Archive (News and Obituaries)

News and Obituaries

Ebook news can be found here.



5 October | Death of Henning Mankell


20 September | Death of Jackie Collins


Acknowledgements: The New York Times, Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push
white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions.


21 July | Death of EL Dctorow


8 May | Death of Ruth Rendell


13 April | Death of Günter Grass


12 March | Death of Terry Pratchett


4 Feb Harper Lee | Go Set a Watchman


30 Jan | FT Best books of 2014

21 Jan | Shopping, pay rises and nice houses make us miserable – Archbishop

16 Jan | Mark Zuckerberg’s book club opens with a disappointing first chapter

8 Jan | Facebook founder’s book club choice sends sales rocketing

6 Jan | The best book clubs are on Twitter and Facebook


Best books of 2014 (The Independent)

2014 Paperbacks of the year 2014; part one 
2014 Paperbacks of the year 2014; part two
2014 Paperbacks of the year 2014; part three 

Books of the year 2014: Fiction
Books of the year 2014: Debuts
Books of the year 2014: Literary memoirs
Books of the year 2014: Drink
Books of the year 2014: Economics
Books of the year 2014: Film
Books of the year 2014: Fashion
Books of the year 2014: Biographies
Books of the year 2014: Art/gift books
Books of the year 2014: Crime
Books of the year 2014: Music
Books of the year 2014: Short stories
Books of the year 2014: Politics
Books of the year 2014: Science
Books of the year 2014: Celebrity memoirs
Books of the year 2014: History
Books of the year 2014: Fiction in translation
Books of the year 2014: Sport

Writers pick the best books of 2014: part one (The Guardian)

Writers pick the best books of 2014: part two (The Guardian)

Best novels and fiction books of 2014 (The Telegraph)

Books of the Year: Newspaper review round-up

Last year marked our first round up of the numerous “books of the year” features across the media. It saw a total of 660 books being touted by various critics, writers and celebrities. This year, our spreadsheet collating the reviews boasts 910 titles that have been recommended across several features in 10 different publications.

As well as the broadsheets, this year we have included the Radio Times and the Economist. The Observer, theGuardian and the Mail on Sunday also incorporated choices by a wide variety of literary figures and celebrities. TheObserver collated picks from 56 people, and asked them what book they hope to find under their Christmas tree this year. (Novelist John Banville requested the £376, five-volume boxed set Art and Architecture of Ireland from Yale University Press.)

Comfortably gaining the most attention was H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Jonathan Cape), which was mentioned in the features of all the newspapers, including three votes from various Guardian features.

Despite fiction winning more column inches than last year, none of the most selected novels are débuts—in fact, the majority are by established names who released eagerly awaited novels: Sarah Waters, David Nicholls, Marilynne Robinson and Colm Tóibín, to name a few.

This year’s Man Booker Prize judges revealed the battle for the award was between Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus) and Ali Smith’s How to Be Both (Hamish Hamilton), and this is reflected in the reviews, with the books garnering nine and 10 nods respectively—considerably more than the other Booker-shortlisted titles. A more in-depth look at how this year’s Booker titles have been received is below.

The strong children’s market is also reflected, with several titles cropping up on lists not dedicated to kids’ titles. The most reviewed titles in the genre are revealed below, alongside a more detailed look at the market for cookbooks and historical biographies, and a look at celebrity titles that amassed the most column inches. The full list of most-reviewed titles, including the top 24 most mentioned books, can be found in the print or digital edition of The Bookseller.

 Acknowledgements: The Bookseller

21 December Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit
(The Independent)

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing

A Christmas detective tale not seen in shops for more than 70 years has become a festive sleeper hit and resurrected interest in a long-forgotten crime writer.

Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story by J Jefferson Farjeon is selling in “astonishing numbers”, according to the Waterstones book chain. It has outsold rival paperbacks Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch on the high street, while Amazon temporarily ran out of stock last week due to surging demand.

The novel tells the story of an eclectic group of six people stuck on a train stranded by snow on Christmas Eve. Fearing that they may find themselves marooned all night, they decide to walk to the next station.

On the way, they come across an unlocked house with dinner laid, kettle boiled and a fire on, but no one seemingly at home. “Trapped together for Christmas, the passengers are seeking to unravel the secrets of the empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst,” the blurb states.

First published in 1937, Mystery in White has been republished as part of the British Library Crime Classics series that is rekindling interest in authors from the pre-Second World War “golden age” of crime writing. More than 155,000 copies in the series have been sold this year, but with Mystery in White accounting for 60,000 of those sales.

J Jefferson Farjeon's masterpiece republished

J Jefferson Farjeon’s masterpiece republished

Joseph Knobbs, Waterstones’ crime fiction buyer, said he thought the sales could reflect readers yearning for genuine mysteries rather than darker, modern thrillers: “Mystery in White has been our bestselling paperback this Christmas and one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.

“The Crime Classics stand out against the darker crop of contemporary crime fiction and offer something a bit different. A lot of modern stuff skews closer to thriller than mystery. It has been a treat to see mystery writers such as John Bude, Mavis Doriel Hay and J Jefferson Farjeon get their due. I think that’s a credit to the British Library, which has not only done the important work of archiving this material, but now brought it to a wider audience,” he said.

Born in London in 1885 to a family of actors and writers, Farjeon wrote more than 80 novels and plays. He died in Hove, aged 72, in 1955. The crime writer Dorothy L Sayers said he was “unsurpassed for creepy skill in mysterious adventures”. His sister, Eleanor, was a renowned children’s author.

The Notting Hill Mystery, originally published in the 1860s, was the first in the British Library series to come out in 2012, but sales have taken off this year when authors from the 1930s and 1940s were republished.

Robert Davies, from British Library Publishing, said: “For years, publishers have been concentrating on dark, violent, psychological crime novels, but we spotted a gap in the market for readers seeking escapist detective fiction with superb plots and period atmosphere.

“We’re a very small team operating in an environment that is quite tough on independent publishers, so we’re extremely proud of our sales figures: up 400 per cent in November on the previous year. Independent and international bookshops have all got behind us, but we’ve especially benefited from support from Waterstones.”

A further six Crime Classics are planned in the new year.

14 July Death of Nadine Gordimer: Guardian obituary


Further information can be found here.

18 June Tokolosh Song covers

Not exactly a news item, more an item of interest …

Salomon                                                 Salomon 2


Umuzi’s initial jacket (from their AI) …                  The final version …

14 June South Africa’s best selling e-books

13 June Should British book addicts fear Amazon?

11 June Amazon Living Wage campaigners place dummy book on site as protest

7 June Roberts Silvers interview : ‘Someone told me Martin Scorsese might be interested in making a fil about us. An he was.’

5 June The rejection letters : how publishers snubbed 11 great authors

29 May Death of Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 : Virago tribute

29 May Are those books even about trees?  Acacia trees and glowing sunsets …

28 May A Message From Benjamin Trisk to The South African Book Trade

28 May Cape Town Book Fair renamed as the South African Book Fair

27 May University students shunning books in favour of Wikipedia

27 May

Penguin to Publish Memoir by Nelson Mandela’s Most Trusted Assistant, Zelda la Grange

Zelda la Grange and Nelson Mandela

Good Morning Mr MandelaPenguin is delighted to announce that they will be publishing Zelda la Grange’s Good Morning Mr Mandela, the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life and everything she once believed in transformed by the greatest man of her time.

Good Morning Mr Mandela’s publication date is 19 June, 2014.

Press release:

On June 19 2014, Penguin will publish worldwide Good Morning, Mr Mandela, the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life and everything she once believed in transformed by the greatest man of her time.

Zelda la Grange grew up in South Africa as a white Afrikaner who supported the rules of segregation. Yet a few years after the end of apartheid she would become the trusted assistant to Nelson Mandela. Now she shares his lasting and inspiring gifts with the world.

Helen Conford, publishing director, says, “This is a book that will touch your life and make you believe that every one of us, no matter who we are or what we have done, has the power to change. It has brought tears to the eyes of everyone who has read it. It shines with honesty and love. The lessons Nelson Mandela gave her as he renewed his country offer hope to everyone.”

Helen Conford acquired world English rights from Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown. Good Morning, Mr Mandela will be published by Allen Lane. Frederik de Jager at Penguin South Africa will publish in Afrikaans as well as English. Clare Ferraro and Wendy Wolf will publish at Viking US.

A percentage of royalties from the book will be donated by the author to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Image courtesy of The Mirror

Acknowledgments :

3 April LM Radio hitting Gauten’s airwaves by the end of the year

6 November 2013 The real reason bookshops are dying

Christopher Bantick

If readers see local stores as having an important cultural role, they must ensure they stay viable.

When we moved, we had to undertake a book cull. We are all book lovers, so moving from a house that barely accommodated our books to something smaller meant we would have to rationalise.

As a culling principle we adopted Umberto Eco’s pithy assessment: “The good of a book lies in its being read.”

Going through our bookshelves was akin to tunnelling through the strata of lives lived together and beforehand. We gave upwards of 50 books to charity while others went to dealers. As there were far too many to transport in a small car, the dealers came to our house.

The conversation went along the lines that books were under pressure and the secondhand book industry, let alone antiquarian booksellers, was doing it tough.

It was during these dealer visits that I asked each one whether they thought readers had a responsibility to their local bookshop. All agreed this was the case. Moreover, they were unanimous that online providers were partly responsible for the demise of the suburban bookshop.

The imminent end of Carlton Bookshop in Swanston Street is a case in point. Already in Elgin Street, Book Affair has gone. Before that, Dover Books and Academic and General have also been a casualty of changing consumer habits.

But curiously, it is not just online sellers that have caused a shift in buying behaviour. The drying up of Carlton’s secondhand books culture can be largely sheeted home to Melbourne University.

The simple fact is that universities, and increasingly schools, have for some time produced compilations of readings. These bound books of photocopied pages are comprised of the relevant chapters and sections for particular courses. The universities and schools will argue that it is cheaper for students. It is a persuasive point. Books are by any measure expensive and textbooks especially so.

Besides the ease of students and teachers at university and school citing a particular article in a compilation of tutorial or subject readings, there is the small matter of copyright. I know that in my own case, articles I have written have been duplicated and republished in booklet form and yet I have given no permission. This is a blatant infringement of copyright and the Copyright Agency has been tardy in its surveillance of education institutions, especially schools.

The loss of the local bookshop raises a broader question. What is happening to the culture?

If readers see bookshops as having an important cultural role, then it is their responsibility to ensure that the shops stay viable. This is simply by supporting bookshops though patronage – putting money in the till.

Bookshops, and by this I mean those run by true booksellers as opposed to retailers, offer much value-adding to the literary culture. There are author signings, book events, discussion groups, book clubs, newsletters, staff who actually read the books they sell, affirmation of the reading culture and education of readers to try new and “old” books.

When I worked in London, Tim Waterstone, the owner of the Waterstone book stores employed graduates who could discuss books intelligently with readers. How grateful I was to the assistant who discussed Will Self’s The Quantity Theory of Insanity with me before I interviewed Self.

We see the same thing in the best independent bookshops here. Worth preserving are informed assistants who hand-sell a book and then ask the buyer to tell them what they think. Amazon reviews, frequently author selfies, don’t do this.

Bleak as the dealers sounded when they trawled over our books, there are glimmers of hope. When I go into Readings Carlton, a literary cultural icon if ever there was one, and see lines of books behind the counter with customer order cards in them, this says something important. This is that readers have made the investment to buy at likely a more expensive price than online but that they are committed to a bookshop’s continuance.

Melbourne is proud of its status as an internationally regarded city of literature. To that end, it sits uneasily that readers allow bookshops to close their doors for no other reason than they have failed to accept their responsibility to support them.

The internet cannot be solely blamed. It comes back to the individual reader saying bookshops matter to me and the culture broadly and that’s worth paying for.

Christopher Bantick was for eight years literary editor of the Hobart Mercury and Sunday Tasmanian and is now a senior literature teacher at a Melbourne boys’ Anglican grammar school.

Acknowledgments : The Age

Refocusing on Bookstores in 2013


Last week I questioned whether a post-bookstore world was inevitable and suggested 5 ways bookstores might be able to fight back. The future of bookselling has be   en a hot topic for a number of years now but with each fresh round of store closures the prospects for our remaining bookshops seem bleaker and bleaker. So what’s the industry buzz about bookstores in 2013? Here’s a quick round up of some of the views put forward by publishing commentators in the last week.

Even the most ardent eBook fan will admit to having a favourite bookshop. While it’s difficult to put a dollar value on it, the physical space of a bookstore (not to mention the human face of the bookseller behind the counter) has a personality and character that connects and resonates with us in a way online retail simply cannot. This is not to say that online retailers don’t provide their own meaningful channels of communication and interaction, but that there is something unique and valuable in bookshops that we collectively fear to lose. Book Riot alludes to this feeling in two separate posts; the first, by Elizabeth Bastos, celebrates the common experience of two hours in a suburban bookstore cafe, while in the second Jeff O’Neal delights in the existence of the world’s smallest bookstore, a well stocked 10ft x 10ft shed on a quiet country road 100 miles out of Toronto that sell books for $3 each on the honour system.

Shrinking shelves 2

If there is something almost nostalgic about the Book Riot posts, then Matryn Daniels brings it back to business on his Brave New World blog. He asks the very real question that many publishers are only now starting to wrestle with: How will shrinking shelf space impact publishing? He points out that, like the music industry (who lost most of their physical showroom space), “we may well see fewer but bigger hits [and] also see an overall drop in the ‘also rans’ who simply don’t get that same exposure the old model afforded.” This creates unpredictability that, when combined with the gradual erosion of price points, inevitably increases the risks of publishing any given book.


How long can bookstores survive with an inefficient business model?












It’s more bad news from Edward Nawotka too, editor of Publishing Perspectives, who points to the demographic cliff awaiting booksellers who rely on physical book sales. His survey asks the question “How long can bookstores survive as purveyors of print?”, pointing out that a new generation of readers is being brought up on digital and that they will not replenish the demand for physical books that their preceding generations still sustain. For what it’s worth, the survey result suggests that there is still some optimism out there for booksellers, with over half the votes giving booksellers at least another 10 years or more.

Mike Shatzkin can always be relied on for some detailed analysis and he lays out the existential problem facing bookshops in terms of inventory management. His article, titled Buying is a hard thing for bookstores to do effectively, and that becomes an increasingly important reality for publishers, does a great job of explaining the business model at the core of traditional bookselling and why it has always been difficult manage, especially for independents. Digital distribution is a far more efficient system, both for retailers and publishers, as it doesn’t tie up cash in unsold books or waste margin on “revenue-less costs” such as labour, packaging and freight for returns. He points out that this model worked best with large chain who could pool their sales data to make better buying decisions, but with Barnes & Noble continuing to close stores, this competitive advantage will be reduced.


Do eBook Kiosks offer a solution for booksellers – or are they just another form of competition?

It’s not all doom and gloom however with Richard Curtis reporting at Digital Book World that Virtual E-Kiosks are one giant step closer. This isn’t necessarily good news for booksellers—DVD Kiosks seem to be the final nail in the coffin for the old Video Rental stores like Blockbuster—but they (or something like them) may offer bookshops the chance to maintain all the advantages of the physical showroom while providing access to the digital distribution platform. As I argued in my own post last week, eBook bundling with physical books is something that bookstores will have to start offering. To do this, however, they are going to need both the support of publishers and a delivery system capable of tracking the bundles and E-Kiosks such as this might be a good place to start.

So what does 2013 have in store for bookshops? It looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better (if if ever does). But never doubt the ingenuity of booksellers to adapt and survive. In 2013 I’m going to be on the lookout for innovation from booksellers and reporting it here. I’ll also be sharing some of my favourite bookshops around the country and running a series of interview with booksellers to see firsthand how they are responding to the new publishing environment.

Acknowledgments : Fiction Etal

Is the post-bookstore world inevitable? 5 ways bookshops can fight back

Bookshop ClosedThe Digital Bookworld Conference took place last week in New York and as usual produced some fascinating discussion and ideas about the future of digital publishing. Front and centre this year was issue of online book discoverability and sales and the challenges publishers now face in promoting their books to readers. One of the more disturbing undercurrents of the conference, however, was the implicit acceptance of what Quarto CEO Marcus Leaver referred to as “post-bookstore book world”. While speculation about the demise of the bookshop is nothing new, the bluntness with which publishers are now openly discussing and planning for life after bookstores is particularly ominous. But is a post-bookstore world inevitable? Do bookshops offer enough value to the community of readers, publisher and authors to be worth protecting? And what can bookshops do to regain their relevance?

I am a passionate advocate for bookstores, having once run a family bookshop myself, and I’m a firm believer that their value extends far beyond the number of books sold or annual revenue. While the internet does provide convenient access to books along with comprehensive search and space for discussion, there is a crucial physical dimension to the relationships and interactions we experience in bookshops that Amazon, Google and Goodreads simply cannot ever replicate. The best bookshops are so much more than mere retail outlets; they are cultural outposts and community centres; they are temples of discovery and sanctuaries within shopping centres; they carve out their own history and become part of their customer’s lives; they are among our most cherished shared spaces and we mourn their passing for a reason.

Book Buying Habits - Bowker

Unfortunately it’s clear that, under the current industry structure and economic climate, brick and mortar bookstores are struggling to compete. The bookshop that my father and I started in the suburbs of Sydney closed its doors a few months ago, just short of its tenth Christmas, after the new owner, a dear friend of ours, realised the local market simply wasn’t strong enough to support the business anymore. Buying behaviour is changing, driven by price sensitivity, and a diverse group of local bookshops simply can’t muster the efficiencies and economy of scale to win a pricing war against an oligopoly of large online retailers. And it’s not only pricing that’s working against bookstores. Stand in a small independent bookshop these days and eavesdrop on conversations and you will hear the following exchange:

Customer (after browsing the shelf): Do you have this book by so and so?
Shopkeeper (after consulting the computer): No, I’m sorry we don’t have it in stock at the moment. But we can order it in for you …
Customer (disappointed but resigned): No that’s ok, thanks for checking.

We can all guess how the story plays out from here; the customer goes home and purchases the book online (if they purchase it at all). Today’s book buyers have been conditioned by online retail and big box stores to expect to find exactly what they’re looking for immediately. So while the carefully selected range of books in an indie bookshop was once its defining feature, shaping the store’s character and linking it to its community, the majority of their customers no longer take advantage of the curatorial expertise of their local bookseller to browse, discover and buy new books. A bookstore only has value to a buyer if the book they want is in stock now—immediacy not discoverability.

At least, that’s been the prevailing wisdom in book marketing circles over the past few years and as Marcus Leaver’s comments at the DBW conference show, publishers are moving further and further away from their once close partnership with booksellers. Five years ago all the major publishers were still paying lip service to their commitment to physical bookstores. However, the taboo that once stopped publisher selling direct to customers has now been well and truly broken and publishers are redeploying resources away from bookshops and into digital promotion. With online retail continuing to account for a larger and larger proportion of book sales the assumption has been that readers must be discovering more books online as well, and therefore that more marketing dollars should be spent in the digital space.

Appealing to physical and digital

However, as separate presentations by Codex and Bowker  demonstrated, book discovery in online retailers such as Amazon has stalled over the last few years. Book discovery in brick and mortar stores has certainly decreased, down to around 20% (as might be expected with the loss of so many stores following the Borders collapse) but in-store displays are still introducing more reader to new books than online retailers, bloggers and communities like Goodreads. What this shows is that bookshops still do have great value for readers and publishers alike as a way to promote and discover new books. Unfortunately, as long as readers continue to discover books in store then purchase them online—a process known as Show Rooming—then the number bookshops will continue to fall dramatically.

In his presentation on discoverability at the DBW Conference, Peter Hildick-Smith, founder and CEO of Codex Group, noted that “in the past, we [publishers] got a free ride from our retailers”, referring to the huge amount in-store display space that was taken for granted by publishers. To be fair, publishers have always spent a great deal of time and effort competing for precious space in bookshops, but considering the challenges and expense of online marketing, publishers had a pretty good deal going with bookshops, in hindsight. Hildick-Smith went on to argue that “physical retail works if you protect it” and argued that “publishers are not doing enough to help bookstores.”

Where Books are Sold Bowker

While I agree with Hildick-Smith that it is in publishers’ best interests to do more to protect bookshops, the reality is that booksellers cannot wait for anyone else to come to their rescue. Publishers will put their marketing resources where they believe it will have the biggest impact and the long term trend is unmistakably towards online. You can see the attraction for publishers to the efficiencies of online retail, with enhanced metadata feeds that ensure entire lists of books are displayed on virtual shelves around the world without the costs of sales reps and merchandisers or having to ship physical copies into thousands of stores with a 25% return rate.

Bookshops are not only fighting a battle for relevance with customers, they are fighting for relevance with publishers too. Publishers would love to see bookshops remain profitable and regain the ground they’ve lost in recent years to store closure and digital migration but the initiative and ideas are going to have to come from booksellers themselves. And what better place to start looking for ideas than from the online competition themselves?

Here’s my list of five online retail concepts that could be adapted to help brick and mortar bookshops fight back:

  1: Use Bundled eBooks to fulfill an order immediately even when the physical book is not in stock

ebook and print bookThere are a number of white label eBook services now available for booksellers, including in Australia Read Cloud and They are very soon to be joined by The Copia, which promises an even greater range of titles. Having eBooks available to sell helps solve the problem of not having a physical copy in stock. A number of Australian bookstores have already begun to use such services but results so far have been very modest due to lack of awareness, pricing and a lack of ability to Bundle eBooks and physical books effectively.

Booksellers need to option to sell both the eBook and Print book together at the print book price. Imagine the conversation between the customer and the bookseller above if the bookshop was able to sell bundled eBooks. Rather than simply offering to order in the physical book, the bookseller could provide an eBook version, emailed immediately to the customer and then order in the physical book to be picked up or delivered at a later date. This would of course require cooperation from the publishers to create a system to provide eBook bundles at a discounted price and only concerted pressure from booksellers is going to encourage this.

2: Bookshop Subscription Services

Book subscription services, like Oyster, are beginning to appear online, mimicking music sites such as Spotify. The concept behind them is simple: users pay a monthly fee for the privilege of downloading all the eBooks they can read. Obviously this concept needs to be modified to work in a physical bookstore, but the general idea of providing an extra special deal for monthly subscribers is a powerful one. In fact, mail order reading clubs already work in a similar way. For example, a $50 subscriber may be able to pre-order up to four new releases each month from a range of 20-30 titles hand-picked by the bookseller. Another model might allow customers to select their own books, within certain limitations. The idea is to turn the loyalty system around into a user pays first model that benefits both the bookseller and the customer.

3: Reward customer reviews and use them everywhere

Book review shelf talkersOne of Amazon’s greatest strengths is its review scheme, which provides tangible rewards for customers who give feedback on the products they buy. This fosters customer loyalty, but more importantly it provides Amazon with a relatively cheap supply one of the most precious commodities in the digital economy: Content. By offering rewards to your customers to review the books they buy, you not only encourage them to come back in your store but you then get great original content that can be used in-store, on your website or for social media campaigns. It also develops a sense of community, with customers able to share their thoughts and recommendations with their friends and neighbours.

4: Don’t just give self-published authors a break – create an “Independent Author Platform”

One of the smartest moves Amazon ever made was opening the door wide to self-published authors and making it easy for them to sell and promote their books on their website. Self-published authors are relentless promoters, driving customers and traffic to Amazon in huge numbers. Independent bookshops have generally been generous to self-published authors, stocking their books for a few months and perhaps opening their doors to a launch party with very little hope of sales in return. But self-publishing is growing and taken on a whole new level of respectability. While there are still plenty of unprofessional authors out there peddling their unsellable gibberish, many experienced authors and talented writers are choosing to self-publish. These authors need distribution options in Australia and there is a great opportunity for booksellers to provide them with a structured programme to promote, display and sell their book in-store.

5: Be aggressive about sourcing new customers

If there’s one thing the big online bookstores do well it’s promote themselves aggressively. The Australian online store, Booktopia, began largely as an exercise in SEO and SEM, quickly dominating the major key words on Australian search engines and driving readers to their rapidly growing site. Book Depository took advantage of international postal union agreements, favourable exchange rates and several tax loopholes to provide cut price books and free shipping in their bid to dominate the Australian market.

Many booksellers I have known are too passive or simply overwhelmed when it comes to marketing and promoting their business, especially beyond their immediate community. The days of letting customers find their own way into your door are long gone however and the traditional seasonal catalogue, ads in local newspapers and an irregular email newsletter simply won’t cut it. To survive bookshops need to be a highly visible, talked about and valued destination. Booksellers need to therefore get out of their own stores and be seen, start the conversations and tell everyone what’s so special about their shop. There are any number of ways you can do this—engage in local communities, start a writer’s festival, run competitions, drive social media campaigns—as long as you are loud and persistent.

Acknowledgments : Fiction Etal

26 May The 10 American writers that English children should study

23 May Water is Life : The Drinkable Book

12 May Classic question : when does a novel gain this status?


25 April Pelican books take flight again

24 April Publication of Complete NIV audio Bible

Ever since he became a Christian at the age of forty, it has been Poirot actor David Suchet’s dream to make an audio recording of the whole Bible. In between filming the final episodes of Poirot, David Suchet spent over 200 hours in the recording studio to create the very first full-length audio version of the NIV Bible spoken by a single British actor.

This 80-hour recording comes on six MP3 CDs. It can be used on any device that displays the MP3 symbol. You can transfer the audio files for your personal use onto your computer, smartphone, MP3 player and other compatible devices. It is also available separately as an audio digital download. Ebooks of each section of the Bible – enhanced with Suchet’s audio narration – are also available.  READ MORE

23 April 10 books to get men reading

20 April RIP for OED as world’s finest dictionary goes out of print

19 April Pelican relaunch

Pelican – the non-fiction imprint of Penguin Books – will be relaunched on 1 May.  Discontinued in 1984, the paperbacks return with the same ‘gentle blue of the original 1937 editions’.  Keenly anticipated as the books are, Sarah Broadhurst in The Bookseller , comments ‘ … I do not feel they are identical to the ethos of the original … It will be interesting to see how the list develops.’ The Bookseller 31 January 2014, p38

Bernard Shaw’s The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Facism (2 vols) was the first Pelican title.

The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism & Fascism in two volumes by George Bernard Shaw

17 April Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate writer, dies aged 87

11 April Sue Townsend, creator of hapless and much-loved Adrian Mole, dies aged 68

29 March Samuel Beckett story to be published 80 years after it was rejected

26 March Kwela author picked up by renowned agent


Casey B. Dolan whose debut novel When the Bough Breaks will be released in April this year, has been picked up by internationally renowned literary agent Oli Munson. Oli also represents the successful South African authors Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls), Sarah Lotz (The Three) and Paige Nick (Girl Walks Into a Bar).

Oli says that “the international market is crying out for quality, issue based women’s fiction, so I’m absolutely delighted to be sending When the Bough Breaks out into the wider world”.

Paige Nick agrees: “Casey B. Dolan might just be the South African Jodi Picoult,” she says.

Casey’s autobiography An Appetite for Peas was released in 2013.

25 March Hodder & Stoughton to buy Quercus

24 March Stunning libraries from around the world – in pictures

18 March Closure of Chapter by Chapter Bookshop, Boskruin, Randburg, South Africa


Chapter by Chapter in Boskruin Village closes its doors on 31 March after nearly 12 years in business.

9 March The Jews who fought for Hitler : ‘We did not help the Germans.  We had a common enemy.’

See here for Bo Lindgaard’s ‘The Untold Story of How Denmark’s Jews Escaped the Nazis’.

6 March 2014 World Book Day

See too ‘UK Bestsellers’ for 8 March

2 March  From bestseller to bust : is this the end of an author’s life

27 February 2014 Why don’t young men read novels any more?

24 February 2014  The Alphabet Library: an A to Z of forgotten books

21 February 2014 Britain now has fewer than 1,000 independent bookshops for the first time since records began

21 February 2014 Independent bookshops in decline as buying habits change

21 February 2014 From the ILAB website :


 18 February 2014  Haruki Murakami’s new novel due in English this summer

14 February 2014 Learn which types of book you should read

13 February 2014 Outcry as Penguin India pulps ‘alternative’ history of Hindus

11 February 2014  Children are reading again

8 February 2014 How not to read

7 February 2014  UK bestselling books of 2013 (print and ebooks combined)

1  Gone Girl | Gillian Flynn | Orion

2  Inferno | Dan Brown | Transworld

3  My Autobiography | Alex Ferguson | Hodder & Stoughton

4 The Hundred-Year-Old Man … | Jonas Jonasson | Hesperus

5 The Fast Diet | Mosley & Spencer | Short Books

6  Life of Pi | Yann Martel | Canongate

7  The Casual Vacancy | JK Rowling | Little, Brown

8  Entwined With You | Sylvia Day | Penguin

9 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry | Rachel Joyce | Transworld

10  Guinness World Records 2014 | – | Guinness World Records

Acknowledgments to The Bookseller

1 February 2014 Harry Quebert : The French thriller that has taken the world by storm

28 January 2014 ‘Wearable’ book allows reader to feel emotions of characters

26 January 2014 In Britain and especially abroad, ebooks are booming

1 January 2014 Reading becomes a minority activity, warns Ruth Rendell

1 January 2014 2014 in books : turn over a new leaf


29 December 2013 Ebooks – dig deeper for hidden treasures

13 December 2013 : Penguin Random House acquires full ownership of … Random House Struik

1 December 2013 : Closure of Juta Bookshops division

27 November 2013 : Radio 702 – Jenny Crws Williams talks to Benjamin Trisk of Exclusive Books. 

(Look for : 20131127BESTBOOKSHOW.mp3 (VLC media file (.mp3))

23 November 2013 Writers and critics on the best books of 2013

22 November 2013 The Observer’s book of the year

15 December 2013 The 10 best … books from the generation of the struggle (other than Long Walk to Freedom)

9 November 2013 PD James 10 tips for writing novels

7 November 2013 50 best cult books

6 November 2013 Agatha Christie wins vote to steal crown as crime writers’ favourite crime writer

22 September 2013 Exclusive Books sold for R435m

20 September 2013 TMG offloads Van Schaik, Exclusive Books

30 July 2013 The perfect storm : Why bookshops are in the frontline in the battle for the High Street

3 April 2013  Idasa is gone but the need for its work remains

28 March 2013 Zebra Press to publish definitive account of the Oscar Pistorius murder case




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