News, Events and Anticipated New Releases
Big news in South Africa’s book world is the sale of major book chain Exclusive Books and national text book provider Van Schaik Bookstores. According to Business Report, the two chains now largely belong to a consortium that is led by Medu Capital. The consortium bought out Times Media Group to the tune of R435 million – cash. Medu Capital obviously sees the potential for growth, which is great, although it doesn’t quite gel with the stats provided by PwC South Africa. Apparently, the market for print consumer and educational books is expected to show the slowest growth in the local media and entertainment industry over the next five years. The market for ebooks, though, is expected to continue to grow satisfactorily. Still, Medu Capital’s optimisation is nice to see; hopefully it isn’t misplaced.
Going through some changes
Big news internationally is the announcement that as from next year (2014), all English writers will be eligible for the Man Booker Prize. Previously, it’s only been open to writers from the British Commonwealth and Ireland, but now it will be open to writers from all over the world. According to an article on Huffington Post, the decision comes after 18 months of consulting with major players in the industry. It was eventually decided that the prize was too exclusionary and that the time of ‘border control’ was over. Not everyone is happy with the change, however. Many writers from the Commonwealth now feel that their chances of recognition have gone up in smoke. They feel that far from being exclusionary, the award gave writers a fighting chance in a highly competitive industry.
Another change, this one welcomed by authors, comes from the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Frankfurt Book Fair is one the oldest, most respected, and highly anticipated publishing events in the world. But that’s just it, its focus has been on publishers and publishing. This year, however, it’s giver more attention to authors. Authors have never been discouraged from attending, but now they have more opportunities to use the fair as a platform, rather than a place to meet, greet, and generate a little bit of public interest.
In 2010, Paul Harding won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his debut novel Tinkers. It’s taken a couple of years, but his new novel Enon is about to hit bookshelves. Enon has already been praised for its sensitivity and wit. This is good news for Harding fans, who may have been worried about his ability to repeat his success.
Alice McDermott is another award-winner with a new book on the shelves. McDermott won the US National Book Award for Fiction and American Book Award for her novel Charming Billy. Her new novel Someone is about one woman’s ordinary life, told in an extraordinary way.
J.M. Coetzee tends to be an author people either love or hate, or love to hate. He’s won the Nobel Prize for Literature but that doesn’t make him an automatic hit with critics or fans. His latest novel The Childhood of Jesus has been well-received critically, thanks to the haunting poignancy with which he tells the story of a little boy named David, and not Jesus. It’s been described as one of his best works, one which his fans will love and which will convert sceptics and new readers.
Written by Sandy Cosser
Image credit: andessurvivor, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr