French bookshops revolt after prize selects novel self-published on Amazon

Booksellers refuse to ‘jump into the wolf’s mouth’ and order Marco Koskas’ Renaudot-longlisted novel online

French booksellers have called on literary judges to “defend books and not those who threaten them”, after one of France’s most prestigious prizes selected a self-published novel available only via Amazon.

Among the 17 titles in contention for this year’s Prix Renaudot is Marco Koskas’ Bande de Français, which was self-published on Amazon’s CreateSpace platform. According to the Syndicat de la librairie française, which represents French booksellers, the jury have put them in an impossible position.

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A book by any other name: why does the US change so many titles?

Stuart Turton’s new novel The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has been supersized to Seven and a Half – and not because Americans die more often

There was widespread reaction when the Philosopher’s Stone in the title of the first Harry Potter book became the Sorcerer’s Stone after its US publisher, Scholastic, decided that children might confuse wizards for Plato.

But hordes of books have had their titles changed in America. Disproportionately, they are mysteries. Twenty-five Agatha Christie titles have been “localised” but unfortunately, their new names do not add to their allure. Instead, they merely baffle Brits who, when buying Murder in Three Acts or Poirot Loses a Client on vacation, discover they are Three Act Tragedy or Dumb Witness in disguise.

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Bob Woodward’s Fear sells more than 750,000 in first day

The veteran Washington reporter’s unflattering portrait of Trump White House gets ninth printing to meet extraordinary demand from US and beyond

Donald Trump may have dismissed Bob Woodward’s Fear as “a joke”, but readers are showing themselves to be keen to share in the comedy, with more than 750,000 copies of the White House exposé sold in American in just one day, according to its publisher.

Fear, which “depicts a White House awash in dysfunction, where the Lord of the Flies is the closest thing to an owner’s manual”, according to a review in the Guardian, was published on 11 September. Simon & Schuster said yesterday that it sold a combined total of more than 750,000 copies of the book on its first day on sale in the US. The publisher has now ordered a ninth printing, bringing the total number of hardbacks in print in America to more ...

Breaking News by Alan Rusbridger review – the remaking of journalism and why it matters now

The former Guardian editor details a revolution in journalism. Can it still perform its vital, truth-telling role?

Truth is a small word liable to sanctimonious overuse and philosophical dispute, but in its humblest sense of accurate and verifiable information we like to think we know it when we see it. In Alan Rusbridger’s view, journalism should be among its leading providers: societies depend on good journalism to distinguish fact from fiction, to form a realistic view of their problems and futures. And here, he writes, a little hopefully, Donald Trump may have done journalism a favour. In his cavalier disregard for truth, Trump has reminded the rest of us why we need it. That’s the good news. The bad news is that digital technology and the web have created “the most prodigious capability for spreading lies the world has ever seen”, while the economics that support truth-seeking journalism have never ...

Crazy Rich Asians author wanted for dodging Singapore military service

Kevin Kwan, whose book has been adapted into a hit film, allegedly failed to complete mandatory service in the 1990s, says the Singapore defence ministry

Kevin Kwan, the author of the novel Crazy Rich Asians, which inspired the film of the same title, is wanted in his home country of Singapore for allegedly defaulting on his military service, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.

Kwan, 44, who also worked as an executive producer of the film, did not attend the Singapore premiere this week.

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John Calder obituary

Publisher and bookseller who championed some of the great avant-garde writers of the 20th century

In the 1950s the publisher and bookseller John Calder, who has died aged 91, introduced a British readership to some of the best writing from Europe, including the work of Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco and Marguerite Duras. In partnership with Marion Boyars in the company Calder & Boyars in the 60s and 70s, he published a series of vibrant and daring works from around the world. These included, in 1966, the US writer Hubert Selby Jr’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, for which the company was prosecuted for obscenity.

Anybody who had the privilege of knowing Calder during his long and eventful life has a story about him. They may have met him as he travelled across the US in the 80s, hand-selling the books he published, heard him tell anecdotes about Ionesco ...

Woman’s Weekly’s ‘exploitative’ contracts anger authors

As well as slashing fees for short stories, the magazine has demanded fiction writers waive all rights to their work

The new issue of the Woman’s Weekly fiction special is out now, promising its readers short stories from writers who “never fail to come up with new twists and turns and unexpected plots”. But, in a twist that may have surprised the editors, authors are up in arms over a new contract that demands all rights for any story it publishes.

Woman’s Weekly has been a British newsstand favourite for a century, with its blend of cakes and crochet, fiction and fashion. It is now part of media giant TI Media, which produces magazines including Homes & Gardens and Marie Claire.

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Last Exit to Brooklyn is ruled not obscene by court of appeal – archive, 1 August 1968

1 August 1968: Publishers of Hubert Selby Jr’s novel have their conviction of publishing an obscene article quashed by three judges

Publishers yesterday gave two almost hearty cheers for the success of Calder and Boyars’ appeal in the Last Exit to Brooklyn case.

Maybe it was not a new dawn for controversial literature because the quashing of the obscenity conviction was on legal points only. But at least it implied, to those who could read between the lines, that the courts were not to be used to rubber-stamp the views of the Mr and Mrs Grundys.

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How the ‘brainy’ book became a publishing phenomenon

These uncertain times have seen a renewed interest in serious nonfiction, as people try to make sense of an unstable world

• The best ‘brainy’ books of the last 10 years

This is a story about a book that just kept selling, catching publishers, booksellers and even its author off guard. In seeking to understand the reasons for the book’s unusually protracted shelf life, we uncover important messages about our moment in history, about the still-vital place of reading in our culture, and about the changing face of publishing.

The book is Sapiens, by the Israeli academic Yuval Noah Harari, published in the UK in September 2014. It’s a recondite work of evolutionary history charting the development of humankind through a scholarly examination of our ability to cooperate as a species. Sapiens sold well on publication, particularly when it came out in paperback in the summer of 2015. What’s remarkable ...

‘Dire statistics’ show YA fiction is becoming less diverse, warns report

Study finds that fewer books for young adults by black and minority ethnic authors have been published in the UK since 2010, despite rise in diversity initiatives

Despite a raft of diversity initiatives, the percentage of young adult books written by black and minority ethnic (BME) authors has declined steadily since 2010, according to a new study warning that the UK’s “outdated” publishing culture must take rapid action to address a systemic problem in its ranks.

The research is “evidence of what many people already suspected: people of colour are terribly under-represented in books and bookish jobs”, according to its author Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold at University College London. It follows hot on the heels of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s report into character diversity in children’s books, which showed only 1% of books published in the UK last year had a BME main protagonist.

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Haruki Murakami’s new novel declared ‘indecent’ by Hong Kong censors

Ruling says Killing Commendatore must be wrapped with warnings of unsuitability and restricted to an adult readership

The latest novel from Haruki Murakami, Japan’s most celebrated literary export, has fallen foul of censors in Hong Kong, where it was ruled to be indecent by a tribunal and removed from display at a book fair.

Hong Kong’s Obscene Articles Tribunal announced last week that the Chinese-language edition of Murakami’s Kishidancho Goroshi, or Killing Commendatore, had been temporarily classified as “Class II – indecent materials”, according to the South China Morning Post. This means that it can only be sold in bookshops with its cover wrapped with a notice warning about its contents, with access restricted to those over the age of 18. The ruling has also seen the novel pulled from booths at the Hong Kong book fair, where a spokesperson said the novel had been removed proactively after last week’s ...

How do I get my book published? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Katy Guest

Every day millions of people ask Google life’s most difficult questions. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

Before trying to answer this very important question, it is useful to ask yourself another one: “Why should I get my book published?” What do you hope to achieve by releasing your work into the world, and what would success look like to you? Because knowing what you want from being published will help you find the best way to achieve it.

Are you hoping to see your book on the shelves at Waterstones? To entertain readers on their holidays? Do you have an important story that needs to be told? Or would being a published author help in your day-to-day career? Do you want to achieve fame and fortune and retire on the proceeds of your blockbuster novel? If so, stop! The latest reports show that the average author ...

Book sales skyrocket but authors report shrinking incomes

Calls for writers to reap rewards as British publishers enjoy record-breaking year

A record-breaking year for publishers has been greeted with renewed demands for authors to receive a bigger slice of income and investment, as sales of books passed the £5.7bn mark in 2017.

Book sales were up 5% on the previous year, according to annual figures released by the Publishers Association. In sharp contrast, a recent survey of authors’ earnings revealed a 42% drop over the last decade, with the median annual income now below £10,500.

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CockyBot flies to the rescue in literature’s trademark wars

Recent bids to claim ownership of terms used in books and their titles include ‘dragon slayer’, ‘cocky’ and even ‘big’. A canny bot is keeping watch

Despite the fact that dragon slayers have thronged the pages of fantasy novels ever since Smaug was brought down in The Hobbit in 1937, an application to trademark the term “dragon slayer” was filed in the US just a few weeks ago.

The trademark was filed in connection with a series of books by Michael-Scott Earle. The application cites an Earle novel featuring a gold-tattooed Chicago firefighter starring in a “pulp fantasy harem adventure”. This is something we’re obviously keen to see – but as Cory Doctorow points out at Boingboing, this is an audacious attempt to trademark a generic phrase widely used in fantasy (more than 600 novels, by Doctorow’s count). Earle’s attempt comes hot on the heels of Faleena Hopkins’s much-disputed ...

Publishers are paying writers a pittance, say bestselling authors

Philip Pullman, Antony Beevor and Sally Gardner call for fairer share of profits, as survey shows full-time writers earn below minimum wage

Philip Pullman, Antony Beevor and Sally Gardner are calling on publishers to increase payments to authors, after a survey of more than 5,500 professional writers revealed a dramatic fall in the number able to make a living from their work.

The latest report by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), due to be published on Thursday, shows median earnings for professional writers have plummeted by 42% since 2005 to under £10,500 a year, well below the minimum annual income of £17,900 recommended by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Women fare worse, according to the survey, earning 75% of what their male counterparts do, a 3% drop since 2013 when the last ALCS survey was conducted.

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How to be a black woman and succeed: two friends who have written the manual

Elizabeth Uviebinené and Yomi Adegoke have turned a dream into a hot publishing property – a self-help guide for black women

In March 2015, Elizabeth Uviebinené had a brainwave that a less determined 22-year-old might have dismissed as a water-cooler pipe dream. It was ignited by a single chapter in a book by Sheryl Sandberg . “I’d always devoured self-help books growing up – books like Lean In,” says Uviebinené. “These were written by white women and were great but they didn’t have the added complexities of how to be a black woman and get ahead. It was like we didn’t exist in these books. Sandberg had one chapter in her follow-up book [Option B] about a black woman’s experience and it sparked something in me. A need for a sisterhood. I wanted to bottle it.”

The bottling, she thought, would come in the form of a ...

Inside stories: Turkey’s grim tradition of publishing behind bars

Former HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş has published a short story collection, written while in jail awaiting trial – just the latest example of a writer clashing with Turkey’s government

At the Istanbul book fair last November, there was a signing for the politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s short story collection Seher (Dawn). Demirtaş, former leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has been in pre-trial detention since November 2016, and 20 authors stepped in for him as an act of solidarity. It lasted more than six hours as hundreds queued to get their copies signed.

Demirtaş wrote the stories in prison and the book is his first work of fiction, selling more than 200,000 copies. It is being published in 11 territories, including the UK next spring. Some of the stories are political satire – one is addressed to the prison letter-reading committee that vets what he writes ...

‘Wilful misreading’: Lionel Shriver replies to critics in diversity row

Novelist responds to the reaction against her comments on diversity in publishing, accusing her critics of ‘malicious misinterpretation’

Lionel Shriver has responded to the vituperative row that followed her recent comments about Penguin Random House’s diversity scheme, saying that it was not diversity but quotas that she was objecting to and calling out what she described as the “malicious misinterpretation” of her original essay.

In a piece for the Spectator this month, Shriver objected to the publisher’s goal for its staff and authors to represent UK society by 2025. “Drunk on virtue, Penguin Random House no longer regards the company’s raison d’etre as the acquisition and dissemination of good books,” she wrote. “Rather, the organisation aims to mirror the percentages of minorities in the UK population with statistical precision.”

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