Skip to Content

Comment from the book world in November 2006

November 2006

'The secret pleasure'

27 November 2006

'Books transported me to a place that was filled with endless possibilities, and it was all so much better than whatever it was I was doing in real life. I loved a good story and still do, but as I got older I realised that reading was far more than that. It was the secret pleasure and intimacy of having a relationship with a writer and his characters long after I'd closed the book. Books taught me about other people, what they were feeling, how they viewed the world and how they changed from ordinary beings to extraordinary ones. Often I preferred spending time with them to doing anything else.'

Jennifer Kaufman, author of Book Lover, in the Sunday Telegraph's Stella

'Literary ambitions constantly thwarted'

20 November 2006

'Ironically though, fiction was always my first love, and I honestly believe that all the other creative things I've done in my life have come as a result of having my true literary ambitions constantly thwarted. As I was carving out a career for myself as a non-fiction writer, I wrote six novels, all of which failed to spark the interest of publishers. Only on my seventh attempt did I strike gold: Equinox is to be published in 26 languages, and I hope it will be the launch pad for my final career change; from non-fiction author to novelist.

If I sound unfair about my own non-fiction writing career, I don't mean to be, because, without a doubt, I could not have written Equinox had it not been for those 25 non-fiction titles that preceded it. Indeed, the USP for Equinox is that it is a blend of fact and fiction in which real-life historical figures share the same stage with completely fictional, modern-day characters.'

Michael White, author of Equinox, in Publishing News

The novel as big business

13 November 2006

'Never mind Hay. From Peebles to Penzance, and from St Magnus to Southwold, by way of Bakewell, Bewdley, Mere and Poole, there's hardly a town in Britain that will not be holding a literary festival this year. Like some medieval peasant migration, the book-buying public will flock this summer into tents, church halls and village halls to experience poets, biographers and above all novelists, reading aloud from their work and signing books...'

In 2006 the novelist has become a cross between a commercial traveller and an itinerant preacher. The cultural historians of the future will surely pick over the larger meaning of this festival fever, but one thing is indisputable: in just over a generation the novel has gone public in the most astounding way. In the process, the genre has sold out and become big business, the preferred medium of self-advancement and self-promotion for Blair's children, and almost unrecognisable to fiction-lovers raised on the literary names of the Forties and Fifties.'

Robert McCrum in the Observer

'The value of books'

6 November 2006

'We don't think that every major title we publish needs to have dramatic price promotion in order to sell in high volume. Of course, we understand the value of price promotion in driving sales, but we have to do it on terms that are economic. We are concerned about the messages that are being sent to consumers about the value of books if we just price promote everything at the expense of other forms of promotional activity....

'We've rarely been through a period where the variants in performance by channel have been so great. Yes, the high street is having a difficult time, but that is not to say the whole book market is having a difficult time because, as we know, Amazon continues to grow and the supermarkets are doing well. The situation is the same in the US, where both Borders and Barnes and Noble have been reporting some prettyweak numbers, and yet if you look at the AAP (Association of American PublishersThe national trade association of the American book publishing industry; AAP has more than 300 members, including most of the major commercial publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies) data the market as a whole doesn't seem to be in bad shape.'

John Makinson, Worldwide Chairman and CEO of Penguin in Publishing News