Publishing this week…

Art & Culture

Who said the book industry is on the brink? OK, I did as did countless others, but ask Pippa Middleton and she would probably beg to differ. How about a £500,000 advance for writing a book on party planning and promoting good old-fashioned British values (whatever that means!). Yep, Pip will put pen to paper for Penguin. Something about this makes me really sad. I don’t know if it’s the fact that a publisher would fork out 500k for a book like this or if it’s the fact that people will actually buy it. You decide.

In other news, there is the compulsory column about digital killing something or other, in this case libraries. Penguin has withdrawn ebooks from libraries and Amazon’s book lending service in the US, probably due to piracy concerns. First digital books kill libraries by stopping people going to libraries and now ebooks are killing libraries by not being offered by them anymore. All very confusing. Piracy, though, is undoubtedly the elephant in the room when it comes to digitisation of books and one can only hope that the book industry has learned something from the music industry. (Click on this link it is an absolute must read if you are interested in music, books, digitisation or all of the above!)

With my advent calendar poised and ready, tinsel making a decorative comeback and first advent duly celebrated,, you don’t need me to tell you that Christmas is just around the corner. Christmas, of course, means lists. Lots and lots of lists. There’s Santa’s list, shopping lists, Christmas card lists, lists of lists and so on. But there is also my favourite: book of the year lists! If you can’t be bothered to trawl through them, my book of the year is the compelling, tender, edifying, beautiful and inspiring The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. For me it is an absolute must read! If you’re looking for book gifts for book geeks you should check out Self Made Hero. Not only do they publish fantastic original graphic novels (for grown ups – harrumph!) they also have ace adaptations of classics such as Don Quixote, Heart of Darkness, The Master and Margarita, and many more. I have written Santa a sweet letter asking for all of them! If, on the other hamd, sports books are your thing then you could do worse than picking up the winner of this year’s William Hill Sports Book of the Year, Ronald Reng’s A Life Too Short – The Tragedy of Robert Enke.

Finally, then, I trust that everybody shares my enthusiasm for the customary Christmas trip to the bookies. No? Oh. Well, in case you’re still reading, what could be more fun than predicting who will top the bestsellers list when drunken and grumpy people all over the UK are ripping open disappointing presents? Last year, lardy Jamie Oliver was the runaway winner and his latest book which ties in with his Channel 4 series Jamie’s Great Britain is a pretty safe bet again this year. Guinness World Records is always near the top but it might be worth taking a punt on any of Paul Scholes, Steve Jobs, Joanna Lumley or Alan Partridge’s biographies. The real challenge, however, will be finding this year’s A Simples Life, the autobiography of the meerkat Aleksandr Orlov, which was a real dark horse last year. My guess is the Where’s Wally inspired, wait for it, Where's the Meerkat? Feel free to share your winnings with me.

M. Mueller

Check Mr Mueller's wonderful Cultural Constellations blog right here