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Comment from the book world in January 2008

January 2008

TV tie-ins and children's reading

28 January 2008

'I have published both "literary" books and licensed programmes, and have also managed some of the world's most famous classic book '"brands". Is one better than the other? It's like trying to decide between soup and pudding when both have a place on the menu.

Children need a balanced diet, and above all they need books that they will enjoy, which match their interests and which encourage them to read. For long-term health they need plenty of the rich, nutritious soup of a great novel or picture book. They also need the comfort, stimulation and energy source of pudding - books that reflect what they meet every day. Both must be prepared with integrity and the best ingredients...

For children who have difficulty with reading or just aren't interested, books based on familiar programming can be the vital hook that turns them into readers. As publishers, retailers and reviewers we owe our children, exposed to an unprecedented barrage from all kinds of media, a very catholic offering which admits the worth of good books of all kinds. We are all making readers.'

Sally Floyer, MD of Penguin UK's brands and licensing division, in the Bookseller.

'If nothing new ever happens'

21 January 2008

'For the book writer, the creative writer, the knowledge of a market of billions out there waiting to be tapped, is fascinating and baffling. The sorry fact is that the conventional publishing industry is currently running round like a headless chicken, giving readers what they think it wants, and getting it wrong, and losing money hand over fist. If you give people what they want, nothing new can ever happen. If it worked in the past, think the bottom line thinkers - ie made a profit - it will work for ever and ever. So, just do it again. But if nothing new ever happens, the audience drifts away.'

Fay Weldon on Writing for the New Media in Writing and Education

'The Storyteller, the dream-maker'

14 January 2008

'The storyteller is deep inside every one of us. The storymaker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is ravaged by war, by the horrors of that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise. But the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us - for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed,it is the storyteller, the dream-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.'

Doris Lessing, in her Nobel Laureate's address

On having a famous father

7 January 2008

'At the beginning there were people who said "She only got this deal because she's his daughter." There were people at home who refused to buy the book because they thought it had only been published for that reason - so I think it balanced out. People didn't know how long I'd be around. But nobody's debating with me about it any more.

I've never felt I've written something and then deleted it because my dad's who he is, but then I'm not that kind of a writer. I'm fairly balanced about things - nothing is too severe or too extreme - and I think that's just the person I am as a result of growing up in a home where your parents always have to see both sides of everything. You have to be like that when you negotiate. My father's always looking at the two sides.'

Cecelia Ahern, daughter of the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, in the Bookseller

Four wars

1 January 2008

'The publishing industry today is in a position rarely, if ever, experienced before: we suddenly have the upper hand. To wit, there are four wars raging today that are changing the nature of publishing and putting us in the driver's seat: discoverability, print on demand (PoD), repositories, and e-ink readers.

All of these wars revolve around the notion of long tail, the theory that the optimized search capabilities provide almost endless access to otherwise obscure products and that the demand for these obscure products exceeds demand for bestsellers. Long tail is in effect the Holy Grail of an industry which pushes out more content every year, backlist growing exponentially with each new season of frontlist. Longtail in book publishing is about selling books we no longer actively promote.'

Evan Schnittman, Vice-President of Business Development and Rights for the Academic and USA divisions of OUP in Publishing News