The Literator


ART-LOVERS with a more classical bent will be stamping their little feet in protest outside Dillons Art Bookshop in London's Long Acre next month when the shop gives over the entire ground floor to a display of Damien Hirst's new book, niftily titled I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now. (Pretentious, moi?) On 9 September, the controversial Turner Prize-winner will visit the shop to sign copies - his only British signing session. To avoid disappointing fans everywhere, evermore, the publishers, Booth-Clibborn Editions, hope to transmit the session live on its Web site - if they can find several thousand pounds-worth of sponsorship.

Store manager Den Trueman is "hugely excited by the event" and can't wait to see everywhere decked out with customised display material. (Whatever that means. Mind you, a publisher or bookseller popped into formaldehyde might be no bad thing ... ) He and his staff will spend the previous evening converting the ground floor into a Hirst "shrine", replacing the regular stock with 1,000 copies of the pounds 59.95 title.

It is scarcely a traditional monograph. Created by Hirst himself with designer Jonathan Barnbrook, it features pop-up pages and interactive sections. Pull a tab and you can liberate a sheep from a tank of formaldehyde - just as someone did at the Serpentine Gallery last year.

Says publisher James Booth-Clibborn grandly: "These pages have been designed, not just placed on paper. The book itself is a work of art." He and Trueman expect the event to close off Long Acre, so be warned.

"DUE TO the runaway success of last year's children's classic, Underneath the Underground," announces the press release, "the mice are back by popular demand and, with animation and audio under development, they are set to take the world by storm!" What, you might ask, is this "children's classic"? Why has such a "runaway success" not impinged on the bestseller lists and our consciousness?

The answer lies in the fact that the publishers The Book Guild are a vanity press. The authors of this "classic", at a remainder shop near you shortly, are none other than one-time Miss Lottery herself Anthea Turner and her sister, Wendy. Presumably, none of Britain's more mainstream publishers wished to avail themselves of such a bestseller, which features a story about "The Mice Girls". As someone used to say: pass the sick bag, Alice.

IT'S DEPRESSING, isn't it? Here we are, still officially in summer, fully four months of the year to run. And what drops out of the clear blue sky? A 1998 diary - specifically The Women Artists Diary from the Women's Press, "the first diary from Britain to celebrate and promote the work of contemporary women artists". True, it looks nice, all pocket- sized and spiral bound, and contains some pretty pictures. But isn't it just a tad early? Then again, I suppose shops will be putting their Christmas decorations out next month. New Labour should rule against it.

BOOKSELLING is set to rush headlong into the future next month when The Book Place opens its "doors" on the Internet. This virtual bookshop will be backed by the bibliographic know-how of Book Data, an upstart rival to the more familiar Books in Print, now also available on-line. Search facilities should be able to direct potential buyers to a book even when they are unsure as to the author, or the exact title.

Anyone wanting to order a book will first have to register and, having done so, will be presented with a menu offering a choice of shopping at Dillons, Hammicks, The PC Bookshop or Peter's Children's Bookshop. Next time the customer logs on, they will be directed automatically to the store of their first choice. Around 100,000 visitors are expected in the first month.

Waterstone's, meanwhile, hopes brand name and customer loyalty will keep buyers from straying from its own Web site, launched last year and using BiP and its American counterpart.

SPEAKING, as we were, of vanity, a book by Hani A Z Yamani, "son of the former Minister of Petroleum", will shortly arrive in our bookshops. Well, perhaps in not too many of them.

His book, To Be a Saudi, is "a true expose of one of the most important financially influencing countries in the world (sic) ... There has been nothing like this before! The book demystifies the religion and social structure of Saudi Arabia" and "explains with clarity and objectivity the culture and beliefs of the Saudi people". The author is a close "confidant" of several heads of state. He offers "an innovative glimpse of how young, educated Saudis feel about their country and its future".

Appropriately enough, it's published by Janus. Their entry in The Writer's Handbook notes: "unsolicited mss welcome. Authors may be asked to cover their own production costs"n

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