Friday, 26 September 2008

October 3 - Litquake shakes San Francisco

There is one week to go before Litquake begins. The large and lively San Francisco Literary Festival runs from October 3 to 11.

More than 10,000 participants are expected to attend the diverse programme of events.

Highlights include:
* Litquake’s first major forays into speculative fiction with an evening of Steampunk and an event featuring Hugo Award-winning author (and filmmaker) Neil Gaiman
* SF Grotto Writers getting “Intimate” at the JCCSF on Saturday, October 4
* A Literary Death Match on Monday, October 6 with judges Daniel Handler and The Believer’s Andrew Leland
* Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved at the newly reopened Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park on Friday October 10

The festival's finale, is The Lit Crawl, through the city's Mission neighborhood. Thousands show up for a literary pub crawl, with readings at dozens of bars, caf├ęs, bookstores, performance spaces and even a Laundromat, and it is a huge draw for readers of all ages, but particularly those in their twenties.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Guardian Children's Prize for Fiction 2008

Patrick Ness's first novel for teenagers has won this year's Guardian children's fiction prize. Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go, in a world of information overload, beat Jenny Downham's Before I Die, Frank Cottrell Boyce's Cosmic and Siobhan Dowd's Bog Child to take the £1,500 prize.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, published by Walker Books, is the first book of a trilogy, Chaos Walking, and ends on something of a cliffhanger. Ness has already written the second, out next May, and is working on the third; his adult writing is taking a sideline for now. "I'm kind of helpless about it. I have to write whatever's next in the queue," he said in The Guardian.

"The thing a teenage audience will do for you is that if you don't insult their intelligence, they will often follow you to strange places, so you can really really go for it. This story felt like something that's got to be really gone for, really shouted out from the rafters, and teenage fiction is where you can do that and still not be shoved into genre," Ness said. "In its most basic form it's about information overload, the sense that the world is so very very loud. Then I took the next logical step of what if you couldn't get away."

Young critics, including Sophia Christmann, a winner in the Guardian's annual Young Critic prize, seem to have found all four potentially worthy winners. She said 'Before I Die', is "a book I will definitely never forget," adding, "the combination of the content, the structure and the way Tessa's final moments are laid out make the story heartbreakingly sad".

Downham, a 43-year-old former London-based actress, finished writing Before I Die on the last day of February 2007. Seven days later it was snapped up by publisher David Fickling, and two weeks later it had been sold in ten languages. When it was published last July, the story of a teenage girl who does everything possible to achieve her dreams, no matter how unlikely, before she dies of leukemia, was met with universally enthusiastic reviews.

Another young critic, Aashik Chhibber reviewed Anthony McGowan's The Knife That Killed Me, "I think that knife crime is a good topic, as he is able to make people think about the consequences," he wrote. He praised McGowan for being "really insightful into what it is like to be a teenager and the struggle many teens face, as well as some of the reasons they may carry knives". Rajesh Jethwa thought it "a brilliant book".

The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize or Guardian Award is a prominent award for children's literature by British or Commonwealth authors, published in the UK during the preceding year. The award has been given annually since 1967, and is decided by a panel of authors and the review editor for The Guardian's children's books section. It may be compared with the American Newbery Medal.

Ness said he was "genuinely astonished" to win. "I think it was a super-strong shortlist. Before I Die is a huge hit, Frank is a great writer, and I'm reading Siobhan Dowd now, it's really great and I kind of thought she would win."

An interview with Jenny Downham will appear in The View From Here next week.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008 Will Publish 5,000 Writers For Free

Arts Council funded (YWO), a UK site with leading publishers involved to find and develop new literary talent, is offering to publish the first 5,000 writers who contact them for free.

The first 5,000 applicants who enter before 31st October 2008 will qualify. Books will be ready to order by readers as a paperback by Christmas through the YouWriteOn website. Open to UK and US residents only.

YouWriteOn authors will receive 60% royalties for each copy sold to the public, compared to 12 to 15% royalties that authors usually receive through mainstream publishing. Books will be of the same quality as a bookstore paperback, according to the website. Authors retain all rights to books at all times without any obligation to

YWO was funded in 2006 by the Arts Council as the first literary site of its kind to discover new writing talent through feedback from writers and readers from the general public. It now works with publishers such as Random House and Legend Press, and each month the site’s highest rated writers receive free feedback from publishers, as well as YWO adding a number of other services

Boasting over 10,000 members, the site’s recent successes include a six-figure Random House deal for writer Douglas Jackson with his novel Caligula, a two book Penguin deal for a novel called Bufflehead Sisters as a result of online paperback sales alone, and a three book deal for another writer with Costa Award winning publisher Quercus.

“Publishing is changing,” said YouWriteOn Manager Edward Smith, “ was the first literary site of its kind, and publishers like Random House and Legend Press quickly saw the potential of writers and readers themselves finding and developing new talent. YouWriteOn has seen writers achieve success through traditional and non-traditional means. We now intend to break the traditional mould of publishing itself. The first 5,000 people who email us at will be able to have their paperback published for free by Christmas and we plan to discover more bestselling writers.”

Monday, 22 September 2008

“The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” - Oprah's pick

On Friday’s programme of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Ms. Winfrey announced the latest Oprah book club pick: “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” the debut novel by David Wroblewski, which was released only in June and was well received by critics.

"I think this book is right up there with the greatest American novels ever written, I really do" - Oprah Winfrey.
Grand and unforgettable.
— Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World (cover review).

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar's paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles' once peaceful home. When Edgar's father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm--and into Edgar's mother's affections.

Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father's death, but his plan backfires--spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father's murderer and his devotion to the Sawtelle dogs turn Edgar ever homeward.

David Wroblewski grew up in rural central Wisconsin, not far from the Chequamegon National Forest, where The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is set. He earned his master's degree from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Over the years he has lived in La Crosse, Minneapolis, and Austin, Texas. Currently, he makes his home in Colorado with the writer Kimberly McClintock, their dog Lola, and their cat Mitsou.

In high school, David won a statewide arts competition with a short story about a pack of wolves. At the University of Wisconsin, he declared himself a theater major, imagining he would someday make a living as an actor; small stage roles in Equus and West Side Story convinced him otherwise. But by the time he graduated, he had become fascinated with the practical and collaborative art of making software and took a degree in computer science. His current profession is technical programmer with Pearson Technolgies, specialising in education-based text analysis technologies, and his advanced specialties as: GUI (systems interface) design, heuristic graph search, planning and resource reservations algorithms, distributed systems architecture.

He holds patent number 5,339,391: "Computer Display Unit with Attribute-Enhanced Scroll Bar", co-authored with Will Hill and Tim McCandless.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is his first novel. David Wroblewski will be appearing at the Nashvile, Southern Festival of Books, October 10-12, at the Wisconsin Book Fair October 15-19 and the Miami Book Festival in November.


* Publisher: HarperCollins
* Pub. Date: June 2008
* ISBN-13: 9780061374227
* Current Sales Rank: 4
* 576pp

Other Formats:
* Hardcover
* Paperback - Large Print
* Compact Disc - Unabridged, 18 CDs, 21.5 hrs.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Travelodge Books Left Behind Index 2008

The literary works of John Prescott, Cherie Blair and Russell Brand are the most readily discarded reads in UK hotel rooms said a new report released by the UK Travelodge chain.

A review of Travelodge's 'books left behind index' leaves John Prescott's 'Prezza: My Story: Pulling No Punches` in which he reveals his remarkable journey as an 11-plus failure to becoming Britain's longest-serving deputy Prime Minister - topping the charts.

In second place is 'My Booky Wook' the controversial and hilarious life story of Britain's hottest comedian - Russell Brand.

QC and wife of former British Prime Minster Cherie Blair, has made third place with her autobiography 'Speaking For Myself' in which she frankly reveals her life story from a childhood in working-class Liverpool, to the heart of the British legal system and then, as the wife of the Prime Minister (Tony Blair).

For two years on the trot, ex-national newspaper editor Piers Morgan's scandalous, brutally first hand account of one man's desperate struggle for survival; on the inside of the modern celebrity obsessed world we all now live in - "Don't You Know Who I Am" - has featured in Travelodge's 'books left behind index'.

The complete top ten reads left behind in Travelodge hotels this year:

Prezza Pulling no punches, John Prescott
My Booky Wook, Russell Brand
Speaking for myself, Cherie Blair
Don't you know who I am, Piers Morgan
Angel Uncovered & Crystal, Katie Price
You & Your Money, Alvin Hall
Lessons in Heartbreak, Cathy Kelly
Blind Faith, Ben Elton
On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
The Secret, Rhonda Bryne

Paul Anstey, Travelodge Operations Director said:

"Annually 7,000 books are left behind in our 337 Travelodge hotels, the most popular books being autobiographies, chick lit and thriller books. This summer we have found a number of money saving books, revealing just how much the credit crunch is taking hold".

Other key findings from the survey of 337 Travelodge Hotel Managers revealed:
Southend on Sea Travelodge was the only hotel to have 12 copies of 'The Cell' by Stephen King left behind. Also left behind was a copy of 'The best 50 love making positions for the over 50s'.

Southampton Eastleigh Travelodge had one customer who left behind two books titled - 'How to be a gentleman in seven days' and 'The Karma Sutra for Dummies'.

Peterborough Travelodge had ten copies of the 'Karma Sutra' left behind.

Books left behind in Travelodge hotels are returned back to customers or donated to local charity shops.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

"And Another Thing." New Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

LONDON (Reuters) - Children's author Eoin Colfer is to write a sixth novel in the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series, seven years after the death of its creator Douglas Adams, publishers Penguin said on Wednesday.

The Irish writer, best known for his Artemis Fowl fairy stories, has the blessing of Adams' widow, Jane Belson, to continue the bestselling science fiction saga.

Called "And Another Thing...," the new novel will be published in October 2009. Colfer said he was a big fan of the original books, which started as a BBC radio serial.

"For years I have been finishing this incredible story in my head and now I have the opportunity to do it in the real world," he said in a statement. "It is a gift from the gods. So, thank you Thor and Odin."

The satirical books tell the story of a hapless Englishman called Arthur Dent who travels the universe after the Earth is demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

The saga centers on the search for the answer to "life, the universe and everything," which after a long wait turns out to be 42. Penguin Managing Director Helen Fraser said she hoped Colfer would attract new readers to the books.

Adams died from a heart attack in California in 2001 at the age of 49. He had hoped to finish the series with a sixth novel.

"Five seems to be a wrong kind of number; six is a better kind of number," he once said.

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato)

Dragon Riders prepare for the Brisingr launch

This Saturday, 20th September is the launch date of Brisingr, the third in the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini.

Forces collide in Book III of the phenomenally successful Inheritance Cycle. Eragon represents the greatest hope for a better Alagaesia. Can this once simple farm boy rise to become a leader who can unite the rebel forces and defeat the King?

Following the colossal battle against the Empire's warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still there is more at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep, including Eragon's oath to his cousin Roran to help rescue Roran's beloved, Katrina, from King Galbatorix's clutches.But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too.The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength, as are the elves and dwarves.When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices -- choices that take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.

Conflict, action, adventure and one devastating death await readers as Eragon battles on behalf of the Varden while Galbatorix ruthlessly attempts to crush and twist him to his own purposes. Rich with a thoughtful examination of Eragon's maturing psyche, BRISINGR explores how Eragon must come to terms with his role as a leader and the moral obligations that weigh heavily upon his young shoulders as a Dragon Rider.

Events clash over the weekend, as the launch cooincides with two US book fairs. Many small booksellers are reported to have chosen to not attend the book fairs, so as to enable the overnight events this coming weekend.


ISBN: 9780385616188
Format: Trade Paperback
Imprint: Doubleday Children's
RRP: $34.95
Release: 20/09/2008

About the Author:
Christopher Paolini was born in 1983 in Southern California. Christopher was homeschooled and as a child, he often wrote short stories and poems, made frequent trips to the library, and read widely. Some of his favorite books were Bruce Coville's Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, Frank Herbert's Dune, and Raymond E. Feist's Magician, as well as books by Anne McCaffrey, Jane Yolen, Brian Jacques, E.R. Eddison, David Eddings, and Ursula K. Le Guin. The idea of Eragon began as the daydreams of a teen. Christopher's love for the magic of stories led him, aged fifteen, to craft a novel that he would enjoy reading. The project began as a hobby, a personal challenge; he never intended it to be published. He took a second year to revise the book and then gave it to his parents to read. The family decided to self-publish the book and spent a third year preparing the manuscript for publication: copyediting, proofreading, designing a cover, typesetting the manuscript, and creating marketing materials. During this time Christopher drew the map for Eragon, as well as the dragon eye for the book cover (that now appears inside the Knopf hardcover edition). The manuscript was sent to press and the first books arrived in November 2001. The Paolini family spent the next year promoting the book at libraries, bookstores, and schools in 2002 and early 2003. In summer 2002, author Carl Hiaasen, whose stepson read a copy of the self-published book while on vacation in Montana, brought Eragon to the attention of his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children's Books. Knopf published Eragon in August 2003. In December 2006, Fox 2000 released the movie adaptation of Eragon in theaters around the world.

Early in 2007, what began as the Inheritance trilogy became the Inheritance cycle. Book Four will complete the story that Christopher envisioned years ago when he first outlined the adventure.Christopher is grateful to all his readers. He is especially heartened to hear that his books have inspired young people to read and to write stories of their own.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Introduction to the Stamps of Great Britain

September 16th is the 40th anniversary of the introduction of first class British postal service and two-tier stamp system.

"1968: The first day of the new two-tier postal system has had a mixed reaction from the public, with some queuing to buy the new 5d first-class stamps and others complaining the new system makes sending letters more difficult.

The Post Office is promising overnight delivery for letters with a fivepence stamp on, while fourpence buys you a slower service." From BBC History archives.

Introduction to the Stamps of Great Britain, a new book in Linn's non-fiction Handbook series, was published in August.

The book offers tips and suggestions on starting or improving a collection of Great Britain stamps. It is the sixth book in the Linn's Handbook series.

Authors David Alderfer and Larry Rosenblum base their book on their monthly Great Britain columns in Linn's on the wealth of collecting opportunities offered by British stamps.

The book is a compilation of the columns, and it includes new material.

Introduction to the Stamps of Great Britain comprises 10 chapters about British stamps arranged chronologically. Chapters are devoted to the Machin-head definitive stamps, Machin booklets and booklet panes, commemoratives and postage dues, postal history and collecting tips.

The book is lavishly illustrated with more than 350 pictures.

It provides a broad, yet detailed view of a variety of subjects, including history, printing methods, papers and luminescence, perforations, and stamps and culture.

About the Book:
Introduction to the Stamps of Great Britain is available in both hardcover and softcover format.

The retail price for the hardcover is $30 while the softcover sells for $25. The book is available from your favorite stamp literature dealer or direct from Amos Hobby Publishing at 800-572-6885 or and online at

Other titles available in the Linn's Handbook series include United States Postal History Sampler by Richard B. Graham, Introduction to the Stamps of Mexico by Dale Pulver, Introduction to United States Revenue Stamps by Richard Friedberg and United States Postage Stamps of 1869 by Jon Rose.

(Material reference credit: Ed Flowers/Patti Mangan.)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Agatha Christie Revealed

Agatha Christie was born on September 15, 1890, in Torquy, Devon. She has been called — by the Guinness Book of World Records, among others — the best-selling writer of all time. Only the Bible is known to have outsold her collected sales of roughly four billion copies of novels. UNESCO states that she is currently the most translated individual author in the world with only the collective corporate works of Walt Disney Productions surpassing her. Christie's books have been translated into (at least) 56 languages.

Previously undiscovered self-made recordings were announced today, by the BBC. The reels of tape, over 13 hours long, were discovered by the author's grandson in a cardboard box during a spring clean-out at Christie's former home in Torquay.

Only a handful of recordings of her voice are known to exist - including a 1955 interview for the BBC and a 1974 recording for the Imperial War Museum Sound Archive in which she recounts her experiences in a World War I dispensary which gave her a working knowledge of poisons - something which would feed into her murder mysteries.

Today is the start of the Agatha Christie festival, an annual celebration of the life, work and cultural legacy of Torbay's most famous daughter. It was in Torquay, Devon that Agatha Christie's career as a writer of murder mystery began to take shape, and she was to return to South Devon in later life to establish a holiday home at Greenway. Today, September 15th, vistors can attend an illustrated talk by John Risdon of the girl who grew up to become the world’s greatest crime writer. It is about the child, the teenager, the young married mother, the successful author, the recluse, and the wealth of characteristics and experiences that moulded a woman by the name of Agatha Christie.


Agatha Christie - Literary Daughter of South Devon
Date:15 September
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: Paignton Library
Tickets: £1 available from Paignton Library.

On Friday, there is a further event: The Life and Works of Agatha Christie - an illustrated talk by Frank Turner

Date: 18 September
Time: 7.15pm
Venuw: Brixham Library
Tickets: £1.00, available from Brixham Library.

Frank Turner, a local Blue Badge Guide, gives a rare insight into the life of Agatha Christie and her numerous connections to Torbay and area, which she loved dearly.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Listen to the Man Booker Shortlist

Aravind Adiga, Sebastian Barry, Amitav Ghosh, Linda Grant, Philip Hensher and Steve Toltz are the six authors shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2008, the English-speaking world's most important literary award. The shortlist was announced by the chair of judges, Michael Portillo.

Two debut novels feature: Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, set in India, and Australian Steve Toltz’s A Fraction of the Whole were among the six “page-turning” books in the running for the famed literary prize.

Other first time novelists can take inspiration from knowing that these authors share the same writing experiences and their own challenges in daily life.

On making the longlist, Aravind Adiga said, "It's a great thrill. Especially alongside Amitav Ghosh and Salman Rushdie. But I live in Mumbai, where not many people know of the Man Booker Prize; I'm still standing in long queues and standing in over-packed local trains in the morning and worrying about falling ill from unsafe drinking water. Life goes on as before."

Steve Toltz, A Fraction of the Whole, said of his own previous work, "I have written unproduced screenplays and stage plays, poems, short stories, essays and shoddy first chapters of unfinishable novels."

This year, the Man Booker Prize has exclusively partnered with mobile site GoSpoken to make extracts from the shortlisted books available to download free onto your mobile phone. They can either be read as text or listened to as audio. The extracts will be available from the moment the shortlist is announced by texting MBP to 60300. This is the first time that any book prize has used mobile technology to promote its shortlist.

On Monday 13th October, the eve of the winner announcement, the Southbank Centre in London will host an evening of readings and discussion with the 2008 shortlisted authors.

Note: To get free extracts on your mobile text MBP to 60300 if you are in the UK
For mobiles outside of the UK enter into your mobile web browser.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Roald Dahl Funny Prize & What Children Want

Just in time for 'Back to School' and International Literacy Day, the shortlist for the first ever Roald Dahl Funny Prize was announced today by the reading charity Booktrust. The Roald Dahl Funny Prize is the first prize of its kind; founded to honour those children's books that simply make us laugh.

Alastair Clarke, author of The Pattern Recognition Theory of Humour (Pyrrhic House) says,

Humour marks important stages in the child’s intellectual development, and so do books, but only a humorous book provides that uniquely accessible combination of education and enjoyment.

The judging panel
comprises of the author Sophie Dahl, the comedian Dara O’Briain, author Kaye Umansky and author, illustrator and political cartoonist Chris Riddell. The panel is chaired by the Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.

Commenting on the shortlist, Michael Rosen said:
"It was a joy and a half to sit round a table, knee-deep in funny books, talking about them with a group of clever, humorous and thoughtful people. Almost all children love funny books, it's what helps hook them into the reading habit. Parents are always on the lookout for funny books to read to their children or to give them as surprises and presents. Now, with these 12 titles, pared down from hundreds that we received, we have the cream of this year's crop. I swear I heard Roald Dahl chortling in the background as we waved the books at each other. I should add that there was a good deal of discussion, argument - is this a smile-book a laugh-book? Is this a book that adults will find funny and children won't? Does it matter if the text is funny but the pictures aren't? And vice versa? Does a funny book need a perfect punchline?

This prize cooincides with the announcement by The UK Year Of Reading that school children aged nine to fifteen from around England responded to a recent National Year of Reading survey which asked young people what ought to be read by every politician wanting to understand which books children today choose because they reflect their lives and concerns and help them cope with life.

The school children also shared thoughts on what makes the perfect story. Humour was the top attribute, with a happy ending and a storyline related to bullying also making the top 10.

The most popular reads were presented to MPs by a delegation of school children at a meeting of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on libraries. They will now be housed in the House of Commons library. Children are anxious to hear back from MPs and Ministers after the holidays about what they have gleaned from their summer reading.

Honor Wilson-Fletcher, Director of the National Year of Reading, said: “Every MP should read from our list this summer if they want to better understand the world of their younger constituents – and it’s what their younger constituents clearly want! It is fascinating, but will be no surprise to anyone writing for children, how important imaginative stories are for learning to deal with the world. It’s a perfect illustration of the happy mix of enjoyment and learning that reading uniquely delivers. It should therefore be no surprise that children see the books they rate highly as a medium through which adults can understand them better. We hope MPs enjoy their selection, and like children, learn from the experience too!”

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize shortlists:

The Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under:

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, Illus. Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books)
Elephant Wellyphant by Nick Sharratt (Alison Green Books)
The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
The Witch’s Children Go to School by Ursula Jones, Illus. Russell Ayto (Orchard Books)
There’s an Ouch in My Pouch! by Jeanne Willis, Illus. Garry Parsons (Puffin Books)
Manfred the Baddie by John Fardell (Quercus Books)

The Funniest Book for Children Aged Seven to Fourteen

Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton, Illus. David Tazzyman (Egmont Press)
Paddington Here and Now by Michael Bond, Illus. R.W. Alley (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Aliens Don’t Eat Dog Food by Dinah Capparucci (Scholastic Children’s Books)
Urgum and the Goo Goo Bah! By Kjartan Poskitt, Illus. Philip Reeve - (Scholastic Children’s Books)

The winner of each category will receive £2,500, which will be presented at an awards ceremony in London on 13th November.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

New Zealand Book Month

New Zealand Book Month (NZBM) runs each September, showcasing New Zealand books and writers in the media, the web, and within a huge national events calendar.

NZBM began in 2006 and focuses on celebrating New Zealand books and writers. It aims to increase the readership and awareness of New Zealand books and build more commercially sustainable careers for New Zealand writers. The Month works to create a fresh new message about reading on a popular and very public basis. We work with a variety of literary organisations, publishers, booksellers, celebrities and charities to try and increase the spotlight on New Zealand writing across the board.

The flagship of NZBM is The Six Pack, a national competition that calls for entries from all people in New Zealand, and is judged by both the public and a panel of industry and celebrity experts. The result is a book of six short stories, poetry, and non-fiction that sells for six dollars in store. It’s the first New Zealand publication to come out simultaneously in Braille, electronic text, accessible audio format and print, and has been an instant best seller.

NZ Book Month is a non-profit initiative that has the whole book industry behind it, from writers and publishers to bookshops and libraries. Quite simply, the idea is to get more of us reading New Zealand books.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The Kindle gets a Good Reception at the Algonquin Hotel

For 100 years, the Algonquin Hotel, New York, has been greeting and lodging the country's most prominent writers and literary personalities, as well as the leading figures of the American stage. The hotel is best known, perhaps, for the members of the Round Table, (including EB White, James Thurber, Dorothy Parker) a group of luminaries who had in common both the ability to fire blazing witticisms and to withstand being on the receiving end of them. The tone they set during their daily meetings set the literary style of the 1920s.

Were they still to meet today, I wonder what they would make of the hotel’s current, albeit minor, literary revolutionary idea. The legendary hotel is fusing its historical significance with the latest in modern technology and amenities by offering guests the newest “it” accessory—the Kindle; starting September 1, 2008.

To coincide with September’s National Literacy Month, the Algonquin Hotel is inviting its guests to “checkout” Amazon’s digital book, the Kindle, during their stay.

In keeping with the hotel’s literary history, the Algonquin Hotel’s Kindles will come loaded with a variety of best-sellers, modern classics, and, of course, books penned by the hotel’s Round Table members such as: Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker. Additional titles can be added upon guests’ request. Kindles will be loaned on a first come, first serve basis for use in the hotel’s legendary lobby or in the comfort of one’s own guest room. Initially two kindles are available to borrow, but more will be purchased to meet demand.

Gary Budge, General Manager at the Algonquin Hotel told The View From Here,

"The hotel’s literary history combined with our recent renovations provided the perfect opportunity for us to introduce such a new, hip literary device as an amenity to our guests. This amenity keeps us on top of the trends – technology and going green!”

Jeannie Novak, Founder & CEO, Indiespace, with experience in the digital print market since 1994, says Kindle’s have their place but won’t replace the book, “Kindle is most suitable for text. It will not replace the high-end glossy collector's edition -- or the "coffee table" book. I feel that displays will improve though, within the next 10 years, and above all content will become interactive and customisable.”

Jeannie Novak, Founder & CEO, Indiespace has also authored three books on Creating Internet Entertainment, Web development and Webcasts. She was chosen as one of the 100 most influential people in high-tech by MicroTimes magazine, and has been profiled by CNN, Billboard Magazine, Sundance Channel, Daily Variety, and the LA Times. Novak is Conference Chairperson for IDG World Expo's Internet Entertainment Expo.

Monday, 1 September 2008

September hosts US Literacy Month & International Literacy Day

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 defines literacy as "an individual's ability to read, write, speak in English, compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual and in society."

International Literacy Day - 8 September 2008
On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

Despite many and varied efforts, literacy remains an elusive target: some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 75 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

International Literacy Day (ILD) 2008 is placing a special focus on the important relationship between literacy and health. This is the theme for the 2007-2008 biennium of the United Nations Literacy Decade.

UNESCO and its partners are underlining the significance of literacy for healthy societies, with a strong emphasis on epidemics and communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. These are some of the world’s most important public health concerns. This year’s slogan is “Literacy is the best remedy”.

September is dedicated to Literacy in the US

According to the US department of education, over 19,000 adults participated in the national and state-level literacy assessments, the latest literacy statistics from 2003, which represented the entire population of U.S. adults who are age 16 and older. Approximately 1,200 inmates of federal and state prisons were assessed in order to provide separate estimates of literacy for the incarcerated population.

By comparing results from 1992 and 2003, NAAL provided the first indicator in a decade of the nation's progress in adult literacy. NAAL also provides information on adults' literacy performance and related background characteristics to researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and the general public.

61% of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children (McQuillan, Jeff. "The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions." 1998.)

40 million adults in the U.S. can't read well enough to read a simple story to a child (NCES, 1992).

Reading difficulty contributes to school failure, which increases the risk of absenteeism, leaving school, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy — all of which perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.

But this September, here's a few highlights where getting involved makes a difference:
Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a US national non-profit organization that promotes early literacy by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud in pediatric exam rooms across the nation.

More than 50,000 doctors have given 20 million free books to America's youngest children living in poverty, thanks to Reach Out and Read. It costs approximately $8 per year, per child to deliver ROR per clinic.

Have you considered becoming a Literacy Volunteer? Here's an example from New Jersey, but you can contact the National Center for Family Literacy or other organisations for contacts in your area.

How do I find a nearby literacy program?
To find a literacy program in your neighborhood, go to America's Literacy Directory, or call the National Institute for Literacy Hotline at 1-800-228-8813 to speak with an English- or Spanish-speaking operator. You can also check with a neighborhood library, community college, or city or county human services office, or contact your state's Director of Adult Education to find out about federally-funded programs. Contact ProLiteracy Worldwide to see if there are one-on-one volunteer tutoring programs in your area. If your interest is family literacy, contact the Even Start office in your state or the National Center for Family Literacy. You can find other organisations with needs for books here.