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The Independent Culture
THERE WILL soon be writerly competition in the Currie family. As Edwina corrects the final proofs to her fourth novel, The Ambassador, daughter Debbie is at work on a trio of children's books about an all- girl rock band. The idea came from former Tory MP Gyles Bandreth, children's publisher at Deutsch, where his recent "signings" include the Tamworth Two. He describes Currie Junior's writing talents as "sensational". The crop-haired author is spending time in the country to write.

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ACCORDING TO the Henley Centre, books are back in fashion. Its research suggests that fears of books being eclipsed by other media have not been realised. Au contraire: we are now spending more time reading them and are likely to spend still more. Asked about their preferred pastimes, 75 per cent of respondents cited books, a figure bested only by cinema. However, it's not all good news for retailers: we may be buying more books but we spend less on them as competition after the demise of the Net Book Agreement has led to price cuts.

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IT'S UNUSUAL for a British diet book to hit it big in the US. Which just goes to show, even from beyond the grave, the strength of the Diana Effect. Peter Cox of maverick literary agents Alta Vista has sold The Kensington Diet by Stephen Twigg to Penguin for more than pounds 600,000, believed to be a record in the genre. The book's British publication was lower- key than planned as neither the UK publisher, Bantam Press, nor the author (a homoeopathic practitioner whom the Princess had consulted over diet and lifestyle) wished to be seen to be cashing in on her legacy.

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HAVING WON both the T S Eliot and Whitbread Poetry Awards this week for Birthday Letters, the late Ted Hughes is on course for another clean sweep. Last year, Tales from Ovid won the overall Whitbread Book of the Year prize, the W H Smith Award and the Forward Prize. Should Hughes triumph in the Whitbread on 26 January, he will be the first author (let alone poet) to win two years in succession. And he's rumoured to be in the running for at least one bauble in next month's British Book Awards.

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JANUARY IS the time to start planning hols, so why not pop down to your bookshop and buy Lonely Planet's guide to Westen Europe (sic). Too late, Tony Wheeler, founding director of Lonely Planet, spotted the jacket typo. What to do? Promote it as a collector's item! The decision was made on green grounds, for pulping and reprinting the entire 40,000-copy print run would have meant the loss of 500 trees.

THE LITERATOR

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