Publishing Round-Up: 14th December 2015.

Rankin & McDermid slam Fife library closures

‘Authors Val McDermid and Ian Rankin have expressed their anger at Fife council’s plans to close 16 libraries, while Scottish National Party MPs have lodged a motion in the House of Commons in an attempt to reverse the decision.

Following Fife Council’s decision to close 16 libraries in order to find savings of £813,000 announced earlier this week, library campaigners have said they are “absolutely gutted” and McDermid called the situation “disgraceful”.

McDermid, who grew up in Fife, told The Guardian: “We complain all the time about young people not reading books, but if we make it harder for them to get books, reading is not going to increase. Libraries are there for people who can’t afford books, or whose families don’t see any value in reading books.”’

Read more about the closures here.

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 14.45.58How do we stop UK publishing being so posh and white?

Jackie Kay, Nick Barley and numerous others have discussed what could and should be done to stop UK publishing being dominated by ‘posh and white’ staff and authors.

Kay: ‘In the year of Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways and Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings, Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, the narrow and undiverse World Book Night list is somewhat staggering. An irony too much surely that World Book Night should morph into something ungenerous and garish: White Book Night. I’m a huge fan of WBN, and found it thrilling when my book Red Dust Road was on the list a few years back. But surely after last year’s concerns about the lack of translations and this year’s monocultured selection, it is time for the process of selection to be reassessed.

It seems as if life is in many ways harder for BAME writers now than it was in the 70s and 80s, as if things that appeared to have moved forward are turning back.’

Read more about the discussion here.


Cactus Studios will not hold Book Club on ITV

Despite initial plans ‘Cactus Studios will not be going ahead with plans to hold a 10-part TV Book Club on ITV next spring.

“I have been working for quite a while trying to build a new TV book club and find the right sponsor,” Cactus founder Amanda Ross wrote. “For some time now we’ve been working with Audible and, as you know, we thought we had secured a broadcaster… Despite huge efforts by all the parties, we’ve been unable to find a solution that works for all concerned, so will not be going ahead with this broadcaster at this stage.”

However, the letter added the company was continuing to work with Audible and was “exploring a number of other options”.’

Read more about the proposed show here.

Marlon James wins Green Carnation Prize

‘Marlon James has won the Green Carnation Prize, awarded to LGBT writers, for A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld).

The book, a political thriller about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in Jamaica in 1976, beat off competition from Patricia Duncker’s Sophie and the Sibyl (Bloomsbury), Patrick Gale’s A Place Called Winter (Tinder Press), Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream (Bloomsbury Circus), Gavin McCrea’s Mrs Engels (Scribe) and Erwin Mortier’s Stammered Songbook (Pushkin Press) to claim the prize.

James said: “I am so thankful to the prize, the judges and Foyles to be announced the winner in the prize’s sixth year. Six years ago I wouldn’t have been able to voice that I was LGBT, so to be recognised for that and for work the judges felt was great is fantastic.”’

Read more about the prize here.

Middlemarch named greatest British book

‘Middlemarch by George Eliot has been named the greatest British novel by global book critics outside the UK.

BBC culture contributor Jane Ciabattari polled 82 book critics, “from Australia to Zimbabwe” – but none from the UK, in order to get a “global perspective” of the British novel. The list includes no non-fiction, no plays, no narrative or epic poems and no short story collections – only novels by British authors.

Virginia Woolf claimed both the second and third places with To The Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway respectively. Three books by Charles Dickens cracked the top 10, with Great Expectations coming fourth, Bleak House coming sixth and David Copperfield coming in eighth place.’

Read more about the decision here.

Amazon reveals bestselling books of 2015

‘What this list suggests to me is that Amazon customers like to be entertained–and scared! The creepy thriller The Girl on the Train is our best-selling book of the year, hands down, but Silent Scream, 14th Deadly Sin and Luckiest Girl Alive are no slouches in the category, either. I’m personally happy to see The Nightingale perform so well; it suggests that readers continue to come back to novels about WWII, as long as they deliver stories of people and the difficult decisions that war makes them make. Overall, this is a wide ranging list–lots of history: we’re looking at you, David McCullough and Erik Larson–some page-turning fiction. These books are full of great old fashioned storytelling. Truly, something for everyone. —Sara Nelson, Editorial Director of Books and Kindle at’

See the full lists here.

Guardian readers’ top 10 best books of 2015

1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
2. The Story of a Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
3. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
4. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
5. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
6. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
7. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
8. The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
9. Common Ground by Rob Cowen
10. Last Man Off by Matt Lewis

Read more about the list here.

We like big books and we cannot lie…

‘Books are steadily increasing in size, according to a survey that has found the average number of pages has grown by 25% over the last 15 years.

A study of more than 2,500 books appearing on New York Times bestseller and notable books lists and Google’s annual survey of the most discussed books reveals that the average length has increased from 320 pages in 1999 to 400 pages in 2014.

According to James Finlayson from Vervesearch, who carried out the survey for the interactive publisher Flipsnack, there’s a “relatively consistent pattern of growth year on year” that has added approximately 80 pages to the average size of the books surveyed since 1999.’

Read more about the survey here.


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