A Week In Book News Authors Book To Screen Digital Books Romance The London Book Fair

Book fair called off; romance awards announced; UNESCO World Book Capital promo still not in full gear

COVID-19 epidemic threatens to shut down many major book fairs, just when publishing needs to mobilise after a slow 2019. But can content owners and publishers take this opportunity to promote the digital extensions of their publications, such as animations, films, games and soundtracks? Just an idea. In Malaysia, it’s politics, not a virus, that ruins a good opportunity to promote Literature. On a more positive note, the RNA announces the winners of the 2020 Romance Novelists’ Association Awards. A silver lining, indeed.


 COVID-19: The London Book Fair called off

We weren’t surprised when The London Book Fair, due to take place this week, was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns.

But we were disappointed. We had potential features lined up. We entered the Blog Of The Year competition. We planned to attend the annual cake-cutting ceremony hosted by Oxford Brookes. We looked forward to catching up with UAE and Italy contingents. We had booked holidays. Apparently, a team of Indonesian illustrators who were at the fair last year are already in London for the 2020 event.

Announcement on the website of The London Book Fair. We hope to visit the fair in 2021. For more information on the coronavirus update, visit the website.

But it’s no one’s fault. If an epidemic hits, there’s not much we can do.

We wonder how COVID-19 will affect book events such as MCM Comic Con, London Art Book Fair and so on. Sure, marketers can ramp up acquisition and retention digitally but nothing beats going to a fair, talking to a creative and buying the physical book from the creator.

Perhaps this is when content owners and publishers can promote the digital extensions of their publications such as animations, films, drama, games and original soundtracks for fans to consume.

Demands for book downloads might surge. People still like to consume fictions. If you’re holed up in a London flat due to self-isolation, what do you do? You watch Netflix, you watch Amazon, you read books.

We look forward to attending The London Book Fair 2021. Till then, stay safe. Hope this year we have more time to read and write.

This year, we are going to miss the annual cake-cutting ceremony by Angus Phillips, Director, Oxford International Centre for Publishing. Next year, then. Image: © Zarina Holmes / Story Of Books

About The London Book Fair


Winners announced: The 2020 Romantic Novel Awards

To continue the celebration of its diamond anniversary, the Romance Novelists’ Association (RNA) announced the winners of its prestigious 2020 Romantic Novel Awards last week.

Writer and performer Jenny Eclair revealed the winners of each category and presented them with crystal trophies at an event in London, compèred by author and broadcaster Jane Wenham-Jones.

The RNA’s awards are the only national literary prizes that recognise excellence in the genre of romantic fiction. RNA Chair Alison May said: “The quality of the shortlists for the awards this year was breathtaking, and the winning novels demonstrate the breadth and strength of romantic fiction.”

Romantic Novel of the Year Category Winners

Lorna Cook, The Forgotten Village, Avon, HarperCollins
Winner, The Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award
(for the best romantic novel by a first-time author)

Jenni Fletcher, Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquess, Mills & Boon Historical
Winner, The Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award
(for the best shorter romantic novel)

Tania Crosse, The Street of Broken Dreams, Aria Fiction, Head of Zeus
Winner, The Romantic Saga Award
(for the best romantic novel featuring saga elements of characters overcoming social adversity, usually set in the past)

Mary Jayne Baker, A Question of Us, Aria Fiction, Head of Zeus
Winner, The Romantic Comedy Novel Award
(for the best romantic novel with consistent wit and humour)

Samantha Tonge, Knowing You, Canelo
Winner, The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award
(for the best romantic novel with thriller, mystery, crime or suspense elements)

Ruth Hogan, Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, Two Roads
Winner, The Fantasy Romantic Novel Award
(for the best romantic novel that includes paranormal or speculative elements)

Sue Moorcroft, A Summer to Remember, Avon, HarperCollins
Winner, The Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award
(for the best romantic novel set in the present world or society)

Natasha Lester, The French Photographer, Sphere
Winner, The Goldsboro Books Historical Romantic Novel Award
(for novels set in a period before 1970)

Anstey Harris, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, Simon & Schuster
Winner, The Sapere Books Popular Romantic Fiction Award
(for the most commercially successful and popular romantic novel of 2019 as voted for by book bloggers, librarians and booksellers)

Outstanding Achievement Award
Milly Johnson

More the Romance Novelists’ Association


Hatchette staff say no to Woody Allen memoir

 You don’t want to get involved in other people’s family feud. But when union members in book publishing get involved, other workers in publishing would take notice.

In solidarity with Ronan Farrow, the author of Catch and Kill, Hachette staff staged a walkout over the planned publication of Woody Allen’s memoir, Apropos Of Nothing. The memoir was to be published by Hachette’s imprint, Grand Central Publishing.

Farrow objected to the publication of the memoir by his estranged father, who shocked the world by leaving the author’s mother, the actress Mia Farrow, to marry her adopted daughter whom Allen secretly had an affair with.

Farrow also threatened to boycott Hachette, whose imprint, Little, Brown, published his award-winning book, Catch and Kill. The exposé was based on his investigative article on Harvey Weinstein, which eventually led to the #metoo movement.

Last week’s walkout was staged by workers at both Hatchette’s imprints, Grand Central Publishing and Little, Brown. Union members at HarperCollins have also expressed solidarity with Hachette staff.

The publication of Allen’s memoir has now been cancelled. Author Stephen King, however, feels this might set a bad precedence. He feels that if readers want to object against the memoir, they should vote with their wallets: don’t buy the book.

About Catch and Kill


2020: The year politics screw Malaysian Literature

We reported on 15 February 2020 that Kuala Lumpur is the UNESCO World Book Capital 2020, but we saw no promotion of this for The London Book Fair.

It’s probably a blessing in disguise because the fair has now been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. However, 2020 is also the Visit Malaysia Year. We’ve been told that, except for a poster in Kuala Lumpur, not a lot has been said about this even in Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur named UNESCO World Book Capital 2020
Image: ©UNESCO

Last week, the progressive government voted by the people in the last general election got ousted and replaced by a not very progressive government. We’re not political but what about UNESCO World Book Capital 2020? Everyone in Malaysia is now wasting their time talking about politics.

In the UK, we saw what Brexit did to the economy and the publishing industry: it stalled growth and regulations, and hurt business badly. The UK public, though still divided over the decision to leave the EU, got their act together and pressed for business to go on as usual.

“Malaysian creatives are forever complaining about censorship, racial politics and how these affect their creative outputs.”

Malaysian creatives are forever complaining about censorship, racial politics and how these affect their creative outputs. They complain when their books aren’t as enduring as Indonesians’ and when their dramas aren’t as fresh as the South Koreans’. They asked why they got associated with Crazy Rich Asians (a very silly fantasy, but Singaporean at that, not Malaysian) but why they can’t write stories at par with the Oscar-winning Parasite.

Well, if you’re too absorbed with politics and polemics, if you can’t laugh at yourself, if you can’t talk honestly about society without being overly rude and racist, if you write to please others and not yourself, how can you write a believable story? Your audience would rather read or watch something not in a language they understand, if it’s more believable.

Creatives don’t have to be political, but they must understand economic success and political stability help to nurture Literature. So Malaysian creatives, you have to produce something that unite, not divide, people. A very good grasp of history, not a revisionist one, also helps to install confidence.