Dog-Eared and Dispatched: September 15, 2013Traditions new and old have been at the forefront of book news this week. On September 10, the Man Booker shortlist was announced, leaving only six novelists from a wide range of backgrounds to contend for the coveted recognition and riches associated with this 42-year-old award. While this contest carries on, The University of North Carolina Press has received a substantial sum of grant money to be allocated toward the extended study of digital publishing and the complications the transition from print books to electronic books presents for publishers, particularly university presses. Speaking of the digitized book, Ofcom has recently published its newest findings regarding e-book purchases in the U.K., noting that Amazon dominates the U.K. market and that over half of its e-book sales (mostly Kindle-based) comprise free e-books. After all this digital dialogue, maybe it’s time for something a little more reminiscent of the old days: the lit crawl. Taking place this year in San Francisco, L.A., and London—to name a few—lit crawls are a growing trend among literary aficionados, rejuvenating the world of author readings by offering attendees fresh faces in unconventional places.
The 2013 Man Booker shortlist was announced on Tuesday, September 10. Narrowed down from an original 151 entries to 13 longlisted novels to the remaining six publications, this selection has been noted as “ unmistakably the most diverse in Man Booker Prize history,” according to Robert Macfarlane, the chair of this year’s judging panel. Novelists from England, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, and Zimbabwe are represented in the penultimate chapter of this literary contest. Included on this list is NoViolet Bulawayo, whose debut work of fiction, We Need New Names (Little, Brown), was reviewed by Late Night Library in June. Alongside Bulawayo’s novel, the final cut of books includes The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Little, Brown), Harvest by Jim Crace (Nan A. Talese), The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf), A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Viking), and The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin (Scribner). In their press release, TheManBookerPrize.com remarked that this year’s shortlist is proof “that the perennial complaint that fiction is too safe and unadventurous is a ridiculous one; it shows that the novel remains a multi-faceted thing; that writing and inspiration knows no geographical borders; that diaspora tales are a powerful strand in imaginative thinking; and that human voices, in all their diversity, drive fiction.” The winner of the honor, distinction, and £50,000 tied to this prestigious award will be announced on October 15. [Man Booker Prize, Publisher’s Weekly, The Daily Beast]
A recent Ofcom study indicates that Amazon dominates the e-book market in the U.K. as well as the U.S., with the online retailer claiming an estimated 79% of the market share. This statistic is based on a survey and report created for the company by Kanter Media. The survey—which was based in part on consumer reference—divulged that “79% of people who have downloaded, accessed, or shared e-books in the past three months used Amazon’s Kindle platform.” It ranked Apple’s iBookstore as the No. 2 choice at 9% and Google’s search engine as the No. 3 choice at 8%. The study also revealed that 61% of the U.K.’s e-books were purchased for free, with 17% of these being illegally acquired. [The Bookseller, Kanter Media, GalleyCat]
In what must be every university press’ fantasy, The University of North Carolina Press received $250,000 in grant money from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust this Tuesday, September 10. This funding comes hot on the heels of a $100,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation earlier this year. Both of these grants are to be put toward addressing the obstacles presented by the publishing industry’s transition into the digital era, with UNC Press aspiring to act as a model for other university presses. “The world of university press publishing is experiencing significant disruption,” said Press director John Shere. “This generous grant will permit UNC Press to take advantage of the many opportunities that abound in this new environment.” [Publisher’s Weekly]
Pub crawls have likely been around in some form or another since the creation of the first alcoholic beverage. But what about these “lit crawls” we keep hearing about lately? Following the tradition of the pub crawl only with authors rather than alcohol as the impetus, these live events—occurring in bars, art galleries, and the occasional pizzeria or laundromat, according to The New York Times—have gathered a large following over the last decade. San Francisco, which established an annual Lit Crawl in 2004 as part of its Litquake Literary Festival, is often cited as the city that pioneered this trend. Now, the idea of the lit crawl has expanded throughout the nation and across the sea, with New York, Los Angeles, and London all hosting their first lit crawls this summer and fall. Lit Crawl NYC Director Suzanne Russo told The New York Times that the focus of the Lit Crawl “is not a series of sit-downs featuring glossy, boldface names, but a gritty, low-budget affair, both more accessible — there are no tickets, and admission is free — and more locally oriented, giving lesser-known New York writers a turn in the spotlight.” [The New York Times]