Cover Stories: Bloomsbury;; Festival of Literature in Dubai

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The Independent Culture

* So what's going on now at Bloomsbury? Joanna Trollope has decamped to her paperback publishers, Transworld, just as she always said she would when Liz Calder moved aside – though she's also citing Bloomsbury's fixation with Harry Potter. Undoubtedly, much time and attention has been lavished on JKRowling – though that didn't stop a period of coolness between author and publisher, according to well-placed insiders. With the final Potter paperback in July, attention will presumably return to wider business. Bloomsbury, by both accident and design, has leached staff over the past few months and head honcho Richard Charkin has never hidden his disdain for trade (as opposed to academic) publishing. Agents and authors alike are perplexed at the sometimes derisory sums they offer for serious projects, while splashing out on washed-up pop star Gary Barlow and former Home Secretary David Blunkett. Has it all been downhill since Bloomsbury published Anna Pasternak's ghosted memoir of James Hewitt, lover of Diana?

* Good news for those who devour fiction in translation: Booktrust is championing the cause with a welcome website,, featuring a bibliography of available novels and stories, reviews and extracts, news and interviews. Among the contributions: an extract from José Eduardo Agualusa's The Book of Chameleons, the winner of last year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. This year's Independent prize winner, meanwhile, will be announced next Thursday.

* Bill Samuel, who has stepped down as Vice-Chairman of Foyles, has become a director of the Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature in Dubai, which launches in February – the first of its kind in the Middle East. It plans to showcase writers from the Arab world, as well as the West. Among Brits signed up already are Anne Fine, Lynne Truss and Ranulph Fiennes.