Monday, June 16, 2014


Those of us who love books agree there is nothing like a book store that offers books and comfortable seating - coffee is an added bonus. But our book buying experience is fast changing.

The name Amazon is known worldwide. And why not, it's the world's largest online retailer. Over the past 20 years it has used books to benefit. Yet, it sell almost all of  its books at a loss. So where does its profit come from? The answer is in the form of 'fees' publishers pay in order to have their titles listed. So it is fees and not book buyers that drives how a book is displayed.

Amazon does not do interviews, does not accommodate the press with information.
It is powerful enough to be able to hide behind its wall of silence.

Recently Forbes magazine estimated that Amazon controls some 50% of book sales
 in the States. Amazon, founded by the dynamic Jeff Bezos, has virtually no competition,
 certainly not in the ebook area. According to columnist Amanda Foreman, recently writing in The Sunday
Times this is due to predatory pricing, strategic takeovers and tax avoidance.

So how are books faring? The answer is not well. The book trade has never been more vulnerable to distortion. Of necessity, it seems, publishers are going along with Amazon, and for survival they will have to continue to do so until market regulators step in

Friday, June 6, 2014


What a summer it is for our crop of talented Irish writers both established and new: John Banville, Eimear McBride, John Boyne, Sinead Moriarty, Sara Baume...the list goes on

With her first novel, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, Eimear McBride won the
2014  €30,000 Bailey's Prize, as well as Kerry Group
 Irish Fiction Award, the Goldsmiths Prize in 2013. She wrote the book in six

months but it took her nine years to get it published and since its publication she
 and it have been making headlines in all the right literary circles.

Booker Prize-winner, John Banville writes both as himself (literary prize-winning novels) and as Benjamin Black he is creator of Quirke, an Irish pathologist based in Dublin. He has been described as 'the heir to Proust via Nabokov'. Among a raft of prizes his most recent is the 2014 Prince of Asturias Award for Literature.

Sinead Moriarty writes bestselling women's fiction - to date she has written eight books which have sold more than half a million copies. Her latest Mad About You has received the Richard & Judy  seal of approval. It is is listed on their book club's hugely influential summer 2014 reading list which guarantees an even wider audience and more sales.

John Boyne first lept to international fame with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a cross-over book which enchanted both children and adults. He is author of eight novels for adults and four for children and is published in 46 languages. His awards include Hennessy Literary Awards Hall of Fame, Orange Prize and The Que Leer Award for Best International Novel of the Year.

Sara Baume is winner of this years €15,000 Davy Byrnes short story award.
 Her short stories have a appeared in Moth, the stinging Fly and the Irish Independent.
Her debut novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither  will be published by Tramp Press in 2015

Monday, June 2, 2014


It's frequently said, indeed bemoaned, that the art of reading is being lost. Of necessity booksellers are becoming increasingly innovative. One small independent bookshop in North London has gained a devoted following of some 4,000 fans by tweeting about their customer, as reported in the Irish Daily Mail.

One customer was wandering around the shop apparently in a daze, picking up and dropping back books seemingly at random. When asked if he wanted help, he replied. 'No, I often come in here just to daydream.' Another when asked if he wanted a bag to carry the book he'd bought, replied, 'No, I'm going to find a tree, sit under it and read it now.' Another customer took an age to chose
two novels and when she finally came to the counter to pay, she was
beaming happily. 'That was complete bliss. Browsing in silence. A
 lost art.'

But as always it's the children's responses that really tug the heartstrings.
One little girl browsing a shelf of picture books was heard talking to herself.
 'I don't think you'd like this...And I know you'd love this one.' And what about the small boy who asked his mother while she was paying for his book, 'Can I read it as soon as we get home?'