Monday, October 17, 2011

MediaWeek (Vol 4, No 42): Frankfurt, CS Forester, Martin Amis + More

Exclaiming this is the time for start-ups the Frankfurt Book Fair concluded on Sunday with traffic slightly up and a continued expansion to more diverse attendees and exhibitors:
With many exhibitors and visitors, not only from the book industry, but also other related industries such as film, games, and information and communications technology, the Frankfurt Book Fair demonstrated that the sphere of interaction for members of the publishing industry has become significantly larger. Many new areas of specialisation – from digital publishing services and computer games production, to legal and financial consultants for crossmedial products – could be found at the Book Fair, spread between the different halls, professional areas and regional sections. In all, 7,384 exhibitors from 106 countries were present, and the more than 3,200 events attracted 280,194 visitors.

“This is now the time for start-ups, and the book industry is in a positive mood for renewal,” says Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Besides the electronic reading gadgets, visitors to the Book Fair witnessed a lively experimentation with new ideas, with new forms of storytelling and with multimedia formats. “An enormous diversity of ideas arises from the combination of enterprising spirit and technological opportunity. The international book and publishing industry has become a lot more multi-facetted.”

This year, the Frankfurt Book Fair also recorded a slight increase in the number of visitors, with about one per cent more people coming to Frankfurt in 2011 than in 2010. The interest in international training and networking events grew perceptibly, such as those offered in collaboration with the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers, under the umbrella of the new conference brand, the Frankfurt Academy. Here, the emphasis was on event-formats such as the all-media StoryDrive Conference and the Tools of Change Conference.

“The more globalised the books business becomes, the greater is everyone’s need to meet in person at least once a year – and that, of course, in Frankfurt. Conversations about people and books are indispensable,” says Professor Gottfried Honnefelder, President of the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers, and he adds: “Those involved in the market are optimistic. We’re not only talking about the e-book business, we’re already taking action. The face of the Frankfurt Book Fair is one of self-assurance. The framework exists; now each publisher and each bookseller needs to find the right path for itself.”

CS Forester has a new novel coming out (Observer):
The novel, which is complete and polished from start to finish, was accepted for publication in 1935 by his publisher, Michael Joseph, now part of Penguin. However, Forester and his publisher delayed its release, deciding that it would not be sensible to publish it between two Hornblower books. Forester then moved house and when his publisher was sold, The Pursued somehow disappeared.

Forester clearly felt its loss. Decades later in his autobiography he wrote: "The lost novel was really lost. It is just possible that a typescript still exists, forgotten and gathering dust in a rarely used storeroom in Boston or Bloomsbury."

He was right. It surfaced at Christie's in 2002, when Lawrence Brewer, a lifelong Forester aficionado, was astonished to find that the auctioneer was selling it as a "job lot" of 11 Forester-related items. "It was a pathetic little auction," said Brewer. "There was no … great publicity. Something should have been made of it."

Excited by the chance to own words by Forester that no one had read, Brewer bought the typescript with Colin Blogg, a fellow founder-member of the CS Forester Society, for just £1,500. "Goodness me!" Brewer exclaimed in pure Foresterese. "I found it. I was sky-high."
Martin Amis was interviewed at the Hay Festival in Mexico and didn't hold back on a variety of subjects. Here beginning is comments on empire's decline (Telegraph):
MA Yes, it’s satirical, but it is about what happens to countries when they’re in decline. We’re now seeing America beginning to cope with decline, and I don’t think they’re going to be anything like as reasonable about that decline as England was.

England went from being ruler of a quarter of the globe to a second-rate country in the course of the Second World War. They talk about the Second World War. They say “the big three”: Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. Churchill wasn’t one of the big three. Stalin and Roosevelt could hardly bring themselves to stop giggling when Churchill said, “I think we should do this”, because we’d ceased to matter by then.

And somehow we got through it.

JG Ballard, the writer who was interned in China by the Japanese, returned to England at the age of 12, 13, and he said it looked as though England had lost the war. It was blackouts, rationing, everything sordid and dirty and depressed, and what we were doing was coping with this tremendous demotion from being a great power to being a minor power.

But we somehow got through, and I think we were very greatly helped by the ideology known as political correctness, relativism, levelism, because that was fiercely anti-imperialist. So as we were coping with decline – and it takes decades to do it – we had the ideology that was telling us that empires are s---, you don’t want an empire, you should be ashamed for having had one.
In the NY Times a review of some of the past movie adaptations of LeCarre's novels (NYTimes):
In retrospect it seems miraculous that the movies did so well by Mr. le Carré on that first go. The next couple of attempts, Sidney Lumet’s 1966 “Deadly Affair” (based on the novel “Call for the Dead”) and Frank R. Pierson’s “Looking Glass War” (1969), were largely bungled operations, though “Deadly Affair” benefits from the casting of James Mason as a version of Mr. le Carré’s most famous character, the mild-mannered and deceptively wily spymaster George Smiley. After “The Looking Glass War,” an adaptation roughly as successful as the invasion of the Bay of Pigs, Mr. le Carré withdrew from the field for better than a decade. He knew when it was time to come in from the cold.

What the failed adaptations of his books had made clear was that even in his relatively straightforward early novels his narrative techniques were a little too tricky for the movies to handle. Mr. le Carré is maybe the most eccentric constructor of fiction in English literature since Joseph Conrad. His stories are full of digressions and long flashbacks; he circles around his plots for the longest time, as if he were doing reconnaissance on them before deciding to go in for the kill. And the verbal textures of the books can be challenging too, because his spies tend to speak in their own special jargon, which seems like normal speech, but isn’t quite. It’s like one of those maddeningly elusive regional English dialects: you need to get the hang of it, and it always takes longer than you would have thought possible.
Stieg Larsson books are being adapted for the comics (Telegraph):
In a statement ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, the publisher behind Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman said its Vertigo imprint would work with Larsson's estate and Hedlund Literary Agency to adapt the books.
"Each book by Larsson will be presented in two graphic novel volumes that will be available in both print and digital formats," it said, starting withThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2012.

DC Entertainment co-publisher Dan DiDio said "the intricate characters and stories Larsson created in the Millennium Trilogy are a perfect match for the graphic novel format."
The diaries of a Holocaust survivor generated some interest this week and will be published in 2012 (Observer):
The story is one of many recorded in a concentration camp diary that was sold to publishers around the world at the Frankfurt book fair. The private journals of Helga Weiss are to be published in the UK for the first time next year by Viking Press, while foreign rights have been snapped up by publishing houses across the world.
Weiss, an artist in her early 80s who lives in Prague and is also known by her married name of Weissova-Hoskova, mentioned her journal during occasional public appearances, but until now public interest in her written story has always been overshadowed by her success as a postwar painter. The British publisher Venetia Butterfield heard of the diary's existence last summer when Weiss visited London for a concert at the Wigmore Hall commemorating fellow inmates at the Terezín camp in former Czechoslovakia. 
"I heard about the event and called someone in north London who knew Helga. They told me she was just about to get on a plane back to Prague, but that she was coming round for a coffee first," said Butterfield. "I raced up to see her and we talked for no more than 10 or 15 minutes. She is an amazing woman with a great, feisty attitude."

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