Between the Covers: What’s really going on in the world of books


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One unexpected winner in last week’s Man Booker Prize shortlist announcement were the bookies – with Ladbrokes’ longlist odds correctly predicting five of the six shortlisters. The only author in the top betting to miss out on a shortlist place was poor David Mitchell, for The Bone Clocks (below), who is now odds on never to win. But how will Ladbrokes decide when an author has never won? When he *gulp!* dies? “It’s a good question,” says a spokesman. “When we offer the same bet in a sporting contest, the bet runs until they retire.” Mitchell is now a youthful 45, and we all hope he keeps writing forever. But maybe, in 20 years’ time …

Another winner was the publishing group Penguin Random House, whose imprints between them publish five of the six shortlisted novels. The only independent publisher on the list is Serpent’s Tail, which is owned by Profile Books, which was founded by Andrew Franklin, after he left Penguin ... They publish Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. The domination of one big publishing group will inevitably draw criticism of the new Man Booker rules. These allow publishers who have had books longlisted before to submit more titles, and also ask for a contribution of £5,000 towards publicity from the publisher of any novel shortlisted. One publisher has pointed out that £5,000 would pay for a decent, paperback print run of a whole new book, while an author tells Between the Covers that she offered to stump up the £5,000 herself if necessary, if her publisher would submit her novel. Sadly – or perhaps luckily – she was not shortlisted.


Your chance to win all the books on the Man Booker Prize shortlist!

Within the pages of today’s Independent on Sunday, we have hidden six pictures of the shortlisted author, The Independent columnist Howard Jacobson. Find them all and send a list of the page numbers to and you could win copies of of ALL six short-listed novels. (T&Cs: Promotion closes on Wednesday 17 September at 23.59pm. The winner will be drawn at random from the correct entries after the closing date and will receive the six books. The prize is non-transferable; no cash alternative. One online entry per person. Usual promotion rules apply. See The winner will be announced next Sunday.