Seeking to improve student enrolment, engagement, and retention, Kingston University began a pre-arrival shared reading scheme in 2014–2015, sending a free book to every student about to start at the university and making copies available to staff in all roles and departments across the institution. A number of associated events were organized and outcomes monitored through a variety of project-specific and institutional metrics. Continuing with the scheme in 2015–2016, Kingston University and Edinburgh Napier University joined together as research partners. Edinburgh Napier, having participated in the process of choosing a book for all to read, made the same single title available to their students and staff. In this paper the processes and outcomes of the collaboration are reported, including the differences in project implementation in the two institutions and what they learned from each other. Recommendations are made for how universities can work together on projects of mutual desirability, pointing out particular associated sensitivities, in this case when managing a long-distance collaboration, and what can be learned for the future.
As Children’s Laureate 2013–2015, Malorie Blackman raised awareness of the lack of racial diversity in children’s fiction. Underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in fiction and the publishing industry’s infrastructure is a severe problem in the world of children’s books, as illuminated by research into the publishing environment of the past 15 years, and the books populating current bestseller charts. Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of economic and symbolic capital is important to understanding how diversity is highlighted in the contemporary literary field, but his polarization of the different form of capital as motivation for creating art is reductive. Storytelling is about combining voices and experiences, and publishers can, and should, combine economic and symbolic motivations in publishing diverse fiction for children. Publishing a book because it will be successful economically and because it is the right thing to do are not mutually exclusive; in publishing diverse children’s fiction, both motives can and should inspire us.
This essay is based on a talk the author gave at the By the Book conference in Florence in June 2019. It examines the power dynamics in the Italian publishing world from the perspective of a fiction writer. Writing and publishing are two completely different worlds that can be differently approached. What’s the point of writing? Should writers write about what they know, or about what they do not know? Can publishing be put off? What’s the role of literary agents in the publishing process? The author’s answers to these questions are based on her personal experience.
To sell a novel as socially relevant, the book cover, prefaces, and other paratext can help convey why readers should care and how the story should be read. But relevance can expire as society moves on. Reprints of groundbreaking classics that no longer engage contemporary concerns adapt their paratext to reach new readers, often by emphasizing the book’s historical and/or literary position. This article examines paratextual strategies across time and space for three Scandinavian novels with exceptional influence. Enlightenment-promoting Niels Klim’s Underground Travels (1741) was the region’s first novel; Hunger (1890) is praised by many as the world’s first modernist novel; and The Man on the Balcony (1967) became the progenitor of Nordic Noir. Early paratext used anonymity, false veracity, or documentary elements to sell relevance. But with commercial success, and temporal and geographical distance, paratext became increasingly author focused and self-referential, at times all but ignoring the author’s intent for the story.
This two-part article is a sequel to a two-part paper published in Logos in 2008–2009. It provides a round-up of the current situation of the book industry in Africa today (primarily that in English-speaking sub-Saharan Africa), together with a brief review of the activities of the various organizations that have supported African publishing over the years. Part 1 examines the persistent failure of African governments to support their book industries and public libraries in a tangible and positive fashion. It reviews the current status of book development councils in Africa, the unsatisfactory progress in establishing national book policies, the challenges of generating book industry data, and the opportunities presented to African publishers by the new digital environment. An Appendix provides a list of conferences, meetings, and seminars on publishing and book development held in Africa between 1968 and 2019. Part 2 of this article will appear in Logos, 30 (4).