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April 12, 2013

Record numbers sign up for World Book Night

Filed under: Publishers — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 10:38 am

wbn_logo_2013 | By Joshua Farrington

World Book Night has had a record number of givers sign up, with more than 23,000 people volunteering to hand out books in their communities.

More than half of the applicants have never taken part in the event before, with people applying from across the country, including the Scilly Isles and Outer Hebrides.

Taking place on April 23rd, World Book Night will see delivery service Yodel distribute 400,000 books to giver collection points, while a further 100,000 books will be sent directly to hospitals, prisons and care homes in an attempt to reach communities with low literacy levels.

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February 18, 2013

Quarter of adults ‘have barely read a book in past six months’

quickreadsnew | By Charlotte Williams

A quarter of UK adults—more than 12 million people—have only picked up a book to read for pleasure once, or less than once, in the past six months, according to new research commissioned by literacy campaign Quick Reads.

A YouGov poll of just over 2,000 people also revealed that nearly one in 10 adults claim they never read books, with 29% of those surveyed who have read once every six months or less citing time pressures as the reason.

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February 14, 2013

The most borrowed library books of 2012

worthWith figures compiled too late for EL James to make an impression, borrowers favoured homicide over hanky-panky.

By John Dugdale

Has EL James done it again?” is what you inevitably wonder, when approaching the latest annual chart for UK library loans. “Did she dominate sales rankings as she did last year? Did library users show just as much appetite for porn as bookshop customers?”

A quick glance at the chart will show that the emphatic answers are no, no and no: not only is the Fifty Shades trilogy not at the top, it’s nowhere – as are last year’s other erotica hits. As a result, the borrowings table looks more blokeish and less sexy than the all-2012 sales chart, where the top 10 was female-dominated: overall, 65 of the authors of the 100 most-borrowed books are men.

Perhaps some librarians were reluctant to stock porn. The difference between buying (where titles can be acquired impersonally online) and borrowing (where users typically hand titles to librarians for checking out) might also offer a partial explanation.

The main factor, however, is presumably not primness or diffidence but the chart’s timeframe. The table, compiled by PLR – which distributed a total of £6.4m to 23,190 authors for 2011/12, at a rate of 6.20 pence per loan – covers borrowings up to the end of June last year, leaving little time for James’s books to make an impression after their publication in April.

So, instead of switching to sex and spanking in America, borrowers stuck with 50 shades of US murder.

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November 25, 2011

Big names set to dominate children’s Christmas

Christopher Paolini's Inheritance

25.11.11 | Caroline Horn

Booksellers are relying on a handful of established names to boost sales this Christmas, with little expectation of any surprise bestsellers emerging in the next few weeks.

Melissa Cox, new titles buyer at Waterstone’s, said: “We already have early indications of what will do well this Christmas, including Jeff Kinney’s Cabin Fever and Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance. David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny is another nice gift book and, I think, his best work to date.”

Rachel Airey, buyer at W H Smith, said: “For us, the big authors are going to be even bigger this Christmas. That is what we have seen so far, and we expect it to continue. We don’t see new names cutting through or generating much excitement.” Sales for Cabin Fever reached 81,804, while Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance has sold 100,984 to date.

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October 28, 2011

Read all about it: Britain’s shameful literacy crisis

Rioters in London apparently ignored the local bookshop. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA

So rioters shunned bookshops because they didn’t offer anything they wanted? That points to a debilitating exclusion from a civilised culture.

By Deborah Orr

In the immediate wake of the riots, much was made of a particularly telling detail of the huge disturbance that took place in London’s Clapham Junction. Nearly all of the shops on that stretch of road were attacked. Many were broken into. Some were stripped bare. A shop that sold party accessories and donated part of its profit each year to worldwide children’s charities was set ablaze and gutted. One shop, however, was untouched – a bookshop.

Simon, the manager of Black’s, the camping shop across the road, told the London Evening Standard’s David Cohen: “They smashed our window, ripped the plasma TVs off our walls, took all our jackets and rucksacks. I saw them go into Claire’s Accessories, break into NatWest, liberate our neighbours Toni & Guy of hair products. They carted off iPods from Currys, clothes from Debenhams, mobile phones from Carphone Warehouse. I was horrified. But Waterstone’s, directly opposite us, was untouched. For the looters it was as if it did not exist.”

At the time, I thought that this observation was bang-on. Because I never use betting shops, or print shops, I simply don’t see them. Bookshops, I always notice, because I love reading. Bookies are a different matter, because I never go into one and place a bet.

Those rioters at Clapham Junction, to generalise, probably didn’t even see Waterstone’s. Bookshops don’t even register, because they offer nothing that is wanted. To me, that seems like a miserable omission from a life, and an ignominious, debilitating exclusion from a civilised culture.

On Twitter, however, a comment suggesting that if the rioters had nicked a few books they “might learn something” was retweeted time and time again, for days, as if it was the acme of wit. There seemed to be little understanding that the tweet was cruel, superior, patronising; that it mocked the afflicted and blamed the victims of an education system that left swaths of people not just unable to read, but unable even to register the existence of a shop that sold literature. Failure on that scale is not individual. It is systemic.

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October 19, 2011

Press lauds Barnes’ Booker win

Filed under: Literary Prizes — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:48 pm

Buy this

19.10.11 | Graeme Neill

The thrice-denied Julian Barnes has been lauded in the press for finally winning the Man Booker prize with his The Sense of an Ending.

The Guardian warmly welcomed the decision. Claire Armistead said: “To those who believe the Booker has gone downmarket in its domestic and international incarnations, one can only point to the fact that 2011 will go down as the year of Philip Roth and Julian Barnes.”

The Daily Mail said the judgement showed the panel appeared to be “siding with the traditionalists”, lauding the “highbrow” novel as a “fascinating sketch of an unglamorous and rarely-mined vein of middle-class life”.

The Times also felt the judges made the right decision. Literary editor Erica Wagner said: “In its deepest core [it’s] a complex meditation on the nature of knowledge and the nature of loss.” However, she added she felt it had been a “disappointing” year. She said: “I’d be willing to bet that most of the shortlisted novels, alas, won’t stay the course—that course being the next couple of hundred years. But I could be wrong. That’s the way it works.”

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October 15, 2011

British Library attacked for Amazon link

Filed under: Libraries — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:03 am

The British Library

By Benedicte Page

The British Library has come under fire from booksellers for including a link to online giant on entries in its public online catalogue. The catalogue lists more than 13 million items in the British Library’s collection, detailing the library’s cataloguing details in each case, together with general information on each book. There is also a final field, “This item in”, on each record. This field links directly to the relevant page on Amazon, where the book can be bought. If the title is not among Amazon’s stock, the page offers “More titles to consider” instead.

A spokesperson for the British Library said it was currently piloting a link to Amazon on its Integrated Catalogue “with the aim of providing users with the choice of an alternative method of obtaining a title if, for some reason, it is not available in the Library’s Reading Rooms.”

Waterstone’s m.d. James Daunt criticised the development, saying: “It’s disappointing to say the least that a very British institution is driving readers away from local libraries and high street bookshops. In an environment where high street booksellers and libraries face huge pressures, it is a shame that the British Library choose to give their endorsement to one aggressively commercial organisation.” more

October 12, 2011

New Literature Prize to establish “standard of excellence”

Andrew Kidd

12.10.11 | Benedicte Page

A new literary award, The Literature Prize, has been set up to “establish a clear and uncompromising standard of excellence”, with the advisory board claiming that the Man Booker Prize no longer does the job.

The board, for which agent Andrew Kidd of Aitken Alexander is spokesperson, said the prize “will offer readers a selection of novels that, in the view of these expert judges, are unsurpassed in their quality and ambition”, with judges selected in rotation from an academy of experts in the field of literature.

“For many years this brief was fulfilled by the Booker (latterly the Man Booker) Prize. But as numerous statements by that prize’s administrator and this year’s judges illustrate, it now prioritises a notion of ‘readability’ over artistic achievement,” the board stated.

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October 8, 2011

Indies call on government to fix book prices

  By Lisa Campbell

Independent booksellers say the government should step in to fix the price of books after the Booksellers    Association called on the coalition to do more to maintain bookshops on the high street.

BA c.e.o. Tim Godfray appealed for help from the government and publishers this week to ensure bookshops continue to exist on Britain’s high streets after the trade body’s membership figures fell 20% in six years, with independent bookshop membership falling by 26% in the same timeframe.

He asked for central and local government to give business rate relief for shops with a cultural and educational value; called for cheaper parking in towns centres; and said town centre planning should be more carefully thought out to prevent community hubs from becoming ghost towns.

However, while the indies The Bookseller spoke to were in support of the BA taking a stance to help maintain high street bookselling, they said the real issue was the discounting done by chains, supermarkets and Amazon which presents the biggest threat—and called on the BA to lobby the government to do more to prevent it.

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October 4, 2011

BA urges government action to protect bookshops

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 10:35 am

Tim Godfray

04.10.11 | Lisa Campbell

High street bookshops need help from the government if their presence there is to continue, the c.e.o. of the Booksellers Association has said.

Tim Godfray called on the government to give rate relief to businesses with a cultural and educational value to maintain independent bookshops on high streets and protect “the wellbeing of society”. He also called on publishers to do more to support bricks and mortar booksellers.

Godfray’s remarks come after the BA found overall membership numbers had declined by 20% in the last six years, from 4,495 in June 2006 to 3,683 in June 2011, with independent bookshop membership falling even further by 26%, from 1,483 in June 2006 to 1,099 in June 2011.

In a statement, Godfray said: “At a time when literacy is an issue and libraries are under threat from government cuts, we need to build a coalition of publishers, government and consumers to provide opportunities for the passionate and creative entrepreneurs who run bookshops on our high streets to thrive.

“What is clear from surveying our members is the considerable influence local and national government and our competition authorities have on the high street retailer. There is a lot of talk about putting the high street first, but far more action is needed. Rate relief for businesses with a cultural and educational value would be welcome.”

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