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Novelist Liam Davison among Australians killed on MH17

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The devastation of a disaster like the shooting down of MH17 is indiscriminate and ruthless - with people of all walks of life cut off in an instance in the most horrific of circumstances.

Australia's literary community is particular mindful of the loss of novelist Liam Davison, who with his his wife Frankie, a much-loved teacher, were passengers on the doomed flight.

Mr Davison published eight books and was awarded the National Book Council's Banjo Award for Fiction in 1993 for Soundings, as well as being shortlisted for several literary prizes such as The Age Book of the Year Award and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award.

Reviewer Perry Middlemiss said of Soundings:
'This is an impressive novel, short, and beautifully paced. Its concept of landscape lingers long in the mind, clinging on like the mud of the bay.' He is known for his 'sharp and perceptive insights into Australian history and landscape' and also taught writing for many years at the Chi…

Real time 'FingerReader' assists the visually impaired to read

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Reading is as easy as pointing your finger at the text with the prototype FingerReader being developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Unlike other readers available for visually impaired people, which first need to process and translate text, the MIT finger reader reads in real time, and uses remarkable technology to assist the reader follow line after line.

MIT's Professor Pattie Maes, who founded and leads the Fluid Interfaces research group developing the prototype, says the FingerReader is like "reading with the tip of your finger and it's a lot more flexible, a lot more immediate than any solution that they have right now."


Books, magazines, newspapers, computer screens and other devices can all be read comfottably with the FingerReader but a solution for touch screens is still being developed because of the disruption to text that occurs when the finger touches the screen.

Vibrations help guide the reader's finger to minim…

Book news: early release of The Undesirables: Inside Nauru by Mark Isaacs

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Australian publisher Hardie Grant has moved forward the release of The Undesirables which is a whistle-blower's account from inside the asylum-seeker camp on Nauru.

Available from March 17, 2014 the rushed release is in response to the recent violence and death of one asylum-seeker at Manus Island.

Author Mark Isaacs was just 24 when, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, he was hired as a support worker for Naura detention centre on the strength of a single phone interview. He joined other untrained Salvation Army contractors who were quickly assembled to serve at the camp, re-opened in a desperate attempt by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard to solve her asylum seeker political problem.

According to Hardie Grant's publicity of the book:
'His [Mark Isaacs'] unique voice and unbiased view allow readers to draw their own conclusions and holds up a mirror to the Australian government, and it's [sic] policies. This book is not a justification of the men's actions…

Spritz: new text streaming application which reinvents reading one word at a time

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A patent-pending reading application included with two new Samsung products streams single words with an optimal recognition point and claims to increase reading speeds dramatically.

Spritz was launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 23 after three years of 'stealth mode' research and development.

Using a display called a 'Redicle', Spritz displays a single word at a time, with a red letter marking the optimal recongition point (ORP) and will be particularly useful on wearable technology such as Samsung's Gear 2 but can also be found on the Galaxy S5 smartphone.

Spritz's original media release explains the technology and how it speeds up reading by saving the time usually spent by the eye moving to the next word and seeking the ORP:
 'Spritz's technology streams individual words inside of a special display called the "Redicle," which helps the eyes to position themselves precisely at the recognition point for each word. …

Are Australians buying less books from overseas or just less books?

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Australia's latest trade data suggests Australians may have curbed their overseas spending on items such as books and toys.

According to Business Insider Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics' latest trade data shows a narrowing in the deficit on the Balance of Goods and Services to a seasonally adjusted $284 million from $693 million last month.

A key to this was a fall in imports including a $40 million or eight per cent reduction in the importation of books, toys and leisure goods.

In less encouraging news for books, the ABS seasonally adjusted estimate for book and newspaper retailing fell by -1.4%.

Either way, booksellers, publishers and authors will be hoping that the many new titles flooding the market will be met by increased local buying.

Business Insider Australia article
Retail Trade figures
What's your view on Australian's buying less books?

Millions buy Sarah Young's Jesus Calling but theologians aren't so sure

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The Christian devotional, Jesus Calling, which is one the best-selling books in the world today, out-selling Fifty Shades of Grey in the first half 2013, has a strong Australian connection.

Author Sarah Young, who first released Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence in 2004, has been a missionary in Australia since 1977 with her husband Stephen and most recently they moved to Perth in 2001 to start a new church for Japanese people.

They continue to serve that church, as well as developing other Japanese ministries for the Presbyterian Church of Australia, although it is reported they are planning to return to their home country, the United States, to live in Tennessee.

Millions of copies sold

After selling 59,000 copies in the first three years, Jesus Calling sold 220,000 in its fourth year and according to Christianity Today, quoting publisher Thomas Nelson, sales of the book have doubled nearly every year since then, with the tally now reaching 9 million copies across 26 la…

Australian Christian Book of the Year 2013 shortlist announced

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The story of a mother badly burned while protecting her children in the Ash Wednesday fires and a book challenging charities to hold fast to their original purpose are among titles shortlisted for the Australian Christian Book of the Year

The shortlist was announced tonight by SPCKA on the Australian Christian Literature Awards Facebook page, while the winners will be presented St Alfred’s Anglican Church, Blackburn North, Victoria, on August 8, 7.30pm.

The shortlist features:
A Faith to Live By - Roland Ashby | Mosaic Books Driven by Purpose: Charities that make the difference - Stephen Judd, Anne Robinson, Felicity Errington | HammondPress Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Ethics and the beginning of human life - Dr Megan Best | Matthias Media Forged with Flames: A true story of courage and survival - Ann Fogarty and Anne Crawford | Wild Dingo Press Paul: A Pastor's Heart in Second Corinthians - Paul Barnett | Aquila Press Preach like a Train Driver - Tim Hawkins | Hawkins Minis…

National Bookshop Day heads to the US as 'localism' movement grows

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Small independent bookstores are fighting back in the US and a visit to Australia by American Booksellers Association chief executive Oren Teicher may add further strength to their market presence.

Jason Steger of The Agereports that Teicher was in Australia for the Australian Booksellers Association conference in Adelaide and while bringing an encouraging message to Australian booksellers, would be taking something good back home.

Mr Teicher indicated National Bookshop Day, which the Australian Bookseller Association introduced in 2011, would fit well with the 'burgeoning localism movement in the US that pushes the benefits for shoppers and the community of locally owned businesses.'

'This localism has changed the way people shop,' he said.

'My message to my friends in Australia is hold on because things are coming back and consumers are going to understand your value. We went through a rough patch, but at the end of the day, customers and readers want b…

No Easy Day author interview appears on Channel 10 nine months after screening in US

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Channel 10 is promoting the screening of a US 60 Minutes interview with the author of No Easy Day which first aired in America last September.

It's publicity says, 'In a one-hour TEN special event, hear the remarkable first-hand account of the raid that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist, from one of the US Navy SEALS who pulled the trigger. Telling his story for the very first time on Australian television, Mark Owen – a former SEAL who was in the room when Osama bin Laden died – speaks to Scott Pelley in his only interview.

Cread first reported the interview with author Matt Bissonnette (briefly known by the pseudonym Mark Owens)in our September 1, 2012 story on the then new book release, No Easy Day.

Read our full story here which contains video of part of the interview which TEN is describing as a 'special event'.

Of course many in Australia will have not seen the interview or read the book, which was contrvoersial at the time not only for possibly putting t…

Consult a bibliopole during Melbourne's Rare Book Week

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Most household bookshelves contain at least one slightly musty book with and old looking cover and vague stories of ancient pedigree. Take this copy (pictured) of Robinson Crusoe which lives in our house and whose origin no one recalls.

But there's nothing musty about Melbourne's second Rare Book Week from July 18-28 culminating in the Rare Book Fair July 26-28.

And among the many great features of the week is the exhibition of Italian Books Through the Ages at the University of Melbourne’s Baillieu Library, highlighting its exciting new purchase of Aldus Manutius’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, printed in Venice in 1499.

Another event is The Art of Praise: the Italian Medieval Choir Book 1250-1550 exhibition and lecture by Professor Margaret Manion at St Mary’s Newman Academic Centre. And if poetry is more your style, you can enjoy the romance of poetry showcased by the Matheson Library, Monash University.

Rare Book Week ends with the Australian and New Zealand Association of A…

Henry Lawson's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

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The 146  birthday of iconic Australian author and poet, Henry Lawson is being celebrated today through a mechanism which he could not have even imagined - a Google doodle.

A 'drover', some cows and a dusty landscape accompany the Google logo and of course a click through takes internet surfers to a Google search of Henry Lawson.

Searching for Henry Lawson is an apt phrase for although achieving some literary peaks - such as in short story collection While the Billy Boils (1896), Jo Wilson and his Mates (1901) and perennial favourites ranging from The Drover's Wife to The Loaded Dog - he was as well known for being restless, erratic and unwell.

Many Australian homes will have his collected works somewhere on a bookshelf, the township of Grenfell celebrates his birth there every Queen's Birthday long weekend, and some of his work is re-told to modern audiences such as the recent theatrical performances of The Loaded Dog.

Despite the bruising tale of his life which inclu…

Children's book Bakir and Bi shares the colour and joy of Thursday Island

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A mother of six children who has loved writing since she was 15 and an illustrator who worked on children's book Bakir and Bi while completing her final year of high school are just the start of what make this book fascinating.

Bakir and Bi, published by Magabala Books based in Broome, is connected to a Torres Strait Islander creation story.

Having written 'the odd poem or two, left unfinished stories and manuscripts lying around the house, posted up inspirational quotes in her home and written songs for the Church she attended regularly' Jillian Boyd, 41, got the idea for the book while attending a State Library of Queensland (SLQ) writing workshop.

While there, she saw a drawing 'by the late Uncle Ephraim Bani from a story about Amipuru - a picture of a giant pelican carrying a man across the ocean. She recognised the picture from her childhood, bringing back fond memories of school days on the island. Inspired by this picture, and unfamiliar with the original stor…

Worldreader Mobile places free books on thousands of developing-world phones

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While visiting a remote village in the central mountainous region of Bali that could only be reached by foot and hair-raising motorbike ride, the presence of two things surprised me.

In a place where there was no running water, sewerage, electricity or proper roads, we visited a substantial Christian church built of concrete and tiles on the side of a mountain. And among the baskets of chillies and other crops being prepared for market, young people were fiddling with their mobile phones.

This picture - of the phone use at least - is repeated across the developing world where cheaper, basic phones such as per-paid Samsungs, Nokias and Blackberries are prolific and now a new book reading app has been developed to bring free books to these millions of 'feature phones'.

Worldreader Mobile, operating on the  biNu platform, has just moved out of the beta phase and already 10 per cent of biNu's 5 million users have accessed the app - about 107,000 in India, 60,800 in Nigeria an…

Mailbooks For Good available at Gleebooks benefiting The Footpath Library

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An Australian ad company, BMF,  has developed an innovative book mailing product that will hopefully lead to many more good quality books being donated to reading programs for disadvantaged people.

Mailbooks for Good is like an 'inbuilt' book mailing envelope that is part of the cover of the book and which can be folded out to encase the book with address and postage included to a chosen book charity or program.

Mailbooks for Good is being trialled now with five Random House titles available from Gleebooks in Sydney with the beneficiary being The Footpath Library.

The current Mailbooks for Good titles, selected in cooperation with Random House, are CrackHardy by Stephen Dando-Collins, Wanting by Richard Flanagan, And Now for Some Light Relief by Peter Fitzsimons, The Fix by Nick Earls and Bureau of Mysteries by HJ Harper.

The idea is that customers see a book they like in a bookstore and realise that not only can they read it, but can easily send it on to be enjoyed by someon…

Malala Yousafzai's new book 'I am Malala'

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'I hope this book will reach people around the world, so they realise how difficult it is for some children to get access to education. I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61m children who can't get education. I want it to be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right.'

The next episode in the amazing life of Malala Yousafzai is about to occur with the 15-year-old Pakistani girl reportedly signing a £2mbook deal with UK publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson, part of Hatchette UK.

And this instantly recognisable event from her life is just one reason why the new book, to be known as I am Malala is destined to be a best-seller:
'In October last year, gunmen boarded a school bus and asked: "Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all". When she was identified, a gunman shot her in the head and the bullet passed through her head, neck and embedded itself in her s…

Books News: Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Easter new releases

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Please click on any book cover to purchase or pre-order Having killed Lincoln and Kennedy in previous books, US Fox News anchor and best-selling author Bill O'Reilly has announced his next book, Killing Jesus to be published on September 24.

As the calendar approaches Easter, there will no doubt be the usual flurry of new Jesus books released and discussed but ironically the timing of O'Reilly's new title is aimed at the biggest bookselling season of them all, Christmas.

And while O'Reilly as an author is relatively unknown outside North America, as are his books, he still ranks as the world's sixth richest author grossing $24 million last year.

But Killing Jesus may well gain him a broader, global audience and no doubt that is part of his motivation in writing the book.

His now tried and true formula is to allow co-author Martin Dugard to do the pain-staking work of research around the killing of a famous historical figure while he comes on board to write history…