series
This fall, Lonely Planet is stepping into new culinary territory with the launch of From the Source, a cookbook series that explores dishes and traveling by locale. The first titles in the series, 'From the Source: Italy' and 'From the Source: Thailand,' go on sale September 1. more » »

Record Day for 'What Pet Should I Get?' at BAM
Following record-breaking sales for Harper Lee’s 'Go Set a Watchman' on July 14, Theodore Geisel’s 'What Pet Should I Get?' has repeated that feat at the nation’s number two chain retailer two weeks later, on July 28. more » »

NYC to Sign $30M Contract with Amazon: The Department of Education is about to approve a $30 million contract with Amazon to create an e-book marketplace for New York City's 1,800 public schools.

CW Orders 'Little Women' Adaptation: The network is taking on a literary classic in one of its first script buys of the 2015/2016 development season.

A Triumph of the New and Diverse: A bracingly varied Man Booker prize longlist suggests that complaints about the whiteness of the literary world are finally being listened to, and addressed, writes the 'Guardian.'

Amazon Dash Buttons Now On Sale: The gadget, which costs $4.99, allows customers to reorder products with the push of a button.

Austen Prose Used by Hackers: Hackers have started to use passages of Jane Austen’s 1811 debut novel 'Sense and Sensibility' to trick firewalls.

A Literary Map of Paris’ Left Bank

By Dianna Dilworth 


The San Francisco Chronicle has created a literary map of Paris online called The Literary Left Bank.
The interactive map plots book stores and the historic homes and cafes frequented by authors onto a Google Map. Check it out:
There is no doubt that the Latin Quarter, the student district centered around the venerable University of Paris (founded in the 12th century), has lost much of its bohemian allure as real estate prices have risen. But as the accompanying interactive map of the Left Bank shows, there is still a thriving literary culture in the city’s 5th and 6th arrondissements. San Francisco Book Co. and Berkeley Books of Paris fit nicely into that tradition, keeping alive the rich history of Americans and other foreigners contributing to the literary life of Paris.

Why our Man Booker longlist spans the globe

From Marilynne Robinson’s Lila to Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen, and from Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life to Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island, the chair of the Booker judges, Michael Wood, explains how focusing on quality brought diversity to the longlist

Global quality. Photograph: Image Source/Rex
Been staying at home too much lately? Reading some of the novels on the Man Booker prize longlist will change that. Do you want to retrace the Spanish conquest of the Americas? Travel to a dystopian England where music has largely replaced language? Get close to assassination and murder in Jamaica and Nigeria? Visit the Burren Way Green Road in the west of Ireland? Come back from Afghanistan to spend time with your grandmother?

These stories are so different from each other, but they are linked by their amazing formal precision and the high quality of their writing. The judges are very happy with the diversity of the material – and of the places of origin, ages and experiences of the writers – but we were not looking to commend diversity. We were looking for the best books.

Review: Why Dr. Seuss’s What Pet Should I Get?

Review: Why Dr. Seuss’s What Pet Should I Get? is the most important work of cultural criticism this year 

Latest news from The Bookseller

Man Booker Prize 2015
Retailers have praised the 2015 Man Booker Prize longlist as “excellent” and containing a “rather lovely mix” of publishers. However literary agent David Godwin has said the dominance of US writers on the list means people's “worst fears have come to pass”.
The longlist was announced yesterday (29th), and features established writers alongside debut authors.
Paul Blantern
The chair of the Leadership for Libraries task force has promised to look into how better data can be provided on library numbers and usage, following arguments on whether the number of children using libraries has gone up or down.

Goldsmiths University
Goldsmiths, University of London is preparing to launch Goldsmiths Press, a new university press built on digital-first publishing, and interested in unconventional projects traditionally excluded by publishers.
Suzi Doore
Suzie Dooré is to move from Hodder & Stoughton to HarperCollins, replacing Katie Espiner as publishing director of The Borough Press.
Dooré has been at Hodder & Stoughton for nearly 10 years, publishing literary commercial fiction for both Hodder and its literary imprint Sceptre. She has worked with authors including Chris Cleave, Erin Kelly and Tom Rachman.
Prior to Hodder she was the head fiction buyer for Waterstones for three years, and before that an editor and buyer on QPD, BCA’s literary book club.
Cressida Cowell
Cressida Cowell has said she was “sad” to bring the How to Train a Dragon series to a close with How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury (September, Hodder), adding that it was also “very difficult” to tie up all the ends.
In the book, the hero of the series Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III must battle to defeat Alvin the Treacherous to become king.
Namwali Serpell
Hogarth in the UK and US have pre-empted world rights to an “astonishing” debut by 2015 Caine Prize winner Namwali Serpell.
Poppy Hampson, editorial director at Chatto & Windus and Hogarth UK, bought world rights to The Old Drift in a “major” joint acquisition with Alexis Washam, executive editor, Crown and Hogarth US. Rights were acquired from PJ Mark and Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit.

Game of Thrones
HarperCollins UK has teamed up with George R R Martin and digital product studio Reason to produce a new Game of Thrones app.
Released today (30th July), the free app is designed as a "bridge product" for fans of the TV series who have not yet read the books.
The app asks users where they are in the storyline and then offers them a spoiler-free selection of over 40 extracts from across the books, along with maps and introductions from the very first battle of the series to the infamous "Red Wedding" scenes.
James Dawson
Authors James Dawson and Julie Mayhew yesterday (29th July) celebrated the increase in LGBT characters in YA novels in an episode of BBC2's "Newsnight".
Yellow Kite
Yellow Kite has acquired a book about divorce by the woman who coined the phrase “conscious uncoupling”, used by actress Gwyneth Paltrow to describe her separation from musician Chris Martin.
Publisher Liz Gough bought UK and Commonwealth rights to Katherine Woodward Thomas’s Conscious Uncoupling from Lance Fitzgerald, v.p. and director of subsidiary rights at the Crown Publishing Group.
Woodward Thomas offers a five-step blueprint for how people can navigate a breakup with honour and respect.
Amazon is poised to strike a deal with New York’s Department of Education to create an “e-book marketplace” for 1,800 public schools, according to reports.
Capital New York has reported that the deal, worth $34.5m, will be one of the department’s "most expensive" contracts and will create the department’s first unified e-book storefront.
World Book Night
World Book Night is a “catalyst for change”, with many recipients of books “motivated to change their reading habits by their interactions with volunteers”, according to research commissioned by The Reading Agency, which runs the event.
The annual event sees individuals and institutions hand out books to people who do not usually read for pleasure. This year 250,000 books of 20 specially printed World Book Night titles were given out.
Two Mexican book chains have partnered with Kobo to create a new e-book reading service called Orbile.
Kobo will power the e-bookstore for both publisher and retailer Libreria Porrúa, which has nearly 70 bookstores in Mexico and, chain Gandhi, which has 30 stores.
While the two retailers are competitors in other areas of business, they have jointly created Orbile, powered by Kobo, to offer a “unified e-reading service to Mexican readers.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Oratia Media to publish New Zealand parliamentary guide

30 July 2015

Oratia Media to publish New Zealand parliamentary guide

At the conclusion of a public request for proposals and selection process, the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives has appointed Oratia Media to publish the fourth edition of the authoritative guide to the conduct of our Parliament – Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand.

West Auckland-based Oratia Media will publish the book as a high-quality paperback and an ebook, with a provisional publication date of August 2016.

Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand provides a detailed description of New Zealand’s parliamentary practice. It is an authoritative text for use by members of Parliament, public servants, academics, parliamentary officers and other working professionals who have an interest in Parliament, such as the legal profession.

David Wilson, Clerk of the House of Representatives, commented: “We’re really excited to be working with Oratia to produce a new edition of a much-used text. Producing an ebook will be a first for our Parliament and will hopefully widen its readership even further.”

Peter Dowling, Managing Director of Oratia Media, welcomed the agreement to publish Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand. “We’ve brought together an experienced team in Auckland, Wellington and Oamaru to edit and design this significant work, and look forward to a close relationship with the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives.”

Further information about the book will be released closer to the publication date.

Provisional Publication Date: August 2016

For further information, contact:
Peter Dowling   027 614 8993 or

Writer in Residence 2016: Submissions Welcome


Writer in Residence 2016: Submissions Welcome
We invite applications for the Victoria University of Wellington/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence 2016. Writers in all areas of literary activity, including drama, fiction and poetry, New Zealand art, biography, history, music, society and culture, are eligible to apply.
Applicants should be writers of proven merit, and must be either a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident. 
The Writer will have use of an office at the IIML and while there are no formal duties attached to the position, it is expected that the Writer will take part in the cultural life of the University.
The appointment will be for twelve months from 1 February 2016 to 31 January 2017, with a salary of NZ$50,000, and will be made subject to Creative New Zealand funding.
Applications close 30 September 2015
Victoria University of Wellington is an EEO employer and actively seeks to meet its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.
For more information and to apply online visit

The Fellowship of the Ring: Five Wise and Profound Quotes

On this day in 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring was first published. It’s the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it served as a bridge between the adventure story for children that was The Hobbit and the serious epic fantasy of its successors.

…Read More

Latest News from The Booksller

Enders Analysis
A “slower, more complicated and insidious disruption” of the publishing industry is emerging, a report from research and advisory firm Enders Analysis had said, and it is “extremely dangerous” to see the e-book transition as the key disruptive force to the trade.
Consumer book subscriptions have not taken off, mobile consumption is reducing the amount of time people spend reading, and publishers need to “innovate vigorously”, the report found.
Taylor & Francis's parent company Informa has acquired independent humanities and social sciences publisher Ashgate Publishing for £20m.  
Ashgate, based in Farnham in Surrey, has over 14,000 titles. Informa said: "Its experienced team and strong brands will be highly complementary to our other major HSS [humanities and social sciences] brand, Routledge, the world's largest English language publisher of academic content in HSS disciplines."
If Pearson aims to concentrate on its global education business then it is “only a matter of when not if” it will sell its stake in Penguin Random House, as the date Pearson is permitted to sell its PRH shares looms.
Skippy in the Well
A new independent bookshop has opened in the rural Lancashire town of Garstang by former secondary school teacher Sally-Anne Fraser.
Skippy in the Well has opened on 3 Oak Grove on Garstang’s high street, restoring a bookshop to the town once more after its last one closed several years ago.
Harper Lee
Harper Lee has held the Official Top 50 number one spot for a second consecutive week, with Go Set A Watchman (Heinemann) selling 57,612 copies, worth £632,690, through Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market.
Grandpa’s Great Escape
David Walliams’ next children’s book, due to be published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in September, will be titled Grandpa’s Great Escape.

In the book, which will once again be illustrated by Tony Ross, Grandpa becomes muddled in old age and believes he is still a fighter pilot in World War Two. When he is sent to an old people’s home he is convinced it is a prisoner of war camp and plans an escape with his grandson Jack.

Dodo Ink
Novelist Sam Mills, reviewer Thom Cuell and digital marketer Alex Spears have announced the creation of a new independent publishing house, Dodo Ink.

Yale University
Structural disruption and all things digital were woven into discussions at the Yale Publishing Course, which took place in New Haven last week (19th-24th July). Two dozen faculty and 68 mid-career professionals from 22 countries were on hand. Yet in the words of keynoter Craig Mod, it was the importance of giving oneself  “permission to think,” and a reassertion of the primacy of books as objects able to inspire “delight,” that best captured the zeitgeist of the week.
Blowing Up Russia
Alexander Litvinenko’s only book Blowing Up Russia has been put on a list of “extremist materials” in Russia and banned, according to its English language publisher Gibson Square Books.
The Russian fugitive officer of the FSB secret service died in November 2006 after meeting with two former agents and drinking tea laced with a lethal dose of radioactive polonium.
He was allegedly poisoned on the command of the Russian state after making direct allegations against President Vladimir Putin.
Hibo Wardere
Simon & Schuster has acquired an “empowering” book by anti-FGM campaigner Hibo Wardere [pictured].
S&S commissioning editor Abigail Bergstrom acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to the book entitled Cut: FGM in Britain Today from Robyn Drury at Diane Banks Associates.
Usborne has acquired a YA historical novel, entitled The One Who Knows My Name, by Vanessa  Curtis.

The book, told through the first-person voice of fifteen-year-old Inge, is about the Nazi’s Lebensborn programme, under which Polish children were stolen from their families to be brought up in the Aryan ideal.

Walker Books will in 2017 publish The City of Secret Rivers, the first book in a London-set children’s adventure trilogy by US writer Jacob Sager Weinstein.

The City of Secret Rivers is about Hyacinth Hayward who, recently arrived in London from America, accidentally unleashes the power of a secret river running through the city. To stop a second Great Fire, she must find a magically charged drop of water from the sewer system.