Bookmarks: News and views from the book world

Pay up or else


British writers festivals that don’t pay authors for their appearances face a potential boycott by authors and publishers after Philip Pullman, the president of the country’s Society of Authors, resigned as patron (after being so for 20 years) of the Oxford Literary Festival because of its policy of not paying  his members. What’s more, the festival demands that writers do not appear on the same topic within 30 days or 40 miles of the festival. “That’s equivalent to saying ‘we’re not paying you, and we’re not letting you get paid anywhere else either …  Only the authors are expected to work for nothing. Many of us have had enough of that,” he said. Novelist and critic Amanda Craig wrote an open letter calling for the boycott that other writers such as Linda Grant, Francis Wheen, Joanne Harris  and Louisa Young have now signed. According to the Society of Authors, some literary festivals in Britain pay £150-£200 ($310-$414) per appearance. Its survey, which elicited responses from 17 of  22 festivals  contacted, showed that 12 festivals paid writers. David Day, chairman of the Australian Society of Authors, said in Australia it was common for some smaller literary festivals to get away with not paying guests. “We would like every time an author gets up to perform they get paid.” He said authors were facing a perfect storm, including the proposal to scrap parallel importation restrictions: “There is both commercial pressure and government pressure.”

Print and they will read

The number of printed books sold in Australia last year was pretty much the same as 2014 – 56.4 million copies – and that was due only to the impact of the adult-colouring book phenomenon, which when removed from the statistics resulted in a fall of 5.3 per cent. In the US, however, there was a 2.8 per cent rise in sales of print books following a 2.4 per cent increase the previous year. Last year saw sales of 653 million compared with 635 million the previous year and 620 million in 2013. The 2.1 per cent increase in sales of adult fiction was significant because, according to Publishers Weekly, it marks the first time since e-books started to play a significant part in the market that adult fiction that sales of print titles have increased.

Robotham in line for an Edgar

Michael Robotham has followed up winning  Britain’s Gold Dagger for best crime novel for Life or Death with a shortlisting for the same prize in this year’s Edgars, the US crime-writing awards. He was joined on the shortlist by Adrian McKinty, whose fourth novel in his Sean Duffy series, Gun Street Girl, was listed for best paperback original.

Colouring books go blank?

Talking of colouring books, in Britain’s Bookseller, a survey of predictions for the book industry this year includes this gem from Profile managing director Andrew Franklin: “I predict that the last adult colouring book will be sold on February 29, 2016. On March 1, mountains of unsold colouring books will be returned from bookshops and wholesalers all over the country for pulping.”