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Other posts by Paul St John Mackintosh

Latest Nielsen UK figures show ebooks eating into soft covers
July 29, 2014 | 10:25 am

nielsenThe latest figures brought together in the Books & Consumers 2013 UK Annual Review from Nielsen Book, which "provides an overview of consumer book purchasing in the UK in 2013 compared to 2012, using data based on 80‐90,000 book purchases made by a nationally representative sample of 37‐38,000 book buyers per year," shows ebook purchases in the UK rising to one quarter of Nielsen's estimated total, at 25 percent for 2013 versus 20 percent in 2012. However, this growth came at the expense of paperback books, with softback purchases declining from 55 to 50 percent over the same period, in the...

The roots of English stupidity
July 28, 2014 | 2:25 pm

dunce.jpgThe roots of English anti-intellectualism and willful ignorance are long, deep, and twisted. The consequences you can see all over, in terms of literacy levels, reading habits, social order, and even prison numbers, and many other metrics that TeleRead tracks, but the causes are buried in the English past. Just every so often, however, it helps to lay them bare to explain just what the hell is going on in England, and what kind of hope, if any, there is for the country. The odd thing is that most Protestant countries outside the Anglo-Saxon sphere are renowned for their high standards...

TARDIS mini-libraries prove libraries are bigger on the inside
July 28, 2014 | 12:39 pm

Doctor Who fans everywhere will be able to tell you that the TARDIS, the Doctor's iconic time and space travel machine, is bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside - which is a fine metaphor for a library, whose content can encompass a universe and range far across time and space. And it seems that many U.S. exponents of the Little Free Library movement have made the connection and created TARDIS Little Free Libraries. The TARDIS Little Free Libraries seem to be popping up in as many different guises as the Doctor's various regenerations. The Pinterest board on...

Kirklees considers “nuclear option” as UK libraries holocaust continues
July 28, 2014 | 10:24 am

The West Yorkshire town of Kirklees is contemplating closure of all but two of its 26 libraries, along with other services like braille books for blind readers, as one option while it seeks to more than halve its library budget. According to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Kirklees Council has to find cuts to bring its £6.3 million ($10.7 million) library budget down to £2.8 million ($4.75 million) by 2017. Kirklees Council leader Clr David Sheard called the all-but-complete-closure plan the "nuclear option," versus a lesser program of cuts which would save some more of the library network and services, but which also...

Book review: Beside the Seaside, edited by Scott Harrison, Snowbooks
July 27, 2014 | 2:23 pm

Well who'd a thought it: An almost local tourism-level themed anthology confined to a short stretch of English coastline that turns out to be a surprisingly good collection of modern British horror and dark fiction. Of course, it helps if the stretch of coastline you have to deal with is the Yorkshire coast immortalized by Bram Stoker as the landfall of Count Dracula, where the ruins of Whitby Abbey and Scarborough Castle still lour down from the clifftops. Or if you have contributors like Johnny Mains, himself editor of the superb Best British Horror 2014. (His "The Girl on the Suicide...

Why don’t you write with that old book?
July 26, 2014 | 2:29 pm

Here's a novel (no pun intended) use for that old unwanted book or printout - why not turn its paper into a writing instrument? That takes the whole concept of recycling one step further - and sure enough, this innovation is at concept stage only. But it appears very slick, as well as interesting. From IPPINKA, the Niagara Falls, NY-based company that "wants you to consume less," the P2P intends to "turn paper into pencils." According to the designers, "the machine takes used memos and other recyclable pieces of paper and transforms them into usable pencils ... Simply feed the waste paper...

Build a better business … with Stephen King?
July 26, 2014 | 12:25 pm

king.jpgBusiness Insider, that bastion of cultural and intellectual values, has just pulled together "22 Lessons From Stephen King On How To Be A Great Writer," for its Strategy section, more usually associated with juicy topics like "9 Traits Of Highly Promotable Employees" and "How To Reduce Stress Without Even Leaving Your Desk." Culled from King's celebrated primer On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft , the "valuable insights" are packaged as the insider tips that "earn him an estimated $17 million a year." Of course, in any list like this, it's always possible to pick out stuff to quibble with. Actually,...

ALA finds 90 percent of U.S. libraries now lend ebooks
July 25, 2014 | 4:25 pm

New data shared by the American Library Association confirms that "90 percent of libraries lend e-books, up from 76 percent in 2012." The study, ALA's Digital Inclusion Survey, which "collected data from a nationally representative sample of public libraries at the branch/outlet level between September 3 and November 30, 2013" and "received 3,392 responses, for a 70.1 percent response rate," also found that "98 percent of libraries provide free public access to Wi-Fi, up from 89 percent in 2012," and "98 percent provide technology training, ranging from internet safety and privacy to coding to using social media." Although focused primarily on...

Step up now to save Blake’s Cottage
July 25, 2014 | 2:25 pm

Cottage-in-Milton-1024x571 William Blake is not only one of England's most celebrated and beloved literary and artistic sons worldwide, he is also author of what has become the unofficial English national anthem, "Jerusalem." Yet the cottage in Felpham, Sussex, where he composed "Jerusalem" is now up for sale to private buyers after UK cultural bodies failed to make a move to save it. The Blake Society, custodians of his memory, have been given a strictly time-limited opportunity to buy the property at a discount - if they can find enough donors. "We have until the 31 October 2014 to raise enough money to...

UK Publishers Association trumpets success of Brit novel filmations
July 25, 2014 | 10:25 am

movie.jpgThe UK Publishers Association has put out an interesting communique in the aftermath of the release of the BFI’s Statistics Yearbook, the annual statistical digest of the British Film Institute. As that document apparently points out, "of the top 20 grossing films worldwide, 40 percent were based on British novels, while of the top 20 British grossing films 18 were based on novels, including works by and inspired by Ian Fleming, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and JK Rowling." Now there are two interesting things that come out of this. One is typified by the statement by Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of the Publishers...

Can we trust anything the new Harper Lee biography says?
July 24, 2014 | 12:31 pm

mockingbirdThe publication of the controversial - and apparently unofficial, no matter what the author and publishers originally claimed - Harper Lee memoir has led to coverage in certain journals of all the nuggets on the celebrated author's life that Marja Mills supposedly reveals. For example, Bookriot's Dwight Garner shares the revelations that Ms. Lee has a regular booth at McDonald’s, where she goes for coffee," and "eats takeout salads from Burger King on movie night." Apparently saddened by the absence of more than "hints of a life of the mind," he complains that "She feeds the town ducks daily, with...

The Bookseller takes time to rubbish, undermine AuthorEarnings report
July 24, 2014 | 10:25 am

Bookseller ranking June 2013In the immediate aftermath of the latest Hugh Howey-helmed AuthorEarnings report, which came hard on the heels of the UK Society of Authors' lamentation over the state of ... well, author earnings ... , The Guardian sought out SoA general secretary Nicola Solomon and Philip Jones, Editor of The Bookseller, for their reaction to the report. And the response from The Bookseller's corner at least was not exactly positive. In The Guardian, Jones said: "this is a very narrow selection of a particular type of market at a particular time ... you can't extrapolate from bestseller rankings on the Kindle store...