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June 2011

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DK to release five apps

Dorling Kindersley is to release five more apps developed with digital media company Cogapp via the iTunes store by the end of 2011, with DK publishing director Justin Moodie calling apps a "rapidly growing publishing channel at DK".

The apps will be based on some of DK's "best-selling core titles", with the first, Quick Cook on iPad, to be released later this summer. The app will feature more than 600 recipes, which will be searchable through a range of filters, such as store cupboard ingredients.

Cogapp worked with DK to develop the Eyewitness Paris, London and New York apps.

Publishing director Justin Moodie said: "Apps are a rapidly growing publishing channel at DK, providing our customers with a new, accessible route to access some of the most inspiring content and beauty from DK via their iPad or iPhone."

Cogapp m.d. Alex Morrison added: "It is fantastic that we are able to continue to build upon our collaborative relationship with DK and means there are some exciting times ahead."

News item posted on 29-Jun-2011


US e-reader ownership doubles in six months

E-reader ownership in the US has doubled over the past six months, the first time ownership of e-readers has reached double digits among US adults. Sales of tablet computers, however, have not seen the same level of growth, with e-reader growth outpacing tablet growth since November last year, confounding predictions that multimedia devices would overtake single-purporse devices.

According to a report carried out by the Pew Internet Project, Hispanic adults, adults younger than age 65, college graduates and those living in households with incomes of at least $75,000 are most likely to own e-book readers.

The  overall share of US adults who own an e-reader doubled to 12% in May 2011 from 6% in November 2010. It is the first time since the project began measuring e-reader take-up in April 2009 that ownership has exceeded single figures.

Tablets including the iPad however are lagging behind, with 8% of adults reporting owning a device in May 2011, compared to 7% in January 2011 and 5% in November 2011. The survey also found an overlap, with 3% of adults owning both devices.

The numbers suggests that as many as 25m Americans own e-reading devices, while 19m have tablets, such as an iPad, Samsung Galaxy or Motorola Xoom.

There was considerable growth in e-reader ownership between November 2010 and May 2011 among college graduates, one-fifth of whom now own these devices. This group was already outpacing other adults in Pew Internet’s November 2010 survey. The survey also found that one-quarter of US adults who earned more than $75,000 owned an e-reader. Parents are also more likely than non-parents to own these devices.

While growing fast, the survey shows how far behind other devices the e-reader is in market penetration: while 12% own an e-reader, 83% of US adults own a mobile phone.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project survey was carried out from 26th April-22nd May 2011 across 2,277 adults.

News item posted on 29-Jun-2011


Maria V Snyder to be interviewed by a student!

The best-selling author of fantasy will be interviewed by an Australian student in the not so distant future.

Harlequin and SpineOut are giving one lucky young adult the chance to kick-start their reporting career this month.

Enter the competition on page 7 of SpineOut and you could win an interview with Maria Snyder and an iPad2!

Find out more here!

News item posted on 28-Jun-2011


Hobbit film images released

We'll all have to wait until Dec. 14, 2012, for the full fruits of director Peter Jackson's labors on his two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Hobbit. But, to tide us over, Jackson has shared the first images from his Lord of the Rings prequels with Entertainment Weekly and you can view them here:

http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20504849,00.html

 

News item posted on 27-Jun-2011


Anjali Joseph scoops Desmond Elliott Prize

Anjali Joseph has won the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize for her "faultlessly written" novel Saraswati Park.

The Fourth Estate author clinched the prize at the ceremony at Fortnum and Mason in London last night. Edward Stourton, chair of judges, said: "We were united in our admiration for Saraswati Park, which we found utterly absorbing and faultlessly written. The characters are beautifully realised, and their lives, with their ambitions and regrets, stay with you long after you have closed the last page. Anjali Joseph's skills as a novelist are humbling."

The novel is about an Indian family experiencing marriage difficulties whose lives are interrupted when their 19-year-old nephew comes to stay as he repeats his final year in college. Her win is her second accolade for the novel. She won the Betty Trask prize in June.

Joseph beat Ned Beauman's Boxer, Beetle (Sceptre) and Stephen Kelman's Pigeon English (Bloomsbury) to the prize.

The award was established in honour of the publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, who died in 2003. It is intended to support debut novelists and celebrate their fiction.

News item posted on 27-Jun-2011


Pottermore a "gamechanger" for authors

J K Rowling’s new Pottermore website has been described as a gamechanger in how bestselling authors deal with their readers, as the press extensively covered the news of the Harry Potter author's new venture.

The Guardian newspaper carried details of what the site would entail and the fact that it would be the only place selling the Harry Potter novels as digital downloads. Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown made the claim the move was a gamechanger for the industry. He said: "This does feel like a significant moment. If I was a brand author I would be asking my publisher how to get to the online communities that JK Rowling is getting to. It might be a wakeup call to think of a new way of getting to readers."

The Telegraph’s Olivia Solon said Pottermore represents "a significant landmark for digital publishing" and praised Rowling for the social network element of the site and "not just hauling out her manuscript and plonking it onto a website with a bit of frilly window-dressing from a digital agency."

She said: "Instead, she has laboured for a year in close collaboration with creative developers TH_NK to curate an experience that really takes advantages of the unique properties of the web."

However, she added: "Pottermore is still very much a second screen experience which runs separate to the e-book files as opposed to being integrated into an interactive tablet experience."

The Daily Mail estimated Rowling is likely to "rake in millions" because Pottermore is the only medium selling the Harry Potter e-books.

Rowling told BBC News 18,000 words of new material about characters, places and objects was being released online, rather than in a new book, because she did not have "a new story".

She told the organisation: "It's background, and lots of details that didn't make it into the book. Some of it is new stuff in response to things fans have asked me over the years."

News item posted on 27-Jun-2011


JK Rowling to release interactive e-books!

E-book versions of the seven Harry Potter novels are likely to move a step closer today with the launch of an immersive website based on the Harry Potter universe. The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones has reported via Twitter that the paid e-books will be released in autumn.

The full details behind Pottermore will be unveiled by author J K Rowling on YouTube and at a press conference being held later today at the Victoria and Albert Museum. According to a leaked memo, the announcement is expected to focus on the gaming elements of the new site, and the memo indicated that it wanted to "build expectations" indicating that the e-books might not be sold on launch.

What is clear, however, is that the digital content will be published under the imprint Pottermore Publishing, rather than by her print publisher Bloomsbury, which does not own the digital rights. A company called Pottermore Ltd was incorporated at Companies House in late 2009, and has recently appointed as directors Neil Blair, lawyer and Rowling's agent at Christopher Little, and Eric Hartley Senat, formerly a senior vice-president with Warner Bros, the company behind the Potter films.

It is thought that the e-book versions will be sold directly off the Pottermore site when they are released. Pottermore Publishing will have full control over when the books are released and the price point. The e-book files will be able to be read across a range of devices, including Amazon's Kindle.

The Pottermore website was launched last week after fans were guided to its name by an online street view search. The launch, which points users to a YouTube video with a countdown to Thursday 23rd June. It has led to feverish speculation about what the intentions were behind the site, though her publicist has denied that it included an eighth book.

Rowling's literary agency indicated her willingness to allow legal digital versions of the books to be sold for the first time in May last year. Blair said the agency had been “actively” looking, whereas previously it had just been “monitoring the developing area”.

Rebecca Salt, Rowling's publicist, refused to comment to The Bookseller ahead of the launch.

News item posted on 24-Jun-2011


One selling every 23 seconds!

Rumours of the book store’s demise have been greatly exaggerated if sales of Lauren Kate’s new book Passion are anything to go by. With one copy selling every 23 seconds, Passion is flying off shelves.

Bookscan reports that more than 16,000 copies have been sold through Australian stores in the first full week of sales alone, making Passion the #1 selling book and proving that teenagers are still buying books in massive numbers. And it is social media and innovative marketing that has propelled fans through the book store doors.

Random House Australia has used an innovative campaign to get teens buying books. And what are they reading? Well vampires are so passé. Now it’s all about fallen angels . . .

News item posted on 24-Jun-2011


Scott wins second Miles Franklin award

Kim Scott, the first indigenous author to win the Miles Franklin Literary Award, has won the accolade for a second time.

The West Australian author's novel, That Deadman Dance, was announced 2011 winner of the $50,000 prize at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne last night.

Also short-listed were multi-award-winning Braidwood author Roger McDonald's When Colts Ran and Melbourne-born author Chris Womersley's Bereft.

Scott, 54, previously won the award in 2000 for his novel Benang, jointly with Thea Astley's Drylands.

That Deadman Dance tells the story of early contact of British colonisers, American whalers and the indigenous Noongar people on the south coast of Western Australia, the 'friendly frontier', in the early 19th century.

Speaking for the judging panel, Morag Fraser said it was the 'largeness and the originality of the vision' of Scott's novel that swayed the judges.

'As a literary achievement, it's breathtaking ... it's clear-eyed about tragedy but it brims with what's possible.'

Speaking after the award, Scott said he was hopeful about prospects for indigenous Australians.

'The story's not over yet, and in my lifetime as someone who as a younger people was relatively disconnected from my heritage, I've seen things open up and I've become myself aware of some really powerful and nurturing cultural sources which previously I was blind to.

'I think I've had some experience of a collective healing, I've had some experience of the power of what's around in terms of Aboriginal heritage, particularly Noongar heritage, and that gives me hope.'

The novel takes its title from a Noongar dance inspired by an English military drill and first observed by Matthew Flinders.

The central character, Bobby Wabalanginy, is a gifted storyteller and dancer of the 'deadman dance'.

He quickly learns the language of the English arrivals 'the horizon people' and moves freely among them, but his childhood trust is betrayed and he ends his days as an elder, on the margins of society, telling his story to any willing to listen. The judges said Scott's 'powerful and innovative fiction that shifts our sense of what an historical novel can achieve. Its language is shaped by the encounter of Noongar and Australian English, producing new writing and speech.' Both Scott and McDonald, who won the Miles Franklin in 2006 for The Ballad of Desmond Kale, are short-listed for the Prime Minister's Literary Award for fiction which will be announced in Canberra on July 8.

News item posted on 23-Jun-2011


Self-published author hits one million Kindle sales

John Locke has become the first self-published author to sell more than one million e-books through Amazon.

The author used Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform to publish and sell his titles. He joins Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child, Suzanne Collins and Michael Connelly in what Amazon dub the Kindle Million Club.

Locke said: "Kindle Direct Publishing has provided an opportunity for independent authors to compete on a level playing field with the giants of the book selling industry. Not only did KDP give me a chance, they helped at every turn. Quite simply, KDP is the greatest friend an author can have."

Russ Grandinetti, vice-president of Kindle Content, said: "It's so exciting that self-publishing has allowed John Locke to achieve a milestone like this."

Locke, from Louisville in Kentucky, has written nine novels including Vegas Moon, Wish List, A Girl Like You, Follow the Stone, Don't Poke the Bear! and the New York Times bestselling e-book, Saving Rachel. His latest book is called How I Sold 1 Million e-books in 5 Months.

News item posted on 22-Jun-2011


Fry to star in Borrowers adaptation

Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood and Christopher Eccleston are to star in an adaptation of Mary Norton's classic children's novel The Borrowers this Christmas.

The 90-minute drama, penned by “Merlin" writer Ben Vanstone and produced by Working Title Television, will be directed by “This Is England"'s Tom Harper for BBC1.

The novel, published by Puffin Modern Classics, brings to life the world of the tiny “Borrowers" who live under the floorboards of human “beans". Teenager Arrietty Clock, played by Aisling Loftan, wants to explore outside their hidden family home while her parents Pod and Homily, played by Eccelston and Sharon Horgan, are terrified of the world outside.

Danny Cohen, controller BBC1, said: "'The Borrowers' will be part of a really special family Christmas on BBC1and with with its stellar line-up it is set to be a truly wonderful programme."

Victoria Wood is to star as human “bean" Grandma Driver, while Fry will play scientist Professor Mildeye who is determined to trap the Borrowers to prove they exist and resurrect his academic career.

News item posted on 22-Jun-2011


Ladybird to publish Hello Kitty

Ladybird is to publish a range of Hello Kitty pre-school titles, having acquired UK rights from Fluid World, UK agent for Hello Kitty brand owner Sanrio.

Ladybird will publish a range of formats for 0-3-year-olds, launching in September 2011 with two board books (£4.99), a buggy book (£4.99) and a touch-and-feel playbook (£7.99).

Publishing director Eric Huang said: "Hello Kitty and Ladybird are a natural match. Both are iconic brands, and both appeal to parents and children. We have had great fun creating a range of baby books that are about friendship, learning and fun—themes at the core of both Ladybird and Hello Kitty."

Fluid World senior brand manager Victoria Charles added: "Ladybird has such strong nostalgia with parents who remember the brand from their childhood and makes it the perfect partner to launch a range of infant books."

News item posted on 22-Jun-2011


The Long Song wins Walter Scott Prize

Andrea Levy's Man Booker-shortlisted The Long Song (Headline Review) has been lauded by judges of the Walter Scott Prize for its "imaginative depth", as the author won the £25,000 award.

The prize was bestowed on the author for the novel, about the legacy of slavery, at the Brewin Dolphin Borders Book Festival in Melrose, Scotland on Saturday (18th June).

Levy said: “I’m very honoured to receive the Walter Scott Prize. This is a generous literary prize, which focuses attention on an important aspect of the role of fiction. Fiction can—and must—step in where historians cannot go because of the rigour of their discipline. Fiction can breathe life into our lost or forgotten histories."

The judges said: “Andrea Levy brings to this story such personal understanding and imaginative depth that her characters leap from the page, with all the resilience, humour and complexity of real people. There are no clichés or stereotypes here. The Long Song is quite simply a celebration of the triumphant human spirit in times of great adversity.”

The Long Song was chosen from a shortlist of six books, which ranged from subjects on imperial Japan, Tudor England, Tsarist Russia, and 19th century Jamaica to turn-of-the-century Ireland and interwar London.

News item posted on 21-Jun-2011


Thomas Arthur Guy Hungerford has passed on

T.A.G. (Thomas Arthur Guy) Hungerford died in his sleep yesterday morning at the age of 96 with family by his side.
Tom was the author of Fremantle Press books Wong Chu and the Queen’s Letterbox and other stories, Stories from the Suburban Road, Knockabout with a Slouch Hat, Red Rover All Over and Straightshooter. The T.A.G. Hungerford Award for debut authors was named in his honour.
 
Close friend of the author and Fremantle Press Sales Manager, Clive Newman, said Tom Hungerford was one of the early success stories for the Press and he was saddened by the news of the author’s death.
 

News item posted on 21-Jun-2011


Al Pacino to Bring Philip Roth to the Big Screen

The actor set to adapt Roth's brilliant short novel, THE HUMBLING.
 
Philip Roth’s THE HUMBLING is currently being adapted into a film by actor Al Pacino and director, Barry Levinson.

Pacino is set to star as Simon Axler, a famous stage actor in decline, whose fortunes pick up when he retires to his upstate New York farmhouse and starts dating a younger woman.
 
Pacino and Levinson have recently received critical acclaim last year for their collaboration on the HBO TV movie, YOU DON’T KNOW JACK.
 

News item posted on 20-Jun-2011


Colum McCann wins IMPAC Prize

Colum McCann has won the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel Let the Great World Spin (Bloomsbury), beating 161 other entries.

The €100,000 prize is the largest awarded to a single novel published in English.

"Colum McCann joins a long list of eminent novelists to win this award," said the Lord Mayor and patron of the award, Gerry Breen. “It is wonderful and fitting to have a Dublin winner in the year that Dublin was awarded UNESCO City of Literature designation, a designation in perpetuity.”

McCann is the second Irish author to win the prize. Colm Toibín won in 2006 for The Master (Picador).

The 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is organised by Dublin City Libraries, on behalf of Dublin City Council and sponsored by IMPAC. Nominations are received from public libraries around the globe.

News item posted on 17-Jun-2011


Grisham top as Random House scores five number ones

John Grisham's The Confession (Arrow) has retained its position at the summit of the Official UK Top 50 in a week when his publisher, Random House, has scored number ones across all five of The Bookseller's main bestseller lists — the first time a publisher has achieved the feat since record began in 1998.

The mass-market edition of the novel, which sold 121,000 copies in hardback, sold 26,706 copies at UK booksellers last week, down from 35,294 copies the previous week, but comfortably more than the next most popular purchase of the week, Maeve Binchy's Minding Frankie (Orion). The latter sold 21,315 copies in its first week in bookshops, helped by deep-discount promotions at W H Smith and Waterstone's. Bernard Cornwell's The Fort (Harper) climbs three places to third position overall, thanks to a spot in W H Smith's popular "£2.99 if you buy the Times" link-save promotion.

James Patterson’s 17th Alex Cross thriller, Cross Fire (Arrow) and Harlan Coben’s Miracle Cure (Orion, re-released 20 years after it first hit the shelves), both début in the top 10.

With Father's Day in mind, publishers released books by some of the most bankable names in bookselling last week. Series instalments by James Patterson (with Mark Pearson) and Clive Cussler (with Grant Blackwood) both sold more than 6,500 copies in jut three days last week, and début in the Official UK Top 50, while new books by Rick Stein, Rowland White, Sir David Attenborough, Allan Mallison and Kenya-born Ben Kane all hit The Bookseller's genre bestseller lists this week.

Benefitting from better-than-half-price “deal of the week” spots at Amazon.co.uk, Patterson’s Private London (Century) and Cussler’s The Kingdom (Michael Joseph) take the top two positions in the Original Fiction chart with sales of 7,144 and 6,610 respectively. Orange prize-winner Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife (Weidenfeld) débuts, courtesy of a 340% week-on-week sales boost. The hardback edition of the novel sold 1,768 copies in the seven days to 11th June, up from just 404 the previous week.

With Patterson and Grisham topping The Bookseller's Original Fiction and Mass-market Fiction charts, Kate McCann's Madeleine (Transworld) and Bill Bryson's At Home (Black Swan) both holding position at the summit of the Hardback and Paperback Non-fiction charts, and Terry Pratchett's I Shall Wear Midnight (Corgi) the new number one in Children's, it means publisher Random House scores number ones across all five of The Bookseller's main bestseller lists.

In total, £25.5m was spent at UK booksellers in the seven days to 11th June—up 1.3% week-on-week, but down 6.6% on the same week last year when Stephenie Meyer’s The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (Atom) topped the charts with a massive 136,995 seven-day sale.

News item posted on 16-Jun-2011


Random House launches first colour picture e-books

Random House Children's Books has released four colour picture e-books, marking the start of its e-book publishing programme for picture books. Digital editions will from now on be released alongside the physical books.

Four titles have been published as fixed page format books for the iBookstore, and in standard EPUB format where the text reflows for the Kindle, Sony Reader and mobile devices. The first titles are: Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen, The Boy Who Cried Ninja by Alex Latimer, Scruffy Bear and the Six White Mice by Christopher Wormell and Peely Wally by Kali Stileman. The e-books were produced in-house.

On the iBookstore, where Random controls the price, Good Little Wolf, The Boy Who Cried Ninja and Peely Wally will be priced £3.99, with Scruffy Bear and the Six White Mice priced £7.99 as it is only currently also available in hardback. For other e-retailers, not on agency, the list price for Good Little Wolf , The Boy . . . and Peely Wally will be £5.99, with Scruffy Bear priced £10.99.

Publisher, colour and licensing, Fiona Macmillan said: "I am thrilled to have reached this exciting stage in our e-book publishing programme, and to be able to present these original books in this innovative new platform which will attract an even wider audience of children and their parents. Children will now be able to build these four stories into their own digital libraries, and enjoy them wherever they are, at home or on the go, on iPads, mobiles or Readers."

RHCB is also developing its first picture book apps, based on Princess Poppy by Janey Louise Jones, and the Little Red Train series by Benedict Blathwayt, which will be released in the autumn.
 

News item posted on 16-Jun-2011


Joseph, Ziegler, Henderson, win at Society of Author awards

Twenty-one writers shared £76,000 of prize money at the Authors' Awards last night presented by Joanna Trollope. Among them Anjali Joseph won the £10,000 Betty Trask prize for Saraswati Park (Fourth Estate). As previously announced, Philip Ziegler won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Edward Heath – The Authorised Biography (HarperPress). The McKitterick prize, worth £4,000 was given to Emma Henderson, who has been previously shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Wellcome Book Prize.

Other Betty Trask Prize Award winners were Laura Barton who received £6,000
for Twenty-One Locks (Quercus) and Simon Lelic who was given £2,500 for
Rupture (Picador) along with Robert Williams, who was also awarded £2,500
for Luke and Jon (Faber).

After the presentations, Trollope congratulated all the winners, saying they had the power to influence imaginations with their words. She said: "We (authors) can take everything that has already been said and present it in a way that makes people think ‘I have never heard this before.' All the writers around us tonight have done this."

Joseph said: "I feel really happy, I remember reading the backs of books which had this award cited when I was younger and thinking they must be good, so its nice to get the recognition."

The event took place at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly, London, and was hosted by the Society of Authors.

Full list of winners and judges:

The Elizabeth Longford Prize (£5,000) sponsored by Flora Fraser and Peter
Soros
Winner: Philip Ziegler for Edward Heath – The Authorised Biography
(HarperPress)
Judges: Roy Foster, Lady Antonia Fraser DBE, Flora Fraser, David Gilmour,
Munro Price.

The Travelling Scholarships
Winners: Mark Cocker, Rose George and Ben Markovits, who each received
£2,000
Judges: Lisa Appignanesi, Jim Crace, Kay Dunbar, Adam Mars-Jones, Caroline
Moorehead.

The Somerset Maugham Awards
Winners: Miriam Gamble for The Squirrels Are Dead (Bloodaxe), Alexandra
Harris for Romantic Moderns (Thames and Hudson) and Adam O'Riordan for In the Flesh (Chatto Poetry) each of whom received £3,500
Judges: Rachel Cusk, William Fiennes, M. J. Hyland.

The Tom-Gallon Trust Award (£1,000)
Winner: Emma Timpany for The Pledge
Judges: Jane Gardam and Jacob Ross

The McKitterick Prize (£4,000)
Winner: Emma Henderson for Grace Williams Says It Loud (Sceptre)
Judges: Mavis Cheek, Lindsey Davis, Georgina Hammick.

The Betty Trask Prize (£10,000)
Winner: Anjali Joseph for Saraswati Park (Fourth Estate)

Betty Trask Award winners
Laura Barton for Twenty-One Locks (Quercus) £6,000
Simon Lelic for Rupture (Picador) and Robert Williams for Luke and Jon
(Faber) each received £2,500
Judges: Paul Bailey, Frances Fyfield, Shena Mackay.

The Cholmondeley Awards
Winners: Imtiaz Dharker, Michael Haslam and Lachlan Mackinnon received
£2,500 each
Judges: Dennis O'Driscoll, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Patterson, Jo Shapcott.

The Eric Gregory Awards
Winners: Niall Campbell, Tom Chivers, Holly Hopkins, Martin Jackson and Kim
Moore received £4,200 each
Judges: Moniza Alvi, Alan Brownjohn, Polly Clark, John Greening, Carol
Rumens, Fiona Sampson.
 

News item posted on 16-Jun-2011


Six picked for BBC Samuel Johnson shortlist

Titles on Chairman Mao, the Cavaliers of the English Civil War and Italian artist Caravaggio have been shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2011.

The six-strong list “a reflection of a remarkable publishing year” features Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikötter (Bloomsbury), Reprobates by John Stubbs (Viking) and "Culture Show" presenter Andrew Graham Dixon's Caravaggio (Allen Lane).

Also on the list, announced this evening (14th June) is The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley (Fourth Estate), Bismarck: A Life by Jonathan Steinberg (Oxford University Press) and Liberty's Exiles by Maya Jasanoff (HarperPress).

Chair of judges, author and journalist, Ben Macintyre, said "This year's shortlist for the Samuel Johnson Prize is a tribute to the breadth and depth of non-fiction writing, a reflection of a remarkable publishing year in which more books have been considered for the prize than ever before.

"As chairman of the judges, I find myself feeling, even before we begin our final deliberations, that while one of these great books certainly deserves to win, five do not deserve to lose."

The winner of the £20,000 prize, now in its 13th year, will be revealed on 6th July. BBC2's "The Culture Show" will broadcast a special edition on the prize on the 7th.
 

News item posted on 16-Jun-2011


Andre launches new children's literacy scheme

Pop singer turned TV star Peter Andre is joining the ranks of the champions of children's literacy by fronting the launch of a new London scheme.

Andre joins London's mayor Boris Johnson at the Botwell Green library and leisure centre in Hayes this morning (14th June) to launch a literacy project aimed at helping young children aged three to five years who are struggling with their learning development.

Families on the scheme will receive support from "literacy champions" who will encourage them to use reading, phonics and games to boost the children's learning and help to prepare them for school.

The scheme is a part of "Team London"—the mayor's volunteering action plan—and is run by the National Literacy Trust.

News item posted on 15-Jun-2011


Kindle-only children's series launched

Intellectual property agency 1454 has developed a new interactive children's adventure series that will be published exclusively on the Kindle worldwide. It is thought to be the first time a children's series has been produced solely for digital release.

BookSurfers, written by the children's writer David Gatward, is aimed at nine to 12-year-olds and is based on the classic novels Treasure Island and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The four Booksurfers, Ryan, Jake, Becca and Harriet use a bespoke digital gadget called The Nautilus to jump into classic adventure stories with the reader able to use hyperlinks to connect to the corresponding points in the original classic.

The classic novels are bundled in with the price of the new book, meaning readers can explore both books as the narrative unfolds. Two further titles based on Robin Hood and A Christmas Carol are also slated for release later this year.

Creative director Zoe Watkins said the series had been developed with the Kindle platform in mind. Watkins said: "We wanted to engage kids with the classics in a way they hadn't been before, and so it seemed to us that digital offered a new way of doing that. The books work very specifically on the Kindle with hyperlinks between the new adventure and original classic text. The idea really lends itself to digital and adds a whole extra layer of interactivity."

The books will be priced at £4.59, though Amazon.co.uk is already selling the first two for £3.67. The agency 1454 first began to work on the concept two years ago: "the digital market wasn't that developed, but as we've got closer to publication the market has really expanded", said Watkins.

Watkins declined to divulge the financial terms with Amazon, which has a five-year exclusive arrangement on the series. Watkins said the agency would also look at selling traditional print rights further down the line, once the series has been developed, as well as foreign and film rights.

Watkins said the series did not have to sell in "Harry Potter-type numbers to be a viable exercise", and that the intention was to keep going after the first four editions have been published. She said the exclusive arrangement with Amazon was a "natural" way for the new books to be launched" and done for "good commercial reasons".

In a blog written for FutureBook, Watkins added: "We are not by any means anti traditional print publishing—we love the book in all its many forms—but Booksurfers was always intended to be launched digitally because of the natural synergy between the reader experience and the Booksurfers’ own use of their Nautilus device.

"Harnessing the functionality of Kindle enables us to create the interactivity which we hope will draw young readers into classic books in a way which is fun, intuitive and user-friendly, and gives us the opportunity to reach a worldwide market."

Gatward is best known for his The Dead series published in the UK by Hodder.

News item posted on 15-Jun-2011


Obreht wins the Orange Prize for Fiction!

Serbian/American author Téa Obreht has won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction with her debut novel The Tiger's Wife (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). At 25, Obreht is the youngest-ever author to take the Prize.
 
Bettany Hughes, Chair of Judges, said: "'The Tiger's Wife is an exceptional book and Téa Obreht is a truly exciting new talent. Obreht's powers of observation and her understanding of the world are remarkable. By skilfully spinning a series of magical tales she has managed to bring the tragedy of chronic Balkan conflict thumping into our front rooms with a bittersweet vivacity."
 
She continues, "The book reminds us how easily we can slip into barbarity, but also of the breadth and depth of human love. Obreht celebrates storytelling and she helps us to remember that it is the stories that we tell about ourselves, and about others, that can make us who we are and the world what it is."
 
Some of you met Tea when she was out here recently for the Sydney Writer’s Festival. Not only is she extraordinarily talented, she is a truly delightful and funny girl that has been humbled by her publishing experience thus far.  Greatly deserved and exciting news!

News item posted on 10-Jun-2011


'The Cat Who' author dies at 97

Journalist and mystery writer Lilian Jackson Braun has died, aged 97. Braun created the popular ‘The Cat Who' mystery series. Her first book, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, was released in 1966.

News item posted on 10-Jun-2011


Madeleine tops charts again as Bond misses number one

James Bond has failed in his latest mission: to top the bestseller charts. Despite a bargain £5 deal at Tesco (75% off the £19.99 r.r.p.), sales of Jeffery Deaver's 007 novel, Carte Blanche (Hodder & Stoughton), were insufficient to score it a number one.

The thriller, which sees MI6's finest given carte blanche to prevent a terrorist atrocity, sold a solid 16,158 copies in its first three days on sale. It is strong enough for eighth position in the Official UK Top 50, but it falls some 797 copies short of the bestselling hardback fiction book of the week, Peter James' Dead Man's Grip (Macmillan), which also benefited from a £5 deal at Tesco.

Carte Blanche's sales figure is around a third of the 44,093 sales Bond's previous outing, in Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care (Penguin 007), racked up in its first four days of sales in May 2008.

For the third consecutive week, Kate McCann's Madeleine (Bantam Press) was the bestselling book in the UK, with Martina Cole's The Family (Headline) once again the second most popular purchase. The books sold 30,895 and 30,156 copies respectively at UK booksellers.

The mass-market edition of John Grisham's The Confession (Arrow), which sold 115,000 copies in hardback in the run-up to Christmas last year, débuts in third place in the Official UK Top 50, and was one of numerous new titles released by publishers last week with Father's Day on 19th June in mind.

Other books that début in the Official UK Top 50 and should sell well in the run-up to Father's Day include the mass-market editions of Bill Bryson's At Home (Black Swan), John le Carré's Our Kind of Traitor (Penguin), Bernard Cornwell's The Fort (Harper), Ken Follett's Fall of Giants (Pan), Keith Richards' Life (Phoenix), Jeremy Clarkson's How Hard Can it Be? (Penguin) and last week's "£2.99 if you buy the Times" link-save deal at W H Smith, Gerald Seymour's The Dealer and the Dead (Hodder). All scored sales of more than 5,900 last week.

In 2007, Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (Black Swan) sold a tremendous 66,100 copies in the seven days leading up to Father's Day—a week when sales surged 14.6% week-on-week, to £30.9m.

Thanks to a plethora of enticing new releases hitting bookshop shelves, spending at UK book retail outlets rose 4.4% (£1.1m) week-on-week, to £25.7m — a six-week high. However, sales were down 1.6% (£0.4m) on the same week last year, when books by Stieg Larsson, Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs and Kathryn Stockett bothered the charts with 20,000-plus sales.

News item posted on 06-Jun-2011


W&N acquires "definitive" Johnny Cash biography

Weidenfeld & Nicolson has acquired a "definitive biography" of country music star, the "Man in Black", Johnny Cash.

W&N publisher Alan Samson bought world English rights, excluding US and Canada, to the biography by Robert Hilburn from Tracy Williams at Hachette Book Group USA.

In Search of Johnny Cash will be published simultaneously in hardback by W&N and Little, Brown in the US, in January 2014.

Samson said: "The appeal of Johnny Cash crosses the generations, and Robert Hilburn's biography will become the enduring tribute to both a matchless talent and an extraordinary life."

Hilburn was a music critic and pop music editor for the LA Times for over 30 years. He knew Cash well, and was the only journalist at the legendary Folsom Prison concert in 1968.

He also conducted extensive interviews during Cash's last days, and will use these and never-before-seen material from the Johnny Cash estate. Cash, who was recently featured in the biopic "Walk the Line", and most famous for songs such as "Ring of Fire and "Get Rhythm", was born in 1932 and died in 2003. His second marriage was to country singer June Carter.

Hilburn said: "I want to treat Cash with the critical eye and historical scholarship that he deserves as one of the major socio-cultural figures of the 20th century . . . His life was often a struggle between his artistry and his addiction—and ultimately . . . each contributed to the other."

News item posted on 06-Jun-2011


Two novelists win first Pratchett prize

Two novelists have been chosen as the winners of the inaugural Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now Prize.

David Logan’s Half Sick of Shadows and Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan (no relation) were chosen as joint winners by six judges including Pratchett and Tony Robinson at a ceremony on 1 June. Both authors win a one-book publishing contract from Transworld.

Pratchett said: "It was a long deliberation and although to some it might seem a cop out to split a prize, we decided that since the existence of the prize was to find new talent then this was the happiest decision to make.

"Half Sick of Shadows and Apocalypse Cow both stood out in their different ways and I wish their creators the best of luck in their writing careers."

Pratchett and his publisher Transworld launched the prize, for aspiring debut novelists, in June last year. Over 500 entries were received for the £20,000 prize, which both Logans will share.
 

News item posted on 06-Jun-2011


Borders closes remaining Australian stores

Borders stores in Australia will cease to exist in two weeks as the remaining stores were given their final death knell yesterday when administrators announced no buyer could be found.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 315 people would be made redundant in the last wave of store closures after Ferrier Hodgson, the administrators of Borders’ parent company REDgroup, announced no buyer could be found for the remaining nine Borders stores in Australia.

Perth Now reports that the remaining bookshops will shut their doors on 17th June and reveals some stores had already stopped receiving deliveries.

Administrator John Melluish of Ferrier Hodgson said in a statement: "The employees have shown extraordinary commitment in their efforts to keep the business going . . . Unfortunately, the reasons for the store closures are beyond their control."

The last round of closures of 16 Borders stores, announced in April, made 300 full-time staff and 210 casual staff redundant. REDgroup, which also owns the Angus & Robertson bookstore chain, was put into the hands of the administrator on 17th February.

At a meeting on 3rd March, creditors were told REDgroup owed at least $118 million, with unsecured creditors owing $44 million.

In America, the Wall Street Journal reports that private equity firm Gores Group is in talks to buy more than half of bankrupt bookseller Borders Group Inc's remaining stores, citing people familiar with the matter.

Borders, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February, would be able to continue operating as a going concern, according to the report.

News item posted on 06-Jun-2011


New Zealand to be guest of honour at Frankfurt 2012

New Zealand is to be the guest of honour at next year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

In Auckland today, director of FBF Juergen Boos signed the deal with the chief executive of New Zealand’s Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Lewis Holden.
 
Boos said: "New Zealand offers a profoundly intense cultural experience. The multicultural identity of New Zealand has been built upon inspirational stories, through both its oral tradition and in writing, as well as in songs and films. We are looking forward to exploring this creativity and presenting it to a broad international audience."
 
New Zealand minister of arts, Christopher Finlayson, also present, added: "The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s most prestigious and well attended international publishing event . . . As the guest of honour, New Zealand will significantly raise its profile not only in Germany, but also with over 110 exhibiting countries and the hundreds of thousands of visitors attending the fair."

Organisers cited New Zealand’s "vibrant and colourful" cultural and literary identity, including the oral tradition of the Polynesian tribes and its history as a destination for emigrant settlers, as well as its time as a colony of the British empire.

Famous NZ writers include Katherine Mansfield, Michael King and Janet Frame while Witi Ihimaera is considered the most famous Maori writer, according to the organisers.

The Publishers Association of New Zealand includes around 80 publishers, generating approximately €550m in annual sales.
 
Frankfurt Book Fair 2012 runs from 10th-14th October. Iceland is the guest of honour at this year’s fair, running from 12th-16th October 2011.

News item posted on 06-Jun-2011


Philip Ziegler wins £5,000 Author's prize

Philip Ziegler has won the £5,000 Elizabeth Longford prize for his "moving" biography of Edward Heath.

Zeigler's Edward Heath—The Authorised Biography was described as a "fully rounded, compelling and ultimately moving portrait of a flawed but impressive personality" by judges of the prize—which will be presented on 14th June at The Authors' Awards, hosted by the Society of Authors at the Cavalry and Guards Club in Piccadilly, central London.

Ziegler, an 82-year-old former Foreign Service employee, has also written biographies on William IV, Lord Melbourne, Lady Diana Cooper, Lord Mountbatten, King Edward VIII, Harold Wilson, Rupert Hart-Davis and Osbert Sitwell.

Members of the judging panel included Lady Antonia Fraser, Flora Fraser, David Gilmour, Munro Price and Professor Roy Foster.

In a joint statement, they said: "The judges were particularly struck by the manner in which Philip Ziegler approached a subject which might seem initially lacking in human warmth, and even off-putting; his achievement has been to create a fully rounded, compelling and ultimately moving portrait of a flawed but impressive personality as well as of a major and often forward-looking politician.

"This was done through sensitive use of oral evidence and personal testimony and a wide and scholarly trawl through many archives, and also by a very distinguished literary style—sharp, engrossing, graceful and consummately blending irony with sympathy. It is a master-class in political biography."

The prize is sponsored by Flora Fraser and Peter Soros in memory of acclaimed biographer Elizabeth Longford and will be presented by Lady Antonia Fraser, one of the judging panel. Other prizes at the ceremony will be presented by author Joanna Trollope.

News item posted on 06-Jun-2011


Three in 10 households do not contain a book in Britain

Three in 10 children live in households that do not contain a single book, according to a new survey.

Both the Daily Mail and Evening Standard reported on figures from the National Literacy Trust. The Mail reported the study found almost 40% of those aged eight to 17 live in homes with fewer than 10 books. However, 85% of those aged eight to 15 own a games console and 81% have a mobile phone.

The Evening Standard focused on results from London, which revealed one in three children do not have a book of their own at home. The paper is publishing a week of articles focusing on illiteracy in the capital.

Former Ofsted director Sir Jim Rose, author of several reports on literacy, says: "We are in serious trouble. We have entered the era of the Argos catalogue family, those with no books of their own at home. We need to do something urgently. It is a responsibility we cannot afford to shirk."

Researcher Christina Clark polled 18,171 eight to 17 year olds across 111 UK schools.

News item posted on 02-Jun-2011


Marianne de Pierres has won an Aurealis award for Best Sci Fi novel

Orbit’s very own Marianne de Pierres has just won an Aurealis award for Best Sci Fi novel for Transformation Space!
 
In June she will be touring with the Supernova conventions and will be available for interviews.

More information on Supernover can be found here.

News item posted on 01-Jun-2011


"Iconic" travel bookshop put up for sale

An "iconic" London travel bookshop is being put up for sale after 32 years on the high street.

The Travel Bookshop, based in London’s Notting Hill area, has been run by its present owner, based in France, for the last 25 years. The shop's manager Saara Marchadour said staff were considering a management buy-out.

A spokeswoman for the shop said: "His adult children have indicated that they would rather not follow him into the business and so he feels that the continuance of the trade would be best served by selling it on for a new generation to look after one of London's iconic and special bookshops."

The Travel Bookshop was made famous by the Hugh Grant film "Notting Hill".
 

News item posted on 01-Jun-2011


Buyers needed "urgently" for Australian chains

Australian bookshop chains Borders and Angus & Robertson may have to close if buyers cannot be found, administrators have revealed.

According to a statement from Ferrier and Hodgson, the firm is "urgently seeking offers from potential buyers of all or part of the Angus & Robertson or Borders networks", the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

It was also announced that 34 head office employees of private equity-owned REDgroup Retail, which owns the chains, were made redundant yesterday (30th May), a move made ahead of final decisions about the stores, according to administrator John Melluish.

He said that offers for individual stores would be considered. "If we are unable to find a suitable buyer, the Angus & Robertson and Borders stores will be closed," he said.

No timeframe for closures has been agreed, although sources told the newspaper that it could be between one month and six weeks.

After today’s move, the group’s employees will total 883 people, according to the statement. When the company went into administration REDgroup had 2,327 staff across Australia, in 116 stores, and 90 stores with 1,150 staff in New Zealand. In April, Ferrier Hodgson announced 310 permanent and 200 casual staff cuts.

Last week, REDgroup sold off 57 New Zealand-based Whitcoulls and five Borders stores, which employed 900 staff.

REDgroup’s number of stores has dropped from 260 in Australia and New Zealand, to 61 Angus & Robertson stores and nine Borders locations, since being placed in administration.
 

News item posted on 01-Jun-2011


Duffy stages benefit for Poetry Book Society

Poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy has organised a benefit for the Poetry Book Society, which faces an uncertain future following the withdrawal of all its Arts Council funding.

The event, to be held at London's Institute of Education on Friday 3rd June, and filmed by Channel 4, will feature readings from a roster of poets including Elaine Feinstein, David Harsent, George Szirtes, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker and Christopher Reid.

More than 100 poets and over 40 publishers have signed letters to Arts Council England, asking the body to continue to support the Society.

The PBS was first established by T S Eliot and Sir Basil Blackwell, and was chaired by Philip Larkin in the 1980s. The benefit will take place at 7pm at The Logan Hall, Institute of Education, University of London, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1. Minimum donation of £10 at the door.

News item posted on 01-Jun-2011