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March 2011

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Shaun Tan wins Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

Australian Shaun Tan has won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in Sweden. Lindgren is responsible for many literary favourites including Pippi Longstocking.

The Swedish government created the prize in 2002 to award writers, illustrators of literature for children and young people and those who promote reading through work that reflects the spirit of the Swedish author Lindgren who died 2002 at age 94.

Worth 5 million kronor (785,000 dollars), the award is considered one of the largest literary awards for children and young people.

Shaun Tan was cited as a "masterly visual storyteller, pointing the way ahead to new possibilities for picture books," the jury said.


In addition to illustrating or writing some 20 books, Tan has also collaborated on animated film, and won an Oscar for The Lost Thing, a short animated film adapted from the book of the same title.


"He breaks down the boundaries of story telling, beyond conventions and literary hierarchies," jury member Maria Lassen-Seger said in her presentation to Tan.


The announcement was made in the town Vimmerby in southern Sweden, where Lindgren spent her childhood.

News item posted on 30-Mar-2011

Catherine Cookson estate goes direct in e-book deal

Catherine Cookson's estate has signed a deal to release 100 of her novels as e-books directly through Amazon, cutting out her publishers Transworld and Simon & Schuster (in the US). The e-books went on sale on late last week priced at £3.99. The model is similar to that of the Ian Fleming estate, which cut out Penguin in order to release the James Bond books digitally—though in that case it did not make an exclusive arrangement with Amazon.

The Daily Mail reports the trust's literary agent Sonia Land will sell the e-books via her company Peach Publishing. The trust's literary agent, Sonia Land, has not informed Cookson's print publishers, Transworld Publishers and Simon & Schuster, about the release for fear of opposition. Though it is not clear if Transworld had ever sought the digital rights.

She told the newspaper: "I haven't told either firm about the deal and I am sure they are going to kick up a fuss about it. But at the end of the day, what can they say? They do not own the electronic publishing rights to the works. In recent years, they have shown little interest in marketing or exploiting the Cookson brand. It is a wake-up call for the industry."

In a press statement sent out by Amazon, Land added: "For a long time, Dame Catherine Cookson was the UK's most celebrated and successful novelist. Now, for the first time since her death in 1998, the vast majority of her titles will be available throughout the world."

Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content, said: "Dame Catherine Cookson is one of the most popular British writers, and no doubt many American readers of mysteries or romantic thrillers are also familiar with her name."

A Transworld spokesman declined to comment on the deal, but added:  “We firmly believe that it is in the best interests of the book industry as a whole to keep physical and ebook rights together.”

Catherine Cookson is one of the most widely read authors in the United Kingdom with more than 14 million library lends during the past decade.

News item posted on 29-Mar-2011

Children's fantasy writer, Diana Wynne Jones dies

Like many good writers, Diana Wynne Jones, who has died aged 76 of cancer, worked for long years in relative obscurity, in her case sustained as a children's fantasy author by a modestly sized but devoted young readership. That obscurity provided the freedom to develop her own voice without the distractions of having to build on perceived success. By the time real success found her, in Jones's case almost by chance, she was a mature writer with a solid and varied body of work that was ready to be appreciated by a much bigger new audience.

Her intelligent and beautifully written fantasies are of seminal importance for their bridging of the gap between "traditional" children's fantasy, as written by CS Lewis or E Nesbit, and the more politically and socially aware children's literature of the modern period, where authors such as Jacqueline Wilson or Melvyn Burgess explicitly confront problems of divorce, drugs and delinquency.

Jones's fiction is relevant, subversive, witty and highly enjoyable, while also having a distinctly dark streak and a constant awareness of how unreliable the real world can seem. Disguises and deceptions abound. Though avoiding criminally dysfunctional families or unwanted pregnancies, her cleverly plotted and amusing adventures deal frankly with emotional clumsiness, parental neglect, jealousy between siblings and a general sense of being an outcast. Rather than a deliberately cruel stepmother, a Jones protagonist might have a real mother far more wrapped up in her own career than in the discoveries and feelings of her child. The child protagonist would realise this, but get on with the adventure anyway.

Jones wrote from experience: her parents were neglectful of her needs, and those of her two younger sisters. The sisters often went hungry, and for years were banished to sleep in an unheated lean-to shed, to make room in case of visitors. Both parents were intellectuals and progressive educators, but were stingy not only with money but also with warmth and attention. The skinflint father bought the children a complete set of Arthur Ransome books as Christmas presents, but doled them out at a rate of one a year. In self-defence Jones began to write stories for her sisters and herself. When the second world war broke out Jones and her family were evacuated to the Lake District, eventually living in the house once inhabited by the Altounyan children, on whom Ransome had based his Swallows and Amazons series. The great children's author was still around, one day complaining angrily that the children were making too much noise. On another occasion, Diana's younger sister and a friend had their faces slapped by a second Lakeland author who hated children but who was rich and famous because of them: Beatrix Potter. Jones's distinctive scepticism about conventional children's fiction must have started to set in early.

Later, when she went to St Anne's college, Oxford, two of her lecturers were JRR Tolkein  and CS Lewis. Both were then engaged on their famous works of fantasy, but at that time fantasy was distinctly de trop at Oxford. The two professors were tolerated because they were also excellent scholars. Lewis boomed excitingly to crowded halls, while Tolkien muttered inaudibly to Jones and three other students.

Years later, just as she was starting to write and publish professionally, and was taking bed-rest because of pregnancy, Jones read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings for the first time. This made her realise that a fantasy novel could be not only long, but seriously intended too.

As she became more certain of her own writing, she also grew more sceptical of the conventional tropes of fantasy, including those of Tolkien. This questioning became overt with the publication of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (1996). Presenting her book as a tourist guide to a foreign land, Jones, with affectionate but deadly effect, spoofed or parodied the numerous cliches that riddle those hordes of three-volume sagas about elves and quests.

Jones, of course, knew that her novels too were not immune from lampoon, but this book declared her self-awareness, the likeable distance so relished by her audience. Her growing band of readers also knew that Jones's own novels easily transcended the routine stuff of rings and magic and ancient runes.

The first of the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling appeared in 1997, and by the turn of the century had become a sensational success. Other publishers were looking around for books they could market to the same vast audience, and were quick to realise that Jones had been fruitfully engaged in fantasy for nearly 30 years.

Superficial similarities may be a double-edged sword; one of her series of books features a wizards' university. Among her most popular creations is the Chrestomanci series (novels and short stories – the first appeared in 1977), in which a nine-lived enchanter operates across multiple realities as a civil servant in charge of preventing the abuse of magic; the series includes an idiosyncratic school story, Witch Week (1982). Of the apparent coincidences, Jones said generously to this newspaper in 2003: "I think that she [Rowling] read my books as a young person and remembered lots of stuff; there are so many striking similarities."

Her career began as a playwright, with three plays produced in London between 1967 and 1970; her first novel, Changeover (1970), was adult humour; since then her work has been written for younger readers. Besides the two series already mentioned, she wrote the Howl books, beginning with Howl's Moving Castle (1986; filmed in 2004 by Hayao Miyazaki), and two sequels, and the Dalemark sequence (1975-2003), dark-tinged fantasies set in that eponymous country.

Some of her best and most enjoyable books are stand-alones, in particular The Ogre Downstairs (1974), The Time of the Ghost (1981) and Fire and Hemlock (1985), each a remarkable blend of pathos and genuinely funny writing. Archer's Goon (1984), extravagantly mixing fantasy with science fiction, was serialised for television by the BBC in 1992. Her most recent novel, the light-hearted Enchanted Glass, appeared last year.

Jones won innumerable awards for her writing, including three Carnegie commendations, the Guardian award and a lifetime achievement World Fantasy award. In 2006 she was made an Honorary DLitt by the University of Bristol. She was amused by the considerable academic attention her work attracted; reading in one paper that her work was "rooted in fluidity", she remarked: "Obviously hydroponic, probably a lettuce, possibly a cabbage."

Jones was born in London of Welsh parents; she met her husband-to-be, the Chaucerian scholar John A Burrow, just before she went up to Oxford; they married in 1956 and had three sons, Richard, Michael and Colin, all of whom survive her, as do five grandchildren.

Diana Wynne Jones, writer, born 16 August 1934; died 26 March 2011

News item posted on 29-Mar-2011

Dictator dentistry wins odd title prize

A book advising dentists to manage their practices according to the leadership techniques of a legendary Mongolian warlord has been voted the winner of the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.

Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way by Michael R Young (Radcliffe Publishing) was crowned the winner with the majority share of an online vote at It joins an illustrious list of former winners including Living with Crazy Buttocks, Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, How to Avoid Huge Ships, and Highlights in the History of Concrete.

Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way is the go-to guide of how to build an empire within your place of dentistry. Young, a former dentist and teacher of clinical dentistry, argues that despite the West viewing the legendary despot Khan in negative terms, his warmongering tenacity is required to build a successful business.

The book covers a wide number of subject areas, including: "Team building”, "Managing conflict situations” and "Planning for disaster”.

Horace Bent, The Bookseller's diarist and custodian of the Diagram Prize said: "In the end, it wasn't even close. Much like the tyrant himself, Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way ruthlessly slaughtered the opposition, and scored twice as many votes as the runner-up, 8th International Friction Stir Welding Symposium Proceedings. But all is not lost for the friction stir welders of the world—the 9th Symposium is but a
year away.

 "I am delighted that in economically troublesome times publishers the world over have continued to publish incredibly niche titles with powerfully obscure titles. . . In any case, one might say I have a ‘filling' booksellers should ‘brace' themselves for an increased demand. Last year's winner, Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, saw its sales rocket by 1,500% in under a month upon winning the award”.

The Bookseller's Philip Stone, the Diagram Prize administrator, said: "Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way's win is incredibly timely given the forthcoming, unprecedented restructuring of the NHS in England. Some practice owners may well have to adopt a more War Lord-ish approach to oral healthcare in order to survive."

The share of votes among the shortlist was as follows:

1) 58%: Michael R Young's Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way
Running a dental practice Mongol warlord style

2) 24%:  8th International Friction Stir Welding Symposium Proceedings
Papers on the development and application of friction stir welding presented
at the symposium held in Lübeck, Germany, in May 2010

3) 8%: Joel Silverman's What Color Is Your Dog?
Hollywood dog trainer's dog training method

4) 4%: Cathy Williams' The Italian's One-night Love-child
House-sitter gets pregnant with a billionaire's baby after one night of passion

5) 3%: Martyn White's Myth of the Social Volcano
Perceptions of inequality and distributive injustice in contemporary China

6) 3%: Graciela Nowenstein's The Generosity of the Dead
An examination of the ongoing debate surrounding organ procurement

News item posted on 28-Mar-2011

Mainstream, J R Books and Pan to rush Elizabeth Taylor titles

Mainstream, J R Books, Pan and Faber are to rush publication of titles on Elizabeth Taylor, after the Oscar-winning film star died today [23rd March].

Mainstream is to release biography Elizabeth Taylor: The Lady, The Lover, The Legend: 1932-2011, "in the next few weeks", having had it written and edited for five years.

The title is written by Hollywood biographer David Bret, who is just contributing a final epilogue following her death. The publisher acquired world rights to the title in 2006 but decided not to publish before her death due to concerns over litigation, as it includes many "'spiked' interviews and information which other biographers have shied away from revealing".

Publisher and joint m.d. Bill Campbell described the print run as "big", adding: "[Taylor has] got a fantastic fanbase. We're obviously very respectful, and David Bret shows his respect for her, but she was never far from controversy, from trouble really".

In the book, Bret claims that Taylor was the most controversial Hollywood icon since Mae West, and the book includes revelations about her mother's lesbian affairs and romances with directors to get parts for her daughter; Taylor's husband Richard Burton's bisexuality; and the millions Taylor spent on houses, jewels and a yacht.

Mainstream had already sold North American and Swedish rights, and will publish as a £17.99 hardback.

J R Books is also bringing forward paperback publication of its 2010 dual biography Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and The Marriage of the Century. Originally scheduled for June, the title will now be published on 8th April.

Meanwhile, Pan Macmillan has ordered a 25,000-strong reprint of its biography of the actress by J Randy Taraborelli, Elizabeth, first published in 2007. It has not been out of print, but editorial director Ingrid Connell said: "Within about 10 minutes, we had customers ringing because they wanted copies". The reprint will come out on Friday [25th March].

Finally, Faber has changed the publication date of the paperback of How to Be A Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood. Originally scheduled for June 2012, the title will now be released on 7th July 2011. It is yet to be decided whether the title will include new material.

Other recent titles on the film star include Anova imprint Pavilion’s illustrated title Elizabeth Taylor: A Life in Pictures.

News item posted on 25-Mar-2011

Auel's latest tops Amazon preorders for 2011

Jean M Auel's new Earth's Children title is's most pre-ordered book of 2011.

The Land of Painted Caves: Earth's Children 6 (Hodder & Stoughton), is the last in the Earth's Children series. It will be published next Tuesday (29th March)—nine years after Auel's last title The Shelters of Stone: Earth's Children 5.

Auel wrestled Amazon's most pre-ordered crown from Vampire Diaries title The Return: Midnight by L J Smith, previously the most pre-ordered title of 2011.

A spokesperson for Hodder confirmed that the first print run for the book had reached 250,000 copies—50,000 more than Auel's last title which sold 2.3 million copies worldwide in its first six months. She added, "It is completely wonderful news and just goes to show the staying power of Jean Auel and the Ice Age. It is our biggest ever first print run since her last book in 2002." 

Neil Campbell, books manager at, said: "Jean M Auel's series is incredibly popular, evident by the fact it has surged to the top of the pre-order chart on despite a nine-year hiatus since the previous title in the Earth's Children series was published.

"Her gift for bringing to life a period so long ago has really captured the imagination of readers who are now eager to learn how the story will conclude for Ayla and her family."

The series began in 1980 and follows Ayla, a girl orphaned in an earthquake and brought up by a clan of Neanderthals before becoming a wife, mother and now in the last book a wise woman of the Ninth Cave, a group of Cro-Magnons in south-west France.

The r.r.p. is £19.99 for the hardback. is selling it on pre-order for £9.99.  

News item posted on 25-Mar-2011

Aurealis Awards Shortlist announced

Judging Coordinator, Keith Stevenson, said that with approximately 600 entries across the thirteen categories, the judges had a big task.

Categories the judges informed us that they had trouble coming down to a shortlist of five with many worthy entries just missing out on being included.

Winners of the 2010 Aurealis Awards and the Peter McNamara Awards will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, sponsored by Harper Voyager, on the evening of Saturday the 21st of May.




You can check out the previous winners and current shortlist here.

News item posted on 24-Mar-2011

Forbes wins £50k Warwick Prize for Writing

Writer, journalist and editor Peter Forbes' exploration of mimicry and camouflage in nature, art and warfare has been awarded the £50,000 Warwick Prize for Writing.

His Dazzled and Deceived (Yale University Press) was described by chair of judges Michael Rosen as a "book of massive surprises" at a ceremony in London yesterday evening [22nd March].

The biennial prize, launched in 2009, is run and funded by the University of Warwick. The international cross-disciplinary award is open to any genre or form of writing on a given theme, which this year was "colour".

Rosen said: "Dazzled and Deceived was singled out for a number of reasons. It's a book about scientific concepts; it's a book about art and it's actually an exciting read because Forbes does what all good storytellers do—he reveals and conceals in equal measure.  It is also a book of massive surprises"

As part of his prize, Forbes will take up a residency at the university within the next 18 months.

The university's vice-chancellor, Professor Nigel Thrift, also revealed that it is to offer two £5,000 bursaries for undergraduate students to study on Warwick's English Literature and Creative Writing undergraduate degree programme.

News item posted on 24-Mar-2011

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flies again with Frank Cottrell Boyce

Millions author Frank Cottrell Boyce is writing a trilogy based on Ian Fleming's children's classic, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, in which the flying car makes a return alongside a modern family who are descended from the family in the original story.

The first in the trilogy, Chitty Flies Again, will be published by Macmillan Children's Books on 4th November. The original story was published in 1964, two months after Fleming's death, and was illustrated by John Burningham.  Cottrell Boyce was approached by the Fleming family to write the story.

The three-book deal, for UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights, including serial, was done by Simon Trewin at United Agents (acting on behalf of the Fleming family) working in conjunction with Boyce's agent Zoe Waldie at Rogers Coleridge and White Literary Agency.

Cottrell Boyce  said: "The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang book is distinctive from most children's classics because the whole family goes on the adventure, not just the children, and all my books tend to be about family, which may be why they asked me to write it."

The new story is about a family where the father has been made redundant and sets about trying to reconstruct a VW Camper Van. He unwittingly uses the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang engine for the camper van, which has its own agenda, to restore itself. The trilogy follows the car's adventures during its restoration and is illustrated with black-and-white line drawings by Joe Berger.

While there is no Child Catcher in his story, Cottrell Boyce has created his own "super-villain", descended from the ‘baddie' Man-Mountain Fink in the original book. Cottrell Boyce said: "He is the best super-villain ever and I hope he will have the same unnerving and eerie quality as the Child Catcher."

The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film script was written by Roald Dahl – he wrote himself in as the Child Catcher – and with this and Fleming's heritage, Cottrell Boyce said: "That is two giant pairs of shoes to step into." He added: "It's been the most enjoyable writing experience ever, partly because I knew I had this safety net - the car is a great idea - and I could play with the Bond heritage as well; a fantastic car, lots of action and a really great villain."

Lucy Fleming, Ian Fleming’s niece, said: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is thrilled to have Frank Cottrell Boyce, with his humour, his genius and his spanner, sparking her plugs, polishing her chrome and buffing up her bumpers. Her graceful wings are poised to take off on a new flight, with Frank’s skilful but possibly oily hands on the steering wheel."

News item posted on 24-Mar-2011

Fourth and Final book of The Inheritance Cycle releases!

Christopher Paolini's fourth and final instalment of the Inheritance Cycle will be published on the 11th of November 2011.

The first three books have sold over 25 million copies worldwide. Eragon, Eldest and Brisingr will also be re -issued with new cover designs.


News item posted on 24-Mar-2011

Willy the Wizard estate ordered to pay £1.5m court costs

The High Court has ordered Paul Allen, the trustee of the estate of the late Willy the Wizard author Adrian Jacobs, to pay more than £1.5m into court as security for the costs of J K Rowling and Bloomsbury, before the plagiarism case can be heard.

Allen alleges that Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire plagiarised Jacobs' book Willy the Wizard.

Allen must pay costs to both Rowling and Bloomsbury across three installments in April, August and November, ole-idea-Harry-Potter-ordered-pay-1-5m-security-plagiarism-case-starts.html? ito=feeds-newsxml">according to the Daily Mail. If Allen fails to make the payments, the case will be struck out and Allen will be ordered to pay all the defendants' costs of the action, said the judge, Justice David Kitchen. The hearing was held yesterday [21st March] in the Chancery Division of the High Court.

A spokesperson for Rowling said: "By his decision the judge recognised that the claimant's case only narrowly avoided being dismissed by him and that it was entirely reasonable to have sought Summary Judgment. The judge's findings support what J K Rowling has throughout the case maintained, that the claims made are not only unfounded but absurd".

In October 2010, Kitchen said it was "improbable" the case would ultimately succeed, and said he would issue an order forcing the estate to meet certain conditions if the case was to continue.

Jacob's estate claims Rowling's agent Christopher Little was given a copy of Willy the Wizard, which he later passed on to Rowling. Kitchen said: "It is inherently improbable that Mr Little would have thought it worth giving a copy to Ms Rowling some eight years later."

In January this year, the lawsuit was dismissed in the US, with Rowling's US publisher Scholastic Corp saying in a statement: "The Court's swift dismissal supports our position that the case was completely without merit".

The case will be heard over 10 days in February 2012, provided the payments are made.

News item posted on 23-Mar-2011 sued by Apple is being sued by Apple Inc over the use of the phrase “App store".

The company is accusing of trademark infringement and filed a complaint last Friday [18th March] in the federal court for the Northern District of California, USA, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Apple Inc has called on the court to impose an injunction preventing Amazon from using the phrase, and award unspecified damages on top.

Apple registered for a trademark on the term "App Store" on 17th July 2008, and uses the name to refer to its applications store for software that users can download to their iPhones, iPod touches or iPads.

In its complaint, Apple said: "Consumers of mobile software downloads are likely to be confused as to whether Amazon's mobile software download service is sponsored or approved by Apple."

However, the online retailer uses the word "Appstore," with no space and a lower case 's'.

Amazon is accused of beginning to use the phrase to refer to its mobile-software download service in around January this year.

"We've asked Amazon not to copy the App Store name because it will confuse and mislead customers," a spokeswoman for Apple told the WSJ. Amazon said it did not want to comment on pending litigation.

Although Apple's trademark was approved by authorities, it is also being challenged by Microsoft Corp and is currently subject to proceedings before an appeals board of the US Patent and Trademark Office, Apple said in its filing.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is suing Barnes & Noble, having accused the US bookseller of infringing its patents with its Nook e-book reader device. The technology company is also taking electronic manufacturers Inventec and Foxconn International to court, according to the BBC. Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel of Microsoft's intellectual property and licensing, said: "The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft's patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights."

News item posted on 23-Mar-2011

Desai shortlisted for Authors' Club's Best First Novel Award

Costa First Book-winning novel Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai (Beautiful Books) has been shortlisted for the Authors' Club's Best First Novel Award of 2011.

Also on a six-strong shortlist comprising three indie publishers, is the Orange-longlisted Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson (Sceptre) and John Llewellyn Rhys Prize-winner The Still Point by Amy Sackville (Portobello).

Chair of judges, Suzi Feay, said: "From a very strong longlist of 12 books it was difficult to prune, but after a tense discussion six titles clearly came to the fore. We have a wonderfully diverse shortlist.  . . . All these authors have the potential to go on to brilliant careers."

The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award is presented to the most promising debut novel issued by a British publisher in the previous year.

The £2,500 winner will be announced at Waterstone's Piccadilly on 14th April 2011. This year's guest adjudicator is novelist Joanne Harris, who will select the winner from the shortlist.

The shortlist in full:

Farundell by L R Fredericks (John Murray)
Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson (Sceptre)
London Triptych by Jonathan Kemp (Myriad Editions)
The Still Point by Amy Sackville (Portobello)
Dry Season by Dan Smith (Orion)
Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai (Beautiful Books)

News item posted on 23-Mar-2011

Julian barnes wins the David Cohen Prize for LIterature

Three-times Man Booker-shortlisted author Julian Barnes has been awarded the £40,000 David Cohen Prize for Literature for his lifetime’s achievement in literature.
Previous winners of the prize include Seamus Heaney, V S Naipaul, Harold Pinter and Muriel Spark.
Barnes added "Over the last 18 years the David Cohen Prize has established itself as the greatest honour a British or Irish writer can receive within these islands. It is also conducted with proper secrecy and dignity. So it is a matter of sober delight to be added to the list of prize-winners."

News item posted on 21-Mar-2011

Are artefacts discovered in a remote cave in Jordan, secret writings about the last years of Jesus?

Biblical artefacts discovered in a remote cave in Jordan could be a contemporary account of the last years of Jesus.

The find of scrolls and 70 lead codices - tiny credit-card-sized volumes containing ancient Hebrew script talking of the Messiah and the Resurrection - has excited biblical scholars.

Much of the writing is in code, but experts have deciphered images, symbols and a few words and the texts could be 2,000 years old.

Some academics are sceptical about the discovery because there have been numerous hoaxes and sophisticated fakes produced over the years.

Many of the codices are sealed which suggests that they could be secret writings referred to in the apocryphal Book of Ezra - an appendage to some versions of the Bible.

Texts have been written on little sheets of lead bound together with wire.

The treasure trove was found five years ago by an Israeli Bedouin and may have been around since the 1st century, around the time of Jesus's crucifixion and Resurrection.

A number of experts have examined the writings, including Margaret Barker, a former president of the Society for Old testament Study with a renowned knowledge of early Christian studies.

She told the Sunday Times how the intrigue surrounding the artefacts was similar to the black market secrecy with the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.


There  is a thriving market in Middle Eastern antiquities and many shadowy figures involved. One archeologist has allegedly received death threats.

Ms barker said: 'There has been lots of shenanigans. Vast sums of money have been mentioned with up to £250,000 being suggested as the price for just one piece.'

She has had access to photgraphs taken of the codices and scrolls, and is wary of confirming their authenticity.

But she said if the material is genuine then the books could be 'vital and unique' evidence of the earliest Christians.

'If they are a forgery, what are they are forgery of?'she said.' Most fakes are drawn from existing material, but there is nothing like this that I have seen.'

The owner of the cache is a Bedouin named Hassan Saeda who lives in the village of Um-al-Ghanam in the north of Israel,according to the Sunday Times.

Two samples were sent to a laboratory in England where they were examined by Peter Northover, head of the materials science-based archaeology group.

The verdict was inconclusive without more tests, but he said the composition was 'consistent with a range of ancient lead.'

However, Philip Davies, emeritus professor of biblical studies at Sheffield University is convinced the codices are genuine after studying one.

He has told colleagues privately that he believes the find is unlikely to have been forged, say the Sunday Times

News item posted on 21-Mar-2011

Mulholland Books acquires debut by "Saw" writers

Hodder thriller imprint Mulholland Books has acquired a fiction debut by "Saw" writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, and author, screenwriter and illustrator Stephen Romano.

Editor Ruth Tross bought British Commonwealth and European rights from Nancy Wiese at Little, Brown to horror thriller Black Light.

Melton and Dunstan wrote four of the seven "Saw" horror movies, and this debut is described by Ross as bringing "the visceral thrills of the 'Saw' franchise into fiction—Buck Carlsbad is a detective who goes places no one else can travel, with non-stop frights and surprises along the way. It's the perfect novel for horror fans at Halloween and I'm delighted to be publishing such an exciting debut".

Mulholland will publish as a trade paperback in autumn 2011.

News item posted on 18-Mar-2011

Donoghue on Orange longlist

Emma Donoghue's Man Booker-shortlisted novel Room may have another shot at the top, as the Picador novel has made it onto the longlist for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011.

The 20-strong list is almost half made up of debut authors including The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obrecht, already named as one of the New Yorker's 20 under 40 list, while Joanna Kavenna, who won the 2008 Orange New Writers' Prize for her debut novel Inglorious, has been longlisted for her second, The Birth of Love.

"What proved a genuine delight this year was the power of observation and sympathy on the page," said Bettany Hughes, Chair of Judges.  "As a panel we had works of searing originality and epic scale in front of us—plus books that were intimate and sometimes magical . . .
"It was a huge tussle to get the list down to 20, but what we have is a gorgeous, widely varied longlist— we'll certainly enjoy re-reading each and every one as we make tough choices to select the Orange Prize shortlist for 2011.'

The judging panel this year also comprised Liz Calder, founder-director of Bloomsbury Publishing and Full Circle Editions; novelist Tracy Chevalier; actress and writer Helen Lederer; and journalist and broadcaster Susanna Reid.

The shortlist will be revealed on 12th April, with the winner of the £30,000 prize announced on 8th June.

The longlist:

Lyrics Alley  Leila Aboulela (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Jamrach's Menagerie Carol Birch (Canongate)

Room Emma Donoghue (Picador)

The Pleasure Seekers  Tishani Doshi (Bloomsbury)

Whatever You Love  Louise Doughty (Faber)

A Visit from the Goon Squad Jennifer Egan (Corsair)

The Memory of Love Aminatta Forna (Bloomsbury)

The London Train Tessa Hadley (Jonathan Cape)

Grace Williams Says it Loud Emma Henderson (Sceptre)

The Seas Samantha Hunt (Corsair)

The Birth of Love Joanna Kavenna (Faber)

Great House Nicole Krauss (Viking)

The Road to Wanting Wendy Law-Yone (Chatto)

The Tiger's Wife Téa Obreht (Weidenfeld)

The Invisible Bridge Julie Orringer (Viking)

Repeat it Today with Tears Anne Peile (Serpent's Tail)

Swamplandia! Karen Russell (Chatto)

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives Lola Shoneyin (Serpent's Tail)

The Swimmer Roma Tearne (HarperPress)

Annabel Kathleen Winter (Jonathan Cape)

News item posted on 18-Mar-2011

Miles Franklin Longlist announced

The Miles Franklin longlist has been announced. The list is as follows:

Rocks in the Belly by Jon Bauer   
The Good Daughter by Honey Brown  
The Mary Smokes Boys by Patrick Holland 
The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta    
When Colts Ran by Roger McDonald 
Time’s Long Ruin by Stephen Orr 
That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott 
The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter
Bereft  by Chris Womersley

News item posted on 17-Mar-2011

The Happiest Refugee wins Indie Book of the Year 2011!

Australia’s independent booksellers announced The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do (Allen & Unwin) the winner of the Indie Book of the Year Award 2011, as their favourite Australian book from the past 12 months. 
Anh Do says this is probably the greatest achievement of his life. "In primary school I was a member of the ‘special needs’ class - they told my mum I was struggling with letters and words, so she went out to St Vincent De Paul and bought me a box of 2nd hand books. When I found out I'd won ‘book of the year’ the first person I called was my mum, who was so happy she cried on the phone. I did a bit too to be honest."   
The individual category winners, in Fiction, Debut Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s, were also announced. From these four category winners the independent booksellers selected the best of the best - The Indie Book of the Year for 2011.
The category winners were - Best Fiction, Bereft By Chris Womersley (Scribe); Best Non-Fiction, The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do (Allen & Unwin); Best Debut Fiction, Rocks in the Belly by Jon Bauer; Best Children’s Book, Mirror by Jeannie Baker (Walker Books), but it was the first non-fiction title that was the popular winner. Anh Do is one of Australia's leading comedians. He has also acted in television series and films, written screenplays and is a sought-after keynote speaker. 
According to Simon Milne, General Manager of Leading Edge Books, the awards organiser, “The Happiest Refugee was chosen by an overwhelming number of independent booksellers as their Book of the Year.  Last year was an important year for non-fiction, and this is the first time a non-fiction book has won this Award.   Anh Do’s story – of his family’s struggle to reach Australia, and the life they have created since then - touched booksellers and readers alike”.  One of the booksellers describes it this way:  “Anh’s story will reach into every heart of every reader who is fortunate enough to be absorbed from page one.  The story of the family, their hardship and the love and humor that gets them through put this book on a par with A. B. Facey's A Fortunate Life. I hope lots of Australians get to read his book and appreciate Australia through Anh's eyes.”
Independent booksellers have a well-earned reputation for being the ones to spot the next-big-thing and The Indie Awards is one to watch.   Previous Indie Book of the Year winners are Breath by Tim Winton and Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, which both went on to national and international acclaim.

News item posted on 16-Mar-2011

Hodder acquires Jane Austen marriage guide

Hodder has acquired a chick lit novel about a heroine who uses the novels of Jane Austen to help her find a rich husband.

Women's fiction editor Isobel Akenhead acquired British Commonwealth excluding Canada rights in a “heated” auction from Diana Beaumont at Rupert Heath Literary Agency to The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo. Jennifer Lambert at HarperCollins acquired Canadian rights in a pre-empt, while Brenda Copeland of St Martin's Press acquired US rights. Gráinne Fox at Fletcher & Company handled the US and Canada rights for Beaumont, the main agent.

The novel follows Kate, the beauty editor at a fashion magazine, who finds herself unemployed, single, homeless and about to turn 40. When she is asked to write a freelance article about whether it is possible to marry for money, she decides to use the novels of Jane Austen to find herself an eligible match.

Akenhead said "It is brilliantly written, laugh-out-loud funny and has the most unforgettable heroine, and I feel confident it will appeal to fans of chick-lit favourites such as Bridget Jones's Diary and Alexandra Potter's Me and Mr Darcy, not to mention all the 'Janeites' out there."

Hodder will publish in 2012.

News item posted on 16-Mar-2011

Recommendation and review 'less important' for online shoppers

Price and range have been highlighted as the most important factors in buying habits of online book buyers, with recommendation and review less crucial.

In a survey of 91,500 customers worldwide on the Book Depository's website, the retailer found price was critical with 63.1% of customers deeming it very important. Range was the next factor identified with 51.5% regarding it as "very important". However, review (6.2% deemed it very important) and recommendation (6.6%) were seen as less important factors among shoppers.

More than two thirds of those surveyed said they bought e-books, with 46% saying they would buy more e-books in future. Only 3.4% said they planned to buy less digital books in future. PC laptops were the most popular method of reading e-books, among 10.8% of customers. The iPhone was the next device of choice (7.8%), followed by the Amazon Kindle (6.2%)

Almost three quarters of shoppers (71.6%) said they bought their books online, with high street chains popular among 11.8% of customers and indies the bookseller of choice for 9.9%.

The Book Depository received responses from customers worldwide with the majority of responses from English-speaking countries. The survey was carried out in conjunction with the For Dummies series of books.

News item posted on 16-Mar-2011

The iPad 2, 5.1 Seconds and Smart Covers

It takes me, on average,  5.1 seconds to start and begin using my first-generation Apple iPad. This is how I spent those 5.1 seconds: opening the cover protector, pressing the power button in the top right corner of the device and then swiping my finger across the screen to unlock the iPad.

Sure 5.1 seconds might not sound like a long period of time, even in the age of Twitter and the real time Web. But if you use your iPad on a regular basis it can quickly add up. Let’s just say you pick up your iPad 10 times a day, that’s nearly 6 minutes a week wasted through the laborious action of pressing the power button and swiping your finger across a screen. It’s exhausting.

But Apple has a solution with the iPad 2 and its Smart Cover.  These covers, which are designed to protect the iPad 2’s screen, use hidden magnets that act as a switch and detect when the cover is opened, automatically turning the device on. No buttons presses or swipes needed.

My colleague Miguel Helft has written about this phenomenon too, and although he managed to start up the original iPad a bit faster, he points out that the speed of opening the new iPad illustrates how in technology, we just want devices to get faster all the time.

To me, after using the iPad 2 for the past few days, the instantaneous start-up changes the game. And the main reason is that it makes using an iPad more like reading a book.

In many ways, the first generation iPad, along with every other e-reader and tablet available today, is trying to compete with the ancient technology of paper. People use these devices to read news, digital magazines, e-books and mail, all experiences that were once confined to the printed page.

Before the Smart Cover, getting to print-like content on an iPad took longer than it takes with its analog counterpart. You don’t have to press any buttons when opening a print book or magazine. You just pick it up, open it and begin reading.

The technology behind the Smart Cover enables the same swiftness as print, with the additional features of digital.

In the days of dial-up Internet connections, people had to log-in with a username and password and then wait for the modem to connect to the Internet. Sure, connecting to millions of fellow Web travelers felt special, but the hindrance associated with the time used to get there definitely took away from the magic of it all.

Arthur C. Clarke, the late science fiction writer and inventor, once wrote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” As the 5.1 seconds I once wasted turning on the iPad become shrouded by a Smart Cover, I’d say we’re pretty close to that point.

News item posted on 16-Mar-2011

Authors hit by new fears over taxation charge

Writers’ ability to average out their earnings over a number of years could be abolished, according to new tax system proposals.

The Office of Tax Simplification’s new review of tax reliefs listed authors’ ability to average out their profits between consecutive years as one of the “Reliefs to Abolish”. The current scheme benefits authors whose income fluctuates between different tax bands in different years as, for example, one year they have little income due to research or writing a book, then the next he or she receives a large advance for their work. By averaging out the income, the author can in some cases escape a sizeable tax bill.

The review document states: “Creative artists are, subject to certain conditions, able to average their profits and consequently their tax liability, thus enabling better management of their cash flow . . . We do not think there is sufficient justification as to why this sector should receive favourable tax treatment.”

Mark Le Fanu, general secretary of the Society of Authors, said the society opposed changes to the tax system: “It is based on the principles applied to farmers, who can average out their earnings over consecutive years, should they have a good year and a bad year. It’s an important concession to authors with fluctuating incomes.”

News item posted on 15-Mar-2011

Orion launches new YA imprint

Orion Children's Books is launching a new Young Adult imprint, with Harlan Coben's first foray into YA fiction among the "starry authors" geared up for release.

Indigo will publish four titles a month, beginning in September this year. Fiona Kennedy will be publisher of the imprint, working with commissioning editors Amber Caravéo, also of Orion Children's Books, and Gillian Redfearn of Gollancz.

The first titles will be Kate Harrison's Soul Beach, Cinda Williams Chima's The Warrior Heir and Mia James' Darkness Falls, all coming on 1st September. Harlan Coben's Shelter, featuring Mickey Bolitar, nephew of his adult fiction hero Myron Bolitar, will follow on 15th September. Orion Publishing Group trade m.d. Lisa Milton said: "As a father of four, Harlan has always wanted to bring his style of breakneck twists to a younger audience."

Other authors lined up for the imprint include Holly Black, Marcus Sedgwick, Sara Grant and Cliff McNish.

Kennedy said: "Indigo will publish teen fiction with style and poise, as the clutch of starry authors on the list shows. It will give our teen titles an identity and status as a whole, and each book more profile individually.

"A number of our authors have been writing older novels and Indigo will give them the support and freedom to develop their work for this readership, as well as giving us the perfect opportunity to extend the range of titles we publish. As always, our list will be one of hand-picked titles that we feel passionately about."

Milton said the imprint will work with social networking sites to build its profile and fan base. She said: "Finding growth in this challenging market is difficult, and encouraging children to continue reading as they become young adults and are faced with myriad distractions is vital to the future health of our industry. Harnessing the potential of social networking sites we will create a community of fierce fiction readers. We are thrilled to launch with such amazing authors, and look forward to attracting even more to our lists."

News item posted on 14-Mar-2011

From books to the box, Rushdie to write and produce TV show

There was a time when the giants of literature sneered at the small screen. But now Sir Salman Rushdie is moving from books to the box after signing up to write his first television drama.


The Booker Prize winner is developing Next People, a fictional story which dissects the "radical pace of transformation in contemporary American life – from politics and race to technology, science and sexuality".

The Satanic Verses author will write and executive produce the project for Showtime, the US cable network responsible for the sexed-up historical drama The Tudors and the similarly graphic comedy series, Californication. It is understood that Rushdie, 63, encouraged Andrew Wylie, his literary agent, to find him a television project.

The Next People deal was sealed after David Nevins, Showtime's entertainment president, convinced the author that the pay-television network, which has 16 million US subscribers, was the right home for his television writing debut.

Rushdie's co-producers are Working Title TV, the television arm of the film company behind Billy Elliot and Shaun of the Dead. Although Rushdie doesn't do "pilots", it is hoped that the hour-long Next People could be developed into a series. The drama is likely to follow Showtime series such as Nurse Jackie on to UK screens.

It is common for authors to pen screenplays for Hollywood films. However, acclaimed dramas such as Mad Men, The Wire and The Sopranos, with their novelistic structures, are now making television a natural home for the best writers.

David Simon, creator of The Wire, hired the authors George Pelecanos –"the greatest living American crime writer", according to Stephen King – Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) and Richard Price (Clockers) to write the screenplays for the series.

The New York Times commented: "If Charles Dickens were alive today, he would watch The Wire, unless, that is, he was already writing for it."

Rushdie's US drama has been shaped by his experiences in New York, where he is a regular on the social scene. He moved to New York in 1999 and adapted easily to the culture, engaging fellow authors Don DeLillo and Paul Auster in debate over the merits of his adopted baseball team, the New York Yankees.

His instant reaction to the 11 September attacks was "the feeling of someone having attacked my house."

Rushdie's love life has also kept Manhattan's gossip diarists busy. After his fourth marriage, to US television presenter Padma Lakshmi, ended in 2007, he installed Pia Glenn, a 32-year-old Broadway actress into his five-storey New York mansion. Rushdie was reported to have dumped her by email a few months later.

He has also collaborated on a screenplay for a film version of his 1981 Booker Prize-winning Midnight's Children, retitled Winds Of Change, for the long-awaited movie version directed by Deepha Mehta. There are no current plans for a television adaptation of The Satanic Verses, the controversial novel which resulted in the issuing of a fatwa against Rushdie in 1989.

News item posted on 14-Mar-2011

Profits drop 17% at Hachette in 2010, after 'spectacular' 2009

Profits at Hachette Livre fell almost 17% in 2010, a year in which the company's revenues "returned to normal" following the spectacular success of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga in 2009. The French-owned publisher's previously reported revenue totalled €2,165m, down 4.8% on a reported basis and 6.3% on a like-for-like basis on 2009.

Earnings before interest and tax fell to €250m, compared with €301m a year earlier. Parent Lagardère said the "result was expected due to the unusually high revenues of 2009, marked by three major successes: Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga, with 45 million copies sold in 2009 compared to 11 million in 2010 and, in France, a new Astérix comic book and the Dan Brown novel, The Lost Symbol."

The group's operating margin dropped from 13.2% to 11.6%, which Lagardère attributed to a "change in product mix (lower contribution from blockbusters in 2010) and investments in digital". It added that 2010's net profit ratio was higher than that of 2008, "reflecting the excellent resiliency of Lagardère Publishing in terms of profitability".

News item posted on 11-Mar-2011

More Supernanny for Orion

Orion is to publish a second title by television's "Supernanny" Jo Frost.

The book, entitled Jo Frost's Confident Toddler Care, is a guide helping adults to survive their children's terrible twos. Amanda Harris, deputy publishing director Orion and Weidenfeld & Nicolson non-fiction, acquired exclusive UK and Commonwealth rights and non-exclusive English language rights (except in the USA, Canada and the Philippines) from Eugenie Furniss at WME.

Frost, famous for her role in reality television show "Supernanny" helping parents to deal with their children's behavioural problems, has already published three books on the subject of child discipline: Confident Babycare (Orion), Supernanny: How to Get the Best from Your Children, and Ask Supernanny: What Every Parent Wants to Know (both Hodder).

Harris said: "I am delighted, both professionally and personally, to be publishing this important book. It feels like a long wait for Jo's toddler care secrets to be published but worth it as she has written the seminal book on this exciting but challenging age.

"There are failsafe step-by-step guides for coping with the worst of public tantrums, sleep problems, eating issues and all that is involved with the sometimes stressful toddler years. It will be welcomed and pored over by every parent with a little darling/monster of their own."

Jo Frost's Confident Toddler Care will be published on 15th September.

News item posted on 11-Mar-2011

Indie publishers shortlisted for Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

Indie publishers have scored highly on the longlist for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, with three titles from Portobello on the 15-strong list.

Atlantic, Quercus, Granta, Peirene Press and Faber have also secured places, including Faber's The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, a previous winner, translated by Maureen Freely. Bloomsbury also has a title, while Random imprint Harvill Secker scored three, and Jonathan Cape one more.

The £10,000 prize celebrates an exceptional work of fiction by a living author which has been translated into English from any other language, and is divided between the writer and translator equally. The costs are supported by Arts Council England, the Independent and Champagne Taittinger.

"Literature in translation gives readers new ways of understanding our fast-changing world," said Antonia Byatt, director, literature, ACE. "This year's longlist is a fantastic demonstration of the rich range and quality of fiction in translation being published in Britain today and it's wonderful to see so many languages represented from all over the world."

A shortlist of six will be revealed on 11th April at the London Book Fair and the overall winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on 26th May.  

The longlist in full:

Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky (Portobello)

Kamchatka by Marcelo Figueras, translated by Frank Wynne (Atlantic)

To the End of the Land by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen (Jonathan Cape)

Fame by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Carol Brown Janeway (Quercus)

Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi, translated by Adriana Hunter (Peirene Press)

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely (Faber)

I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson, translated by Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson (Harvill Secker)

Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo, translated by Edith Grossman (Atlantic)

Gargling with Tar by Jachym Topol, translated by David Short (Portobello)

The Sickness by Alberto Berrera Tyszka, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Quercus/Maclehose Press)

The Secret History of Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, translated by Anne McLean (Bloomsbury)

The Journey of Anders Sparrman by Per Wastberg, translated by Tom Geddes (Granta)

Lovetown by Michal Witkowski, translated by W Martin (Portobello Books )

Villain by Shuichi Yoshida, translated by Philip Gabriel (Harvill Secker)

Dark Matter by Juli Zeh, translated by Christine Lo (Harvill Secker)

News item posted on 11-Mar-2011

£1 World Book Day books storm to the top of the charts

The latest crop of £1 World Book Day books, led by Cope & Davies' Spy Dog/The Great Pet Shop Panic (Puffin/S&S) take positions one-through-six in this week's Official UK Top 50, with sales totalling 247,235 copies—a significant proportion of which will have come via pupils' £1 book token redemptions.

The combined sales figure is down 8% on last year's £1 titles in the comparative week, and down 40% on the pre-flip-book days of 2008, although no doubt many tokens were once again redeemed against the price of "regular" children's books—not least L J Smith's latest Vampire Diaries instalment, Midnight, and the mass-market edition of John Grisham's first YA novel, Theodore Boone (both Hodder), both of which sold more than 10,000 copies last week.

But as children went back to school following the half-term break, total spending on children's books through Nielsen BookScan's Top 5,000 bestseller chart fell by 12% week-on-week, and was down around 3-4% on World Book Day week last year.

Jamie Oliver's Jamie's 30-Minute Meals (Michael Joseph) was once again the bestselling book for adult audiences in the UK last week, despite the fact its sales fell by 21% week-on-week. It means Oliver's latest hardback cookbook has now spent 23 weeks atop The Bookseller's Hardback Non-fiction chart and is closing in on the 25-week record held by Lynne Truss' punctuation primer, Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Profile).

Helped by a plethora of new releases from the likes of Alexander McCall Smith, Patrick Rothfuss, Clive Cussler, Joanna Trollope and Raymond E Feist, all of which début in the Top 20 Original Fiction chart, spending on novels jumped 3% week-on-week, according to BookScan Top 5,000 data. However, overall fiction sales were down around 10% on the same week last year, due largely to a drop in paperback fiction popularity.

Some mass-market novels—those featured on BBC's "Faulks on Fiction" and "My Life in Books" series—did enjoy significantly stronger sales last week than in the comparative week last year. Zoe Heller's Notes on a Scandal (Penguin) and Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White (Vintage), both mentioned on the former, climbed more than 1,000 places in the charts week-on-week, while the Wordsworth editions of both George Eliot's Middlemarch and Virginia Woolf's Orlando climbed at least 10,000 places thanks to plugs on the latter.

Meanwhile, 21 of the 25 World Book Night books enjoyed a week-on-week sales boost last week, and 23 of the 25 sold more copies last week than in the same week last year. The average year-on-year sales boost enjoyed by the 25 titles last week was an impressive 186% — equating to around 15,000 extra sales.

Despite World Book Day/World Book Night, however, overall book sales fell 3.2% week-on-week, to £27.6m—down 4.9% on the same week last year.

News item posted on 10-Mar-2011

McClure to set up publishing company

Picture book author and illustrator Gillian McClure is setting up publishing company Plaister Press rather than conform to the "hugely cautious" picture book market.

McClure hopes the company will eventually expand to include work by other authors and illustrators. She said she was "creatively frustrated" at being unable to produce books that publishers considered too risky. Her titles have previously been published by Random House and Bloomsbury.

She said: "There is still demand in the market for very young picture books but it is harder to get picture books for older children produced even though I see demand for these. I had to decide whether I wanted to produce what the market wants or create those more risky titles on my own."

McClure has already republished one of her earlier titles, Selkie, and will publish a new book, The Little White Sprite, this month. She added: "Selkie was a steady seller and should have remained in print." Like many authors, she depends on having her books available to sell during school visits. "By publishing these titles, I am prolonging my career in schools," she added.

McClure will publish one new title each year, using local printers and supporting independent booksellers. Plaister Press' initial publishing programme is being funded by a private donor but McClue believes the initiative will grow to become self-funding and profitable.

She will be visiting Bologna to sell the titles with her agent handling overseas rights and contracts. McClure added: "At some point in the future, I very much hope to have other names on the list."

News item posted on 10-Mar-2011

Amazon has '80% online share', claims new survey

Ten times as many people shop at Amazon than online at Waterstone's, a survey has revealed, while more than half of respondents bought books online.

The research, carried out by the Institute of Direct Marketing,, showed that 80% of some 2,000 readers surveyed bought books from Amazon, in comparison to just 8% of people who shopped at the high street book retailer’s website.

The IDM said the results supported the importance of digital marketing in boosting sales.

"With around 56% of respondents going online for books, it stands to reason that businesses use digital marketing to push their own sales," digital marketing company Econsultancy added in response to the findings.

The figures also revealed that the proportion of those who shopped at Waterstone's stores, 23%, was equal to the number of people who bought books from supermarkets, also at 23%. Slightly fewer consumers, 21%, said they bought titles from WH Smith.

News item posted on 10-Mar-2011

Google c.e.o. title to John Murray

John Murray has acquired a title by the outgoing c.e.o. of Google after a seven-publisher auction.

M.d. Roland Phillips acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in a "major" deal to Empire of the Mind: The Dawn of the Techno-Political Age. Seven UK publishers participated in the multi-day auction conducted by Claire Roberts at Trident Media Group on behalf of Mel Parker of Mel Parker Books.

The title, by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, will look at how connection technologies are influencing governments and democratic movements around the world.

Phillips said: "The proposal is as gripping, innovative and far-reaching as one would expect from two such important and visionary authors, and we expect the book to be one of those rare titles that make the reader look differently at the world—and in this case change the world."

Schmidt stands down as the c.e.o. of Google next month; he joined the internet giant in 2001 and will remain as executive chairman. Cohen is the director of Google Ideas and an adjunct fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. John Murray will publish in spring 2012.? ?

News item posted on 10-Mar-2011

100 Stories for Queensland - writers across the world rally for flood victims

The anthology has released on 8 March. 100 Stories for Queensland is a charity anthology following in the footsteps of 100 Stories for Haiti and 50 Stories for Pakistan. The anthologies were created by Greg McQueen, who in the face of the devastation of the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan flood, appealed to the global writing community to donate stories for the projects.

100 Stories for Queensland is headed by Brisbane resident and co-owner of eMergent Publishing, Jodi Cleghorn, and UK author, Trevor Belshaw. The management team is made up of Maureen Vincent-Northam, David W Robinson and Nick Daws who all worked on the Haiti and Pakistan anthologies with McQueen. They are assisted by a growing band of 20 volunteer readers and editors from across the globe. McQueen is working behind the scenes, organising the audio book and podcasts in conjunction with UK author and podcaster Em Newman.

Design and layout will be done in Western Australia with Russell B Farr founding editor of Ticonderoga Publications producing the cover art and Tehani Wessely founder of FableCroft, doing the inside design.

“I continue to be blown away by the generosity of people. And it is not just the sheer numbers of submissions arriving every hour, but all the people working behind the scenes. To date we have 30 people working in various roles from reading and editing, to layout and design,” Cleghorn said. “It makes me proud to work in the literary field. Writers, editors and publishers have big hearts, and they don’t think twice when you ask them to dig deep.”

News item posted on 09-Mar-2011

NZ author Craig Cliff takes home Best First Book honours

Craig Cliff’s collection of short stories in A Man Melting has won the South East Asia and Pacific regional prize for Best First Book at this year’s Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, established in 1987, is one of the world’s most important literary awards held annually.

Craig and the other seven regional winners will head to the final stages of the competition at Sydney Writers' Festival, held 16 to 22 May, where the overall winners of Best Book and Best First Book prizes will be announced.


News item posted on 09-Mar-2011

Barbara Jefferis Award 2011 Shortlist

The Australian Society of Authors has announced the shortlist for the 2011 Barbara Jefferis Award.
Valued at $35,000, the Award is offered annually for “the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society”.
The Award is paid from the Barbara Jefferis Literary Fund, established by a bequest from Barbara’s husband, ABC film critic John Hinde. Barbara Jefferis was a founding member of the Australian Society of Authors and its first woman President.
The Award judges were Judith Rodriguez, Catherine Cole, and Susan Lever.


Honey Brown The Good Daughter (Penguin Books/Viking)

Catherine Harris Like Being A Wife (Random House/Vintage)

Simone Lazaroo Sustenance (UWA Publishing/UWAP)

Fiona McGregor Indelible Ink (Scribe)

G.L. Osborne Come Inside (Clouds of Magellan)

The winner will be announced on Saturday 9 April 2011.

News item posted on 09-Mar-2011

Female authors heralded on International Women's Day

Inspiring books by and about women are being hailed for International Women's Day, as J K Rowling and Germaine Greer are named among 17 authors on the Guardian's Top 100 Inspirational Women list.

Female novelists are holding events to mark the occasion and authors are being celebrated today [8th March], the day the initiative reaches its centenary year.

International Women's Day is celebrated in 25 countries around the globe, celebrating the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future.

No less than 17 authors are being celebrated in the Guardian's Top 100 Inspirational Women list, from J K Rowling to Germaine Greer, Carol Ann Duffy to Margaret Atwood, as well as feminist sex researcher Shere Hite and blogger Jessica Valenti.

Events held today include writers Sophie Kinsella, Gemma Malley and Jennifer Cox hosting from Jane Austen to Lady Gaga: Finding Your Voice with sixth form girls at Ursuline High School, Wimbledon, as part of Wimbledon Bookfest.

And as part of the charity Women for Women's Join Me On The Bridge Campaign to mark the day, book lovers Rebecca Lynch and Sarah Marsh are calling on readers to leave their favourite books highlighting women characters on bridges around the world.

On her way to leave some of her favourite books on London Bridge, Lynch told The Bookseller: "The first book was left on a bridge in Saudi Arabia this morning. We have people in Sri Lanka, Ireland, Wales and England, among more taking part. We are asking people to leave a book on a bridge with a message in it explaining why the book is important to them for someone else to find, then we are asking the book finders to post on our Facebook page when and where they found the book."

Inviting authors around the globe to film a short message reflecting on the question: "100 years of women's rights – what does this mean to you?" this year, Women for Women is calling on urgent action in Afghanistan, describing the country as "one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman."

News item posted on 09-Mar-2011

S&S acquires Jaycee Dugard memoir

Simon & Schuster has acquired the memoir of Jaycee Dugard, the American 11-year-old who was kidnapped and held captive for 18 years by Philip Garrido, bearing two children by him.

Kerri Sharp, S&S UK non-fiction senior commissioning editor, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights including ANZ from S&S US, which bought world rights from Mort Janklow of Janklow & Nesbit Associates, and Nancy Seltzer, a representative for the Dugard family.

The memoir, as yet untitled, is written by Dugard, now aged 30, and covers the period from the time of her abduction in 1991 up until the present day. According to the publisher: "in her stark, compelling narrative, [Dugard] will open up about what she experienced, including how she feels now, a year after being found"."

Sharp said "Only once or twice in a career does one get the chance to publish such an extraordinary story of survival and courage."

The title will be published internationally in September 2011.

News item posted on 09-Mar-2011

Galaxy campaign for Quick Reads unveiled

The Galaxy-sponsored promotional campaign for Quick Reads has been unveiled, with advertising, posters and bookmarks lined up for the literacy campaign.

The 10 Quick Reads, all published on World Book Day, 3rd March, include titles by Linwood Barclay, James Patterson and Benjamin Zephaniah, all of which have Galaxy branding on the cover.

Gail Rebuck, Random House c.e.o. and chair of Quick Reads, said  "Galaxy's Quick Reads' advertising campaign will reach out to the hundreds of thousands of people who have yet to discover the pleasures and benefits of reading. 

"We know that improved literacy skills lead to increased confidence and better job prospects and Galaxy's support for Quick Reads will play a pivotal role in creating awareness of this important initiative.”

The £300,000 campaign will run throughout March, with full-page colour advertisements appearing in publications including the Radio Times, TV Choice, OK, Hello!, Closer and Heat as well as 25 x 4 colour ads in the Sun, News of the World, Metro, Evening Standard, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. A selection will also include bespoke strip ads, describing a famous book in no more than eight words.

A quarter of a million posters, around 2,000 dumpbins and 500,000 bookmarks are being sent out as part of Galaxy-branded POS, with outreach materials also sent to 15,000 colleges, workplaces and libraries across the UK.

The Quick Reads campaign is now in its sixth year

News item posted on 09-Mar-2011

Jojo Moyes wins RNA Romantic Novel of the Year

Hodder author Jojo Moyes has won Romantic Novel of the Year at the Romantic Novelists' Association's (RNA) Pure Passion Awards, scooping the prize with The Last Letter from Your Lover.

Both Josephine Cox and Penny Jordan, published by HarperCollins and Avon respectively, won Outstanding Achievement Awards for their contributions to the genre.  The results were announced at a ceremony on 7th March, at One Whitehall Place, Westminster.

Cox said: "I am thrilled and delighted to be receiving such a prestigious award. It's something I never expected and I would like to thank all those concerned for thinking I am deserving of it."

Jordan, who was first published by Mills & Boon 30 years ago via a competition run by the RNA, said: "To receive this award from the RNA–the organisation that helped me toward my first publication via its New Writers' Programme-reinforces for me everything that the RNA is and does for the writing community."

The Historical Novel Prize went to Elizabeth Chadwick and her novel To Defy a King (Sphere), with the Romantic Comedy Prize won by Jill Mansell and Take a Chance on Me (Headline). Winner of Love Story of the Year, for a shorter romance with a strong emphasis on the developing central relationship, was won by Louise Allen with The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst (Mills & Boon).

RNA chair Katie Fforde said: "Once again, in our 51st year, the Romantic Novel of the Year Award has produced a sensational winner. Of Jojo Moyes' The Last Letter from Your Lover, the judges unanimously agreed that 'this novel combines exquisite writing, a truly romantic yet original theme and a blissfully satisfying ending. A worthy winner in a very strong list."

On the outstanding achievement winners, Fforde called Jordan "truly worthy of this award" and Cox "a legend", adding "It's likely that she's the favourite author of more people than any other writer".

News item posted on 09-Mar-2011

Sonny Mehta to receive LBF Lifetime Achievement Award

Sonny Mehta, editor-in-chief of Alfred A Knopf, is to be awarded the eighth Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing by London Book Fair.

Mehta has published authors including Thomas Mann, Willa Cather, Albert Camus, John Updike, Toni Morrison, V S Naipaul and Bill Clinton. He is also chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Mehta said: "I am honoured to accept this award from the organisers of The London Book Fair and flattered to be following in the footsteps of such distinguished past recipients. As I see it, my job has always been to champion the work of the authors I publish. And so, on this occasion, I would like to sincerely thank all the writers who have become such an important part of my life, both personally and professionally.

"Some of them are highly acclaimed and widely read; some, alas, have not yet found the readerships they deserve. But regardless of their appearance on any best-seller list or their selection for any award, these writers are a true inspiration. I consider myself fortunate indeed to be their publisher."

Gail Hochman, president of the Association of Authors' Representatives and LBF advisory board member, added: "Knopf has long been a leader in publishing books of lasting quality, and at its helm Sonny Mehta has been steadily an international tastemaker, innovative publisher, and believer in the power of the written word . . . He remains a world leader in identifying and promoting literary talent and we are proud to be awarding to him The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011."

Mehta began his career in London, where he co-founded Paladin Books and was editorial director of Pan Books, before moving to New York to head Knopf in 1987.  He is also known for publishing Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho after Simon & Schuster refused to publish it, and for moving in with Douglas Adams to ensure he finished So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish.

Another of his authors, Kazuo Ishiguro, added: "I know I am only one of many, many authors around the world applauding this recognition of Sonny's magnificent and trail-blazing contribution over the decades. . . . He's been an unfailing friend to the writers he's believed in, and he has permanently changed and shaped the culture we now work in for the better. Bravo, Sonny, and thank you."

The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing celebrates an individual's career dedication to breaking down borders in international publishing. The award is sponsored by SBS Association and in association with the Publishers Association.

Previous winners include Lynette Owen, Christopher MacLehose and George Weidenfeld.

News item posted on 09-Mar-2011

New Gormenghast title at the centre of Mervyn Peake’s centenary celebration

The never-before published fourth part in the Gormenghast trilogy will form part of an extensive period of publishing to mark Mervyn’s Peake’s centenary.

Vintage will publish Titus Awakes by Mervyn Peake and his late wife Maeve Gilmore on 7th July, as a £7.99 paperback. After Peake’s death in 1968, Gilmour completed the manuscript to Titus Awakes. Laura Hassan, editorial director at Vintage, said: “Mervyn envisaged it as a series rather than a trilogy that went on and on through Titus’ life.”

The manuscript was lost on completion but found last year in a family attic. Hassan said: “The manuscript was a finished book and it looks like Maeve, or someone else, worked on editing it somewhat. There are notes in the margins and annotations.”
The book has been edited in conjunction with Peake’s three children. It is about Titus, the lord of the Gormenghast kingdom, who travels to the modern world.

Also on the 7th July, Vintage will publish the Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy, which features more than 100 sketches from Peake with 75% of them never before published. The hardback will be priced £20. Hassan said: “Before Peake wrote the books, he drew the characters. It’s so unbelievable for a writer to be such a remarkable draughtsman.”

Both books form part of a wider programme of titles on Peake. Constable & Robinson will publish a memoir by his daughter Clare Penate, Under a Canvas Sky, on 26th May as a £14.99 hardback. Queen Anne Press will release a special centenary edition of Peake’s works, limited to 150 sets. Peter Owen will release the centenary edition of A Book of Nonsense on 30th June as a £12.99 paperback.

The BBC is planning to repeat the Gormenghast trilogy on BBC4, with a new radio broadcast set for Radio 4 and a repeat of the original radio series on BBC Radio 7.

The British Library will host an exhibition celebrating Peake’s life and work with further exhibitions across the UK, including his Alice in Wonderland illustrations at the University of Sheffield and his Sark drawings at the Museum of Art in Guernsey.

In total the trilogy has recorded Bookscan sales of 50,000 since 1998.

News item posted on 08-Mar-2011

PA puts library case to MPs

Author Kate Mosse was among those asking MPs to fight for libraries at a parliamentary event last night (2nd March) organised by the Publishers Association and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Publishing. Mosse joined Viv Bird, chief executive of Booktrust, and The Reading Agency director Miranda McKearney at the event.

Mosse told MPs that all of them should be writing to the head of their local councils over the situation in their own area, also calling for a national library campaign to harness the strength of feeling across the country on the issue.

Meanwhile McKearney told MPs: "It is vital that those making decisions about libraries' future understand that there is a real public need and demand for libraries' reading role." Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said publishers saw libraries as "integral to promoting literacy and the pleasure of reading" and called on Ministers to "provide a clear strategic direction for the future of libraries and ensure that local authorities everywhere meet their legal obligation to provide a comprehensive and efficient service."

News item posted on 04-Mar-2011

Adults and teenagers still prefer prints books to e-books, WBD survey says

Almost half of teenagers have read a book on a computer, according to a new survey to mark World Book Day. As hundreds of events get under way across the country today, 40.8% of teenagers said they had read a book on a computer, with 17.2% reading on a mobile phone. However, when asked which media they preferred both adults and teenagers selected the print book ahead of news, magazines, blogs, comics and even e-books.

Tablet devices, including the Apple iPad, have been used to read books by 13.3% of teens. E-readers came fourth among those surveyed with only 9.3% of teens having used one. The Lord of the Rings, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Diary of Anne Frank and 1984 have been revealed as the most popular titles by teenagers of today and the past.

The survey asked adults about their reading habits as teenagers and compared them to teens today. The favourite teenage read among adults was Sue Townsend's The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, with 10.2% of those polled picking it. Next was JRR Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings with 9.5% of the vote and third was Stephen King novels (8.2%). Harry Potter was the overwhelming pick among teens of today, with 30.5% of them choosing the series as their favourite read. The Twilight series was next (14.1%), with The Lord of the Rings third with 9.1% of the vote.

Rachel Russell, chair of World Book Day 2011, and business unit director for books at WH Smith said: "In the year that World Book Day is focusing on helping teenagers celebrate books and reading, it's interesting to see what tastes and traits young readers today share with readers of the past. Our results show that in a world of digital media teenagers still love books, and are enjoying classics novels as well as contemporary bestsellers. It would be interesting to see answers to the same questions from teenagers in another generation¹s time."

News item posted on 04-Mar-2011

Morpurgo and Wilson support new Guardian kids site

Former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo and Tracy Beaker author Jacqueline Wilson have spoken out in support of the Guardian’s new book website for children, which launches today [3rd March] on World Book Day.

The site,, will be curated by young people from all over the world, with 100 children already signed up. Content will include children’s reviews, video and text interviews with authors and a book club. Each child will have their own personalised page.

It will be divided into three reading zones aimed at children aged seven and under; eight to 12; and 13-plus. The site will encourage child-to-child sharing. Wilson said: “Getting children to read from a young age and showing them that it is fun is incredibly important,” while Morpurgo, who was interviewed for the site this week, described the initiative as “wonderful”.

Guardian books editor, Claire Armitstead, explained: “When you think of the resource that older friends or siblings represent, it seems astonishing that child-to-child reading gets so little attention...In a culture with many different models of what family means, the resource of other children becomes even more valuable. It's with this in mind that the Guardian is launching a children-only website.”

Morpurgo said: “This new Guardian site will open up the world of books to children. It is wonderful to see a newspaper offering something for children and taking children’s books seriously. Sharing and reading stories from the earliest age can transform a child’s life.”

Wilson added: “Getting children to read from a young age and showing them that it is fun is incredibly important.  There are so many books out there and the Guardian is providing children of all ages with the opportunity to discover new ones. Once a child finds a book they love they become hooked for life.”

News item posted on 04-Mar-2011

Random House US to bring 17K books to iBookstore

Random House US is introducing 17,000 books to the iBookstore, several days after it announced it had moved to agency pricing.

At yesterday's Apple iPad event in San Francisco, Apple c.e.o. Steve Jobs said users have downloaded more than 100m e-books since the iPad went on sale last year. The Random deal means iPad users will be able to read titles from the likes of Stieg Larsson, John Grisham, Dan Brown, Danielle Steel, Laura Hillenbrand, Cormac McCarthy and Lee Child.

Markus Dohle, Random House’s chairman and c.e.o., said: "We are delighted that Apple’s iBookstore now will be carrying Random House’s US ebooks for the first time. And we look forward to bringing our 17,000 ebooks to Apple customers." While Random House US has signed up to agency pricing, the UK wing of the business said it was "continuing to evaluate options" on pricing.

Jobs said 15m iPads have been sold between April and December 2010. Confirming the iPad 2 launch, which will ship on 25th March in the UK, Jobs said: "What is iPad 2. What have we learned? It is an all new design. It's a completely new design. And it's dramatically faster."

The device, which has a camera for the first time, is 33% thinner, at 8.8mm to the iPad's original 13.4mm. The iPad 2 is also thinner than the iPhone 4.0. The device is also lighter than the iPad at just under 600g.

Technology blog Engadget is among the sites that have hands-on videos of the new iPad. 

News item posted on 04-Mar-2011

Stephen King to tackle JFK assassination for Hodder

Stephen King will look at President Kennedy's assassination as part of his latest novel, 11/22/63, which Hodder has acquired. Managing director Jamie Hodder-Williams bought UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada to the book from Chuck Verrill at Darhansoff & Verrill in New York.

The book will focus on Jake Epping, a 35-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine. His friend Al reveals that his storeroom is a portal to 1958, and enlists Jake on a mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. Jake becomes George Amberson, and enters a world of Elvis and JFK, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and high school librarian Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life, "a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time".

Verrill said: "The novel is big, ambitious and haunting. King has probably absorbed the social, political and popular culture of his American generation as thoroughly and imaginatively as any other writer."

King's UK editor, Phillippa Pride, said: "11/22/63 is the best 'What if...?' novel I have ever read. Combining the best of Stephen King's intimate suspense stories with the scope of an epic, our number one bestselling, and much-loved author, has created a truly sensational read which will be THE book of 2011."

Hodder will publish in hardcover on 8th November 2011

News item posted on 04-Mar-2011

Digital book buyers 'more realistic' over e-book prices

Half of all book buyers expect to pay less for e-books, according to new research by Mintel, but those book readers who already own e-book devices have marginally more realistic expectations over price, suggesting that the transition of the big publishers to agency terms is helping to shift consumers' attitudes—albeit slowly.

The survey also found that nearly half of readers (49%) said they would rather own and read actual books rather than e-books, but the survey also found that almost one in ten book readers say they will buy fewer books in 2011 than in 2010.

On pricing the research found that younger readers were the most likely to expect to pay less—reflecting, according to Mintel, their general experience of being able to procure digital product for less or free.

Mintel’s research also revealed a general consumer expectation to pay less for e-books than their printed equivalent, with nearly half (48%) of consumers saying they expect to pay less and just one in five (19%) saying they expect to pay the same. The rest said they didn't know.

The research, undertaken by Mintel in December 2010, suggests that the bulk of those book readers who expect to pay less want to pay between £3 and £6 for an e-book, a discount of 40 to 70% on the price of the equivalent hardback. But the percentage of those expecting to pay less diminishes for those who already own a device, from 48% for all book buyers to 41% of e-book reader owners. The research found that while the bulk of e-book owners would still rather buy between £3 and £6 for an e-book, the figure was only marginally more than those who expected to pay between £6 and £10.

The report warns though that until perception shifts further the growth in e-book sales in the UK may be hampered. Report author Michael Oliver, senior leisure analyst at Mintel, said: "Unless or until this gap is closed, the rate of expansion of the e-books market in the future is likely to be held back because people expect e-books to cost less but in many cases they do not. Until the OFT rules on the agency pricing model, this situation is, in the main, unlikely to chain, since the majority of the major publishers are currently operating on this model."

The findings showed that device ownership was likely to quadruple over time. Before Christmas 2010, ownership of e-readers stood at around 8% of adult book readers, while 5% owned a tablet PC. But there was also considerable future demand for e-reader devices, with 40% of book readers saying they would consider buying one in the future and 44% saying they would consider buying a tablet PC. The numbers back up research undertaken by Book Marketing Ltd for the Publishers Association, which showed that the market penetration of e-book readers doubled over Christmas.

Mintel found that Amazon’s Kindle was the most popular e-reader, ahead of Sony’s Reader, and looks set to remain so based on expressions of those considering purchase in the future. One in twenty (5%) of Mintel's sample owned a Kindle, compared to 3% who owned a Sony Reader, but 35% compared with 26% said they planned to buy a Kindle in the future.

Oliver added: "The problem for publishers is how to protect their market position while carrying on doing business with an Amazon that is, by the week, becoming a more dominant and powerful force in the book market. As it becomes more dominant, there seems little doubt that Amazon will find itself in a position to dictate more favourable terms from publishers, who will find themselves on a slippery slope of reduced margins. The rapid growth of the e-books market and Amazon’s strong position in that sector with its Kindle e-reader seem likely to further pile pressure on publishers anxious to retain some vestige of control over their pricing."

News item posted on 04-Mar-2011

Anjelica Huston memoir to Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster UK will publish the memoir of Prizzi's Honour actress Anjelica Huston next year after buying her autobiography. S&S UK bought UK and Commonwealth rights including Australia from Cathryn Summerhayes in the William Morris Endeavour London office. Summerhayes was acting on behalf of Bill Clegg, who sold it to Nan Graham, Scribner editor in chief and S&S senior vice-president, in the United States.

Written by Huston herself, the memoir will chart her life, including childhood in Ireland and London, her relationship with her father, the director John Huston, her colourful years with Jack Nicholson, as well as her appearances in the likes of Prizzi's Honour, for which she won an Oscar, and The Grifters.

Publishing director Suzanne Baboneau said: "We are thrilled and proud to be the UK publishers of Anjelica Huston's remarkable memoir. Her upbringing in Ireland and in London will be especially resonant in our market. She is an utterly beautiful and graceful writer; this will be a magnificent book for S&S UK to publish with Scribner in 2013."

Graham said: "We read the pages from Anjelica Huston with such admiration and exuberance. She is a writer. Her voice, her language, her sentences, her eccentric childhood are mesmerizing. This is a literary memoir as well as the story of a formidable actress and fascinating woman."

Huston said: "My father once said that interest was the most important thing in the world, and he wasn’t talking about money, but rather the infinite possibilities and choices and patterns we all have in life,” said Ms. Huston. “In this book, I want to look back at the landscapes that formed me—the exceptional highs and lows I have experienced. I am delighted to be working with Nan Graham and Susan Moldow at Scribner."

News item posted on 03-Mar-2011

Vintage to hold open day

Vintage will open its doors to 30 members of the public next month to give them a glimpse into the publishing industry, as part of its 21st birthday celebrations.

The open day will be held on 18th April in Vintage's offices in central London. There will be talks from publishers Dan Franklin and Penny Hoare; a panel discussion between author Kevin Barry, his agent Lucy Luck and his editor Alex Bowler to discuss the acquisition, editing and publishing of his book City of Bohane; and an event with booksellers, publishers and digital editors discussing e-publishing.

Hoare will also be in conversation with Orange Prize-winner Rose Tremain to discuss her publishing experiences; Tremain will also sign copies of her latest novel Trespass.

Tickets, costing £35 (or £30 for concessions) are available from Vintage's website, as well as its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Rachel Cugnoni, Vintage publisher said: "It's great fun working in publishing:  we sit around most of day reading novels, go out for long lunches and finish off the day drinking white wine at glamorous launch parties.

"Really? I'm not sure if 'those were the days' or if they even ever existed. But if you're keen to find out what it's really like working for the publishers of Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, A S Byatt, J M Coetzee, Umberto Eco, Mark Haddon, Audrey Niffenegger, Philip Roth and Jeanette Winterson, to name but a few, join us at our Vintage 21st Birthday Open Day and find out."

News item posted on 02-Mar-2011

Penguin has best-ever year as Pearson profits leap

Penguin UK had its best ever year in 2010 as parent company Pearson reported a profits increase of 21% to £857m.

For the year ending 31st December, sales at Pearson were £5.66bn, up 10% on 2009. Sales at Penguin were £1.05bn, up 5% on the previous year. Adjusted operating profit was up 26% to £106m. Pearson attributed this to an "outstanding" US performance, driven by a record number of bestsellers, increased market share and expansion in emerging digital platforms and formats.

It said Penguin UK "lead the bestseller lists" and increased its market share to 10%. According to Nielsen BookScan figures, Penguin had a 11.5% share of the market in 2010. Penguin e-book sales were 6% of total revenue and e-book sales were up 182% on 2009. Among the bestsellers identified were Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals, Stephen Fry's The Fry Chronicles, Kathryn Stockett's The Help and A History of the World in 100 Objects.

Penguin group chairman and chief executive, John Makinson, said: “We are truly delighted with these results. The achievement of more than £100m in profit represents a landmark for Penguin but of greater significance are the quality and consistency of performance that underpin this result. The company has been gaining market share on every continent by combining an appetite for measured commercial and creative risk with exemplary execution in every department of the business. We believe that these qualities will serve us in good stead as we address the proliferating challenges of 2011."

News item posted on 01-Mar-2011

Bloomsbury predicts 2011 to be "year of the e-book"

Bloomsbury is anticipating 2011 to be the "year of the e-book", as it reported e-book sales were running at just under 10% of trade print sales, as part of its interim results announcement put out this morning (28th February).

For the 12 months ending 31st December 2010, sales were up 4.01% from £87.2m to £90.7m. However, pre-tax profits fell from £7.1m to £5.5m, which the publisher blamed on amortisation of assets, its move to new offices and acquisition costs.

In his chief executive's statement Nigel Newton said e-books were experiencing "extraordinary" growth, particularly in fiction in the US, where e-book sales were already at 15%. He said according to Amazon 40% of sales of recent bestsellers were as e-books, with Bloomsbury "experiencing similar figures". Man Booker winner Howard Jacobson's The Finkler Question had digital sales of 42% of the total in the US in its first six months. Group e-book sales have increased more than 18-fold between 2009 and 2010 from $131,000 to $2.3m.

The publisher released almost 1,800 e-books last year. Newton said owners of e-book readers were buying more electronic books than they were in print before they owned a device.

Regarding physical books, Newton described sales as "robust" during the second half of 2010 in the UK, United States and Germany. He highlighted The Finkler Question, Ben Macintyre's Operation Mincemeat, the film tie-in of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love and Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus.

Sales in the UK increased 6.5% to £62.7m last year, which the publisher said was primarily due to the success of its adult list and full year trading of Bloomsbury Professional, its law and business books wing. North American sales were up 1.6% to £19.1m with Bloomsbury adding Borders' Chapter 11 will not affect it as the debt is covered by its US distributor. Continental Europe sales were down 7.3% to £8.9m, which Bloomsbury blamed on weak sales and above average returns.

Its specialist publishing wing, which includes the likes of its academic publishing, Bloomsbury Professional and business support arm Bloomsbury Information, sales increased 9.1% to £28.7m. Trade sales were up 11.1% to £42.1m. However, sales in children's books were down 13.5% to £19.9m, despite "very encouraging" sales of the repackaged Harry Potter books.

Newton said: "Bloomsbury had an excellent year with a number of bestselling titles and particularly buoyant sales in the final quarter. We are also benefitting from our strong position in digital publishing which continues to experience exciting and unprecedented growth. With sales of digital devices such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad growing rapidly, 2011 will clearly be the year of the e-book.

"Our overall trade e-book sales are currently running at just under 10% of print sales, a proportion we expect to increase as more backlist titles are added and as the UK market gains the kind of momentum being seen in the US."

Looking ahead, the business will adopt a new global structure from tomorrow. Newton said: "With the huge growth in digital publishing the market for books is becoming more global. Our major customers are also becoming more global, and, indeed, so is the media with whom we promote our books. The increasing demand for e-books means that acquiring world rights to books and exploiting them globally is becoming the most effective way of protecting our territorial copyrights."

News item posted on 01-Mar-2011