Little over a fortnight following Robin Williams’ death at the age of 63, author and journalist Dave Itzkoff has revealed plans to write a biography of the late comedian. Itzkoff – by day a culture reporter for the New York Times – is not quite the crass opportunist that such timing might suggest, haven written several features on Williams for the Times in the past, including a celebrated 2009 profile written in the months following Williams’ aortic valve replacement surgery, which itself followed a divorce and time spent in rehab for alcoholism.
With August at a close and summer hours about to expire we thought you could use some upbeat news. We’re thrilled to announce the hiatus is over: BookMachine NYC will be back in action this fall! Mark your calendars for Thursday, November 13, and keep an eye out for RSVP links with further details.
I think we can all agree we’ve had an interesting summer. Though we expected horrendously hot and humid weather, we’ve been met with mild heat and stormy rains. We also expected the season to bring slow work days and news lulls, but instead have opened our papers and screens to sensational publishing stories.
This is a guest post from Mary Ann Kernan of City University, London. Interested in exploring a Publishing MA and UK/EU postgrad fee bursaries? Sign up for City’s Postgraduate Open Evening for 2014-15, 5-7pm on 10 September.
It’s great to be working with BookMachine this year to spread the word about City’s two top-rated Publishing MAs in 2014-15 (thanks, Laura & Gavin!). We’ve done a lot together since 2010, when City’s students ran a conference and networking event with BookMachine. Since then, our alums have interned with them, organised BookMachine events (keep an eye out for Tahira’s in Toronto?) and blogged (I especially enjoyed Emma Smith’s recent blog about Faber Factory). I also hosted a joint NY event with BookMachine in 2013, and enjoyed meeting some of the publishing community there; and we were one of the 2014 BookMachine event sponsors in London. (Time to plan for 2014-15, Bookmachiners?!)
Of all the threats Amazon has posed to brick and mortar bookshops to date, real-world competition – that is, a branch of Amazon that book buyers can actually walk into – has been fairly low on the radar. Whilst an Amazon shop that allows customers to browse its lovingly-curated shelves physically still seems improbable, there is nevertheless bound to be a lot of nervous collar tugging in bookshops around the world at the news that the übercorporation is manifesting itself in an offline form on the campus of Indiana’s Purdue University as of next year.
25 November this year marks 40 years since the death of singer-songwriter Nick Drake, aged 26, from an overdose of antidepressants, the intentionality of which has never been ascertained. Of the three albums of alternately lush and brittle songs he left behind – 1969’s Five Leaves Left, 1970’s Bryter Layter and 1972’s Pink Moon – the latter two each sold fewer than 5,000 copies during his lifetime. Drake’s critical and commercial cachet has risen significantly since his death, and in recognition of his 40th anniversary his estate has authorised for the first time a book on Drake’s life.
As revealed earlier in the month, later this week HarperCollins launches Killer Reads – its new digital crime imprint – with a week of open submission. Any aspiring authors who need one final nudge to submit their manuscripts may be heartened by the news that this week also brings details of the result of an earlier call for submissions from the publisher: HarperCollins’ sci-fi and horror imprint Harper Voyager accepted unagented submissions for a fortnight in October 2012 – the first time it had done so in nearly a decade – and has now announced plans to publish 15 novels discovered as part of that initiative.
Earlier in the summer Barnes & Noble announced that its oft-troubled Nook division was to partner with Samsung to release a line of tablets carrying Nook software. Now, the first fruit of that partnership has seen release in the form of the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook, a rebranded version of one of Samsung’s entry-level tablets, the Galaxy Tab 4. Currently only available in the USA, it’s priced at $179 with a seven inch, 1280 x 800 display, and is set apart from the previous model by the $200 worth of Nook-compatible books, magazines and TV shows with which it is pre-loaded. It is the first new Nook tablet since Barnes & Noble revealed last year that it would cease exclusive production of new tablets and instead move to a partnership model.
This year’s Hugo Awards – the annual prizes recognising achievement in science fiction and fantasy – were presented last night at Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London’s ExCel, with a majority of the categories focusing on the genres’ literary representation. The ceremony’s headline award – Best Novel – went to Ann Leckie for her debut, Ancillary Justice, the first book in a planned space opera trilogy published by Orbit.
It was a big night for Tor.com, the online sci-fi magazine and imprint of Tor Books, which laid claim to three winners: Charles Stross’ “Equoid”, Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” and John Chu’s “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” were named respectively Best Novella, Best Novelette and Best Short Story.
Doing almost as well was Aidan Moher’s sci-fi and fantasy blog A Dribble of Ink, which took two awards: Best Fanzine and Best Related Work for Kameron Hurley’s essay “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative”. Hurley also won Best Fan Writer.
Best Graphic Story went to Randall Munro for “Time”, a particularly innovative instalment of his long-running webcomic xkcd. Ellen Datlow and Ginjer Buchanan were named Best Editor for, respectively, short-form and long-form work. Lightspeed Magazine won Best Semiprozine.
Away from literary matters, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity took Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, whilst the Short Form prize in the same category went to the Game of Thrones episode “The Rains of Castamere”. Julie Dillon was named Best Professional Artist, Sarah Webb Best Fan Artist and Best Fancast was presented to Patrick Hester’s Sf Signal Podcast.
The ceremony also saw the presentation of a non-Hugo award – the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, sponsored by Dell Magazines and given to the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013 – to Sofia Samatar, author of A Stranger in Olondria.
Today in news so time-contingent you probably can’t even spare the couple of minutes it takes to read this: if you can get to the recently-installed James Bond BookBench in London’s Bloomsbury Square between 12pm and 2pm tomorrow (12/08), you might walk away with a free copy of one of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels courtesy of publisher Vintage. The company, in conjunction with Ian Fleming Publications and BookBench masterminds Books About Town, is marking the 50th anniversary of Fleming’s death with the promotion, with 200 copies of Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the non-fiction collection Thrilling Cities set to be distributed to passers-by over the course of two hours.
HarperCollins is extending its Killer Reads web presence – a promotional tool and online community for its crime titles since 2009 – into a digital-first crime and thriller imprint, and the publisher has revealed that it will launch the list with titles discovered via open submission. For one week only between 29 August and 4 September, the label will accept all the manuscripts the crime writers of the world can throw at it regardless of whether or not they have agents. After its launch Killer Reads hopes to put out one or two digital titles a month, so the search for new authors is presumably a method of shoring up its backlog in order to sustain that model. It follows a similar move from HarperCollins’ speculative fiction imprint, Harper Voyager, in 2012.