Tag Archives: controversy

Man Booker: to go Stateside, or to not go Stateside?

That is the question on everyone’s lips as newspapers and bloggers speculated whether or not the Man Booker Prize will be extended to American authors in 2014. Whilst the decision will remain undecided until Wednesday (18th) of this week, it hasn’t stopped the likes of The Guardian and The Bookseller reporting the possibility of the rule change to one of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes.

For the past 45 years, the Man Booker Prize has recognised the works of authors in the UK, Ireland and other countries of the Commonwealth. Extending the Prize out to authors across the pond has received mixed opinions. Writer/broadcaster Melvin Bragg compared the possible change to “a British company being taken over by some worldwide conglomerate”. The main concern is that allowing American writers to be a part of the prize will drastically diminish the award’s identity and its link with Britain.

On the other hand, allowing the Booker to go Stateside will ensure that the Prize receives more recognition internationally. Scott Pack, Me And My Big Mouth, wrote a good piece outlining 10 points about the move and pointed out that the USA is the only English-speaking country which isn’t currently included in the Man Booker. Pack also suggests that the Man Booker could end up stealing “some of the Baileys Prize or Orange Prize’s thunder” as they already include writers from the USA in addition to other worldwide authors.  Michael Bhaskar has also written a piece on The Bookseller: Keep it special‘ speculating his thoughts on the possible change.

I have mixed feelings about the possible change. I can see how it could be beneficial to the Prize itself in terms of promoting writing from undiscovered authors and small independent publishers. But on the other hand, the Man Booker Prize creates a sense of identity in British literature. The world is so inundated with global products, corporations, organisations etc. that I feel they can sometimes become disenfranchised to the point where people may actually lose interest. I personally believe that people like to find the undiscovered and I feel that the Man Booker Prize could still appeal to new people without the help of American authors.  Moreover, there are already other prizes (such as those mentioned previously) which credits American authors and their writing, so why not keep the Man Booker the way it is?

More on this on Wednesday when the decision will be finalised… In the meantime, here is a list of this year’s Man Booker Prize shortlist and reasons why it’s the best shortlist in a decade…

  • NoViolet Bulawayo We Need New Names (Chatto)

    Photo from The Guardian

    Photo from The Guardian

  • Eleanor Catton The Luminaries (Granta)
  • Jim Crace Harvest (Picador)
  • Jhumpa Lahiri The Lowland (Bloomsbury)
  • Ruth Ozeki A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate)
  • Colm Toibin The Testament of Mary (Viking)

So, Amazon has dipped its metaphorical finger into another metaphorical pie.

Personally, I am not too sure I am in favour of the move. I have always thought of Goodreads as being one of those sites where you could simply connect with other readers and book lovers and not really worry about anything as it was a ‘neutral’ place you could voice your literary opinions and discover. Really, it is now just going to be another platform in which Amazon can promote its books and scream at the site’s visitors: ‘Buy me! Pick me!’ (I already get enough of that through my emails!)

What about promoting books from Waterstones and W H Smiths? Bookshops are like precious gems which we need to preserve. It is not that I have anything against Amazon (I use the retailer now and then just like any other person might), but sometimes I feel that as a consumer, things can become clouded by the bigger companies out there and companies (such as Goodreads) can become lost as it is swallowed up by another giant. Still, whilst the move may have many bookworms squirming with annoyance, I guess this is a good thing for Goodreads overall though, right…?

Controversy over the 20p ebook

When I saw an article on The Bookseller‘s website about the 20p ebook promotion, I immediately wondered what ebook sellers were aiming to achieve by pricing ebooks at such a low price.

According to ‘The Digital Reader’, publishers have stated that the low price has devalued the ebook and as a result the consumer will come to expect this low price permanently. However Peter Shea, the digital manager for Sony Digital Reading services affirms that ‘it is not the new price of the ebook and is merely a discount in which customers can enjoy for the time being.’

Meanwhile Nick Harkaway states on a FutureBook post that publishing houses have advanced to cater for the massive change in the industry and these changes are still going unnoticed with ‘absurd’ ebook pricing and the quality of the ebook itself being poorly presented.

It can also be observed that these 20p ebooks are keeping potential new releases that would be bestsellers off the top spot as observed in The Bookseller‘s article a couple of days ago.

Whilst I think this is a great way in which to introduce the consumer to the ebook, I do believe it could prove damaging to the industry should it continue. For a start, the publisher would no doubt receive less profit for its sales and as Peter Shea rightly said, consumers could come to expect this discounted price all the time which could create a decline in ebook sales once the prices are altered.