Month: November 2008

My Bookseller Piece – Ireland: a native hunger

It’s not my headline but I think it gets the point across
So the full text is here

Bestsellers are a rare thing for an Irish fiction publisher, though Poolbeg is still doing a fine job of breaking new talent—in fact all four of those titles mentioned above in the top 50 belong to it. But Poolbeg is the only notable mass market fiction publisher in Irish hands. An industry of one is hardly an industry at all.

Damn busy today


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt stops acquiring books?

Eoin Purcell

No seriously they have
Here & Here:

It’s been clear for months that it will be a not-so-merry holiday season for publishers, but at least one house has gone so far as to halt acquisitions. PW has learned that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books.

I don’t understand this entirely but I do see this as being an enormously worrying development!

New Media, New Audience Conference

Eoin Purcell

Berry Bros & Rudd
I’m just back from fine dinner in the fantastic upstairs room of the Weights & Measure building that Berry Bros & Rudd now occupy. The meal was for panelists and speakers at tomorrow’s (Or today’s) Arts Council Conference on New Media, New Audience?.

If the conversation tonight it anything to go by, tomorrow should be amazing. You can read the full agenda here.

Andrew Keen & Charles Leadbeater will be speaking which I think is frankly amazing! Go the Arts Council and Anette Clancy who is doing much of the work for scoring two such highly rated speakers!

I’ll be chairing the New Media in Practice panel! I’ll update with how it went tomorrow!

The fate of smaller markets

Eoin Purcell

With big ones on their doorstep
Hachette is launching a Scottish division. BookBrunch comments:

In non-fiction, Hachette Scotland will be a rival to houses including Mainstream (half-owned by Random House), Birlinn, and Black & White. It will have the clout to put greater marketing efforts behind commercial fiction than would be possible at the independent houses.

On the surface this might seem like a fine idea. In truth it heralds a weakening of the independent sector of the Scottish Publishing industry, and they have been very impressive folk in recent years. I’ve a piece kind of related to this (as in it references Ireland not Scotland) in the forthcoming Bookseller so I’ll wait till that is out and about before commenting too much.

So more to follow,

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 18/11/2008

Eoin Purcell

The Independent is axing shed loads of its staff, and we thinking book publishers have it bad!

More on this to come, but the Arts Council is running a conference on New Media and The Arts.

If you read Science Fiction, read some of the stories on Their community site is growing nicely and generating quite a lot of attention, comment and I hope generating sales.

The British Book Awards are opening nominations. Not long since their founder died, these Awards are, nonetheless going from strength to strength.

WT Cosgrave: The Steady Hand

Eoin Purcell

WT Cosgrave & Tim Healy (left) at the State Funeral of Kevin O'Higgins (Courtesy of UCC MultiText)

In a very Irish manner
We celebrate one body of neglected heroes while ignoring one fine example. In the hype and passion that has surrounded the reawakening of compassion for our fallen countrymen of World War One, I almost forgot to remember one of Ireland’s greatest unsung heroes, W.T. Cosgrave. Cosgrave was first Chairman of the Irish Provisional Government (following the deaths of Griffiths & Collins in August 1922) from August to December 1922 and then he was the first President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State from 1922

For me, Cosgrave represents a tradition that is sorely underplayed in Irish History, the practical democrat who drives progress and development at the expense of drama and self aggrandizement. Too often we choose to laud the violence and the flamboyant failures rather than the solid builders who achieved real success for Irish people on the ground.

Forged by war
Faced with an unenviable position in 1922-1923 he rose to the challenge and lead our fledgling state for a decade that saw its fair share of tragedy and triumph but which remarkably saw Ireland remain both democratic and relatively peaceful.

That is not to say that Cosgrave did not have failings. For sure, he might have been more inventive in economic policy or less conservative in his social outlook, but the prevailing mood was broadly in line with his thinking on these issues, and in the later half of his tenure, the economic climate hardly encouraged inventiveness!

On balance, the most incredible feat was the peaceful transfer of power in 1932 to the losers of the civil war, Fianna Fáil and Eamon de Valera. Even allowing a decade for the bitterness of the civil war to dissipate, more recent evens like the assassination of Kevin O’Higgins in 1927.

But the often overlooked work that was achieved in terms of Ireland’s position within the Commonwealth was also remarkable. By the time Fianna Fáil came into power in 1932, Cosgrave’s government had dismantled the majority of the barriers to create a full Irish Republic.

I’ll write more on this during the week, I just thought it warranted a mention, but now it has my mind running!

Some history links 15 November 2008

Eoin Purcell

Fencing duel at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, ca. 1970. (uwdigitalcollections via Flickr cc)

Fencing duel at the University of Wisconsin--Madison, ca. 1970. (uwdigitalcollections via Flickr cc)

A really intriguing map from Strange Maps showing the correlation between cotton picking areas in 1860 and areas that voted for Barack Obama. Here

Today in 1777, the Articles of Confederation were first agreed and proposed. Well worth marking. Here, here and here.

A rather nice few posts about duelling. Here, here and here.