In light of the revelations earlier this week that America’s National Security Administration totally cares what you thought of Man of Steel, no really, post some more statuses and links to back up your theory because it’s fascinating, it follows that anyone genuinely surprised that this has been going on for years would immediately go out and buy a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 because they clearly haven’t read it already. And that is indeed what has happened these past few days, with Amazon in the US reporting a sales rise of 5,771% for the novel as of this past Tuesday. Hopefully all those who bought the book as a reaction to the news will read it over the coming days and then be able to laugh at the irony of their act of groupthink.
Though we were all aware it was coming, if resolutely optimistic that it somehow wouldn’t, few expected it quite so soon after its initial discovery, and on this past Sunday, word filtered out from his family and friends that Iain Banks had died, aged 59, of the inoperable gall bladder cancer he revealed to the world a little over two months ago. When that news initially broke, I wrote here that an author so thoroughly humanistic, so vital, who revelled so in the here and now, would likely abhor any kind of wailing and gnashing of teeth on his part, and that we should celebrate him while we still had the chance. Now we may no longer have the chance to say it to his face, or in any kind of form that will reach him, but if the legacy of a great man means anything to his readers, the celebration should by no means be ended by a piddling thing like death.
Malorie Blackman has this week become the latest author to join the storied ranks of the UK’s Children’s Laureates, taking over the biennially awarded position from prior incumbent Julia Donaldson. The role is given to writers or illustrators of work for children as a means of recognising outstanding achievement in their field, with recipients also given a bursary of £15,000 and an inscribed silver medal. The Laureate is chosen by a selection panel who consider nominations from librarians, critics, writers, literature development workers, booksellers and children who vote through the Laureate website.
Later today, the winner of this year’s Women’s Prize For Fiction will be announced as either Hilary Mantel, Barbara Kingsolver, Kate Atkinson, A.M. Homes, Zadie Smith or Maria Semple. Yesterday, however, it was revealed that the prize’s name – which, until last year, was more commonly given as the Orange Prize for Fiction after its corporate sponsor, a sponsor which no longer exists as a separate entity in the UK – will be changing yet again, thanks to a new three year sponsorship deal with Baileys. There now follows a pause, the better for you to get all the Mighty Boosh quotations out of your system, person from 2006 who is somehow reading this.
In its latest attempt at marketing disguised as just a big ‘aren’t books great?’ love-in, Waterstones is asking readers across the country to submit their recollections of ‘The Book That Made Me…‘. Quoth the blurb: ‘Books are powerful things. They can introduce us to new ideas. Give us the courage to do what we couldn’t do before. Even transform our lives completely. The Book That Made Me… is an ongoing collection of stories about lives that have been changed by books.’ Submissions of 100 words or fewer can be made either in store or, naturally, online via this form, which further elaborates upon the basic idea: ‘What has a book made you do? Maybe it was the book that made you travel the world, decide to get married or take up the ukulele.’ So yes, if that sounds like you, you are probably Zooey Deschanel but also Waterstones would like to hear from you.
In what will no doubt be distressing news for poets and readers alike, The Guardian reports that the independent publisher Salt will no longer be releasing collections of work by individual poets, opting instead to focus on anthologies featuring a variety of contributors. The reason, as anyone with any kind of awareness of poetry’s current standing in modern literature could likely guess, is a decrease in sales, both for the form in general and specifically in Salt’s own collections, with the company reporting a decline of over a quarter in the past year and of a full half over the past five years.
Realising there’s a part of the internet that’s been around even longer than it has that still hasn’t been monetised to full effect, Amazon has signed a licensing deal with Warner Bros. to begin selling officially-sanctioned fan fiction, above and beyond Marvel’s Avengers films (hiyooooo). In a manner similar to the site’s pre-existing self-publishing e-book platform, Kindle Worlds will allow writers of fan fiction the chance to profit from something they’d probably be doing for free anyway, with or without an audience, albeit at a much lower rate than if they, say, changed the characters and settings from Twilight just enough to be legally discernible and then maybe added anal beads or something.
Valobox, the pay-as-you-go browser-based ebook service, has won an award from IC Tomorrow to develop a solution for lending, gifting or giving short term access to publishing content.
Valobox presented their model to a BookMachine crowd at Publishing Now back in December 2011, and it’s great hear more success stories from the innovative start-up.
The solution will enable Constable and Robinson to ‘Gift, lend and provide granular and/or time limited access to books via email addresses or gift tokens using the ValoBox platform.’
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Stephen King has revealed that his latest project – no, not the TV adaptation of 11/22/63, the other thing. No, not his musical with John Mellencamp and Neko Case either, the other other thing. No, not his forthcoming sequel to The Shining, his other other other… look, the man keeps busy, is the point – anyway, King’s next book will bypass digital editions completely for the foreseeable future and be available exclusively in print. Upon its publication in a fortnight, the crime novel Joyland will commit wholly to its pulpy roots and be printed in paperback alone by Hard Case Crime, with a limited run of 2,250 hardback copies to follow a week later.
Having taken the inaugural award in 2000, Howard Jacobson has this week won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for the second time, garnering top honours for his novel Zoo Time. The Bloomsbury-published title beat Joseph Connolly’s England’s Lane, Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods, Michael Frayn’s Skios and Deborah Moggach’s Heartbreak Hotel. It now only remains to be seen what Jacobson is going to do with the traditional prize, seeing as, having won previously, he presumably has a set of the complete works of PG Wodehouse going spare. Maybe he can mull it over over a glass of the Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée that also forms part of his winning haul, possibly musing aloud to the Gloucestershire Old Spots pig that will now be named after his triumphant novel.