January 2012 Archives

Bizzy Bear On The Farm

Enthusiastic GiggleApps review of a Nosy Crow interactive book.

ACHUKAbooks Update

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Following launch publication of The Field, a novella by New Zealand author, Bill Nagelskerke, two more ACHUKAbooks titles are scheduled to appear in early February, with further books and proposals under serious consideration.

Our FAQ was recently updated. Be sure you have checked it out, particularly if you are an author considering digital publication.

All the recent publicity and discussion about ebooks (referenced in several blog links) has only served to strengthen my belief that a publisher dynamic will be an essential feature of digital publishing long-term.

The benefit of being an ACHUKAbooks-published author will increase with every new title released. And once we move beyond this pioneer period, digital readers will be looking for the same kind of quality assurance that they have come to expect from print publishers.

Our aim is still to have some half a dozen standard-bearing titles on our list by Easter.

Can I remind people that I am not just seeking submissions of children's and young adult books. I am genuinely interested in publishing for adults as well, both fiction and non-fiction, as the FAQ make clear.

For a review copy of The Field, or to send a submission, email kindleATachuka.co.uk

Knowing me, knowing you: Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt - Features - Health & Families - The Independent

Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt talk about their working friendship in a feature from The Independent...

The Brian Selznick Interview

from the City Room blog...


Children's Non-Fiction Title On Ipad

the app is a result of a partnership between the book's author Mary Kay Carson, the new children's publishing company Bookerella and the ad agency Story Worldwide

Jonathan Franzen Is Wrong

A riposte to Jonathan Franzen, by Lance Ulanoff

I have no idea why Franzen assumes that publishers and authors are changing their books for the e-editions. With the exception of no longer knowing exact page numbers, I don't see anyone changing their books for the Amazon Kindle, Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble Nook, or the Apple iPad and iBooks. An ebook reader is just a new delivery mechanism for literature.

To make matters worse, Franzen throws "capitalists" into the mix. They hate print books, he said, because these physical books will continue to work 10 years from now. "It's a bad business model," noted Franzen. I think capitalists like any kind of book they can sell you in mass quantities. I don't think they love ebooks more because they won't last as long (or at least the platforms they're on won't). My guess is that capitalists appreciate the speed with which you can get an ebook to market and the enhanced opportunities for broad distribution.


I will not lie and say that I won't miss print when it's gone, but, as Franzen himself predicts, it will be a memory in 50 years. Franzen's glad he won't be here to see it. I, on the other hand, hope to live well past my 97th year and to thoroughly enjoy ebooks from now to then and beyond. Maybe Franzen will change his mind and join me.

I was thinking to myself the other day, Now who is our current Dick King-Smith? And I wasn't able to answer my question.
Then this evening I opened one of today's packages and found this title, just out in paperback.

There was my answer. It should have come to me without prompting.
Even in paperback this is a lovely speicimen of a physical book, with delightful red, grey and brown woodcut style illustrations by Iain McIntosh, whose website is well worth a visit.

Goodreads quits sourcing data from "restrictive" Amazon...

Potentially significant announcement for KIndle authors...

A Happy Ending for the Short Story

Publishers are excited at the perfect format for the new generation of e-readers, writes Claire Coughlan, in the Irish Independent...

The piece contains links to several websites that publish short stories...

Refreshingly Original

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Refereshingly Original

Zac Harding, a children's librarian from Christchurch, New Zealand, reviews ACHUKAbooks' launch title, The Field by Bill Nagelkerke on his My Best Friends Are Books blog...

The Kindle edition of The Black Pear by Alan Porter (currently a free download).

ACHUKA read an interesting post about ebook publishing this morning on a mailing group, and we have the author's agreement to quote from what he said in the context of recent discussions about ebook publishing:

My upcoming book (an adult novel) is being published only as an ebook, with no possibility of a print edition until at least the end of 2015, if then. It gives me (and my publisher) an instant, controllable, global market with little or no interference from middle-men. Marketting can be targeted directly at the readers making it more efficient and, hopefully, effective.

Is this the state of the industry? Are the mega-publishers now such closed-shops that we don't even bother trying to work with them? Are they simply going to recede into irrelevance as hollowed-out husks with their illiterate memoirs and their half-price cookbooks?

And book selling... is it because the bookshop chains (is that even still a plural in the UK?) are so impossible to work with that we all now choose to sell direct to our customers - be they in schools, on Amazon or as ebook readers through iBookstore, Smashwords or whatever?

I think this is an absolutely fascinating change. And a good one. Writing is finally becoming truly democratised. It's a lot of hard work, but it's also got a lot of reward.

Porter's adult novel, Firestorm, will be available from the end of March.


Looking For A Short Weekend Read?

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Looking For A Short Weekend Read?

Try ACHUKAbooks' launch title, The Field by Bill Nagelkerke

[If you are an online reviewer or blogger, we will be very happy to send you a review copy. Just email us.]

Guardian Review

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Guardian review

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton, reviewed by Philip Ardagh

To an adult reader, the title A Boy and a Bear in a Boat instantly brings to mind Yann Martel's Life of Pi, with its boy in a boat with a tiger, and Moacyr Scliar's Max and the Cats, with a Jewish refugee in a boat with a jaguar. (What is it with a single male cast adrift with a wild animal?) One of the big differences in Dave Shelton's illustrated children's novel, though, is that it's the animal that does the rowing.

The lovingly designed jacket and hardback cover, with its slightly mottled paper and "worn" spine, evokes memories of Mervyn Peake's Letters from a Lost Uncle or Reif Larsen's more recent The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet. But despite the fact that Shelton is currently best known as a comic book illustrator, A Boy and a Bear is less highly illustrated than either of these....

As for any niggles? Just one. The illustrations of the bear. Nothing can beat the image of the bear Shelton paints with his words. That's the picture I shall take away with me from this very special book. PHILIP ARDAGH

Shame on Today

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Shame On Today

Article, from Publishers Weekly, berating the morning TV shows in America for failing to interview the Newbery and Caldecott winners:

What's wrong with morning-show producers? Were they not read to as children? Were they bullied by school librarians? Were they traumatized by the end of Charlotte's Web? What could have possibly happened to the current crop of morning-show producers that they would disregard entirely the winners of the highest children's book awards in the land?

Last year, our own Claire Kirch broke the news that the Today Show, which had always invited the Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners for an interview the morning after the prizes were announced, was abandoning its 11-year-old tradition, seemingly to make room for a buzzed-about new author named Snooki. Though they're still denying that one (Snooki's appearance) had anything to do with the other (snubbing the Youth Media award-winners), it's hard to take their justification seriously: that because Snooki had been booked weeks in advance, her scheduling had nothing to do with preempting the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott. The reasoning seems to be that Today didn't know when the awards would be announced, I guess because the ALA keeps the date of their midwinter meeting so top-secret.
This year, Today again failed to invite the medalists--Chris Raschka and Jack Gantos, who learned about the honors on Monday--and not one of the other morning shows--Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Fox and Friends, Morning Joe--bothered to pick up the slack.

Waterstones Picadilly To Have Russian Department

From PublishingPerspectives:

Slova, as the department will be called -- it's the Russian for "words" -- will be situated on the mezzanine level at the rear of the ground-floor of Waterstones flagship store in London's Piccadilly. And the truth is that in all likelihood it will be a tasteful addition to the existing store. After all, the Russians have a strong bookselling tradition, and if bookstore traffic in Moscow offers any precedent, it will be a busy place.

Slova will stock nearly 5,000 Russian language titles as well as Russian books in translation, covering areas such as History, Art, Poetry, Fiction, Biography and Children's, and the company is currently looking for Russian-speaking booksellers to work in the department.  MD James Daaunt said: "For Russophiles, and the large, vibrant Russian community in London, we aim to make Slova an irresistible literary and cultural destination. One won't be surprised at the source of the idea, given Waterstones' ownership, but it is a good one and perfect for this magnificent shop."

The Russian language titles stocked by Slova have been sourced direct from Russia with the assistance of Boris Kupriyanov, owner of Moscow's Falanster and Tciolkovskiy bookshops. Slova will also be working closely with Academia Rossica, the Russian Culture and Arts Foundation based in London, in planning author events, book launches and other activity throughout the year.

Lee & Low Acquires Children's Book Press

Children's Book Press, founded in 1975 by Harriet Rohmer for the specific purpose of creating a line of bilingual and multicultural books, ceased operations at the end of September and has sold its backlist inventory of 90 titles to Lee & Low Books in New York. 

E-books: Great Potential

from Publishers Weekly:
The potential of children's e-books was the subject of Digital Book World panel on Tuesday, which combined the findings of the recently released study, called "Understanding the Children's Book Consumer in the Digital Age," on the habits and trends of e-book reading in children and a Q&A with industry experts:

Perhaps the most eye-opening facet of the study came in regard to how great the potential for e-book reading in children really is. A number of figures showed promise for the future of the market, including that in children ages seven to 12, 27% own their own computer, 25% own a cell phone, and 7% own a reading device. Equally promising is the figure from the study that teens have tripled their reading rate of e-books in the last year. Furthermore, the growing interest in children for technology and the waning parental hesitancy to adopt technology is expected to drastically shift in the favor of e-books, contingent upon one big factor, according to Diane Naughton, v-p of marketing for HarperCollins Children's Books: the adoption of digital devices by schools. Once schools begin using e-books in the classroom, Naughton said, "Expect to see the percentages drastically change."

Why Submit To ACHUKAbooks? (revised)

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Why Submit to ACHUKAbooks? (revised)

Why would I hand over my work to ACHUKA for digital publication rather than seek out a regular publishing deal?

  • Because there are many types of book that regular publishers simply find too difficult to 'place' on their lists

  •  This includes first novels, very short fiction (which is why we were so pleased to be able to publish a novella as our first ACHUKAbook title), books out of kilter with current trends, books by authors who do not have a sufficiently marketable cv, books that do not have an easily definable audience, books that individual commissioning editors may be keen on but do not get past the sales-oriented final-decision meeting

  •  As a digital-only publisher ACHUKAbooks will be free to be more adventurous and speculative compared with regular publishing houses

  •   Forget the worry that publishing digitally will mean no chance of a future print edition

  •   Quite a number of authors have eventually moved on to regular publishing deals following success in the digital media, and we will be very happy to see that happen to titles first published under the ACHUKAbooks imprint

Follow link to the rest of the FAQ.

We are happy to accept submissions of
~fiction for all ages, including short stories & novellas (especially suited to the digital medium)

2012 Australian Indie Awards Shortlists"

Children's Shortlists

  • The Jewel Fish of Karnak (Graeme Base, Penguin)
  • The Little Refugee (Anh & Suzanne Do, illus Bruce Whatley, A&U)
  • The Coming of the Whirlpool: Ship Kings 1 (Andrew McGahan, A&U)
  • The 13-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, Macmillan).

Fllow the link for the other shortlists...

The Field Is First Kindle Title Reviewed On Beattie's Book Blog

"I read it on my Kindle, (the first time I have reviewed an e-book by the way)"

Graham Beattie, former Managing Director/Publisher of Penguin Books NZ Ltd., and Scholastic NZ Ltd, and now book blogger and awards judge, makes history by reviewing his first e-Book - ACHUKAbooks' launch title The Field.

Admired children's writer and former librarian Bill Nagelkerke has this time written a work of speculative fiction aimed at upper primary, intermediate and early high school students. I guess you would call it a novella. I read it on my Kindle, (the first time I have reviewed an e-book by the way), in a bit over an hour. It has a strong religious theme,(think Marian apparitions),which might be off-putting for some but it is well written and compelling as you would expect from a writer of this calibre.

Achuka Books is the brainchild of Michael Thorn, a foremost commentator on children's literature, and a highly rated blogger, and I gather this is the first title contracted and published on his newly launched Achuka e-books.

Jack Gantos: Should I Stay or Should I Go

School Library Journal interview from last September with Jack Gantos - includes a link to an audio extract of the author reading from his Newbery winning novel, Dead End In Norvelt

Philip Kerr: Interview - Telegraph

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Philip Kerr Interviiew - Telegraph

In 1993 Kerr was on Granta's list of Best Young British Novelists and has written a score of novels since (including a string of entertaining children's books under the name of PB Kerr) he is perhaps best known today for his series of Bernie Gunther novels...

E-book Penetration Reports

Library Journal and School Library Journal's 2011 Ebook Penetration and Use survey reports present the most up to date data on how libraries are adopting ebooks and the driving factors behind purchasing and circulation activity in the public, academic, and school (K-12) markets. The 2011 surveys repeat the majority of questions asked in our inaugural 2010 reports and present clear cross comparisons as well as eye-opening trends on how libraries are using this new technology.

Good Blog Post About Self-Publishing - The Rationale Behind ACHUKAbooks in Three Paragraphs


ith more and more authors publishing more and more books, we simply will not find what we want to read anymore. Which brings me to the question: how many bad books will a person have to read before they stop reading all together?

Ok, not all self-published books are bad in the same way as not all self-made bikes are dangerous. But there is a profession who have dedicated their lives to the recognition and promotion of books, of good ideas and writing. Why assume every rejected novel is a bestseller publishers were too short-sighted to pay for? Contrary to popular opinion, self-published authors are not overnight millionaires, and publishers do not exist to screw artists out of money.

Maybe this self-publishing fiasco comes largely from a lack of trust in publishers' judgment. Publishers need to think about not only what they can offer authors that a hunk of software can't (arguably a lot), but also what they can offer readers that a search result can't. I don't mean with marketing campaigns, I mean with publishing choices that credit readers with curiosity and intelligence. Our authors' trust is important; our readers' faith just as much so.

Gatekeepers are only as bad as what they let through the gates. What does that say about self-publishing platforms vs publishers?

Read This If You Are Thinking Of Self-Publishing

Blogger and inide-author Jeff Bennington writes:

You have to face the stark reality that you're not famous, you don't have a cult following, and you're not a New York Times bestseller, yet. One of the biggest obstacles for indie and small press authors to overcome is finding readers. You may have a great book cover, and your prose may be razor sharp, but lets face it, you are one in a million. Hundreds of thousands of books are published every year, and as a new/newer author, it's not likely that readers will search your name or title. Sigh. Depressing isn't it? Well, it can be, if you're subject to resignation. But if you are the type of person who sees an obstacle as an opportunity, you may have what it takes to climb out of the literary abyss and into the public arena. The problem with publishing is that unless you have a platform, or a method to reach out to readers, you are like a grain of sand on the beach. People will walk on you all day long, but never know you're there. If you publish on Amazon, your book is thrown into the ocean of ebooks and will splash around until readers start buying. When they purchase your book, it'll stay close to shore where other readers can see it. But if you don't plan for a beach party upon publication, your book will drift off to sea and eventually end up in the south pacific, stranded on a lifeless island.

And that is precisely why indie authors should give serious thought to submitting their work to ACHUKAbooks. If we select your title, we will do all the promotion and brand-building on your behalf.

Check out our Announcement page...

E-book Borrowing Takes Off In U.S.<

Report from ComputerWorld

Holiday sales of new tablets and e-readers have catapulted e-book borrowing at many of the nation's libraries, raising the question of how libraries can keep up with demand -- especially when some publishers still balk at e-book lending.

The demand for e-books at some major public libraries more than doubled so far in December and January compared to a year ago, causing frustrations for e-book users and librarians alike.

"Demand for e-book borrowing has definitely gone up...dramatically recently," said Laura Irmscher, collection development manager for the Boston Public Library, the nation's oldest with a central library and 26 branches. She said e-book borrowing demand at the Boston libraries more than tripled in December, compared to December 2010. For the first half of January, more than 700 people a day tried to borrow an e-book, or added their name to a long waiting list for some of the more popular titles.

At the New York Public Library, 2,907 e-books and materials were checked out on Dec. 26, 2011, nearly double the 1,523 checked out on the same date in 2010, said Miriam Tuliao, assistant director of collections strategy for the library. In all, the New York Public Library has 22,000 unique e-book titles.

Jack Gantos Wins The Newbery

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, is the 2012 Newbery Medal winner.

Two Newbery Honor Books also were named: "Inside Out & Back Again," written by Thanhha Lai and published by HarperCollins Children's Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers; and "Breaking Stalin's Nose," written and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, and published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

A Ball for Daisy illustrated and written by Chris Raschka, is the 2012 Caldecott Medal winner.

Three Caldecott Honor Books also were named: "Blackout," illustrated and written by John Rocco, and published by Disney · Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group; "Grandpa Green" illustrated and written by Lane Smith, and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership; and "Me ... Jane," illustrated and written by Patrick McDonnell, and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, is the 2012 Printz Award winner.

For the full award list, follow the link at the top of the post...

Guest Blog Slot On Nosy Crow

Kate Wilson invited me to write a guest blog piece for her, after I'd tweeted about the different emotional intensity of being a publisher as opposed to being a reviewer.

Follow achuka on Twitter... @achuka

The benefits of Independence

Wish she'd managed to be a little more enthusiastic about ACHUKAbooks' first title, but here's an Interesting blog entry and observation from the first reviewer of The Field....

I had never realised just how heavily edited books from the big publishing houses are and just how formulaic they are. What is brilliant when reading an independent book is that the author is writing their story to satisfy them; not to satisfy the editors at publishing houses.

The Field by Bill Nagelkerke, ACHUKAbooks launch title, is available for free download until midnight US West Coast time...
Here are the links according to location
US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006Z3FTUW
UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006Z3FTUW
GER https://www.amazon.de/dp/B006Z3FTUW
FRA https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B006Z3FTUW
ITA https://www.amazon.it/dp/B006Z3FTUW
SPA https://www.amazon.es/dp/B006Z3FTUW

Let us know what you think by submitting an Amazon review after reading the book.

How on earth do you tell your family that you'd seen . . .
. . . Our Lady . . .
. . . The Virgin Mary . . .
. . . The Queen of Heaven . . .
. . . The Mother of God. (The Mother of GOD!)
And that she had spoken to you.
And that she was going to speak to you again.
Up in the Crow's Nest.
And that was why you had to be there.
(And that's why you'd wet yourself.)

ACHUKA's new venture into digital publishing was only announced at the turn of the year and we are thrilled to be able to publish the first ACHUKAbooks title so soon after inviting submissions.

The submission address is kindleATachuka.co.uk

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

In Darkness by Nick Lake, reviewed by Patrick Ness

Couldn't agree more with the intro to this review...

There are occasionally voices in the children's book world who argue that the kind of serious children's novels that win prizes and get newspaper reviews are, in fact, books that are only loved by prize judges and middle-aged reviewers, not by kids themselves. But this, I think, works from an incorrect premise: that there is only one sort of child reader. There isn't, of course. Young readers are as varied as adult readers, and as eclectic in their individual tastes. Just because you read the latest Booker winner doesn't mean you don't also read the latest Scandinavian corpse-fiest, and vice versa. It's actually a bit of an insult to young readers to assume that a challenging, literary book must automatically be off-putting, and it's not at all my experience of the young readers I meet. It's certainly not how I read when I was young. I read both bestsellers and more obscure fare - anything that might give the remotest clue to the world outside my suburb.

Ness then goes on to say...

In Darkness is both violent and subtle, unexpectedly reminding me of The Wire. Characters, settings, and the half-believed Haitian vodou religion are handled with patience and complexity, even in a terrifying, poverty-stricken setting. Also, as in The Wire, Lake doesn't shy away from Shorty's immersion in gang culture, nor the profanity that permeates it and Shorty's own participation in its brutality and murder. Sometimes Lake might go a bit too far with the roughness, but I don't doubt his seriousness. Nor, I think, will the kind of young reader who'll embrace this book.

In Darkness is a serious, nuanced, challenging novel. Trust me, there are plenty of young readers who hunger for exactly that. PATRICK NESS

An Author Reviews Different Jacket Designs for the Same Title

a blog rentry from An Awfully Big Blog Adventure (ABBA)...

Speaking Up For School Librarians

Very good piece this...

The Field (ACHUKAbooks) - Book Trailer

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The Field by Bill Nagelkerke - OUT NOW on the Kindle store, readable on PC, Mac, smartphone...

Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin
publishing March 2012

Daniel Handler On Ya Literature

Daniel Handler, interviewed by the Boston Globe, says he does not know what young adult literature is...

I'm not really sure I understand what young adult literature is. A few years ago, I was on the committee for the National Book Award for children's literature and most of what we read was marked as YA and it really had nothing in common, as far as I could tell, except that I was reading it all. Though I was interested in a story about people in high school and YA seems to be that distinction. I think that there's actually quite a bit of speculation and confusion as to who reads books that are set in high school.

Huffington Post's Children's Books Picks

Huffington Post is starting a new monthly feature to highlight children's books for different ages... Here are their picks for January...

How on earth do you tell your family that you'd seen . . .
. . . Our Lady . . .
. . . The Virgin Mary . . .
. . . The Queen of Heaven . . .
. . . The Mother of God. (The Mother of GOD!)
And that she had spoken to you.
And that she was going to speak to you again.
Up in the Crow's Nest.
And that was why you had to be there.
(And that's why you'd wet yourself.)

ACHUKA's new venture into digital publishing was only announced at the turn of the year and we are thrilled to be able to publish the first ACHUKAbooks title so soon after inviting submissions.

The Field by Bill Nagelkerke is out now, as a Kindle book that can be downloaded and read on a wide range of devices.

It is a transfixing novella about a 12-year-old girl whose father is the groundsman at a sports stadium which is about to be replaced by a new arena.

Jacinta has spent her childhood accompanying her father to work, and spending time in the big-wigs' stand, high up above the sports field, watching her dad go about his chores, while her younger brother helps at his side.

When Jacinta begins receiving messages from Mary, Mother of God, her parents and the local bishop don't know how to respond.

The author, Bill Nagelkerke, lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, a city recentlly rocked and ruined by a series of physically and psychologically unsettling earthquakes. He worked as a children's librarian before leaving library work to focus on his writing. He has written more than a dozen children's books for both trade and educational publishers and in recent years has also translated several books - picture flats and novels - from Dutch into English for a small New Zealand publisher, Gecko Press. These books are distributed internationally. As well as writing, Bill reviews children's books for the Australasian journal Magpies, and has been a judge for various children's books awards including serving twice on the Hans Christian Andersen Award jury.

Requests for review copies and new submissions should be sent to kindle@achuka.co.uk

With further titles already being prepared for Jan/Feb publication, ACHUKAbooks encourages yet more submissions.

Jon Appleton Moves To Hodder

Jon joins Hodder Children's Books from Hachette Australia, where he was Children's Publisher during 2011. Previously to that he worked as Editorial Director at Orion under Fiona Kennedy.

YA Market Ripe For Digital

According to Caroline Horn, The Bookseller:

Simon & Schuster Children's publisher Selberg pointed to the young adult market as the obvious digital growth area in 2012. S&S authors already doing well in e-book formats include YA authors Becca Fitzpatrick and Sophie McKenzie, who sold in "substantial four-figures", although this represents just 2% of their printed book market. After steady and "significant" growth in e-book sales last year, Emma Hopkin, m.d. of Bloomsbury Children's Books, predicted more of the same for 2012--especially among YA readers. In the US, which is slightly ahead of the UK market, children's e-books account for around 8% of Bloomsbury's overall children's sales, with some 90% of this coming from teen titles. OUP, which sold 32% of its total annual volume e-book sales during December, pointed to a shift in e-book purchases towards younger readers. Elaine McQuade, head of marketing and publicity, said: "Previously, our bestselling e-book titles have probably been bought by an older, or even adult, audience. For example, Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth trilogy, which gained a big boost in e-book sales after the film came out in the spring. "However, e-books of our Shapeshifter series by Ali Sparkes, aimed at nine to 12-year-olds, were among our bestsellers in December. Parents are beginning to download contemporary children's books for their own children, as opposed to books they remember from their childhood." Tom Conway, digital publishing manager at HarperCollins, agreed that sales are beginning to shift towards the core children's market. "This Christmas saw a surge in e-book sales across our children's list, with many young readers coming to authors like David Walliams, Derek Landy and Louise Rennison for the first time in e-book format."

Bloomsbury e-sales up 40%

from The Bookseller:

Bloomsbury has said it had a "strong" final three months of 2011, with e-book sales growing by 38% year on year in the quarter from 1st September to 31st December 2011...

The statement also mentioned Rebecca McNally's appointment as publishing director and international editor in chief, Bloomsbury Children's Books, in October, reiterating that her role will "include the expansion of Bloomsbury's illustrated children's publishing".

Shirley Hughes Feature

Q&A feature with Shirley Hughes from yesterdays Guardian Weekend magazine.


What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Buying things I don't need in junk and charity shops.

What do you owe your parents?
Unswerving support.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

Old friends, now dead, with whom I wish I'd spent more time.

Which living person do you most despise, and why?
Those who disparage the efforts of young people.

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

Blood Red Road by Moira Young, reviewed by Anthony McGowan

McGowan is one of The Guardian's more acerbic children's book reviewers, but "a risible collection of clichés strung together by a barely coherent plot" is strong criticism even from him.

The fact that the book has won a Costa Book Award he finds "rather baffling".

On the other hand, " My nine-year-old daughter got hold of my review copy and was so entranced that I had to machete it into sections so we could both carry on reading it."

"Yes, this is the perfect apocalypse for pre-teens," he ends.


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Children's Books Reviewed - Daily Mail

Sally Morris reviews:



Kindle Lending Library Figures Dazzle

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Kindle Lending Library Figures Dazzle

Some quite dazzling figures in this report of the first month's performance of the Kindle Lending Library.
Keep your submissions coming to ACHUKAbooks, and they too could, within a very short space of time, be tapping in to this new source of author income...

The Kindle Owners' Lending Library is off to a strong start: customers borrowed 295,000 KDP Select titles in December alone, and KDP Select has helped grow total library selection to over 75,000 books. With the $500,000 December fund, KDP authors have earned $1.70 per borrow. In response to strong customer adoption of the Kindle Owners' Lending Library (as well as seasonal, post-holiday use of new Kindles), Amazon.com, Inc. has added a $200,000 bonus to the January KDP Select fund, raising the total pool from $500,000 to $700,000.

"Due to this early success and a seasonally strong January, we're adding a $200,000 bonus to January's KDP Select fund, growing this month's total pool to $700,000."
Paid KDP sales grew rapidly in December -- and results show that paid sales of titles participating in KDP Select are growing even faster than other KDP titles. On top of this growth in paid sales, KDP Select authors and publishers on average are receiving an incremental 26% in December as a result of their participation in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

"KDP Select appears to be earning authors more money in two ways. We knew customers would love having KDP Select titles in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. But we've been surprised by how much paid sales of those same titles increased, even relative to the rest of KDP," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. "Due to this early success and a seasonally strong January, we're adding a $200,000 bonus to January's KDP Select fund, growing this month's total pool to $700,000."

The top ten KDP Select authors earned over $70,000 in the month of December from their participation in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, a 30% increase on top of the royalties they earned from their paid sales on the same titles in the same period. In total (paid sales plus their share of the loan fund), these authors saw their royalties grow an astonishing 449% month-over-month from November to December. The list of top 10 KDP Select authors includes Carolyn McCray, Rachel Yu, the Grabarchuk family and Amber Scott.

Carolyn McCray, a writer of paranormal romance novels, historical thrillers and mysteries, earned $8,250 from the KDP Select fund in December. "KDP Select truly is a career altering program," said McCray. "I couldn't be happier with the tools, support and exposure it has given me. To say the trade-off of exclusivity on Amazon for the Kindle Owners' Lending Library has been a profitable one would be a gross understatement. Participating in KDP Select has quadrupled my royalties."

Rachel Yu is a 16-year-old author of children's books, and she earned $6,200 from the KDP Select fund in the month of December. "It's so cool to be part of the success of KDP Select," said Yu. "It's just like a library but with easier access. There's truly no other opportunity like Amazon for self-publishing."

Win A Visit from Jan Brett - Anywhere In The World!

New York Times #1 bestselling and beloved children's author/ artist, Jan Brett, launched her second annual Facebook contest through Wizehive's Online Contest Manager; . The online contest encourages parents, teachers, and librarians to enter to win a school or library visit from Brett during the 2012-2013 school year. Jan Brett's use of social media is a case study worthy example of connecting directly with fans. Within an hour of opening, the contest had already accrued hundreds of entries. Tens of thousands of entries are expected by the time the contest ends on April 9, 2012.

Kindle Format 8 Announced

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Kindle Format 8 Announced

The new formatting features announced by Kindle today mean that ACHUKAbooks will be able to accept a wider range of submissions, so it's good news...

All being well, ACHUKAbooks launch title will publish next week.

Keep the submissions coming to kindle@achuka.co.uk

Morpurgo In McDonald's Giveaway

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Morpurgo In McDonald's Giveaway

McDonald's has struck a deal with HarperCollins, the book publisher owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, to give away about 9m of Morpurgo's Mudpuddle Farm children's books with Happy Meal purchases.

The giveaway is being backed by a major TV campaign - launching on Wednesday and running until 7 February - with McDonald's claiming the initiative is about increasing literacy and creativity among children.

Tamarind Struggling To Attract Strong Multicultural Submissions

from The Bookseller:

Publisher Tamarind Books has called for more writers and illustrators to tackle multicultural issues in their work, pointing to a lack of strong writing in this area. Fiction editor Parul Bavishi said: "I am looking for great multicultural books, but it is hard to attract good submissions."

Roald Dahl Postage Stamp Set

Six of Roald Dahl's most popular tales are being celebrated by the Royal Mail with a special set of stamps.

Bad Thoughts Needing To Be Released

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Bad Thoughts Needing To Be Released

from a review of She's Never Coming Back by Hans Koppel, in The Independent:

The literary furore around Lisbeth Salander's graphically described violations will seem small beer if Hans Koppel's She's Never Coming Back repeats the success in translation that it has already enjoyed in Sweden. The author's real name is Karl Petter Lidbeck, and he has written some much-acclaimed children's books. Icelandic crime writer Yrsa Sigurdardottir also made her mark as a writer of children's books, and said that she was building up "bad thoughts" that had to be released in an adult novel. It would appear that "Koppel" has similarly been incubating dark things.

The notion that children's writers are forced to incubate 'dark things' that they have to omit from their juvenile fiction is an intriguing one...

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Trailer for Hollow Pike, debut novel by James Dawson

E-Book Rearch

Although just a small study, involving a couple of dozen families, this contains some interesting findings and statisitics

ACHUKAbooks - The First Find!

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ACHUKAbooks has acquired its first title - a short work of transfixing speculative fiction.

The author is not from the UK.

We will release more hints and details about the book as we prepare it for publication.


ACHUKA Announces ACHUKA Books

From the beginning of 2012 we are inviting submissions for a new digital imprint, ACHUKA Books.
In the first year we shall be using exclusively the Kindle Direct Publishing program.

There are full details on the Announcement Page and in the accompanying FAQ.

Library Journal's Pick From 2011

Some good, wide-ranging recomendations here, including

and on Kindle

Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner, reviewed by Mary Hoffman

The Double Shadow is a book about loss and damage, identity and illusion, cruelty and, ultimately, healing. It's an astonishing departure for a writer who has found a new and very distinctive voice... MARY HOFFMAN

Walter Dean Myers - US Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Mr. Myers said his message would be etched by his own experiences.

"I think that what we need to do is say reading is going to really affect your life," he said in an interview at his book-cluttered house here in Jersey City, adding that he hoped to speak directly to low-income minority parents. "You take a black man who doesn't have a job, but you say to him, 'Look, you can make a difference in your child's life, just by reading to him for 30 minutes a day.' That's what I would like to do."

Curious George Exhibition

In 1940, Hans Augusto Rey and his wife, Margret, were at the top of their game. Between 1937 and 1939, with Hans doing the illustrations and Margret fleshing out the story lines, they had had no fewer than seven children's books published. They had also completed the manuscripts and illustrations for at least four others.

One of the unfinished works was called "Raffy and the 9 Monkeys.'' It was about a lonely giraffe (aren't all giraffes lonely up there?) who became friends (thank heavens!) with nine monkeys.

One of the monkeys - we learn from the exhibit "Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey,'' at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge - was called Fifi. He later became the hero of his own book, "Fifi: the Adventures of a Monkey.'' And later still, he became Curious George.

A selection of contemporary world literature...

Worldwide ACHUKAbooks submissions welcomed (in English translation)

Christmas Kindle Figures

More than 1.3 million e-readers were sold in the UK pre-Christmas, equating to one in every 40 adults receiving the device as a present this year, new research has shown.

Of those sold 92 per cent were Kindle products, produced by global e-tail giant Amazon, according to a recent survey conducted by research firm YouGov and published today, making it the most popular technology gift of Christmas 2011.

Another Kindle Convert

A Kindle Convert takes the floor...

Borrow That E-Book

"The popularity of e-books has risen dramatically," said Shader, who oversees eight libraries across Bay, Gulf and Liberty counties. The libraries have hooked up with a company called Overdrive, which handles leasing the Kindle e-books and is building a local library Web page for them...

E For Enhancement

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E For Enhancement

Book apps for tablets and smartphones and enhanced e-books for e-readers are going far beyond the transfer of book text to Kindle screen. By bringing audio, video, animation and games to what was once the simple printed page, apps are beginning to fundamentally change our understanding of what makes a book a book...

says this article in the Sacramento Bee

ACHUKAbooks - some background

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Established as we were in 1997, ACHUKA was one of the first internet sites dedicated to children's books, and for a period of time the website enjoyed a pre-eminent position by virtue of its pioneering status.
Because the internet is so much more diverse than it was fifteen years ago, and because news organisations such as the BBC and the Guardian (no longer The Times, because of its paywall) do such a good job of reporting books news online, I came to the conclusion some time ago that ACHUKA could not remain a site focused only on children's books.
For a variety of reasons, the amount of energy I have been able to give certain aspects of the site (author interviews to take one example) has not been as great during the past five years as it was in the site's first decade, and consequently the site's design and presentation have been streamlined to take account of this.
The focal point has become the blog, which I like to think is as good a searchable record of contemporary children's books news, reviews, obituaries, award winners etc. as exists anywhere online.
Last year we broadened our scope to include adult and self-published titles.
I did not anticipate and I could not have predicted that I would this year be attempting to start up a digital publishing list.
In some ways ACHUKA Books is a strange thing for me to be starting up.
You won't find a more staunch defender of the physical book and printed news media (newspapers and magazines) than me. I have no great personal hankering to read books or newpspapers digitally, although I can see that eReader devices are handy for travellers and for people living inconvenient distances from bookshops. I am happy to read longish documents and articles on a PC screen, and recently enjoyed dipping into some previously unread Dickens stories downloaded into the Kindle app on my smartphone. But I prefer the feel of a book, the being able to measure one's advance through its pages, the play of light and shadow as the page bends and curves, the having to find a way of physically marking one's place.
I am quite scared by what the digitisation of the printed word might mean for the way 'literature' is regarded in the future, and will want to do what I can to continue to promote the traditionally produced book.
Indeed, I make clear at the very outset of the ACHUKA Books FAQ that for most authors and for most books traditional publication in a printed book remains the ultimate goal and worth the very long gestation time (normally years).
No, ACHUKA Books is for those authors for whom traditional publication seems not to be an option. They may not be prepared to wait years. They may have tried and tried to have their book accepted and failed. They may be writing in a manner that is deemed not sufficiently popular or commercial. (One of the great benefits of digital publishing is that even books that are likely to have a very narrow appeal can be as affordably produced as any other.)
Long long ago I had a brief experience of editing, when for one or two issues I was poetry editor of a 1960s magazine, Sixth Form Opinion. I remember the thrill of fat wadges of poems dropping on to the doormat from every corner of the kingdom, some handwritten, some sent as smudged carbon copies. Being in the position of selecting and advising which poems should be printed seemed such a privilege.
I have always enjoyed curating and collecting. One of the reasons I spend so much time on Flickr is because it not only inspires my own photography, but also gives me an opportunity to collect fine work in my Favorites, in my themed galleries and in the One to One group.
This makes it sound as if I have launched ACHUKA Books as something of an indulgence. That would give the wrong impression, but I do anticipate that it is going to be a very rewarding enterprise, and I am moved to have received a good number of encouraging messages and expressions of shared excitement. Now, let me check that Inbox.

Blood Red Road Wins Children's Costa

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Costa Winners


from The Independent:

This year's Novel Award winner, Andrew Miller, beat the Man Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes with his sixth book, Pure, about a young engineer charged with demolishing a Paris cemetery in 1785.

Matthew Hollis won the Biography Award with Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas, beating Claire Tomalin's bestselling Charles Dickens: A Life.

Carol Ann Duffy's The Bees is her first collection of new poems since becoming Poet Laureate in 2009.

The two debut novels, Christie Watson's Tiny Sunbirds Far Away and Moira Young's Blood Red Road are the 5/1 outsiders for Book of the Year at William Hill, with Hollis's biography the favourite to pick up the £30,000 prize. The five winners were selected from 568 entries and will receive £5,000 each.

ACHUKA Announces ACHUKA Books

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ACHUKA Announces ACHUKA Books

From today we are inviting submissions for a new digital imprint, ACHUKA Books.
In the first year we shall be using exclusively the Kindle Direct Publishing program.

There are full details on the Announcement Page and in the accompanying FAQ.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2011 is the previous archive.

February 2012 is the next archive.

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