The Society's quarterly journal
From the Editor
It is autumn, and it is hard for any author not to look out and up at the trees and wonder, in a melancholy sort of way, when the leaves of their own books will fall sere and yellow. But in a rich and ruminative article, Sara Maitland discovers that the connection between authors and trees is very much a fruitful and not a depressing one. Authors find in trees, she argues, ‘a sort of freedom that no other lovers except books’ can offer.
It is a small step from trees to the Amazon. Or rather to Amazon. When the company called its ebook reader the ‘Kindle’, you have to wonder if they were suggesting pyromaniac slash-and-burn clearance as much as intellectual inspiration. In a major article, the journalist Jonathan Derbyshire argues that, despite the manifold opportunities offered by Amazon, writers need to handle the bookselling behemoth not so much with kid gloves as oven gloves. And in an inspiring article on new alternatives to traditional publishing, Nicholas Clee, editor of Bookbrunch points out that even open doors can be dangerous when there is only one of them to go through.
From open doors to Open Access – and to Caroline Wintersgill, an open-minded publisher at Bloomsbury. She claims to be more of a gate-opener than a gatekeeper, and asks if we would want government agencies to control what gets published, instead of publishers. Dr Martin Eve, a leading contributor to the Open Access debate, rather agrees. And he too warns about the gate so nicely held open by certain ‘top-slicing platform providers with monopolistic inclinations’ – yes, Amazon, again.
Writing, of course, is about much more than getting published. And The Author must always offer practical advice, as well as provocation. So: lawyer Duncan Lamont walks us through copyright infringement; crime writer Pauline Rowson describes her innovative CSI Portsmouth festival; and children’s writer Helena Pielichaty sits us down on the story carpet to tell us about new opportunities for writers to become Patrons of Reading in schools.
In the world of schools, autumn implies new starts, of course, and many of the articles in this issue are about new possibilities and freedoms – about open doors. There’s another one to be spotted in the background of our illustrated two-pager from children’s author Clara Vulliamy – a piece at once sharp and touching, sceptical and hopeful. The historical novelist Katharine McMahon describes another kind of illustration, and another freedom: the way travelling to real places can colour, shade and ultimately transform fiction.
And I shouldn’t leave the new President of the Society until last, but here he is: Philip Pullman explores the long, intimate relationship between writers and illustrators. In picture books, he finds an open door – leading to delight.
I know I promised some seasonal sadness in my last editorial. It just didn’t seem to come out that way. Perhaps we can hold it off a little longer, until winter…
- The changing influence of Amazon by Jonathan Derbyshire
- The special relationship between authors and trees by Sara Maitland
- New alternatives to conglomerate publishing by Nicholas Clee
- Words and pictures by Philip Pullman
- Literary gatekeepers in the wasteland by Martin Paul Eve
- The offprint: a lament by Anne Summers
- Letter from France by Jean Claude Bologne Photo: Y.M
- Who should be the academic gatekeepers? by publisher Caroline Wintersgill
- CSI Portsmouth - an author-originated bookshop event by Pauline Rowson
- School visits by Helena Pielichaty
- Copyright infringement by media lawyer Duncan Lamont
- Chirrup, tweet, bleep, bleep ('today’s children never read'?) by Clara Vulliamy
- That sense of place by Katharine McMahon
- Grub Street (a round-up of snippets from the press) by Andrew Taylor
- Our regular humorous coda: Endpaper by Terence Blacker
The Author is an invaluable source of information, news and opinion for Members and Associates as well as for publishers, literary agents and other professionals working in the book industry. It has a circulation of approximately 9,200. Members and Associates receive The Author free of charge.
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