At the end of May, Candy Gourlay flew to the other side of the world to appear in the Singapore Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore and then in the Little LitFest in Manila. It was her second year to be invited to the AFCC – this year she was also a judge of the Sing-Tel Picture Book Awards.
Important subject this and one that has been exercising me for some time.
When I first established ACHUKA in 1997 our buy-me links went to Bookpages, a UK online bookseller that was soon bought up by Amazon. My ‘affiliate’ status moved to Amazon automatically.
For most of the time since then I have been happy with the arrangement. Amazon has been an extremely efficient online seller. But more importantly the affiliate scheme it runs is managed directly from the Amazon website, which makes adding links to books and other items incredibly easy to execute.
In my experience all other affiliate schemes are much more complicated, because you have to go through third parties. (I have made this point previously.)
I introduced Watertstones links alongside Amazon links on ACHUKA’s book pages a year ago. I would very much like to move to a position where I could eliminate the Amazon links and have an exclusive affiliateship with Waterstones.
But this wouldn’t make Keith Smith – who has raised this issue in The Bookseller – happy either, because he views support for Waterstones (as opposed to support for “independent bookshops”) as being just as pernicious.
I can’t agree with that.
Waterstones does need support. It’s important for the booktrade that it survives.
But as long as Amazon can provide a significantly slicker and more efficient online trading experience it’s unlikely that I, or authors who want a quick and simple method of making their titles buyable from their websites, are going to be in a position to cut them out of the equation.
Several publishers and authors have told The Bookseller that they are in the process of changing their author websites to link to independent booksellers, after a protest over author sites that link to Amazon or chain retailers.
Keith Smith from Warwick & Kenilworth bookshops has expressed anger at the issue in a piece for The Bookseller. Smith cited the websites for Joanne Harris, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Alison Weir and Julia Donaldson as among those that link directly to Amazon, while those for Kate Morton, Ian Rankin, Tom Holland and Patrick Ness link to Amazon or chain retailers.
Smith said: “As someone who owns two independent bookshops I feel angry that these authors, unthinkingly or by design, have chosen to support Amazon, W H Smith or Waterstones without giving a fig for independent bookshops. Many of these are authors who, when asked, will say they couldn’t imagine life without their local bookshop. But words need to be matched by deeds if they are to make a difference.”
New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards winners for 2013:
• Best Young Adult Fiction and New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year: Ted Dawe, Into the River (Mangakino University Press);
• Best Non-Fiction: Simon Morton & Riria Hotere, 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa (Te Papa Press);
• Best Junior Fiction: David Hill, My Brother’s War (Penguin Group NZ);
• Honour award, Junior Fiction: Barbara Else, The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania series (Gecko Press);
• Best Picture Book: Margaret Mahy & Gavin Bishop, Mister Whistler (Gecko Press);
• Best First Book: Hugh Brown, Reach (HarperCollins); and
• Children’s Choice: Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo and John O’Reilly, Melu (Scholastic NZ)
Diana Wynne Jones final book has been completed by her sister and will be published next year:
The children’s fantasy novel which the late, much-loved author Diana Wynne Jones was writing shortly before she died has been completed by her sister, and will be published next year.
Wynne Jones was working on the manuscript for The Islands of Chaldea when she became too ill to continue, said her sister Ursula Jones, also an award-winning children’s author. Diana Wynne Jones died of cancer, aged 76, in 2011, leaving behind some of the best regarded novels in children’s fantasy, from the Chrestomanci series to Howl’s Moving Castle.
For those who can access it, here is the link to Nicolette Jones’s summer roundup of children’s books from the Sunday Times:
Nicolette Jones picks the children’s books — fun, zany or just plain gripping — that will keep the young ones entertained throughout the holidays
Have children’s book stopped being entertaining adventures and become more about issues than they used to be? Julia Eccleshare responds.
The quote is only a snippet – read the full reply by following the link.
Currently, imaginary dystopias are replacing familiar fictional backgrounds of historical upheaval such as the French Revolution or the second world war as places where children are forced into managing their own lives. These are not darker places than their historical precursors and, like them, they provide a space where children, especially todays much-watched children, can tackle demons, take risks and grow up.
Feature article by Nick Tucker about Anne Fine, to coincide with publication of her new YA novel, Blood Family:
The author of over 50 children’s books, Anne Fine has now produced possibly her most contentious novel yet. Aimed at young adults, but reaching out to older readers too, Blood Family describes how young Eddie, along with his mentally destroyed mother, is locked away for four of his first seven years by his sadistic drunken father. It’s strong stuff from a writer who is never afraid to be outspoken, and our interview could go anywhere. A still youthful 65-year-old, she has travelled to London from Barnard Castle in County Durham, where she lives with her long-term partner Dick Warren. Settling down in a dark tea room on Kings Cross Station, within a moment she is on her feet again when a neighbouring baby half-tips out of his pram. Would that some of the onlookers in her novel had shown a similar state of concern.
Literature should remain a last refuge for young people from cheap smuttiness of popular culture, writes Eilis O’Hanlon, who is critical of recent statements by Malorie Blackman and Philip Pullman
What do YOU think?
Putting more sex into children’s books won’t lead to any less internet porn, it will simply mean that there will be the same amount – plus more sex in children’s books.
What we have here is the classic liberal fallacy that if only nice, well-meaning, middle-class people got involved with certain issues, then nasty things would go away; and there are no more self-deluded do-gooders than writers. They’re the ultimate narcissists, never believing they could do anything but good. The old adage “trust me, I’m a doctor” has turned into “trust me, I’m a novelist.”
Personally, I find the idea of a bunch of middle-aged men and women writing sex scenes involving teenagers creepy. Worse still when, afterwards, they then get to hang around schools and libraries, urging teenagers to talk about all these subjects in the name of literature. As Pink Floyd might’ve sung: Hey, writer, leave those kids alone!
Always worth tuning in to this weekly hangout chaired by Morten Rand-Hendriksen
Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond and Dave McKean, reviewed by Simon Mason
Almond/McKean is a double act that’s hard to beat. The third of their graphic novel collaborations, Mouse Bird Snake Wolf is the most beautiful, but perhaps also the most unsettling. (Hats off to Walker, it’s also fabulously produced.) Previous books Slog’s Dad and The Savage, both about the death of a father, are private and raw. Geordie tales, they are not just personal but local too. The writing, in classic David Almond style, is powerfully emotional; the pictures, as always with Dave McKean, brilliantly arresting. They begin with pain and end with consolation. In some ways the new book reverses that. It’s not personal, but universal; not enclosed but spacious. It begins with beauty and wonder and ends with unease.