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


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The Independent Culture

This year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist – intriguing though it is – has put a dampener on one of the most fun Booker night games for junior literary hacks: the dash between publishers’ parties as the winner is announced.

While the shortlisted authors and their editors each take a table at the official Prize dinner in London’s Guildhall, it is traditional for the publishers of all six to throw parties in Soho for junior staff and anyone NFI to the main shindig.

The stakes are high: when the result is heard – usually on a TV screen in a corner of the packed room – disloyal party guests leg it down the road to gulp champagne at the winner’s party, backslap the triumphant author when he or she arrives after the Guildhall do, and pretend to have been there all along.

Meanwhile, the publicity teams for the losers have to finish all the wine and wait for their dejected author to arrive for cheering up. This year, however, five of the six shortlisted authors are published by Penguin Random House, and invitations have just been sent out for their one and only Man Booker night party. In Shoreditch!

So what will Profile, publisher of the other shortlisted author Karen Joy Fowler (pictured), do? “Ours is at a members club in east London,” says a source. “It’s a cool venue. We got forewarning they were going east so decided we’d have to as well. In fact this suits us better.” Sprinting hacks, on your marks...

Between the Covers would like to take this opportunity to salute the comedian, David Mitchell, and apologise for that time we called him “the other David Mitchell ...” Comedian David (pictured above) may not be as tall or handsome as Author David, and has not sold so many novels, but he is officially the literary world’s favourite person after speaking at the Booksellers Association Conference and calling Amazon “rapacious ... benefit scroungers”.

Hear hear! It’s been a bad week for Amazon, what with German workers striking, its new Kindle Unlimited service accused of “kidnapping” the notes, bookmarks, and highlights of any user who ever unsubscribes, and Downton Abbey viewers complaining that Amazon’s sponsorship of the series is just so depressingly, well, Amazon ... Of course, Amazon is the new Millwall: no one likes them, they don’t care. But we still love Comedian David for standing up to them. David, you’re our No.1 David Mitchell of the week!