Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Google Book Search Agreement - Big Designs, Small Print

The Google agreement reached on October 28th, resolves a United States lawsuit which began three years ago, when the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and a handful of authors and publishers filed a class action lawsuit against Google Book Search. The class action is subject to approval by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

"Together we'll accomplish far more than any of us could have individually, to the enduring benefit of authors, publishers, researchers and readers alike," said Sergey Brin, Co-founder & President of Technology at Google.

There is a lot of detail in the extensive agreement documentation, (full details here) so before the rest of the world joins the celebrations, it may pay to read the small print.

With this US agreement Google has arrived loud and happy at the e-books party. By crashing in advance of the invitation, infringing copyright and then asking for forgiveness, (as Microsoft pointed out heatedly in 2007) they have now got a very large foot firmly in the door to establish themselves as the web provider in publishing distribution. The iTunes of print? Some individuals may not be happy that such a power monopoly has all the say in the market. Some musicians, such as Kid Rock still hold out on iTunes, not distributing music through the Apple outlet on principal (and reduced margin), but sell successfully online through other partners. I imagine publishers, authors and agents will have to play the same game to decide what rights to release, whether or not to distribute via Google and on what basis. Google will take a 37% share of each book sale in the US. With the US writers market represented by one Authors' Guild, it may have been easier to have had reasonable and unified representation. Who will Google speak to in the diversity of Europe and Asia and beyond, and how strongly can they negotiate a universally acceptable deal?

It certainly seems to be building the distribution platform for the future. If Google Books will become the iTunes of print, perhaps it is only a matter of time before we see the Google Pod Reader? A seamless user interface between Google Books and a Google Reader would mean consumers may abandon current models such as the Kindle and Sony reader, who don't have a custom interface. Or will a variety of e-readers make sense for different niche markets? Or will Amazon try and outdo Google Books, by adding out of print material to its contemporary product range?

Amazon, most recently purchased Reflexive Entertainment (video gaming). I wonder if the ever increasing diversification is a sign that Amazon is prepared to "give up" the books distribution market, to Google? Yet the Kindle would suggest, not without a fight. At the time of writing, there was no comment from Amazon.

Under the agreement, (full details here) Google will make payments of $125 million. The money will be used to establish the Book Rights Registry, to resolve existing claims by authors and publishers and to cover legal fees. The settlement agreement resolves Authors Guild v. Google, a class-action suit filed on September 20, 2005 by the Authors Guild and certain authors, and a suit filed on October 19, 2005 by five major publisher-members of the Association of American Publishers: The McGraw-Hill Companies; Pearson Education and Penguin Group (USA); John Wiley & Sons, and Simon & Schuster. These lawsuits challenged Google’s activities to digitize, search and show snippets of in-copyright books and to share digital copies with libraries without the explicit permission of the copyright owner.

It directly affects only Google Book Search in the U.S.; anywhere else, the Book Search experience won't change. For now. Going forward, Google hopes (according to their website) to work with international industry groups and individual rightsholders to expand the benefits of this agreement to users around the world. Google has partnered with over 20,000 publishers and authors to make their books discoverable on Google.

Surely this is what the e-book has been waiting for, to finally become a mainstream consumer product? But the agreement is yet to be approved, and it is geographically limited right now - how that works in the reality of the global Internet without border controls, may be the key to its global success - it's going to happen, get on board, or miss the boat.

Holders worldwide of U.S. copyrights will be able register their works with the Book Rights Registry and receive compensation from institutional subscriptions, book sales, ad revenues and other possible revenue models, as well as a cash payment if their works have already been digitized.

"Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Today, together with the authors, publishers, and libraries, we have been able to make a great leap in this endeavor," added Brin. "While this agreement is a real win-win for all of us, the real victors are all the readers. The tremendous wealth of knowledge that lies within the books of the world will now be at their fingertips."

It will take some time for this agreement to be approved and finalized by the Court. For now, here's a snippet of the expected changes compared with current US Google Books:

1. The agreement will create an independent, not-for-profit Book Rights Registry to represent authors, publishers and other rightsholders. In essence, the Registry will help locate rightsholders and ensure that they receive the money their works earn under this agreement.

2. Online purchase/access via Google Books - users will be able to purchase full online access to millions of books. This means you can read an entire book from any Internet-connected computer, simply by logging in to your Book Search account, and it will remain on your electronic bookshelf, so you can come back and access it whenever you want in the future.

3. Offering libraries, universities and other organizations the ability to purchase institutional subscriptions, which will give users access to the complete text of millions of titles while compensating authors and publishers for the service. Students and researchers will have access to an electronic library that combines the collections from many of the top universities across the country. Public and university libraries in the U.S. will also be able to offer terminals where readers can access the full text of millions of out-of-print books for free. (see university partners here.)

4. Compensation to Authors and Publishers and Control Over Access to Their Works – Payments will be earned from online access provided by Google and, prospectively, from similar programs that may be established by other providers, through the not-for-profit Book Rights Registry. There will be royalties paid from sales of online consumer access to the books as well as for printouts at public libraries, and for other uses.

Brin added, "We love books at Google, and our fondest dream is that Book Search will evolve into a service that ensures that books, along with their authors and publishers, will flourish for many years into the future."

Monday, 27 October 2008

Upcoming Events: The View From Here Regular Round Up

Selection of Author Events & New Releases:

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Delia's Frugal Food, Delia Smith, October 30th
At a time when money worries are front-page news, Britain’s most trusted cook, Delia Smith, is once again on hand with a wide range of tasty recipes that are cheap and easy to prepare. (Hodder & Stoughton)

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Katherine Neville - events throughout November, in California, Colarado, Pennsylvania and culminating in Washington on November 30th. See her website for detail.
Her new novel, The Fire is now on sale, a follow up to The Eight, the best-seller of twenty years ago.

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James Salter, Solo Faces, 6th November
Solo Faces to be published for the first time in Penguin Modern Classics. "It's surely a cause for celebration that James Salter, one of the great American writers of the last 50 years, has joined that select group of authors to see their books appear as Penguin Modern Classics in their own lifetimes." Guardian Unlimited.

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Julian Norridge, Penguin, Can we have our Balls Back please? How the British invented sport, 6th November

* Jane Austen wrote about baseball in Northanger Abbey, forty years before its official American invention. * The Olympics were first revived by an English doctor from Shropshire forty years before the modern games took place in Athens. * Exeter College, Oxford set up the first modern athletics competition. Three Oxford men later staged a brilliant coup to found the three As and take control of British - and effectively world - athletics.

In Can We Have Our Balls Back Please? Julian Norridge reveals how many of the world's most loved sports were in fact invented by the Brits.


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Michel Faber’s new novel, The Fire Gospel, 6th November
Hardback, £12.99. Canongate.

Proving, once again, that he is a master story-teller, Michel Faber expertly weaves a contemporary tale of modern-day publishing with the ancient myth of Prometheus in this breathtakingly original and beautifully written novel.

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Selection of Book Festivals & Fairs

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The Big Picture Party: Celebrate the Power of Picture Books, Oct 27th, London, United Kingdom

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Book Week, Oct 27th-Nov 9th, Japan. Childrens Event.

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28th Santiago International Book Fair, Oct 31st-Nov 16th, Santiago, Chile,

(site in Spanish)

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Miami Book Fair, November 9th- 16th, 2008, USA
The mission of Miami Book Fair International is to promote reading, encourage writing, and heighten an aware
ness of literacy and the literary arts in a multi-ethnic community.
First called Books by the Bay in 1984, the two-day street fair has evolved into the largest and finest book fair in America.


Complimentary tickets for all the “Evenings With Author…” presentations, Nov. 9th – 14th, available starting on Wednesday Nov. 5th. Reserve at www.miamibookfair.com. Maximum of 2 tickets per person per session.

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31st Annual National Press Club Book Fair, November 18th, Washington D.C.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, veteran journalists Helen Thomas and Roger Mudd, and
professional wre
stler Bret Hart will join 90 other authors to sign their books. However, no outside books are permitted. Admission is $5 for non-members. Club members are admitted at no charge. The National Press Club is located in Washington D.C. at the corner or 14th and F and two blocks from Metro Center. The event is open from 17:30 - 20:30. For a
complete list of authors, to register, and for more information, go to http://www.press.org.

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Selected Other Literary Related Events

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Nightmare on Larkin Street, Halloween Book and Media Sale,
Friday, Oct 31st, 11:00 - 14:00 on the steps of the San Francisco Main Library, San Francisco, CA

The most horrifying literary sales event of the season! All books & media one dollar ($1) or less. Funds raised benefit library programs. Rain cancels.

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NaNoWriMo - November 1st - 30th
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1st. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30th.





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Day of the Imprisoned Writer, Sunday 16th November at 18.30, England

James Naughtie
, the distinguished broadcaster and presenter of Radio 4’s ‘The Today Programme’ will talk at this year’s UK annual church service to mark the international Day of the Imprisoned Writer which aims to raise awareness of the plight of persecuted and imprisoned writers around the world. Currently, there are over 650 writers of concern to PEN, nearly 200 of which are in prison, whilst others suffer from forms of persecution ranging from beatings, threats, censorship, exile and house arrest. Readings from the work of these writers will be read by actors Caroline Carver and Kenny Doughty.


St Bride's Church, Bride Lane, off Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8AU, UK. (Nearest tubes: St Paul’s (Central line) and Blackfriars (Circle and District lines). All welcome. Admission is free.

See link for more details.

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Monday, 20 October 2008

All the Fun of the Fair - a summary from the Frankfurt Book Fair

Sunday was the final day of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest in the publishing industry, and wrapped up five days worth of meetings, interviews, forum presentation panels, deals, signings, highs, lows, late nights and early starts, dark beer and Brezen for another year.

There is some discussion as to whether the current financial market crisis made its mark and flattened the Fair, but overall, people I asked seemed very upbeat. The Usborne Rights Manager was quoted as saying it was, "'as good a Fair as there ever was." Their Publishing Director, Mrs. Jenny Tyler said, "Of course we have still to go back and see how that translates financially." What she foresees, was a potential reduction in the 'top end' of advances, vast sums awarded to debut books, from publishers who may be more cautious whether they would ever be made them back in sales. It sounds as though some common sense will return to the markets, both on Wall Street and in Bookland. And reassuringly she added, " There is always room for good, new talent, whatever the market."

Talking to a member of staff from the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a leading German newspaper, I was told that they had felt that overall attendees numbers were ever so slightly up, (Friday had 78, 218 attendees, (+ 8,1%) - as many visitors as never before in the history of the Frankfurt Book Fair), and they had many good meetings about their own publications. The primary function of the fair is networking and they are still doing that. "It gives you a chance to meet the people you only ever email." However he had repeatedly been asked about, "e-books, e-books and e-books." Oh, and "digitisation."

I found it interesting to view an article in the Bookseller from the 2007 Fair about the absence of the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader. The same article could have been from 2008. "Did you see one?" "No, did you?" "My colleague bought one in the US..." This year they have at least been sighted if not yet commonly in Europe, although everyone talks about them with some degree of reservation. I've also recently read of the British invented, German built Plastic Logic Reader. Let's see how that compares when it starts to ship in the second quarter of 2009. Touted as primarily a business reader in US letter / A4 format, I can see the plastic and larger scale format becoming popular with readers of any genre, and in generations to come, future schoolbags will be considerably lighter.

Google Books stand staff were eager to demonstrate their online offering, which has been taken up by "over twenty thousand publishers." The search engine giant enables you to read, but not download, anything from 20% upwards of books online. My sense is that for contemporary popular books there is little value add compared to say, Amazon's search inside, but that it is an opportunity for books for which there is no longer any marketing effort, to be made available in online searches, and then be discovered by potential buyers whom otherwise may have had no easy way of finding each other. A bit like an online dating service for backlisted books.

And what was otherwise visually impressive? The Turkey exhibition / forum centre was a fascinating mix of media, content and a pleasure to view, full of large scale author images, coloured backdrops and simple photographs. It made you feel as if great authors were looking over your shoulder at the forum and panel discussions in host language, Turkish.


They included amongst others, having a sense of humour with Metin Üstündag, the Turkish cartoonist and comics artist. An interesting choice of subject at a German event, displaying his own sense of humour perhaps. His work appears among others in the satirical Girgir and Penguen magazines. In 2002, he had to appear before the Penal Court in Istanbul on the charge of his cartoons being "against the common moral" in his comic book 'Sunday Lovers'.

The cook book displays in various Halls were often mouthwatering, but what stole the show on the last day wherever you went, were Manga fans. The manga (the Japanese term for comics) market is big business in German young adults aged from twelve up, and hundreds attended the Fair and enjoyed free entry to the German CosPlay Championship. Cosplay is the Japanese derived abbreviation from the English 'Costume play', and is a growing trend in Europe and the USA following its import from Japan, together with the Manga wave of comics and anime (the TV / film versions) which arrived at the end of the Nineties.

Since its launch in 2000, the Comics Centre in Hall 3.0 J 807 has become one of the really big attractions for the Frankfurt Book Fair public and the holding of the “German Cosplay Championship” is a highlight on the Sunday. The most popular manga is still imported, but there is some European and US talent which sells well, produced by publishers such as Egmont. The readers start younger, with something like Disney's 'Witch' and go on to read love story style manga, by Alexandra Voelker. They come in all genres, but 70% of their readership is female. The trick for the publishers and distributors alike, will be to see if they can sustain the European and US readership beyond their early twenties, as is done in Asia. If you consider it alongside current trends in video and gaming, e-books and an increasing readership who have grown up with technology, the trend for manga and anime will not be going away just yet.

Next year's Fair ( 14th -18th October 2009 - book your accommodation now) the Guest of Honour is China - so I expect we'll see more about Manga, and less about Gao Zhisheng whose German version of his book, A China More Just, was promoted with flyers handed out at the entrance this year. I will be interested to see which authors and works are selected for public display. By opening the borders to reader and writer exchange through invitations such as this I believe, small chips are made in the barriers created by censorship and translation. 2009 is the twenty year anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall - we will have to wait until then to see what the Book Fair will mean for the 'great wall' of China.

The Book Fair is typically thought of as an exhibition organized by publishers or booksellers to promote the sale of books. It is primarily a trade event, and although the weekend is open to the public I would not recommend it to authors or illustrators intent on hand delivering their work to agents or editors 'sitting round waiting for the next big thing'. Everyone there in a business capacity, has fully booked schedules, skipped meals and too little sleep. As Jenny Tyler said, "We just can't take time out. But it may be good to get an idea of which publishers do what and choose one to whom you want to submit to in the usual manner." It is certainly an opportunity to gain an understanding of the intensity of the industry and of the workings of the business, but go to watch, listen and learn. And take nothing with you.

The event is for action, and the intense activity of the event made me think the verb is an apt a way to describe it:

Fair. Verb. - join so that the external surfaces blend smoothly, bring together, join - cause to become joined or linked; "join these two parts so that they fit together"


2008 was the Book Fair’s 60th anniversary and was an event which enables the joining of books and readers. How smoothly that happens and how it will be achieved in the future, will be determined by all the chaos in between - agents, editors, publishers, distributors, booksellers, and Google, Kindle & co. The Book Fairs of the next sixty years may look different, but the benefits from connecting with international colleagues face-to-face and from getting a hands-on current understanding of the publishing world are tangible when you talk to anyone working at the stands. That supports my belief that it will remain a place to connect with people to whom books truly matter, regardless of format, for at least the next sixty.

Cosplay image © Frankfurt Book Fair/Baptista

Exhibition & Hall image © Frankfurt Book Fair/Heimann

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Upcoming Events: The View From Here Round Up

Selected Author Events:

Tom McCarthy, 17th - 21st October
Friday 17th Oct, 15:00: in conversation with Alasdair Gray, author of 'Lanark' and other novels, about his work, at the Frieze Art Fair.

Saturday 18th October, 17.40: the INS's Proclamation on Art and Democracy at the Serpentine's Manifesto Marathon (just before Yoko Ono). Details here.

Tuesday 21st Oct, 18.30: in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist about his new book, 'Formulas for Now, at Foyles Charing Cross Road. (No charge.)

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Ian Rankin, 18th October 2008, 18:00
Doors Open - Ian Rankin's first stand-alone thriller for over a decade.
Venue: Cheltenham Literature Festival Tel: +44 (0)844 576 7979

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Evelio Rosero, 21st October, 19:00

An established Colombian author presents, The Armies. In association with English PEN.
Venue: London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, WC1A 2JL London, England.
Tickets are available by calling the shop on Tel: +44 (0)20 7269 9030.

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Jennifer Haigh , October 22nd, 18:00
The Condition at Boston Public Library hosted by Harper Collins.
700 Boyleston Street Boston, MA 02116, USA.

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Nick Griffiths, 23rd October, 18:30
Who Goes There Launch, hosted by Legend Press.
Venue: The Phoenix Artist Club Off Charing Cross Rd, 1 Phoenix Street, WC2H 0DT, London.

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Selected Book Festivals & Fairs:


Guildford Book Festival, 16th - 25th October, 2008

There is much for writers as well as readers, at this UK event. The week of events are hosted by a variety of venues from booksellers and libraries to churches and the YMCA.

Fiction is at the heart of the programme. Readers’ Day events offer an opportunity to interact with some of today’s bestselling novelists including Katie Fforde, Lesley Pearse, Michael Dobbs, Emily Barr, R J Ellory (chosen by the Richard & Judy Book Club) and Catherine O’Flynn (winner of the Festival’s own First Novel Award (2007) and the Costa First Novel Award (2007).

The Festival will mark the centenary of the much loved Mills & Boon novels. It will also be celebrating the vast collection of works and characters created by Guildford-born author P.G. Wodehouse - the event will be hosted by author and playwright Simon Brett.
Monday 2oth October, 15:00-17:00
Alison Joseph hosts a workshop intriguingly titled, 'How to Write a Novel with a Pack of Cards, a Kitchen Timer and a Piece of String.'

Wednesday 22nd October, 19:00
For those who want to consider joining a poetry slam, at which the audience decides the winner. Cost: £3 Performers – includes both events. To book a slot at the poetry slam please email: thedenofvoice@googlemail.com. Slots may be available on the day but cannot be guaranteed.

Festival Box Office Tel: +44 (0)1483 444334 or (0)1483 444789. Online booking is also available through the Festival website.

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Birmingham, Secondhand and Antiquarian Book Fair, 17th -18th October 2008, 12:00 - 18:00

Birmingham Book Fair, Medical Institute, Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, England.

Over thirty leading bookdealers will be offering quality books to suit every taste and pocket. This fair will be particularly strong on antiquarian, military, local history, literature and sport. Free Parking. Tel: +44 (0)1763 248400 e-mail web

Edinburgh, 24th -25th October 2008

Further Secondhand and Antiquarian Q4 2008 Book Fairs around the UK, click here, to see the website.

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Anarchist Bookfair, Saturday 18th October, 10:00 to 19:00
Various non 'typical mainstream' book fair events, including a session hosted by Paul Mason, BBC journalist and author of Live Working or Die Fighting, How the Working Class Went Global.

Queen Mary & Westfield College, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS. England.

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The Dylan Thomas Festival, 23rd October - 10th November, 2008
Over two weeks of arts events celebrating the life and work of Wales' most famous writer. There will be the usual mixture of readings, talks, theatre performances, music, art, films and celebrity guests for this, the eleventh Festival.
Tickets: available from the Dylan Thomas Centre - +44 (0)1792 463980 and some event tickets are available online.

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The Sixth International Conference on the Book, 25th-27th October
The Book Conference is held annually in different locations around the world.
Fees depend on level of participation, up to $600.
Venue: the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, USA.

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Selected Other Literary Related Events:

Bookshop event - Dorling Kindersley, Waterstones, 29th October.

Take Me Back, DK's best ever history book for kids, is inviting you and your kids to join them for a free and fun half term treasure trail. Starting at the London Dungeon, follow the trail around London landmarks answering the clues on the way.

At the end, head to the UK's Waterstone's London Piccadilly to hand in your completed map for a chance to win a treasure trove of goodies and join the fun-filled Explorers Party: with games, activities and performances from Shakespeare and friends.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Paul Coelho opens Frankfurt Book Fair: "don’t be afraid of sharing your ideas."

Paul Coelho on new tendencies and sharing Ideas

Paul Coelho has opened the Frankfurt Book Fair with a talk about his experience of digitisation, and “Giordano Bruno”, the story of a “heretic” condemned in 1600 by the Vatican and burned at the stake for his beliefs (which included the theory that the Sun is at the center of the Solar System). "The reason I’m mentioning this here is the following: in the film there’s a passage in which Giordano Bruno mentions that he just visited the Frankfurt Book Fair to meet some publishers of his work. And here we are, four centuries later, not only to meet publishers, but to discuss new tendencies, as well."

Coelho spoke about reader involvement, sharing free content and the World Wide Web, "The Internet has taught me this: don’t be afraid of sharing your ideas. Don’t be afraid of engaging others to voice their ideas. "

Other current news stories however highlight the issues that some authors have in doing just that.

Italian Writer in Hiding
Police in
Italy are looking into reports today, that the Naples mafia plans to carry out its threat to kill the author of the best-selling book "Gomorrah," which was made into the film that won the Grand Prix runner-up prize in Cannes in May.

Roberto Saviano, 29, has been living in hiding with 24-hour police protection for two years since receiving Camorra threats after writing his book, which is based upon his own investigations into mafia activities. It has sold 1.2 million copies in Italy and been translated into forty-two languages.

"We've launched in inquiry to verify the truth behind this news," Franco Roberto, a coordinator of the local anti-mafia squad for Naples, told Reuters. Reports said that concrete plans had been made to murder the author 'before Christmas'.

The Jewel of Medina Author not in Frankfurt

Conflicting reports in the Bookseller and Galley Cat indicate that Sherry Jones, author of The Jewel of Medina, will not attend the Frankfurt Book Fair as planned, to kick off a Europe-wide tour. The book has been delayed in Britain by Gibson Square Publishers. The reasons are contradictory.

Prior to the fire-bombing of UK publisher Gibson Square offices 10 days ago, Jones planned to attend the fair. The original launch was set to be simultaneous in the US, UK and Germany during the Frankfurt Book Fair. However, publication in the UK has since been placed in "suspended animation" while the UK Publisher takes advice. The US Publisher said the decision was not related to the attack, but due to the acceleration of (US) publication.

In their own words, "Gibson Square specialises in books that are able to contribute to a current debate." The debate online and in the press over The Jewel of Medina, a historical novel of the love story between the Prophet Mohammed and his favorite wife A’isha, began in August when its previous publisher Random House, made known the decision to terminate the novel following criticism after a galley review by University of Texas Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies, Denise Spellberg. On September 5, 2008, it was announced that American publisher Beaufort Books (previously best known as the publishers of "If I Did It" by O. J. Simpson) would publish The Jewel of Medina in America.

Paul Coelho: adapt or die
Coehelo has long been a pioneer in his use of the Internet to reach and engage with his authors. On his own blog before attending the Fair, he asked his community their opinions on the future of the book. In his opening remarks he acknowledged, "There are still two problems to tackle: copyrights and the sustainability of the publishing industry. I don’t have a solution, but we are facing a new era, so either we adapt or we die."

German Book Prize Winner Announced : Uwe Tellkamp
Adaptation is also a theme in the the German Book Prize winner Uwe Tellkamp's 1,000-page novel about the downfall of former East Germany, Der Turm (The Tower). The €25,000 prize for his novel was awarded at a ceremony in Frankfurt last night, which marked the start of the Frankfurt Book Fair. It tells the story of Anne and Richard Hoffmann as they observe the downfall of a social system. They belong to a group that socialism does not really allow for: the educated classes. But a repressive society demands conformity. The alternatives of departure or resistance are impossible. Uwe Tellkamp creates a monumental panorama of the declining GDR, in which the members of three generations drift towards the maelstrom of the 1989 revolution, in part actively, in part helplessly.

Marlis Thomas, Manager of the English branch of bookseller Hugendubel in Munich, said, " I imagine it will now be translated (into English), having won the prize will create an interest, and the themes would be interesting for readers in English."

Future of Publishing from a Publisher's perspective
In today's 'Welt' the founder of Saur Publishing, a German publisher that specializes in reference information for libraries, shares his view of the future of publishing.

He concludes that books which are for quick referral, encyclopedias, certain dictionaries, will in a foreseeable future, no longer be printed. However, he notes, it is already thirty-two years ago he first stated his belief that 'in ten years time, phone books would no longer be in print'. He admits he was too hasty, now "twenty percent of the quantity produced at that time, are printed today. But one day it will be the case." He believes it is different for books which must be studied in depth, whether specialist non-fiction, or literary fiction. Saur further talked about e-books and libraries. "Libraries do not buy individual e-books. They order by theme, and receive hundreds of titles simultaneously in a package from publishers," he said. "One should expect that e-book programs, even in mainland Europe, will increase enormously. And in countless non-fiction areas, will increase hundred-fold."

Paul Coelho concludes "you will be punished if you don’t."
Coelho closed by referring once again to Giordano Bruno, the heretic. "There’s an irony behind all this: Giordano Bruno was punished for voicing his ideas. In today’s world: you will be punished if you don’t."

His punishment refers to missing the opportunity to harness the power of the Internet to connect readers, authors and content, and he makes a challenge, "think about the future of the book, without (it) being a material product." And to consider, "another vital element – readers need to be involved."

Authors like Robert Saviano and Sherry Jones may well ask on this point what all authors should consider whilst setting up an online presence such as Coelho's, 'in what way, how much and with what effect?'

(Image © Paul Coelho. The full speech can be read on Paul Coelho's blog here.)

Aravind Adiga wins Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The White Tiger

Aravind Adiga has been named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for The White Tiger, published by Atlantic.

The Indian writer is one of two first-time novelists on the 2008 Man Booker shortlist of six. The other is Steve Toltz. Only three other debut novelists have achieved this in the past - Keri Hulme for her novel The Bone People, DBC Pierre in 2003 for his novel Vernon God Little and Arundhati Roy in 1997 for The God of Small Things.

Thirty-three year old Aravind Adiga, who has wanted to be a novelist since he was a boy, was born in Madras and now lives in Mumbai. The White Tiger is a 'compelling, angry and darkly humorous' novel about a man's journey from Indian village life to entrepreneurial success. It was described by one reviewer as an ‘unadorned portrait' of India seen ‘from the bottom of the heap'.

Aravind Adiga is the fourth Indian born-author to win the prize, joining compatriots Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai who won the prize in 1981, 1997 and 2006 respectively. A fifth winner, V S Naipaul is of Indian ancestry. In addition, The White Tiger is the ninth winning novel to take its inspiration from India or Indian identity.

Tonight's win is a first for publisher Atlantic; although they had a book shortlisted for the prize in 2003 with The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut and in 2004 with Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor.

Michael Portillo, Chair of the judges, made the announcement, which was broadcast live on the BBC Ten O' Clock News, at the awards dinner at the Guildhall, London. Peter Clarke, Chief Executive of Man Group plc, presented Aravind Adiga with a cheque for £50,000.

Michael Portillo comments,

"The judges found the decision difficult because the shortlist contained such strong candidates. In the end, The White Tiger prevailed because the judges felt that it shocked and entertained in equal measure."

"The novel undertakes the extraordinarily difficult task of gaining and holding the reader's sympathy for a thoroughgoing villain. The book gains from dealing with pressing social issues and significant global developments with astonishing humour."

Over and above his prize of £50,000, Aravind Adiga may expect a huge increase in sales and recognition worldwide. Each of the six shortlisted authors, including the winner, receives £2,500 and a designer-bound edition of their book.

The judging panel for the 2008 Man Booker Prize for Fiction comprised: Michael Portillo, former MP and Cabinet Minister; Alex Clark, editor of Granta; Louise Doughty, novelist; James Heneage, founder of Ottakar's bookshops; and Hardeep Singh Kohli, TV and radio broadcaster.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Nobel Prize no Surprise. Le Clezio wins the Literature Award.

It didn't go to an American author.

That's what the headlines of most papers seem to report, of the news that Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio has been awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize for Literature.

The Herald Tribune and Fox News carry the same story, and the Washington Post shares the same headline, "France's Le Clezio Wins Nobel Literature Prize". Even the New York Times appears to want to underline the sentiment, by listing previous prize winners alongside their country of birth. The BBC website simply states, "Author Le Clezio wins Nobel prize." Reuters in contrast, reads "Nomadic" writer wins Nobel prize."

Where few choose to focus is on Le Clezio's diverse background, ethnicity and extensive writing, with its engaging positions on ecology and humanity. The Post dedicates one paragraph to his writing, and four related to 'the controversy' and its connected remarks.

This is the controversy created last month by Horace Engdahl, the Permanent Secretary of the Nobel Committee for Literature when he told the Associated Press that American literature is, "too isolated, too insular," and American writers are "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture.

After the award announcement, Engdahl emphasized Le Clezio's non-insularity.

"He is a great writer of variety," Engdahl said, who "has come to include other civilizations, other modes of thought, other modes of living than the Western in his writing."

He added that Le Clezio is "a cosmopolitan," and pointed out that the author "lives in parts of the year in New Mexico" as well as in France and on the island of Mauritius, where he has family ties.

The press release from the Nobel Permanent Secretary announced the author's name and described him in a further nineteen-word statement as an, “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”.

So why is there all the fuss about the remarks which Engdahl later agreed were rather 'generalisations'?

It is in fact the 'new departures' and 'beyond...the reigning civilization' which encapsulate the true meaning of the Nobel award.

The Nobel Prize for Literature is not like The Pulitzer, which must be 'distinguished' (and by an American author). Nor is it like the Man Booker, which has 'literary excellence' as its sole focus (for writers from the British Commonwealth and Ireland).

The Nobel Prize for literature was determined in Alfred Nobel's will to be for work which was outstanding in an idealist direction "som inom litteraturen har producerat det utmärktaste i idealisk rigtning."

This differs significantly from the wording of the achievements in the other fields, such as chemistry, which was to be awarded for simply 'the greatest achievement or improvement', "vigtigaste upptäck eller förbättring."

The addition of the 'ideal(ist) direction' may be ambiguous. Is it to move towards an ideal in literature, meaning perfection of writing, or to address ideals beyond writing? Ideals in either case create a value judgment. It is not enough to be the most outstanding writing, it must also achieve some higher purpose.

It has been awarded primarily to writers whose work has, over a sustained period of time, not only achieved recognised literary excellence in writing, but has 'pushed the envelope' to borrow a phrase from our American cousins, in other areas of idealism. The work of past Nobel winners typically addressed contemporary political, social or human rights issues. Were they ever awarded without controversy? When the very foundation of the award is based on judgment of value, it can hardly fail to be.

1907 winner Rudyard Kipling set much of his work in British Empire ruled India, and his prolific work stands as testimony to many who experienced that period from all sides; about the military, the prejudice and eternal struggles of identity and belonging. 1934 saw Luigi Pirandello win post-WW1 in the rising tide of fascism of Mussolini's Italy. His writing often addressed the sense of disproportion between ideals and reality. His own politics was a cause of controversy and yet confusing, on the one side he famously tore up his Party card, and on the other gave his Nobel medal to be melted down to fund the Abyssinia campaign. Perhaps indeed it is this struggle which often characterises the Nobel Prize winners' writing. The struggle between ideals and idealism and great writing whilst at the same time being as Pirandello, "only a man on the world."

Perhaps a contemporary American writer will be a Nobel winner in the near future? Le Clezio is widely reported as having given Philip Roth a commendation in his remarks upon the announcement of the Prize. And if troubled times, political, social and human rights issues create ground for winning work, then the time is ripe. At least if you read Garrison Keillor's comments today in the International Herald Tribune, the American people have enough on their plates right now, without worrying whether they are thought of as 'insular' or not. Why the newspapers don't focus on the reasons that Le Clezio did win, as opposed to that it didn't go to an American author, may become clear. One of the main reasons is probably that few, including myself, have heard of him. "The sound of America's literary journalists searching Wikipedia en masse is deafening." to quote Time magazine. Personally, I think it is also hard to be an American right now. The American Dream is an ideal. The day-to-day grind of Joe Bloggs in an uncertain and challenging economic situation does not live up to that dream. It's easy to point the finger elsewhere and see who wouldn't 'play nice' to defend anything that offends a sense of patriotism. But it's at just such a difficult time that we need the greatest responsibility in the media and literature. It's a time when we need to read the works of writers who are deemed to have higher values that may challenge our own. In the words of Joseph Pulitzer, "Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together...The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations."

Only in retrospect will we see who has been judged to have risen to the challenge of being 'outstanding in an idealist direction' in our own time. And it won't be without controversy.


Biography:
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio was born on April 13, 1940, in Nice, but both parents had strong family connections with the former French colony, Mauritius (conquered by the British in 1810). At the age of eight, Le Clézio and his family moved to Nigeria, where the father had been stationed as a doctor during the Second World War. During the month-long voyage to Nigeria, he began his literary career with two books, Un long voyage and Oradi noir, which even contained a list of “forthcoming books.” He grew up with two languages, French and English. In 1950 the family returned to Nice. After completing his secondary education, he studied English at Bristol University in 1958-59 and completed his undergraduate degree in Nice (Institut d’Études Littéraires) in 1963. He took a master’s degree at the University of Aix-en-Provence in 1964 and wrote a doctoral thesis on Mexico’s early history at the University of Perpignan in 1983. He has taught at universities in Bangkok, Mexico City, Boston, Austin and Albuquerque among other places. (More.)

Le Clezio made his breakthrough as a novelist with "Desert," in 1980, a work the academy said "contains magnificent images of a lost culture in the North African desert contrasted with a depiction of Europe seen through the eyes of unwanted immigrants."

That novel also won Le Clezio a prize from the French Academy.

The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

Where: various locations in Cheltenham, England

When: October 10th-19th, 2008

What: the famous festival is 59-years-old this year and the theme is family and how it shapes who we are. In this year’s literary line-up, truly literary icons, such as Toni Morrison, (who has won almost every major literary honour, including the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Pulitzer Prize) and Man Booker Prize winners rub shoulders with the finest classically trained actors, whilst top class comedians appear alongside leading political figures. With more than 450 writers and over 350 events this promises to be an exhilarating ten day celebration of the written word. There is also an extensive children's and family program, and Creative Writing sessions for writers.

Who else?: Attenborough, Louis de Bernieres, Charley Boorman, William Boyd, Menzies Campbell, Dan Cruickshank, Jonathan Dimbleby, Monty Don, Michael Frayn, Susan Greenfield, David Guterson, Michael Holroyd, Jeremy Isaacs, James Kelman, David Lodge, Ben Macintyre, Alexander McCall Smith, Roger Moore, Kate Muir, Julia Neuberger, Chris Patten, Tom Paulin, John Prescott, Ruth Rendell, Simon Schama, Asne Seierstad, Anita Shreve, Rick Stein, Eoin Colfer, Julia Donaldson, Charlie Higson, Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson. Many, many more.

Website: www.cheltenhamfestivals.com

Cost: tickets for individual events - from £4 upwards.

Tel: 01242 227979

Click here to read the View From Here feature with local bookseller, Peter Lyons


Video below of Toni Morrison's recent Time interview.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Larry Doyle wins the 2008 'Thurber Prize for American Humor'

"Bart, with $10,000 we’d be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like…love!"(Homer Simpson)

Homer would be proud of his former writer and producer Larry Doyle from The Simpsons (seasons nine through twelve - 1997-2001). By winning the 2008 'Thurber Prize for American Humor' for his book I Love You Beth Cooper, Doyle is half way there, receiving the $5,000 prize.

Thurber House presented Larry Doyle, with the prize at the Algonquin Hotel, New York on October 6. The annual prize is presented by Thurber House, the national literary center for writers and readers, based in the boyhood home of author, humorist and New Yorker cartoonist, James Thurber in Columbus, Ohio. Robert Kaplow, was a judge for this year’s Prize.

Doyle is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and has a monthly column in Esquire magazine. 'I Love You, Beth Cooper' is his first novel, and will soon be adapted for a big-screen film starring Hayden Panettiere and Paul Rust. The novel is loosely based on Doyle's teen years in suburban Chicago.

In a comment from a review on Harper Collins website, Tom Perrotta says, "it feels like an instant classic, right up there with end of school landmarks like American Graffiti and Dazed and Confused."

About The Thurber Prize:
The prize is named after American humorist James Thurber and recognizes outstanding contributions in humour writing. The prize is given out by the Thurber House. It was first awarded irregularly, but since 2004 has been bestowed annually. The 2008 'Thurber Prize for American Humor' is conferred upon the author and publisher of the outstanding book of humour writing published in the United States between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007. Initiated in 1996, it is the nation’s highest recognition of the art of humour writing. The award includes a $5,000 prize and a commemorative crystal plaque for the winning author.

Monday, 6 October 2008

UK National Poetry day on the 9th October

National Poetry Day aims to capture the nation's imagination and bring poetry to the public eye. This year with the banking world crisis firmly at the front of most people's minds, it may be just the thing, to get a fresh perspective on work. The 2008 theme is WORK of all kinds – from classroom to factory floor, from building site to office cubicle.


'We will work
where they will not."


The first line of John Siddique's evocative poem, Simple Economics, addresses the issues of work and immigration in only eight lines, and is one of the four poems available to send as an e-card from the National Poetry Day website.

John Siddique will host a dynamic poetry event at the National Portrait Gallery, London on 9th October at 1pm, reading from his own work and talking about the role of the poet in the 21st Century. He says, "National poetry day is useful as it highlights poetry to a wider audience, unfortunately the way poetry is taught and perceived often keeps people away from such an important art form. Poetry is the best vehicle of the human spirit I know of, we turn to it at all the major points of our lives, birth, death, love."

The theme of National Poetry Day is very pertinent to his poetry. "The (current) economic climate only exists because our values of what is true are getting blurred by greed, the money lenders now actually own the temple. Poetry belongs to that stuff of true value, like friendship, making food with you own hands, it is meaning and reflection of the human amidst the mess," he told the View From Here. "The economy has no real value, the things that it purports to give us security do not, money is unreliable as a god, so we have to get real. Poetry is real."

National Poetry Day covers all of the UK and offers an opportunity to discover many of the poetry resources available around the country. Academi has comprehensive information on literature in Wales, including Welsh poetry and details of the National Poet of Wales. The Scottish Poetry Library has contemporary poetry in English, Scots and Gaelic, listings and resources including 'virtual poets' to explain more about poetry for children. Find them at www.spl.org.uk. In Northern Ireland, the Seamus Heaney Centre is the prime centre for the teaching and promotion of poetry. The Poetry Society has educational resources, events and competitions plus a long-established journal. Equally helpful is the Poetry Book Society, with resources for adults and children, including a beginner’s guide.

John Siddique's first full collection of poetry The Prize (Rialto) is about to be republished. He is a co-author of Four Fathers (Route), Velocity: The Best of Apples and Snakes, (Black Spring Press Ltd, London, 2003), the author of the collection, Poems From a Northern Soul, and the editor of Transparency (Crocus Books). He was a contributor to Life Lines: Poets for Oxfam, Oxford, 2006. His poem ‘Variola’ received a nomination for best single poem for 2004’s Forward Prize.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Inchworm - Book Launch Follows up Costa Children's Book of the Year 2007

The third book in the 'Gussie' series, the follow up to Ann Kelley's critically acclaimed, The Burying Beetle and Costa Children's Book of the Year 2007, The Bower Bird, INCHWORM will be launched on Saturday October 4th.

The launch will be held at the Walker's Independent Children's Bookseller of the Year 2008: Tales on Moon Lane.

"Having loved the Burying Beetle and The Bower Bird, 'Tales on Moon Lane' are delighted to have Ann Kelley for the launch of her next Gussie book," said Diana Heiby, The Manager of the bookshop to The View From Here. "It’s the perfect place for the launch of Inchworm with the setting of the Royal Free Hospital just a short walk away. We look forward to welcoming Ann kelley’s friends and family."

Launch - Saturday 4 October, 6pm, signing begins 5pm.

Tales On Moon Lane,
Primrose Hill,
9 Princes Road,
London NW1 8JN.

An interview with Author Ann Kelley and a review of Inchworm will appear soon, at The View From Here.

Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Luath Press Limited
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1906307628
ISBN-13: 978-1906307622

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Calling Terry Pratchett fans - October 1st & 9th

Terry will be online Wednesday October 1 at 11:00 a.m. ET at the Washington Post. Click here to submit your questions and comments before and during the live chat.

On Thursday October 9 at 3:00 p.m. ET, Terry will take part in a live Q&A session with fans on Second Life. Click here to participate.

Pratchett was named an Officer of the British Empire in 1998 "for services to literature." His books have sold more than 55 million copies worldwide. Diagnosed last year with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, he has donated $1 million to the Alzheimer's Research Trust, and continues to raise money for and awareness of the illness.

His new book, "Nation" an adventure, is out now.