Brexit and the London Art Book Fair; Paywall the movie; The Little Girl Who Gives Zero Fucks is out; Gaiman says ‘Save The Libraries’; writer’s block and possible remedies. Hello again. It’s A Week In Book News.

London Art Book Fair

The London Art Book Fair kicked off at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, on Thursday. Yesterday, we went there to see how art and literature hold the mirror up to life.

In the spirit of the Dissenters. Photo: Story Of Books.

Salty. But flippancy wasn’t the only highlight at the London Art Book Fair. We also talked to a publisher about “book as a technology of romance”. For example, the Arts and Crafts movement was a romantic resistance against the Industrial Revolution; the New Romantics a response to 1980s Big Tech appropriation. But we shall speak more of this in our upcoming feature on the London Art Book Fair.

The London Art Book Fair runs between 6 and 9 September 2018 at the Whitechapel Gallery, 7-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX, UK. Entrance is free.

Libraries keep The Dreaming alive

Did you read that picture essay by Neil Gaiman and Scott Riddell on why we need libraries?

If you haven’t, read it here on The Guardian.

We’re still going through Gaiman’s book, The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction. The first chapter contains a lecture that he gave to the Reading Agency in 2013. It’s called “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming”.

Fiction offers an escape, Gaiman says, and knowledge gleaned from books give us the tools we use to escape for real. To escape and to innovate, we have to “imagine” the solution. Objects, political movements and personal movements were all “imagined” before they became a reality. The only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.

Cheap seats, priceless point of view.

Down the rabbit hole with Instagram

We agree with Gaiman that books will never replace screen. However, expedient means won’t hurt.

New York Public Library has recently published Alice In Wonderland as an Insta Novel to get kids to enjoy reading fairy tales. Hopefully it will get them to love storybooks as well.


Yes, we give a fuck: Amy Kean’s book is now out

Congratulations to Amy Kean on having her book, The Little Girl Who Gave Zero Fucks, published recently. We last spoke to Kean about her book in November 2017, almost a year ago. It’s a brilliantly witty book, beautifully illustrated and we hope to see more of Kean’s works.


You can now pre-order The Little Girl on Foyles online store. Ten percent of the profits will go to Writing Through, a literacy charity that currently runs projects in Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia, so please support this initiative and spread the word on the book.

About Amy Kean


Paywall: The Movie

How on earth do academic publishers make profits up to $25.2 billion a year from voluntarily peer-reviewed academic papers?

Well, paywall.

Dr Ernesto Priego, our comic book scholar, will introduce the screening of a documentary on that very topic on 17 October 2018 at City, University of London.

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship is a documentary film by Jason Schmitt that scrutinises the lucrative for-profit academic publishing model and the “35-40 35-40% profit margin associated with the top academic publisher Elsevier”.

This screening is in anticipation of Open Access Week that will take place between 22 to 28 October 2018. It’s free but requires registration.

Can you legitimise piracy if the need to access data is urgent? Photo source: Everything Is Connected

To be honest, this is a thorny issue not just for scholars like Dr Priego who rely on access to data for innovations. It puts publishers and jobbing editors in a pickle, too, because to some, paywall protects their livelihood. Story Of Books itself began life whilst we were employed in life science publishing. Our first event in 2012 was supported by both the advocates of open source and the guardians of intellectual properties. It is hard to take sides.

But given the need for open access and improvement of peer-review publishing (#HAUTalk comes to mind again), it’s only appropriate for all parties to think of a middle ground. After all, we don’t want another Aaron Swartz tragedy. His unfortunate suicide in 2013 reflected terribly on JSTOR and academic publishing. His unnecessary death provoked anger and emboldened an open source community already dissatisfied with paywalls and the exploitative nature of peer reviews.

About the screening

About open access


Are you disorganised?

A Redditor reassures fellow writers that we are not alone in our madness unstructured organic approach to outlining.

Redditor u/dax812 asks if we are all in the same boat. Photo source: u/dax812 via Reddit.

Ideas have to be free-flowing but thoughts written down have to be structured at some point to make a story. But this is where we run into danger. It’s called “writer’s block”.

It’s no laughing matter when a block affects your career. Donald Lau, ‘Chief Fortune Writer’ of Wonton Foods, US, quit after 30 years of writing fortunes for fortune cookies because of he couldn’t wing it anymore.

We’re not sure what causes it but it would be great to be able to detect its onset or to cure it without resorting to intoxicants and so on.

There are plenty of scientific papers dedicated to examining the “cognitive and emotional dimensions of disrupted composing”.

There’s a theory about it in psychoanalysis, too. How about this:

“An immense sense of guilt is the motor for artistic production. The unconsciously conditioned artistic creation represents the writer’s secondary unconscious defense against his unconscious wishes and fantasies.”


That’s a bit too revealing.

The Canadian Family Physician Journal identifies three stages of writer’s block. Below are its recommendations for treatment:

  • Mild blockage can be resolved by evaluating and revising expectations, conducting a task analysis, and giving oneself positive feedback.
  • Moderate blockage can be addressed by creative exercises, such as brainstorming and role-playing.
  • Recalcitrant blockage can be resolved with therapy.

About writer’s block


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