The Melbourne based writer Christos Tsiolkas has won one of Australia’s most prestigious literary awards in recognition of his work that spans more than a quarter of a century.
The $60,000 Melbourne prize for literature was announced earlier today and was awarded to Tsiolkas for his “outstanding contribution to Australian literature and to cultural and intellectual life”, according to the prize’s judges.
Throughout his career Tsiolkas has written a number of bestselling novels, including Loaded, Barracuda, and The Slap. Many of these have also found themselves being adapted for the big and small screen.
His 2020 novel Damascus also won him last year’s Victorian premier’s prize for fiction.
The author thanked his family and publisher, Jane Palfreyman in a short speech, saying: “I feel like the luckiest fella tonight.”
The essayist and poet Eloise Grills won the $15,000 writer’s prize.
The public is also able to vote for a $3,000 civic choice award however the winner of that prize will not be announced until the 11th of November.
Bloomsbury, the book publisher of the Harry Potter franchise, has announced record sales and profits thanks to the popularity of new titles such as Tom Kerridge’s latest cookbook, this despite the ongoing supply chain issues affecting the UK.
The company said that the increase in reading during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic led people to “rediscover the joy of reading,” with fantasy, escapism, and cookery genres selling particularly well.
It said their revenues for the six months to the end of August were also helped by customers ordering books earlier than normal. Book sales typically peak in the three months leading into the Christmas period, this year that peak seems to have arrived early, likely sparked in part thanks to the supply chain issues across the country.
Last month a number of retailers and publishers warned of potential delays in the run up to Christmas thanks to a national shortage of lorry drivers. The UK’s largest bookseller, Waterstones, said it had upped its stock holding by a quarter to help alleviate any problems.
Bloomsbury has likewise increased its stock levels to almost £37m, this is up from £26m the year previously.
The publishers consumer division has posted a 29% revenue growth, thanks in no small part to books such as A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas and Outdoor Cooking from Michelen-starred chef Tom Kerridge.
The company also said that sales of the Harry Potter series were also good and the books were still amongst its best sellers. They also launched Our Biggest Experiment: A History of the Climate Crisis by Alice Bell back in July, which is performing well in the run up to the Cop26 summit that starts in Glasgow on Saturday.
Overall, the company has revealed they made revenues of £100.7m in the first half, which is up 29%, while their underlying profits before tax were £12.9m, up 220%. They expect to make revenues of £193m and an underlying pre-tax profit of £19.3m by the end of the year.
The Prince will share a number of lessons from his life
The Duke of Sussex will be revealing a number of “mistakes and lessons learned” from his life in a memoir to be published next year.
Prince Harry announced the publishing deal with Penguin Random House saying he would share all the “highs and lows” and be “accurate and wholly truthful”.
Prince Harry, who with his wife Meghan Markle, stepped back from royal duties last year, will be donating the proceeds to charity.
Penguin has not disclosed the details of the deal.
Harry has said in a statement that he will not be writing the book as the “prince he was born as but as the man he has become”.
He also said: “I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story – the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned – I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.
“I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned over the course of my life so far and excited for people to read a firsthand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful.”
Markus Dohle from Penguin Random House has described the duke as being among “world-renowned leaders, icons, and change-makers we have been privileged to publish over the years”.
A press release from the publishing company has described the book as “intimate and heartfelt” and “honest and moving”.
It also said: “Prince Harry will offer an honest and captivating personal portrait, one that shows readers that behind everything they think they know lies an inspiring, courageous, and uplifting human story.”
Public support for the England striker has seen sales of his children’s book soar
England footballer Marcus Rashford’s children’s book ‘You Are a Champion’ has just shot to the top of the charts following England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
The book is a guide for young people in which the footballer shares stories from his own life and discusses how to “find your team”, and to “dream big”. You Are a Champion was published back in May and was co-written with Carl Anka. After it’s release it topped the charts for four weeks before being knocked off by David Walliams’ new book Megamonster.
In the wake of last weekend’s defeat however – and the support that has surrounded Rashford after his missed penalty and the racist abuse that followed – You Are A Champion has shot to the top of Amazon’s book chart, putting it ahead of bestsellers by Walliams, Matt Haig and Richard Osman.
Richard Osman tweeted out his congratulations…
A number of UK bookshops have launched crowdfunding campaigns this week to get as many copies of Rashford’s book as possible into children’s hands. A welsh bookstore called Book-ish has raised more than £8,000 to buy copies for a local secondary school.
“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of people who have donated over £1,000 to get his book to local children,” said Vivian Archer at Newham Bookshop. “One person who bid for a signed copy said he will donate that to a child who could be inspired to go on to great things. Thank you Marcus.”
The books published Pan Macmillian has also pledged to donated 20,000 copies to a number of these campaigns. “It is wonderful to see how our industry has pulled together to take positive action to support Marcus Rashford and his message of hope, and we are delighted to be adding support to the campaigns,” said Macmillan Children’s Books’ Belinda Ioni Rasmussen. “Marcus is an inspirational young man and his book speaks directly to children and young people, reinforcing the message that you can be whatever and whoever you want to be, regardless of your background.”
Shortly after publishing his book Rashford worked with Macmillan to launch the Marcus Rashford Book Club, an organisation that aims to encourage reading and improve literacy in children between the ages of 8 and 12.
Líra Könyv fined £600 for selling a book with ‘a family that is different than a normal family’
A bookshop chain in Hungary has been fined for selling a children’s picture book that depicts the day to day life of a child with same-sex parents, a number of the countries officials have also publicly condemned the book.
The book is a Hungarian translation of two titles by the US author Lawrence Schimel. In it we are shown a young boys morning routine with his two mothers and the night time escapades of a girl with two fathers who doesn’t want to go to bed.
According to Reuters the fine of 250,000 forints (£600) was imposed on the bookshop chain, Líra Könyv, by Pest county, the local authority for the area surrounding Budapest. According to the county commissioner, Richard Tarnai, the bookshop chain had violated the rules on unfair commercial practices by failing to disclose that the book contained what he called “content which deviates from the norm”.
“The book was there among other fairy-tale books and thus committed a violation,” Tarnai said. “There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different than a normal family.”
The books author took to Twitter to accuse the Hungarian government of “trying to normalise hate and prejudice with these concerted attacks against books like mine … which represent for kids the plural and diverse world they live in.” He also spoke to the Guardian to say that the idea behind his books was to “celebrate queer families, to put more queer joy into the world, so that the only books available to children weren’t about conflicts”.
“In these stories, the fact that the parents are two mums or two dads is incidental to the story, as it is to the daily lives of children in rainbow families. These families don’t only experience homophobia, they also have fun,” he said.
Líra Könyv said in a Facebook post that it will now be putting up signs in its stores to warn shoppers that it sold “books with different content than traditional ones”.
“Rainbow families are completely normal, ordinary families,” the book’s Hungarian distributor, Foundation for Rainbow Families, said in its own statement. “These families haven’t had their own story book so far. That’s why we thought it was important to publish a fairytale book about them – and first of all for them.”
Despite what happened in Hungary Schimel has said that he is “more determined to keep trying to create books like these – books that respect the intelligence of children and offer the vast, complex world to them, in fun and accessible ways”.
These books will be published in the UK this autumn in both English and Welsh.
Remark shocked Chief of Staff John Kelly according to author MIchael Bender
During a visit to Europe to mark 100 years since the end of the first world war it is reported that Donald Trump turned to his then chief of staff, John Kelly and uttered the inexplicable words; “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”
This remark is said to have stunned Kelly, a retired US Marine Corps General, and is being reported in a new book by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal.
The book, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election” is being heavily advertised ahead of its publication next week.
According to Bender the then president Trump made the remark during a quick history lesson during which Kelly had to “[remind] the president which countries were on which side during the conflict” and had to “connect the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler’s atrocities”.
Bender is one of a number of authors who has been able to interview Trump since he lost his second election to Joe Biden.
In a statement issued in response to this allegation a Trump spokesperson said: “This is totally false. President Trump never said this. It is made-up fake news, probably by a general who was incompetent and was fired.” This sounds a little familiar if truth be told.
Bender however claims that unnamed sources have reported that Kelly; “told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred”, apparently the president continued to emphasize the German economic recovery that occured under Hitler during the 1930s.
“Kelly pushed back again,” Bender writes, “and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide.”
Bender adds that Kelly had to tell Trump that even if that economic claim was true; “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.” I feel this is just common knowledge to most people.
This international trip saw Trump run into more trouble than normal. He controversially cancelled a trip to an American cemetery and is reported to have called US soldier who died in the war “suckers” and “losers”.
Kelly, who lost his own son in Afghanistan in 2010, left the White House team in 2019 and has spoken critically of the former president ever since, even calling him; “the most flawed person I have ever met in my life”.
Bender reports that Kelly tried his best to educate Trump and overcome his “stunning disregard for history”.
“Senior officials described his understanding of slavery, Jim Crow, or the Black experience in general post-civil war as vague to non-existent,” he writes. “But Trump’s indifference to Black history was similar to his disregard for the history of any race, religion or creed.”
During Trump’s presidency concern over the countries far right movement grew drastically. This concern continues as even in defeat Trump maintains a tight grip over the Republican party. He continues to make positive remarks about far-right and white-supremacist groups.
The extract has been exclusively published by New York magazine.
The journalists first book on Trump, Fire and Fury, exploded onto bookshelves in January 2018 and created a new genre of scandalous political books. While his first book did very well however his sequel, Siege, did not meet expectations.
On January 6th this year, while Congress met to confirm Biden’s election win, Trump spoke to his supporters and told them: “We’re going to walk down [to the Capitol to protest] – and I’ll be there with you.”
According to the excerpt Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was approached by concerned secret service agents but said: “No. There’s no way we are going to the Capitol.”
Wolff writes that when the president was approached by Meadows he seemed unsure of what his chief of staff was talking about.
“You said you were going to march with them to the Capitol,” Meadows reportedly said. “How would we do that? We can’t organize that. We can’t.”
“I didn’t mean it literally,” Trump then replied.
The former president is also reported to have been puzzled when his supports began a riot that led to five people losing their lives.
Wolff also claims that Trump was confused and disappointed by: “who these people were with their low-rent ‘trailer camp’ bearing and their ‘get-ups’, once joking that he should have invested in a chain of tattoo parlors and shaking his head about ‘the great unwashed’.”
Trump and his close family would watch the attack unfold on TV at the White House.
According to Wolff the exchange between the president and his chief of staff shed’s light on how Trump abandoned his most fervent supporters.
As Wolff reports the White House quickly came to the realisation that Mike Pence had “concluded that he was not able to reject votes unilaterally or, in effect, to do anything else, beyond playing his ceremonial role, that the president might want him to do”.
Trump’s aid Jason Miller is then reported as saying, “oh shit” before turning to the president’s lawyer and election fraud cheerleader, Rudy Giuliani.
The writer reports that the former New York mayor was: “drinking heavily and in a constant state of excitation, often almost incoherent in his agitation and mania”.
As the attempted insurrection escalated Trump posted a tweet attacking his vice-president and continued to ignore the numerous aids who were pleading with him to ask his supporters to stand down.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and advisor is reported to have seen the attack as nothing more than an optics issue. Wolff states that it took an hour for Trump to make the: “transition from seeing the mob as people protesting the election – defending him so he would defend them – to seeing them as ‘not our people’”.
Trump the reportedly asked Meadows: “How bad is this? This looks terrible. This is really bad. Who are these people? These aren’t our people, these idiots with these outfits. They look like Democrats.”
He then added: “We didn’t tell people to do something like this. We told people to be peaceful. I even said ‘peaceful’ and ‘patriotic’ in my speech!”
$200,000 raised so far to help rebuild Gaza bookstore destroyed by Israeli airstrikes
Money and books have been donated in an effort to help rebuild one of Gaza’s largest bookstores, the two storey Samir Mansour, which was destroyed by Israeli air strikes back in May.
The shop was founded 21 years ago by Palestinian Mansour and since then it has become a beloved part of the local community and housed tens of thousands of books. Sadly it was reduced to rubble on the 18th of May during the latest conflict in the region, a conflict that ultimately killed more than 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel.
Rukhsana said that the response from around the world has been brilliant.
“Dropping bombs on Samir Mansour’s bookshop is not the worst tragedy to have hit the people of Gaza – but this particular air strike targeted access to books. It was an attack on the knowledge and literacy of this community. Samir lost almost 100,000 books and served schoolchildren and adults alike,” she said. “I knew hospital and roads would receive funding, but secondary cultural institutions such as libraries are often overlooked but equally critical to the community.”
The aim of the fundraiser though is not just to replace all 100,000 lost books and rebuild the store, it also aims to help Mansour with his new project: the Gaza Cultural Centre, a large library Mansour wants to build where people can read books without having to pay.
“[In Mansour’s shop], people were allowed to stay, have tea and read his books for as long as they wanted free of charge without an obligation to purchase … he has decided to use all gently used and some new books to create a true library,” she said.
In a written statement released to the press Mansour said his “heart was burning” when he learnt that missiles had destroyed his beloved bookstore.
“The Israeli airstrikes bombed half of the building and my bookshop was in the other half. I wished they would stop … My feet took me a few steps forward, towards the bookshop. The last missile came and destroyed the building,” he said.
“It was six in the morning. I didn’t know what to do. I started searching among the rubble for anything related to my library. But everything was under the rubble.”
He searched the rubble for hours trying to find anything that he could salvage before returning home. “I sat thinking about why my shop was bombed,” he said. “I did not publish, write, or attack any country or person in my life. I did not spread hatred but spread culture, science and love. I did not find answers to my questions.” But he promised himself that he would “rebuild all over again, no matter what it took from me”.
The UK-based online children’s bookseller Books2Door has donated 1,000 books to the campaign with the company founder Abdul Thada describing the situation as heart-breaking.
“Without any hesitation I knew we could help,” he said. “We were kindly informed by the fundraisers that Samir had a diverse, eclectic collection, so we hope we have done him proud.”
Rukhsana and Stafford Smith have said that all donations will help the bookshop “rise as a phoenix from the ashes”.
“With this kind of support now all we need is some humanitarian cooperation from the Israeli and Gaza authorities,” they said.
The lack of diversity in the publishing industry is set to be the focus of a new comedic play by award-winning writers Yvette Edwards and Irenosen Okjie. The writers say they want this play to be a “subtle and pertinent” reminder of the obstacles facing black writers.
The play is entitled The Green Room and will be directed by Roy Alexander Weise who said he hoped the play would be a “reminder for publishers and writers of all backgrounds of what black creatives have to navigate in their chosen careers.”
The play focuses on six authors who are backstage at a diversity in literature award they are all nominated for. It is described as “a timely and clear-eyed exploration of the publishing industry”, as well as the additional obstacles black writers face as they try to create a career in the UK.
Edwards has said that her play’s edgy comedy mirrors the dark humour black authors use as a means of protection “against the trauma of having to constantly relive all the mechanisms that obstruct our access to fair and equal inclusion and progress” in real life. She also added that some black authors were still being invited to literary discussions to explore the issue the of diversity instead of to promote their own work,
She added that black authors were still being invited to literary festivals to discuss the issue of diversity instead of promoting their own work, “as if the resolution rested with them and not with the industry itself”.
Okojie went on to add: “We chose comedy to tell the story because we want to impact people in ways that are subtle and pertinent, while leaving them with something to think about.”
As of now the cast has still not been announced.
If you wish to view the play yourself it will be livestreamed from Theatre Peckham on the 4th of July.
Oxford University was first given the right to print books way back in 1586. Sadly that centuries long tradition will end this summer as the publishing house has announced it will be closing its printing arm.
The closing of Oxuniprint will take place on the 27th of August and will result in the loss of 20 jobs. The publishing house says this sad move has been made due to a “continued decline in sales”, which was certainly not helped by the ongoing global pandemic.
When Oxuniprint closes it will be the final chapter in a centuries long printing tradition for Oxford, where the first book was printed in 1478, two years before the first printing press was established in England.
“Oxuniprint is the latest iteration of OUP’s print division which has been around for centuries,” said Dr Jude Roberts, chair of the Unite union branch at Oxford University Press. “The idea of Oxford University Press as a press has always been fundamental to what we do. It’s not just about the content, although obviously that is important, it’s also about the quality of our publications as cultural artefacts. It’s much more difficult to control that quality when the physical books and journals are produced by somebody else.”
The Unite union condemned the closure and blamed OUP’s increasing outsourcing to cheaper facilities abroad as the true reason for the printing presses financial problems.
“This is the final chapter in a distinguished printing history at the OUP, but we feel that there could have been a different outcome if OUP bosses had not been hell-bent on pursuing their outsourcing agenda,” said Unite regional officer Kevin Whiffen. “There is not much loyalty to the centuries-old printing heritage, and those who have given their working lives to it.”
Roberts also said that the 20 affected members of staff are in individual consultations about their futures. “The press has said that they are going to attempt to find alternative roles for them. But the fact is that the work that these guys do is so specific, it’s so highly skilled in this particular area, and we don’t do any of that work now without them, so it’s hard to imagine where they could be placed elsewhere in the press. It’s absolutely awful.”
A spokesperson for OUP said: “This decision follows a recent business review of our operations. This has not been an easy decision for us, and we thank the team for the support and dedication to OUP, and their clients, over the years.”
Hunter Biden will be publishing a memoir in April that explores his struggle with drugs.
Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden recently announced that his memoir, titled Beautiful things, will be published in April.
The focus of the memoir will firmly be on the lawyer’s struggles with drug addiction and his path to sobriety. The title is taken from an expression he and his brother Beau would use after Beaus fatal brain cancer diagnosis, it allowed them to emphasise what was important in life.
In a brief extract published alongside the announcement, Hunter Biden writes; “I come from a family forged by tragedies and bound by a remarkable, unbreakable love.”
The book is already receiving glowing praise from the likes of Stephen King.
“In his harrowing and compulsively readable memoir, Hunter Biden proves again that anybody, even the son of a United States president can take a ride on the pink horse down nightmare alley,” King writes. “Biden remembers it all and tells it all with a bravery that is both heartbreaking and quite gorgeous. He starts with a question: Where’s Hunter? The answer is he’s in this book, the good, the bad and the beautiful.”
Hunter Biden is the oldest surviving of the president, who sadly lost both his wife and one year old daughter Naomi in a 1972 car accident, and his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015.
Books by presidential family members are nothing new. During the Trump presidency his son Donald Trump Jr released two books, Triggered and Liberal Privilege, though the contents are somewhat different.
The memoir will be published by Simon & Schuster who have previously released book by Trump supporter Sean Hannity, and anti-Trump bestsellers such as national security adviser John Bolton’s The Room Where It Happened and Too Much and Never Enough by the former president’s niece Mary Trump.
The publisher had also been planning to release a book by vocal Trump supporter and US senator Josh Hawley later this year. That book deal however was cancelled in the wake of his supporter for the attempted coup by Trump supporters on the 6th of January.
While Waterstones staff struggle to pay their bills Waterstones won’t increase their wages until shops reopen.
Waterstones recently told staff that any furloughed workers would not be seeing any increase to their wages until shops are able to reopen. This statement comes after a petition was launched calling on the book seller to help workers who are being paid under the minimum wage thanks to the furlough scheme.
The petition has thus far been signed by more than 1,500 people, including more than 100 Waterstones workers, it is also backed by the author Philip Pullman. It is addressed to the companies managing director James Daunt and its chief operating officer Kate Skipper, it says that as many of the companies staff are employed at or very near to minimum wage being put on the furlough scheme has now “plunged [them] beneath this line and into financial uncertainty”.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allow a company to furlough a worker and the government will ensure that employee gets 80% of their wage, however it does not protect an employee from falling beneath the minimum wage.
A teenager from LA. has made it her mission to get books into the hands of young children.
The petition claims that some Waterstone employees are therefore “struggling to pay bills, borrowing money to make ends meet, turning to charity just to survive”. Testimonies from some anonymous staff include a senior bookseller who has worked for the company for over 18 years and who know finds themselves turning to food banks in order to survive after their monthly earnings have dropped £170 beneath the minimum wage threshold.
“I have a partner and two small kids to keep on that, and we’re struggling,” they wrote.
Another employee has said they won’t be able to make their rent payment this month, while another said they’ve had to turn to friends and roommates to help cover their bills.
The petition stresses that Waterstones’ owners, the hedge fund Elliott Advisors, paid out over £93m to just 107 staff members at the end of the 2019 financial year.
“We understand the impact that Covid has had on the business and that the high street is in a precarious position. We are not asking for a full top-up, not that we are paid a great deal above minimum wage – simply that incomes are made back up to this safety line,” the bookseller who organised the petition said in a statement to the Guardian.
“It is not our intention to damage or attack our company. We are dedicated to our jobs and adore our colleagues, hold great belief in the product we sell and love the people and customers that we encounter daily. Rather we set up the petition with the aim of raising awareness of … the real and immediate need many of our booksellers, as well as millions of other low-paid workers in various sectors, are experiencing.”
In response to this petition Kate Skipper told staff in a mass email that furlough had been “the lifeline which has prevented mass redundancies” for their business.
“I say this in no way to diminish the stress and strain that being on furlough creates, nor to ignore the financial hardship that accompanies it,” she wrote, adding that the chain planned a 2.75% pay rise from 1 April 2021 – or from when it can reopen the majority of its shops. This follows a pay rise last April.
She said that petitions “provoke considerable social media and other reporting on Waterstones, much of it damaging. We regret this, and regret especially also if any bookseller feels unable to discuss their concerns, whether with their HR representative, anyone from the retail team, myself or any of the management team. I realise this is an unbelievably tough and desperate time for so many people but to continue to protect the business, and thereby importantly to deliver our aim to pay more, we need to survive – and ultimately to prosper. Please consider how best that can be achieved.”
Skipper also said that the company has “we have great sympathy” with the petition. “Only the extreme circumstances of prolonged, enforced closure of our shops, with no certainty of the timing of their reopening, has caused the furlough of our booksellers in this manner,” she said.
“It would be much better if we were in a position to pay our booksellers their full salaries, even as we keep our shops closed. With no clarity for how long this crisis will last, this would not be prudent. We look forward to reopening and bringing our booksellers back to work. Then we will have certainty and are pleased that we will be able to give well deserved pay rises.”
Despite stores being closed however online sales of book have remained steady during the various UK lockdowns. Last month the industry monito Nielsen Bookscan reported that the volume of print books actually grew by 5.2% to 202m in 2020.
Amanda Gorman’s star has continued to rise following the presidential laureates beautiful poetry recital on Wednesday’s US presidential inauguration.
Within hours of her Wednesday delivery the 22 year saw two of her books reach the top of Amazon’s bestsellers list.
“I am on the floor. My books are number 1 and number 2 on Amazon after day 1,” the poet wrote on Twitter.
Gorman was born with a speech impediment that she was able to overcome and became the first US national youth poet laureate in 2017. She has now joined the ranks of other inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Alongside the honour of being the youngest poet in US history to mark the transition of executive power, the Harvard University graduates poetry collection, titled, The Hill We Climb, has debuted at the top of Amazon’s sales charts.
Another project being undertaken by Gorman is geared towards a younger audience and is titled Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem. This new project is due to be released in September.
According to the New York Times, Gorman said she had struggled to write the inaugural poem. It was the 6th of January assault on the US Capitol that gave her the motivation and inspiration to pen the final piece.
“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman read, just two weeks after the attempted insurrection.
The performance was an instant hit across both the country and the political spectrum, including from the likes of former president Barack Obama and the Republican-backed Lincoln Project
“Wasn’t [Gorman’s] poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted Hillary Clinton, the former US secretary of state.
Amazon and five of the major publishing houses are being sued for the alleged price fixing of ebooks.
Amazon and what have been termed the “Big Five” publishers – Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster – have recently been accused of colluding with one another in order to fix ebook prices. This accusation comes in a class action suit filed by a law firm that successfully sued Apple and the Big Five on the same charge 10 years ago.
The lawsuit was filed in a New York District Court on behalf of consumers in several states. It names the retail giant as the sole defendant but has called the publishers “co-conspirators.” The suit alleges that Amazon and the publishers use a clause known as “Most Favored Nations” to keep ebook prices artificially high, and therefore force consumers to pay more for ebooks purchased through retail platforms that are not Amazon.
The lawsuit alleges that almost 90% of all ebooks sold in the US are done so on Amazon. The lawyers also say that ebook prices dropped in 2013 after Apple and the publishers were successfully sued for the same charge, but that they rose again when Amazon renegotiated their contracts in 2015.
“In violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, Defendant and the Big Five Co-conspirators agreed to various anti-competitive MFNs and anti-competitive provisions that functioned the same as MFNs,” the complaint states. “Amazon’s agreement with its Co-conspirators is an unreasonable restraint of trade that prevents competitive pricing and causes Plaintiffs and other consumers to overpay when they purchase ebooks from the Big Five through an ebook retailer that competes with Amazon. That harm persists and will not abate unless Amazon and the Big Five are stopped.”
The suit is seeking compensation for consumers who purchased ebooks through competitor websites and aims to force Amazon and the publishers to “stop enforcing anti-competitive price restraints.”
This lawsuit came a day after the state of Connecticut announced it was launching an investigation into Amazon for possible anti-competitive behaviour in its sale of ebooks.
Amazon has thus far not released a statement in response to the New York lawsuit.
A teenager from LA. has made it her mission to get books into the hands of young children.
Alana Weisberg has always been an avid reader, she enjoys nothing more than escaping into a good book. So when the pandemic hit and her school was forced to close, she found a lot more free time on her hands, free time she was happy to fill with her insatiable appetite for reading.
But this also got her thinking about other children, children who were not quite as fortunate as herself. With libraries closed many children would not have access to the books Alana herself could enjoy, that did not sit well with the 16-year-old sophomore from Los Angeles.
Thus she founded Bookworm Global, a brilliant charity that Weisberg started to last spring and has so far collected and distributed over 22,000 new or used books to children in need.
Bookworm Global began small but has grown rapidly over the last year. Now the organisation even trains Girl and Boy Scout troops on holding their own book drives in their local communities. Any books collected are sent on to Weisberg or organises getting them into local schools or non-profits around her area. Bookworm Global has even branched out of California and donated to an orphanage in Mexico.
Yet the focus is still on her local community. Weisberg says her goal is still to get books into the hands of L.A. children with little means.
“I wanted to get books to kids living below the poverty line,” she said. “The children that are getting these books have never owned a book before.”
Los Angeles has a homeless problem, particularly amongst youths. The city has a lot of students and English learners who are struggling to read at the states average standard, that is according to state data, this is not acceptable to Weisberg.
ICEF Inglewood Elementary Charter Academy has received around 5,000 books from Bookworm Global, something that will help many of its students according to the community relations coordinator Jhonathon Gonzalez. According to Gonzalez these books will be the only physical ones many of his students will have access to.
The school does not have its own library and has been forced to photocopy pages from numerous books just so their pupils can have access to the written word. Almost ninety percent of the schools pupils live below the poverty line, though Gonzalez says that number is now likely higher thanks to people losing their jobs during the pandemic.
“Getting books into the hands of students is critical so that children can momentarily step away from the harsh realities of their COVID-19 living conditions and travel to new worlds through reading,” Gonzalez said.
“It’s an opportunity for them to escape what they’re currently going through and go to a magical land,” he said. “A lot of our students don’t have that opportunity. It’s up to us to provide them a different world through the lens of a reader.”
Bookworm Global has also placed an emphasis on books whose protagonists are people of colour, in an attempt to appeal to as broad a range of readers as possible.
Weisberg hopes that this philanthropic organisation can help many new children develop as deep a passion for reading as she has.
“Reading is really important to me because it’s my escape. When I’m bored, I go and read,” she said. “I want kids to be able to engage in a book and really enjoy it and foster a love of reading.”