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Between The Sheets: What’s really going on in the world of books


All Between the Covers wants for Christmas (apart from a canvas book bag for a stocking) is a whole bunch of stuff signed by the brilliant author David Nicholls. Fortunately he has donated some books and film scripts to The Independent’s charity auction, and they can be found on our website. Bidding ends at 11am on 12 December. Nicholls’s lot comprises three books – one of them a boxed hardback of One Day – and three film scripts, including Great Expectations. Covers is keeping the lot under lock and key, only occasionally taking them out to covet them. We can reveal, therefore, that the script for Great Expectations contains the direction: “Ext. Marshes, Kent – dusk”. And ... action!

Our review on page 18 of Ahlem Mosteghanemi’s The Bridges of Constantine shows why she is regarded by many (including Forbes magazine) as “the most successful woman writer in the Arab world”. The book has sold more than a million copies, and Mosteghanemi is the first female Algerian writer to be translated into English. Nonetheless, when this book was first published in Arabic, she was dogged by rumours that it must have been written by a man. “[Writing through the eyes of] a man, I was more at ease to express my ideas without any stigma attached to them,” she tells Between the Covers, now. “But I subsequently had to pay for it: when The Bridges of Constantine was first published, it was attributed to a famous male novelist and it took me three years and five lawyers to prove I wrote the book! There was a huge media backlash against me that nearly drove me to depression.”


Thanks to the catchily titled “Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market” for research showing that 96 per cent of people believe it is vital for artists to be able to protect their intellectual property, while 42 per cent of the same people also believe it is acceptable to download music and films illegally. This follows the recent report by The Booksellers’ Association which revealed that 63 per cent of shoppers like to browse in real bookshops and then buy online, but most feel sad that there are fewer bookshops on the high street. Incidentally, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos told real-life bookshops and their fans last week: “Complaining is not a strategy.” He has a point. Support your local bookshop this Christmas!