Friday, 19 September 2008

What is an Ass Hat?

One of our Christmas titles, Can't Be Arsed has been getting lots of coverage this week with extracts in the Sun, the Daily Mail, and Times Online. Richard Wilson's suggestions of things not to do before you die has been rousing the bloggers from their slumbers. On the Sun site, Maytheforcebewithyou, offers the thoughtful suggestion that 'most other countries are shit'. On the Times site, Carolyn from Sydney writes 'Richard Wilson is like that naughty kid with a stick, poking it into the ants nest.' But my favourite is the discussion that has popped up on American website Fark, whose contributors broadly missed the humour in Richard's choice of books he can't be bothered to read. Out of the 400+ opinions posted so far, my favourites include Numsix's comment that 'Don't read 'The Iliad' ? What are you, stupid? The Iliad kicks ass' and Cythraul suggestion 'this guy sounds like an Ass-Hat'. Nope, I don't know what an Ass-hat is either, but I'm guessing he might not be asking for the book for Christmas.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


Last Friday was a company away day, where in the spirit of team bonding, various challenges were set including duck herding (and lots of inevitable keeping your ducks in line jokes). But perhaps the most fun was an unscheduled match of football, which as you can see from the photo, was taken extremely seriously, with Katie Cowan, publisher of Collins and Brown very much playing the man, not the ball. My bruises are still healing, but at least I've learnt why her authors deliver on time...

All Must Have Prizes

Awards season is well on the way, with the Booker shortlist being announced and Elbow winning the Mercury Music Prize. I haven't read the Rushdie (the Joseph O'Neill is the only thing I've read from the longlist), but the dissing by Hardeep Singh Koli will probably not give Salman Rushdie any sleepless nights -- no, I'm not sure why he's on the panel either. Interestingly, in a recent report of previous Booker judgings, Midnight's Children apparently only just won by 3 votes to 2 -- but is now seen as the Booker of Bookers. All of which confirms my long held opinion about literary awards -- they are arbitrary bollocks, unless your book wins, in which case they are prescient and on the the money.

The Elbow win, meanwhile, I found interesting as it is only the fourth time in the Mercury Prize's history that a non-debut album has won the award. Like publishing, music is more and more sucked into the excitement of someone new, rather than rewarding an author/ writer for learning their craft over a number of years. The sad fact is that if you don't deliver saleswise on day one, you might not get your chance to fully develop to your full potential (and ironically, that's saleswise as well as creatively). Elbow, who have been dropped by their record label in the past, and faced the situation that this particular album might not even be released, fully deserve their moment in the sun. I just hope this breaking out of common sense isn't a one-off.

(I know Salman Rushdie isn't going out with Padma any more, but any excuse for a gratuitous photo)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The TV show... the wine... the book

A lot of publishing waffle around at the moment about 'platforms', which I think means different places to flog your stuff, rather than editors moaning about their commute. Here's one such example: Chateau Monty, the story of Monty Waldin's attempts to make his own organic and biodynamic wine, is a TV programme (Channel 4, Thursday nights at 8pm, or you can catch up here) -- 'a corker ... highly entertaining' according to The Observer. It's also a wine -- 'a nice fruity, thoroughly healthy, natural-tasting southern French red' according to Jancis Robinson , which you can buy here. And, oh yes, that's where we come in, it's also a book. Personally, I'm all for this multi platform lark, especially when one of the platforms you can uncork and pour into a glass...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The Prince of Amazon Blurbs

This time last year, Prince was in the middle of his 21 night residency at the O2. And very Princely it was too. This year, to celebrate/cash in on the residency, comes a book. I say 'book', because whoever is writing his amazon blurbs has gone a touch purple themselves.

The book will be 'juxtaposing his dueling worlds of music and solitude'. And as well as photos 'it will incorporate Prince's evocative poetry and lyrics'. Nope, I was unaware the man who wrote 'Do Me Baby' was a poet on the sly either. Perhaps in his moments of solitude? But most impressively of all, there's a free cd music, which is included 'as part of the dimensional experience'.

Perhaps that's what my books are lacking -- not enough attention to the dimensional experience...