Monday Irish Book Links 5th October 2009

Maybe, it’s because of the time of the year, the first week of October see the launch of an incredible number of title worldwide as large, small and medium companies try to launch a christmas bestseller, but this weeks the news is flowing!

Brian Cody and Brian Cowen got a brief mention in the Independent becuase of Cody’s new Autobiography.

Showtime: The Inside Story of Fianna Fail in Power, by Pat Leahy also had a review in Saturday’s Independent, as did Barry Duggan’s Mean Streets: Limerick’s Gangland.
For the week what’s in it, the Herald has a decent look at Banned & Censored Books in Ireland:

Most of us are aware of books that were banned here in the past — Madonna’s Sex is a book some of us will remember, outlawed in 1994, before finally being permitted on the shelves in a lewd silver wrapper.
But the list of writers banned in Ireland with the introduction of the Censorship of Publications Act in 1929 is real hand-over-the-mouth stuff. From Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms banned in 1939, to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, outlawed in 1953, we really did pick on some classics, as well as condemn our own, like Liam O’Flaherty in 1930.
Ulysses, contrary to popular belief, was never actually banned in Ireland. A 1967 film adaptation by director Joseph Strick was, however, outlawed. Apparently, it’s pretty awful.

Sarah Webb has a nice round up of the October Children’s Book Festival.

Adding to the weight of books that are rooting out the causes, connections and elites responsible for our current economic woes, Matt Cooper’s book, Who Really Runs Ireland? The Story of the Elite who led Ireland from Bust to Boom — and back again, is reviewed in the Irish Independent.

The Indo also carried a note on a biography of recently deceased Fianna Fail minister, Seamus Brennan.

O’Brien’s new Gerry Bradley book gets some interesting coverage:

He spoke out last night, saying some republicans had even compared him to murdered ex-Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson, who was shot dead in 2006 a year after admitting he was a British spy.
“This is a pro-IRA book,” insisted Bradley from Dublin, where he has gone to “clear his head” from negative reaction and to publicise the book.
“I’m still a republican. There has been a knee-jerk reaction to coverage of the book with people jumping to the conclusion that Gerry Bradley is telling the Brits everything.”

Just to remind us. How touch the economy can be on book publishers, the Gill & Macmillan results are not good. That said, G&M is an impressive company that will no doubt rebound with the economy and, it should be noted, they still made a profit, despite the economy.

As I said, lots of news.

Getting to Digital II

Thinking leads to more thinking
A rather great comment from Litlove got me thinking today. She wrote:

I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said – that the slice of the market that makes the money is where digital needs to take hold, and then inevitably from there it will take over.

And I’m still not sure that this isn’t just ideologically driven. When I worked in the bookstore, what made our money really was back list. Okay, every so often there’d be one book that did surprisingly well, but they were few and far between. It was the steady sale of backlist titles that kept us afloat.

Oh I don’t know. To be totally honest, I don’t want digital. I love reading and the thought of having to do it on yet another screen and not to have an actual book in my hands strikes me as hugely depressing.

I’m really not convinced at all why this move has to be made.

So I replied:


I’m with you, why does anything NEED to change?

Sadly where we are is a place where technology facilitates and enables change, a significant group of actors benefit or have a perceived benefit from the change and so those two factors being present, it would be almost impossible to prevent the change.

That said, I am firmly of the view that PRINT CULTURE is far from dead. In fact I’d wager BOOKS as a printed entity will thrive. Just not in the model we have right now. I’ve been meaning to write more on this but I suspect print runs will dip dramatically for all but the biggest books and they will individually become objects of greater value (Andrew Simone @ Lone Gunman has a post that touches on this today) or considerably less value depending on whether they are cheap paperbacks (probably Print on Demand or Massive Print Run) or expensive hardbacks, printed in low quantities.

The web is a reading culture though. Sure video, audio and art illuminate and decorate it, but the medium is a very textually based one. The network is better with a little friction as possible and this is best achieved through a single window (the browser) which is why I see ebooks as a temporary thing, driven by old “iron horse” notions. We will eventually learn to pay for deep deep piles of online content streamed to us or supplied to us via broswer windows just as now we get that largely for free.

Still, as I say, PRINT CULTURE will be around for some time I suspect!

And that basically is where I stand! It seemed like a good idea to put that up front and centre.