From bad to worse

The UK National Literacy Trust have just put out a report that reveals some worrying statistics.The findings of the report, The gift of reading in 2011 : children and young people’s access to books and attitudes towards reading, note the worrying trend that:

the number of children who do not own a book is increasing. Seven years ago 1 child in 10 did not have a book of their own while today the figure stands at a startling 1 child in 3.

The figure of 1 in 3 UK children without a book of their own equates to approximately 3.8 million children.

The findings of the study suggest a clear linkage between a child’s reading ability and receiving and owning books of their own but, alarmingly,

about a fifth of children [surveyed] said they had never been to a book shop or a library.

I suppose it’s not too surprising given the high number of UK library closures and the current state of the publishing industry, but it certainly is sobering.

The National Literacy Trust is currently raising money to purchase books for disadvantaged (bookless!) children. You can support their efforts by donating online and receiving a lovely children’s book illustrator’s Christmas card in return. You could also buy someone small you know a book for Christmas.

The Book Industry Strategy Group has released its commissioned report: 

Cover to cover: a market analysis of the Australian book industry, at:

http://www.innovation.gov.au/Industry/BooksandPrinting/BookIndustryStrategyGroup/Documents/PwCCovertoCover.pdf

Note that it released it only apparently after a Freedom of Information request by the SMH.

Publishers to blame for bookshop closures

Australia’s oldest bookshop chain, Angus & Robertson, and Borders Australia have gone into voluntary administration. This could be seen as the end of paper book retailing, if it weren’t for Dymocks and the mighty QBD : The bookshop. Many reasons have been suggested for why bookshops are to close – the strong A$, the rise of the ebook, online retailing, less consumer spending. All these factors have come into play, we should not forget however the role of publishers.
If a bookshop closes in Australia, it is primarily the result of publishers, who will not allow their books to be sold at reasonable prices (market rate), prevent booksellers from buying stock elsewhere, and continuously fleece the bookshop and the reader with their government subsidies in the form of parallel import restrictions.

The publisher is the useless and greedy intermediary between authors and readers, they continue to fleece the author, the retailer and the reader with impunity – and they are doing just as well with DRM, regional licencing etc etc. in the ebook world.

However, having said that:

The cost of getting an overseas published book as shown by Booko (http://booko.com.au/) makes clear that pricing was a bit of an issue.

Australian publisher creates world’s biggest book

In a country mad for BIG things (oversized tourist attractions shaped like fruit or animals anyone?), it should come as no surprise that an Australian publisher, Millenium House, is the creative force behind what might just be the world’s biggest book. The Platinum edition of Millenium House’s latest atlas, “Earth,” is being produced in a limited run of only 31 copies, measuring a huge 6 x 9 ft (1.8 x 2.75m). And what will one of these limited edtition copies cost? A mere US$100,000.

Gordon Cheers, of Millenium House, turns a page of Earth

Gordon Cheers, of Millenium House, turns a page of Earth

Fear not, if the Platinum edition is slightly out of your library’s budget, or storage capacity, you can still get your very own copy of Earth in the somewhat smaller size of 610 × 469 mm (18½ × 24 inches), and in either the Royal blue edition (2,000 copies) or Imperial Gold edition (1,000 copies)

The Platinum edition was launched at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair (Frankenfurter Buchmesse), which runs from the 6th to the 10th of October.

75 new Popular Penguins

The latest set of Popular Penguins is being advertised, although they don’t go on sale till July. This time there are 75 re-issued penguin paperbacks for $9.99. Congratulations again to Penguin for bring good books out at realistic prices, or what we could call normal prices that you would pay elsewhere in the world but Australia. But let’s not get into the Cheaper Books argument.

There are 75 new titles in this round, and the really good news is there are lots of really good titles this time, including: Howl and other poems, la petit prince, le grande Meaulnes etc etc.

Start saving your monies!

iPad

The iPad is coming to Australia in late April, now.

See Apple USA for the features here http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/

See Apple Australia for the features here http://www.apple.com/au/ipad/features/

The difference, iBooks, Australians don’t get them. Without iBooks we may as well continue working in, of all places, libraries! it’s not fair I tells you.

UPDATE

Goodness, we may not have to be tied to libraries after all, Borders and A&R might save us.

The future of the book in school libraries

A lot of things have changed since I was in school. The school library of my day was composed mostly of books, with open spaces with chairs for reading, tables for study and a limited number of computers for use by the librarian alone, with a rudimentary library management system. This gradually morphed into the incorporation of additional computers with a limited number of databases for student use (generally only availabe on CD) and, later, more computers were added and more databases, with the inclusion of electronic subscription services.

But what of the books in the school library? Changes are, inevitably, afoot in the school libraries of today as electronic information becomes more readily available. The Room for debate blog, over at the New York Times, has a series of interviews with some prominent library types discussing the future directions of the school libraries of today, including their use of print and electronic media.

Copyright in the real world

Cory Doctorow (the well known author, blogger, co-editor of Boing-Boing, copyright crusader) recently gave a speech at the National Reading Summit on reading and the way that copyright is currently working (or not, depending on your viewpoint).

You can find the first part of Cory’s speech entitled “How to destroy the book” here and, when you’re done, do yourself a favour and read the second part as well.