Follow us on
Connect
More on TechnologyTell: Gadget News | Apple News

UK

Is Philip Jones really standing up for the book?
July 7, 2014 | 2:28 pm

In the context of Joanna Cabot's recent post asking "Would Anyone Care About the Amazon/Hachette Dispute If it Wasn’t About Books?", it's worth picking up the editorial "Disinterested? Moi?" by Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, about the primacy of the book. "It is the books that should do the talking, not the publisher," he declares. "Publishers may make books, but it is the books that maketh the business." Few actual authors would disagree with that. Jones follows with the creed he came into the job with: "my job was to support the book. We could be rude about publishers, booksellers,...

Books are as essential as bread. Ask the English poor.
June 27, 2014 | 2:28 pm

In these enlightened times that have brought us that wonder of 21st-century social engineering, the foodbank, it's gratifying to report that, without any conspicuous aid from the current British government, UK charities are ministering to poorer citizens' cultural and intellectual as well as culinary needs. British literacy charity Booktrust has teamed up with the Trussell Trust Foodbank network to distribute books through their network - in this case, children's picture title Super Duck by Jez Alborough. "Books and toys are low down on priorities for families," said Project Leader of West Norwood and Brixton Foodbank, Elizabeth Maytom. "Money will be spent on...

Amazon wants co-op payments, and also concessions in the UK
June 24, 2014 | 4:02 am

So, thanks to a leak, we’ve finally found out what the Amazon/Hachette spat is over. The New York Times reported a couple of days ago that an anonymous source within Hachette says that Amazon wants to extract extra fees for a number of services, including the pre-order button, placement in personalized recommendations, and so on. It looks kind of skeevy at first glance, but it’s really the same kind of “co-op” promotional payment Barnes & Noble extracts for prominent placement of books in its stores. You know how you sometimes see displays dedicated to a single book. or...

Redesigning the small bookstore
June 2, 2014 | 3:35 pm

books1What would the bookstore of the future look like? The Economist’s Intelligent Life magazine asked four Commonwealth architecture firms to come up with their futuristic vision for a small High Street bookshop with two floors of 1,000 square feet each, and a limited budget of £100,000 (about $168,000) to make all the improvements. The visions they came up with are certainly interesting. They differ in details, but they all agree that it’s not just a matter of moving furniture around to make it look nice. They need to redefine the bookstore’s business model, and then design a space to...

UK language learning hits rock bottom
April 21, 2014 | 12:25 pm

With the UK just a few miles away from la belle patrie in places, you'd think that second language acquisition would be a matter of course. A whole second literature, with the heritage of Proust and Baudelaire and a host of other luminaries, let alone the great wine and cuisine, right there on your doorstep, just waiting for you. Should be a no-brainer, right? Well, according to one highly disgruntled language teacher in England writing on Cafe Babel, it's more a matter of no brains. As much among those setting the curricula and overseeing language learning as among the students. And...

British printers struggle to cope with shift toward digital media
April 15, 2014 | 5:46 pm

printingpressMy friend Michael Brotzman pointed out this story to me from the New York Times, about how the printing industry in Britain is coping with the decreased demand for its services. Even as high technology leads to printers that can print bigger runs, faster, more efficiently, and with fewer operators, demand is dwindling and so are employees. The British printing industry is down from an estimated 200,000 workers in 2001 to fewer than 125,000 now. And for the jobs that are left, the UK is more and more often having to compete with lower labor costs of printers in continental...

Shakespeare debate moves UK identity politics up a notch
April 12, 2014 | 12:25 pm

shakespeare.jpgAnyone not just arrived from Mars is probably aware that Scotland is due to vote later this year in a referendum on whether to stay within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or resume its existence as an independent country. The UK's Conservative Party, meanwhile, under pressure from the UK Independence Party, has proposed a referendum on whether the UK will remain within the European Union, which might lead to "Brexit" - though depending on the Scottish referendum outcome, that could end up as "Engxit." Naturally, the issue of national - or trans-national - identity, and what...

Sajid Javid appointment two cheers for UK culture?
April 11, 2014 | 10:25 am

Sajid_SittingThe exit of Maria Miller, former UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, over inflated expenses claims, and her replacement by Sajiv Javid, who becomes the first "the first Asian male Conservative cabinet minister," as the BBC put it, could be seen as a positive signal for an embattled sector in British life. But both Miller and Javid's post is immediately junior to that of the widely reviled Ed Vaizey, UK Minister for Culture, who has presided over systematic yet deniable neglect of the UK public libraries, apparently on ideological grounds. Despite Javid's highly politically correct credentials on ethnic...

Amazon doesn’t know it’s supposed to fail
March 29, 2014 | 9:00 am

I happened upon a Bookseller piece by Agent Orange (who I’ve mentioned before) noting that UK publishers have been making a lot of noise about the putative foolishness of Amazon’s plans. It’s funny how they seem to keep doing that, and Amazon never seems to pay any attention, isn’t it? Agent Orange notes: It is depressing how often we have been here before. Publishers pour scorn and disregard on Amazon. Amazon presses on with its plans regardless (announcing it is massively expanding in the UK this coming year) and a year or two later publishers discover they have lost yet more...

Genre lines: Why literary writers won’t self-publish
March 29, 2014 | 5:58 am

jetpackI just happened to sit down and read the Robert McCrum article on struggling literary fiction authors that Paul covered earlier this month. It was interesting enough, and I’m don’t think I have substantively anything more to say about the content of the article itself than Paul did. But I was intrigued by a couple of the comments. Paul Bowes suggests that the reason literary writers can’t or don’t want to self-publish is a genre thing. Guardian Books, and the literary world generally, have a tendency to conflate 'writing' with literary fiction: or at least, with literary fiction and the kind of...

UK Inspector of Prisons condemns political interference in book ban policy
March 28, 2014 | 12:25 pm

inspector of prisonsThe storm of criticism that greeted the UK Government's new policy of stopping anyone sending books to prisoners has gone beyond writers and left-wing politicians to professionals in the prisons system. Now, in an interview with The Independent, the UK Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, has condemned the ban as "not sensible,” with individual prison governors best placed to decide what prisoners should and shouldn't receive. "The problem in this case… is trying to micro-manage this from the centre, with the centre describing very detailed lists of what prisoners can and can't have,” he said in The Independent. “I think...

UK pursues nasty foreign words, cuts translation, foreign papers
March 24, 2014 | 2:25 pm

translation[caption id="attachment_110301" align="alignright" width="124"] New monument to UK multiculturalism.[/caption] As part of the UK government's war on all things non-British, including funny foreign lingos, Eastern European plumbers, Mudbloods, and other undesirables, the London borough of Newham, under mayor Sir Robin Wales, has instituted a policy of cutting funding for translation services within his borough (by over 72 percent), while also removing non-English newspapers and periodicals from Newham libraries.  All in a borough where the white Anglo-Saxon resident population stands at just 16.7 percent. This precedes a much-trumpeted initiative by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to "speak English or lose benefits." "We have...