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June 2002
Booker Prize to include US authors? Currently UK, Commonwealth and Irish writers can enter for the The Booker Prize. Martyn Goff, chairman of the Man Booker Prize Advisory Committee, said a working party was being set-up to look into possible extensions for the prize, including "the feasibility of expansion of the prize into America". He added: "The committee has discussed the idea of expansion into America in the past, and, now that resources are available, it could become possible."

A political row over the adventures in Tibet of the intrepid cartoon reporter Tintin has been settled. The furore was sparked when the book was published in China last year under the title 'Tintin in Chinese Tibet'. The change from the original title, 'Tintin in Tibet', led to protests by the widow of Tintin's creator, Herge, which in turn led to the book being withdrawn from sale. It has now been relaunched under its original title!

from Stephen Foster of Stephen Foster Books

Harry Potter

Harry Potter is fantastic! At least that is what most of the ten year olds in the country think, and personally I am inclined to agree. Even if you do not rate him against the ‘classic’ heroes of children’s literature, or you worry that such a ‘light’ work gets so many accolades. You can not deny that its got children (and adults) reading, and talking about that read.
Not content with being a phenomenon in the publishing world, Harry Potter has followed suit with collectors, and sparked frenzy for those interested in modern first editions and children’s book. All four first editions in fine condition are selling for £15,000 plus. They have outstripped in price most of the classics of modern English literature.
So desperate has the media circus been on these books, that when the film was being considered, J. K. Rowling was able to veto Steven Spielberg, because he would change the book. She also got to oversee the production to make sure it remained faithful. This may not have produced a ‘great’ film, but it was good enough to ensure the success of future productions.
The radio transmission of ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ last Christmas had Stephen Fry reading the entire text over the whole day, an unprecedented move by the BBC.

During the Comic Relief campaign of 2001, J. K. Rowling wrote and donated two books to the charity - ‘Quidditch Through the Ages’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. £2.00 of the £2.50 cover price of these books went to the charity and the two books have raised millions of pounds, going on to be produced as far a field as Indonesia, Taiwan, Turkey and Estonia.

If you have yet to read the Potter books, then shame on you. You are missing a good read. An ‘ordinary’ boy who discovers that he has special powers; Harry is upright, brave, clever, loyal, inquisitive.
However, the books do not stray in to the excellent but geeky ‘boys’ world occupied by ‘Lord of the Rings’, and other fantastical literature. Harry’s friend Hermione provides a strong female character that gives the books balance, and helps to ensure that girls read these books as avidly as boys. They are not all light and fluffy either, and deal with death, grief, fear, and evil, as well as friendship, flying and fun.
I recall that I was at a large new book-publishing event in 1998 when the tannoy announced, “ J. K. Rowling will be signing copies of her latest book ‘ The Chamber of Secrets’. “J. K. who?” I thought. But the snowball was already rolling and I was soon caught up.
Having initially read them so that I didn’t feel a fool when children came into the shop and talked about them, I am now a fan, ‘The Prisoner of Azkahban’, being my favourite. The books are cleverly published in July, so that they coincide with the school summer holidays. A masterstroke, given that parents will happily buy their children a book for some summer respite. The fourth title ‘The Goblet of Fire' was 636 pages long, but that didn’t stop three million copies of the book selling in the first week alone.
There was tangible disappointment when, last year, no new title was published.

However, be prepared! Coming soon, ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’. If not published this July, it is likely to come out in time for Christmas and it will all start again. Queues at bookshops, children reading through the night; the cycle of book is not yet complete, so comparisons with ‘The Narnia Chronicles’ and other classics are premature but they are fun and readable, and that alone will keep generations of 10 year olds thinking Harry Potter is fantastic!

We already present on this site a proper Glossary of Book Terms, giving definitions of many of the words/phrases which might be unfamiliar but which booksellers use when describing books.

For amusement only we present an improper one, an occasional feature 'The Alternative Book Glossary' providing a few definitions at a time:

The Alternative Book Glossary

Advance copy
a facsimile edition of the publisher's cheque produced by an author for his/her creditors (see also Proof copy - a similar item produced for his/her spouse)
As called for
the book(s) set aside by a seller on the promise of the buyer that he will collect
Black letter
invoices in gothic script that do not need to be paid (as opposed to red letter)
impressed marks that weren't noticed when the book was quoted
a special term to define a reading copy with gravy stains
a hard wearing material used to cover books derived from the skin of a very macho male sheep

(?) to be continued..........

Next Month:

In July 2002 we will be presenting an article with the wonderfully ambiguous title 'Between the Sheets' submitted by Brown Studies

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