Cover Stories: Books for the blind; Gyles Brandreth; David Roche

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The Independent Culture

The indefatigable Jacqueline Wilson, Children's Laureate, has now stepped up to lead the RNIB's Right to Read campaign. It addresses the chronic shortage of books for blind and partially sighted people, among them many children. The RNIB calls for authors to insist on a clause in contracts which will make books accessible to the visually impaired. Wilson is the first to make this demand of her publishers, Transworld, who - fat on the sales of Dan Brown and likely to grow fatter still if the High Court copyright case doesn't stop the Da Vinci Code film - should surely make a contribution. J K Rowling insisted the latest Harry Potter was available to all children at publication, and the last two Man Booker shortlists have been similarly published.

* Gyles Brandreth, famous for quick-knit sweaters, daytime telly and a brief period as a Tory MP, has also written novels, children's books and a biography of the Queen and Prince Philip. Now comes a series of crime novels for John Murray, The Oscar Wilde Murders, in which the great wit (Wilde, that is) investigates killings. Can we contain our excitement until January 2007?

* It's six months since Waterstone's product director, David Roche, announced his defection to Ottakar's, where he was to take over the reins after a management buyout. Things didn't go according to plan, and Roche's future has been uncertain. This week came news that he is to join Borders as UK chief executive. The move is a slap in the face for Philip Downer, formerly Borders UK MD, who takes on the new role of "retail director". Borders has ambitious plans for stores in Britain, and Roche, who is popular with publishers, arrives with useful knowledge. His appointment must add to Waterstone's discomfort.

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