Between The Covers: 08/05/2011
Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
Sunday 08 May 2011
According to the IoS's top political sources, one of the first acts of one of the new ministers in the coalition Government when it came to power a year ago was to give members of his staff copies of George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language".
In 1946, Orwell wrote: "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible...Political language...is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." Plus ça change...
It's a Conservative win at the Parliamentary Bookshop at Westminster, where the window display has clearly swung to the Blues. In prime position next to David Willetts's The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children's Future – And How They Can Give it Back (Atlantic, £18.99) are copies of How to Be in Opposition: Life in the Political Shadows (Biteback, £14.99) by Nigel Fletcher, who started his relentless upward trajectory in Tory circles working as Willetts's researcher. Let's hope that Willetts is a generous type and does not feel resentful that his former protégé is taking his mentor's future and outselling him on Amazon by about 100,000 places.
The latest novel by Jeffrey Archer (inset), Only Time Will Tell (Macmillan, £18.99), is billed as his "most ambitious work in four decades as an international bestselling author". It will be launched in the UK on Thursday, but when he took the novel to India last month, Archer was mobbed by crowds of adoring fans. Does anyone think that they might be persuaded to keep him?
Andrew Morton succeeded in his mission last week to be the author of the fastest-published book in world history, with his hot-off-the-presses William and Catherine: Their Lives, Their Wedding (Michael O'Mara, £20) hitting the bookshops just 72 hours after the couple said "I will". Meanwhile, St Martin's Press, a US imprint of the publisher Macmillan, is thanking luck for the timing of its forthcoming release, Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper, by Howard E Wasdin, who served on the same special-ops unit that killed Osama bin Laden last weekend. The book was due to be published on 24 May, but has been brought forward to this week. In pre-publication interviews to publicise the book, Wasdin told a US radio station: "I can tell you for a fact that not one member on that hit team cared about anything you or I was going to say, what the history books were going to say, what the liberal or right-wing press was going to say. They had one thing on their mind: that was mission accomplishment."
When they're not being at the edge of cuts, libraries are at the cutting edge of new technology, especially in Edinburgh, where they are already preparing for the rise of the digital book. Download stations are planned for all the city's libraries, making ebooks available for digital devices such as the Kindle and the iPad, in a format that can be downloaded from home and then will disappear after a set loan period. However, a library spokeswoman assured bookworms that this is not the end of the paper book in Edinburgh. "Books are absolutely critical and are at the heart of everything public libraries do," she told The Scotsman, "[but] I think we have to have a much longer-term view on the balance of hard copy and 'born digital' materials."
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