The Literator: Super Tuesday; Borders; Devil May Care

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The Independent Culture

As America heads towards Super Tuesday, the man who could be its first black president is asked to take a firm stand on a number of issues, including US anti-trust laws designed to protect American industry. Questions have been raised about publishing, and the role of Random House's owner: the German giant Bertelsmann. Since his election to the Senate in 2004, Barack Obama (left) has signed contracts with Bertelsmann subsidiaries worth $1.7m; The Audacity of Hope is among its fruits. As with Blair's and the Clintons' memoirs, the deal was negotiated by Washington attorney Bob Barnett. Hillary can feel smug: her Living History was published by the all-American Simon & Schuster.

Just 21 months after he took his place in the CEO's office at Borders, and scarcely three after the bookselling chain was bought by Luke Johnson's private equity group, David Roche has resigned. He is succeeded by Philip Downer, his predecessor as CEO, who was shoved sideways by Borders' then US owners. Roche had previously resigned from Waterstone's to join James Heneage's management buyout team at Ottakar's. Perhaps Smith's will find a role for him now, or perhaps he and Heneage will hatch some new plans.

As aspirant writers know, many publishers and agents no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts, making it harder for new talent. However, they positively encourage talent in other areas: Little, Brown has been asking Patricia Cornwell fans to create a 20-second TV ad for April's paperback of Book of the Dead. The winner will be aired on Channel 5 and receive a cheque for £2,500. Now Penguin and MySpace invite musicians and Bond fans to write a theme tune for the release of Devil May Care, the new Bond novel by Sebastian Faulks. The winner will receive £1,000 of musical equipment. Penguin describe it as "a dream brief". Full etails at: uk.myspace.com/devilmaycarebook.

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