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Friday, March 31

Danish Cartoons Won't Be Found At Borders Two of the largest bookstore chains in North America say they will not stock the April/May issue of the magazine, Free Inquiry, because it contains reprints of the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed which sparked riots and protests around the world earlier this year. Borders and Waldenbooks, which ordinarily carry the magazine, say that they are acting out of concern for the safety of their customers. Los Angeles Times (AP) 03/31/06

Wednesday, March 29

Rowling Wins Book-Of-The-Year JK Rowling's sixth Harry Potter book has won book of the year in the abritish Book Awards. "Rowling won the public vote ahead of autobiographies by the late John Peel, Sharon Osbourne, Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan, and Jamie Oliver's Italy." BBC 03/29/06

Naipaul: Joyce Is Incomprehensible, James Is The Worst Nobel novelist VS Naipaul has lashed out at literary greats, including as Jane Austin and Henry James. "Naipaul said Thomas Hardy was 'an unbearable writer' who 'doesn't know how to compose a paragraph'. And Ernest Hemingway 'was so busy being an American' he 'didn't know where he was'." BBC 03/29/06

Tuesday, March 28

Religious Books Hit The Bookstores With the impending release of the Da Vinci Code movie, bookstores are being inundated with religious-themed books... Reuters 03/28/06

McBain Revamps Arts Magazines Louise McBain has been building a $600 million publishing empire af arts magazines. Now she's restructuring. "In five years, MacBain bought Art + Auction, Modern Painters and Museums Magazines and Gallery Guides, which publish guides for eight or more cities each. She added a data service, Art Sales Index, and a French publisher, Somogy. She launched a Web site, Artinfo.com, in 2005, and Truman will help start a new magazine, Culture & Travel, in September." Bloomberg.com 03/28/06

The Most Powerful Woman In British Publishing As co-director of Cactus Television, Amanda Ross is described as "the most powerful woman in British publishing. All the other reasons can be summarised in two names and three words: Richard and Judy." The Scotsman 03/27/06

Da Vinci Code Hype (Get Ready) The book seems like a license to print money. "It certainly has meant 'print more books.' Now it also means "print movie tickets, paperbacks, store displays, posters." Think of a tickertape parade with all that paper raining down: Dan Brown's controversial thriller about a murdered art curator and a centuries-old Vatican conspiracy is going to generate heaps of paper in the next two months. And a lot of it will be green." Dallas Morning News 03/27/06

The Mystery Of Da Vinci Code's Success On the eve of the release of the Da Vinci Code in paperback, Julia Keller wonders: "why is "The Da Vinci Code" such a hit? What accounts for its sensational success?" Chicago Tribune 03/27/06

Monday, March 27

French Catch The Writing Bug French publishers are drowning under a sea of unsolicited manuscripts. "With the short 35-hour working week in France and a fall in the average retirement, increasing numbers of French men and women are turning pen to paper to write 'their book'. Most, some 75 percent, write novels loosely based on their own experiences, turning the editor into a kind of shrink, an often unwilling confidante party to the author's deepest secrets, fears and desires." Yahoo! (AFP) 03/27/06

Hong Kong Gets Literary Hong Kong is becoming a big literary center. "This month, Hong Kong becomes home to a new international literary prize and to the relaunched Asia Literary Review. Major overseas publishers and agents, meanwhile, have been making regular visits or setting up operations in this area. Hong Kong is working hard to position itself in the middle of this potentially booming book trade." International Herald Tribune 03/26/06

Sunday, March 26

A Year Of Reading About It... "Whether due to the short attention spans of readers, the churn of the book-publishing world or some kind of writing meme, authors are slicing and dicing up their experiences and their studies into rapidly digestible, often bestselling 12-month packages." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/26/06

Friday, March 24

The Problem With Books? Storage "Books, it turns out, inflame a particular kind of passion. They inform, they amuse, they provoke. They keep us company and lull us to sleep. They give manifest evidence of our intellect. They show off our interests and our values. And when we've run out of places to put them, they prove extremely difficult to part with." Washington Post 03/24/06

Thursday, March 23

Booker: We 'Da Man The Booker Prize has renewed its affiliation with financial company Man Group. "The five-year agreement means the UK's most prestigious literary award will continue to be branded as The Man Booker Prize." BBC 03/23/06

Wednesday, March 22

A Plan To Save British Public Libraries British writers have joined a campaign to rejuvenate public libraries. "The Love Libraries scheme aims to give them a makeover, transforming them into a '21st century reading service'. Revamps in the pipeline include more online borrowing, flexible opening hours and a review of book stocks. Recent research has shown that adults are losing interest in lending libraries, with one in five having never visited their local library." BBC 03/22/06

Random House Comes Out Of Scandals Smelling Sweet Controversies over James Frey's memoir and Dan Brown's trial on plagiarism haven't dented Random House's book sales. "Random House reported a 19 percent gain in operating profit to a record 166 million euros ($200.4 million) on Wednesday on 2 percent revenue growth to 1.83 billion." AOL News (Reuters) 03/22/06

Straight-To-Paperback "Even critically acclaimed literary novels often have a short shelf life in hardcover, with one-half to three-quarters of the books shipped to stores often being returned to the publisher, unsold. That has a growing number of publishing companies, from smaller houses like Grove/Atlantic to giants like Random House, adopting a different business model, offering books by lesser-known authors only as 'paperback originals,' forgoing the higher profits afforded by publishing a book in hardcover for a chance at attracting more buyers and a more sustained shelf life." The New York Times 03/22/06

Trying Not To Be A One-Hit Wonder Author DBC Pierre came out of nowhere a few years back to capture the Man Booker Prize for his debut novel, Vernon God Little. The book was praised for its cutting satire and hard-edged tone, and Pierre himself became the subject of much gossip and speculation on both sides of the Atlantic. Now, with his second novel on the verge of release, the author is hoping that he can avoid what he calls "second novel syndrome," a condition which has afflicted countless other successful authors in recent years. BBC 03/22/06

Tuesday, March 21

Leader: Read My Book, Go To Heaven Turkmenistan's leader says if his country's citizens want to go to heaven they should read his book three times. "A person that reads Rukhnama becomes smart ... and after it, he will go straight to heaven. I asked Allah that for a person who reads it three times - at home, at sunset and at dawn - to go straight to heaven." The Guardian (UK) 03/21/06

Monday, March 20

PEN To Tap Chernow As New Leader The PEN American Center is expected to name Ron Chernow, the best-selling biographer of J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and Alexander Hamilton, as its next president. "Chernow will succeed the novelist Salman Rushdie, who has served as the group's leader for two years. Mr. Rushdie, who is credited with having helped to reshape the PEN American Center's role in defending freedom of expression and open cultural exchange after Sept. 11, proposed Mr. Chernow as his successor." The New York Times 03/21/06

Just What, Is The Virginia Quarterly Review? "To the astonishment of glossy magazine types everywhere, a small journal in Virginia garnered not one nomination, as is sometimes politely handed down to such journals, but six. This made the Virginia Quarterly Review the second-most-nominated magazine, behind the Atlantic, which received eight, and ahead of The New Yorker, Harper's, New York, and National Geographic, all of which received five. It was as if a scrappy farm team had demolished the Yankees in an exhibition game." Slate 03/20/06

Da Vinci Plagiarism Case In Final Arguments Summing up the plaintiffs' case of plagiarism against Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, Jonathan Rayner James QC sounds more like a man complaining about a verdict he knows is coming than someone marshalling evidence. He said Brown had been "unco-operative" in court. "He had almost no recollection of matters that related to issues of timing." BBC 03/19/06

Subway Series - London And Shanghai Shanghai and London are exchanging subway poetry. "Under the deal, which took years to thrash out, the London Underground - which has displayed poems for 20 years - is displaying lines from some of China's great wordsmiths: Li Bai, Du Pu and Po Chu-i. Next month the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, will launch a similar programme in Shanghai with Wordsworth's Daffodils, Blake's Auguries of Innocence, Jamie's The Blue Boat and Bullock's Butterfly." The Guardian (UK) 03/18/06

Sunday, March 19

Lawyers Wrap: Brown's Da Vinci Code Ideas Not Original The lawyers defending Dan Brown from plagiarism charges wrapped up their case: "The ideas are of too general a nature to be capable of copyright protection. Many of the ideas complained of were not original to The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. They were merely copied from others. The claimants were doing themselves exactly what they complain of in Mr Brown." BBC 03/19/06

Thursday, March 16

Brown's Brief - Fascinating Reading A brief filed in a London court details author Dan Brown's process in writing the Da Vinci Code. It's a 69-page, unofficial memoir from an author who has rarely spoken to the media since his novel became an international sensation, a document intended not for reporters or general readers but for the officials of a British courtroom. Yahoo! (AP) 03/16/06

Barnes & Noble's Boffo Quarter The bookseller's income was up 6.3 percent in the last quarter of 2005. "For the quarter ended Jan. 28, Barnes & Noble earned $122.98 million, or $1.76 per share, helped by strong book titles across all categories and a robust online business. That compares with $115.63 million, or $1.56 per share, in the year-ago period." Yahoo! (AP) 03/16/06

Wednesday, March 15

Brown: I drew On Many Sources For Da Vinci Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown spends a third day in court defending himself against plagiarism charges. "Brown's cross-examination has been dominated by detailed questions about punctuation, spelling, and to what extent the language and ideas of The Da Vinci Code mirror those of the Holy Blood. At times showing signs of impatience, Brown sighed, shook his head and joked that his eyesight had deteriorated during the case as a result of the minutiae he had been forced to study." Yahoo! (AP0 03/15/06

  • Brown Defense: Your Book Was Only One Of Many Dan Brown continued to insist in court, defending himself against plagiarism charges, that he and his wife, Blythe, had not bought or even read a copy of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail until a late stage of the research, long after he had submitted the synopsis for his own proposed book. He said the "clear point of evidence" was he had not included HBHG in the bibliography in his synopsis for the publishers. "I was very eager to impress my publishers with a longer list of bibliography ... if I had read it I would have included it." The Guardian (UK) 03/15/06

Tuesday, March 14

Aussie Wins Commonwealth Prize Australian writer Kate Grenville has won this year's Commonwealth Writers' Prize. "Grenville's winning book is a historical novel looking at the competing claims of Aborigines and settlers in 19th Century Australia. The award comes five years after Grenville won the Orange Prize for Fiction for The Idea of Perfection." BBC 03/14/06

Teens Read Up More young teen readers are turning to adult fiction. "The growing exodus of young adults to adult books might be partly attributable to how bookstores display Young Adult fiction. Many lump YA in with baby lit. The YA sections in many Indigo stores, for example, are either swarming with ankle-biters or utterly deserted. Either way, it’s anathema to attracting teens." CBC 03/14/06

Monday, March 13

Google's New Book-selling Scheme Google is offering to broker sales of books online for publishers. "The new offering would allow people to sign in and purchase immediate, browser-based access to books, Google said on its site. Purchasers would not, however, be allowed to save a copy of the book to their computer or to otherwise copy pages from the book. Google is marketing the new program as the first of several tools intended to help book publishers boost their revenues, though it was unclear Monday how many had signed up. Pricing would remain entirely at the book publisher's discretion." ZDNet 03/13/06

Brown Testifies In Plagiarism Case Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown started testifying in his plagiarism trial. "Mr Brown said Mr Baigent and Mr Leigh were just two of a number of authors who had written about the theory. 'Yet I went out of my way to mention them for being the ones who brought the theory to mainstream attention. I would like to restate that I remain astounded by the claimants' choice to file this plagiarism suit. For them to suggest, as I understand they do, that I have hijacked and exploited their work is simply untrue'." BBC 03/13/06

Are Non-Fiction Scandals Hurting Fiction? "Is all this fretting over lies in nonfiction giving fiction a bad name? I fear it is. And I’m afraid that our lack of regard for fiction actually may be hindering us from sorting out what is true and what is a lie. Fiction, after all, is the one lie that can tell us a truth. Unlike nonfiction — memoirs included — fiction makes no claim to reality. Works of the imagination — better known as literature — are totally unfettered from what actually has happened." Kansas City Star (SPT) 03/12/06

Sunday, March 12

Homeless New Orleans Publisher Auctions Off His Treasures "An auction of first-edition books, handwritten manuscripts and letters by Beat Generation writers Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski raised $225,000 in San Francisco to benefit a publisher left homeless by Hurricane Katrina." Los Angeles Times 03/11/06

Fireworks At DaVinci Trial "Heated verbal exchanges erupted yesterday in the closing stages of the Da Vinci Code copyright court case, in which two historians are accusing author Dan Brown of lifting their research in his bestseller." Boston Globe (first item) 03/11/06

Thursday, March 9

Get Real - Fiction's Battle "The major struggle in American fiction today is over the question of realism. Anywhere fiction is discussed with partisan heat, a faultline emerges, with 'realists' and traditionalists on one side and postmodernists and experimentalists on the other. No comparable struggle exists in British fiction because experimental fiction has never been substantial enough to mount a decent campaign against the dominant discourse. But the 1960s avant-garde in America was full of talent and vigour." Prospect 03/06

Da Vinci Code Plaintiffs Concede Major Claim One of the historians charging Dan Brown with stealing key elements of their work for the Da Vinci Code, concedes a major point. "Your castigatory assertion... that Mr Brown reached all the same historical conjecture as you is untruthful," said Brown's lawyer. Mr Baigent replied: "I would concede that 'all' is far too strong. I would say 'most'... We over-egged [exaggerated] that one." BBC 03/09/06

Potter Apology Could Fetch Thousands At Auction "A letter from Beatrix Potter to a young fan apologising for the quality of one of her books, is expected to fetch up to £2,500 at auction in Exeter. The four-page letter to Joy Shapland was written by the Peter Rabbit author in 1913. In it, Potter apologises for her book The Tale of Pigland Bland, explaining that she had been feeling poorly." BBC 03/09/06

Wednesday, March 8

The Case For Google Print "Would publishers object if Google's project led to an increase, rather than a decrease, in book purchases? I think not. There are already signs in America that Google Book Search is leading to a strong rise in demand for out-of-print books (although unless traditional publishers get their acts together the fruits of this boom may go to the new breed of print-on-demand publishers). I would be amazed if the same did not happen to books in copyright. So let American publishers sue to find out what 'fair use' means." The Guardian (UK) 03/08/06

Meet The Blooker - The First Blog Book Prize "Dubbed the Blooker Prize, the contest is for those bloggers who have turned their episodic journals into something more substantial. British entries on the Blooker short-list include the intimate diary of a prostitute and a guide to the UK's best 'greasy spoon' cafes." BBC 03/08/06

Tuesday, March 7

The Spoetry Of Spam Spoetry is email spam poetry. "In an unedited, authorless spoem (spam poem) 'aardvarks sweat in gibbon rucksacks' and 'freight trains rejoice toothpicks, merrily'. Reminiscent of Ezra Pound, or William Burroughs' cut-ups, spoetry transcends its mundane commercial aim and becomes, yes, art." The Guardian (UK) 03/07/06

Lost In Translation "Though translators often get the short shrift, they are more important than ever in this global age. Literature from foreign lands is one of the best ways to understand and experience distant cultures. Yet it represents only a tiny fraction of the books published in America. Of the 195,000 new titles printed in English in 2004 (the most recent year for which numbers are available), only 891 were works of adult literature in translation." News & Observer (Raleigh) 03/05/06

Tech On The Menu At London Book Fair At the London Book Fair, technology is the big theme, with Google's John Needham speaked to a packed room about his company's publishing projects... The New York Times 03/07/06

Author: Da Vinci Code Claims Exaggerated One of the authors suing Dan Brown, claiming Brown stole details for the Da Vinci Code plot, has admitted he exaggerated his claims. "Michael Baigent had claimed 15 points central to the plot of Brown's novel had been taken from a 1982 non-fiction book he wrote with two other authors. As the case resumed at the High Court in London, however, Mr Baigent said his language had been 'infelicitous'." BBC 03/07/06

Monday, March 6

Remote Author Signings - End Of The Book Tour? Margaret Atwood tries a remote pen machine at a book signinjg, but it fails to work. "Not everyone had welcomed the gadget that Ms Atwood launched yesterday, called the LongPen, which is designed to allow authors to be in one place while signing their books, in real time, in another. Critics feared it might even spell the end of the book tour, saving writers many wearying hours schlepping from town to town, but ultimately cutting them off from their readers altogether. And it might - but not until they get it working." The Guardian (UK) 03/06/06

Publisher: Stop Google's Larceny Publisher Nigel Newton says that Google's print digitising project must be stopped. "In Dickens's spirit, I believe we need to take action against Google. Its quest to monetise for its own benefit the literature of the world must be stopped. So I call upon internet users worldwide to boycott the Google search engine until it ceases to scan books in America without prior permission, and desists from its mission to place ambient advertising on the great literary works. Switch your search engine from Google to MSN or Yahoo today, until you hear Google has withdrawn from the type of activities that have been described in another context as acts of 'kleptomania'." The Guardian (UK) 03/04/06

Sunday, March 5

Doctorow Marches To Book Critics Prize E.L. Doctorow's "The March" wins the National Book Critics Circle prize for fiction for his acclaimed story of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's ruthless Civil War campaign. Yahoo! (AP) 03/03/06

Library Removes Penguin Book Because of "Gay" Theme A library in Missouri has removed a story about penguins from its children's section after parents complained that the book has "homosexual undertones". "The illustrated book, "And Tango Makes Three," is based on a true story of two male penguins, named Roy and Silo, who adopted an abandoned egg at New York City's Central Park Zoo in the late 1990s." Yahoo! (AP) 03/05/06

List: Publishing's New-Generation Power Brokers Who are the most powerful people in UK publishing? The Observer has made a list. "The list we have come up with, then, is a snapshot of an industry in flux, and it inevitably reflects the whims of our panel. To single out 50 players from a great cultural industry is almost impossible. Many of the people whose word counts for most pride themselves on their invisibility. Still, we think we have made good choices about a new generation of players." The Observer (UK) 03/05/06

The New ErotiFiction "Ten years ago the bestseller lists were topped by the frustrated Bridget Jones, a fictional creation less interested in sex than in the cigarette she could smoke afterwards. A decade on and chick lit now seems curiously chaste, as lascivious as a warm mug of Horlicks. But a new kind of explicit bedside reading, both fictional and autobiographical, means the three-for-two counter in Waterstone's now displays the kind of X-rated material more traditionally found in a cornershop in Soho." The Guardian (UK) 03/05/06

Thursday, March 2

How The Internet Is Transforming Self-Publishing "Self-publishing enables anyone to upload a book in digital form to a website, which then formats it complete with a cover. It costs anything from £4.50 (single proof of one book) to more than £500 for full personalised involvement of the publishing house at all stages, from starting up to getting a link to Amazon." The Guardian (UK) 03/02/06

Shakespeare Died Of Cancer? "William Shakespeare died in pain of a rare form of cancer that deformed his left eye, according to a German academic who claims to have discovered the disease in four genuine portraits of the world's most famous playwright." Discovery 03/01/06

Writers Simplify For The Mass Market Best-selling writers in the UK have signed on to write simplified mass-market books. "The books are aimed at people who struggle with reading or have lost the habit of carrying around a good book. But the plots and subject matter have been pitched to appeal to a wider audience. Each book has fewer than 128 pages and language is simple, with short sentences and a limited number of words of three syllables or more." CBC 03/02/06

Wednesday, March 1

Poll: People Like Happy Endings "Forty-one per cent are overwhelmingly in favour of books with a happy ending, as against 2.2% who like it sad. Women were 13% more likely than men to say they want it all to end happily. Almost one fifth of men expressed a preference for books with ambiguous endings." The Guardian (UK) 03/02/06

A Trend To Audiobooks Sales of audiobooks were up four percent in 2004. "The major trend emerging from the survey showed higher revenue from new audio formats and the continued slow fade of the traditional audio cassette. MP3 CDs represented 1 percent of sales and digital downloads represented 6 percent of sales in 2004." Publishers Weekly 03/01/06

Writers Warn Of Totalitarianism Salman Rushdie and a group of other writers have published a statement in a French paper warning of Islamic totalitarianism. "The writers say the violence sparked by the publication of cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad shows the need to fight for secular values and freedom." BBC 03/01/06

Librarians Vote Mockingbird The "Must Read" Book A survey of librarians to mark World Book Day has voted "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee as the "book adults should read before they die." They "came out in favour of The Bible in second place and The Lord of the Rings trilogy in third place. But international best-seller The Da Vinci Code only gained one nomination." BBC 03/01/06

Authors Protest London Book Fair Producers Authors including Will Self, Ian McEwan, Nick Hornby, JM Coetzee and Mike Leigh are protesting against the organizer of the London Book Fair. The authors are complaining that the producer also organised Europe's biggest arms fair in London last year. BBC 03/01/06

DaVinci Defense: You Can't Be Robbed Of What Isn't Yours As the copyright infringement case against DaVinci Code author Dan Brown continues in London, it has become clear that Brown's defense team plans to argue that the ideas the plaintiffs claim were stolen from them are so general that their use does not constitute a violation. Brown does acknowledge that he added some elements to the novel after reading The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail, but says that the ideas were not original to that book's authors anyway. The Globe & Mail (AP) 03/01/06

NY Library Buys Into Burroughs The New York Public Library has purchased an extensive personal archive by the author William S. Burroughs. Burroughs is best known for the controversial novel, Naked Lunch, which was at the center of a landmark court case on censorship in the 1960s. The archive, which includes 11,000 pages of written material, will join Jack Kerouac's papers in the library's collection, making it "perhaps the premier institution for the study of the Beats." The New York Times 03/01/06

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