Monday, January 31, 2011

Authors rewrite the book on self-publishing

It's more popular than ever, but success depends on more than writing.
By Kim Ode, Star Tribune, January 29, 2011
Stanley Gordon West, 78, a self-published author who was plucked up by a major publisher. Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

Not so long ago, the way to get a book published was clear: Submit your work, twiddle your thumbs, get back the manuscript, send it out again. Eventually, if you were very good, or very lucky, a publisher would bite and, eventually, you'd be holding a book, no longer a mere writer, but an author.

Today, the digital world has ignited self-publishing, changing everything. Why wait for New York when you can plunk down your money and get a finished book in just a few months?

Make no mistake: It will be your responsibility to market it. Many reviewers and bookstores won't take you seriously. And you may never earn back your investment, which could be as high as $20,000. Is it worth it? Apparently, it's at least worth the risk. In 2007, about 134,000 books were self-published in the United States. In 2008, that rose to more than 285,000 and in 2009 soared to more than 764,000.
In contrast, traditional publishers produced about 288,000 books in 2009, almost stagnant from 289,000 the year before, according to the firm R.R. Bowker, which tracks the book industry.

In the Twin Cities, a growing number of "contract publishers" offer a variety of services for a fee, from professional editing to layout and cover design to help with marketing and distribution.

Brio, a contract publisher in Minneapolis, published 200 books last year. It could have published more, founder William Reynolds said, but he is willing to turn away some authors, telling them if their manuscripts are, well, awful. Just as some authors resist self-publishing to avoid the taint of a "vanity press," more self-publishers want to avoid the reputation of publishing anything for a price.
"It's not fun to be a dream crusher," Reynolds said. Yet he regards dream-crushing as one of his more valuable services. Authors should expect to spend as much as $20,000 "to do it right," he said. "So if I'm going to be a dream-crusher, it's medicine that's got to be taken, because there are thousands of dollars on the line."

Even so, the move to self-publish "is not going to plateau anytime soon," he said. He likened it to how Chianti, in its trademark straw basket, was once perceived as cheap wine. Vintners improved its quality and began bottling it without the traditional fiasco. Its reputation rose.
"Chianti shed its wicker basket," Reynolds said. "Self-publishing, metaphorically, has nearly done the same."

Read the rest at Star Tribune.

Hone Harawira joins Margaret Mutu for political exchange

In light of Hone Harawira’s recent media attention, the floor will soon be his to elaborate on his political perspective with regard to the state of Maori rights. Harawira will be joined by other influential political figures in a discussion at this year’s Waitangi Day activities.
The discussion includes panellists Margaret Mutu,(photo right), Metiria Turei and Moana Jackson with broadcaster Julian Wilcox chairing the event.

This political dialogue will be part of the book launch for Margaret Mutu’s The State of Maori Rights, published by Huia Publishers. The book will retail for $45.00 and is due for release on 4 February in bookstores nationwide.

The book launch and panel discussion, starting at 9am, will kick off a series of events hosted in the Political Forum tent at Tau Rangatira, Waitangi. Audience members will have the chance to hear about some of the country’s major concerns about Maori participation, involvement and representation.

Harawira is far from reticent when it comes to voicing his concerns for Maori and was quoted in the national news of as saying, ‘[Prime Minister John Key] didn't even mention one cent going to any Maori project anywhere in the country for the rest of the financial year, [which] suggests that my column is very much in line with what Maori people are concerned about in the relationship of the Maori Party with National’.

Margaret Mutu’s, The State of Maori Rights, brings together a series of reviews that illuminate issues affecting Maori over the past fifteen years providing a Maori view of events and issues that occurred between 1994 and 2009 which had significant impact on Maori.

The book documents the increasing determination of Maori to assert their rights as the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand over this fifteen-year period. Key events covered include the 1994 fiscal envelope policy debate, the 50,000-strong protest march against the foreshore and seabed legislation, media attacks on Maori MPs, and Maori initiatives and success stories.

About the author:
Professor Margaret Mutu (Ngati Kahu, Te Rarawa, Ngati Whatua) is head of Maori Studies, University of Auckland, and author of two previous books. She is a mandated representative of Ngati Kahu nationally, internationally and at the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues. She is also chief negotiator for the settlement of Ngati Kahu’s Treaty claim.

My enthusiasm for Jo Nesbo shared

A book-buying friend has written to me today as follows:

I have just finished The Snowman following your rave about Jo Nesbo. Very good and I have purchased and about to start The Leopard.

Thought you might be interested, I went into Whitcoulls Botany branch this morning. With the Whitcoulls List Top 100 there were 17 books out of stock out with a sign in each space saying “This book is so popular it has sold out”.

Similarly with 3 of the Top 5 Thrillers, 4 of 5 the top 5 Chic Lit and 2 of the top 5 Fiction.
That’s 26 of the best-selling books unavailable out of 115 (22.5%!). Three whole gondolas were filled up with remainders (plus other ends and tables etc) and the fiction shelves appear to have a lot of ‘fillers’ to avoid looking empty – for example there were 14 copies of Marian Keyes Watermelon a backlist paperback published in 1996.

Up From The Blue

By Susan Henderson
HarperCollins, $28.99
Reviewed by Nicky Pellegrino

Even though 2011 is still relatively new I suspect this debut novel from US author Susan Henderson is going to endure as one of my stand-out reads of the year. It’s remarkable because of the way the author climbs so completely into the head of a troubled child and, while midway through credibility is stretched pretty much to the limit, by then you’re so firmly entrenched in Tillie Harris’ dysfunctional world you want to believe even the most unlikely turn of the plot.

The story opens with the grown-up and pregnant Tillie in the middle of a crisis. She’s just moved house, her husband is away on business and she’s having sudden labour pains. Scared, confused and vulnerable, forced to turn for help to her father from whom she’s been estranged, Tillie’s mind goes back to another difficult time in her life, her childhood on a US air force base. “Our neighbours didn’t know exactly what the trouble was inside our home,” Tillie tells us. “I don’t think any of us understood it either.”

Through the eyes of the young Tillie we meet her tough disciplinarian military father and the Momma she adores who brings her night-time drinks in a special cup covered in rubies, shops impulsively for pretty, glittery things and sometimes spends days in bed refusing to move.

This is the story of a child trying to make sense of her world and Henderson does a masterful job of letting her readers see it through a child’s eyes but understand it through an adult’s. The characters are beautifully drawn: Tillie’s father, ill-equipped to deal with his emotional wreck of a wife; her brother who survives the awfulness in his own buttoned-down, repressed fashion, and Tillie herself, heroic in a messed up sort of way, spirited, confused, loyal and lovable.

It’s when Tillie’s mother inexplicably disappears that the story lurches a little towards the improbable. So yes the plot is flawed but still this is one of the most engrossing and sensitively written portraits of a family struggling with mental illness.
A rewarding read.


Nicky Pellegrino, a succcesful Auckland-based author of popular fiction, (The Italian Wedding was published in May 2009 while her latest, Recipe for Life was published by Orion in April, 2010), is also the Books Editor of the Herald on Sunday where the above piece was first published on 30 January, 2011.

'I'm a writer. I've come to terms with that'

Gaynor Arnold tells James Kidd about her late career change, and how a Booker nomination can change your life
The Independent, Sunday, 30 January 2011
Photo by John Lawrence

When Gaynor Arnold hit the headlines in 2008, the headlines went something like this: "Sixty-three-year-old social worker makes big splash with debut novel".

The novel in question was Girl in a Blue Dress, a thinly veiled retelling of Charles Dickens's marriage narrated by his jilted wife, Catherine, that was longlisted for two prestigious literary prizes – the Man Booker and the Orange.
It was a great story: think Rocky retold by Alan Bennett. In fact, the only person who seems immune to its charms is Arnold herself. "At first, I was absolutely flabbergasted by the interest. Then I realised that of the 13 people on the Booker longlist, only three were women. I was unknown, a social worker and not in the first flush of youth: those were my unique selling points." She pauses. "'Sixty three-year-old social worker' – I got a bit fed up with that."
Two years on, Arnold has published her second book, a short-story collection entitled Lying Together. So, what is the story this time? Has success changed her? Has she failed to adjust to her new life? Or has her sudden flash of fame made no difference whatsoever? The answer combines a little of each.

We meet in Birmingham, where Arnold has lived for 35 years. She chooses the pleasingly 19th-century atmosphere of the Birmingham and Midland Institute in the city's private library. "It has a card index," she notes wistfully. The headline this time could read: "Admired novelist retires from social work." After 40 years, Arnold stepped down in 2009. "I'm a writer now. I think I have finally come to terms with that."

In many respects, the transition has been smooth. Arnold certainly looks and acts the part: dressed in an elegant black outfit and mustard coloured cardigan, she poses happily for pictures. But this newfound literary identity is not without its pressures. Unknown no longer, Arnold feels the weight of anticipation surrounding her new book. "I have terrible cold feet. People expect things after last time." One writer friend said her readers might be quite shocked, because Lying Together is so different from Girl in a Blue Dress.

Written over a number of years, its 15 stories explore many scenarios, moods and characters. Some are historical: "Looking for Leslie Howard" narrates a tentative romance on the eve of World War Two. But rather more occur in the recent past, and explore the inner lives of ordinary people: "Salad Days" offers a deceptively terrifying tale of alcoholism and domestic violence; the double-header "Mouth" and "Angel Child" relates a disastrous mother-daughter relationship from each party's perspective.

As these contemporary plots imply, Arnold hasn't entirely left social work behind. Her conversation is often liveliest when discussing her former job, and her imagination continues to be fired by the people and situations she encountered professionally. "I hadn't particularly thought that the stories came out of my social work experience, until I saw them all together in a collection."

It is tempting, probably too tempting, to read Lying Together in terms of Arnold's own recent past: many of the stories confront the crises that follow lives ground to a halt or bereft of fresh inspiration. In Arnold's case, this moment arrived shortly after she turned 40, and was balancing a stressful job with raising a family. "I remember having a bit of a moan to an old university friend. We were wondering what we had done with our lives. My friend asked me what I really wanted to do. I said write. It became a lovely reaction to the rest of my life."

Full story at The Independent.

Breaking down the J.D. Salinger copyright wall

Helen Trinca in The Australian January 29, 2011

Researchers are ready to rush the archives of the University of East Anglia now that it holds a cache of newly discovered letters from Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger. (Photo left - Amy Sancetta - AP)

But don't hold your breath for publication of the words of the American literary legend who died last year aged 91. The Salinger estate, which holds copyright on the letters, will continue its fierce protection of "Jerry", whose seclusion after his works were famous became his brand.

The university says on its website the estate has already confirmed that although academics and the public can view the letters, written to Donald Hartog, an English friend, in the 1980s and 90s, permission for publication will not be granted.

No surprises there. Last year, shortly after Salinger's death, I tried for access to letters he wrote in the 1950s and 60s to his then British publisher, Jamie Hamilton, the founder of Hamish Hamilton. I'd come across the letters in 1993 when, based in London with this newspaper, I reported the publication of the uncensored version of Catcher that reinstated the F-word and other language deemed too colourful for British (and by extension, Australian) readers when the book first appeared in 1951.

Hamish Hamilton had been taken over by Penguin, and the publishers were keen to get the story out. If I popped around to their offices, I could have a look at a manila folder, usually held at the University of Bristol as part of the Hamish Hamilton archive, containing a handful of letters from Salinger debating the pros and cons of taking the swearing out of Catcher and other matters.

The catch was that I could read Salinger's side of the correspondence, but not report on it. I wrote at the time: "Reading through the file is a thrilling as it is frustrating.
"Salinger the mystery man comes alive through his neat typewriting and strong, racy hand, but there is no chance of passing any of the material on."

It felt vaguely invasive: Salinger was still alive and had chosen privacy over a public life. Reading his letters broke through the wall. But when he died in January last year, I applied to Bristol for access with a view to publishing material. No go, said Penguin. The estate was "quite unlikely" to give permission. I dropped the idea.

According to those who have seen the East Anglia letters, they show Salinger as far less reclusive than imagined. But if the estate sticks to its hard line on publication, we will just have to take their word for it.

And a story in The Telegraph.

Herman Melville, the last great enigma of American literature

A new fictionalised account tries to unravel the dark secrets of the creator of Moby-Dick
Robert McCrum The Observer, Sunday 30 January 2011
A portrait of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville circa 1870.
Photograph: Rue Des Archives/ Rue des Archives/PVDE

On 5 August 1850, a boisterous party of writers and publishers climbed Monument Mountain in Massachusetts, on roughly the American equivalent of a hike in the Lakes. Among the literati on this famous excursion were Nathaniel Hawthorne, aged 46, the author of The Scarlet Letter, a contemporary sensation, and Herman Melville who, after a very successful debut (Typee), was struggling to complete an unwieldy coming-of-age tale about a South Seas whaler.

Melville, who was just 31, had never met Hawthorne. But it's no exaggeration to say that, after a day of open-air larks, a quantity of Heidsieck champagne, several impromptu toasts and a sudden downpour, the younger man was enraptured with his new friend who had, he wrote, "dropped germinous seeds into my soul". Rarely in Anglo-American literature has there been such a momentous meeting.

It was an attraction of opposites. Hawthorne, from an old New England family, was careful, cultivated and inward, a "dark angel", according to one. Melville was a ragged, voluble, romantic New Yorker from brasher mercantile stock. But both writers had hovered on the edge of insolvency and each was a kind of outsider.

The two men began a fervent correspondence. Melville became so infatuated that he moved with his wife and family to the Berkshires to become Hawthorne's neighbour. Thus liberated, fulfilled, and inspired to say "NO! in thunder" to Christianity, he completed Moby-Dick, or, The Whale. After an early reading of the manuscript – another inscrutable moment – Hawthorne acclaimed it in a letter that remains, tantalisingly, lost.

All we have is Melville's ecstatic response ("Your heart beat in my ribs and mine in yours, and both in God's..."). So how homoerotic was this friendship ? No one will ever know. It remains one of the mysteries of American letters. All we can say for certain is that, after climbing Monument Mountain, Melville's creative genius was somehow released.

Everything about Melville seems to illustrate the enigma of creativity. If ever a writer was a mystery inside a puzzle, wrapped in a riddle, it's the author of Moby-Dick. His masterpiece is ostensibly about one man's quest to kill a whale, yet it has become the supreme American novel. Its opening sentence is just three words ("Call me Ishmael"), but it summons a universe of self-invention.

Robert McCrum's full piece at The Observer  

Mennonite In A Little Black Dress

By Rhoda Janzen
Allen & Unwin, ($36.99)
Reviewed by Nicky Pellegrino

This best-selling memoir has been compared to Augusten Burroughs’ Running With Scissors which I think is doing it a disservice. For Janzen isn’t nearly so tears-in-the-eyes funny as Burroughs but nor is she so merciless or self-obsessed.

Janzen is a US academic, and her memoir begins as life deals her a double whammy when her husband leaves her for a man he’s met on and a drunk driver smashes head-on into her car. Injured both physically and emotionally she retreats to the family she’s spent a lifetime rebelling against.

Janzen’s parents are devout Mennonites, part of a tight-knit uber-traditional Christian community who forswear frivolous stuff like dancing and drinking – sort of like the Amish except without the horses and carts and the separation from the rest of society.

Going home is a total immersion into a life Janzen rejected as a young woman and a community that despite this welcomes her back with open arms.

A quirky and mischievous writer, Janzen has a well-developed sense of fun that she gives free rein to when it comes to describing the characters in her family. There’s her terrifyingly candid and nosey sister-in-law, her imperious Mennonite minister father and, best of all, her relentlessly and hilariously positive mother who can even see the upside of having to wear underwear made from flour sacks as a child – the pretty floral print apparently.

Janzen is especially amusing in the section where she lists Mennonite foods of shame – the things she was embarrassed to carry in childhood lunchboxes like damp persimmon cookies, potato salad in margarine containers, meatballs made with saltine crackers and something called Hollapse that involves cabbage being boiled, browned and baked. Ironically since the book first appeared in the US Janzen has been pestered for recipes for these very shame-based foods and in this edition some are included in a section at the back.

And that’s really the overall theme of this memoir. It’s a journey of discovery into the past with Janzen reconnecting with the values she rejected and finding the worth that's been in them all along. While she’s most often light-hearted her writing is also honest and profound whether she’s describing a marriage that was clearly ill-fated from the start or examining the notion of faith and what it really means.
Unlike Running With Scissors (which I adored by the way) this is a memoir that’s written with love.


Nicky Pellegrino, a succcesful Auckland-based author of popular fiction, (The Italian Wedding was published in May 2009 while her latest, Recipe for Life was published by Orion in April, 2010), is also the Books Editor of the Herald on Sunday where the above piece was first published on 30 January, 2011.


Mary Egan, widow of the late book trade veteran Gerard Reid, advises that she and daughter Sophia are about to re-enter the book publishing industry with the establishment of a new company.

Mary writes:
My daughter, Sophia, and I (pic left), have started back up in business. Many of you will know this already but we want to formally ‘announce’ it to you.

We've started up a private (also known as ‘self’) publishing company, work we both grew to love. We are, proudly, a family business. And the importance of relationships affects everything we do. We will be hands-on with our clients, guiding them safely and smoothly through the private publishing process.
I am getting back to my roots – designing – a welcome and happy challenge for me. Sophia is taking care of the marketing, project management and the everyday running of the business. Consultancy in book production systems and training will make up a small part of the extra services we offer.

We're currently working on our corporate identity and website. The logo, designed by Sarah Maxey, is almost complete and the website is only a few weeks away from launch date. Our logo features the Chatham Island Black Robin, also known as the comeback bird.
The Black Robin was almost extinct but thanks to a bird called Old Blue, and some very determined conservation officers, there are 200 birds today. This is hugely symbolic for us as we stage our own comeback.

Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or want any further information about what we've been doing or what we plan to do.

Watch this space.

Warmest wishes,
Mary Egan

021 846 855
09 360 9118

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dodo as poster bird for Auckland's Heritage?

Cultural Curmudgeon Hamish Keith thinks so:

The Dodo might puzzle you.
Well it was fabulous and will be seen no more and that really makes it a poster bird for Auckland's Heritage.
To the simple mind, like those things that gave parts of our bland and sometimes ugly city a touch of class, "who cares it was only a bird".

In 2006 Auckland City published a pamphlet, one of a series, St Heliers Village HERITAGE WALK with the now ironic sub heading A saunter through St Heliers Past.
You can saunter there no more.
St Heliers' past is mostly gone.
Of the nineteen historic attractions listed ten were buildings or groups of buildings.
Of the ten, six have been demolished, one is obscured and one is altered almost beyond recognition. There a numerous others which give this place its character and charm that are under threat.
This is a truly appalling record.
Six out of ten heritage structures or precincts demolished.

Surely the citizens of St Heliers and the citizens of greater Auckland deserve an explanation.
Part of the contract we enter in to as citizens is that we accept and respect governance and in return those who govern afford us security and protection.
All of us.
Not just those who own property.
Not just the two development companies that have over the past few years managed to buy up most of the prime sites in an historic village.
All of us.

The latest on the St Heliers list to fall, the three Turua Street houses, will not be the last. The whole street is under threat.
But the residents have known this for a very long time.
Over a 100 of them took the opportunity to tell the council how they felt at a notified resource consent hearing for the demolition.

Did the council listen?

Instead the council staff connived with the developer in a piece of planning sleight of hand to grant a consent in another non-notified hearing. The council provide no reasonably satisfactory heritage assessment.

Here is the issue.
How did that happen?
How did the council staff scare its political bosses to impotence?
Are they impotent and if so why have they chosen to stay that way?

This is not just a left wing right wing issue - councils and councilors of both stripes have heritage crimes to their name.

Remember Coolangatta and His Majesty's Theatre.

The new mayor and council cannot just wring their hands and run around like a Tui billboard promising that it will never happen again.

Why did it happen this time?
That is the question that must be asked and must be asked now.
There will be a next time and a next time and another next time after that until what is broken about Auckland's heritage protection is fixed.

There are two underlying issues beyond this particular piece of jiggery-pokery that the council just does not get - sadly many of our citizens don't not get it either.
Heritage is not just buildings with some long and impressive CV.
It is sometimes that of course, but it is mostly the character of a place added to by the sum total of its parts.

Citizens who feel that about their city and respond to the enrichment it adds their lives and who strive to protect it, are not just busy bodies impeding development and getting in the way of architects who know better.

They have a right and a duty to defend what is valuable in their lives.
And we have a right and a duty to insist that those who govern do so in the interests of us all.

Posted By Hamish Keith to one city - many voices

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Matakana Village Bookshop suffers flood damage

We have a holiday cottage about 15 minutes from Matakana (an hour north of Auckland) and when we arrived at the weekly Saturday Farmers' Market this morning at 8.00am we found that it had been flooded overnight along with the shops at the lower level of the village.

More than 200 mm of rain fell in this area overnight  and the normally peaceful stream that runs alongside the village and market had turned into a raging river during the night bursting its banks and flooding the surrounding area.
By daylight the water had receded but several inches of mud could be
seen inside all the shops and in the Village Bookshop display stands had been knocked over and books could be seen in the mud.
Two of our other favourite places,Piece Gallery and Matakana Market Kitchen, have also sustained a lot of damage.

The Bookman wishes bookshop owner Tracey, and her staff, Sylvia and Sharleen, and gallery owner Emma all the best for the big clean-up job and a speedy return to normal business. Thinking of you all.

Sarah Sands: Jamie can make the sun shine in half an hour

Sarah Sands, The Independent,
Sunday, 23 January 2011

It is not easy flogging books to the public during a recession, and the excellent figures for Penguin last week were cheering. What lifted the fortunes of the publisher was the record-breaking success of Jamie Oliver's 30-Minute Meals. Why this book rather than learning to cook in 24 hours, or like an Italian?

Jamie has cracked the brilliant contradiction in the consumer psyche. We yearn for terroir – eating al fresco with friends and family, sensuous and relaxed. But we would also like the meal cooked and cleared at top speed, so we can reply to the day's emails and hit the pillow. We would love to shop at vibrant markets, tasting the tomatoes and cheeses before pedalling off with a baguette in the basket, but the reality is a sweaty commute and a dash to Tesco Metro.

How can one combine good life cooking with a work ethic? For the past decade, we have had slow cooking disintegrating down our throats. Nothing was worth eating if it had not been soaked overnight and simmered for five hours. Slow-cooking festivals attracted pilgrims at their own crawling pace. Even last year we swallowed the film of Eat Pray Love, lingering on an American's delighted conversion to an Italian credo of eating and "doing nothing". No wonder Julia Roberts, the film's star, looked embarrassed. Who, apart from the southern Mediterranean, buys laziness as a philosophy?
Time management is the grail of our age. It is not the same as cutting corners. That is why many of us were offended when Delia Smith (pic left) suggested we serve frozen mash and tinned mince. It was a wretched return to post war, monotone England; it was Elizabeth David denial.

Jamie Oliver puts "beautiful" and "quick" in the same, genius sentence, where before they were regarded as antithetical. But he sympathises with the Very Busy Readers, too modest to mention his own hydra-headed life, multiple businesses, and permanently pregnant wife. His realisation that cooking is an emotion as well as a skill owes much to Nigella. She has been using evocative words such as "summer", "home" and "comfort" for years. She, counterintuitively, launched herself as an Italian mamma at a time when professional women quoted Shirley Conran's bleak aphorism that life was too short to stuff a mushroom.

Nigella then tried to reposition herself with her Express book, which aimed to cut down time in the kitchen. She may have had the iron soul of a tiger mother by then, but she could not renounce her preposterously sensuous frame with commercial impunity, although the men in her life, her father and her husband, both embarked on diets. Nigella is probably as busy as Jamie, but her overwhelming appeal is unhurried. We all want to cook faster, but nobody yet had dared suggest Express sex.

What Jamie deduces in his latest book is that our hearts are Mediterranean, our heads Anglo-Saxon. It is why we will never resolve our relationship between Europe and the US.

The 30-minute recipe is not the same as having it all. You are not going to get lamb shanks in 30 minutes. What 30 minutes means, mostly, is pasta and salad. It is optimistic to manage a first course and a pudding in the time without a degree in neuroscience. But, sprinkling basil on tomato, I have a glimpse of terroir that heated-up meals can never offer. Jamie Oliver is doing what successful business people have always done. He is selling dreams.

Sarah Sands is deputy editor of the 'London Evening Standard'.


Kilmog Press is pleased to announce the launch of its hardback literary journal, STARCH.
For Volume One, the editors are concentrating on New Zealand writers: please send submissions to

Publication of Volume One is expected in late March, submissions close 1st of March 2011. More details to follow.

Leave the libraries alone. You don’t understand their value.

Best-selling author Philip Pullman spoke to a packed meeting on 20 January 2011, called to defend Oxfordshire libraries. He gave this inspirational speech, which we are very pleased to co-publish with openDemocracy.

You don’t need me to give you the facts. Everyone here is aware of the situation. The government, in the Dickensian person of Mr Eric Pickles, has cut the money it gives to local government, and passed on the responsibility for making the savings to local authorities. Some of them have responded enthusiastically, some less so; some have decided to protect their library service, others have hacked into theirs like the fanatical Bishop Theophilus in the year 391 laying waste to the Library of Alexandria and its hundreds of thousands of books of learning and scholarship.

Here in Oxfordshire we are threatened with the closure of 20 out of our 43 public libraries. Mr Keith Mitchell, the leader of the county council, said in the Oxford Times last week that the cuts are inevitable, and invites us to suggest what we would do instead. What would we cut? Would we sacrifice care for the elderly? Or would youth services feel the axe?

I don’t think we should accept his invitation. It’s not our job to cut services. It’s his job to protect them.

Nor do I think we should respond to the fatuous idea that libraries can stay open if they’re staffed by volunteers.
What patronising nonsense. Does he think the job of a librarian is so simple, so empty of content, that anyone can step up and do it for a thank-you and a cup of tea? Does he think that all a librarian does is to tidy the shelves?
And who are these volunteers? Who are these people whose lives are so empty, whose time spreads out in front of them like the limitless steppes of central Asia, who have no families to look after, no jobs to do, no responsibilities of any sort, and yet are so wealthy that they can commit hours of their time every week to working for nothing? Who are these volunteers? Do you know anyone who could volunteer their time in this way?
If there’s anyone who has the time and the energy to work for nothing in a good cause, they are probably already working for one of the voluntary sector day centres or running a local football team or helping out with the league of friends in a hospital. What’s going to make them stop doing that and start working in a library instead?

Read Philip Pullman's full address here.

The Real Story of "O"

by Robert McCrum - The Daily Beast

Robert McCrum is an associate editor of the Observer and the author of Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language.

 No, it's not about who the author really is, but as Robert McCrum writes it's the storied history of anonymous authors—and the perils of playing with fame.

Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

In February 1663, the London printer John Twyn was sentenced to the most terrible fate ever meted out to a man of letters: he was to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Twyn’s offence? He had not written, but had dared to print, a seditious pamphlet which justified the right of rebellion against the king.
The pamphlet was anonymous.

No one believed that Twyn had written it, only that he had transformed it from manuscript into print. In his condemned cell, he told those who begged him to confess the source of the treason (and get off) that “it was not his principle to betray the author.” The next day Twyn’s head was duly placed on a Ludgate spike. His quartered carcass was impaled above other London city gates.

O: A Presidential Novel By Anonymous 368 pages. Simon and Schuster.

As Washington watches agog at the publication of the anonymous roman a clef, O: A Presidential Novel, John Twyn’s horrible fate is an apt reminder of the historic perils of authorship, the price of anonymity, and the frenzy it used to arouse in the early days of the printed word.

Today, in virtually any chain bookstore, the piles of Bush, Palin, Grisham, or Franzen, seem to demonstrate one simple equation: books equal a joyous, uncomplicated celebrity. In the age of Nook and Kindle, books and writers, like little bubbles of self-assertion, intoxicated by the oxygen of publicity, revel in the high winds of fame. Actually, this is a comparative novelty. Writers used to go to extraordinary lengths to remain anonymous.

With good reason. Books were a matter of life and death. Immediately after the introduction of the printing press, writers who challenged religious or political orthodoxy were in mortal danger. Translations of the Bible, especially, offered a short route to oblivion. Tyndale was burned at the stake. Lower down the slopes of Parnassus, even Shakespeare published anonymously.

Read Robert McCrum's full piece here.

The Desmond Elliott Prize 2011


The judges for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011 are announced today, Friday 28 January 2011. BBC broadcaster and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Show Edward Stourton will chair the panel of judges and is joined by Fanny Blake, author and Books Editor of Woman&Home, and Amy Worth of Amazon.

Edward Stourton, Chair of judges comments: “My eldest son (who is 28) is publishing his second novel this summer - so I know at first hand how tough the publishing world can be for young writers. It is a privilege to be part of a project designed to encourage and recognise them. And a position that compels me to spend time reading new fiction really is irresistible.”

The Desmond Elliott Prize Facebook page also goes live today. The page will include news announcements about the Prize, updates on previous winners and longlisted authors, background information about the Prize, interviews with authors, book reviews and also links to press coverage about new fiction.

The Desmond Elliott Prize was launched in 2007 as a biennial award for a first novel published in the UK.
The inaugural Prize, won by Nikita Lalwani for her novel, Gifted, in June 2008 was so well received that the trustees were prompted to make it an annual award.

Other winners of the Prize include Edward Hogan for his novel, Blackmoor, in June 2009 and Ali Shaw for his novel The Girl with Glass Feet in June 2010. On winning The Desmond Elliott Prize 2010, Ali Shaw said, “I was filled with great thankfulness and astonishment when the novel won The Desmond Elliott Prize. I am grateful to both the judges and the Trust for awarding the Prize to The Girl with Glass Feet and in doing so allaying my fears.
For me the Prize means both financial support in order to carry on giving my all to my writing, as well as an immeasurable boost in terms of the confidence needed to do so. Writing is a strange affair, and the isolation necessary to accomplish it can sometimes mean that your own worst critic runs amok through your work. The award of the Prize offers me reassurance that things are on the right track, as well as providing me with the practical breathing space required to continue.”

The Prize was inaugurated in honour of publisher and literary agent Desmond Elliott, one of the most charismatic and successful men in this field, who died in August 2003. He stipulated that his estate should be invested in a charitable trust that would fund a literary award “to enrich the careers of new writers”. Worth £10,000 to the winner, the Prize is intended to support new writers and to celebrate their fiction.

The judges will look for a novel of depth and breadth with a compelling narrative. The work should be vividly written and confidently realised and should contain original and arresting characters. Entries will be considered from all fiction genres. The 2010 shortlist reflected the diversity of new writing, with Maria Allen and Jacob Polley in contention with Ali Shaw.

This year’s longlist of ten books will be announced in late March, followed by the shortlist of three books in May. The winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011 will be announced on Thursday 23 June at an award ceremony held at Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, London.

Man E-booker Judging

Book2Book -  Friday 28 Jan 2011

I wonder whether they will actually be given Kindles — with Amazon getting the publicity — or be able to select their own e-reader and platform.

The Literary Saloon   

Friday, January 28, 2011

Saturday Morning with Kim Hill: 29 January 2011

8:12 Alex Ortiz in Cairo
8:20 Seif Da'Na: Middle East revolutions
8:35 William Hague: Britain abroad
9:05 Innes Asher: the ISAAC research programme
9:45 Alison Ballance: saving the kakapo
10:05 Playing Favourites with Danny and Florence Mulheron
11:05 Karli Thomas: over-fishing
11:25 Donald Sturrock: Roald Dahl

Producer: Mark Cubey
Wellington engineer: Carol Jones
Auckland engineer: Jeremy Ansell

Saturday Morning guest information and links:
8:12 Alex Ortiz
Alex Ortiz is a student at American University in Cairo, and a graduate in Arabic literary translation and Middle Eastern studies from Brown University. He has been streaming video of live protests in the Egyptian capital despite the blocking of internet services by government agencies.

8:25 Seif Da'Na
Seif Da'Na is an associate professor of sociology and international studies at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, specialising in the Middle East and North Africa.

8:35 William Hague
British politician William Hague served as Leader of the Conservative Party from June 1997 to September 2001 and is currently the Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State under David Cameron. He is the author of biographies of William Wilberforce and William Pitt the Younger.

9:05 Innes Asher
Professor Innes Asher is Head of Paediatrics: Child and Youth Health at the School of Medicine, University of Auckland, and paediatrician at Starship Children's Health. She is the chair of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), a unique worldwide epidemiological research programme established in 1991 to investigate asthma, rhinitis and eczema in children, which has become the largest worldwide collaborative research project ever undertaken, involving more than 100 countries and nearly 2 million children. The ISAAC 20 Year Symposium was held on 27 January in Auckland. Professor Asher is also the paediatrician/children's health spokesperson for the Child Poverty Action Group.

9:45 Alison Ballance
Biologist, film-maker, writer and broadcaster Alison Ballance has been involved in making 16 wildlife documentaries for the Dunedin-based television production company NHNZ, and is the author of 28 books, the most recent of which is Kakapo: Rescued from the Brink of Extinction (Craig Potton, ISBN: 978-1-877517-27-3). Alison co-hosts the Radio New Zealand science programme, Our Changing World.

10:05 Playing Favourites with Danny and Florence Mulheron
Danny Mulheron has acted in, written and directed award winning plays for more than twenty years. His work in television includes co-writing, directing and producing the comedy series Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby, and directing for the BBC, ITV, and Seven Network Australia. His feature length documentary about his grandfather, The Third Richard, is available on DVD. Danny is the director of a new play, The Motor Camp, based on his original story and scripted by frequent collaborator Dave Armstrong. The world premiere season is now playing at Wellington's Circa Theatre (to 19 February), with a cast that includes Danny's daughter, Florence.

11:05 Karli Thomas
Karli Thomas has been an oceans campaigner with Greenpeace since 2005. She will discuss the worldwide decline of tuna and other fishing stocks.

11:25 Donald Sturrock
British writer, producer and director Donald Sturrock has made more than 30 documentaries, including biographical features about William Trevor, Robert Graves, Jennifer Johnston and Roald Dahl.
Since 1992, he has been the artistic director of the Roald Dahl Foundation, masterminding an ambitious project to create an international library of new orchestral works and operas for children, based on the stories of Roald Dahl. He is the author of the authorised biography, Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl (HarperCollins).

Preview: Saturday 5 February
Kim Hill's guests will include Sir Richard Friend, neurogeneticist Fernando Nottebohm, and counter-tenor Tobias Cole.

This Morning's Gino D'Acampo carries out pledge to cook naked

By Jody Thompson, Daily Mail, 27th January 2011

He rashly promised to carry out one of his cookery segments in the nude if This Morning won a National Television Award - and Gino D'Acampo fulfilled his promise today by cooking without his clothes on the show.
To whooping and cheering from the crew and much hilarity from hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, the 34-year-old saucy Italian came onto the set wearing just an apron following the show's victory last night.

Read (and see) more:

And for my review of Gino's marvellous book link here.

O Author Revealed

The Daily Beast

The author of the mysterious Obama novel has been revealed: O: A Presidential Novel was written by John McCain's former speechwriter Mark Salter, Time magazine’s The Page reports.
Salter worked for the senator for 19 years and co-wrote all of McCain's five books and many of the senator's speeches.

Time magazine's Mark Halperin, who suspected Salter as the author, writes that a number of clues were in plain sight: Salter has been holed up in Maine since leaving the Senate, and some of the stories in the novel could only have been witnessed by an aide with intimate access.

Read it at The Page

Two recently read thrillers

BLOOD COUNT                           
Robert Goddard 
Bantam Press - $39.99
Typical entertaining stuff from one of the UK's most popular thriller writers. This is his 23rd novel, all of them have been bestsellers so the punters are obviously happy with his style.
This one moves along at a fast clip as it moves around various European locations including London, The Hague, Milan, Belgrade, and also Buenos Aires. Successful London-based surgeon Edward Hammond performed a life-saving transplant operation on a Serbian gangster thirteen years ago and now he is paying for it..................
Good plane read,a little far-fetched for me, not especially memorable.

Anne Holt
Now this was a great read. A really skilful crime novel from a Norwegian writer I had not come across before. Yes the Scandinavian impact on the world of crime fiction continues.

1222  is a taut, brooding thriller written with a sharp eye for human nuance. The reluctant heroine is wheelchair bound, now retired, police officer Hanne Wilhelmsen.

Brilliantly atmospheric, the story is set in the Norwegian Alps, in the midst of the worst snowstorm Norway has ever seen. Forced to set up camp in a centuries-old hotel, the only one in the town their train derails in, the 269 passengers should be safe. However, the rumours surrounding a mysterious ‘extra carriage’ that was on the train fuels tensions within the group as it is revealed that the top floor of the hotel is locked down, with no word of why.

Caught as unwillingly as every other passenger in the increasingly severe storm, Hanne is drawn into the cover up of what can only be described as a highly suspicious death. As the body count climbs, the claustrophobia, suspicion and unease among the passengers grows, compounded by clashes of character and outright scaremongering, forcing Hanne to step back into a role she thought she was done with forever.
About the author. 
Anne Holt spent two years working for the Oslo Police Department before founding her own law firm and serving as Norway's Minister for Justice in 1996/97. Her first book was published in 1993.

How to Sell More Books with Metadata

Publishing Perpectives

It’s not just about ISBNs and titles anymore. Enhanced metadata can increase discoverability of books and provide marketing information to the entire publishing supply chain.

Read the article

Editor sued for running a negative book review

Moby Lives - 27 January 2011

Bookslut points us to the blog of the European Journal of International Law, where New York University law professor Professor Joseph Weiler writes a column detailing what it’s like to find himself in the dock of a Paris courtroom, where he is currently appearing on a daily basis as a criminal defendant — for having run a negative book review on the EJIL’s website, which he edits.

“The setting could not have been grander,” Weiler writes of his arrival in court. “As I entered the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, the French Old Bailey, my lawyer whispered: ‘Emile Zola was tried here.’ Vive la difference: This was no Dreyfus Affair but the stakes for Academic Freedom and liberty of expression are huge.”

As an earlier story in Times Higher Education reports, Weiler is facing charges brought by Karin Calvo-Goller, senior lecturer at the Academic Centre of Law and Business in Israel, and author of The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. After running a review of the book by Thomas Weigend, director of the Cologne Institute of Foreign and International Criminal Law, and dean of the faculty of law at the University of Cologne, “Dr Calvo-Goller wrote to Professor Weiler alleging that it was defamatory and asking for it to be taken down,” says the THE report, because it could “cause harm to my professional reputation and academic promotion.” She even provided Weiler with a positive review to run in its place. Weiler told her “The heavy burden needed in my eyes to suppress a book review has not been met,” but offered her space to reply. She declined and pressed charges of “criminal libel” instead.

Full piece at Moby Lives.

Vive the Independent Bookseller!

Powells Book Blog
Posted by David Vann, January 26, 2011

When my first work of fiction, Legend of a Suicide, was published in France, I learned some surprising lessons about the astounding power of the independent bookseller. Things are done a bit differently there in a way that especially highlights the role of a store like Powell's and sheds light on how difficult and precious is the work it does.

In so many ways, France is a wonderful home for a book. There's a tax break for opening a bookstore. And since by law no book can be discounted more than 5%, these independent booksellers are protected from massive online discounts. As a result, there are 600 independent booksellers that sell literary fiction. This landscape would be a dream come true for American independent booksellers.

And then there's the bookseller himself or herself, who undertakes a course of study similar to that of a librarian in this country, suggesting the premium the culture places on literature. These booksellers display "coup de coeur" (heartfelt) selections, attaching heart-bands on their favorite books along with review clips on the shelves much as we do with our bookstore picks. One bookseller in Paris has sold more than 1,300 copies of my book herself.

Aside from these practices, I sensed a literary conversation and debate in Paris and also nationally that is not quite as easy to come by in America. This can be seen most clearly each fall, when the new literary novels come out, the literary prizes are awarded, and amazingly enough, any book that wins a prize immediately hits the bestseller list. It could be an experimental novel about a bridge, and have a plain cover with only the author's name and the book's title, but if it wins a prize, tens of thousands of people will buy it.

In the United States, the likes of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award sell some books but most prizes seem largely ignored. In America, fewer titles cut through the noise and all books seem to have a shorter shelf-life, more driven by short-term publicity than by critical acclaim.

I wondered after my very positive French experience if perhaps there was a different reading public in France than in the U.S., a more reliable audience willing to read a greater range of works — a more receptive literary reader. And then I realized that American readers of exactly this bent do exist, but they are somehow harder to find. And this is where our independent booksellers step in.

Though not bolstered by the protections of their government (or the implicit insurance of a devoted public), our indie booksellers bring everything that is great in French publishing to readers who chose them as their gatekeepers. And that's why I was thrilled to read my new novel, Caribou Island, at a bookstore such as Powell's.

The author does live part of each year in New Zealand.

Pick'n'Mix 2

assorted Kiwi stories
Scholastic - $24

16 stories for bedtime – or anytime – which will take only minutes to read, and won’t rot your teeth!

From funny, gigglesome stories to shiver-up-your-spine ‘what if’ stories, there’s a story inside to suit all tastes.

Includes stories from favourite authors such as William Taylor; Lorraine Orman, David Hill, Janice Marriott, Kyle Mewburn, Sherryl Jordan, Melinda Szymanik … and many more!

Illustrated by the fabulously talented Jenny Cooper.

And Pick'n'Mix Volume One is still available if you mised it.

2011 Best Translated Book Awards: Fiction Longlist

January 27, 2011—The 25-title fiction longlist for the 2011 Best Translated Book Awards was announced this morning at Three Percent—a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester. According to award co-founder Chad W. Post, this year’s longlist is a “testament to the number of high-quality works in translation that are making their way to American readers, thanks to a number of talented translators and exciting publishing houses.”

Featuring authors from 19 countries writing in 12 languages, the list highlights established authors, like Javier Marías and David Grossman, alongside newcomers, such as Julia Franck and Abdelfattah Kilito. It also features titles from the past three centuries, from Eline Vere (originally published in Dutch in 1893) to I Curse the River of Time (first published in Norwegian in 2008), and there’s a wide range of length, with Cyclops checking in at 550 pages, and Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico at a much briefer 57 pages.

“Not only is this a collection of the year’s most important and compelling books in translation, it’s a list of high quality books that deserve readers’ attention,” said fiction judge Monica Carter. “These books represent a global perspective that, due to the dedication and talent of the translators, can open up the world to readers of English. The Best Translated Book Awards serve the world literature community of writers, translators, and readers in a way that no other award can.”

Founded in 2007 with the goal of bringing additional attention to international works of literature, the Best Translated Book Awards are one of the only awards in the country honoring original works in translation. Selection criteria include the quality of the work itself, along with the quality of the translation. All original translations (not retranslations or reprints) published between December 1, 2009, and November 30, 2010, were eligible.

This year’s set of judges consists of Monica Carter (Salonica), Scott Esposito (Conversational Reading and Center for the Art of Translation), Susan Harris (Words Without Borders), Annie Janusch (Translation Review), Matthew Jakubowski (writer & critic), Brandon Kennedy (bookseller/cataloger), Bill Marx (PRI’s The World: World Books), Michael Orthofer (Complete Review), and Jeff Waxman (Seminary Co-op and The Front Table).

The award itself has grown greatly over the past few years. Beginning as an online-only event, the Best Translated Book Awards now feature an awards ceremony and a $5,000 cash prize—awarded to each winning author and translator, thanks to the support of

The 10-title fiction shortlist will be announced on Thursday, March 24th, concurrent with the announcement of the finalists for the poetry award. Winners will be announced on April 29th in New York City, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival.

Full longlist can be read at Three Percent.

South Bank Sky Arts Award For Literature Winner

In this year’s South Bank Sky Arts Awards Candia McWilliam has walked away with the prize for Literature. She beat Barbara Trapido’s Sex and Stravinsky and, Costa Biography Winner, Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes, with her memoir What to Look for in Winter.

Edinburgh born Candia is the author of several novels prior to her non-fiction memoir. Most notably she wrote A Case of Knives which won a Betty Trask Prize and Debatable Land which was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize and its Italian translation won the Premio Grinzane Cavour for the best foreign novel of the year.

In 2006, the year she was appointed one of the Booker Prize judges, she began to suffer from the effects of blepharospasm, a condition in which the muscles controlling her eye lids slowly began to close. Candia became blind as a result even though her eyes were perfectly healthy. In 2009 she underwent an operation which harvested tendons from her leg in order to enable her to open her eyelids. During this period of blindness Candia dictated her memoir What to Look for in Winter.

Faber to released illustrated Costa-winner

The Bookseller - 26.01.11 - Charlotte Williams

Faber is to release a new illustrated edition of Jo Shapcott's poetry collection Of Mutability, following its win at the Costa Book Awards last night [25th January].

A new b-format illustrated edition of the collection, priced £7.99, will be released in April. Faber has ordered a further reprint of the title—in hardback and paperback—as a result of the win, which will bring the total number of copies in print to 30,000.

Faber publicity director Rachel Alexander said: "We know how meaningful this collection is to its readers. It is beautiful and very accessible . . . It is an amazing time for poetry at the moment, it really is in very good health. Two wins in two years [at the Costas] for a poetry collection is very significant."

Hannah Griffiths, director of paperbacks, said on the new edition: "I just want to make it really easy for booksellers to take the book in its key slot. We are hoping the book will sit alongside all the big April titles, on the literary end. It is just the most accessible book."

Last year, Christopher Reid triumphed with his collection, A Scattering (Arete), 12 years after Ted Hughes last won in 1998. Faber poet Derek Walcott also won the T S Eliot prize for White Egrets on Monday [24th January].

Alexander added: "It has been such a strong year for poetry across all publishers."

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Iconic presenting duo Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan have been transformed into cartoon characters for the launch of their Children’s Book Club exclusively with WHSmith, it was announced today (THURS).
The cartoons created by Nick Diggory for WHSmith were released in store to mark the launch of the children’s version of their record-breaking Book Club.

The Children’s Book Club is made up of three categories with six book titles in each; Reading Together, Reading by Yourself and Fluent Reader, and aims to help parents choose great books which children will love.

Richard and Judy are working alongside Booktrust, an independent charity which aims to encourage people of all ages and cultures to enjoy books.

Richard said: “The cartoons are great fun and really make clear that these choices are aimed at a younger audience. We hope that parents who take pleasure in and love the Book Club will enjoy choosing our selection for their children too.”

Rachel Russell, WHSmith Books Business Unit Director said: “We’re delighted to be bringing Richard and Judy’s book recommendations to support children’s reading. They are trusted by millions of UK book buyers. Having the advice and support of Booktrust to further support parental choice and encourage our younger readers to enjoy and share the experience of reading books is a fantastic endorsement.”

Judy said: “Reading from an early age is something that we always encouraged with our own children and we feel very strongly that this addition to the Book Club is an important and exciting one. Getting children to engage with their favourite books and share their thoughts with friends is a great way to enjoy books and we hope that we can help give parents the suggestions they need to get the most out of the amazing stories that are out there.”

The selection of books boasts debut titles as well as well-known favourites. Best-selling author, Jo Nesbo, whose adult novel The Snowman was a best-seller for the Autumn Book Club, has seen his first children’s novel, Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, included in the Children’s Book Club. The title has already been an overnight phenomenon in Nesbo’s home country of Norway.

The Richard and Judy Book Club has experienced an over-whelming response from readers when it launched in Autumn 2010 and with the recently launched Spring Book Club. The first title in the Autumn Book Club, Sister by Rosamund Lupton, broke WHSmith records when it became Number 1 paperback and the fast selling title by a debut author in WHSmith’s history. Of the Spring Book Club titles, three achieved top ten Paperback status after only a week of sales with The Postmistress hitting the Number 2 slot.

Children’s Book Club Titles

Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, Jo Nesbo
Muncle Trogg, Janet Foxley
Scarlett Dedd, Cathy Brett
The Ogre of Oglefort, Eva Ibbotson
The Wombles, Elisabeth Beresford
Vordak The Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World, Scott Seegert

Read by Yourself
Claude in the City, Alex T Smith
The Raven Mysteries: Flood and Fang, Marcus Sedgwick
Max & Molly’s Guide to Trouble: How to Catch a Criminal, Dominic Barker and Hannah Shaw
Scream Street: Heart of the Mummy, Tommy Donbavand
The Magic Princess Dress, Gwyneth Rees
Will Gallows & the Snake Bellied Troll, Derek Keilty

Reading Together
Dinosaur Cove: Attack of the Lizard King, Rex Stone
Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend, Francesca Simon and Tony Ross
Jake the Good Bad Dog, Annette and Nick Butterworth
Molly’s Magic: The Witch’s Kitten, Holly Webb
Roodica the Rude & The Famous Flea Trick, Margaret Ryan
Winnie Goes Batty, Laura Owen and Korky Paul


Cultural curmudgeon Hamish Keith is most upset at the rate of destruction of heritage buildings in his home city.

It has always troubled and puzzled me that Auckland is such a toxic environment for Heritage. Not only do heritage buildings stand here in constant danger of obliteration, but there sometimes seems to be an active conspiracy to demolish them without debate.

A conspiracy abetted or at least egged on, by a council of inert, misinformed or just plain stupid local body politicians.

The list of the disappeared is horrifying.
Among them irreplaceable buildings like His Majesty's Theatre, Jean Batten Building, The Salvation Army Citadel and Coolangatta with The Saint James and The Mercury on death row.

Almost all the fine old corner pubs from the 19th Century have gone.
Of other defining buildings in the CBD only a facade remains.

Had the council had its way we would have lost 23 heritage buildings in Britomart, the Logan Campbell kindergarten and the Rob Roy Hotel.

In architectural terms the "Spanish Mission" villas on Turua Street are not in the same league, but they do have heritage values and they do define the character of a neighborhood.
More to the point they are a surviving group of houses which are a fine example of the work of a leading villa designer of the early 20th century, William Henry Jaine. A architect who also has the exterior of the Takapuna Grammar School to his credit.
It is no surprise that a member of the public and not the council that offered that significant piece of information. Council staff descriptions were derelict villas beyond repair.
Today the fate of the Turua St houses will be sealed or prolonged in the Environment Court.
But the question remains: why did this dispute end up there and why didn't the new, self-proclaimed heritage friendly Auckland Council and its mayor Len Brown effectively intervene long before.

The answer is simple.

Like every limp-wristed Auckland council before them they were panicked by their staff in believing they couldn't and that it would cost them millions to do so.
At the same time they had the wool pulled over their eyes about how non-notified resource consent was granted after an earlier notified application which had attracted a 100 or so objections had been withdrawn.

To me that piece of planning sleight of hand seems dodgy in the extreme.
We should press the Mayor and the Council to explain and explain now.

One City - Many Voices

New Zealand author-publisher Gordon Dryden takes up challenge on eBook forecasts

We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

This clip from today’s edition of The Daily Telegraph in the UK highlights the really big increase in “digital application” sales, which put book figures into perspective:

Some of these “apps” have the potential to completely change “publishing”. How quickly that happens will depend on which category — and who innovates best and quickest.

Specifically, most “alternative-to-the-book” information is still devoted mainly to Apple iPad and Kindle (and copyists). But the big big news is in the soaring sales of applications for smart phones (especially those linked to bigger devices). For example, my prediction for school classroom changes, brought about by the new technology: simply the teacher with an iPad (and soon built-in projector) but with the students each using a low-cost iPod-touch. (This is already happening in bright New Zealand schools— and it is not used for “teacher instruction” but generally linked with students becoming experts, first using using video cameras to explore the world, and then editing what they have found.

Attached, for example: a list of “learn the basics” subjects available as low-cost “apps” for primary and intermediate schools. Total cost: around $180 (averaqe of around $1 each). (By the basics, I amusing that in the way commonly used: reading, writing, mathematics and some science. I personally rate creative thinking as the core basic.)

Once the word gets out re these simple educational uses, imagine what grandparents’ Christmas presents are likely to be: lower-priced versions and copiers of the iPad, iPod-touch, and iPhone (all with built-in video cameras).

It still amazes me how few people ever reflect on the (now soaring) impact of Moore’s Law (The prediction, by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, that Silicon Valley innovators — with help now from the Japanese, Taiwanese and Koreans — will continue to be able to either pack twice as many transistors on a “silicon chip” or integrated circuit; or cut prices in half, every two years maximum — and sometimes as fast as 18 months).

We marvelled at that back in the early 50s when the first “transistor radios” emerged (with only a handful of transistors in each, and each of those soldered together by hand). Ditto a few years later when the first pocket calculators wiped out the slide rule.
By last year (2010) came the first “chip” with 2 billion transistors. So:

2012: 4 billion
2014: 8 billion
2016: 16 billion
2018: 32 billion
2020: 64 billion

Today’s global population next year reaches 7 billion.

(When will we hear even one New Zealand politician talk on this, and the resulting impact and potential for our economy? No 3% productivity increases here.) Note: most forecasters say the “silicon age” will actually end by 2020, and we will have to develop nanotechnology, and dny computers to keep up the doubling process.

So what will be the impact of those simple expansions on the publishing industry?

Already, by 2000 only 12% of the world’s population had a mobile phone (and half had never made a phone call).

By the end of 2010: 5 billion mobile phones (compared with 2 billion personal computers).

Fastest-rising segment: “smart phones” - really multimedia computers in your pocket: your own bank, ATM machine, book, interactive learning system. If an iPod could put 15,000 of your personally chosen songs and music tracks (your own personal radio station) into your pocket ten years ago – your own library tomorrow? And in what formats?

By 2012 virtually everyone on earth will have a mobile phone (complete with own camera and video camera).

No later than 2016, nearly all will have their own low-cost multimedia computer in their pocket.

For at least two forms of books (sporting and cookbooks – the staple Christmas presents): goodbye – immediately.

Who will buy another book on a rugby star when you can buy (for a fraction of the price) a video-iBook, and a touch-on-the-screen photo takes you to a video action clip?

Ditto for cookbooks, as Annabel Langbein has proven this past year with her own TV show, self-published book and DVD.