Harry Potter books turn out to be a wizard investment

A bookseller has been convicted of stealing a first edition of a JK Rowling novel. It is a reminder of the inflated prices her works can command

News that Italian bookseller Rudolf Schönegger has been found guilty of stealing a signed first edition of a Harry Potter book will have sent fans of the boy wizard looking through their copies faster than you can say “he who must not be named”.

Not to read, but because the 55-year old’s conviction is a sharp reminder of the inflated prices paid for first editions of the epic children’s series, especially if JK Rowling has scrawled her name in them. Even signed first editions of her adult debut, The Casual Vacancy, head towards four figures.

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Philip Kerr obituary

Writer best known for his crime fiction books featuring the Berlin private detective Bernie Gunther

Berlin held a great fascination for the author Philip Kerr, who has died aged 62 of cancer: it was a place where the impact of evil upon essentially decent people was felt especially keenly. His morally ambiguous fictional private detective Bernie Gunther first appeared in March Violets (1989), set in the city in 1936, after the Nazis’ rise to power, and the first of his Berlin Noir trilogy. Each book, he later admitted, was aimed at painting Gunther into a corner “so that he can’t cross the floor without getting paint on his shoes”.

A German Requiem (1991) ended the trilogy by taking events to the end of the second world war and Vienna, but the lure of his protagonist and Berlin, which proves as much a character as its citizens, remained strong. ...

The books world is sexist – and a one day promotion isn’t enough to fix it

For International Women’s Day, Waterstones has given over its website front page to female authors. This is welcome, but it’s far from enough

Women are used to living off scraps that fall from the table. Whether we’re being patronised by politicians touting for our votes, or being told by advertisers we’re “worth” a £3 bottle of shampoo, we have learned to take any crumb of grudging appreciation. And we even have a day each year – 8 March, International Women’s Day – to feel special.

In this context, the decision by bookseller Waterstones to banish the boys and give over the entire front page of its website to “celebrate” women’s writing on International Women’s Day seems par for the course. But while it may be good PR, it isn’t enough in a market that would collapse without women, whether readers, writers or publishers.

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Parliament votes for How to Stop Brexit as book of the year

Nick Clegg’s polemical call to arms against leaving the EU takes top prize in poll of MPs and lords to win top award at 2017’s Parliamentary book awards

Brexit may have divided the UK, but Nick Clegg’s call to arms against the break with Europe has united MPs and members of the House of Lords, who have voted it the best non-fiction book by a parliamentarian this year. It emerged the winner at the 2017 Parliamentary book awards from a shortlist dominated by titles addressing populist discontent and protest.

In How to Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again), the former deputy prime minister debunks myths about Europe, which he claims were used to persuade the public to support the UK’s departure from the EU. Describing the vote as a “historic mistake”, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats explains how Brexit could be reversed.

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Doctor’s diary This is Going to Hurt wins public vote for book of the year

Adam Kay’s firsthand account, first published as a rebuke to the health secretary during the dispute with junior doctors, takes readers’ choice award

A doctor’s irreverent and heartbreaking diaries, published as a rebuke to the government in the pay dispute with junior doctors, has been voted the nation’s favourite book of the year. Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt came top in a poll of readers to win the Books Are My Bag readers’ choice award.

Voted for by 40,000 members of the public through bookshops, Kay’s book saw off competition from 2017 Man Booker prize winner George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo and Philip Pullman’s hotly anticipated La Belle Sauvage.

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Sri Lankan civil war novel takes DSC prize for south Asian literature

Anuk Arudpragasam’s The Story of a Brief Marriage takes the $25,000 award with a novel ‘exploring the tragic heart of war with quiet eloquence’

A novel that condenses the horrors of the 26-year Sri Lankan civil war into an intimate love story has won the 2017 DSC prize for south Asian literature, the region’s richest book prize. Anuk Arudpragasam’s The Story of a Brief Marriage beat four shortlisted rivals to win the $25,000 (£19,000) award presented at the Dhaka literary festival in Bangladesh.

Announcing the winner, Ritu Menon, chair of judges, praised the novel for its “intensity and rich detail … exploring the tragic heart of war with such quiet eloquence”. She added: “It is also a testament to the redemptive power of love, and to the human spirit’s capacity for hope.”

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Small indie publishers report booming sales

In a sector that has struggled elsewhere, figures for 60 of the smallest players in the UK industry show sales up 79% in the last year

Independent publishers have unleashed a boom in sales, according to new research. Latest figures from Inpress, which works with 60 of the smallest players in the books industry, revealed sales up 79% in the last year – a performance hailed by Inpress managing director Sophie O’Neill as phenomenal.

“It’s down to a mix of really good books such as Audre Lorde’s Your Silence Will Not Protect You from the feminist Silver Press,” O’Neill said, “and Dead Ink’s crowdfunded book Know Your Place – which is like The Good Immigrant except about class – and great attention to detail.”

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Up lit: the new book trend with kindness at its core

From Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time to Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, the empathetic literature inspired by a year of tragedies, political upheaval and economic uncertainty A bruising year dominated by political and economic uncertainty, terrorism and tragedy has, publishers say, kickstarted a new trend they have have branded “up lit”. In contrast with the “grip lit” thrillers that were the market leaders until recently, more and more bookbuyers are seeking out novels and nonfiction that is optimistic rather than feelgood. And an appetite for everyday heroism, human connection and love – rather than romance – is expected to be keeping booksellers and publishers uplifted, too. Led by Matt Haig’s How to Stop Time and Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, the emphasis in this summer’s launches has been on stories of empathy. Other high-profile publications in July included Rowan Coleman’s The Summer of Impossible ...

Young adult literature convention under fire over disabled facilities

Authors speak out after reports of problems because a specialised toilet had been given over to celebrity guests at associated Comicon festival Authors who appeared at the YALC young adult literature convention over the weekend, including Alex Wheatle and Joanne Harris, have spoken out about what they feel was a lack of disabled facilities at the event. Their complaints centre on the sequestering of one of two disabled toilets for the use of celebrities attending the associated Comicon festival on a lower floor. Organisers of the event, tied to the London Film and Comic Convention (Comicon) at Olympia in London, were accused by one visitor of “ablism” after wheelchair users ended up squeezing into busy lifts and negotiating crowds to reach accessible toilets on the Comicon floor. Continue reading...

Young adult literature convention under fire over disabled facilities

Authors speak out after reports of problems because a specialised toilet had been given over to celebrity guests at associated Comicon festival Authors who appeared at the YALC young adult literature convention over the weekend, including Alex Wheatle and Joanne Harris, have spoken out about what they feel was a lack of disabled facilities at the event. Their complaints centre on the sequestering of one of two disabled toilets for the use of celebrities attending the associated Comicon festival on a lower floor. Organisers of the event, tied to the London Film and Comic Convention (Comicon) at Olympia in London, were accused by one visitor of “ablism” after wheelchair users ended up squeezing into busy lifts and negotiating crowds to reach accessible toilets on the Comicon floor. Continue reading...

Young adult literature convention under fire over disabled facilities

Authors speak out after reports of problems because a specialised toilet had been given over to celebrity guests at associated Comicon festival Authors who appeared at the YALC young adult literature convention over the weekend, including Alex Wheatle and Joanne Harris, have spoken out about what they feel was a lack of disabled facilities at the event. Their complaints centre on the sequestering of one of two disabled toilets for the use of celebrities attending the associated Comicon festival on a lower floor. Organisers of the event, tied to the London Film and Comic Convention (Comicon) at Olympia in London, were accused by one visitor of “ablism” after wheelchair users ended up squeezing into busy lifts and negotiating crowds to reach accessible toilets on the Comicon floor. Continue reading...

‘A genuinely disturbing place’: England’s spookiest sites inspire new ghost stories from top writers

The likes of Jeanette Winterson, Mark Haddon and Sarah Perry have penned dark tales of ancient houses and hauntings, spanning the country from Audley End in Essex to York Cold War Bunker Beneath Dover Castle, an imposing Gothic bulk atop the chalk hills of the English port, is a labyrinth of tunnels. Dug in the 18th century for troops garrisoned there as a first line of defence against revolutionary France, the tunnels have recently developed a ghostly reputation. Once a month, English Heritage, which manages the site, evacuates the tunnels for staff to perform sweeps, searching for any of the mysterious figures that tourists have reported seeing. In one report, a heavy door slammed shut and a stretcher trolley, part of a wartime exhibit, raced along the corridor as if pushed by a violent force. In another, a stranger in wartime fatigues approached a small boy asking for his help ...

Milo Yiannopoulos labels low sales figures of Dangerous memoir ‘fake news’

Rightwinger said his book – self-published after he was dropped by Simon & Schuster – had sold 100,000 copies, but data shows fewer than 20,000 sales Rightwing controversialist Milo Yiannopoulos has branded reported low sales of his new book “fake news” after official figures revealed the writer has failed to rock the book charts on either side of the Atlantic, despite his claims to the contrary. According to Nielsen Bookscan, which monitors book sales through almost all outlets, including Amazon, the former Breitbart technology editor has sold only 18,268 copies of his book in the US and 152 in the UK since its launch on 4 July. Continue reading...

‘Dash it all’: unseen Agatha Christie letters reveal author’s temper

Correspondence with Billy Collins, going on display this month, reveal a partnership that was extremely lucrative, if sometimes scratchy Despite her global fame and being feted in the tabloids as “the richest woman writer in the world”, Agatha Christie was no more immune from disputes with her publisher than less successful rivals, according to private correspondence revealed for the first time. The letters, which are going on show at the Harrogate crime writing festival from 20 July as part of an exhibition to mark the bicentenary of Christie’s publisher Harper Collins, reveal that like her famous creation Hercule Poirot, the author was not without vanity. Continue reading...

JK Rowling reveals she wrote unseen story on a party dress

Harry Potter author says theme for her 50th birthday party was ‘private nightmare’ – in her case a lost manuscript that she composed on the costume JK Rowling may have created the most valuable 50th birthday dress in history, with the Harry Potter writer revealing that she wrote an exclusive children’s fairytale on a party dress, worn to celebrate her half-century in 2015. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour for CNN, the bestselling author said: “The theme of my 50th birthday, which I held at Halloween, even though that’s not really my birthday, was come as your own private nightmare. And I went as a lost manuscript. And I wrote [most of it] over a dress.” Continue reading...

Lancashire plans to reopen libraries, but Shropshire considers more cuts

Lancashire county council is planning to reopen 14 of the 26 libraries it closed in 2016, while Shropshire is set to withdraw funding for eight of its branches Fourteen libraries closed by Lancashire county council as part of a controversial money-saving plan could reopen, if a draft proposal by the local authority’s new administration gets the go-ahead. The libraries were among 26 shut last year in a package of cuts worth £65m, imposed by the council’s Labour administration, which was later ousted in local elections. Before the cuts, the county was home to 73 libraries. Continue reading...

Milo Yiannopoulos sues former publisher for $10m

Rightwing provocateur seeks damages from Simon & Schuster after it dropped memoir Dangerous over contentious remarks – but imprint says suit is ‘without merit’
A $10m (£7.7m) lawsuit announced by far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has been dismissed by his former publisher as “publicity-driven and entirely without merit”. The rightwinger chose to self-publish his memoir Dangerous after being publicly dumped by Simon & Schuster in February after a video clip in which he appeared to defend sexual relationships between men and boys as young as 13. Yiannopoulos announced the legal action at a protest outside S&S’s New York head office on Friday. In the complaint, filed in the New York supreme court the same day, the former Breitbart editor claims breach of contract, saying that Dangerous, published on 4 July, would have sold more copies if it had been supported by the publishing giant, which dropped out despite paying ...

Nipples on My Knee leads shortlist for 2017’s oddest book title award

Contenders for this year’s Diagram prize also include An Ape’s View of Evolution and a must-have volume for ‘Australian coin error collectors’ Nipples on My Knee by Graham and Debra Robertson, a memoir of “25 years in the sheep business”, is the fleecy frontrunner for the the 2017 Diagram prize for oddest book title of the year. It leads a modest flock of five titles contending for the annual prize run by trade magazine the Bookseller. Without giving away the origins of the title, the Robertsons invite readers to “sit back in front of the fireplace on a cold, snowy evening, perhaps with a glass of sherry, while we relate to you our experiences”. Continue reading...

Lost Maurice Sendak picture book to be published next year

Presto and Zesto in Limboland is a homage to the Where the Wild Things Are author’s friendship with his collaborator Arthur Yorinks An unpublished picture book by Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak has been found hidden deep in his archives, five years after his death – somewhat like a little boy lost in the jungle after being sent to his room with no supper. The typewritten manuscript and illustrations, co-authored by Sendak’s longtime collaborator Arthur Yorinks, were discovered in Connecticut by Lynn Caponera, president of the Maurice Sendak Foundation. Caponera was his housekeeper, assistant and friend for many years. Continue reading...

Lost Maurice Sendak picture book to be published next year

Presto and Zesto in Limboland is a homage to the Where the Wild Things Are author’s friendship with his collaborator Arthur Yorinks An unpublished picture book by Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak has been found hidden deep in his archives, five years after his death – somewhat like a little boy lost in the jungle after being sent to his room with no supper. The typewritten manuscript and illustrations, co-authored by Sendak’s longtime collaborator Arthur Yorinks, were discovered in Connecticut by Lynn Caponera, president of the Maurice Sendak Foundation. Caponera was his housekeeper, assistant and friend for many years. Continue reading...