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   22.09.20 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7    
NEWS   (Page 5 of 7)

Two days of talks, workshops and readings with Julia Bell, Russell Celyn Jones, Courttia Newland, Sally Hinchcliffe, Nii Ayikwei Parkes and Emma Henderson. 24 & 25 October at Birkbeck.

International Literacy Day

8 September 2010 is the UNESCO International Literacy Day, aimed at promoting literacy and keeping it high on the international, regional and national agendas. UNESO data shows that 796 million adults worldwide lack 'minimum literacy skills'. In the UK, the National Literacy Trust reports that one in six struggles with literacy.

The NLT has initiated a campaign to improve literacy - click here to lend your support.

To read UNESCO's policy on literacy click here.

Hub contributor Jonathan Kemp has made it onto this years' Green Carnation long list with his novel London Triptych. The Green Carnation Prize - 'a prize for great gay works' - is judged this year by Simon Savidge, Lesley Cookman, Paul Magrs and Nick Campbell and Katy Manning.

The full long list of eleven titles is as follows:

  • Generation A by Douglas Coupland (Windmill Books)
  • Bryant and May Off the Rails by Christopher Fowler (Doubleday)
  • Paperboy by Christopher Fowler (Doubleday)
  • In A Strange Room by Damon Galgut (Atlantic Books)
  • God Says No by James Hannaham (McSweeney’s)
  • London Triptych by Jonathan Kemp (Myriad Editions)
  • Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin (Doubleday)
  • Children of the Sun by Max Schaefer (Granta)
  • Man’s World by Rupert Smith (Arcadia Books)
  • The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Tuskar Rock Press)
  • City Boy by Edmund White (Bloomsbury)

Read an extract from London Triptych here, and Jonathan's article about writing the novel here.

This coming weekend, 11-12 September, Foyles, Charing Cross Road plays host to the Independent Alliance. The two days of events, organised by the independent publishers' network, includes discussions on crime fiction, memoir, counterculture and history plus speed-dating, indie writer style, and chances to meet an array of indie stars: Geoff Dyer, Amanda Smyth, PD James, Alex Preston, Emily Woof and many others. 

Tickets: £15/£12 concession one day or £25/£20 concession both days.

The 2010 Man Booker Prize short list has been announced.

The final six, selected from the long list of thirteen books are:


Peter Carey Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)

Emma Donoghue Room (Picador - Pan Macmillan)

Damon Galgut In a Strange Room (Atlantic Books - Grove Atlantic)

Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)

Andrea Levy The Long Song (Headline Review - Headline Publishing Group)

Tom McCarthy C (Jonathan Cape - Random House)


The winner of the £50,000 prize will be announced on Tuesday 12 October.


The judges this year are Rosie Blau, Literary Editor of the Financial Times; Deborah Bull, Creative Director of the Royal Opera House; Tom Sutcliffe, journalist, broadcaster and author; and Frances Wilson, biographer and critic. The Chair is Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate.


McSweeneys Internet Tendency has launched its second annual columnist contest. The online arm of David Eggers' publishing house is asking for submissions of a column of up to 2,000 words plus descriptions of three additional columns. The winner will write a 'semi-regular' column for the site.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 10 September.

For full details click the link.

Online Dictonaries: The Rise of the E-Dict

This week has seen two telling announcements for the future of online dictionaries and their print siblings. The Oxford English Dictionary has stated that the new edition will not appear in print form. The new online version, which has been in production for some twenty years, will be launched in December and will include the Historical Thesaurus of the OED. Access to the online dictionary comes at a relatively high price - an annual subscription costs £205 plus VAT.

Also this week, Macmillan has launched 16 apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, using content from the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners. The apps include US and UK pronunciation, vocabulary tests as well as the usual definitions.

The fourth Troubadour International Poetry Prize is open for submissions. This year the prize will be judged by Gwyneth Lewis and Maurice Riordan.

Prizes: 1st £1000, 2nd £500, 3rd £250, and 20 prizes of £20 each, plus a spring 2011 coffee-house poetry season ticket and a prizewinners' coffee-house poetry reading with Gwyneth Lewis & Maurice Riordan on Monday 29 November 2010 for all prize-winning poets.

Deadline for submissions: Friday, 15 October 2010.

Now Penguin Discusses eBook Rights With Wiley

Days after the news broke that the Wiley Agency and Random House had called a truce in their battle over ebook rights, Penguin are reported to be in discussions with Wiley on the same issue.

According to various news sources, including The Bookseller and Publishers Weekly, the focal point of Wiley's discussions with RH has been royalty rates.

Contrary to initial suggestions that Wiley had backed down after Random House called a halt to all new agreements with Wiley on English language titles, The Bookseller and PW are reporting that agreement was reached on a new royalty sliding scale, that could range between the standard 25% and 40%, depending on sales. No details are available about the issues being discussed by Wiley and Penguin.

The Guardian has released the long list for its First Book Award. The award covers fiction, non-fiction and poetry. This year, 10 titles will compete for the £10,000 prize. 

The long list in full:


Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt

Boxer, Beetle by Ned Beauman

Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam

Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman

Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed

Bomber County: The Lost Airmen of World War Two by Daniel Swift

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper by Alexandra Harris

Curfewed Night: A Frontline Memoir of Life, Love and War in Kashmir, by Basharat Peer

The Floating Man by Katharine Towers

Libraries: Services to Readers and Writers Under Threat

Since the news of the Coaltion Government's 'Future Libraries' programme was announced last week, fears have grown that the UK's public library service will be a major casualty of the planned austerity measures.

With new data from the Department for Culture Media and Sport showing that library use is sliding, library campaigner, Tim Coates, in a comment to the BBC, warned that up to 1,000 libraries could be closed within the next 18 months. Libraries for Life for Londoners, of which Coates is the chair, has written to local authorities urging them to keep libraries open and focus their cost-cutting efforts on "excessive" senior and middle management and on consultants, which, he says, "have nothing to show for what they have done".

Independent charity, The Reading Agency, in a press release says that the challenge for public libraries is "to scale up what's working, and support the development of a dynamic, modernised reading service that captures the interest of the public." However, the statement continues, libraries "should not be a soft target for cuts."

At the same time, concerns are increasing that authors could lose out as library services are cut back. The Society of Authors and the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society have created a petition for authors to sign, urging the government to protect the Public Lending Right, which provides authors with a small income, limited to £6,600, when their books are borrowed from public libraries.  The SoA says the PLR is a "significant and much-valued part of authors’ incomes" and costs the Department for Culture Media and Sport only £7.5m per year.

Wiley-Random House Truce

Literary agent Andrew Wiley has come to an agreement with Random House over plans to publish 20 key titles digitally.

Last month Wiley moved to publish works by, among others, Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Philip Roth directly through Amazon, by-passing publishers and other booksellers. The deal would have garned authors a far greater percentage of revenues than traditional publisher agreements.

Random House responded by halting all new English-language agreements with the Wylie Agency.

However, Random House and Wiley have now released a joint statement that says they have reached an agreement "consistent with agreements we’ve reached with other literary agencies for other backlist e-book rights". 13 of the 20 titles will now be withdrawn from sale through the Wiley e-book arm Odyssey Editions.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that a recent survey by Marketing and Research Resources Inc. has found that 40% of respondents read more now they own an e-reader than previously. The US survey covered a sample of users of the Kindle, the iPad and the Sony e-reader, and was commissioned by Sony. The WSJ also reports that Amazon customers buy 3.3 times as many books once they have purchased a Kindle.

Literary magazine The Literateur has joined forces with The Literary Consultancy to launch a new short story and poetry competition. Submissions are open to any commercially unpublished writer. Short stories should be no more than 5,000 words and poetry should total no more than 50 lines.

The deadline for submissions is 27th September.

India's First E-readers?

India's EC Media International has launched what has been described on many news outlets as the country's first home-grown e-reader - the Wink. With a striking resemblance to the traditional Kindle, the new device reflects the sub-continent's linguistic diversity, supporting 15 languages. At launch it will also offer more than 200,000 titles. 

However, the Wink is not in fact India's first e-reader; that crown goes to the Infibeam Pi - which was launched earlier this year, and also supports 'most official Indian languages'.

The Wink launch comes a month after the annoucement of a tablet pc priced at $35 and falling, backed by the Indian Government.


Library Use Slides But Reading Climbs

Following on from the announcement of the 'Future Libraries' programme earlier this week, the Department for Culture Media and Sport has released its 'Taking Part' report - a national survey of culture, leisure and sport.

The report shows that the proportion of adults visiting libraries has fallen from 48.2% in 2005/06 to 39.4% in 2009/10.

Of those surveyed 63% have not visited a library in the past year and only 5.4% visit at least once a week.

However, the survey also shows that the proportion of people reading for pleasure (ie, not including newspapers, comics and magazines) has increased from 62.8% in 2005/06 to 65.5% in 2009/10.

The reading gender split is also significant: 72.4% of women read for pleasure in 2009/10 compared to 58.3% of men.

The Chair of Libraries for Life for Londoners, Tim Coate said "libraries are unpopular because they don't cater for people who read. If libraries concentrated their effort on people who do read (as the law says they should) they would be twice as popular as they are." Independent columnist Terence Blacker says today that the 'Future Libraries' programme "is the sound of a back door being quietly opened to the privatisation of the library service".

Read the full 'Taking Part' report here.


Blair Book Spat

Authors and campaign groups have found themselves in conflict over the decision by Waterstone's to host the launch of Tony Blair's memoirs. 

On Wednesday, The Guardian published a letter signed by several authors, including John Pilger, AL Kennedy, Iain Banks and Michael Nyman, urging Waterstone's to reconsider its plans. The letter states that "A large majority of the British public say Mr Blair told lies and fabricated evidence to take Britain into a war with Iraq that he knew to be illegal under international law" and that "We believe Waterstone's will seriously harm its own reputation as a respectable bookseller by helping him promote his book."

This was followed on Thursday by the publication in the Guardian of a letter from English PEN defending Waterstone's right to promote the memoirs. This letter, while agreeing with the assertion that the Iraq was illegal, states that "When it comes to literature, drama, journalism, artistic expression and scientific publication we must be consistent in our support for free speech." The way to defend the right of free expression, according to the letter, is not to require bookshops and libraries not to stock the text, rather "to not read the book if it offends you, and to not buy a copy if you don't wish royalties to go to the author."


The UK's National Literacy Trust has released the initial findings of research that reveals that boys are falling further behind girls in reading and writing.

Of the sample of circa 17,000 only 28% of boys said they read everyday compared to 39% of girls. The figures in 2005 were 35% and 42%, respectively. The research also illustrates the strong correlation between reading and attainment: 60% of those children reading everyday achieve better-than-expected results.

In addition, more boys than girls were shown to find reading boring and dislike going to libraries.

National Literacy Trust Director Jonathan Douglas said "We need to show boys that reading and writing are ‘cool’ and are the first step on a promising career path and towards a successful life."

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey yesterday announced the UK coalition government's 'Future Libraries' programme - aimed at "helping the library service during the current challenging financial situation, with an ambition to ensure libraries play a central role for communities in the Big Society". The plans include looking at ways to make cost savings, exploring new forms of library service governance and developing new partnerships with local groups and businesses.

Vaizey said that the response from local authorities has been "overwhelming".


However library campaigners fear the plans could include library closures. Lewisham Council in London, one of the local authorities chosen to test some of the new initiatives, has plans to close five of its libraries. The Chair of Libraries for Life for Londoners, Tim Coate expressed doubts about the benefits of the programme: "1,000 libraries could be lost in the budget cuts and this programme has done nothing to reduce that risk".

The 2011 Paris Literary Prize for the novella is now open for submissions. Celebrating the short form, the prize of 10,000 euros is awarded to a work between 20,000 and 30,000 words in length by an unpublished writer.

The deadline for submissions is 1 December 2010.

'Doing a Dickens'

Novelist and screenwriter Ray Connolly is to release his next novel The Sandman chapter by chapter on his website. The novel is a thriller set in the world of 24-hour news media and each chapter will be free. However, keen readers can buy the entire novel through the site, and it will be available through Amazon once all the chapters have been published.

Describing this serialisation as "doing a Dickens", Connolly is embracing the digital world, planning a spoken word version of the novel and describing the experience of self-publishing in digital form as "empowering". For more information, read Connolly's Guardian article here.


News Corp Plans e-newspaper

News Corp's Richard Murdoch has announced that the organisation is planning a digital newspaper for consumption on tablets and smartphones. The paper would offer brief, easily digested stories and would come under the umbrella of the New York Post.

Murdoch wants to target younger readers, and says the digital offering is "a real game changer in the presentation of news". The announcement comes quickly after another of Murdoch's titles, The Times, has begun to demand payment for online content - and in doing so lost a substantial number of readers.


E-readers Heat Up

The steady rise of the e-reader continues, with manufacturers and content providers pushing new devices and business models into the market.

At the end of last month Amazon announced the launch of its new Kindle device, and Kobo of Toronto, which sells its e-reader through US Borders stores, has recently announced that it will provide free e-readers and content to guests at 10 Fairmont hotels in Canada and the US. The devices will be loaded with work by Bret Easton Ellis, Sophie Kinsella and Alexander McCall Smith, among others.

Meanwhile, in June, Barnes and Noble in the US cut the price of its proprietary Nook device, making it the cheapest e-reader on the market.

However, Plastic Logic has cancelled the launch of its Que device – in response to the recent price cuts on other devices, commentators believe. The Que’s price point was higher than most other e-readers and even than the iPad, which has much more functionality.  

In a parallel move, e-reader vendors are also making reading apps available on smart-phones and tablet devices.

In response to these hardware developments eBooks are becoming evermore available. The UK has seen two new eBook store launches in the past week – Amazon’s Kindle store, offering more than 40,000 titles, and Mobcast’s new eBook store, available on T-Mobile and Orange.

President Obama has signed into law a statute designed to protect US writers against foreign libel laws. The Act is reported to be the first time since the Boston Tea Party that a judgement made in the UK will not be enforceable in the US.

Free speech campaigners in the UK believe the SPEECH Act highlights the UK’s onerous libel and defamation laws. The UK's coalition government intends to table a draft bill addressing the concerns of the campaign for free speech led by English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science. The draft bill is due to be tabled in January 2011.  

Free speech groups urge supporters to maintain pressure on the UK Government to reform the country's 'aberrant' defamation laws. 

Edinburgh looks set to see a new, permanent centre for publishing, literature and writers. According to council leaders the former North Canongate Infant School, situated just off the Royal Mile, which was set to be demolished to make way for a five-star hotel and conference centre, has now been saved.

The proposed new use for the site is a hub for publishers, literary organisations, writers & illustrators, and performing artists. A reading and rehearsal room is envisaged, as well as a cafe and bookshop.

The centre would be part of the city's growing literary quarter, which includes the Scottish Storytelling Centre, publisher Canongate, and the Scottish Poetry Library.

This interactive six-week course is designed to inspire beginners and energise more established creative writers to write about nature and environmental themes. The course will cover poetry, fiction and non-fiction and will look at blogging and other ways to find readers.

Classes take place on Tuesday evenings from 28 September 2010.

No previous experience of environmental writing is required.

The next closing date for the annual New Writer prose and poetry prizes is 30th November 2010.
One of the major, international prizes for contemporary fiction and poetry, essays and articles, this is an opportunity to bring your work to a wider audience.
What The New Writer is looking for is bold, incisive material in any genre just as long as it reflects writing today. Up to twenty prizes will be presented as well as publication for the prize-winning writers in The New Writer 'Special Collection'.

FLOW – The Free Word Festival – Daily from September 15 to October 5
Returning for its second year, FLOW - The Free Word Festival - celebrates the best in literature, literacy and free expression.

Showcasing a vibrant range of artists, highlights will include performances by acclaimed international musicians Mahsa Vadat and Knut Reiersud, a traditional Urdu poetry Mushaira, discussions on the future of literary criticism and publishing in the Google age, a day-long programme of events to celebrate International Translation Day including events with Axel Scheffler, author of The Gruffalo and the inaugural Harvill Secker Young Translator’s Prize, as well as a host of other workshops, readings and performances featuring the talents of Quentin Blake, Daniel Pennac, Ismail Kadare and John Hegley.

This new programme will combine bespoke professional development support with marketing and commission opportunities for practitioners working in all art forms, including literature, music, theatre, dance and the visual arts within the county of North Yorkshire. The programme will assist the long-term sustainability of practitioners at different stages of development, including early career and the more established practitioners.


The programme will provide one-to-one mentoring support to professional practitioners over a period of twelve to eighteen months and will also provide ten commissions for North Yorkshire based practitioners working in literature, music, theatre, dance, visual and combined arts to develop new work that is inspired by an aspect of North Yorkshire’s culture, heritage or environment.

The deadline for receipt of applications will be 6 September 2010. Further details will be published on the following websites: and
The co-ordinator for Extending Practice, Celebrating Place is Hazel Cameron. 
Contact her by email at:

The 2010 Over the Edge creative writing competition is open to poets and fiction writers. Fiction of up to three thousand words, three poems of up to forty lines, or one poem of up to one hundred lines are accepted. The best fiction entry will win €300. The best poetry entry will win €300. One of these will then be chosen as the overall winner and will receive an additional €400.

The closing date for submissions is Tuesday, 3 August 2010.

Click 'more' for full details.

The Crashaw Poetry Prize, an international annual prize for a first collection of poetry, is now open for submissions. Entrants must not have been published before and must permanently reside in the UK, Ireland, the USA, Australia or New Zealand. Winners will be issued with a standard publishing contract from Salt Publishing. The deadline for submissions is 31 October.

2010 Benjamin Franklin House Literary Prize

In politics, what can laws do without morals? Benjamin Franklin

Each year a question or quote exploring Franklin’s relevance in our time is open for interpretation in 1000-1500 words by two groups: young people and professional writers.  The winner of the Young Writers Prize will receive £500 while the winner of the Professional Writers Prize will receive £1000 with publication of their essays in the British Daily Telegraph, and at Entries for 2010 must be received before 15 October.

For more information click here.

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