Between the Covers - 21/07/12


Commiserations to Canongate, the Edinburgh-based publisher of authors including Alasdair Gray, Barack Obama and Julian Assange, whose staff have been suffering seagull attacks.

Between the Covers is told that a noisy and defensive flock of gulls seems to be living in a car park behind the office, and occasionally swoops on unsuspecting employees. An email has been circulated around the company, warning staff of the avian bombing raids and advising them to be wary. "The junior designer seems to be the main target," says a source. "Perhaps it's because he's working on a rather nautical project involving a film edition of Life of Pi." Managing Director Jamie Byng did not respond to emails from Between the Covers when we tried to contact him about the subject last week. "He was last seen heading for a train south," says a Canongate spokeswoman, "though, thinking about it, I've not heard anything since ..." Uh-oh. Perhaps a reprint of Daphne du Maurier's "The Birds" should be on the cards if he ever does make it back into the office?


Congratulations, meanwhile, to Bloomsbury, publisher of Alex Bellos's Alex's Adventures in Numberland, who paid for four posters for two weeks on the Tube to publicise the book's paperback release a year ago. London Underground seems to have forgotten about one of the posters, at King's Cross station, which is still there a year later – taking up prime London advertising space and no longer being paid for. It's working, apparently. "People in Yorkshire are big fans of the book now," says Bellos.


Thanks to The Idler, whose launch for its "Utopia Issue", which includes contributions from Louis Theroux, Bill Drummond and Independent on Sunday columnist Tom Hodgkinson (Idle Ltd, £25), offered the best Hungarian folk music recitation that Between the Covers has ever experienced at a book launch. The party took place at The Idler's bookshop, coffeehouse and school in west London, where courses on ukulele playing and Latin are sometimes available (Michael Gove would surely be impressed). One of the guests was David Winner, who was pleased to find on the shelves a copy of his book Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football. The book was recently reprinted in Danish, Winner remarked, with a new chapter on the Netherlands' performance in the 2010 World Cup, in which the team beat Denmark in the opening round and went on to face Spain in the final. The Netherlands' commitment to "total football" has helped football to earn the label "the beautiful game", but the team's aggressive tactics (inset, top) in the 2010 showdown were frowned upon by footballing cognoscenti. So much so that the Danish publisher has printed this whole new chapter upside down in protest.


While most British adults are reading badly written smut, Malia and Sasha Obama were seen last week buying a copy of Exile and the Kingdom by Albert Camus (inset, above) in a Manhattan bookstore. The girls, aged 14 and 11, wore tank tops and jeans and were "incredibly polite", according to the owner.