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October 2011

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Amazon profits slump after heavy Kindle investment

Amazon’s profits have dropped by 73% in its third quarter, with the company's investment in its Kindle e-readers blamed for the slump.

In the three months to 30th September, net income fell from $231m (£144.4m) to $63m (£39.4m) year on year. Sales rose by 44% to $10.88bn (£6.8bn), in comparison to $7.56bn (£4.7bn) in 2010. In its international arm, including sites in the UK, Germany, Japan, France, China, Italy and Spain, the company reported sales were $4.94bn (£3.1bn), up 44% from third quarter 2010.

Following the release of the financial results, shares in Amazon fell 14.25% to $194.77 (£121.75). Analysts put the slump in profits down to investment in its new Kindle devices, Fire and Touch. However, Amazon was gloomy about the months ahead, suggesting it could make between a $200m (£125.0m) loss and $250m (£156.3m) profit in its fourth financial quarter. Evercore Partners analyst Ken Sena told Reuters: "We're not seeing the investment pay off yet, but I think investors are impatient as to how long will it take before you will start to see this pay off." He added, "When are we going to start to see some signs?"

In the UK, David Nicholls entered the top 10 Amazon bestsellers chart twice for his book One Day (Hodder), with the physical version entering as the second highest bestseller in the last three months and his Kindle book entering as the fourth besteller. However, Nicholls' title is the only physical book to enter Amazon UK’s top 10 bestselling list. Other authors in the top 10 with Kindle book sales include Penny Feeny with That Summer in Ischia (Tindal Street Press), which was Amazon UK’s third highest selling product; Neil White with Cold Kill (Avon) who entered in fourth position; and Elizabeth Haynes with Into the Darkest Corner (Myriad Editions), Amazon UK’s eighth bestselling product in the last three months. Its highest seller was the Kindle 3G with Wi-Fi.

The business said it released 61 titles through its Amazon Publishing programme during its third quarter.

Jeff Bezos, founder and c.e.o. of, said: "September 28th was the biggest order day ever for Kindle, even bigger than previous holiday peak days—we introduced Kindle Fire for $199 (£124.38), Kindle Touch 3G for $149 (£93.13), Kindle Touch for $99 (£61.88), and our all new Kindle for only $79 (£49.38).”

He added: “In the three weeks since launch, orders for electronic ink Kindles are double the previous launch. And based on what we're seeing with Kindle Fire pre-orders, we're increasing capacity and building millions more than we'd already planned."

News item posted on 27-Oct-2011

Hollis wins Biographers Club prize

Matthew Hollis’ biography of First World War poet Edward Thomas has won the HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize, taking home £5,000.

Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas (Faber) was crowned at The Biographers’ Club Prize Dinner 2011 last night (25th October).

Judge Michael Prodger said the book is "not just an account of one of the First World War’s less starry poets but of two worlds". He said: "The first is the febrile poetry world of the time . . . the second is the world of creativity inside Thomas' head and just how the poems came about and were crafted. Hollis depicts both with extraordinary insight and in prose that is in the very best sense poetic."

The winner of the £2,000 Tony Lothian Prize, for the best proposal by an unpublished, first-time biographer was Jane Gordon-Cumming for The American Heiress and the Scottish Rake: The True Story of the Royal Baccarat Scandal, about her grandparents and “a famous scandal at the card table”.

The Services to Biography Award was presented to Selina Hastings, author of titles including The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham, and books about Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh.

News item posted on 27-Oct-2011

Samuel Pepys Award to Michael Hunter

Academic Michael Hunter has won the 2011 Samuel Pepys Award for his "fascinating" biography of 17th-century scientist Robert Boyle.

Boyle: Between God and Science (Yale) was awarded the £2,000 prize and a specially commissioned medal at a special dinner held at St Paul's School, at which Pepys was a scholar, last night (25th October).

Robert Boyle was one of the key figures in the scientific revolution of the 17th century and a founding member of the Royal Society, but was also conflicted by doubts about faith and conscience during his life.

The judges were unanimous in their decision. Chair of judges, Ann Sweeney, described it as  a "tour de force". She added: "This is a fascinating portrait of a remarkable man whose strong religious beliefs were balanced by his constant search for explanation in the world of science."

The biennial Samuel Pepys Award is awarded to a book which makes the "greatest contribution" to the understanding of the famous diarist, his times or his contemporaries in the interest of encouraging scholarship in this area.

The first winner of the prize was Claire Tomalin's

Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self

published in 2003 to mark the tercentenary of his death in May 1703, with Frances Harris, John Adamson and JD Davies also previous winners.

News item posted on 27-Oct-2011

Margaret Wild is the recipient of the 2011 Lady Cutler Award.

South-African born Wild, who moved to Australia in the early 1970s, has written more than 70 children's books as well as a number of novels for young adults. Her latest books are Vampyre (illus by Andrew Yeo), published in September by Walker Books, and Itsy-Bitsy Animals (illus by Jan Omerod), which will be released by Little Hare Books in November.

The Lady Cutler Award recognises distinguished service to children's literature, primarily in NSW, and is administered by the NSW branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA).

Announcing the award this week, the CBCA NSW branch said Wild was chosen 'for her dedication to her craft and to her audience and for the important place she has in the history and development of Australian children's books'.

Wild will be presented with the award at the annual Lady Cutler Dinner on 15 November in Sydney. This year's dinner will also celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Lady Cutler Award, which commemorates the contribution of patron Lady Helen Cutler to the CBCA NSW branch.

News item posted on 26-Oct-2011

Shortlist revealed for South Asian Lit prize

The six shortlisted books competing to win 2012’s $50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature have been unveiled.

They are: U R Ananthamurthy’s Bharathipura, translated by Susheela Punitha (OUP, India); Chandrakanta’s A Street in Srinagar yranslated by Manisha Chaudhry (Zubaan Books, India); Usha K R’s Monkey-man (Penguin/Penguin India); Shehan Karunatilaka’s Chinaman (Random House, India); and Tabish Khair’s The Thing About Thugs (Fourth Estate/HarperCollins-India). The list is completed by Kavery Nambisan’s The Story that Must Not Be Told (Viking/Penguin India).

The prize, established to recognise great work from the South Asian region, is in its second year and the books were whittled down from 16 to six. Chairman of the judges, Ira Pande, said: "All of us were united in feeling that a novel by any definition must have a strong tale to tell. While there will always be legitimate differences between jury members on individual choices, I think we were fortunate this year in arriving at a broad consensus on what we were looking for.

"I have a twinge of regret, as doubtless other jury members do too, that we could not include some of the terrific novels we had before us but that has been a cross that every jury has had to carry."

In January 2011, the inaugural DSC prize was won by Pakistani author H M Naqvi for his debut novel Home Boy (HarperCollins India) and following the announcement, the title was acquired by Hamish Hamilton [Penguin Books] in the UK.

The winner will be announced at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival on 21st January 2012.

News item posted on 26-Oct-2011

2011 Inky award winners announced!

The winners of the 2011 Inky Awards were announced on Tuesday 25 October.

The Gold Inky (Australian books) was awarded to James Moloney for Silvermay (HarperVoyager). The Silver Inky (international books) was awarded to Cassandra Clare for Clockwork Angel (Walker Books).

A complete list of the titles shortlisted for this year's awards can be found here.

The awards were presented during the Inkyfest event at the State Library of Victoria. Also announced at the event was the winner of this year's Creative Reading Prize. The prize was awarded to Esther, a year nine student from Werribee for her story inspired by Tamora Pierce's Trickster's Choice (Scholastic).

The Inkys are annual awards for teenage literature, presented by Inside a Dog, a website funded by the State Library of Victoria. The awards are voted for by readers of Inside a Dog. In 2010, the Gold Inky was awarded to Lucy Christopher for for Stolen (Chicken House) and Maggie Stiefvater won the Silver Inky (International books) for Shiver (Scholastic).

For more information, visit

News item posted on 26-Oct-2011

Pullman calls library fight "war against stupidity"

Northern Lights author Philip Pullman has told library campaigners they were fighting a "war against stupidity" and criticised Brent council for its "political bullshit" over library closures.

He made the speech as library campaigners from across the country vowed to work together to put pressure on government, at a pioneering day conference held in London on Saturday (22nd October).

Over 75 campaigners, from as far afield as Doncaster, Suffolk, Dorset and Bolton, attended the conference, organised by The Library Campaign with Voices for the Library. The Women's Institute, which has adopted libraries as a current campaign issue, was also among organisations taking part.

Volunteer-run libraries were a key issues of the day, with a show of hands revealing not a single delegate actively in favour of them compared to a local authority run service. Instead campaigners, including Laura Collignon of the Save Kensal Rise Library campaign, talked of it as a "backs against the wall" alternative to outright closures. Applause greeted a speaker from the floor who termed volunteer-run libraries "the slow death of the library service".

Many campaigners spoke of being ignored by their councils, even when offering viable alternative plans to planned cutbacks. As groups looked for ways to unite their efforts, there was support for a Wiki site for shared information and resources, and discussion of potential national actions including a read-in outside the Department for Culture, Media and Sport or a march on Downing Street.

Pullman gave a closing speech which spoke of the fight against library cutbacks as a "war" against the "stupidity" engulfing many aspects of our national and global life.  He reserved particular mockery for a claim made by Brent councillor Ann John in the wake of the recent High Court judgement that Brent's library closures were not unlawful. John had said that the council could now get on with "exciting plans to improve Brent's library service". Pullman called the claim a "masterpiece" which "ought to be quoted in every anthology of political bullshit from here to eternity".

The author also criticised the policy adopted by Brent and other councils of closing small local libraries in favour of larger central ones, saying it meant libraries would be visited less by children because they were further away. He said: "We must make our libraries accessible to children."

He praised campaigners for "the detailed and concentrated thought" they were giving their cause. Calling the public library service "a pearl of great price", Pullman said: "It would be easy to lament, to pour ashes over our head, to wail and cry, but you're not doing that. There's a sense of purpose here."

News item posted on 25-Oct-2011

Judge praises "readability" of Dylan Thomas shortlist

Téa Obreht’s Orange Prize-winning novel The Tiger’s Wife (Orion) is one of three debut novels on the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist, praised by the chair for its "readability".

Orion stablemate My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher is the second debut on the shortlist, alongside Benjamin Hale’s The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore (Atlantic). The list is completed by The Meeting Point by Lucy Caldwell (Faber) and Folk
by Jacob McArthur Mooney (McClelland & Stewart).

Peter Stead, chair, described the shortlist as "[combining] literary merit with readability which should arouse considerable interest amongst readers". He said: "There really is something here to excite and challenge every kind of reader."

The University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize, which is worth £30,000, is awarded to young writers in honour of the legendary Welsh poet, and is open to all published authors aged 18 to 30. The 2011 winner will be announced on 9th November at a ceremony in Thomas’
hometown of Swansea, South Wales.

News item posted on 21-Oct-2011

Julian Barnes wins Booker Prize

English author and bookmakers' favourite Julian Barnes has won the Booker Prize for fiction, despite once dismissing the coveted award as "posh bingo".

The 65-year-old triumphed with The Sense Of An Ending, which at 150 pages was described by one review as a "novella".

It was Barnes' fourth time on the Booker shortlist.

He was previously nominated for Flaubert's Parrot in 1984, England, England in 1998 and Arthur And George in 2005.

Stella Rimington, a former British spy chief who chaired the panel of judges this year, told reporters: "We thought that it was a book which, though short, was incredibly concentrated and crammed into this very short space a great deal of information you don't get out of a first reading.

"It's one of these books, a very readable book, if I may use that word, but readable not only once but twice and even three times."

Ion Trewin, administrator of the prize, said it was not the shortest work to have won the Booker. That honour goes to Penelope Fitzgerald's Offshore which came in at 132 pages in 1979.

Ms Rimington and her judges have come under fire in recent weeks for stressing the importance of "readability" when judging the winner, a term interpreted by some as dumbing down one of English-language fiction's top accolades.

The sniping in the narrow world of British "literati" even led to a rival award being set up to champion what its backers said was a more high-brow approach to writing.

But Ms Rimington has defended her stance, arguing that entertainment and literary criticism are not mutually exclusive.

"We were not talking about only readability as some of you seem to have thought," she said.

"We were talking about readability and quality. You can have more than one adjective when you are talking about books."

The Sense Of an Ending tells the story of Tony, a seemingly ordinary man who discovers that his memories are not as reliable as he thought.

Ms Rimington said the five-strong panel of judges was initially split over Barnes, but ended up in the same place.

"I can tell you there was no blood on the red carpet, nobody went off in a huff and we all ended up firm friends and happy with the result."

But Barnes may have mixed feelings about finally winning the Booker.

The win means a cheque for 50,000 pounds, a flurry of media attention and, perhaps most importantly, a major boost in sales.

But the author has been critical of the award in the past, likening it to "posh bingo" and berating judges for being "inflated by their brief celebrity".

This year Barnes was up against Carol Birch for Jamrach's Menagerie, Canadian authors Patrick deWitt and Esi Edugyan for The Sisters Brothers and Half Blood Blues respectively, and debut British novelists Stephen Kelman (Pigeon English) and AD Miller (Snowdrops).

Writers from the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe are eligible to enter the Booker.

News item posted on 19-Oct-2011

Fisher first Wales' Young People's Laureate

Fantasy children’s author Catherine Fisher will be officially named the first Young People's Laureate for Wales later today (18th October).

The Newport writer will be given the title by Literature Wales, which was established in April this year when the authors' society Academi joined forces with the north Wales writing centre, T? Newydd. The ceremony will take place in Cardiff's Literature Lounge, presented by Welsh singer Charlotte Church.

Fisher, a former primary school teacher and archaeologist, is the author of futuristic novel Incarceron and The Oracle, which blends Egyptian and Greek elements of magic and adventure, and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children's Books prize.

National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy said: "We rejoice at the news that Catherine Fisher has been appointed Wales’, and Britain’s, first Young Person’s Laureate. She is one of the nation’s best writers of stories for young people, and a fine poet. Like all great books for the young, her stories are loved by readers of all ages. We look forward to sharing a common vision—to celebrate books, to spread the word, to get our nation writing and reading."

Literature Wales’ acting c.e.o. Lleucu Siencyn, said: "Encouraging young people to become immersed in literature is something Literature Wales has wanted to promote since its inception. Catherine is an incredibly exciting writer who has captured the imagination of her readers. I know she’s a perfect anchor for this campaign and will achieve great results."

Catherine Fisher will make her first official appearance at the Young People’s Literature Festival at Theatr Soar Merthyr, this Thursday 20th October.

News item posted on 19-Oct-2011

HC to sell Hello Kitty dictionaries

HarperCollins is planning to release a Hello Kitty branded version of its Collins Dictionaries as part of a new deal with the global brand.

Richard Haines, brand manager at HarperCollins Children's Books, signed the deal with Libby Grant, brand director at Fluid World, the UK licensing agent for Sanrio, which owns Hello Kitty. The deal includes digital rights.

HarperCollins publishes a range of Hello Kitty sticker, activity, tween fashion and friendship guides. It is also planning a branded educational range, with the Collins dictionaries part of that.

Haines said: "We have had tremendous success across our publishing ranges for both younger and older Hello Kitty fans and are very pleased to be able to build on this success with some very exciting plans for new formats and digital products that will appeal to the millions of Hello Kitty fans."

News item posted on 19-Oct-2011

New Amazon Kindle launches in Australia this month

Amazon's latest Kindle ebook reader will hit Australia at the end of this month, but it won't be the Kindle Touch or the Kindle Fire tablet – only the entry-level non-touch Kindle wi-fi.

The new fourth-gen Kindle, which will be sold through Dick Smith Electronics for $139 when it launches on October 31, ditches the conventional keyboard of all previous Kindles.

This trims both the size – it's slightly smaller in every dimension – and weight, which comes down by almost a third to a featherweight 170 grams.

Not that anybody ever complained about the wildly successful third-gen Kindle being too large or too heavy, but there are many (this writer among them) who would gladly have foregone that model's keyboard.

DSE will continue to sell the 'Kindle Keyboard' model alongside the new Kindle, at $159 for the wi-fi only edition and $219 for 3G and wi-fi.

The new model sports the same superb 6 inch e-ink display as its predecessor, although it does cut a few corners along with the price tag: battery life on standby is halved to one month, and there's only 2GB of storage instead of 4GB. Neither of which is a deal-breaker, especially when even that 2GB of memory can hold over a thousand books.

As for the Kindle Touch and the Android-powered Kindle Fire tablet: for now, those are available only in the USA and there's no workd on any planned Aussie release.


News item posted on 19-Oct-2011

HarperCollins pre-empts Hobbit anniversary

HarperCollins is starting its celebrations for the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit ahead of time, with the publication of a collection of Tolkien's artwork and a "cute" pocket-sized edition of the novel at the end of this month.

The Hobbit was first published in September 1937, but HarperCollins estates publisher David Brawn said it was beginning its celebrations early to pre-empt the excitement about Peter Jackson's film version, starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, which will be released in December 2012.

HarperCollins estimates around one third of the UK population will see "The Hobbit" film. Brawn said: "Since 'The Lord of the Rings' films, The Hobbit has played second fiddle—now it's going to be the turn of The Hobbit to have that focus on it. We said: ‘Let's jump in there and celebrate Tolkien before everyone starts to celebrate Peter Jackson as director of the film.'"

Tolkien, a very good amateur artist, illustrated The Hobbit as well as producing maps and letter forms for Elvish script, plus pencil sketches and watercolours. Brawn said: "What no-one has done is pull together all the artwork and put it into one book." Now the Tolkien archives, held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, have been digitised, allowing HarperCollins to put all the illustrations in print for the first time, scanned at high resolution and with strong detail. The Art of the Hobbit, a slipcased edition (27th October, £25), edited by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull, will carry 110 pictures by the author.

Braun said experience has showed HarperCollins that many like to read the book itself ahead of seeing the adaptation. With this in mind, the publisher is bringing out The Pocket Hobbit (£9.99), a small format edition featuring the cover illustration painted by Tolkien himself.

Braun said he was wondering what he could do that would be a little bit different: "It looks really cute, and hobbits are little, so it's the sort of mad idea you have as a publisher. I think it's going to run away."

Also being published this month will be a straight B-format reissue of the novel, as the 75th anniversary edition, (£7.99); a revised edition of The History of the Hobbit, by J R R Tolkien and John Rateliff, published in a single volume for the first time (£35); and a 75th anniversary boxed set of the four novels, telling the complete story of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Gollum and the Ring, with a new jacket design.

News item posted on 18-Oct-2011

Liosgate studios occupies worldwide rights to trilogy by Patrick Ness

A leading global entertainment company, announced today that it has obtained worldwide rights to develop, produce and distribute films based on the award-winning, best-selling and critically acclaimed “Chaos Walking” young adult novel trilogy by Patrick Ness.  The announcement was made by Lionsgate’s co-COO and Motion Picture Group President Joe Drake.  Doug Davison (THE DEPARTED, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, THE GRUDGE) will be producing through his Quadrant Pictures.

The Carnegie Medal winning books are set in a dystopian future with humans colonizing a distant earth-like planet. When an infection called the Noise suddenly makes all thought audible, privacy vanishes in an instant. In the ensuing chaos, a corrupt autocrat threatens to take control of the human settlements and wage war with the indigenous alien race, and only young Todd Hewitt holds the key to stopping planet wide-destruction.

"Although these stories are set in a critical time in the future, they speak volumes about what is happening all over the world today, and about the power of young people to challenge the status quo and change the course of our future," said Alli Shearmur, Lionsgate’s President of Motion Picture Production and Development, who will be overseeing the production for the studio, with Senior Vice President of Motion Picture Production Jim Miller.  “We feel privileged to be bringing these powerful and exquisite books to cinematic life."

Critics have hailed the trilogy, which is published by Candlewick Press in the US and Walker Books in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, as “one of the outstanding literary achievements of the present century,” (The Irish Times), and described it as “furiously paced, terrifying, exhilarating and heartbreaking,” (The Sunday Telegraph.).  The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan recognizes the series’ gripping quality and broad appeal, saying "I would press the Chaos Walking trilogy urgently on anyone, anyone at all.”


But The Wall Street Journal makes the most apt reference given that the series has found a home at Lionsgate, noting that “With its dark tone, violence, and readerly fanaticism, the book belongs firmly beside Suzanne Collins’s work.” Lionsgate is also the studio behind THE HUNGER GAMES, based on Collins’s worldwide bestselling trilogy of the same name.


“A sense of urgency and momentum permeates these stories- it makes the books ones you can’t put down, and will make the movies ones you can’t miss on the big screen,” said Drake of his decision to acquire the adaptation rights.  “But apart from the story elements, the world in the stories is so vividly imagined.  These are books, much like ‘The Hunger Games,’ that we feel truly beg to be brought to life on film.”


The rights deal was negotiated for the studio by Rob McEntegart, the Motion Picture Group’s Senior Executive Vice President, and for the author by his agent Michelle Kass of Michelle Kass Associates in London and attorney Howard Abramson of Behr Abramson in LA.   Robert Melnik, Executive Vice President of Business Affairs for Lionsgate, negotiated Davison's producer deal with attorney Rick Genow. 



The “Chaos Walking” trilogy has sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide and won numerous medals and honors in the US and the UK, where Ness - an American citizen - lives.  They've won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the James Tiptree Junior Award, the Costa Children's Book Prize, been named on and Publisher's Weekly's lists of the Best Books of the Year, and all three titles have been shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, with "Monsters of Men," the final volume, winning in June 2011.  The Carnegie Medal is a particular distinction with past winners including “Watership Down,” by Richard Adams, “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman, and “The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Last Battle,” by C.S. Lewis.  “Chaos Walking” marks the first time in history that every entry in a trilogy has either won or been shortlisted for the prestigious honor. 

News item posted on 18-Oct-2011

Hollinghurst makes Galaxy Book Awards shortlist

Alan Hollinghurst, whose novel The Stranger's Child was a surprise omission from the Man Booker shortlist this year, has been shortlisted for an award at the Galaxy National Book Awards 2011, with works by Ian Rankin and Keith Richards also in the running within the 11 categories.

Hollinghurst is up against Man Booker-shortlisted Julian Barnes and Carol Birch, as well as poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Anthony Horowitz, and Andrea Levy in the Waterstone's UK Author of the Year category.

The New Writer of the Year could be won by Stephen Kelman with Pigeon English (Bloomsbury) or Snowdrops by A D Miller (Atlantic Books), both on the Man Booker shortlist this year, with Sarah Winman's When God was a Rabbit (Headline Review), Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz), Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson (Sceptre) and S J Watson's Before I Go to Sleep (Doubleday) also in the running.

The Thriller and Crime Novel of the Year in association with iBookstore category also sees newcomer S J Watson pitted against such heavyweights as Robert Harris, C J Sansom, Martina Cole, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, while this year's Orange Prize winner Tea Obreht and Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan get nods in the international author of the year category. The Biography/Autobiography prize shortlist features Rolling Stone Keith Richards for his memoir Life (Phoenix) as well as Claire Tomalin's Charles Dickens (Viking) and Jackie Kay's Red Dust Road (Picador) among others.

The winners will be revealed on 4th November at a ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in west London, which will be hosted by comedian Dara O'Briain. The event will be staged and filmed by Cactus TV, with a series of six programmes about the awards to be screened between 13th November and 17th December on More4.

Cactus TV m.d. Amanda Ross said: "It will be far more interesting for the viewers to experience the event in bite-size chunks spread across six shows, as we will be able to properly focus on the category winners."

The shortlists in full:

Waterstone's UK Author of the Year 
A Sense Of An Ending Julian Barnes (Jonathan Cape)
Jamrach's Menagerie Carol Birch (Canongate Books)
The Bees Carol Ann Duffy (Picador)
The House of Silk Anthony Horowitz (Orion)
The Long Song Andrea Levy (Headline Review)
The Stranger’s Child Alan Hollinghurst (Picador)

Popular Fiction Book of the Year  
A Tiny Bit Marvellous Dawn French (Michael Joseph)
Daughters-in-Law Joanna Trollope (Doubleday)
Gillespie and I Jane Harris (Faber and Faber)
My Last Duchess Daisy Goodwin (Headline Review)
Snuff Terry Pratchett (Doubleday)
The Radleys Matt Haig (Canongate Books)
WHSmith Paperback of the Year  
Room Emma Donoghue (Picador)
The Brightest Star in the Sky Marian Keyes (Penguin)
The Postmistress Sarah Blake (Penguin)
The Red Queen Philippa Gregory (Simon & Schuster)
When God was a Rabbit Sarah Winman (Headline Review)
You’re Next Gregg Hurwitz (Sphere)
Thriller & Crime Novel of the Year in association with iBookstore  
Before I Go To Sleep S.J. Watson (Doubleday)
The Fear Index  Robert Harris (Hutchinson)
Heartstone C J Sansom  (Pan)
The Family Martina Cole (Headline)
The Impossible Dead Ian Rankin (Orion)
Trick Of The Dark Val McDermid (Sphere)

Popular Non-Fiction Book of the Year  
A History of the World in 100 Objects Neil Macgregor (Allen Lane)
How To Be a Woman Caitlin Moran (Ebury Press)
Madeleine Kate McCann (Bantam Press)
Map of a Nation Rachel Hewitt (Granta Books)
The Good The Bad and The Multiplex Mark Kermode (Random House Books)
Wonders of the Universe Brian Cox (Collins)
New Writer of the Year  
Before I Go To Sleep S J Watson (Doubleday)
Grace Williams Says it Loud Emma Henderson (Sceptre)
Pigeon English Stephen Kelman (Bloomsbury)
Rivers of London Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz)
Snowdrops A D Miller (Atlantic Books)
When God was a Rabbit Sarah Winman (Headline Review)
Food & Drink Book of the Year  
Home Cooking Made Easy Lorraine Pascale (HarperCollins)
Jamie's Great Britain Jamie Oliver (Michael Joseph)
Made in Sicily Giorgio Locatelli (Fourth Estate)
Rick Stein’s Spain Rick Stein (BBC Books)
The Good Cook Simon Hopkinson (BBC Books)
The Vintage Tea Party Angel Adoree (Mitchell Beazley)
Biography/Autobiography of the Year
Charles Dickens Claire Tomalin (Viking)
Genius in My Basement Alexander Masters (Fourth Estate)
Hitch 22 Christopher Hitchens (Atlantic Books)
Life Keith Richards (Phoenix)
Mud Sweat and Tears Bear Grylls (Bantam Press)
Red Dust Road Jackie Kay  (Picador)
International Author of the Year
A Visit From the Goon Squad Jennifer Egan (Corsair)
IQ84 Haruki Murakami (Harvill Secker)
Night Circus Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker)
On Canaan’s Side Sebastian Barry (Faber and Faber)
The Leopard Jo Nesbo  (Vintage)
The Tiger’s Wife Tea Obreht (Phoenix)
Children's Book of the Year 
A Monster Calls Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
Dead Man’s Cove Lauren St John (Orion)
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece Annabel Pitcher (Indigo)
One Dog and His Boy  Eva Ibbotson  (Marion Lloyd Books)
Stuck Oliver Jeffers (Harper Collins Children’s Books)
The Highway Rat Julia Donaldson illus. Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books) Audiobook of the Year  
Any Human Heart William Boyd, narrator Mike Grady (Whole Story Audiobooks)
Before I Go To Sleep S J Watson, narrator Susannah Harker (Random House AudioGo)
My Dear I Wanted to Tell You Louisa Young, narrator Dan Stevens (HarperAudio)
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece Annabel Pitcher, narrator David Tennant (Orion Audio)
Snowdrops A.D. Miller, narrator Kevin Howarth (Whole Story Audiobooks)
The Player Of Games Iain M Banks, narrator Peter Kenny (Hachette Digital)

News item posted on 18-Oct-2011

Rare pieces worth pretty penny

Auctioneer Grant Gardner was rummaging through a nice, middle-class home in London in May when he stumbled upon a book.

"It was in a second-floor clothes closet, up on a shelf behind clothes in a pile of books," he recalled. "None of the other ones were tremendously exciting. This one caught my eye as being different."

The album of 12 engravings and historical accounts of life in New South Wales, Australia, published in 1821, was interesting enough, and probably worth, Gardner figured, a few thousand dollars.

Then Gardner took a closer look and discovered 10 original oil paintings pasted on the back pages and several oil illustrations on the front pages. The president of Gardner galleries spent several weeks doing more research.

It's a good thing he did. Turns out the rare paintings are a historical treasure for Australia, settle a 200-year-old debate and flesh out a murder story.

Gardner Galleries sold the book and the paintings pasted inside to the New South Wales State Library of Sydney, Australia, for almost $2 million Sunday.

"This remarkable album is a prime document about the settlement of Australia and is without a doubt the most significant pictorial artifact to have been made in colonial New South Wales during the 1810s," Richard Neville of the state library says in a written statement.

"We're absolutely thrilled to be bringing it home to Australia where it belongs."

Published in 1821, the album contains engravings by Capt. James Wallis, an English military officer and amateur painter. Born about 1785, Wallis took command of the penal colony in Newcastle, Australia, from 1816 to 1818. Besides overseeing the colony, he also painted and his book purported to contain 12 engravings of his original work.

For decades, scholars have debated if all the work was his. Some suspected he took the work of at least one convict, Joseph Lycett, and sold it as his own.

The book Gardner found contained not only the engravings Wallis said were all his, but 10 original oil paintings used for the engravings. Five have the words "Drawn by a Convict" written on them and at least one other appears by the same painter.

"This book . . . proves Wallis took advantage of prisoners under his power, stole art from them and passed it off as his own. This was something they (historians) suspected but until this book appeared here in Canada, they had no proof."

Wallis left a more positive legacy in the book as well. His own paintings are considered valuable historical records and are rare, with only a few in existence.

Wallis also named the aborigines in his paintings, a rare occurrence in the 1800s. Among them is a tribal chief Burigon, also known as Long Jack, murdered in 1820. Little is known about him, but some accounts - without giving names - say his killer was the first person tried and convicted under British law in the colony for killing an aborigine. Under a painting of Burigon's brother, Dick, Wallis wrote, "Dick killed Burigon one day with one blow."

Gardner said one Australian historian who travelled to the auction Sunday said of the album, "This is the missing link of Australia history."

Gardner happily admits he wasn't sure how much the book and paintings were worth. His job is to get the most he can for an estate or family selling off its collectibles.

"I do enjoy history. I've had a lot of fun spending time with this book but selling it was a lot more fun. I am so glad it is going back to Australia because that's where it should be."

Several advisers suggested he take out the original oils and sell them separately, but Gardner declined. The book was created as a whole, and needed to head to Australia in one piece, he said.

"Each little piece, each one is important. You put it together in this book (and) it just compounds the interest greatly."

Respecting the family's privacy, Gardner won't say who owned the book, but described them as a nice couple who died without children. The executor of their estate hired Gardner to sell the couple's goods.

No one knows how the book, published in London, England, ended up in London Ont. Wallis gave the copy of the book to his wife in 1857, a year before he died. She in turn gave it to a nephew in 1866.

"From then it was lost," Gardner said, "until now."

News item posted on 18-Oct-2011

WHS partners with Kobo to launch e-reader

W H Smith has partnered with Kobo to launch the first wifi touch-screen e-reader in the UK later this month.

The chain bookseller announced the partnership today (13th October) at the same time as its financial results for the year ending 31st August 2011, in which the company revealed it has increased group profit-before-tax by 4% from £89m in 2010 to £93m. It is Kobo's second European deal this week: on Tuesday it announced similar partnership with the French retailer Fnac.

WHS said: “We have continued to develop our presence in the growing e-books market and have today announced a new partnership with Kobo, building on the success of our e-books development to date. From the middle of October, we will launch a range of WiFi e-reading devices, including the first WiFi touch screen e-reader widely available in the UK. All of the devices will have access to over 2.2 million titles."

On the bookseller’s website, it says: “Search and browse e-Books at When you have found your eBook click Buy and we'll pass you to Kobo's website to complete your purchase."

Despite increasing overall group profit, overall group sales for the year slumped to £1,273m, a decrease of 5% like-for-like. High street sales were down 5% at £818m and down 6% on a like-for-like basis. Sales in the company’s travel sector grew by 1% to £455m, but were down 3% on a like-for-like basis. However, operating profit in the travel sector increased by 8% to £57m—hailed as a “record profit performance" for the company. The high street sector increased operating profit to £52m, up 2% on the prior year.

In terms of the high street, WHS said: “We continue with our strategy to rebalance the mix of the business towards our core categories whilst reducing our presence in entertainment."

Book sales for WHS were down 4% but gross margin was up year on year. The retailer said that while the books market remained “soft" non-fiction sales improved on last year.

WHS said: “We saw encouraging share performance versus the general retail market as we continue to implement our strategy to build our authority as a popular book specialist, providing our customers with choice, great value and promotions like the successful Richard and Judy Book Club."

The company also revealed it had plans to open 35 more travel units in the UK in 2011/2012 on top of the existing 35 and plans 25 more international shops.

Kate Swann, group chief executive for WHS, said: "We have delivered a good performance across the group, despite a challenging trading environment, with further profit growth from high street and record profit in travel. We have seen another year of strong cash generation from both businesses and this is reflected in a 16% increase in the full year dividend and a further return of cash to shareholders.

“The economic conditions remain challenging, however we have planned accordingly. We are a resilient business with a strong and consistent record of both profit growth and cash generation and have opportunities for growth in both the UK and internationally."

News item posted on 14-Oct-2011

Trewin slams "tosh" from Literature Prize

Ion Trewin, administrator of the Man Booker Prize, has hit back at the new Literature Prize over claims by its advisory board that the Man Booker no longer offers a selection of novels "unsurpassed in their quality and ambition".

In its launch announcement, the board claimed: "For many years this brief was fulfilled by the Booker (latterly the Man Booker) Prize. But as numerous statements by that prize's administrator and this year's judges illustrate, it now prioritises a notion of 'readability' over artistic achievement."

Trewin said the idea that he or the prize preferred readability over artistic achievement was "tosh", adding: "I think I have gone on record in the past as saying that I believe in literary excellence and readability—the two should go hand in hand."

Trewin said he went along with a statement made by Booker Prize Foundation chairman Jonathan Taylor in response to the development: "Since 1969 the prize has encouraged the reading of literary fiction of the highest quality and that continues to be its objective today. We welcome any credible prize which also supports the reading of quality fiction."

The new prize has become a talking point at Frankfurt. Faber publishing director Lee Brackstone welcomed the new prize from the Fair halls. He said: "The Booker shouldn't feel threatened by another prize that rewards a literary novel. It does dominate but it would be stupid to say there hasn't been a lot of talk among publishers about the selection and that they haven't been feeling disaffected. There should be something that rewards literary merit and the Booker has slipped."

But one publishing m.d., whose novels have been shortlisted for the Booker, said that it was unfair to attack it. "The Booker judges pick the books they generally love and it's a reflection of their own tastes. I don't think they are being wilful and choosing to pick books that will piss off the literary establishment," he said.

News item posted on 14-Oct-2011

American Booksellers Association plans own e-book reader

The American Booksellers Association is exploring the possibility of bringing its own e-book reader to market in the United States, with the device as important as the content, the organisation's c.e.o. said.

Oren Teicher said the organisation was in talks with a number of companies about the move. If it goes ahead, it will become the first bookselling trade organisation to launch its own device, going head to head with Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iPad and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Teicher was coy about a timetable for the device's release or at what stage the discussions were. "We understand that for the customer, the device is as much a part of the equation as the content," he said. "Over time, stores in the e-book business will probably have to do more than sell the content. They will have to sell the device as well."

He said bookshops were perfectly placed to sell e-book readers, citing Barnes & Noble's success with the Nook. It earned $277m across e-books, devices and accessories in the 12 weeks to the end of July, up 140% on 2010. He said: "B&N's success is a testament to how readers behave at different times. We have seen during the past year that they still want to read physical books as well as digital."

The ABA has been in partnership with Google since it launched its e-books service in December. In the US, 325 independents across 400 stores use the ABA's e-commerce platform to sell Google e-books. From a low starting point, Teicher said indies have seen significant growth in e-book sales during the last 10 months.

Google launched its e-books platform in the UK last Thursday. The digital company is expected to turn its attention to bringing it to Australia and Canada next, with European countries to follow in 2012.

Teicher said the relationship with Google has been a learning process. He said one criticism of the service is the company is not as nimble in making new books content available for sale. He added: "Ensuring content is available simultaneously everywhere is something we have been trying to work with them on."

News item posted on 13-Oct-2011

De Waal and Colfer win Indy prize

Edmund de Waal's Costa-winning memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes (Vintage) has won the adult category of this year's Independent Booksellers' Book Prize 2011, beating competiton from authors including David Mitchell and Helen Dunmore.

Puffin author Eoin Colfer won the children's category for the second time for Artemis Fowl and the Atlantic Complex, having won for Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox in 2009.

Meryl Halls, Booksellers Association head of membership services, said: "We offer our congratulations to Edmund de Waal and Eoin Colfer, who both enjoy huge support from independents."

De Waal said: "I owe a huge debt to the real, passionate, independent, local, engaged bookshops for stacking my book next to their tills, talking about it, and pressing it into customers' hands. It is these booksellers who have made my ‘niche' book fly."

While Colfer continued: "It means a huge amount to me to receive an award from independent booksellers, as these are the people who really foster a love of reading in our young people."

The Independent Booksellers' Book Prize is chosen by indie bookselles and their customers. The winning authors each receive National Book Tokens and a framed certificate

News item posted on 12-Oct-2011

Little, Brown brings forward Jobs biography

Little, Brown is bringing forward publication of Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson, publishing now on 24th October.

The authorised biography was written by Isaacson based on conversations with Apple-founder Jobs, who died on 5th October, and on interviews with members of his family, key colleagues at Apple and competitors. It was originally scheduled for publication on 21st November.

Little, Brown c.e.o. Ursula Mackenzie said: "This extraordinary book gives us a unique insight into the life and thinking of the man who single-handedly transformed the world in ways the rest of us could not have imagined. It is an honour to publish Walter Isaacson's biography which is based on personal conversations with Steve Jobs and written with his full co-operation."

It is understood the book will not be updated to include details of Jobs' death, but finishes at the point of him stepping down as c.e.o. of Apple in August. Mackenzie said Isaacson has written a piece for the next issue of Time magazine about seeing Jobs for the last time. She said: "The book is complete. The book is what it is supposed to be."

News item posted on 10-Oct-2011

Amazon launches French Kindle store

Amazon has opened its French Kindle Store today, containing titles in French, English and other languages.

The internet bookseller is launching the French Kindle on 14th October, with the latest generation device selling for €99 (£85). The new French Kindle store will offer 35,000 French titles including 28 L’Express bestsellers, 4,000 free classics and hundreds of popular graphic novels. The store will also hold 825,000 titles in English and other languages. also announced publishers and authors could make their books available to customers on the French Kindle Store by using Kindle Direct Publishing.

Greg Greeley, vice president of Amazon European Retail, said: “French customers are passionate about books and reading, and just as we've seen in the US, UK and Germany, we believe they will love reading on Kindle. We are excited to bring our first French-language Kindle and our new Kindle store to millions of customers."

Customers will also be able to buy French newspapers and magazines such as Le Monde, Les Echos, Le Figaro, Libération and Aujourd'hui en France/Le Parisien available for single purchase or subscription from the French Kindle store.

News item posted on 10-Oct-2011

L,B seduced by Duran Duran's John Taylor memoir

Little, Brown and Sphere has bought the autobiography of Duran Duran bassist and founding member John Taylor.

Little, Brown editor in chief Antonia Hodgson bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, at auction from Jonathan Conway at Mulcahy Conway Associates. Taylor will co-write the book with journalist and author Tom Sykes and the memoir will be published in hardback in autumn 2012, alongside Penguin US.

Hodgson said: "We're so excited about this project. John Taylor is a warm, witty and engaging writer with an incredible story to tell. His book will be an honest and frank account of his life—good times and bad. It will also capture all the joy and glamour and craziness of being in Duran Duran—surely one of the greatest and best-loved bands of all time."

Taylor said: "This book recounts the million tiny seductions that are required to make the journey from English suburbia to selling out Madison Square Garden - seductions that go by a hundred different names; family, friendship, romances, collaborations and strategic alliances.

"Here is my journey and where it took me; into fantastic success, more than a little decadence, darkness, and finally, I like to think, a little enlightenment."

News item posted on 05-Oct-2011

Wikileaks reveals conversations over Assange memoir

Julian Assange's literary agent and PFD m.d. Caroline Michel accused publisher Canongate of going "to war" with her client and "feeding the media myth" over how the Independent reported the publication of Assange's controversial memoir. The email, sent to Canongate founder Jamie Byng, has been revealed on the Wikileaks website after it published transcribed phone conversations and emails leading up to the publication of Julian Assange, The Unauthorised Autobiography last week.

The transcripts reveal Assange would have received an advance of at least £650,000 had he proceeded with publication of his authorised biography. A lawyer's letter dated 12th September 2011 said he sought £225,000 on delivery of the completed manuscript and £175,000 on publication, in addition to the signature advance, thought to be at least £250,000, already paid by Canongate and his US publisher Knopf.

Michel fired off the email to Byng and Canongate publishing director Nick Davies on the eve of publication of the controversial memoir after reading an Independent news story. She wrote: "Your actions today releasing the manuscript to the Independent with a story which is factually untrue are designed to create the maximum confrontation. It surely has to be counter productive to go to war with Julian in this way." In a return email, Davies conceded there "were a number of factual inaccuracies in the piece", but said that it did not have "copy-approval on the Independent’s news story".

The release of the transcripts on the Wikileaks website show the attempts made by Byng to have Assange's input into a book, even if it turned out not to be his autobiography. According to the transcript, Byng told Assange by telephone on 16th June: "My absolute number one desire is to publish a great book that you are happy with. It is going to be different to the one we contracted for the reasons we discussed." Stressing that it needed to be a book that would be of interest to overseas publishers, Byng added: "That’s the book I think we can get most publishers around the world to also publish and keep this coalition together."

In the same conversation Byng told Assange he did not expect to get the advance back, and that Canongate would have to cancel its rights sales: "I am going to have to accept we’re not going to see any money back. But I am still going to have to cancel the contract with the publishers abroad as I am misleading them and I won’t do that."

During that phone call Assange appeared to agree to work on a new book, and stressed he did not want an unauthorised version published. He said: "I’m extremely sympathetic to all that and will do whatever is in my power in the coming year to make good on our deal but I can’t have subterfuge or publishing unauthorised manuscripts under any circumstances at all."

In a later email exchange between Assange and Michel, dated 24th August, Michel reminded Assange that he was to "look at a timetable to deliver the book" with the aim of Spring 2012 publication. She added: "I cannot see a downside in delivering a book with your message and your story." However, she warned him the publishers would "need considerable assurances that the book will be delivered to them to publish". In a paragraph marked "other books" Michel also suggests future projects, including "Wikileaks cook books".

In a separate statement released by Canongate today (29th September), the publisher reiterated its view that it had given Assange ample opportunity to work on a book. The publisher said: "We last talked to Julian on 16th June. During that conversation, we restated that we wished to work with Julian on the book and would be flexible about its format and publication date. Over two months later, on 24th August, Julian’s agent asked for another meeting. Our response was to ask for something in writing. We were absolutely explicit about the need to see a proposal in writing from Julian if we were going to believe that he was really ready to reengage with the book. We had already waited almost five months for any written response to the first draft delivered at the end of March. We received nothing.

"We wrote to Julian again on 7th September, via his agent, informing him that we intended to publish his autobiography, based on the first draft delivered to us on 31 March 2011. In that letter, we told Julian we planned to send the book to press on 19 September. His response, twelve days after we sent the letter, was to say that he intended to injunct. He didn’t."

In the first three days of publication, Nielsen BookScan figures showed that the book had sold 644 copies. But Davies told Reuters that Canongate hoped sales would pick up steam, and said some of his firm's erstwhile foreign-language partners had expressed interest in the new book. But he added: "The only person who has made any money out of this is Julian. He's got our advance money."

News item posted on 04-Oct-2011

Pottermore e-book launch pushed back to 2012

Harry Potter fans will have to wait until the first half of 2012 for the series' e-books as the opening of the Pottermore shop postponed from its planned October launch.

In a posting on the site's blog, it said: "As our first priority is to get as many people onto the site as possible, we have decided to open the shop in the first half of 2012. We will keep you updated with news about the Pottermore Shop here on the blog over the next few months".

It also said it was extending the period of beta testing for the website, due to the "phenomenal" level of site interaction. It said: "As a result, we've decided to extend the beta period beyond September and take a different approach to the way new users are brought onto the site", with registration to be open from the end of October. "

At the launch of Pottermore, the interactive site with additional content from the Potter series and storylines for users to follow and take part in, Rowling and her team announced the shop exclusively selling the Potter e-books, as well as audio versions, would open in early October.

News item posted on 04-Oct-2011

Google e-books UK launch "imminent"

Google is preparing an “imminent” UK launch of its e-books platform for selling digital titles, with members of Gardners Hive network able to sell the e-books from their websites.

The digital company held a closed meeting with more than 100 independents at the Booksellers Association’s Independent Booksellers Forum at the University of Warwick in Coventry on Sunday (25th September), which outlined how the system could work. Sources told The Bookseller the service would be launched within the next four weeks, with an announcement date at the Frankfurt book fair mooted.

Google refused to comment on any launch plans, but the service will allow independents to have access to selling e-books. An independent can add a Google e-bookstore to its website, or act as an affiliate, which means it would receive a commission for sending a customer to Google’s e-bookstore from their own website.

A third option was discussed by Gardners commercial director Bob Jackson at the conference on Monday. He said independents that have signed up to its Hive website will be able to sell Google e-books from their own page on It means an independent will have access to Google’s catalogue of e-books, as well as the 180,000 e-books Gardners stocks.

Speaking to The Bookseller, Jackson said: “E-books are just another format and booksellers are perfectly adept at selling books across diffferent formats. I want them to take the opportunity to sell in as many formats as possible.

“If booksellers don’t engage in e-books and they are unable to sell them, then those sales are going to go elsewhere. They should address and embrace e-books as a new format and do what they need to [in order] to promote them to their customers as well as the other book formats.”

Booksellers who attended the Google meeting described their reaction as mixed. One said the lack of discussion about what commission an independent would receive for selling Google e-books as “the elephant in the room”.

Sheila O’Reilly, owner of Dulwich Books in London, said: “I’m reasonably optimistic. Google has a huge resource of e-books and I think it’s going to give a decent chance for independents to sell e-books.”

She said one problem was Google e-books’ incompatibility with Amazon’s Kindle devices. “It’s the e-reader as far as the public is concerned, and that’s going to be quite a tall mountain to climb for Google to beat them.”

Another issue was the inability to have a Google e-bookstore up and running when Google makes the announcement. O’Reilly said: “It would be good to be ready to capitalise on the wave of publicity that Google is bound to get.”

However, Andrew Cant, co-owner of Simply Books in Cheshire, who also attended the meeting, was more sceptical. He said: “I don’t know why it is bothering. I’m not sure I understand why the customer does not go straight to Google rather than through an independent.”

Google launched e-books in the United States in December 2010. Any e-books purchased are stored in an online library. Readers can access their books across laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones and e-readers. Google Books launched in 2004, digitising more than 15 million books from more than 35,000 different publishers.

News item posted on 04-Oct-2011