Between The Covers: 20/02/2011

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

Ever wondered what it feels like to be a best-selling, international, literary superstar? Well, it's a lot like being a dead moose, according to Margaret Atwood.

That's when it's not like being an anchovy. Speaking at the Tools for Change for Publishing conference in New York last week, Atwood warned publishers that although digital innovations in ebook publishing are on the whole a good thing (she owns two ereaders and reads ebooks on planes and in hotel rooms), they must not be used as an excuse not to pay authors properly. Comparing an author to a dead moose, which feeds an ecosystem of more than three dozen animals, she advised: "Never eliminate your primary source." She added that, like anchovies, authors are small in size but large in number and "on the point of revolting". She's right – you should see what a mess a few dozen slightly elderly novelists can make of a nice pizza.

***

Authorial opinions are divided about World Book Night – between those who are thrilled by free books and those who would rather people not get the idea that literature can be had for nothing. Launched by the Canongate publisher Jamie Byng, World Book Night on Saturday 5 March will see bookshops and libraries around the country stay open late as one million books are given away free by 20,000 members of the public. Some commentators fear that the market will be flooded and book sales will drop, while others hope that anyone in a bookshop to pick up a free book will hang around and buy another. Fortunately for the event's good image, Atwood herself is on board. "The love of writing, the love of reading – these are huge gifts," she says. "To be able to give someone else a book you treasure widens the gift circle. I was thrilled to be asked to support World Book Night, and doubly thrilled that The Blind Assassin was chosen to help launch it. Long may its voyage be!"

***

Atwood is right about one thing: ebook technology is a mixed blessing. Last week, two new advances in the market were announced: the first an innovative and thoughtful addition to the old-fashioned "codex" book; the other ... well. The good news is that judges have just been announced for The Book Drum Tournament 2011. Writers Naomi Alderman, B R Collins and S J Parris (the pseudonym of Stephanie Merritt) will award a total prize pot of over £2,000 to the best "profiles" of existing books created by members of the public on the Wiki-style site between now and 30 April. A profile consists of a summary and review (of any published book), an author biography, a glossary of difficult, historical or foreign words, and a "setting" category of maps and historical context – all beautifully illustrated, with bookmarks. Enter at www.bookdrum.com/tournament.html. The other idea is called the "byook", for iphone. "Using codes and rules defined by movies, this ebook is enriched with pictures, animations and sounds that strengthen the reader's immersion", apparently. This means that when you read the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", you can: "Be startled as the victim's scream resonate [sic] ... Shudder as the blood spread out [sic] on your pages ... Shiver as the rain falls into the palm of your hand." Or, you could just read a real book and use your imagination.

***

On the plus side, though, hats off to the geeks who have devised a way for Kindle users to lend ebooks to each other. It's called "Lendle", apparently. That's more like it.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor