The Literator: dital royalties; Somerset House; Foyles St Pancras; new voices

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The Independent Culture

Publishers and agents are squaring up for battle over digital royalties, with Random House and Little, Brown each offering 15 per cent of receipts. At present, sales of e-books are tiny, and of audiobook downloads not much larger. But with publishing's iPod moment expected, the trade has to be ready. Amazon has not yet revealed a date for the UK release of its Kindle e-book reader, but its purchase of Audible, a download specialist, points to a Kindle 2 aimed at readers and listeners. A new Sony e-Reader is expected while, in Barcelona, Polymer Vision unveiled its Readius device: a rolling e-ink reader with 10-day battery life. One of these devices may well capture our imaginations as a nifty alternative to printed books.

* At Somerset House, poet Ruth Padel has been appointed the first Writer in Residence. Among her projects will be lunchtime readings on "visions of London", with poets such as Lavinia Greenlaw and Sean O'Brien, plus a series of writing workshops for schoolchildren.

* Following delays caused by English Heritage, Foyles St Pancras opened on St Valentine's Day. The station store aims to be Charing Cross Road in microcosm, but with additions: quality gifts, books in languages other than English, and much classy fiction in translation. And old-fashioned board games will keep les petits happy en route to le continent.

* Publishers continue to snap-up celebrities (singer and model Jamelia's "inspirational account", bought by Orion, is the latest). So it's encouraging to see serious fiction from new voices generate excitement. Cape's Ellah Alfrey has signed a deal for two novels by Zimbabwe-born Brian Chikwava, winner of the 2004 Caine Prize. Harare North, the first, is about a young Zimbabwean who tries to claim asylum in Britain. Agent Kevin Conroy Smith describes it as "a very funny, brave novel".