Monday, February 28, 2011

The Good Word returns to TVNZ7 -on air Tuesday 1st March

They said television was the enemy of the book. There were even heavy suggestions quite some time back that reading would have long since become an endangered activity.
The thought that there’d actually be such a thing as a show about books on TV in these days of the sound bite and pre-chewed info-tainment should have been – well, unthinkable.
But, flying in the face of logic and technology, comes a third series of The Good Word, the trend-setting TVNZ 7 show about books and the people who love them.
The 15-episode series, presented by star New Zealand novelist Emily Perkins, makes its return in March, NZ Book Month, with a few surprises on board.

The Good Word retains its lively mix of studio and documentary elements – Perkins on the show’s set with an all-star book-review panel and interviewing a notable guest about his or her favourite book, journalist Finlay Macdonald in the field with his Under the Covers series, looking at the stories behind famous New Zealand books.

There’s a new two-minute documentary strand called Write Space, which gets up close and nosey with a variety of Kiwi writers in their private creative places, in a lyrical sort of way.

District Court judge – and former Chief Censor – Bill Hastings, actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand, funnyman Te Radar, columnist Steve Braunias, TV presenter Miriama Kamo and journalist Gordon McLauchlan return to the regular book review panel along with a notable new regular, Carol Hirschfeld.

And, in another bold media cross-over, John Campbell is among the special guests talking about a favourite book – or, in Campbell’s case, books.

Other guests spilling the beans on their most-loved read include TV cook Peta Mathias, blogger Cameron Slater and rock musician Sophia Burn from The Veils, screenwriter James Griffin and Oscar Kightley.

All on The Good Word – putting books on the box, despite what the experts said.

Exclusive signed boxed set offered to Christchurch earthquake fundraiser

Booklovers now have a one-off chance to own an exclusive boxed set of Allen & Unwin 20th anniversary special editions as part of a BIG little City fundraiser for the Red Cross Christchurch Earthquake Fund.
The boxed set has never been available for retail.

The set includes beautiful cloth-bound editions:

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Fiction Prize)

Lillian's Story by Kate Grenville (Winner of the 1984 Australian Vogel Prize for Fiction)

The White Earth by Andrew McGahan (Winner of the 2005 Miles Franklin Award)

Journey to the Stone Country by Alex Miller (Winner of the 2003 Miles Franklin Award)

The print run of the boxed set was limited to 500 copies, and each book comes numbered and is signed by the author.

All proceeds from this auction will go towards the Red Cross Canterbury Earth Quake Relief Fund.

Oscars: 'The Lost Thing' wins for animated short film

Awards Tracker - February 27, 2011, 6:04 pm

"The Lost Thing" has won the Oscar for animated short film. Directed by Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann, the short film tells the story of a boy who finds a misshapen creature on a beach and tries to find a home for it. The movie is based on a children's picture book by Tan.

"The Lost Thing" was competing against "The Gruffalo," "Let's Pollute," "Day & Night" and "Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)."

— Nardine Saad

Here are links to the two Shaun Tan titles distributed in NZ & Australia by Allen & Unwin.

The Children's Bookshop in Kilbirnie, Wellington has three great events planned to celebrate the launch of New Zealand Book Month.

Craig Smith "willbee" at our Storytime.

Minstrel, entertainer and winner of the NZ Post Children's Choice Award for 2010, Craig Smith will bring The Wonky Donkey, Willbee the Bumblebee and all his great songs to our special Storytime for the Under-Fives on Friday March 4th at 10.30am.
All welcome. There is no charge.

Launch of Tom and The Dragon by Juliette MacIver and Scott Tulloch

Family, friends and children's literature lovers are welcome to join us on Sunday March 6th at 11am to help launch Tom and The Dragon by Juliette MacIver (illustrator Scott Tulloch is unfortunately unable to attend).

Juliette will read and sign copies of her new book, and is happy to sign copies of Marmaduke Duck and The Marmalade Jam, a finalist in the picture book category of the 2011 NZ Post Children's Book Awards.

rsvp to The Children's Bookshop

Launch of Resurrection by Mandy Hagar

Friends, family, fans of YA fiction and readers of the Blood of the Lamb trilogy are invited to join Mandy to celebrate the launch of the final book "Resurrection" on Monday 7th March at 6 pm.

rsvp to

Who Owns Kafka?

Judith Butler
London Review of Books
Vol. 33 No. 5 · 3 March 2011

pages 3-8
8593 words

You are invited to read this free essay from the London Review of Books. Subscribe now to access every article from every fortnightly issue of the London Review of Books, including the entire archive of 12,574 essays.

An ongoing trial in Tel Aviv is set to determine who will have stewardship of several boxes of Kafka’s original writings, including primary drafts of his published works, currently stored in Zurich and Tel Aviv.
As is well known, Kafka left his published and unpublished work to Max Brod, along with the explicit instruction that the work should be destroyed on Kafka’s death. Indeed, Kafka had apparently already burned much of the work himself. Brod refused to honour the request, although he did not publish everything that was bequeathed to him. He published the novels The Trial, The Castle and Amerika between 1925 and 1927.

In 1935, he published the collected works, but then put most of the rest away in suitcases, perhaps honouring Kafka’s wish not to have it published, but surely refusing the wish to have it destroyed. Brod’s compromise with himself turned out to be consequential, and in some ways we are now living out the consequences of the non-resolution of Kafka’s bequest.

Brod fled Europe for Palestine in 1939, and though many of the manuscripts in his custody ended up at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, he held on to a substantial number of them until his death in 1968. It was to his secretary Esther Hoffe, with whom he appears to have had an amorous relationship, that Brod bequeathed the manuscripts, and she kept most of them until her own death in 2007 at the age of 101.
For the most part Esther did as Max did, holding on to the various boxes, stashing them in vaults, but in 1988 she sold the manuscript of The Trial for $2 million, at which point it became clear that one could turn quite a profit from Kafka. What no one could have predicted, however, is that a trial would eventually take place after Esther’s death in which her daughters, Eva and Ruth, would claim that no one needs to inventory the materials and that the value of the manuscripts should be determined by their weight – quite literally, by what they weigh. As one of the attorneys representing Hoffe’s estate explained: ‘If we get an agreement, the material will be offered for sale as a single entity, in one package. It will be sold by weight … They’ll say: “There’s a kilogram of papers here, the highest bidder will be able to approach and see what’s there.” The National Library [of Israel] can get in line and make an offer, too.’

How Kafka turned into such a commodity – indeed a new gold standard – is an important question, and one to which I shall return. We are all too familiar with the way in which the value of literary and academic work is currently being established by quantitative means, but I am not sure anyone has yet proposed that we simply weigh our work on the scales. But to begin with, let us consider who the parties are to the trial and the various claims they make.

First, there is the National Library of Israel, which claims that Esther Hoffe’s will should be set aside, since Kafka does not belong to these women, but either to the ‘public good’ or else to the Jewish people, where these sometimes seem to be the same. David Blumberg, chairman of the board of directors of the National Library, puts the case this way: ‘The library does not intend to give up on cultural assets belonging to the Jewish people … Because it is not a commercial institution and the items kept there are accessible to all without cost, the library will continue its efforts to gain transfer of the manuscripts that have been found.’
It is interesting to consider how Kafka’s writings can at once constitute an ‘asset’ of the Jewish people and at the same time have nothing to do with commercial activities. Oren Weinberg, the CEO of the National Library, made a similar remark more recently: ‘The library regards with concern the new position expressed by the executors, who want to mix financial considerations into the decision as to whom the estate will be given. Revealing the treasures, which have been hidden in vaults for decades, will serve the public interest, but the position of the executors is liable to undermine that measure, for reasons that will benefit neither Israel nor the world.’

The full essay at London Review of Books.

A book club's first century

Amy Guth, Chicago Tribune reporter, February 25, 2011

When Zetema book club began, William Howard Taft (right) was president of the United States, the Vatican issued an oath against modernism, and this very news organization printed an advertisement from Cadillac promoting an upcoming fleet of automobiles, including a luxurious limousine for $3,000.

Founded in 1910 in Ottawa, Ill., the Zetema book club started for the purposes of "study and mutual improvement," said member Judith Wrobel. Members have gathered in her Ottawa home midafternoon to explain more than a century of club history.

Helen Thomas, 80, said with a smile: "We have a different format than most book clubs. That makes us a little special." Following a longtime tradition, the club has one member select and read a book, then deliver an educational review.

Of the group's format, relatively new member Christy Myers, originally from Lombard but now an Ottawa resident, said, "It's more intellectually…" she paused, looking around the room. "Even though we laugh, it has that serious edge to it. We do actively listen and we learn a number of subjects that we wouldn't ordinarily pick up."

Polite joking is the response to inquiries about age, but consensus among the 20 members is that they range from early 50s to mid-80s.

Thomas, a retired teacher, past president and now honorary member - meaning she is no longer required to host, review or pay the $5 per year dues - is a professional storyteller and serious about her tennis game. Unsurprisingly, she is also an active recruiter for the invitation-only club.

When asked how often a proposed member is turned down, the room answered loudly and nearly in unison, "Never!"

Though deeply connected to its roots and tradition, the club embraces change: While most prefer paper books, a handful of the Zetema members use e-reader devices. One member even prefers a smart phone e-reader app.

"I have a Kindle," said Judith Shaikh, also a past president and now honorary member who relocated to Ottawa from her native London in the 1970s.

Member Mary Ellen Gelbuda, mother of six said of her iPad, "To be able to have any book at your fingertips is wonderful."
Full report at Chicago Tribune.


by Graeme Lay      
Photo - Chris Skelton, NZH.

So the Whitcoulls chain is broke, its parent company, the aptly-named REDgroup, chronically indebted. No one who has been closely connected with the book trade over the last twenty years – writers, publishers, reviewers – is in the least bit surprised at this demise. The once-proud, pioneering New Zealand company formerly known as Whitcombe & Tombs and which served the country’s publishing and book-buying public so well for over a century, had descended into a trashy chain in which first-rate books were marginalised in favour of celebrity biographies, stationery, greetings cards, DVDs and electronic playthings.

Bought and quickly flicked on since the 1980s by men such as Ron Brierley, Eric Watson and Graeme Hart, money-men not renowned for their love of literature, the Whitcoulls brand became more and more debased. Its staff (abysmally paid, we now learn), were as unknowledgeable as its owners and unhelpful towards those who sought their assistance. New Zealand publishers and writers grew increasingly frustrated at Whitcoulls’ refusal to stock their books, or if they did so, failed to market them effectively. Even if books were sold, re-orders never came. Predictably, overall sales plummeted and REDgroup’s owners began to drown in a sea of crimson ink.

Stories of Whitcoulls’ ineptitude towards local literature became legion among New Zealand writers. For instance, after my first novel was published, called The Mentor, I went eagerly into the Whitcoulls flagship store in Queen Street to see where it had been shelved. It was nowhere to be seen. So without divulging that I was the author, I asked an assistant if she could show me where a new book, The Mentor, was. She looked thoughtful. ‘Mentor. That’s a kind of insect, isn’t it?’ And she pointed me in the direction of the Natural History section. ‘No, no, it isn’t an insect,’ I protested. ‘Oh no, that’s right.’ She thought again. ‘Mentor, mentor. Oh yes, that’s right. It’s not an insect, it’s a creature. A half-man, half horse. Try the Classics Section. It’s at the back of the shop.’

Compared to today’s hapless staff, this young woman’s knowledge was encyclopaedic. Since then things have got much worse. When I compiled and edited an anthology of short fiction by young male New Zealand writers, entitled Boys’ Own Stories, it required a lengthy search to discover a copy in the Whitcoulls store. Far from the Fiction shelves, it had been placed in the Parenting section.

In recent years, the firm’s treatment of local fiction has become even more lamentable. Even potentially profitable novels have been relegated to obscure sections of the store, far to the rear of the celebrity biographies, cookery books, computer games, calendars and DVDs. In 2006 another novel of mine, Alice & Luigi, was published. After a lengthy search, I found four copies in the very back shelves of the Queen Street store, a shadowy section where it was unlikely to be discovered by a buyer. Outraged, I picked up the four novels, carried them to the well-lit front area of the store and added them furtively to the stand on which were displayed ‘New and Best-Sellers’. There Alice & Luigi kept company briefly with Dan Brown, Tana Umaga, Nigella Lawson and Jeffrey Archer. A few days later I looked for the four copies of my novel. They had all gone.

Sadder still was the fate of another book of mine, In Search of Paradise – Artists and Writers in the colonial South Pacific. A very large, lavishly illustrated work, I knew I could not fail to miss it in the Whitcoulls store. I did miss it. After enquiring as to its possible location, an assistant searched for some time, its anxious author trailing after her. We eventually found three copies, on the very bottom shelf of the ‘Pictorial’ section, close to the floor. When I asked why they had been placed there, where they would never be noticed, she replied cheerily, ‘Oh that’s because it’s such a big book. If it fell off a high shelf it might injure a customer and Whitcoulls would get sued.’

The ray of sunlight shining through this book-retailing gloom is that our independent bookshops continue to provide wonderful service to authors, publishers and book-buyers. Their proprietors stock New Zealand books, display them prominently and are knowledgeable about them. Forget about Whitcoulls and their wretched vouchers, and even and ebooks. Instead, support our independent book-stores.

Graeme Lay's story, which I warmly endorse, was was first published in the NZ Herald 28 February, 2011.
The NZ Herald have closely monitored the Whitcoulls saga running many stories and opinions. These can be viewed at their website.

Graeme Lay is an editor and a prolific writer of stories, magazine articles, television plays, fiction and non-fiction books. He was books editor of North and South magazine from 1990-99. He has published several novels and collections of short stories, and edited many short story anthologies including the popular Short Short Stories series. In 1999 and 2002 he was a finalist in the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards for his young adult novels.

NZ Book Council.


In the wake of the recent voluntary administration of Whitcoulls and Borders in New Zealand, Kiwi Writers are fighting for New Zealand writers and booksellers with Buy a NZ Book Day.

The New Zealand’s book industry has been hit hard recently and New Zealand Book Month couldn’t have come at a better time. This March is a time to celebrate the New Zealand book industry and, an online community for New Zealand writers, is working with New Zealand Book Month in an initiative dubbed “Buy a NZ Book Day”.

On Saturday, March 5, 2011, New Zealanders are being asked to support their local booksellers, and New Zealand writers by purchasing a book by a New Zealand author.

The idea originated from the U.S. version, “National Buy a Book Day”, started by Philip Athans, NY Times bestselling author of Annihilation, who was concerned about how the recession was affecting the book industry.

“It is clear that the recession has taken its toll on New Zealand’s book industry as well, and at that effects each and every one of us,” says Kerryn Angell, founder and president of
“Buy a NZ Book Day is about creating an excitement for story telling and the written word that inspires so many writers by sharing in their stories and supporting the industry that supports them.”

In addition, NZ Book Month are giving out four million $5 book vouchers which can be used throughout March, and on March 5th for Buy a NZ Book Day. The day hopes to encourage New Zealanders to take the time out to enjoy the small luxury of reading and support our local authors. is a writing community aimed at challenging and encouraging anyone who is passionate about writing. Based in New Zealand it also aims to support and promote New Zealand writers.

Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand

A message from Dr. Donald Kerr, F.L.S.
Special Collections Librarian, University of Otago

Script & Print, the journal issued under direction of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand Bulletin is a quarterly publication. This refereed scholarly journal is currently edited by Dr Shef Rogers, senior lecturer in English at the University of Otago in Dunedin. His areas of interest are eighteenth-century British publishing practices and analytical bibliography. (

The best way to receive this ‘good value’ publication is to become a paid up member of the BSANZ. The BSANZ was founded in Melbourne in February 1969, and continues today, encouraging all the studies that form part of, or are related to, physical bibliography: the history of printing, publishing, bookselling, type founding, papermaking, bookbinding; palaeography and codicology, writing, editing and textual bibliography. No countries or periods are excluded from its preoccupations. The Society encourages the interdisciplinary study of these subjects, which are often described, collectively, as Book History or Print Cultures. The Society also has an Occasional Publications series, and a Broadsheet.

And to whet yr whistle….the Contents of S&P 34:4 (2010):

Article 1: Keith Adkins, "The Ferrar Diaries: William Moore Ferrar and his Books"
Article 2: Kevin Molloy, "'Cheap Reading for the People': Jeremiah Moore and the development of the New South Wales Book Trade, 1840–1883"
Article 3: Roger Osborne, "'Temper democratic; bias offensively Australian'—Published in Chicago: The American Edition of Such is Life"

Reviews: Portuguese Writers and English Readers (reviewed by John N. Crossley); The Decline and Fall of BBB: A Valedictory Volume. Bibliographie der Buch- und Bibliotheksgeschichte (reviewed by Wallace Kirsop); The British Book Trade: An Oral History (reviewed by Brian McMullin)

Contact Pam Pryde, secretary/treasurer ( for further details on and forms for joining BSANZ. You will then receive this great little book package. And please spread this around to other interested parties.

Phone: (03) 479-8330

Jamie Oliver: Sarah Palin A 'Froot Loop'

Huffington Post

 MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver called Sarah Palin a "Froot Loop" for criticizing the Obama administration's healthy eating initiatives, and said getting healthy foods to kids is a civil rights issue.

The U.S. is in a "really dark moment" when it comes to children's health and needs to make it a priority, said Oliver, who tried to transform the diets of a West Virginia town with his 2010 ABC show "Jamie's Food Revolution" and is filming a new version in Los Angeles.

Improving what children eat at school alone can have a far-reaching, positive effect on their habits and health as adults, Oliver said Saturday during an Associated Press interview at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

He said he doesn't have much faith that government will lead the way, but said the Obama administration is on the right track.
Palin, in contrast, "clearly on this issue is a Froot Loop," he said.

The president recently signed a bill that increases the federal reimbursement for free school lunches and expands the government's nutrition requirements for the free and reduced meals it subsidizes to cover all foods sold during school hours.

Full piece at Huffington Post.


Monday      - 2,057
Tuesday      - 2,148
Wednesday - 1,755
Thursday     -1,745
Friday         - 1,746
Saturday     - 1,100
Sunday       - 1,066

Total          -  11,617
The unusual drop off on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday I put down to the terrible Christchurch earthquake during which time most of my regular visitors in the devastated city and surrounds were without computer access because of the widespread power failure.

Wellington 7's - poetry not rugby!

Maggie Rainey-Smith reports from the capital

On Thursday evening at the City Gallery in Wellington there was a “seven aside” Poetry evening sponsored by Te Mata Wines, and showcasing the work of seven heavy-weights from the New Zealand poetry scene.

The event was organised through the National Library as part of their Poet Laureate programme and required pre-bookings to what was a ‘sell-out’, although no-one paid for their tickets, because this event was free. How lucky are we? We were feted in the City Gallery foyer with fine wine and food which included fresh figs wrapped in prosciutto and for me, some delicious apple juice. The gathering then adjourned to the theatre and the poets took centre stage.

Lynn Freeman was the Chair for this event and naturally the first few moments were spent remembering those in Christchurch affected by the earthquake, and a donation box was placed at the entrance and exit to the theatre. She then read out two poems, one from a young Christchurch school boy and the other by Dr Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, written in response to the September earthquake.
Some of the poets chose to read relevant, although not necessarily newly written poems, also. The poets were seated on stage in alphabetical order (and indeed it is this order in which they read), Jenny Bornholdt, Kate Camp, Bill Manhire, Cilla McQueen, Gregory O’Brien, Vincent O’Sullivan and Ian Wedde. Lynn Freeman introduced the group as having something in the vicinity (I did not take a notepad, so this is from memory only), of perhaps 230 years of poetry writing. Indeed.

Now all of us who love poetry, also know that seven (no matter how esteemed) poets reading aloud for ten minutes each, means that some of the time our minds will wander and not all of the poetry will hit home, in the way it might if we read it upon the page. Well, that is my experience. And I think it also reflects quite often the choice the poet makes on which poem they choose to read. And then too, in which order and the topic of the poem – we all have our poetical prejudice I’m sure.

I’m a fan of Jenny Bornholdt and the way she reads and being a ‘B’, Jenny led the readings. She read a poem that I’ve heard her read aloud before about film makers discussing whether it will snow on Monday or Wednesday and how they will schedule their filming around the weather – it is a found poem I suppose, because she is using overheard snatches of conversation and it is also repetitive and humorous and a great way to engage an audience.

Watching the poets on stage, as they waited their turn, my friend and I couldn’t help but observe that the New Zealand poet guru, Bill Manhire seems to wear his mantle if not shyly, then perhaps even a little reluctantly. It must be hard to always be considered ‘the star’ and to sit receiving accolades (ones that you’ve most likely heard before). Bill read us a song but he did not sing it, and of course the link between a song and a poem, is melody with or without music.

All of the panel were most gracious and I guess keeping your best listening profile on, is important when you are seated on stage, waiting your turn and listening to your fellow poets reading, and being watched closely by a very attentive audience.

Kate Camp read from a new collection (she’s always funky and unexpected) and Cilla McQueen read a long piece about Bluff initially the natural world from a window, that moved from the real to the more cerebral and surreal and lost me a bit along the way, but I was riveted at the start. I think it is a poem to sit and read and gather in.

Greg O’Brien is such an enthusiast and of course not just a poet, but a graphic artist and curator. He spoke effusively of a moment at the City Gallery some years ago when the Ralph Hotere exhibition was showing and how there was a poetry reading that felt like a rock concert, segueing to praise the talent of others, as he is inclined to do. This allowed Lynn Freeman to then introduce the next poet, who happened to be Vincent O’Sullivan, with a rock persona and she decided he must be the Bob Dylan of poetry. Rather nice and Vincent did smile and I loved his poem about an orange towel, freckles and I think the Auckland baths, or was it Parnell? He does the sensual and lustful stuff with such panache, insight and sexy humour.

Ian Wedde must be used to being last in the roll call with a surname that starts with a ‘W’. In his introduction, Lynn Freeman told us that years ago she had attended a creative writing course and had shown her ‘angst-ridden’ work to the tutor who it seemed had advised her “not to give up her day job”. In hindsight, she admitted she was now very grateful for that advice and her current career. (And might I add that we all are too with her insightful and in depth coverage of the Arts on Sunday). Ian Wedde was as surprised as we were to learn that he was the advice giver. He read a long and interesting piece that contrasted east and west and Greek mythology (?) or possibly philosophy (?), with a political twist, and if I could, I would quote him more accurately but alas, no reflection at all upon Ian Wedde, I was fading – having said that, if he’d read aloud my favourite poem of his “Beautiful Golden Girl of the Sixties”, I would have been with him all the way and shed a tear, as I always do, in the last stanza.

If anyone else was at this event, it would be great to hear their response to the poems and the poets to perhaps flesh out some of the bits I have missed, or overlooked, or indeed, possibly misrepresented (more detail on Ian’s poem?).

P.S. I think the whole event was recorded and may well be broadcast some time on the Arts Programme.


Maggie Rainey-Smith is a Wellington novelist/poet/bookseller and regular guest reviewer on Beattie's Book Blog. She is also Chair of the Wellington branch of the NZ Society of Authors.

Frank Sargeson event during Book Month

The documentary FRANK, the life and work of Frank Sargeson as remembered by writers and other friends, will be screened for one night only, as part of New Zealand Book Month.

It's on Friday, 11 March, 7.30pm at the Rose Centre Theatre, Belmont, North Shore. $10 at door.

Book at or phone (09) 445-9900.

North Shore teachers might like to bring some of their senior students along.

A Latitude of Libraries

Arriving at the Rainbow
The futher library adventures of Claire Gummer.....

“Manukau City Centre” has long been visible from State Highway 1, with the ginormous pirate ship ride at Rainbow’s End theme park in full swing. But for me, getting there from my home suburb of Avondale was far from plain sailing.

My destination was the two newest libraries on the globe or, more accurately, the newest location of libraries: a week earlier (February 12), the existing Manukau City Centre Library and South Auckland Research Centre had re-opened in a single building just a couple of minutes from their previous premises, which were streets apart from each other.

Read more at A Latitude of Libraries. 

Twelve of the best new novelists - To find the most promising new writers John Mullan and a panel of judges read piles of debut novels.

What did they discover about the state of British literary fiction today?
John Mullan, Friday 25 February 2011
The books dozen (standing, from left): David Abbott, Deborah Kay Davies, Eleanor Thom, Adam Haslett, Evie Wyld, Rebecca Hunt, Jim Powell; (seated, from left): Samantha Harvey, Stephen Kelman, Ned Beauman, Jenn Ashworth, Anna Richards Photograph: BBC

The growth of British literary fiction has been one of the most extraordinary publishing phenomena of recent decades. Not everyone has been pleased. The label "literary fiction" is often used disparagingly, as if "literary" were synonymous with "pretentious" or "plot-free". "The two most depressing words in the English language are 'literary fiction'," declared David Hare recently in this newspaper. Some like to say that there is no such thing: there are only good novels and bad novels. Yet authors and publishers and readers recognise that literary fiction exists and offers its own particular pleasures. Its surprising commercial health has given would-be novelists the confidence to experiment, to trust they can find readers interested in the new shapes fiction can take.

I was recently asked by BBC2's The Culture Show to chair a panel of five judges in an effort to identify promising debut novelists. Publishers submitted their outstanding first novels of the past couple of years, and we had to choose the 12 "best". What we got were examples of what we have come to call "literary fiction". We found our dozen, and in the course of reading 57 novels I got a picture of the state of British literary fiction. Reading all these first-time authors you could see the representative habits and ambitions of the would-be literary novelist, and see, sometimes all too clearly, the influences of established literary fiction.

What is literary fiction? It is not genre fiction. Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall is a historical novel. Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go was shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award, the leading British prize for science fiction. Yet you only have to think about these two examples to see how they escape their genres. Mantel's novel revisits the favourite stamping ground of historical fiction – Henry VIII and his wives – in order to rethink what it might be to see events filtered through the consciousness of a person from a distant age.

Ishiguro takes a dystopian hypothesis – human clones being bred for their organs – and then declines to put in place any of the sci-fi framework that would allow us to understand how this could be. Indeed, the whole interest of his story is in the limits placed upon its narrator. These are both "literary" novels because they ask us to attend to the manner of their telling. And, despite their narrative demands, they have both found hundreds of thousands of readers willing to do so.

People have been talking of "literary fiction" (a phrase still unrecognised by the Oxford English Dictionary) since the 1960s, but it was in the early 80s that it became established. There were earlier progenitors, such as John Fowles, whose novels combined dark or misdirected sexual passion with an obstinate bookishness – and showed that you could be self-consciously literary and make money.
Clearly, The French Lieutenant's Woman lies behind some of the more playfully erudite English novels of later decades, notably AS Byatt's Possession. It is no accident that Fowles's publisher was Tom Maschler, who was instrumental in establishing the Booker prize in 1969.

The key date was 1981, when Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children won the Booker prize. The Booker had already begun to acquire notoriety – the year before had seen a much publicised run-off between William Golding and an entertainingly grumpy Anthony Burgess – but now it seemed to be revealing something new.
Rushdie was an unknown, discovered by the judges, and Midnight's Children seemed like nothing in the English novel before. For the first time the prize ceremony was televised.

The full piece at The Guardian online.

‘The Wrong War’

Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan

By Bing West
Illustrated. 307 pp. Random House. US$28.

Reviewed by Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker 
A security checkpoint at the edge of Marja, Afghanistan, May 2010.

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

This crushing critique of the war in Afghanistan goes a long way toward explaining why America’s embrace of counterinsurgency strategy has not delivered its promised success

Read the review at The New York Times Sunday Book review.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Women's Bookshop events this week

NZ Book Month kicks off at the Women's Bookshop

Siobhan Harvey with her first poetry book Lost Relatives at 6pm on Tuesday 1 March and

Sue Orr with her brilliant new short story collection From Under the Overcoat at 6pm on Thursday 3 March.

All welcome
The Women’s Bookshop
An Award Winning Independent Bookshop
105 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland 1011, New Zealand
secure website

Stellar longlist announced for this year’s JQ Wingate Prize

David Grossman (above), Howard Jacobson, Edmund de Waal, Antony Julius, Jenny Erpenbeck and the late Tony Judt are among the authors longlisted for this year’s JQ-Wingate prize.

“We thought it wise in this exceptional year to publish our longlist of potential winners” says Lisa Appignanesi, chair of the judging panel, “to aid us in our deliberations and to signal the excellence of the books in play to the public”.

This year’s shortlist will be announced in March, and the overall winner will be revealed at a ceremony in London in June. The titles contending for the prize are:
 Claude Levi Strauss by Partrick Wilcken (Bloomsbury)

 The Dove Flyer by Eli Amir (Halban)

 To the End of the Land by David Grossman (Jonathan Cape)

 The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (Bloomsbury)

 Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (Chatto)

 The Life of Irène Némirovsky by Patrick Lienhard and Olivier Philipponnat (Chatto)

 The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt (Heinemann)

 Moses Montefiore by Abigail Green (Harvard University Press)

 Trials of the Diaspora by Anthony Julius (OUP)

 Survivors by Bob Moore (OUP)

 The Arabs and the Holocaust by Gilbert Achcar (Saqi Books)

 The Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck (Portobello)

Previous winners include Amos Oz, David Grossman, Zadie Smith, Imre Kertesz, Oliver Sacks, WG Sebald, Etgar Keret, Fred Wander and Adina Hofman.

Footnote re author photo above:
Israeli author David Grossman photographed for the Observer in Jerusalem. Photograph: Ahikam Seri/Panos Pictures

UNDER THE SUN - The Letters of Bruce Chatwin


The Letters of Bruce Chatwin
By Selected and edited by Elizabeth Chatwin and Nicholas Shakespeare
Illustrated. 554 pp. Viking. $35.

Reviewed in the Sunday Book Review, New York Times, 27 February, 2011
By Thomas Mallon

 “I don’t believe in coming clean,” Bruce Chatwin once told Paul Theroux, who had suggested that Chatwin’s travel writing could benefit from more detail about how he got from one place to the next. During his brief literary career, readers usually sensed that Chatwin was hiding as much about himself as he displayed. Half the story appeared to reside in the white spaces between bejewelled little sections of narrative.

The appearance of Chatwin’s letters, 22 years after his death at the age of 48, revives a curiosity never fully satisfied by biographies from Susannah Clapp in 1997 and Nicholas Shakespeare (now the letters’ principal editor) in 1999. Here, a reader thinks, is another chance to follow the far-flung tracks that Chatwin so often covered.

Throughout the letters he mailed from Kabul and Kenya and Katmandu, one can find fast, sharp renderings of misadventures and mores: “I’m afraid that most traditional Russian hospitality is a deep-seated desire to see foreigners drunk.” And yet, this great traveler was probably too much on the move to become one of the great letter-writers. The postcard may have been more his epistolary genre than the shapely missive, since the task of describing his complicated logistics sometimes overwhelmed composition. Leisurely two-sided correspondences were difficult to sustain, with Chatwin roving from one poste restante to the next.

“You’re going to brain me when you get a chance,” he wrote to me in 1985, “but I’m afraid I’m going to chuck.” In those days I taught at Vassar, and he was backing out of a writer-in-residence position we’d offered him. “I am still stranded in the blistering Australian desert” was his charming excuse; the letter actually came from Oxford. He meant, of course, that he was too caught up in trying to finish “The Songlines,” an eccentric study of aboriginal life that he ended up calling a novel. All the landscapes he trod, from West Africa to the Welsh border, got fantastically rearranged inside his head and emerged somehow more real, if less verifiable, on the page.

Full review.

Walker Books is excited to announce the arrival of celeb-favourite Bookaboo – available for the very first time in Australia and New Zealand this month!

The Bookaboo book series, based on the BAFTA award-winning UK TV show, which boasts A-list celebrity guests such as Meat Loaf, Mel C (Spice Girls), Kym Marsh (Coronation Street) and a slew of others, is a worldwide television and reading phenomenon, with fans both young and old across the globe.

A cult-hit classic, Bookaboo was screened on Australia’s ABC2 channel this year, and now for the first time, Australia and New Zealand are able to get their paws on their own copies of the hit book series!

Both funny and clever, Bookaboo follows the story of a trendy rock star puppy who can’t play a gig until a story has been read to him – and in the case of the TV series, read to by a celebrity no less!

Getting into all sorts of mischief along the way, Bookaboo promotes a love of reading, music and most of all, fun.

With five titles in total, including a seriously entertaining musical pop-up book, Bookaboo Pop-Up Pup Idol; a sticker book, Bookaboo Stickers, Drums and Rock and Roll; and a playful colouring-in book, Bookaboo Colour and Do; Bookaboo is one for the young, and the young at heart.

Charlie Sheen Wants $10M Book Deal

Charlie Sheen Wants $10M Book Deal
Daily Beast

 Ever since CBS halted production on their hit TV comedy Two and a Half Men following star Charlie Sheen’s lengthy tirade against the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre, the Sheen rumor mill has gone into overdrive. First, Sheen alleged he was in talks with HBO for a show entitled Sheen’s Corner for a salary of $5 million per episode—a claim that proved false—now, Sheen is telling TMZ that he’s shopping a tell-all book about life on the set of Two and a Half Men and details of what led up to the breaking point, and wants at least $10 million for publishing rights. Sheen told TMZ he wants the world to know the truth about what happened, and his potential title for the tome is When the Laughter Stopped.

Read it at TMZ

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Critics write Archer's next chapter

On the rebound in his literary career, Lord Jeffrey Archer says he writes for eight hours a day.

Photo / Paul Estcourt
By Andrew Stone, NZ Herald, Saturday Feb 26, 2011

Jeffrey Archer thinks the British press have finally given up skewering him.

Even better, they may have capped their poison pens and admitted that maybe, after 15 novels, a clutch of short stories, three plays and, of course, his prison diaries, Archer can write.

"The last three years," remarks Archer of his critics, "they've been wonderful."
He reels off the approved reviews: "The Washington Post compared me to [French writer Alexandre] Dumas, the Times said 'we must now admit that Kane and Abel is a modern classic'.
"The early books, well I was dismissed as a story teller, but no longer, thank heavens".

The British writer gifted his knockers plenty of shot to spray at him over half a century of public life. His own career could reside in the paragraphs of one of the early novels: politician, charity fundraiser, policeman, soldier, playwright, actor, sprinter, adulterer, chancer, liar, convict.

His written work was routinely trashed and reviewers questioned whether Archer penned the prose, or a spirit of ghostwriters did the work.

Full story at New Zealand Herald. 

HarperCollins Library eBook Policies Generate Protests

By Jason Boog on Galley Cat, February 25, 2011

Today HarperCollins set off a wave of Twitter protests as librarians, readers, and authors criticized a new eBook lending policy for libraries. Follow all the angry tweets at the #hcod hashtag.

Library Journal reported that HarperCollins wants library eBook provider Overdrive to reduce the number of times a digital eBook can be checked out under a single license. Here’s an excerpt: “HarperCollins has announced that new titles licensed from library ebook vendors will be able to circulate only 26 times before the license expires.”

Following the news, librarian Leah L. White tweeted: “If you are frustrated and angry about the @harpercollins decision to cap ebook lending, the hashtag is: #hcod.” eBookNewser has more details about the evolving library policies. We’ve collected a few tweets from the thread below…

meoskop wrote: “I offer my support to Harper Collins editors, authors and staff. They’re victims of #hcod too. So sorry for y’all with this latest crazy.”

SmartBitches wrote: “It takes a lot of hubris to kick libraries when they’re down. You stay klassy Harper Collins.”

Nataliebinder wrote: “Imagine if our physical books had to be burned after a year of use. To me, it’s chilling, dystopian”

Heather McCormack wrote: “Publishing is a business, yes, but it’s part of complex system that libraries support. You cut them out, you cut out readers. Period.”

UPDATE: Guy L. Gonzalez passed along a link to novelist Neil Gaiman‘s response: “I think it’s incredibly disappointing.”

Book designer, former publisher Quentin Wilson reports in from Christchurch

First time back on line and with power (Friday 25th, late evening). Our wonderful old 1881 home (and my office) is a write off.
 I was very lucky to get out unhurt. Secured bookcases came down all around me in my study and over my desk. Chimneys down in all the rooms, upstairs and down, bricks over everything, plaster off all the walls (as in old lathe and plaster which is very heavy and deadly), the house moved 4in one way at the front and the same the other way at the back!

We were camping on the lawn but have tonight been red-stickered as unlivable and are staying with daughter Alice tonight and then at Rachael King's place tomorrow while they are away up in Wellington for ten days. No water but we are just back from having a glorious hot shower at a friend's place close to the other side of town where relatively unscathed.

Extremely shaken, we have spent the days since in a total daze, trying to make sense of it all, gather possessions together, get valuables into the lockup and somehow manage the aftershocks which are just below the city, and even though 4-5 magnitude, just as nerve-wracking.
Wonderful help today from David Elworthy and Ros Henry, while Andrew Tizzard from Nationwide Book Distributors out at Oxford and his father Tony came in with water and fruit and parcels of other food. And such kind emails and calls from so many around the country and the world that we are just this evening picking up.

But we are alive, while we have lost two very close friends who have died in the Canterbury Television building.

Quentin Wilson is a Christchurch based book designer, book packager and publishing consultant.

Prominent Italian author lashes out at Israel boycott proponents

Umberto Eco told reporters that he faced no pressure to stay away from the Israeli book fair, unlike British writer Ian McEwan whose colleagues encouraged him to reject an Israeli literary prize.
By Maya Sela -

Celebrated Italian novelist Umberto Eco yesterday challenged those who advocate cultural boycotts and said that censuring artists because of actions committed by their governments was akin to racism.
Eco, a guest of the 25th Jerusalem International Book Fair, made the comments at a press conference.

Read full piece at

Big Green Bookshop appeals for 1,000 customers

The Bookseller - 25.02.11 - Lisa Campbell

The Big Green Bookshop is appealing to 1,000 of its loyal customers to help secure its future by buying one book each.

Owners Simon Key and Tim West of the indie in Wood Green, North London, have also set up an online donation facility on the shop's website to help the push to pay off a burdening loan they used to start the store.

The retailer, which grew from the ashes of the closed Wood Green Waterstone's branch, celebrates its third anniversary on 8th March and Key and West are calling on everyone on the indie's loyalty card scheme—over 1,000 people—to each buy a book in the week 6-12th March.
Customers were told in a newsletter that they could make a purchase over the phone or online if they were unable to make it into the shop during the week.

Key told The Bookseller the newsletter was one of the most "terrifying" he had ever had to write. "If everyone on our loyalty card scheme bought one extra book during that week we would be stable—without the loan we are a viable bookshop. We have had a difficult nine months and we can not have another nine like the last so we wanted to raise our plight before things got terminal. But we don't know how it will go down."

Key and West used to manage the Wood Green Waterstone's bookshop before it closed with nine days' warning in 2008.
After public "outcry" at lack of a bookshop in the area, the pair decided to open their own store with redundancy money and a "large loan" from the bank. This loan is the store's "biggest single outgoing" each month and the owners have nine months to pay it off.

The bookshop holds regular community events such as author readings, musical events, knitting groups, poetry readings and children's story-tellings and is also calling on its customers to join a special committee to gauge public feedback on how they could improve.
The committee meeting, for all those who want to get involved, is Sunday [27th February] at 11am.

The Big Green Bookshop

Unit 1, Brampton Park Road
Wood Green
N22 6BG
Tel 020 8881 6767

Opening Hours

•Monday 9.00-6pm
•Tuesday 9.00-6pm
•Wednesday 10.30-6pm
•Thursday 9.00-6pm
•Friday 9.00-6pm
•Saturday 9.00-6pm
•Sunday 11-5pm

UK's big four could be worst hit in REDgroup collapse

The Bookseller - 25.02.11 - Charlotte Williams

Photo - Kirk Hargreaves, The Press.
The UK's big four publishing groups—Penguin, Hachette, Random House and HarperCollins—could be the worst hit in terms of exposure to the ANZ market according to Nielsen BookScan data, following REDgroup's collapse in Australia and New Zealand last week.

REDgroup entered voluntary administration last Thursday, within 24 hours of Borders entering Chapter 11 in the US. Ferrier Hodgson Partners has been appointed as REDgroup's administrators, with a creditors' meeting due in March. The group is the parent company of booksellers Angus & Robertson in Australia, and Whitcoulls and Borders in New Zealand. Estimates indicate REDgroup is responsible for 20% of the book market in Australia, with Whitcoulls taking 75% in New Zealand. Industry experts estimate the Australasian market was worth £140m to UK publishers in 2009.

In terms of Australian market performance, the value of the book market fell from AUS$1.29bn (£809.0m) at the end of 2009, to AUS$1.25bn (£783.9m) at the end of 2010, according to Nielsen BookScan data. However, volume sales were up by 1.4 million.

Pan Macmillan managing director Anthony Forbes Watson said: "It's bad for confidence in bricks and mortar retailing generally." Sylvia May, international sales director at HarperCollins UK, confirmed industry feeling that the move had not come as a complete shock to publishers. May said: "It wasn't a massive surprise. They had a troubled few years and the business has been flagging." In October, REDgroup reported a full-year loss of AUS$43m (£27.0m), and warned it was likely to breach two of its three banking covenants due to increasingly tough trading.

May added: "It's the same issues worldwide; reduced consumer spend, greater competition from the internet and the high street suffering." Both Amazon and The Book Depository are offering free shipping to Australia, in a bid to break into that market.

However, May suggested sales through discount department stores, independents and non-trade as well as the potential for some Angus & Robertson franchise stores to remain bookshops could be cause for optimism.

Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble is reportedly eyeing some of Borders' store portfolio. The retailer's widely predicted collapse into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week led to it announcing it was closing 200 stores, with a further 75 expected to be shut.

The retailer was losing about $2m a week when it went under. Penguin is the largest unsecured creditor with a $41m (£25.3m) claim. Hachette is owed $36.9m (£22.8m), Simon & Schuster $33.8m (£20.8m) and Random House $33.5m (£20.7m). UK publishers' exposure to Borders' business is believed to be low.

‘Blood, Bones & Butter’

By Gabrielle Hamilton
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times 

Gabrielle Hamilton’s brilliantly written new memoir, “Blood, Bones & Butter,” is rhapsodic about food, but it’s not just for foodies.


The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
By Gabrielle Hamilton
291 pages. Random House. US$26.

Read the review at New York Times.

This is a book I must read.
Author photo by Melissa Hamilton.

Bookselling Now Faces the Need to Change

Brave New World Blog - Martyn Daniels

The BBC recently ran a series of programmes which brought home the changes in High Street retail and how retailers have had to adapt to cultural, competitive and economic changes over the ages. It is easy to now see the next big step change taking place today, as Internet shopping grows and increasingly grabs the consumer and the cash. This is a very real challenge to bookshops who find they are facing a similar changing landscape to that which faced the High street baker, butcher and greengrocer when the supermarkets stepped up their game. They always misguidedly believed that it was the tactile nature of the business that guaranteed their survival. Unfortunately that is no longer the case.

They now not only have the Internet, which many have entered too late, or simply failed to realistically grapple with, they have a digital explosion, that to date, they have they thought wasn’t their business and to make matters worse they now find themselves competing with supermarkets who are wanting to cream off the volume traffic. Many small grocery retailers survived the supermarket explosion, but in doing so, had to also step up their game and realise that there was no divine right to retail. .

Some argue that the ones that will suffer most are the chains and it is clear that they are suffering. However it would be very arrogant to presume that the slack will be merely taken up by the independents, it won't. Booksellers need to focus on what it says over the door and sell books, used, new, classics, remainders and not just continue to be hoodwinked into believing that the consumer only wants the latest release.

It’s interesting that the only clear beneficiary from the demise of Borders was Kobo who had effectively used the brand to capture the digital footfall and when Borders stumbled into Chapter 11 still continued their business as usual with the customers Borders had effectively given them. Overdrive have built a strong and expanding library business on the back of the library community’s inability to build their own service. There are a number of aggregated ‘white label’ offers but few co-operative ones and it’s easy to hand over customers and business as an affiliate but its hard to get them back once change happens.

It is always important to own both the brand and the customer and not merely hand them over and the future to others. Many say it is impossible to compete and see doors as closed.However it is these players who will loose long term.

It is not all doom and gloom on the High Street and neither is the super Highway paved in gold. There are many positives and shoots of new opportunities and the only certainty is the tomorrow will be very different from today and learning to adapt to change is the key.
Brave New World

India’s First Comic Con Draws 15,000, Homegrown Heroes Are a Hit

With surprisingly high attendee count of 15,000, Comic Con India proves there is untapped potential for comics and graphic novels in the region.

Read the article

Friday, February 25, 2011

Saturday Morning with Kim Hill: Radio NZ National - 26 February 2011

Apologies to readers for the lateness of this email.

From 8:00 to 10:00 Kim Hill and Simon Mercep will co-host a Morning Report Special.

10:08 Hamish Campbell: earthquake geology
10:32 Win Clark: earthquake engineering
10:40 Sven Baker: design and plumbing
10:50 Nat Torkington: the Christchurch Recovery Map
11:08 Dr Craig Nevill-Manning: Google Person Finder
11:25 Roger Dennis: innovation and strategy
11:32 Laurie Johnson: reconstruction
11:45 David Haywood and Jen Hay: relocation
11:55 Simon Morton: mucking in

Producer: Mark Cubey
Wellington engineer: Carol Jones
Newsreader: Stuart Keith

Christchurch book trade folk

If any booksellers, publishers or authors in Christchurch wish to use Beattie's Book Blog for communicating more widely with others feel free to e-mail me with messages and I will happily post them on the blog. Or leave comments on any of the stories posted.

Report from Children's Bookshop, Christchurch

Mary advises:

The shop is a mess. 70-80% of the stock seems to be on the floor plus there is about 6 inches of waste water through - what type of waste who knows, although I did see the storm water drain at the back of us burst.
The only window that we have is the one the was replaced about a month ago because Boxing Day finally rendered it unsafe.
The good news is that the temporary wall stood up. The office upstairs is all on the floor. I think my desk is the only thing upright. Once again the temporary wall from September has held, but I think the temporary repair to the opposite internal wall from Boxing Day may have given way - it's possible that the men's toilet is now in our kitchen, but who knows!!
By fluke, there was only one staff member downstairs in the shop at the time of the quake and she and the customers all got out ok. The customers were shaken and Liz a bit bruised, but otherwise okay.

The rest of us were upstairs having the time of our lives. Sheila and I were in the tearoom with only a flimsy trestle table so we headed to safe spots. Mine moved as I reached it and I was tossed around with a filing cabinet and some other stuff. Sheila managed to hang on to something, she can't remember what. The other two staff made it under their desks, then we had to move stuff to get them out again. One, it was even a matter of climbing over fallen book cases to get to her.
The long and the short of it is that we got all customers and staff out safely with minimal injuries - Liz a few bruises, me bruised bones in my legs so I'm on crutches now, everyone severly shaken but alive and breathing. We have scattered and some, like me, have left town so now I can wash, flush the loo and have a consistent internet connection so I can now keep in touch with the world.
I have no pictures to send I'm afraid, we thought to take one on a phone, but really I don't think we want to be reminded what it looked like for a few days anyway.

Thank you everyone for the kind messages that we have received - if you want to contact us, I've started a new temporary email address - We at The Children's Bookshop, and all the book sellers in Christchurch really appreciate the support.

Can I offer one piece of advice. Never dance with a filing cabinet - the stupid things have no sense of rhythm - when you rock they roll! Thank goodness it never stood on my toes!!

Oh, and something else to be thankful for, our homes are all liveable.

Let's All Do The Write Thing

Do the Write Thing, is a charity raffle a Californian author is putting together to raise money for Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake relief.
Thanks to Craig Sisterson for bringing this to my attention.

Check it out here.

Visiting International Publishers: Diary May 12-13

From PANZ's latest newsletter:

Creative New Zealand, in partnership with the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, will be hosting a visit by overseas publishers on May 12 and 13.

The schedule will include publisher forum discussions, one-on-one appointments with publishers, a networking lunch and hostings by local publishers.
Anne O’Brien, Project Manager for the international publishers visit, asks that Kiwi publishers note the dates in their diaries.

The purpose of this Te Manu Ka Tau, Flying Friends International Visitors Programme, is to introduce New Zealand literature to overseas markets, supporting the international profile and publication of New Zealand work.

New Horizons for Editing and Publishing’ National Editors Conference, 7 to 9 September 2011 Sydney

Applications open 28 February details here

2011 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards
Submissions from publishers now open apply here

Position Available
Senior Intellectual Property Advisor Learning Media – click here

Christchurch Booksellers Relief Fund

A fund for the relief of Booksellers in earthquake devastated Christchurch has been established by Booksellers NZ.

Chairman Hamish Wright advises that a number of members had approached the Association asking how they might be able to help their fellow booksellers in Christchurch, most of whose businesses are closed because of the damage caused by the quake.

“This fund will give our members the opportunity to contribute to helping booksellers in Christchurch get through this extremely difficult time,” said Hamish.

Book Tokens NZ Ltd have opened the account with a payment of $1000.

Donations may be made to The Christchurch Booksellers Relief Fund Westpac account 03-0502-0573028-002.

The fund will be administered by the Board of Booksellers NZ.

Dymocks announce offer to those holding Whitcoulls and Borders Reward Cards

Dymocks is inviting booklovers from across New Zealand to bring in their old Borders or Whitcoulls rewards card into stores during March to receive 1,000 points when they join the Dymocks Booklover’s Rewards program.
Existing members of the Dymocks Booklover’s Rewards program will also receive double points for every purchase made this weekend (26-27 February, 2011).

“Dymocks is proud to be one of New Zealand’s specialist booksellers, providing booklovers with great books and service for 17 years. This offer is to reassure New Zealanders that the Dymocks group is strong and remains committed to providing books to people who enjoy reading them and rewarding our loyal customers,” says Don Grover Dymocks Chief Executive

The Dymocks Booklover’s Rewards program is free to join and comes with a range of unique benefits for members, E catalogues, instant prizes, automatic entry into competitions, VIP shopping nights, invitations to author events and exclusive offers.

“New Zealanders can continue to purchase gift cards from us with confidence and be reassured that our loyalty program will continue on as it always has. Our promise is to keep bringing our customers the best titles at competitive prices,” continued Mr. Grover.
The Booklovers Rewards 1,000 points offer is available at all Dymocks bookstores nationwide until 31 March 2011.

Christchurch media news - John Drinnan in The Business Herald


Amid the horror of the Christchurch quake, More FM announcer Gary McCormick had a frightening experience that matched thousands of others.
He popped out of the radio station for coffee and was thrown into the rubble as buildings fell around him, hurting his hip.
Initially unable to get to his home in quake-ravaged Lyttelton, he eventually rushed home to his family and 10-day-old twins Kathleen and Florence, finding his mother-in-law lying above the babies' crib to protect them from the falling ceiling.

The family packed into the car and moved out. I caught up with them yesterday in Kaikoura, where he had stopped on his way to taking the family to his wife's parents' house in the Wairarapa. He says he'll fly back in the weekend.

New Zealanders have been well served by media covering the quake.
With the declaration of the country's first national state of emergency, Radio New Zealand takes on a legislated civil defence role and is devoting virtually all its content to the earthquake.
Spokesman John Barr said RNZ was committed to that until midday Monday when it would be reviewed.
One complicating factor has been that the chief executive, Peter Cavanagh, has been out of action after suffering what a source said was a mild stroke.

In terms of coverage, Kim Hill has been providing short, sharp, direct and dissecting interviews.
It makes you feel old to hear her back in a news role, but it's also rather marvellous.

New Zealand media have been providing very good coverage throughout but, ironically enough, Christchurch people have found themselves starved of information.
With no electricity, people can't watch wall-to-wall TV coverage and a lot of mobile phones are out of action with no chance to recharge batteries.
This unsatisfied demand is part of the reason for the Star newspaper going daily.
The Star's offices were hit but owner APN News & Media (which also owns the Herald) is producing a daily compact-sized paper for the city, which will be distributed six days a week as the disaster unfolds and until further notice.

Rick Neville, assistant chief executive of APN New Zealand, said that the problem initially was finding enough outlets for the free paper but this was being resolved as dairies opened.
The paper was being produced with content from the Herald and online, and printed in Ashburton.
Neville was very proud about the way the paper had reacted to the crisis.

People at Canterbury Television have obviously been among the worst affected and our hearts go out to their families and friends, and indeed to all those affected by the disaster.
One person was killed at the Press newspaper and another three staff injured - but these bald numbers do not convey the impact.

Fairfax Media Group executive editor Paul Thompson said the Press - whose heritage building is severely damaged - had been badly affected but the paper was on the streets helped by Fairfax sister paper the Dominion Post in Wellington.
The Press printing room is outside the CBD and is not affected.

The above pieces are from John Drinnan's always excellent weekly media column in The Business Herald which is published each Friday and included as a separate magazine in the New Zealand Herald.
The Bookman would like to take this opportunity to thank Drinnan for his informative column, it is always the first thing I read in Friday's Herald.

Who wants Whitcoulls

The Whitcoulls business was on the market for a year before going into administration.

Tamsyn Parker, Business Herald, 25 February, 2011

Photo / Greg Bowker.
StockTakes understands the local Whitcoulls business had been up for sale for about a year with no takers before owners REDgroup decided to put the company in administration.

Briscoe Group is understood to have taken a look but decided it wasn't keen. Voluntary administrator Steve Sherman says he has received approaches from interested parties locally and overseas although the expressions have been very cursory at this stage.

But two key market players say they can't think of anyone locally who would want to own the business.
The company has been owned by some of New Zealand's highest profile business people including Sir Ron Brierley's Brierley Investments, Graeme Hart's Rank Group and Eric Watson's Blue Star.
One source described the business as "particularly ugly".

He said the company typically made most of its money over the Christmas period and a bad Christmas could hit the company hard. Last Christmas was not great for the group.
There had been talk of REDgroup going ahead with a sharemarket float last year but that option was ditched.

Stock Takes, The Business Herald.

The Kitchen Garden

From the Cook the Books Newsletter:

The cruel irony of having written a newsletter based on the joys of the kitchen garden hit home last night when we watched the site of the Ellerslie Flower Show – New Zealand’s premier gardening showcase providing shelter for the displaced in Christchurch.

Sitting at my desk in Auckland today, my thoughts are probably the same as most of you – “what can I possibly do”?

Since we had already written this email, letting you know we have a 20% discount on selected Kitchen Gardening Books, we have decided to not only offer this discount, we will also give a donation equivalent to 20% of all our online sales (excl delivery) for the next fortnight to those providing nourishment in this time of need - 0800HUNGRY - the largest foodbank in NZ.
I happened to hear one of their truck drivers on the radio today and the work these volunteers are doing is heart-warming. If you chose, you can also pass on your 20% discount to the Food Bank - just let us know in the “comments” section of your order, and we will amend the transaction to show your donation.

We are thinking of all our foodie friends in Canterbury, and hope that you and your loved ones are safe & well.

Cook the Books
81 Ponsonby Road,Ponsonby,
Auckland, New Zealand
Phone: +64 9 360 6513

Invitation to poetry launch

Steele Roberts, The Women’s Bookshop & New Zealand Book Month invite you to celebrate the launch of the poetry collection -

Lost Relatives by Siobhan Harvey

On Tuesday 1st March 2011, 6 pm, at The Women’s Bookshop,
105 Ponsonby Road, Auckland. The event is free and open to all.

The book will be introduced by poet and Poetry New Zealand editor, Alistair Paterson. Siobhan will give a reading from the collection, and copies of Lost Relatives will be available for purchase.