Wednesday, 22 April 2009

London Book Fair (LBF) - Wednesday

Day three

LBF 2009 had 1613 companies exhibiting from 54 countries.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, gave the keynote speech and is being quoted as saying that Google is no threat to publishers. He also said that computer games are the one threat to young male literacy.

Some, slightly random, facts from Boris Johnson’s speech:
  • Shakespeare had a vocabulary of 21 000 words
  • Churchill had a vocab of 64 000 words
  • German has 185 000 words
  • And English has 500 000 words - which makes it the best language for books, with such a large choice of words!
  • The phrase ‘big cheese’ come from Hindi

According to a poll at the book fair only 53% of UK publishers have digital plans in place, whilst 43% have no arrangements for the digital future.

More buzzwords and phrases:
  • Monetise content
  • Digital Rights Management (DRM)
  • Digital space
The Digital Zone was as popular on day 3 as day 1 – shame that the ‘theatre’ was so small, so the majority of the audience had to stand. It does show that there is interest in eBooks and ereaders, especially when the content of an eBook is not just text, but images can be displayed too.

HarperCollins have selected Tolkien titles as eBooks, which were on display the HC stand on the Sony ereader.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

London Book Fair - A few facts and photos from Tuesday

Click on the image above to see larger version
Day Two

A day of seminars, in
cluding what the publishing industry may be like in 2020 (left) and the Keynote Seminar – Digital Publishing (right).

Favourite snippets from today:

“In the future publishers will be geared to the international world. With editors, printing presses, authors all working in different parts of the world and time zones.” It sounds like BeWrite Books are already in the future!

“Smaller indie publishers maybe unable to match major players’ digital infrastructure, but that lets you take risks, be more innovative and helps forge closer ties with readers.” Dan Franklin, Canongate

Keywords or phrases so far at LBF 2009:
  • Digital revolution
  • Disintermediation
  • Interoperable DRM
  • Content is King
  • Futurscape
  • Price Parity (of eBooks, paperbacks and hardbacks)
  • Piracy (of digital content)
More facts, figures and sites to investigate.
  • "The internet will the main retail channel for book sales in Britain within 3 years, despite accounting for only 14% of current sales." PubTrack
  • "Online content and adverts account for twice as much importance as print reviews.’"Kelly Gallagher
  • Authonomy is visited by editors, agents and publishers who read what is posted and take note of it too.
  • Bookbox a book video site to provide a platform for publishers to showcase their author and book videos.
  • Book Army even though it’s designed by Harper Collins, it has books from all publishers and it is a social networking site for all book lovers.
LBF also has less strenuous events for visitors.

Sarah Waters being interviewed by her editor, Lennie Goodings, and discussing her new book The Little Stranger

And wafting delicious smells throughout Earls Court Two is the LBF Gourmand Cook Book Corner. Trina Hahnemann from Denmark begins to cook the first of three dishes.

Monday, 20 April 2009

London Book Fair - A few facts & photos from Monday

Day 1

Visitor numbers at LBF are down this year, but only by 2%. It still feels as busy as previous years.

New this year the Digital Zone
The Digital Zone provides short seminars on all aspects of the digital book industry.

Luckily the seminars are short as the seats are the most uncomfortable ones in Earls Court!

Peter Tomlinson, author of The Petronicus Legacy series, (available in paperback and eBook) perusing the Sony eBook reader and rather impressed with the results.

Some surprising statistics from around LBF:

  • The UK consumes more video online than the rest of Northern Europe
  • People now use social networks more than email to keep in contact and pass on information.
  • The present demographics of Facebook is 45-54 year olds, it’s no longer a site mainly for the young.
  • Two thirds of books bought last year were by people 42 years old or older.
  • 14% of UK book sales are online, 28% in US. But 90% of all book sales in US are driven by online marketing.
Author blog tip: Write about your writing, how the next book is going, writing experiences ,etc

The Espresso Book Machine
A machine which can print books in store within 5 minutes of a customer placing the order. And the quality of the books seems to be good too. This machine is on loan from Blackwells bookshop in London, but there are other machines worldwide with more to come. Hopefully a shop, library or university near you will be getting one soon.

Friday, 17 April 2009

The Black Garden by Joe Bright - Out Now

A young university student from Boston takes on the summer job, in a small rural town, of clearing the accumulated rubbish from the house and garden of an elderly man, George O'Brien, and his granddaughter, Candice. The task is not as straightforward as he at first thought and Mitchell finds himself drawn into the mystery surrounding the Black Garden and the lives of his employers.

Can he solve the secret behind the animosity of the townspeople? Can he do so without endangering George's freedom and leaving Candice even more isolated?

Read an extract from The Black Garden

About the Author

Purchase: paperback | eBook

Title: The Black Garden
Author: Joe Bright
Print ISBN: 978-1-905202-98-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-905202-99-7
Page count: 232
Release Date: 17th April 2009

Distributors: Bertram Books, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, Ingrams

BeWrite Books are available from: BeWrite Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones and other online booksellers and to order from high street bookshops.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A Thousand Beauties by Mark Adam Kaplan - Out Now

Overweight and jaded, rich and lonely, Rupert Ruskin clings to an obsessive belief that if he can witness a thousand beautiful sights in a single day, his shattered and sordid existence will turn to bliss.

But his dreamquest for A Thousand Beauties is stalled when beloved and eccentric ex wife, Elaine, bursts back into his life with disturbing news.

Ruskin now has to make room for a more immediate and secret plan ... but should it be for a wedding or a funeral?

Mark Adam Kaplan navigates the peaks and troughs of co-dependency and mutual punishment in a magnificently spun story of love and loathing. His urgent, yet poetic prose trap the reader like a spider traps a fly in an intricate web both beautiful and deadly.

Read an extract from A Thousand Beauties

About the Author

Purchase: paperback | eBook

Title: A Thousand Beauties
Author: Mark Adam Kaplan
Print ISBN: 978-1-905202-94-2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-905202-95-9
Page count: 224
Release Date: 14th April 2009

Distributors: Bertram Books, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, Ingrams

BeWrite Books are available from: BeWrite Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones and other online booksellers and to order from high street bookshops.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Press release - A Thousand Beauties by Mark Adam Kaplan

Screenwriter and playwright Mark Adam Kaplan has turned his pen to the novel – and makes his print debut with a tale of rocky romance that’s anything but the story book kind.

A Thousand Beauties stars unlikely leading man Rupert Ruskin – overweight, underemployed, rich and jaded – who clings to an obsessive belief that if he can witness a thousand beautiful sights in a single day, his sordid existence will turn to bliss ... just as family legend promises.

But his quest for Beauty is stalled when beloved and eccentric ex-wife, Elaine, bursts back into his life with news of her cancer. Ruskin now has to make room for a more immediate and secret plan ... but should it be for a wedding or a funeral?

Kaplan navigates with poetic urgency the peaks and troughs of co-dependency and the mutual punishment of an affair grounded in both love and loathing.

Born in Staten Island, New York, the California-based writer, formerly Assistant Editor with Penguin Books, earned his B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute’s Centre for Film and Television Studies.

He has written, produced and directed plays Off-Broadway and in Los Angeles and Seattle, including Marriage in Venice, The Hellfire Cafe, Wild Things, Denial of the Fittest, Landfill and Th
e Meateater’s Comedy.

His screen credits include award-winning A Time to Remember, Echoes of the East: Tibet and Roadhouse Rock ’96. He also worked on the script of the Erika Eleniak movie, Second to Die.

In the pipeline are several new scripts and Kaplan is currently polishing his second novel, Dangerous, set in East LA.

He lives with his wife and two daughters in Los Angeles where Kaplan also teaches.

said: “Although I’d done well with movies and documentaries in Asia, I never quite cracked Hollywood when I came home. Now I teach eighth grade in a low-performing public school and my writing is done by midnight oil, after the girls are tucked up in bed. Often I’m still at my desk in the early morning hours.”

A Thousand Beauties was written in a garage in Pasadena after the death of his paternal grandmother.

“Both she and her brother died of pancreatic cancer, and as I researched the disease, I grew appalled at my ignorance of how pervasive and common this form of cancer is. I felt I had to weave it into a work of fiction.

“But – although the cancer is a key element in my story – it doesn’t haunt it. The story is focuse
d on the obsessive love of a desperate romantic, Rupert Ruskin, who just can’t seem, no matter how hard he tries, to get it right.

“As the two main characters – Rupert and Elaine – struggle against a tragic inevitability, they also struggle against one another. It’s a roller-coaster of the co-dependency and mutual punishment that underscores many hopeful but dysfunctional relationships.

“At t
imes they’re more appalled by their love of each other than their hatred of the disease.

“But against failure and resignation stands hope. Ruskin’s family has a history of dementia. They also have a family legend that promises enlightenment to anyone who can count a thousand beautiful things in a single day. This is where Rupert’s hopes for Elaine lie. He wants her to witness a thousand beauties before she dies. His obsession for her happiness is desperate – and stifling.”

A Thousand Beauties is published internationally by BeWrite Books, UK. It is available in paperback and eBook formats.


Author bio

For further information, interviews, pictures, etc, Mark Adam Kaplan can be contacted by email

Title: A Thousand Beauties
Author: Mark Adam Kaplan
Print ISBN: 978-1-905202-94-2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-905202-95-9
Release Date: 14th April 2009
Distributors: Bertram Books, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, Ingrams
For further information please contact: Cait Myers at BeWrite Books

Review copies available on request

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Review: The Jealousies by Benjamin Stainton

About two years ago I was asked to write something that might be used for publicity purposes for a forthcoming book of poems. I think I was supplied with a sample of ten poems to be included in the book. I obliged and forgot about it. The other day, I was sent a copy of the book The Jealousies by Benjamin Stainton. We published some of Ben's poems in Issue 21 of The Cannon's Mouth (September 2006).

Perhaps because I was so surprised to find my own name on the cover and the piece I had written quoted in full, I sat down and read the 145 page book from cover to cover. I usually flick through and read at random, but this time was different. I found I couldn't put it down.

The first poem is titled 27th December 1978, probably Ben's birthday. We also know that he was born in Bury St Edmunds and now lives in Suffolk. Locations vary. We find ourselves in Spain, Venice, Istanbul, Bristol, possibly Birmingham, but mostly in rural or coastal locations evoked with an incisive nostalgia.

As the last poem Ebb indicates, Ben has a "country mind". His poems are riddled with rustic country settings, cottages, flowers. As you read, you begin to pick up on repeated words or images like black, smoking, potato eaters, skin and references to parts of the anatomy being eaten. His style seems to baffle the senses. We think we know, but we don't. I wanted to discover his secret. I would like to be able to write like this. Does he simply write a line and jumble the words, or insert words to unhinge the meaning of the line to produce such rich imagery? Why does it work so well? What is the secret to being to write this way?

"...the sounds of floating sobs unwind / My wounds consume this ache like water." (4th April 1998)

Ben said in a recent interview* that "poetry comes more easily than prose, for me. I prefer to write in a non-linear, abstract way, but keep it accessible, hopefully retain an emotional point of contact with the reader, somehow."

He said his major influences were Arthur Rimbaud and Sylvia Plath along with "Keats, Berryman, Eliot, Hemingway, maybe Dylan Thomas"; but he also has influences outside literature - "Van Gogh, and the abstract expressionists; a huge range of music, films, adverts... I also think poetry, and other artforms that may rely on the subconscious, draw on influences already forgotten by the artist."

Asked about his writing style, he said his poems have "surreal elements, but my stuff now tends to be rooted in reality. Maybe a deformed version of reality..."

Yes, I still think "life, death, location, the inner workings of the body, blood and skin are all seamlessly accessed, sometimes all at once." Perhaps that's his secret.

* [Interview] Benjamin Stainton, author of "The Jealousies", New Writing International, 11 December 2008

The Jealousies excerpt

Click here for more information about Benjamin Stainton

Purchase: paperback | eBook

Monday, 6 April 2009

Review: Silent Actor by J. Michael Wahlgren

Reading J. Michael Wahlgren’s first collection of poetry, Silent Actor, is a simultaneously frustrating and rewarding experience. On the one hand, Wahlgren is a writer whose work evokes a strong, unapologetic sense of his identity. On the other, we get the sense that his seemingly inexplicable obsession with certain single words and images frequently prevents the collection from developing beyond a scope that is in some ways limited by that very persistent sense of self. The final stanzas of the opening piece, “Problem Child,” set a somewhat petulant and disaffected tone:
I refused to pick up my toys, never mind
bring in the barrels, mow the lawn or
the hardest task of all: emptying the dishwasher.

I lash out.

I’m unemployed,
not a child anymore, but a poet, an aspiring
artist on writer’s Aspirin.
We are speaking, then, with a young man whose past is still very much present — and whose present is, if the painkillers are any indication, drifting in a kind of numbed limbo.

From here, one might expect some elaboration upon Wahlgren’s hinted-at childhood that flows compellingly into what eventually becomes a vivid picture of who he has become. Instead, the next handful of poems, as the first piece accurately suggests, “lash out” in erratic, almost random directions: the author likening himself to numbers on a rating scale (”Prime”), natural and linguistic imagery too coy to evoke a clear focus (”Vulnerable” and “Games”), a teenage party game gone not so much wrong as exactly the way we expected it would (”Spin the Bottle”), and undergraduate ruminations on the futility of cram-sessions and dormitory life (”College”). It is not until “Candles” that we feel the collection has truly begun to state its intent:
No more foolish love, but serious

enervated love escalated, elevated to the top.
The candles in our eyes blew out,

after a shout, goodbye. We placed our hands in our pockets,
and eloped with stars in our pockets, our lips a red carpet

we each longed
to walk upon.
In this passage, the collection’s title begins, poignantly, to make sense. So, too, do we get a first glimpse at Wahlgren’s true strength: he has the ability to show love for what it is when the lights go out. In “Familiar,” he asserts,
…Difficult to say
now to what we can attribute
your looks, but without much clue,
you detect a way to see through
all the fame, in an attempt to
remember your God-given name.
This dark lady (or ladies, for we can never be sure) persists as a through-line of she for the remainder of the collection, providing a satisfying sense of love’s ultimately elusive nature. As it does for Wahlgren, it wears many faces down the years for all of us.

Previously mentioned in my introduction, Wahlgren’s peculiar single-word obsessions pop up early. Origami first manifests in “Spin the Bottle” (”locked lips, origami in flight”) and appears no fewer than five more times throughout the remainder of the pieces — sometimes parenthetical and always unexpected, although not necessarily illuminating. In folds that should be intricate, we find only muddled shadows. Jazz, on the other hand, is accorded a more active and effective role, as seen in “Unique Time”:
Waiting for your departure, we hold
hands for the first time—

(You must wonder)
how jazz is composed of laughter & pain,
without a refrain. In Monk’s time

we detest symbols,
straightforward piano keys of pain & mercy…
Tied up in this, too, is Wahlgren’s indelible sense of identity. This is music that he likes — no, loves — and, for a little while, he’ll see to it that we love it, too.

Amongst these ruminations on passion and music, we stumble across occasional moments of semi-transcendental glory. In “The Toy,” we find
The fire
in her palms
is dedicated
to wine
upon which revelation Wahlgren asks,
Which of these
has your name
written on it?
As to whether it’s reassuring when he tells us “We all have one,” I’ll let the reader decide. From this point onward, Silent Actor’s poems possess a dreamlike, lyrical quality. Wahlgren shifts his focus from acts of love to thoughts of love, persistently haunted by the enigmatic, personified phrase of you know who. Whether this specter is a past lover or (from moment to moment) his present lover’s ex, that, too, we can only begin to guess.

Ultimately, Wahlgren ends on a note not dissimilar to the one on which he began. In “Rise Up,” the final poem, we find these by-now unexpectedly flippant lines:
I rise up. Catch me if you are kind. Salute your buttocks.

I give an appearance of conceit,
chutes or ladders nowhere to be found
I hide the clues next to my genitals. Perhaps you’ll seek.
What we’ll seek, perhaps, is not so much a clue as some sense of resolution. Still, for all its quirks and occasional inconsistencies, Silent Actor is both a compelling self-portrait and a thought-provoking treatise on the myriad permutations of human relationships.


Read an excerpt from Silent Actor

Click here for more information about J. Michael Wahlgren

paperback | eBook