Picador partners with Amazon

Publishers grasp Amazon’s Vine.

“This link with Vine is just one part of Picador’s partnership with Amazon and the reason that I am writing this blog piece today is that after much work behind the scenes today is the day that we launch the Picador Store on Amazon. I am extremely excited about this launch and look forward to your comments on it. The aim of the store is to highlight Picador’s fiction and non fiction publications, the new titles, the backlist and the audio editions, to Amazon’s customers. Each month there will be Book of the Month as well as offers on backlist and additional information on our titles and authors.”

Oldies but goodies

Via the Bookseller:

"Classic crime titles are being given a facelift this autumn with the launch of a new list featuring stylish monochrome artwork from Atlantic Books. The series will begin on 1st November with a four-strong launch comprising Gerald Griffin’s thriller The Collegians, Sapper’s detective novel Bulldog Drummond, Raffles by E W Hornung and Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, which Atlantic describes as "the first detective novel". Thereafter, the publisher will launch a book every month—including titles by Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sheridan Le Fanu and G K Chesterton—until at least the end of 2009."

Sunday Salon: Two adaptations of Little Dorrit

TSSbadge3 Sometime pretty soon the BBC will air its new production of Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, a book about enduring, patient love as well as an angry satire on the debtors' prisons of the time and, one of this author's enduring themes, the hells of bureaucracy (here epitomized by the Circumlocution Office of the British government).
Although, based on past experience of BBC adaptations of classic novels, I have every reason to believe the new version (scripted, inevitably, by Andrew Davies) will be excellent, I discovered recently that the long-lost 1987 pair of films of the book are finally about to be available on DVD. (27 October, apparently.) These two films were made on a shoestring budget by Christine Edzard. I saw them both at the cinema when they were released, and they are wonderful. In one of them, the actress Patricia Hayes (now, sadly, deceased) was sitting behind me and my sister in the cinema. At the end, she graciously accepted the accolades of the audience as we drifted out into the modern world. Although the budget limitations of these films are fairly obvious, the quality of the adaptation, the acting and the empathy with the original novel shine thorough. Famously there was no location shooting, so the films have a painterly, theatrical atmosphere. It will be interesting to compare the two versions. The book, of course, is marvellous. I'm not sure if it is my favourite Dickens (I am very partial to Our Mutual Friend) but it is pretty close to it.

IMDB on the 1987 version. (Cast includes Derek Jacobi and Alec Guinness.)

IMDB on the 2008 version. (Cast includes Matthew Macfadyen and Andy Serkis)

Wikipedia on Little Dorrit.

Happy 10th birthday, Google.


Ten years and counting…..

Ten commandments of blogging

Religious leaders draw up blogging commandments. I like it!

1 You shall not put your blog before your integrity

2 You shall not make an idol of your blog

3 You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin

4 Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog

5 Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes

6 You shall not murder someone else's honour, reputation or feelings

7 You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind

8 You shall not steal another person's content

9 You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger

10 You shall not covet your neighbour's blog ranking. Be content with your own content.

Short stories about love

Reading the Times paper edition today (as is my wont) I was impressed by the six short (300-word) stories written by readers that have just won a competition held by the paper. The six winning stories are here. Last summer, I think while I was away on holiday as I seem to have missed it, the Times asked six authors (Matt Thorne, Lionel Shriver, Jilly Cooper, James Meek, Adele Parks and Tim Lott) to write a 300-word (max) story on the subject of love. The results are here.

If you like the competition winners, here are eight runners-up from among the Times readers' entries.

Desperate situations, part 94

Sitting at my computer while a daughter is watching a recorded episode of Desperate Housewives. Hear screech of brakes. Look up and round to see screen. Woman 1 is pushing man out of car and towards a car driven by woman 2. Woman 1 clearly needs to dash off somewhere alone – asks woman 2: "will you take him home?" "Sure" says woman 2 (from the back looks like Nicolette Sheridan). "Get in" to man as woman 1 drives of. He screams and pleads:

"Don't make me go back there! The other divorced men are trying to start a book club."

Later on, woman brings young girl into house. Angry man shouts "You took her to therapy behind my back!".

I only watched the first series of this programme (on recorded DVD of course) so have missed about 3,080 hours between then and now, but I really must get back to it based on these snatches of dialogue I am hearing.

Unanswerable questions

After my unsuccessful attempt to try out the (broken) Sony e-reader on display in my local Waterstones at the weekend* and observing the notice on it to the effect that you might as well not bother ordering one as they are backed up for the next decade or so with requests, I am moved to ask:

Is the Sony e-reader the new Wii Fit?

Although my question is made with the availability issue in my mind, I also wonder I have another subconscious agenda, to do with the relationship of these "tools" with the real world. You don't need an electronic device to read any more than you need an automated weighing machine hooked up to your TV to do exercise.

Yes I know that there are lots of good uses of an e-reader in terms of storage capacity, baggage restrictions, sheer tonnage of printed books, sample chapters and so on. And I know that it might be more fun watching your Mii overtake Harry, Ron, Hermione, Voldemort and Dork's (don't ask) Miis than getting muddy on a lonely circuit of the local park. On the other hand, couldn't we have an accessible new technology that is so popular you can't buy it but also that does something you couldn't do before? Teleport you to work in the morning and back at night, for example?

And here is another question:

Is the "bag for life" the new plastic carrier bag?

I have lost count of the number of tasteful hessian bags I have generously been given in the past year or so. None of them has handles long enough to carry on a bike (with drop handlebars and no basket). What can I do with them all that is ecologically acceptable? At the moment they are all in a cupboard with hundreds of plastic carrier bags (which arrive in the house at a rate of knots despite my never using one when I go shopping, armed with my ancient canvas long-handled bag or a rucksack).

*Footnote: I have had a generous offer to try out a friend's Sony e-reader, by the way, so my curiosity will soon be satisfied. On the basis of the broken one in Waterstones, I suspect I shall continue to observe vicariously rather than to attempt to purchase and participate.

Authors and Wall St, conferences, and podcasts

Dave Knadler finds some poetry in comparing Willa Cather with the current situation on Wall St: "This is the country we've made. No starlight at all, just streaming video and freeway exits and BlackBerries buzzing during matinee showings of Righteous Kill.It's a country where we pay guys a lot of money to tweak pitchbooks on a Sunday afternoon. Or used to. Maybe that'll seem poignant 90 years from now, the way My Antonia seems now." Lovely post.

Clare Dudman reports on a day in York at an authors' meeting about the effects of the internet on publishing. One aspect is that of economics in an era where more and more content is available free: "publishers are now expecting authors to do their own picture research, indexing, create and maintain their own website, and pay for any permission fees from their own pocket. I certainly had to do these last three things for my novels, and I remember it being a bit of a shock." Clare also passes on some good advice about web analytics, as well as some thoughts on creative writing courses, booksellers and e-books.

Mack, of Mack Pitches Up, recommends CrimeWAV, "a nifty concept. Crime writers read their short stories. …if you think you would enjoy listening to crime fiction then I'd like to steer to toward three of Seth Harwood's projects. I've been a fan for a while and, besides being a nice guy, Seth's a very talented writer and podcaster (except when he does the voice for Momma Ponds)." You can try a few out via the links at Mack's post.

Sunday Salon: Maj Sjowall and a lost fire engine

TSSbadge3 My latest Euro Crime review is The Fire Engine that Disappeared by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. My review starts: At the risk of sounding overenthusiastic, here is another superb outing in the Martin Beck series. The first few chapters, which describe a stakeout in which Gunvald Larsson of the homicide squad is reluctantly involved, are brilliant. The authors capture so well the big picture and the minutiae of normal life that together create a tense, involving drama. Read on here.

Maj Sjowall – I think!

While on the subject of the Martin Beck series, I noticed a comment by Marco at Barbara Fister's blog Scandinavian Crime Fiction. Marco writes: "the recently concluded Festivaletteratura di Mantova (think Italy’s Hay-on-Wye) had a few panels on crime fiction,and one specifically dedicated to “The Masters of Scandinavian Murder”. Among the authors invited were Nesbo, Nesser, GW Persson, Maj Sjöwall and Anne Holt. Heres a Sjöwall interview,and here a brief overview of the crime events at the Festival with photos of Sjöwall and Persson. The interview doesn’t really break new ground,but there’s a humorous bit in which she says that, thanks to the recent crime fiction boom,you’ll be hard pressed to find a Swedish village lacking its very own fictional detective." Thanks, Marco! The festival, from the programme and list of authors who attended, looks really great. What a pity I don't read Italian so can't understand the reports.

I'm now half-way through the Martin Beck series. I'm savouring these excellent books, and thank Norman of Crime Scraps for introducing me to them. A full list, in chronological order, is here.