If all the superlatives thrown at Eleanor Catton’s Booker win (longest book ever to win, youngest author ever to win), the universal warm fuzzy feelings engendered by Alice Munro’s Nobel win and the obligatory contrarian repudiation of at least one of those by Bret Easton Ellis weren’t enough to tip you off, we are firmly into end-of-year awards season, which continues apace with the announcement of this year’s National Book Awards shortlist. The annual awards, presented by the American non-profit National Book Foundation, consider nominees in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and young people’s literature, and this year sees some particularly well-known candidates.
WH Smith yesterday took down its website in reaction to the weekend discovery that it was amongst a number of digital retailers – also including Amazon and Barnes & Noble – selling
William Faulkner novels self-published pornography featuring depictions of incest, rape and bestiality. Instead of the usual shopfront, visitors to the Smith site were greeted by a holding page featuring a statement from the business saying ‘a number of unacceptable titles were appearing on our website through the Kobo website that has an automated feed to ours’. WH Smith, of course, takes both its e-book hardware and software from the Canadian e-reader manufacturers, including its massive library of titles, which in this case appears to have passed to the Smith site without any vetting along the way.
Clearly feeling threatened by others edging in on its whole ‘selling books at unsustainably low prices’ thing, Amazon has started to price-match Sainsbury’s October e-book promotion, which sees the supermarket selling a shifting variety of popular titles digitally for 99p each. The promotion, which began last week, features a selection of one day only special offers that changes every weekday, alongside a stock of dozens of other titles that will remain at the reduced price for the whole month. Yesterday’s (October 9th) daily titles included David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Sarah Winman’s When God Was A Rabbit and John Banville’s Booker-winning The Sea, all of which were subsequently brought down to 99p on Amazon too. The title with the largest discount was Bridget Asher’s The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, down £6 from its usual Sainsbury’s retail price of £6.99.
The Dylan Thomas Prize, rewarding published work written in English by authors under the age of 30, has revealed its shortlist for 2013, with nominees spanning novels, books of short stories and collections of poetry. Not only is it the longest shortlist in the prize’s history (citing seven titles of the twelve longlisted as opposed to the prize’s usual five or six), but even more encouragingly every nominee both comes from an independent publisher and is a debuting writer. So, uh, yeah, what have you done lately, other than weep yourself to sleep at the incessant forward march of time and your lack of anything substantial to show for it oh look still typing whoops.
Mega-selling thriller writer Tom Clancy has died, of undisclosed causes, in hospital in his hometown of Baltimore, following a short illness. He was 66, and is survived by his wife and five children (four from a previous marriage). 17 of his 18 novels reached number one on the New York Times bestsellers list, and 100 million copies of those novels are in print. Command Authority, his 19th (co-written with Mark Greaney, who also worked with Clancy on his prior two novels), is due for publication on 3 December.
BBC Radio 4, the nation’s well-meaning uncle, is this week broadcasting a five part series, Publishing Lives, whose title encompasses its dual purpose of providing capsule biographies of significant figures in the development of publishing and its seeming reassurance that the current state of flux in which the industry finds itself is merely the latest iteration of several crises already endured over the past 200 years, and that it too shall pass. In each of its five 15 minute episodes, Robert McCrum (previously literary editor of the Observer, and before that editorial director of Faber & Faber for close to two decades) and his producer Melissa Fitzgerald look at the stories behind a different publishing imprint – Murray, Macmillan, Penguin, Weidenfeld, Faber – and consider how their findings illuminate the present.
Amazon has revealed the latest additions to its line of Kindles, with three new models seeing staggered releases in the US in the run-up to the Christmas shopping season. First to be released is the upgraded Kindle Fire HD, which keeps the 1280×800 resolution 7″ screen of the previous generation but switches out that model’s 1.2GHz processor for a 1.5GHz and is slightly more compact overall. It’s out on 2 October and costs $139 (around £86). Here’s an artist’s impression of its packaging:
You’d be forgiven at this point for not even realising that a trilogy of films adapting Ayn Rand’s Objectivist 1957 doorstop Atlas Shrugged, beloved of total dicks the world over, is already two thirds completed. That’s because the first two films bombed, commercially and critically, and so there’s a good chance that you are not one of the literally dozens of people who paid to see them, turning ‘who is John Galt?’ from cryptic mantra to genuine question. Part One, released in 2011, has a Metacritic rating of 28 and made back only $4,627,375 of its $20 million budget.
The long-in-the-works autobiography that Morrissey talked about having more or less finished in early 2011 – entitled, naturally, Autobiography – was due for publication in the UK this week through Penguin, with bookshops across the country whipping their Truman Capote sections back into shape for the Mozmoir’s 16 September arrival. As
obsessive Morrissey fans (edited for redundancy) no doubt noticed, however, Monday came and went with nary a swoon nor a shoplift.
Having seemingly realised that the market for this kind of thing isn’t going away any time soon, Pan Macmilan Australia’s digital imprint, Momentum, has launched another new imprint, Momentum Moonlight, dedicated to publishing romance, erotica and new adult titles (the new adult titles presumably falling on the grown-up Twilight, less-chaste epic romance end of the spectrum than the post-adolescence Hunger Games, where there’s no time for love what with all the dystopianism). Around the imprint, it also aims to build up an online community of romance readers, centred around a blog to which community members can contribute.