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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jane Austen promoter sexually abused on twitter

This is from The Telegraph


The background is appalling.  Caroline Criado-Perez (pictured), who lobbied to have Jane Austen on the £10 note, received threats from twitterers. A distressing amount of the abuse involved -- believe it or not! -- threats of rape.

The Canoes of Kupe revisited

Back in 2012, I posted a couple of times about The Canoes of Kupe, a history of a world-famous wine growing regions that was written by my friend and colleague, Roberta McIntyre, and shortlisted back in 2003 for the New Zealand Book Awards.

This book has been republished, in a new edition that was launched at the Martinborough Wine Centre.

An item in the local Star commemorates the event. Roberta's research, it says, "started in Wellington while she was living in a grand four-storied colonial residence on the Terrace.  She wondered who could have built such a home, which led her to discoveries about John Martin and his life in the region, and in particular the Martinborough area."

As the writer, Amanda Ritchie, concludes, "The Canoes of Kupe has been applauded by long-settled locals and newcomers to the region. It is an accessible and fabulous insight into the place we call home, and acts as a great reminder that there is a richness in New Zealand history that is worth treasuring." 

Well done, Roberta.  It is good to see that great book out in the shops again.

Juror jailed for posting on FaceBook

From the BBC

Two jurors have each been jailed for two months for contempt of court
One researched a case online, which is clearly against the rules.  The other was silly enough to express his opinion of the defendant on Facebook.

Kasim Davey, 21, of London, said he had sent the Facebook message last December as a result of "spontaneous surprise at the kind of case I was on".

His posting - containing strong language and an offensive word - suggested he was going to find the defendant guilty, said BBC News home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw.

Davey's Facebook post: read: "Woooow I wasn't expecting to be in a jury Deciding a paedophile's fate, I've always wanted to Fuck up a paedophile & now I'm within the law!"

The judge at Wood Green Crown Court was alerted and Davey was discharged. The defendant, Adam Kephalas, was eventually found guilty of sexual activity with a child.

Davey told the High Court he was unaware he had been in breach of a formal order made by the crown court judge. He accepted he was not meant to discuss the case but believed he was only prohibited from using the internet to carry out research.

In their ruling, High Court judges Sir John Thomas and Mr Justice Sweeney said they rejected as "untruthful" Davey's contention that his message was not meant seriously.

They said it made clear to his Facebook friends "he would use his prejudices in deciding the case" and his choice of words "underlined his disregard of the duties he had undertaken as a juror".

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Religious controversy powers bestseller

From GalleyCat on

Fox News, it seems, set out to discredit a book about Jesus of Nazareth, and succeeded in creating an instant bestseller.
Reza Aslan, who wrote the book, and called it Zealot, is a Muslim.  Which triggered a certain interest in ultra-conservative ranks -- with unexpected results.

After Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green interviewed  Aslan  the book promptly hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon.

The New Republic has a great article about the Internet’s response to the interview. Here’s an excerpt:
"Fox News, which like U.S. Steel is vertically integrated, ginned up “controversy” over the book by publishing an article claiming that the “liberal media” routinely fails to disclose that Aslan is a “devout Muslim,” and then reported on the (again, auto-fabricated) “controversy” by having host Lauren Green confront him with this. Having established Aslan’s Muslim-ness, Green conspiratorially asks, “It still begs the question: Why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?” She then accuses him of obfuscating his faith, and he responds by noting that a statement of his religion appears on “the second page of my book” (page xviii, to be more precise).
Even more surreal is the audience response on Zealot currently has 141 five-star reviews and 100 one-star reviews!

Hit the GalleyCat link at the top to see/hear/read the entire interview.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Amazon UK scraps free delivery -- but books escape

From the BBC

So book-buying can be considered a loophole, now...

Online retailer Amazon has scrapped free "super saver" delivery to the UK on some products worth less than £10.

It reverses a policy introduced in October 2009 that let items be sent without postage charge if customers agreed to wait up to five business days for delivery after the dispatch date.

The new threshold will not apply to books, DVDs, music, video games and software products.

Customers buying non-qualifying products, such as a USB memory stick worth less than £10, for example, would face a postage and packaging charge of £3.99. Some postage charges on other goods could be even higher.

BUT ...

Amazon, which achieves about £3bn a year in UK sales, said multiple orders worth less than £10 could still be delivered free if they included a qualifying product, such as a book or DVD.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Jane Austen is official!

Yup, the public opinion counted.

And Jane Austen is going to be on the ten-pound note.

The Bank of England has swallowed its pride and overcome its perceived prejudice against women.

Yesterday, it designated Jane Austen as the new face of the ten-pound note.

It was a matter of bowing to public pressure.

The beloved novelist -- the originator of Regency romance, and the inspiration behind the whole of the romance genre -- will probably appear on bank notes in 2017.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Are royal baby names copied by the public?

So asks Vanessa Barford in the BBC Magazine

It would certainly be nice, if so.  Bizarre names make me cringe, particularly when they have been popularized by pop stars and television soaps.  Most of them, in fact, would belong better to pets. 

And George, Henry et al have the ring of tradition.  As do Mary, and, for that matter, Catherine.  No bearer of a name like that is likely to be embarrassed in the future.

However, as Vanessa Barford points, it ain't necessarily so.

Baby name trends are influenced by an eclectic range of sources, says she. In 2001, the girls' name Chardonnay was nowhere in the names chart, only just creeping into the ONS's top 5000 for England and Wales.

In January 2002, Footballers Wives - with a central character named Chardonnay - started on British television. For 2002, the name hit 519 in the charts and by 2003 Chardonnay was at a respectable 372.

Royal names, especially British monarchs, are less varied. The last 11 monarchs have been Elizabeth, George, Edward, George, Edward, Victoria, William, George, George, George and George.

George was also the bookmaker's favourite for the royal family's latest addition. Tradition usually plays more of a part for those who are future monarchs, says Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine.

But whether that means that a raft of babies will be christened George this year is a very moot point.

NZ bans horror film starring Elijah Wood

From the BBC

A horror remake starring Hobbit actor Elijah Wood has been banned in New Zealand due to its "graphic violence" and "content that may disturb".

Maniac has been restricted to festival film screenings and academic viewing by government officials and will not be eligible for mainstream cinema or DVD release in the country.

The film, directed by Frank Khalfoun, stars Wood as serial killer Frank.
Neil Foley of distributor Monster Pictures said he was "flabbergasted".

The director of the Australia-based company said the ban was an "insult to the intelligence" of adults in New Zealand.

The film, which received a limited UK release in March, is due to screen at the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland and Wellington at the end of July.

Ant Timpson, a programmer for the festival, said the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) was concerned that the movie was "injurious to the public good".

Good on the censor, say I.  Not only has the film been panned by reviewers (The Observer's Philip French called it "unwelcome", and The Hollywood Reporter's Megan Lehmann said the film was a "sadistic art-house bloodbath") but there is horror enough in the pages of your daily paper.  And surely a big name like Elijah Wood must feel used?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Elephant Voyages and printed books

At Old Salt Press the hot topic under discussion is how to get our authors' books into print.

And, being Indie authors all working under a cooperative umbrella, it is CreateSpace and Lightning Source that we are exploring.

Novels are complicated enough, but nonfiction is proving quite a challenge. And, as The Elephant Voyage is our first nonfiction publication, I have the job of guinea pig.

With nonfiction, unlike fiction, it is expected to have the book title at the top of every lefthand page, and for each chapter to commence on a righthand page.

This worked out as quite few blank lefthand pages, each one preceding a new chapter.  Being thrifty, I don't like blank pages, so I co-opted Ron, our fine family maritime artist, into producing graphics for me.  And, as the steamers that plied about New Zealand feature large in the developing story, it was decided that he should supply some black and white sketches of these busy little vessels.

And here are a couple, to intrigue and impress you..

Thursday, July 18, 2013

WW2 poet and his bomber crew at rest at last.

From the BBC

These men knew moments you have never known,

Nor ever will; we knew those moments too,

And talked of them in whispers late at night;

Such confidence was born of danger shared.

We shared their targets, too; but we came back.

-- David Raikes, pilot and poet

One evening in April 1945, four young men took off on a mission to attack a bridge on the River Po, then carry out a wider reconnaissance.

If they could have survived just 10 more days they would have seen the Allied victory in Italy.

And with the coming of peace in Europe shortly afterwards, their lives would have stretched out before them.

But they never returned from their mission. It is believed their plane was brought down by German anti-aircraft fire, and that everyone on board died in the crash.

Three of the flyers were British - the pilot, Sergeant David Raikes, the navigator, Flight Sergeant David Perkins, and the wireless operator and gunner, Flight Sergeant Alexander Bostock. They were all aged 20.

The crew's other gunner was an Australian - Warrant Officer John Hunt, of the Royal Australian Air Force - who was a year older.

The wreck of the plane was found by an Italian group called Archeologi dell'Aria - amateur enthusiasts who have so far found 16 missing aircraft.

Now, 68 years after they were killed, the crew is being laid to rest at a Commonwealth war cemetery in the city of Padua.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lee Child gets a diamond dagger

The Crime Writers Association has announced its annual awards.

From the Bookseller

Writers Lee Child, Andrew Taylor, Belinda Bauer and Stella Duffy were among those receiving awards from the Crime Writers Association (CWA) at a gala dinner held in London yesterday (15th July) to celebrate the organisation's 60th year. The longlists for the Gold, Steel and John Creasey Daggers were also revealed.

Lee Child received the CWA Diamond Dagger, voted for by members of the CWA, celebrating his "outstanding body of work in crime fiction". Meanwhile Andrew Taylor won his third award in the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award, having also won in 2001 and 2003. His book The Scent of Death (HarperCollins) is set in the American War of Independence and was praised by judges for its "phantasmagoric, heightened reality".

The CWA International Dagger was given to two writers, Pierre Lemaitre for Alex, translated by Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press), and Fred Vargas for The Ghost Riders of Ordebec, translated by Siân Reynolds (Harvill Secker). Paul French won the CWA Non-fiction Dagger for Midnight in Peking (Viking), telling the story of a real-life murder in 1930s China. Stella Duffy won the CWA Short Story Dagger, the second time she has won, with her story Come Away With Me, published in The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime Volume 10 (Constable).

Transworld author Belinda Bauer won the CWA Dagger in the Library award, nominated by libraries. Finn Clarke won the CWA Debut Dagger and a £700 for her unpublished work, Call Time.

At the awards, presented by Gyles Brandreth, the longlists for the Gold, Steel and John Creasey Daggers were revealed, with the winners to be announced in the autumn.

Gold Dagger:
Belinda Bauer for Rubbernecker (Bantam/Transworld)
Lauren Beukes for The Shining Girls (HarperCollins)
Sam Hawken for Tequila Sunset (Serpent’s Tail)
Mick Herron for Dead Lions (Soho Crime)
Becky Masterman for Rage Against the Dying (Orion)
Sara Paretsky for Breakdown (Hodder & Stoughton)
Michael Robotham for Say You’re Sorry (Sphere)
Don Winslow for The Kings of Cool (Heinemann)

Steel Dagger:
Roger Hobbs for Ghostman (Transworld)
Liz Jensen for The Uninvited (Bloomsbury)
Malcolm Mackay for The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (Pan Macmillan)
Stuart Neville for Ratlines (Random House)
Mark Oldfield for The Sentinel (Head of Zeus)
Andrew Williams for The Poison Tide (John Murray)
Robert Wilson for Capital Punishment (Orion)

John Creasey Dagger:
Roger Hobbs for Ghostman (Doubleday)
Hanna Jameson for Something You Are (Head of Zeus)
Malcolm Mackay for The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (Mantle)
Becky Masterman for Rage Against the Dying (Orion)
Derek B Miller for Norwegian by Night (Faber and Faber)
Thomas Mogford for Shadow of the Rock (Bloomsbury)
Michael Russell for The City Of Shadows (Avon)
M D Villiers for City of Blood (Harvill Secker)

Redundancies at Pearson Australia

Sadly, it's probably a sign of the future for Penguin-Random staff in Australia and New Zealand ...

Educational publisher Pearson announced a shift in premises and personnel not long before the tidings of the amalgamation of Penguin and Random House broke. 
And now, after a breath-held interval, the fall-out commences.
From the BooksellerPearson Australia has announced up to 75 potential redundancies as it looks to make changes across its education business.
In a statement released today (16th July), the company said that the moves would help create "a more nimble organisation" that would be more responsive to students, teachers and institutions.
Job losses will come from across the business, including consolidating print and digital teams, marketing and customer service functions, and the Pearson Australia sales team. Traditional publishing activities in the vocational education and training market are also being wound down.

Not good.  Not good at all.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Crime novelist JK Rowling exposed

Author behind pseudonym unveiled

If I blogged about a new crime writer named Robert Galbraith, I bet there would be little interest.

And it's no surprise to find that his debut,  The Cuckoo's Calling sold less than 2,000 copies.

But then, all at once, it was revealed that the actual author was the Harry Potter mega-seller, JK Rowling, and guess what, sales zoomed.

The book, about a war veteran turned private investigator called Cormoran Strike, had sold 1,500 copies before the secret emerged in the Sunday Times. Within hours, it rose more than 5,000 places to top Amazon's sales list.

Cormoran Strike???  Good lord, the choice of a name like that should have alerted everyone that the writer had a whimsical imagination.

From the BBC

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Six questions that could save your life

What surgeons should ask before they start cutting...

The BBC reports that operating theatres are being urged to run a checklist.

Making a series of simple checks such as ensuring that the correct patient is on the table and operating on the right part of the body, could help surgical teams save almost half a million lives a year across the world, say experts in the World Health Organization.

As we all know (and remember, as the trolley is being pushed into the operating theatre), patients have died when surgeons have removed the wrong organ, left instruments inside the body, or even operated on the wrong patient.

And so WHO has developed a Surgical Safety Checklist, which is compulsory in some countries, and being taught in others.

So, what are the questions?

1. Are you operating on the right patient?

2. Are you performing the right operation? (And on the right bit of the body?)

3. Do you know that name and job of everyone on the team?

4. Is the anaesthetic machine working properly?

5. Are the patient's oxygen levels being checked?  And, finally:

6. Have you removed all the instruments from the patient?

Beckett manuscript sells for a million dollars

From the BBC

Samuel Beckett's manuscript of his first novel, Murphy, sold for £962,500 at a Sotheby's auction.

The University of Reading, which bought the item, is thrilled to add it to its collection of 500+ manuscripts and drafts.

This set of six school exercise books is more like a draft than a manuscript.  They are filled with stray thoughts, doodles, and sketches (including one of Charlie Chaplin), and eight different attempts at the first sentence.

Samuel Beckett, it seems would have loved a word processor.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Symbol for THE

An Aussie restaurateur wants to change the world of the written word

From the Sydney Morning Herald

No, Paul Mathis (who owns a string of Melbourne restaurants) doesn't want to change this blog, most probably not knowing about it, but he does want to replace the common little word "the" with a symbol.  He says it will make it a lot easier for texters and twitters, as it would take just one tap instead of three.  And that it makes sense to abbreviate the most common word in the world.

He probably doesn't realize that he is repeating history. Well, almost.  The word "the" used to be just two symbols, the thorn plus the "e".

The thorn is that ancient-looking symbol, beloved of Olde Worlde cafes and history reenactors, that looks like a fancy "y" or a fancy "p" and was used for the "th" sound.  And, connected to an "e", it could make a symbol eerily like the one that Mr. Mathis has devised.

And is it likely to happen?  I don't think so.  Picture all the iPad and iPhone makers tearing out their hair at the very idea of redesigning their keyboards, let alone all the people who make keyboards for computers, and the designers who would have to make sure that the computer understand....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Abandoned books

GoodReads has produced a neat infographic

It explores why books are abandoned.

The snip above is just part of the interesting information imparted by the banner -- it also covers the stages when people stop reading a book, and what keeps a reader pinned to the pages.

I was not surprised to find that the Fifty Shades series was up there with the most frequently discarded books.  On cruise ships it is a big seller (probably because the reader isn't so worried about being "caught" by his friends and neighbors with the book in his hands) and it is also a big discarder. Books that are left behind when passengers disembark usually find their way into the ship's library, but there are so many binned copies of Fifty Shades, or so I was told, that -- like the clothes that people leave behind with their cabin rubbish (and there are an awful lot of those) -- they end up being given to one of the thrift shops in port, or shipped to the Salvation Army.

It's interesting to hit the link (embedded above) though, for the many comments people have made about when they abandon books.  I have no trouble confessing that I give a book just 40 pages.  If I am not engaged in some way by then, life's too short to bother.  In fact, one page is plenty if the writing is awful.

I was rather upset, though, to see that Moby-Dick was one of the most abandoned classics.  The great whaling novel has to be read in bits, in my opinion, simply because of the power of the writing, and the deep thoughts provoked by what Melville says.  It's not a book to be read in one sitting.

Dr Who exhibit planned -- with input from fans

The BBC spins yet another Dr Who revelation...

Fans of Doctor Who are being asked to contribute to a major exhibition at the National Media Museum in Bradford.

The exhibition will focus on fans' devotion and relationship to the show, which is now in its 50th year.

Exhibition curator Toni Booth said she was hoping people would contribute official merchandise they have collected over the years.

Also "more personal homemade objects - the kind of things which show a fan's love for the Doctor," she said.

Perhaps we could send them our old sofa.  The one our boys hid behind as they watched the show.

B&N CEO resigns

William Lynch goes, amid Nook fall-out

The BBC reports

The chief executive of US bookstore chain Barnes & Noble, William Lynch, has resigned amid a continued drop in sales of its Nook e-books and devices.

His resignation comes just days after the firm reported that sales in the Nook business fell 34% in the fourth quarter, from a year earlier.

That saw its overall losses more than double to $118.6m (£77m) in the period.

The Nook e-reader was launched in 2009, but has failed to take on the Amazon Kindle in the growing e-books market.

"Lynch was highly instrumental in making Nook a centrepiece in Barnes & Noble's broader operational strategy," said Alan Rifkin, an analyst at Barclays.

"With this announcement, Barnes & Noble is, in our view, signalling that it is attempting to reduce its dependence upon the Nook."

So where now for the Nook?

While reporting its latest earnings last month, the company said that it plans to reduce losses in the segment by "limiting risks associated with manufacturing".

Unsaid, between the lines, is the prospect of a takeover by Microsoft, which is logical enough, as the megacompany owns 17% of the operation already.  But what they would do with it is completely up in the air.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Amazon reducing discounts?

Now that Amazon has snared a major part of the market, the time may have come for greater profit-taking...

Now, that's a scary thought, explored by an article in the New York Times.

As they say, "Now, with Borders dead, Barnes & Noble struggling and independent booksellers greatly diminished, for many consumers there is simply no other way to get many books than through Amazon. And for some books, Amazon is, in effect, beginning to raise prices."       

Or, to put it more precisely, Amazon is reducing the discount on the list price of the book.

So far, it looks as if the reduced discounts apply only to slow-selling titles from more obscure and academic presses, but it could turn into a storewide initiative.

Maybe it has been the plan all along?  As Digital Book World comments, the moment that everyone in the book industry has feared could be nigh.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Penguin Random House

Top honchos worldwide announced

The list is in Publishers Weekly...

But what is in store for people who were top-tier until this merger?

CEO of Penguin Random House worldwide, Markus Dohle, is on a worldwide tour to regional offices, undoubtedly to break good or bad news.

There is a surprise already.  Gabrielle Coyle who was named CEO of Asia-Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand) and Gaurav Shrinagesh, CEO of Penguin Random India, are going to be overseen by the deputy CEO of Penguin Random House U.K., Ian Hudson.

The rest of the list:
John Makinson, formerly Penguin Group chairman, has been named chairman of Penguin Random House.
Coram Williams, formerly CFO of the Penguin Group, will now serve in a dual role as chief financial officer for Penguin Random House in the U.S. and worldwide, and will oversee Random House Studio, the film and TV studio; corporate services; and Penguin Random House’s self-publishing service, Author Solutions.
David Shanks, former CEO of Penguin Group USA, who had already planned to retire at the end of 2013, has stepped down and will now serve as senior executive adviser to Dohle and to the U.S. executive team.
Madeline McIntosh, former COO of Random House U.S., has been appointed president and COO of Penguin Random House U.S., overseeing sales, operations, fulfillment, IT, and digital operations companywide.
Kathy Trager has been named executive v-p and general counsel of Penguin Random House U.S.
Brad Martin, formerly president and CEO of Random House of Canada, is now CEO of Penguin Random House in Canada.
In the U.K., Gail Rebuck has been appointed chair of the Penguin Random House U.K. board and to the Global Penguin Random House board, and she will continue as a member of the Bertelsmann Group Management Committee.
Also in the U.K., Tom Weldon, previously CEO at the Penguin Group U.K., is now CEO for Penguin Random House in the U.K.
Ian Hudson has been named deputy CEO of Penguin Random House U.K., a position he held previously at Random House U.K. In addition, Hudson will also serve as CEO of Penguin Random House International (English-language), overseeing Penguin Random House operations in Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, and Asia.
In addition, Nuría Cabutí has been named CEO of the PRH operations in Spain and Latin America, where the company will continue to operate under the name Random House Mondadori. And John Duhigg, CEO of Dorling Kindersley, will be responsible for Dorling Kindersley business worldwide.
Also appointed with global and U.S. responsibilities at Penguin Random House are Frank Steinert, chief human resources officer; Stuart Applebaum, communications; and Milena Alberti, corporate development.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mixed week for women in publishing

HarperCollins and Random lose female heads

The same week that Gabrielle Coyne was put in charge of the Asia-Pacific arm of the new monster conglomerate, Penguin Random, there was bad news for women in UK publishing.
The day after the merger of Penguin and Random House was accompanied by the announcement that Gail Rebuck, chairman and chief executive of Random House UK since 1991, would step down from the day-to-day running of the UK arm of the business to take the strategic role of chairman, the news broke that Victoria Barnsley (pictured) was leaving HarperCollins UK after 13 years as chief executive.

Barnsley's resignation occurred on the eve of her annual summer authors' party at the Orangery in Kensington Gardens (a pleasure house bequeathed by an earlier beleaguered monarch, Queen Anne) which, as she noted on the night, "has become my leaving do". She cited the irony of HarperCollins winning a publisher of the year award under her leadership just a year ago (an award Rebuck's Random House took for 2012 two months ago).

Barnsley joked: "As my colleagues have told me my one great weakness is I'm not really good at managing up, and I think the last few days I have really realised that."

Though her speech was light on bitterness, it tellingly lacked the usual "you'll be in good hands" tribute to her replacement, Charlie Redmayne, from JK Rowling's website, Pottermore.

As Guardian commentators Claire Armitstead and John Dugdale point out, "For those alarmed about the masculinisation of the British book trade, there's no shortage of other examples to point to. A few days earlier, on 30 June, Kate Swann, WH Smith's widely admired boss, stepped down; and six months before that, on 1 January, Marjorie Scardino retired after 13 years running Pearson, the owner of Penguin (it now owns 47% of the merged group). Both, like Barnsley and Rebuck, were replaced by men."

More alarming still is how the focus of power is moving to Manhattan.  As the Guardian also comments, "Last month's splitting up of Rupert Murdoch's media empire included the reallocation of oversight of HarperCollins's operations in India and Australasia from Barnsley in the UK to the worldwide chief executive, Brian Murray, who is based in Manhattan.

"Over at Penguin Random House a similar reorientation has been happening. The new British chief executive will be Penguin's Tom Weldon, with Gail Rebuck as chairman, but the overall group chief executive, Markus Dohle, will be based at the merged firm's headquarters in New York."

Friday, July 5, 2013

D**** Amazing

It's Angela Merkel's fault.

Since the German chancellor used the term "shit-storm" to describe the Eurozone fall-out, the word has become accepted currency in her homeland.

And now it has been officially included in the standard German dictionary.

Duden, the equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary, has featured "shit-storm" in its latest update, saying that the (perhaps) controversial move merely reflects the common way of speech of  German-speaking people.

The Duden definition runs: "Noun, masculine - a storm of protest in a communications medium of the internet, associated in part with insulting remarks."

Ray Richards, RIP

I was saddened to read the death notice of Ray Richards, veteran literary agent, publisher and bibliophile

Ray Richards moved into the literary world after surviving the risky life of a Fleet Air Arm fighter pilot during World War II.  After ten years in publishing, he founded his own literary agency, and soon had built up a stable of fine children's writers, including Joy Cowley and Tessa Duder.  He also handled some other genres, and represented one of the best maritime historians around, Harry Morton.

Ray Richards passed away on 1 July 2013, in his 93rd year.  Today, Friday 5 July, there is a service to celebrate his inspirational career as a man of books and the sea, at the Naval Memorial Chapel of St Christopher, HMNZS Philomel, Devonport, Auckland.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Chief wizard quits Pottermore

From Digital Book World

Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne has left the company to become CEO of HarperCollins UK, replacing Victoria Barnsley, who had been at the publisher and in the position of CEO for 13 years.

The move comes two years after Redmayne left his position as chief digital officer of HarperCollins to head Pottermore, the Harry Potter digital destination. Redmayne will report to Brian Murray, HarperCollins worldwide CEO.

Redmayne made headlines in the book publishing world in March 2012 when he successfully led the launch of Pottermore, where readers could buy Harry Potter ebooks for the first time. One publishing consultant said Pottermore “changed the game” because it sold books directly to readers, forcing Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers to sell as a third party and then refer customers to Pottermore for download.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

So it is Penguin Random

And the CEO of Penguin Random House Asia Pacific is Gabrielle Coyne.

Back in 2003, Gabrielle Coyne (picture taken in 2011) was a mere book publicist, a few months into her job.  In the intervening years the young Australian zoomed into the top job, but news items about her are surprisingly scarce.  She has a linked-in page ... but otherwise her profile is low.

That, most probably, is due to become history.  The future course of Penguin Random, according to yesterday's announcement by global CEO Markus Dohle, is going to be managed by a committee ... and Ms Coyne's name features prominently on that influential list.

And here it is:

Núria Cabutí; Gina Centrello, president and publisher, Random House Publishing Group; Tony Chirico, president, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; Gabrielle Coyne; John Duhigg; Leslie Gelbman, president, Mass Market Paperbacks, Penguin Group U.S.; Ian Hudson; Barbara Marcus, president and publisher, Random House Children’s Books; Brad Martin; Maya Mavjee, president and publisher, Crown Publishing Group; Madeline McIntosh; Sonny Mehta, Chairman and editor-in-chief, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; Susan Petersen Kennedy, president, Penguin Group U.S.; Andrew Phillips, CEO, Author Solutions; Frank Steinert; Don Weisberg, president, Penguin Young Readers Group U.S.; Tom Weldon; and Coram Williams.

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July 2013--Highlights
William H. White, author of Gun Bay discusses his new novel

Clark Faulkner remembers the pivotal battle of Midway

George Jepson reviews
Gun Bay

Monday, July 1, 2013

Shakespeare questioned yet again...

From The BBC: story by Tim Masters

Award-winning author Ros Barber (pictured) spoke on Friday about the anger her debut novel had provoked with its controversial treatment of Shakespeare.

Barber's The Marlowe Papers won the £10,000 annual Desmond Elliott Prize for debut fiction on Thursday.

In the book, playwright Christopher Marlowe is revealed as the true author of Shakespeare's plays.

The judges described the novel - written entirely in verse - as a "unique historical conspiracy story".

The debate over the Shakespeare authorship question has gone on for decades.

Some academics argue that the Bard's plays were actually the work of someone else, with Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere - the 17th Earl of Oxford - and Christopher Marlowe among the most popular candidates.

"I've had more hostility early on and, as the book's become more successful, people have been less unpleasant about the underlying premise," Barber told the BBC, after her win was announced.

"I don't get emotional about it myself," she added. "I don't get cross with people if they lose their temper. If they feel exceedingly strongly about it, I say you can believe what you want to believe.

"It's a work of fiction. You can believe that Shakespeare of Stratford wrote the works and still enjoy it."

Barber said she was "thrilled, and a bit overwhelmed" to win the £10,000 Desmond Elliott Prize, which is named after the publisher and literary agent who died in 2003.

"The fact that it's in verse has caught a lot of people's attention," she said. "I know a lot of people are put off by the idea that it's in verse, but I hope the win will encourage them to read it."

Writing in blank verse, she added, had enabled her to give an "authentic sounding voice" to her characters.

"When I told people it was a story about Christopher Marlowe they'd say it sounded really exciting, and then I'd say it was in verse - and there would be a silence."

The former computer programmer worked on the book for four years as part of a PhD, and even remortgaged her house to help fund her studies.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, "I'd like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream." The waitress replies, "I'm sorry, Monsieur, but we're out of cream. How about with no milk?"

With thanks to Jacqueline Church Simonds