Books, life the universe

Thursday, 25 November 2010

More books read and in progress

Dawn French's A Tiny Bit Marvellous - about the Battle family - Mo - nearly 50 - mother, wife,child psychologist - writing a book about teenagers. Dora - 18 year old daughter - full of angst. Son Peter - channelling Oscar Wilde so prefers to be called Oscar and dresses accordingly. Father - who is just always there in the background and turns up trumps in the end. The book is narrated in alternate chapters by Mo, Oscar and Dora. It reads a bit like a sit com but something kept me reading it.

Barbara Erskine's Whispers in the Sand - time-slip novel about Anna who goes on a Nile cruise to get over her divorce and gets involved in some unfinished business from thousands of years ago. I stopped reading this half way through when it first came out but decided to give it another go. I found it totally absorbing the second time round.

Ruth Newman's Twisted Wing - serial killer in Cambridge college. More violence than I usually like and some of the characters were perhaps a little cardboard cut out but I found myself totally gripped by it. The psychological aspects of it make it worthwhile. I found I had to keep reading the second half and stayed up way past my usual bed time to find out who the killer actually was.

Currently reading . . .

Barbara Erskine's The Sands of Time - short story collection which includes two stories which follow on from Whispers in the Sand.

Patricia Wentworth's The Fingerprint - A Miss Silver mystery. Golden Age type detective story - several suspects in a country house.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Books, books and yet more books

Jenni Mills - Buried Circle - very good novel with two inter-twined stories - from the 1930s and the present day. Set around the Avebury stone circle.

Georgette Heyer - A Blunt Instrument - body in the study and plenty of suspects not to mention a Bible quoting PC. Another case for Hannasyde and Hemingway.

Trisha Ashley - Twelve Days of Christmas - chick lit set around Christmas with widow Holly Brown coming to terms with her grief for her late husband. Serious issues but feel good factor too.

Veronica Heley - False Money - latest instalment in the Abbot Agency series. Cosy crime with interesting characters and fascinating scenarios.

Elizabeth Buchan - That Certain Age - two women sixty years apart - facing very similar problems in balancing their own lives with family life

Angela Thirkell - Wild Strawberries - I first read this book about forty years ago and had forgotten how good it is if you like reading about life for the upper classes in the 1930s. Her dialogue and witty descriptions raises this author's work above run of the mill novels.

M C Beaton - Death of a Gossip - first in the Hamish Macbeth series - good light reading.

Anna Dale - Magical Mischief - a children's book but still worth reading for adults - Mr Hardbattle's bookshop has been taken over by magic. We see drawing pins sending messages, a velour elephant which marches up and down a shelf, a step that turns to custard and books that rearrange themselves in the colours of the rainbow when no one is looking. Fun for any age.

Trisha Ashley, Angela Thirkell and Veronica Heley were books the rest were e-books.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Trouble in the book world

You may have seen the articles about the Agency Pricing model for e-books. This is widespread in the USA but until 1 November did not exist in the UK. Those who follow such things may recall that the Net Book Agreement was abolished back in the mid 1990s. This agreement allowed publishers to dictate the price at which books were sold by retailers.

This was abandoned before it was ruled to be illegal and anti-competitive. Now some publishers - most notably the Hachette group which includes such big names as Penguin and Harper Collins - are saying that anyone selling their e-books, whatever format, must sell them at the price dictated by the publisher - i.e. retailers are acting as the publisher's agents and selling on their behalf.

This to me is price fixing under another name and is, I think, illegal in the UK under EU and UK law. Even if it is illegal it would seem that the publishers are likely to shoot themselves in the foot with this as in some cases the e-book price is turning out to be considerably higher than the hardback price. This piece of nonsense arises because retailers can discount hardbacks and paperbacks as much as they like but cannot alter the price of e-books from some publishers.

I'm aware both publishers and authors need to make a living and like most people who read I have no problem paying a fair price for a book I want to read. Ultimately I shall do with e-books what I have always done with tree books - look at the price for the cheapest format and make my choice accordingly based on whether I want to keep the book or read it once and dispose of it. What I am against is people trying to sell to me at a higher price because it keeps the market dynamic and gives consumers more choice as one publisher tried to say. So making every retailer sell an e-book is giving consumers more choice and keeping the market dynamic? I don't think I'd want him working for me if I was running a company!

I don't see there are any baddies or goodies in this situation - it is just a new market trying to establish itself and stabilise. I shan't be boycotting any publishers but I will be making my book buying decisions based on price and how much I want to read the book concerned. If the price fixed bears some resemblance to the paperback price of the book then I may buy it. If it is way more than the hardback then I shall wait for it to come down or not as the case may be. I read between 250 and 300 books per year. I can't see me running out of e-books to read - many of which are free.