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


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Authors are having a spot of bother with Amazon. Again. Not, this time, owing to Amazon knobbling sales of some authors’ books to get back at their publishers for standing up to them. This time, authors are suffering as a result of Amazon reviews. If you can call them “reviews”...

First, JoJo Moyes came under fire from a particular customer, who appears to have bought every single one of her best-selling novels and marked them all with the succinct critique: “I hate it.” (We can tell that the reviewer is a balanced critic, however, because a Slap On Snap On Silicone Rubber Sports Watch gets five stars and “I love it.”) Silly billy.

Meanwhile, Owen Jones (right) has sent an “embarrassing plea” to friends and fans asking if they can help to counter the slew of nasty, one-star reviews that littered Amazon even before The Establishment And How They Get Away With It was published. “I’ve not read this book,” begins a typical diatribe, unnecessarily. Jones begs: “Please do not buy this book from Amazon ... buy it from a local, tax-paying bookshop”, but frets that “the website is a key reference point for potential readers”. Don’t worry: readers who can read will see through it.

Much talk in literary circles – including at the recent Man Booker Prize shortlist party – of the news that George Clooney is to make a film of Nick Davies’s exposé of the phone hacking scandal, Hack Attack (above). Who will play Davies’s hard-working editor at Chatto & Windus, Poppy Hampson, everyone wants to know (Natalie Portman, of course) and his unstoppable publicist, Matt Railton (Daniel Radcliffe in specs)? But who will play our hero, Nick Davies, now that Nigel Hawthorne is no longer with us?

We sometimes do a double take when an email from a publisher crams a book’s title and other details into a header. (Touched by Joanna Briscoe, was one example. Joanna Briscoe is a fine author and lovely woman but that email title really needs a comma between “Touched” and “by”.) Last week, an email arrived about John Kampfner’s new book, with the intriguing title “Embargo The Rich”. Perhaps an idea for Owen Jones’s next thesis …

The winner of last week’s Man Booker shortlist competition is Heather Davies, who spotted all six teeny tiny Howard Jacobsons in the paper. Happy reading!