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Comment from the book world in May 2008

May 2008

Are book lovers financially astute?

26 May 2008

'The booksellers I spoke to were an interesting group. They were confident enough to have left the bunkers of their bookshops for a foray into the informative and often bewildering world of this publishing extravaganza. The fact that they were in the big smoke suggests that they are open-minded and keen to read the zeitgeist. Also, they run businesses that allow them the time to stroll the aisles of Britain's biggest book bonanza. The majority of them seem to be bucking the trend of economic negativity - and sales are increasing in a retail market that appears to be imploding, if one is to believe Fleet Street.

This is most heartening, and I think I can explain it: book lovers are financially astute. They have appropriate levels of borrowing and have kept their credit cards under control. This is fabulous news for them and us, as they can continue to buy seriously affordable entertainment (books!) for the foreseeable future. Is it so astounding that people who love the written word can control their finances? Or maybe turning the pages of the latest Amis keeps them from other, more financially frightening, activities.'

Polly Jaffe, co-owner of Jaffe & Neal bookshop in Chipping Norton, on the London Book Fair, in the Bookseller

250 words a day

19 May 2008

'I try to write so much a day. I set myself a small target, ie to write for an hour or perhaps 250 words and not to do anything else. You find once you start that you've written for hours or 1,000 words. I have to con myself into that really.'

Is historical fiction escapism? 'For me, no, inasmuch as all fiction is escapism really. I've always loved (historical fiction) since I was very small. It was a way of discovering things that I didn't know about, a way of entering into people's lives that were unknowable in any other way.'

Celia Rees, author of Sovay in the Bookseller

'A condescension chromosome'

12 May 2008

'When it comes to women's fiction, critics have a condescension chromosome. The demeaning label chick-lit says it all. While male authors such as Nick Hornby, who also write contemporary comic fiction satirising the sex war are hailed as the new Chekhov, you will be dismissed as having undergone some kind of DIY lobotomy.'

Kathy Lette in The Times

'A half-full view'

5 May 2008

'All prizes have eligibility criteria: nationality, or ethnic origin, or language, or country of residence, or subject matter, or religion. For those who see the world in negative terms, prizes celebrate the achievements of one group at the expense of another. But for those who have a half-full view, celebrating achievement is a good thing. Since 1996, Orange has done just that - celebrated international women's achievements for the benefit of male and female readers everywhere. This is what matters - reading, and promoting writing. In much the same way, every single weekend millions of men and women (myself included) celebrate men's achievements - except on the pitch not the page. And quite right too. It's not unfair. It's just football.'

Kate Mosse, co-founder of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, in the Bookseller