Inter-library loan, new style

The National Research Council Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information and MyiLibrary, the e-book aggregator owned by Ingram Digital Group, have formed a partnership to launch a new service called eBook Loans. The service provides an interlibrary loans model for academic e-books, and includes electronic books from scholarly publishers including Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Blackwell and Springer.

According to the various press releases, each e-book loan will cost US$25, payable online using a credit card. Users will be given 30 days access to an e-book through a URL received in an e-mail immediately after paying. After 30 days this link expires automatically. Hence libraries will reduce their loan administration and costs of physical couriers.  Publishers should also benefit from this new source of revenue, while users will gain instant access to books that they need. Given the e-format, I think the service would be more useful if it were for academic articles rather than entire books, but if your research involves reading sections of books rather than the whole thing, and your institutional librarian has a credit card or will refund your own for this purpose, not too bad.

PW on Maiden Mysteries

More on the trade magazines: Publishers Weekly (23 April issue, pp 19 -23) features nine first-time "mystery" (their word) novels. The article kicks off with a couple of quotes from one of my all-time favourites, Mary Higgins Clark, who has just published her 26th suspense novel, I Heard that Song Before (of which, more later). MHC recalls: "Two publishers had turned down the book [Where are the Children?] because they were afraid children in jeopardy might upset their women readers. When I received the call from my agent that Simon&Schuster had bought it, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven." She’s still with the same publisher, incidentally.

Turning to the new author selections, PW features

  • Heart Sick by Chelsea Cain (see Petrona post before last)
  • The Blue Arrow by Andrew Gross, erstwhile collaborator of James Patterson.  "Kate Raab’s father is arrested and forced — along with the rest of her family — into the witness protection program, but Kate stays behind. A year later, her father disappears from the program and his case agent is found murdered."
  • The History Book by Humphrey Hawksley. "Catherine Polinski — burglar, hacker, undercover agent — returns home from a deadly mission….to find a cryptic message from her sister. Soon after, her sister is murdered….." Sounds remarkably similar to the Andrew Gross plot.
  • Interred with their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell. I can’t write out all the plot here, but it is murder in London’s theatreland, with Shakespeare theme.
  • Volk’s Game by Brent Ghelfi. Russian gangster and beautiful young sidekick scheme to steal a painting without upsetting his mafia boss.
  • A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans. Man needs therapy to recall his childhood when he can’t bring himself to hold his newborn son. This is the first one that tempts me to read it.
  • The Cleaner by Brett Battles. Jonathan is a "cleaner", an operative hired to clean up crime scenes. A job unexpectedly (? unexpectedly?) turns violent, sparking a global chase to identify the potential killer.
  • Hooked by Matt Richtel. A San Francisco writer narrowly escapes being blown up in an Internet cafe after a stranger hands him a note warning him to leave immediately. The handwriting belongs to his deceased girlfriend.  Hmmm– mildly interesting.
  • The Circumference of Darkness by Jack Henderson. A 22-year-old computer prodigy and a "legendary hacker" come together to dismantle the threat to global security when it becomes obvious that the attacks of 9/11 were the beginning of a bigger plan.

Well, I think I got let off very lightly with that lot, as most don’t sound much to my taste — less of the mystery and more of the thriller, the list reflecting a preoccupation with global terrorism as a theme that US publishers think will sell, if this selection is representative.

PS. I’m not much of a person for these "my blog is a year old" birthday parties, but I was meaning to note my thousandth post since switching from Blogger to Typepad about a year ago. Well I missed it. This one is number 1008.

Mr Quercus interviewed

Knowing me, I’ve probably read about this on the litblogosphere somewhere and forgotten all about it, but I did enjoy reading "How to start a crime list" in the Bookseller (13 April issue). A slight aside, my reading of Booksellers and Publishers Weeklies is like a nerve impulse: in quantal packets. We subscribe at work, but distribution through the office is erratic. Therefore you don’t see a copy of either for weeks, then get six at once. Hence I am only just reading the 13 April issue on 15 May.

The above-mentioned article is an interview of Anthony Cheetham by Liz Bury. Mr Cheetham, who had helped to build up the very good Orion crime list, turns out to be the driving force behind the relatively new Quercus imprint, which has just won the Plus "new business of the year" award and is perhaps better known to you as publisher of The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, the overall Costa (formerly Whitbread) book prize winner this year.

The first book published by Quercus was Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook, which I reviewed the other day. Quercus are presumably smart at marketing as I bought that book when it was first published because it was Amazon’s then "deal of the week". Soon after publishing that, Mr Cheetham read the manuscript of Bad Debts by Peter Temple, which he snapped up cheap as it had been turned down in the past. With these two books, he felt he had the makings of a list. He likes crime fiction not only because 11 of the 50 current UK bestsellers are crime fiction titles, but because "It’s a method of armchair travel, where you get a real sense of the place they’re set in".

Other books published or to be published by Quercus, by 21 new and established writers, include The Shadow Maker Walker by Michael Waters (featuring Mr Negrui, the head of the serious crime squad in Ulan Bator), The Butcher’s Boy by Thomas Perry, Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland (set in the Outback with a half-Aboriginal hero), and The Coroner’s Lunch (about the "charming" 72-year-old chief coroner of 1970s Laos). Maybe Peter of Detectives Beyond Borders should consider recommending his latest, as-yet untranslated Croatian discoveries to Mr Cheetham.

What Anthony Cheetham looks for in a manuscript:  sophisticated prose, with excitement and colour; an interesting setting, graphically portrayed; a central character with charm and appeal; a gripping mystery or crime; forensic stories for readers with a crime-lab fascination; and detailed procedural work that reveals life in a cop shop.  That’s all, sounds easy enough.

If you want to read the whole interview you need a subscription to the Bookseller: here is their website.

Upcoming books for August

New crime fiction due to be published in the UK in August includes Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid (HarperCollins), one of her Tony Hill series; Written in Bone by Simon Beckett (Bantam), a follow-up to the well-received Chemistry of Death; The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason (Harvill Secker), the "next but one" (for me) Erlendur book;  and The Pool of Unease by Catherine Sampson (Macmillan), a welcome third book by this excellent author.  I’ll probably read all the books previously mentioned (eventually, when in paperback). Some other August releases which will be big sellers but which I’m less sure I’ll read are Still Waters by Niel McCrery (Quercus), a new detective for the author of Silent Witness (I assume this means the TV series);  Denise Mina’s Slip of the Knife (Bantam), the next Paddy Meehan outing (I liked the author’s first four books but did not enjoy the first Paddy Meehan book, Fields of Blood, very much) ; The Burnt House by Faye Kellerman (HarperCollins); The Face of Death by Cody McFadyn (Hodder & Stoughton); and probably the biggest seller of all of this lot, Heart Sick by Chelsea Cain (Macmillan). This prediction is based partly on the subject matter and partly on the huge amount of imaginative marketing that is being devoted to this title, in which the detective has to turn to the psychopathic female murderer who once held him captive in order to solve the case. See what I mean? Can’t miss (and it is first in a series).
My final pick of the vast August selection listed in the Bookseller is Black Tide by Peter Temple — Quercus is reissuing the second Jack Irish book.  I have ordered a three-in-one volume of the first three Jack Irish books from Amazon,  which is a good deal price-wise, but as availability is the infamous "4 to 6 weeks", I don’t know if I’ll ever actually receive it.