Tag Archives: the bookseller

Literary Mixtape: What’s Happening This Week


What do we make of Marcel (Proust)?


More children are using libraries


Self-Publishing 2013 with Catherine Ryan Howard


The Book Thief film adaptation


Sylvia Plath: Reflections on her legacy


The National Emerging Writer Programme


A new look into Jane Austen


On Richard III being found in a Leicester car park.


How much should you budget to self-publish your book?


Get a free copy of Poetry Magazine!

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Emma Thompson & Peter Rabbit

mma Thompson’s The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit was published on 6th September, illustrated by Eleanor Taylor. It is the first time that Frederick Warne has published an additional title to Beatrix Potter’s original series.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Thompson and Taylor preserve the delicious dry wit of Potter’s original tales—this is top-notch read-aloud fare that both children and their parents will enjoy. Here’s to having Peter hop into trouble for another hundred years. The book also includes an audio recording of the tale, read by the author.

Thompson was first asked to pen a sequel to Beatrix Potter’s books by Frederick Warne himself when a cardboard box arrived at her front door with a half-eaten radish leaf inside next to a letter from ‘Peter Rabbit’ asking that she write him into another story.

Known to possess a dry sense of humor, as was Potter, Thompson is a longtime devotee of Peter and his pals: “I’ve always loved Beatrix Potter, as a child and then as a mother and all the years in-between as well,” she said in a statement. “When Mr. Rabbit invited me to write a further tale, I was more honored than I can say. I hope I don’t let him or his extraordinary creator down.”

Luckily for us, the Bookseller announced yesterday that Thompson is set to write two further sequels: The second title will be set in the Lake District and will follow Peter’s “comical little cousin” Benjamin Bunny plus a new character called William. It is lined up for Christmas 2013. The third title will be published in 2014.

Francesca Dow, Penguin Children’s M.D., said, “The recent launch of the 24th tale The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit has been amazingly well-received all over the world and I can’t tell you how excited we are that Emma is writing two more tales. Emma’s writing is completely fresh and original and yet she also captures perfectly the spirit of Potter’s own unique style . . .What with Peter celebrating his 110th birthday this year, the forthcoming launch of the new Peter Rabbit animation series and now two new tales from Emma it’s certainly an exciting time for everybody’s favourite rabbit.”

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Sock-puppet reviews condemned by authors everywhere

Last Thursday, on our Facebook page, we posted a link from GalleyCat explaining fake Amazon review charts and how to spot them.

The whole debate began when the New York Times wrote an article on August 25th this year exposing the ‘book reviewers for hire’ industry. How do authors get away this? Essentially, “The Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines stating that all online endorsements need to make clear when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal and there has been a lot of confusion in the blogosphere over how this affects traditional book reviews.”

Just two days ago, the Bookseller reported that writers including crime writer RJ Ellory, John Locke and Stephen Leather all admitted to giving their own work 5-star reviews and slamming rival authors on Amazon — a practice damningly referred to as ‘sock puppetry’. The Guardian reported the practice in more detail.

The entire controversy was heightened after Ellory was exposed by rival penman Jeremy Duns on Twitter. Ellory’s publisher, Orion, declined to comment.

On its website, the Crime Writers Association states: “The CWA feels [sock puppetry] is unfair to authors and also to the readers who are so supportive of the crime genre. […] At present we don’t know how widespread the practice is. However we will be taking steps to set up a membership code of ethics, and considering if other steps may be necessary from us as an authors’ organisation.”

The Guardian and The Bookseller described the denunciation of sock-puppetry from other authors, of which a large group (see below) have signed up to a group statement condemning the practice.

The group statement from the authors states:

“These days more and more books are bought, sold, and recommended on-line, and the health of this exciting new ecosystem depends entirely on free and honest conversation among readers. But some writers are misusing these new channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large. […] Your honest and heartfelt reviews, good or bad, enthusiastic or disapproving,  can drown out the phoney voices, and the underhanded tactics will be marginalized to the point of irrelevance. No single author,  however devious,  can compete with the whole community. Will you use your voice to help us clean up this mess?”

The signatories are: Linwood Barclay, Tom Bale, Mark Billingham, Declan Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Tania Carver, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, N J Cooper, David Corbett, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Stella Duffy, Jeremy Duns, Mark Edwards, Chris Ewan, Helen FitzGerald, Meg Gardiner, Adèle Geras, Joanne Harris, Mo Hayder, David Hewson, Charlie Higson, Peter James, Graham Joyce, Laura Lippman, Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, Roger McGough, Denise Mina, Steve Mosby, Stuart Neville, Jo Nesbo, Ayo Onatade, S J Parris, Tony Parsons, Sarah Pinborough, Ian Rankin, Shoo Rayner, John Rickards, Stav Sherez, Karin Slaughter, Andrew Taylor, Luca Veste, Louise Voss, Martyn Waites, Neil White and Laura Wilson.

These authors warn that Ellory, Stephen Leather and John Locke have all made use of “sock-puppet” or paid for reviews. They state: “These are just three cases of abuse we know about. Few in publishing believe they are unique. It is likely that other authors are pursuing these underhand tactics as well. We the undersigned unreservedly condemn this behaviour, and commit never to use such tactics.”

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Waterstones Autumn Book Club titles

The Waterstone’s Book Club has four lists per year — one for each season — where the retailer picks 12 new “eclectic, intelligent and readable” titles to be promoted in stores with discounts, and gives customers the promise that if they don’t like any of the books, they can have their money back. It launches in stores today.

According to the Bookseller, Hachette has four titles in the club over autumnThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Headline); The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (Orion); Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton (Orion); and Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell (Orion). Random House Group has three titles in the ‘club’, The Man Who Forgot his Wife by John O’Farrell (Transworld); The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore (Cornerstone); and The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen (Vintage).

Also in the line-up are Boomerang by Michael Lewis and Is that a Fish in Your Ear? by Alex Bellos (both Penguin); When She Woke by Hilary Jordan and Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles (both HarperCollins); The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd (Simon & Schuster).

Keep track of the book club here.


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Unpublished Bin Laden Raid story already a bestseller

Penguin is set to publish a first-person account of the mission which killed Osama Bin Laden, the Bookseller announced yesterday.

The book is titled No Easy Day: The Only Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden, and is written by the pseudonymous Mark Owen, a Navy SEAL who was among the first to enter the Abbottabad compound where Bin Laden was hiding.

It will be released on September 11th. Penguin describes it as “an essential piece of modern history”.

Despite the anonymity of the author, Fox News reported that they discovered his real identity — a 36-year-old from Alaska. The US Penguin imprint Dutton, which will be simultaneously publishing the book there, asked the media to withhold his name claiming it risked his personal security. US Military officials confirmed they had not vetted the contents of the book before its release was announced.

GalleyCat reported that the title is already shooting up the charts from presales: “It is currently the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon, ahead of all of the Fifty Shades of Grey titles and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.”

According to Amazon, “No Easy Day puts readers alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the twenty-four-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives. The blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death, is an essential piece of modern history.”

Pre-order it here.

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Penguin releasing new books for London Underground’s 150th Birthday

The London Underground celebrates 150 years of service next year, 2013. As part of the celebrations, Penguin Books are publishing a whole list of new titles to tie into the anniversary, with a collection of short paperbacks devoted to the individual lines, a definitive history of the system, a book of poems and philosophical works taking the concept of transit as their starting point.

The Bookseller reported that each of the line paperbacks “will be published by Penguin Books in March 2013 at a price of £5, preceded by Underground: How The Tube Shaped London by Sam Mullins, the director of the London Transport Museum, alongside David Bownes and Oliver Green, to be released by Allen Lane in October (£25).”

It is a wholly appropriate match, as Penguin Books were born in a train station, after Allen Lane had a brainwave on a platform at Exeter station when searching its bookstall for something to read on his journey back to London.

John Lanchester’s What We Talk About When We Talk About The Tube will offer the author’s take on the District Line, while Paul Morley will tackle the Bakerloo line with Earthbound. There will also be a book dedicated to the iconic design of the Underground, from its maps to its posters.

Helen Conford, Penguin Press publishing director, said: “The Underground and its map shape our imaginative understanding of London, as well as transporting visitors and residents from one place to another, and we wanted our publishing to do the same.”

To keep track of new titles from Penguin, click here.

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Irvine Welsh slams the Man Booker Prize

Irvine Welsh
has spoken out against the Man Booker Prize during his appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this week. As reported by the Bookseller, Welsh maintained that the Prize is “based on the conceit that upper-class Englishness is the cultural yardstick against which all literature must be measured”:

Giving the keynote speech at the session on nationalism on the third day of the conference yesterday (19th August), Welsh said the winners of the Man Booker Prize have alternated between “largely upper-middle-class English writers and citizens of the former colonies, presumably to stamp legitimacy on this ‘global accolade'”. He said the failure of the Man Booker Prize organisers to respond to accusations of anti-Scottishness indicated that “the Booker apologists simply have no arguments to refute these observations. Hegemony not only breeds arrogance; it also promotes intellectual enfeeblement.”

He added: “The Booker Prize’s contention to be an inclusive, non-discriminatory award could be demolished by anybody with even a rudimentary grasp of sixth-form sociology. The academics who are custodians of the prize however, can only offer bland and complacent corporate PR speak in defence of an award based on the conceit that upper-class Englishness is the cultural yardstick against which all literature must be measured.”

Welsh was speaking at the conference as part of the Book Festival held to mark the 50th Anniversary of the infamous 1962 Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference. See more here.

For the list of Man Booker Longlist authors, see here.

*Edit*:To read Sam Jordison’s rebuttal in the Guardian, click here.

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Richard Burton’s Diaries to be Published

Today the Bookseller announced that Yale University Press will publish Richard Burton‘s handwritten diaries later this year.

The book is edited by Chris Williams, professor of Welsh history, and former director of the  Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales.

According to Swansea University,

They offer an insight into the making of the man and of the actor, and provide a fascinating view of the theatrical and film world in which he moved: major directors, producers and actors, poets and novelists, royalty and other celebrities all people these pages. To intrigue the celebrity followers there is plenty on Elizabeth Taylor, on Burton’s many other romantic involvements, and on his struggle with drinking, but the diaries also show him to be a deeply cultured, widely-read and thoughtful man with a restless and intellectually hungry mind, sharp political opinions, a passionate and enduring involvement with Wales, and a sardonic and occasionally vicious wit.
A sampling of the 1965, 1966, 1970 and 1972 diaries is rich in film and politics. There is material from 1965 on the filming of  The Spy Who Came In From the Cold and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; discussion of Elizabeth Taylor’s health, of meetings with directors and actors, and of family life. The 1966 diary has extended entries on the making of  The Taming of the Shrew, on  Burton’s view of working with Franco Zeffirelli, and of the filming of Dr Faustus. In 1970 there is a great deal on Frank Sinatra; views on actors and acting; life in Mexico; the Oscar Ceremony in which Burton was nominated as Best Actor but did not win; on Elizabeth Taylor’s addiction to pills, her operation and her recovery, and reflections on British and American politics, and the British General Election. 1972 includes discussion of the filming of The Battle of Sutjeska in various locations in Yugoslavia; visits with Tito and his wife, and Burton’s attempts to learn Serbo-Croat. It includes the period of filming The Assassination of Trotsky in Rome and of Bluebeard in Budapest; his feelings about acting, his response to press coverage that admonishes him for having deserted the theatre, and thoughts about the political situation in Yugoslavia and observations on the Slav people and on communism.  Burton always prided himself on his writing skills and the diaries make very compelling reading.

Though Melvyn Bragg uses some sections of the diaries in the second half of his biography of Burton, there is a lot of material that he did not use. Among this material is one of the most interesting and tragic diaries – that of 1975,  which, although it contains only short entries, covers the period of his second marriage to Elizabeth Taylor in Africa, and indicates in stark terms the effects of his heavy drinking.

Throughout the diaries, Burton reflects on what he is reading, consuming biography, fiction, political analysis, thrillers, detective novels and poetry in vast quantities at all times. He reflects on the theatre and on acting; on his family and his children; his wives and lovers (for more see here); his birthplace and wherever he is living – and on the media and the public.

According to Wales Online, Burton’s diaries also reveal another life-long desire: “Although Burton’s ability to cite Shakespeare at will was legendary and his love of Dylan Thomas poetry was so great he was buried with a volume of it at his side, few realised he once hankered to be a serious academic. […] As a perfectionist, his published writing was occasional rather than prolific.”

Burton’s notes cover the years 1939 to 1983, and the volume will be released as a £25 hardback on 31st October.

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A Farewell to Arms & its 20+ Endings

Today the Bookseller reported a new edition of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms including all twenty-nine alternate endings, which will be published in the US in October this year. According to the Telegraph the final number is forty-seven — the reason for this discrepancy seems to arise out of the sheer volume of rewrites (ranging from total overhauls to tiny adjustments); Hemingway himself claimed that he went through thirty-nine variants before he was satisfied.  When he was asked by Paris Review interviewer George Plimpton what had been the reason for so many endings, Hemingway replied: “Getting the words right”.

The final line Hemingway decided on, which has concluded every edition of the novel since its original publication, reads: “After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.”

The Guardian wrote that Hemingway’s US publisher Scribner — an imprint of Simon & Schuster — has managed to come up with forty-seven alternate endings, which range from the grumpily nihilistic (“That is all there is to the story. Catherine died and you will die and I will die and that is all I can promise you”) to one suggested by F. Scott Fitzgerald, in which Hemingway wrote that the world “breaks everyone,” and those “it does not break it kills. It kills the very good and very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

The endings, including that suggested by F. Scott Fitzgerald, will be in an appendix in the new 330-page edition, whose cover bears the novel’s original artwork, an illustration of topless lovers:

The Huffington Post reports that the new edition will also include “details of the alternative titles Hemingway had for A Farewell To Arms, including: The EnchantmentLove In WarEvery Night And AllOf Wounds and Other Causes.”

According to the Daily Mail, one ending has (the protagonist) Henry’s son live, though its mother still dies: “He does not belong in this story. He starts a new one. It is not fair to start a new story at the end of an old one but that is the way it happens. There is no end except death and birth is the only beginning.”

Another waxes so romantic it is nearly saccharine: “Finally I slept; I must have slept because I woke. When I woke the sun was coming in the open window and I smelled the spring morning after the rain and saw the sun on the trees in the courtyard and for that moment it was all the way it had been.”

Hemingway tries being uncharacteristically spiritual, as well, writing: “The thing is that there is nothing you can do about it. It is all right if you believe in God and love God.”

However, it’s the ending that the writer finally landed on that still feels the most appropriate, the publishing house’s head says. “Ultimately, I think we have to be glad that he went with the ending that he went with,” Susan Moldow, of Scribner, told the New York Times.

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John Banville to Regenerate Raymond Chandler’s Detective Philip Marlowe

Raymond Chandler, the great American novelist and screenwriter, passed away in 1959, leaving behind him some of the most influential prose in history, a legacy that would impact the Coen Brothers, Paul Auster, Quentin Tarantino, Haruki Murakami to name a few. Chandler is famous for his hardboiled suspense novels, and their subsequent film adaptations, notably Humphrey Bogart’s portrayal of  L.A. Detective Philip Marlowe in films like The Big Sleep.

John Banville — Irish writer born in 1945 — is, according to the British Council, “a philosophical novelist concerned with the nature of perception, the conflict between imagination and reality, and the existential isolation of the individual.” His novel The Sea won the Man Booker Prize in 2005. He also has a crime fiction pen name, Benjamin Black, under which he has written five detective novels.

Yesterday, GalleyCat announced that Banville is to bring back Chandler’s L.A. Detective in a new novel following a press release from the Benjamin Black website. Banville will write the new novel under his pseudonym — this was confirmed by his editor, John Sterling. The book will be written under an arrangement with the Chandler estate, and the US Macmillan imprint Henry Holt will publish the book in 2013.

Along with Marlowe, Banville will bring back policeman Bernie Ohls, “the gumshoe’s good friend”. The book will have an original plot and take place in the 1940s. The setting will remain in Bay City – Chandler’s fictional stand-in for Santa Monica, California – and feature Chandler’s hallmark noir ambience. Banville promises to create a “slightly surreal, or hyper-real, atmosphere” for the novel, exploring some of Marlowe’s Los Angeles.

Banville said: “I love the challenge of following in the very large footsteps of Raymond Chandler. I began reading Chandler as a teenager, and frequently return to the novels. This idea has been germinating for several years and I relish the prospect of setting a book in Marlowe’s California, which I always think of in terms of Edward Hopper’s paintings. Bay City will have a slightly surreal, or hyper-real, atmosphere that I look forward to creating.”

According to Banville’s editor, John Sterling, “John Banville writing as Benjamin Black recreating Raymond Chandler is a perfect literary hand-off. There is no one better to bring Philip Marlowe back to life for the vast readership that loves noir crime fiction.”

Sterling acquired first serial, electronic and audio rights for the book in the United States and Canada from Ed Victor of Ed Victor Ltd. Victor represented both Banville and the Chandler estate in the negotiation. As outlined by the Bookseller, there is yet no word about the book’s publication in the UK, where Banville is represented by Pan Macmillan.

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