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Showing posts with the label Books

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?

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…

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…

Questions of Travel wins Miles Franklin award

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Questions of Travelby Michelle de Krester has won Australia's richest literary prize, the Miles Franklin, from a field of all-female finalists.

Described as a 'dazzling, compassionate and deeply moving novel from one of world literature's rising stars' this mesmerising literary novel charts two very different lives.

Laura travels the world before returning to Sydney, where she works for a publisher of travel guides. Ravi dreams of being a tourist until he is driven from Sri Lanka by devastating events.

Around these two superbly drawn characters, a double narrative assembles an enthralling array of people, places and stories - from Theo, whose life plays out in the long shadow of the past, to Hana, an Ethiopian woman determined to reinvent herself in Australia.

Award-winning author Michelle de Kretser illuminates travel, work and modern dreams in this brilliant evocation of the way we live now. Wonderfully written, Questions of Travel is an extraordinary work of imagina…

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…

Book review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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After reading the disturbing psychological thriller Gone Girl, reassurance that the world is not totally devoid of reason is immediately found in the Acknowledgements. [Click cover image to purchase]

Author Gillian Flynn, after creating a world of dysfunction, proceeds to thank her family and friends who sound remarkably normal and nice.

Maybe it was 'author's guilt' being appeased - borrowing from the foibles of her family in her fiction but wanting to distance them from the story of Amy and Nick and Go and Desi and the Elliots.

Or perhaps it is a further play with reality. The reader having been led through the deepest places of a deception possible in the human psyche, is deceived one more time into thinking Flynn comes from the perfect world.

After all, as the cover tag reads, 'there are two sides to every story...'.

The fact that this conjecture is even occurring, tongue-in-cheek as it may be, shows the power of Gone Girl in creating characters and plot line w…

Is reading really about believing?

When forming beliefs and ideas are you more influenced by a powerful story or compelling facts and information?

Shortly Cread will publish a joint review of José Saramago’s Cain (2010), alongside William Paul Young's Cross Roads (2012) and compare their use of narrative fiction to declare a view of God.

They employ radically different forms matched by the divergence of the 'message' they convey. But is one more successful than the other in influencing, moving or informing readers? Or is that even the goal?

One of the great dangers of fiction writing is 'telling' rather than 'showing' and books that seek to communicate a pre-determined message are particularly vulnerable. Which is not to say that most authors do not intend to communicate values to their readers.

The reality is that, even sub-consciously, authors fill their novels with their values and beliefs, carrying them along in their characters and plots. Perhaps the more sub-conscious this is, the more…

Books about visiting heaven are bestsellers

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Fascination with heaven and the afterlife is influencing book sales with three books that tell the story of people who die, visit heaven and return to their lives on earth, showing strongly on USA Today’s best-seller list.

According to a report in Charisma Magazine, Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, the Rev Todd Burpo’s 2010 tale of his 'son’s round trip to the Pearly Gates', has sold more than 7.5 million copies after 22 printings. It has been on USA Today’s best-seller list for 111 weeks and reached No. 1 eight times in 2011. It’s now No. 94.
(Buy now - click cover  >>)

Joining it more recently, Charisma says, is the story of Eben Alexander, a Harvard neurosurgeon who was in a coma for seven days in 2008. He encounters an angelic being who guides him into the 'deepest realms of super-physical existence.' His Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife, published last year, peaked at No 4 i…

Book review: The Inca Curse by Christopher Ride

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I first saw The Inca Curse advertised on a Sydney bus, competing for space there with Val McDermid's The Vanishing Point. It seems those of use often confined to city traffic gridlock are seen as susceptible to suspense and intrigue.

And there is plenty of that in author Christopher Ride's latest thriller, the third in his successful Overseer series.

Having lived in Peru, Ride moves confidently through its landscape, history and culture - providing a mountainous backdrop for a supernatural thriller with time travel, demonic power, crucifixion, omens and Amazons.

The Golden Cube of the Sun God has been stolen from its hiding place in Machu Picchu and its embedded evil has taken over the most powerful religious figure in South America. It is unleashing horror and interferes with Overseer's seemingly simple task of aiding the discovery of the lost Inca city.

Genetically modified as a kind of super human, overseer Wilson Dowling carries our hopes for vanquished evil on his re…

Plenty of books about going to heaven - and back

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Books about supernatural and heavenly encounters during near death experiences are multiplying, to the extent that they are almost a publishing genre of their own.

And while these stories abound in the 21st century, they are not a new phenomenon with the Apostle Paul in the 1st century being one of the first to publish an experience of heaven.
"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell." 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 But while Paul was quite circumspect about sharing his heavenly experience, even referring to it in the third person, today we'll look at five recent books that give detailed accounts of what the authors believe were their own experience of being "caught up to p…

The Book Thief becomes book of choice for Chicago

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The Book Thief continues to find new audiences and after passing two million US sales at the end of 2011, has now been adapted for the stage and chosen for the One Book, One Chicago literary event.

Author and Sydney-sider Markus Zusak was in Chicago last weekend for the premiere of The Book Thief play produced by the Steppenwolf Theatre for Young Adults.

Adapted by Heidi Stillman, The Book Thief play has received positive reviews including this: "The Book Thief is a beautiful story, well told by a cast of solid performers. The transformation from book to stage works quite well and the emotions that it is meant to stir up in us, come through."

While visiting Chicago, Zusak took part in a Q & A following the Sunday matinee performance before speaking at Teen Volume Conference and being interviewed at the Chicago Library Centre by columnist Dawn Turner Trice.

Alongside the play, The Book Thief has been chosen for Chicago's One Book, One Chicago which is an initiative…

Books written about and reviewed in today's newspapers

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Saturday morning is a great time to start the day slowly by picking up that new book you've been trying to get to for a couple of days, or perhaps, to read about books, to see what's worth buying at Berkelouw, sampling at Shearer's, grabbing at Gleebooks, reading from Readings, deciding on at Dymocks or collecting on Kindle or Kobo.

>> The Australian reports this morning that its free E-book experiment using the Kobo reader or app has exceeded all expectations with readers downloading 26,000 copies of six title in the past week.

"The promotion continues today with the opportunity to collect Geraldine Brooks's novel March. Monday's title, Lazarus Rising, by John Howard, was a bestseller in both hardback and paperback editions. "The Australian's chief opinion editor, Nick Cater, said that given the success of the project, the newspaper would be considering further offers."

For those without a digital pass to The Australian, read the story in…

Book review: Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic

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I'm not sure Nick Vujicic's Unstoppable ever becomes an unstoppable read but it does steadily and assuredly build in intensity and impact so that when you do put it down on completion, it is with a sense of satisfaction and appreciation.

His neat and tidy prose, indeed every single word, is weighed down with added meaning because Nick was born without limbs, other than what he calls his "little foot". It makes even the existence of this his second book seem remarkable, not to mention the spirit of hope and optimism that fill it.

The sub-title for the 214 page paperback (Allen and Unwin) is The incredible power of faith in action and he sticks to his theme from cover to cover, utilising a mixture of personal testimony, inspiration, advice and the stories of people who have reached out to him or worked with him.

While reading Unstoppable for this review, Nick appeared on 60 Minutes with his new wife, Kanae, and the story of how they met and eventually wed is contained …

Book review wrap-up from NZ, India and Japan

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Let's check out the books being reviewed by our neighbours around the Asia Pacific region through some of the leading national newspapers - there are a few surprises and hidden treasures.

Starting with our Kiwi friends at The New Zealand Herald, The Girl Below by Bianca Zander was reviewed by Paula Green, herself an Auckland poet and children's author. "The central character, Suki Piper, returns to London after a decade in Auckland and for many reasons she occupies a world out-of-kilter." Paula loved the aptly named debut novel saying, “You might think there is a high risk of superficial stereotypes at work here (a cranky stepmother, a selfish father, a distant mother, spiteful friends). Far from it.”

Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson was reviewed by John Gardner, also of The New Zealand Herald, who is pleased with the entertainment value of the cast of characters in this story of a novelist surrounded by the collapse of the literary world. “Ableman's (protagonist) min…

JK Rowling's new book for adults is no Harry Potter

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JK Rowling's new novel is the most pre-ordered book of 2012, and it's no Harry Potter either. (Click image to order yours.)

A Casual Vacancy is a book for adults and its content is real world not fantasy. Set in the rural English town of Pagford, it's a novel about the death of a man named Barry, a parish council election with class-warfare, addiction and teen sexuality.

Writer Ian Parker has read A Casual Vacancy, and has written about it in The New Yorker. He made a point of the fact that it's for adults, quoting this: “leathery skin of her upper cleavage radiated little cracks that no longer vanished when decompressed” and "...with an ache in his heart and in his balls".

While these quotes demonstrate the change from writing for children to writing for adults, in some ways the writing – according to Parker – hasn't changed so much.

“...but whereas Rowling’s shepherding of readers was, in the Harry Potter series, an essential asset, in The Casual Vacanc…

New book tells the story of the man who invented Vegemite

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Vegemite is an Australian cultural icon, and soon a book about the invention of this salty, black paste will be available.

The Man Who Invented Vegemite documents the life of Cyril Callister, scientist and director of Fred Walker & Co. Cyril invented the spread during the early 1920s as an alternative to the British Marmite, the import of which was disrupted due to World War I.

Jamie Callister – Cyril's grandson – wrote the book. A former advertising executive and builder, Jamie decided to put pen to paper in this his first book after reading through some of his grandfather's letters and documents. He believes his grandfather deserves “to be remembered as a significant and remarkable Australian.”

Cyril had an ''an unshakeable belief in Vegemite, that it was good, and he persevered''. While invented as mentioned in the 1920s, Vegemite did not become the legendary icon it is today until the late 30s. Off the back of profits made from Fred Walker & Co's…

Book review: Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

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"All over the world, brutal attacks are crippling entire cities."
I began reading action novel Zoo within a few hours of reading Sweet Tooth and after a few pages was wondering if I could go on.
After the tight, intense characterisation of Ian McEwan's new novel I was feeling unconvinced by the almost clumsy attempts to build the central character of Zoo, Oz.

I've had this experience before. A few years ago after being captivated by the prose of Hilary Mantel in Wolf Hall I picked up Ted Dekker'sEmmanuel's Veins. To be honest (sorry Ted) I couldn't read past the first few pages.

Here I go again, I thought, and this time it involves one of the world's top-selling and most prolific authors, although admittedly, I was a Patterson virgin. But I lay back and thought of the readers of Cread (Creaders?) and turned another page.

After a few more pages I began to accept the kind of NCIS approach to characterisation - American individualistic, swashbuckler, no…

New book: Black Caviar The Horse of a Lifetime

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Black Caviar is undefeated from 22 races throughout her career, attaining legend status with a race success record not equalled in over 150 years.

A new "authorised" book, Black Caviar: The Horse of  Lifetime, document the career of this thoroughbred racehorse come Australian icon and will be available from October 1 (hardcover, 400 pages, ABC Books).

Written by journalist and broadcaster Gerard Whateley, Black Caviar begins with the story of trainer Peter Moody of remote outback Queensland, who eventually came to select and guide Black Caviar to dominance. The book's foreword is written by Peter Moody himself.

Black Caviar follows the superstar horse's career through to her victory on one of the most famous race tracks of all.

But as for her future, the Black Caviar website reports Peter Moody as saying this week that, "Everything is very positive at this point in time. I'll chat with the owners on Saturday or Sunday week." (Click cover image to purch…

Angelic battle novels by Australian author embraced by US network

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Australian author Jessica Shirvington's fantasy series - The Violet Eden Chapters (also known as the Embrace series) - has been picked up by the US television network CW, which plans to adapt the series into a TV series in association with Spielberg's Amblin Television.

Her first novel, Embrace, was published in October, 2010, by Hachette Australia followed by Entice in March 2011, Emblaze in October 2011 and this month, Endless. Following its release in Australia and New Zealand, the series has been picked up in a number of international markets. 

The books have been likened to the Twilight series, but rather than teenage vampires there is a teenage angel at the centre of a battle between light and dark forces. Shirvington says the four books in the series, could potentially be followed by a fifth and sixth.

The TV show is said to be in development with release expected for next season in the US.

Jessica Shirvington lives in Sydney with her husband of 10 years, FOXTEL pr…

New school library but hardly any books: can you help?

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The ABC reports that the new school library in the remote north-west Queensland, mainly indigenous community of Doomadgee has "hardly any books".
Resident Peta Jenkins is using social media to encourage people to donate books in an effort to make school more interesting for students and to boost literacy rates.

She says despite the opening of the state school's new library earlier this year, books remain a rare sight.

"Well you just can't buy books in Doomadgee," she said.

"It would be a matter of buying them online - if what you're after could be purchased online - or going to a major centre like Cairns or Townsville or Mount Isa, all of which are of course hundreds of kilometres away.

"With a bit of luck ... we'll be able to build up the school library with some good quality second-hand books but there's also a keen interest in the community in getting adult books out there ... you just don't see books here in Doomadgee…