Between The Covers: 03/07/2011

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books

*It makes us happy that two of the entrants on 2009's IoS Happy List have joined forces to create marvellous books.

The children's writer Lauren Child has signed up Professor Marcus du Sautoy as "super-geek consultant" on her new Ruby Redfort series of books. Du Sautoy has helped to create the codes used in the books, and has provided maths and logic challenges. "It was a lot of fun putting Ruby Redfort through her paces," he says. "The girl knows her maths!" Ms Child adds: "The big drawback in writing a book about a child-genius code cracker is that you have to come up with the brilliant codes that only a child-genius would be able to crack. How do you do that if you aren't yourself a brilliant code creator? You ask an actual genius to come up with them for you, that's how."

*All power to the Women's Institute and its Love Your Libraries campaign, which is encouraging members to join their local libraries, lobby councillors and sign a petition. (David Cameron promised to hold a debate on any petition with more than 100,000 signatures; the WI has about 205,000 members.) We look forward to the film version, in which Helen Mirren leans across a naked Celia Imrie and says: "Lawrence, we're going to need considerably bigger John Bunyans."

*There's enough nonsense talked about the death of the book to fill the Library of Alexandria and still leave more for the ebook version. Take the new, "largest ebook survey of its kind to date", which finds that 71 per cent of readers use ebooks and 69 per cent of those who don't plan to do so soon. That makes "a minority of nine per cent holding out and willing to read paper only". This totally scientific and disinterested survey was conducted by Stephen Hunt, a thriller writer and former digital publisher who polled 836 of his own readers on his own website. Ah. His new novel, Jack Cloudie, is published on 6 July by HarperCollins Voyager. It was in 1906 in his "Chapters From My Autobiography", published in the North American Review, that Mark Twain (below) wrote: "Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics'." We can find this information so easily thanks to the Gutenberg Project – a useful and sensible publisher of ebooks, at

*In a letter to The Guardian last week, the multi-talented poet and author, Ruth Padel (formerly of this parish), criticised the media for only running "two poetry stories, both negative: poets in conflict or poetry as a small world which keeps outsiders out". Thanks, then, to the poet Sally Crabtree, for letting us know about a poetry event that is not only inclusive and friendly but also provides cakes. Ms Crabtree will be appearing at the Ledbury Poetry Festival this coming weekend with her poetry cakes, which combine the current madness for cupcakes with edible verse. She will also be appearing at London's South Bank on National Poetry Day, 6 October, with her Poetry Bingo, and is collaborating on the Phone a Poem phonebox with the plumber Ray Ranstead and the Nobel Prize-nominated Swedish poet Lars Gustafsson, who will both contribute poems and songs. At no point will they fall out and outsiders will be welcome. Find out more at

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