Banned Books Week "Celebrates" 30 Years

Banned Books Week (Sept 30-Oct 6) is celebrating, for want of a better term, its 30th year!

Banned Books Week logoBanning books has a long and ignoble history going back into the mists of time. Possibly the oldest known ban was against 5th century BC Greek philosopher Anazagoras who made the mistake of suggesting that the sun is "white hot stone and that the moon reflected the sun's rays" - which caused him to be exiled from Athens and all his writings burned.

Of course, through much of history it wasn't just the writings that got burned but the writers themselves. Indeed, it wasn't even necessary to put pen to paper to find oneself atop a bonfire, or other equally nasty fate - a word, a deed, or even the mere suspicion of a thought could have been enough. So, I suppose we should be grateful that in the USA today we've evolved from burning people to merely attempting to ban their books.

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Why "Fifty Shades of Grey" Is So Successful

If you're intrigued by the success of E.L. James's "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy (currently at #1, 2 and 3 in the NY Times bestseller lists), you might be interested in this Publishers Weekly article which puts the series into the context of the wider book market:

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McDonald's Giving Away 9 Million Books With Happy Meals

Happy MealSomewhat controversial news from Britain where McDonald's is in the process of giving away 9 million books with Happy Meals.

The six titles which are being given away (along with a finger puppet and a voucher for a heavily discounted additional book) are all from Michael Morpurgo's Mudpuddle Farm series, published by Harper Collins. Technically speaking, this will make McDonald's the nation's largest bookseller for the four week period (and the charity Farms for City Children considerably better off, as Morpurgo intends to donate all his royalties to them).

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Nancy Pearl, "America's Favorite Librarian", Signs Book Deal With Amazon

Nancy PearlNancy Pearl, the closest thing American libraries have to a celebrity, unleashed something of a shockwave through the book industry yesterday with the announcement that she is publishing a series of books with Amazon.

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Amazon's revenue larger than the GDP of half the world's countries!

Did you know...

  1. Amazon's $34 billion annual revenues are larger than the GDPs of half the countries in the world.
  2. Amazon's web sales are five times the combined web sales of Walmart, Target and Buy.com.
  3. Amazon serves 137 million customers a week, 33% more than voted in the 2010 USA elections. That's 19.5 million customers daily - equal to the population of Beijing, or the number of Americans who live on less than $6000 a year.
  4. The average amount brought in by one of Amazon's unique users is $189. That's almost five times as valuable as Ebay's average ($39).
  5. Amazon owns 1/10th of North America's e-commerce pie.
  6. If Amazon's active users were a country, their population would be twice that of Canada.
  7. With 50,000 preorders, Kindle Fire is set to double the launch of the iPad.
  8. Amazon's current cloud platform could store 82 books for each person on the earth.
  9. Amazon's warehouse space has grown from a 400 square foot garage in 1995 to 25 million square feet - equivalent to more than 700 Madison Square Gardens.

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Alan Hollinghurst wins UK Author of the Year Award

Congratulations to Alan Hollinghurst for his UK National Book Award win. The Stranger's Child, which was controversially omitted from this year's Man Booker shortlist, won him the Author of the Year Award at last Friday's Galaxy National Book Awards.

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