News Round-up

News published on September 28, 2012.

Despite a distinct autumnal change for most of us, the sun continues to shine on JK Rowling. Before it even hit the shelves, her new adult novel was, according to the Telegraph, already one of the biggest book releases of the 21st century, with around a million copies pre-ordered. That’s despite concerns that the novel, A Casual Vacancy, has rather a lot to live up to. Can the author with a natural ability to write timeless fantasy fiction aimed at children adapt her skills to a completely different genre and demographic?

This week, Rowling talked about how the book – set in a fictional west-country village called Pagford – addresses class division and its influence on politics. In The Telegraph she claims she drew on her own upbringing in Tutshill Gloucestershire for a tale that draws attention to the snobbishness within middle-class communities – a claim that may cost the author any hope of a warm welcome on future visits.

Indeed Rowling knows to expect some harsh criticism. Already, a New York Daily News reviewer has slated the book, suggesting that the profanity and porn references in the novel are contrived attempts at tackling the tough stuff and that none of the characters are likeable. So has Rowling stepped too far out of her comfort zone? Let us know.

In other news, recent fears for high-street bookshops amid increased e-book sales may grow following the release of new statistics. The Telegraph reported that sales of children’s e-books nearly tripled in the first six months of this year compared with the same period in 2011. This is partly because today’s technology is better adapted to content such as pictures. It also indicates a dramatic shift in the way kids are reading. For many, it’s perfectly natural to pick up a Kindle or an iPad for a bedtime story, but it’s hardly surprising. After all, this is a generation for whom even a computer mouse is old hat.

Finally, the Folio Society and the House of Illustration have great news for artists with a passion for books. They have announced the launch of their third Book Illustration Competition. Entrants are invited to submit three illustrations and a binding design for Aldous Huxley’s futuristic novel Brave New World. The winner gets the ultimate portfolio piece, bags of credibility, and £4,500 in commission. If you’re interested, the Folio Society website has all the details. Good luck.

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