Saturday, 10 January 2009

2009 Kicks off with a Fireworks Display

Bangers: Jobs, Bertrams and Angel Girl

McGraw-Hill announced they laid off 375 employees in the fourth quarter of 2008. In all, the company reduced its workforce by 1,045 employees last year. According to the company's release, the educational division was hit hardest, losing 215 jobs. Before taxes, the restructuring charges for the company's 2008 consolidation totaled more than $73.4 million.

The sale of Bertrams is expected to take place by the end of January. The book distributor is owned by Entertainment UK (EUK), which is part of the Woolworths organisation.

After it was announced that Berkley Books is cancelling publication of 'Angel at the Fence' Lerner Publishing Group has also cancelled all pending reprints of its children's picture book based on the same story, titled 'Angel Girl.' Lerner is issuing refunds on all returned books. The company is no longer offering the book for sale and is recalling the book from the market. The story is based on the true Holocaust survival story of Herman and Roma Rosenblat, but although Mr. Rosenblat's stories from the concentration camps are true, "(he) invented the crux of this amazing love story—about the girl at the fence who threw him an apple." Mr. Rosenblat also revealed that he made up the chance reunion with this girl on the blind date. The fictional additions to his story were revealed after investigation by The New Republic. Mr. Rosenblat and his agent, Andrea Hurst, released statements on December 27, 2008, confirming parts of his story were fabricated. There are now rumours of a possible publishing deal with the story retitled and branded as 'fiction.'

Rockets of Success: Costa Book Awards, Laura Bush and Leona Lewis

Sebastian Barry, Sadie Jones and Diana Athill are all category winners in the Costa Book Awards 2008, which took place on January 5th. Diana Athill, who wins the Costa Biography Award for her memoir, Somewhere Towards the End is the oldest-ever category-winning author in the history of the Book Awards. She is 91. Each winner receives £5,000, and will go on to compete for the £25,000 2008 Costa Book of the Year award, which will be announced on 27th January. Last year's winner was A L Kennedy's Day (Vintage). Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won eight times by a novel, four times by a first novel, five times by a biography, five times by a collection of poetry and once by a children’s book.

Laura Bush will write her memoirs, including her experiences in the White House. The publisher Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, said in a release that it had acquired Mrs. Bush’s not-yet-titled book and planned to publish it in 2010.

Pop singer Leona Lewis has signed a book deal with Hodder & Stoughton to tell the story of her journey from pizza waitress to X Factor winner and international star. The book will include more than 100 behind-the-scenes photographs taken by photographer Dean Freeman, who has previously worked with David Beckham. Since winning The X Factor in 2006, Lewis has sold more than five million copies of her album, Spirit, while her single Bleeding Love was iTunes' biggest seller of 2008.

Blazing a new trail: Ian Rankin Launches Campaign, E-books for a Dollar and UK's Reading Heroes announced

On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Braille's inventor, bestselling crime writer Ian Rankin has launched a campaign calling on writers, publishers and booksellers to make more books available to the visually impaired, and backing an appeal to raise £2m to rehouse the UK's leading Braille printing press, the Scottish Braille Press, which is struggling to meet demand with its current premises. Just 4% of books published in the UK currently make it into Braille, large print or audio formats, according to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Rankin - whose son attends the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh - hopes the campaign will unite the books world in improving access to fiction and non-fiction for the visually impaired.

As Apple has announced a new iTunes pricing structure, so too has Hachette Book Group's science fiction and fantasy publisher, Orbit Books. It will offer selected titles for one dollar for a month. At the end of the month, the price returns to normal, replaced by a new sale book. Over the next few months, offers will include The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, Empress by Karen Miller, and Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks.

In the UK, The National Year of Reading announced its Reading Heroes campaign final winners. The National Year of Reading awards celebrate the difference reading can make to individual lives. Thirty Four ‘Reading Heroes’ were selected by public nomination. They are individuals from across the country whose personal effort to support reading has made a real difference to others, or whose acquisition of reading skills in challenging circumstances has transformed their own lives. Sue Torr, from Devonport, won the third place in a category for Individual Achievers. The former school dinner lady, now aged 49, first learned to read when she was 38 and there has been no stopping her since.

In 2008 she wrote award-winning drama Shout It Out! and has been given an MBE for her tireless work promoting adult literacy. The overall celebrity winner is Katie Price. The selected Reading Heroes will be acknowledged and received as guests of honour at a private reception with the Prime Minister's wife Sarah Brown at Number 10 Downing Street in early 2009.

(flickr photo courtesy of Shermee)

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