Between the Covers 06/01/2013

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

Usually, press releases with the dread word "Valentine" in the title are immediately jettisoned, but a new one from the Story Museum in Oxford found a little soft spot. The Museum is the new guardian of several antique printing presses which used to live at the Bodleian Library, and it is offering printing workshops for beginners to print their own Valentine's cards. The equipment includes three wooden composing frames that were made for Oxford University Press in 1669 by a local joiner, as well as a wooden "common press" from the 18th century. There are two "print your own Valentine" workshops which last for two hours each, and cost £20 in total. Anyone who really gets the bug can apply for a six-week, hand-printing course, which starts in April. For more details, go online to story museum.org.uk/print.

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A spoof Twitter account claiming to be the "official" account of the writer John le Carré has been suspended, according to The Bookseller. @JLeCarre pretended to be the former MI5 and MI6 agent, real name David John Moore Cornwell, but aroused suspicion by signing all of his tweets with his fake name, and by tweeting in a curiously foreign-sounding English. He was unmasked by the real le Carre's literary agent, Jonny Geller, after tweeting falsely that JK Rowling had died. Geller later tweeted: "How many fake tweeters does it take to change a lightbulb? None. They like to hide in the dark."

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The sales of print books over Christmas were the highest in three years, the latest figures have revealed. However, there are now only 1,878 high-street bookshops left in Britain – half as many as in 2005 – with almost 400 having closed in 2012 alone. Remember, your local bookshop is not just there to boost house prices: use it or lose it.

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Among all of the naff Hobbit spin-off material that's been hobbiting about over Christmas, there is at least one classy item: the latest poster from Spineless Classics (spinelessclassics.com) which has the entire text of the book – laid out around a Smaug-shaped cut-out – on a 700mm x 1000mm poster. There's also a poster of Life of Pi, five of which were given away at Christmas to competition winners who had written in with their suggestions of who they would most like to share a boat with. Between the Covers' favourite was: "A barn owl; I hear they are a hoot."

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Rumours reach us that a rival has finally emerged for the Cleverest Book Title of the Year Prize, awarded by Between the Covers to Marcus Chown, in 2009, for his science book We Need to Talk About Kelvin, and not threatened since. The new contender is Pat Connid's 50 Shades of Gray Matter (or How I Nearly Stopped the Zombie Apocalypse with an Erection) – a semi-erotica, zombie apocalypse story set in a university and published in October. When Chown was contacted about this, however, he had a better idea, and suggested that Alex Bellos should take the title with Here's Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion Through the Astonishing World of Math.

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