Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series

The folk of the Faraway TreeAnyone an Enid Blyton reader?

Her Faraway Tree series, first published 60 years ago, is to be made into a film by Sam Mendes’ production company. Previous films include the Oscar-nominated Revolutionary Road, as well as the recent stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Faraway Tree series tells the adventures of three children who stumble upon an enormous magic tree in an enchanted forest. The four books in the series are The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Folk of Faraway Tree and Up the Faraway tree (on order).

Although they were written between 1939 and 1951, the stories of Jo, Bessie and Fanny and their treetop friends – Moon-Face, Mister Watzisname, Silky and the Saucepan Man, are still  popular. In fact Enid Blyton’s books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 40 languages. This series has lots of 5 star ratings from our readers.


UK is top at publishing

Did you know that in 2013, the UK publishing market was the world leader for the number of new titles published in relation population size?

UK publishers released 2,875 new titles per million inhabitants, more than 1,000 titles ahead of the next nearest, Taiwan. In absolute figures, the UK published 184,000 new titles and re-editions, the highest figure in Europe, with only the US and China publishing more, with 304,912 and 444,000 titles respectively.

Revenue from publishing in the UK was also good compared to rest of the world –  £4.7bn, the same as 2012.

The UK joins the US and Germany as a market which did not shrink, while other nations such as France (-3%), Italy (-6%) and Spain (-10%) all saw their values drop. Asian markets grew with South Korea up 2%, China 9% and Indonesia 16%. New Zealand was up by 6%, Mexico by 3% and Brazil 8%.

The UK also has the largest export market, €1.5bn, despite a declining 4% on 2012. The US is €1bn.

Publishing is the largest entertainment business internationally, with an estimated value in US dollars of $151bn, putting it ahead of the film business at $133bn, and magazines at $107bn.

New books!! This week’s Fiction Hotlist

The legacy of Elizabeth PringleBrothers in bloodThis week’s new fiction

Susanna Gregory’s Murder on Holborn has already been rated 5 star – twice -

n 1665 England is facing war with the Dutch and the capital is awash with rumours of Murder on High Holbornconspiracy. These are more frenetic than normal because of the recent sinking of one of the largest ships in the navy – a disastrous tragedy that could very well have been caused by sabotage. As an experienced investigator, Thomas Chaloner knows that there are very few grains of truth in the shifting sands of the rumour-mill, but the loss of such an important warship and the murder of Paul Ferine, a Groom of the Robes, in a brothel favoured by the elite of the Palace of White Hall makes him scent a whiff of genuine treason

Plus novels by Kirsty Wark. New Simon Scarrow. Walking Dead and Homeland. A Martina Cole and lots more –

Check the hotlist

Bill Gates’ favourite romcom novel

Detail Page Book Jacket

Bill and Melinda Gates loved The Rosie Project the debut novel by Graeme Simsion (and the sequel) saying it was ‘laugh out loud funny and profound’

A romantic comedy featuring professor of genetics Don Tillman (39, tall, intelligent and employed: “Logically I should be attractive to a wide range of women”), has undiagnosed Asperger’s and the author explores how a grown autistic man might approach a romantic relationship.

Don has two friends – his colleague at a Melbourne university, Gene, and his psychologist wife, Claudia, who try to help Don find love but “unfortunately their approach was based on the traditional dating paradigm, which I had previously abandoned on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and negative experiences”.

To choose a suitable wife, Don designs a detailed questionnaire that filters out unpromising candidates: women who are unpunctual, overweight, vegetarian; who drink or smoke or have STDs. 

Then he meets Rosie, who fails on almost every scoreThe Rosie Effect: Don Tillman No. 2  andit looks like there is no chance of love blossoming. When Rosie enlists Don’s genetic expertise to help find her natural father, otherwise known as The Father Project, the two are thrown into an entertaining series of comic set pieces and occasionally life-threatening situations.


Recently  The Rosie Effect 

With the Wife Project complete, Don settles into a new job and married life in New York. But it’s not long before certain events are taken out of his control and it’s time to embark on a new project. As he tries to get to grips with the requirements of starting a family, his unusual research style gets him into trouble. To make matters worse, he has invited his closest friend to stay with them, but Gene is not exactly the best model for marital happiness


Hardbacks, paperbacks

The narrow road to the deep north “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan, which has just won the Man Booker Prize, is only available  in hardback at the moment in the UK. Borrow it FREE from your library.

At 9 inches long and 464 pages deep, it weighs more than half a kilo so it is heavy to take on holiday or on the bus and to buy costs £16.99  A lighter, cheaper paperback edition will be published next year. So why do books come out in hardback first?

It’s usually books that are expected to sell well that come out in hardback first. Known as “windowing” it’s a sales strategy also used in the film industry, where cinema releases precede DVD versions by several months. Like cinema tickets, hardcover books generate more profit per unit than paperbacks. Film buffs like watching on the big screen; book collectors enjoy the hardback’s premium quality.

Hardbacks often have something extra – “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” has bright red endpapers, some embossed covers or come with bookmarks. Literary editors traditionally don’t review paperbacks!

Once hardback sales slow down, a paperback edition is released. More copies are printed and they sell in greater numbers but at a lower margin than the hardback. Libraries  buy hardbacks to make sure customers get the title as soon as possible, but we buy paperbacks in much larger quantities to get best value.

Some publishers time their hardback editions to come out just before Christmas, eyeing the gift market, before publishing the paperback edition in time for the summer holidays.

Early books had small print runs and were expensive, and paperbacks  only took off in Britain and America in the ’30s, (though had been around since 19thC) when Penguin and New American Library mass-produced cheap,  well-designed reproductions of older texts aimed at  readers who couldn’t afford hardbacks. Interest in reading as a pastime increased in WW2 –  just when paper was in short supply and more efficient methods of printing needed to be found.

Book collectors not wanting to pay for hardbacks, who used to wait for the paperback edition, can sometimes buy the title more cheaply as an eBook . “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” can be bought as an an eBook for about £6.  In the past, a successful book might have sold four times as many copies in paperback as hardback, but some recent releases have sold more copies in hardback than paperback, because of eBook versions.

This is where libraries sometimes miss out, not all popular titles are made available by the publishers for libraries to buy as eBooks! But whether you borrow hardback, paperback or the eBook version from libraries, all are free.

Harrogate History Festival

Harrogate History FestivalIf you are a history lover then Harrogate History Festival’s have just the thing for you. They are the organisers of the hugely successful Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival and they are branching out again this year after last years inaugural festival with a weekend devoted to historical books and their writers. The second Harrogate History Festival takes part this weekend from Thu 23rd Oct – Sun 26th. As with the Crime Writing Festival all the events take place in the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate making it easy to either go along to several events or just book the ones that interest you. You could really immerse yourself and go along for the whole weekend.

Highlights of the festival will include events with Bernard Cornwell (the creator of Sharpe - remember Sean Bean?), Alison Weir and Elizabeth Chadwick on Friday night. If that isn’t good enough there are countless other events to whet your appetite with Sandi Toksvig, Peter Snow, Sarah Dunant and many more.

Historical fiction is a great way to find out more about a particular period as well as immersing yourself in a great story. Want to go back and be a part of the Roman Empire? Then Conn Iggulden’s Emperor series is a good place to start. What about travelling back to fifteenth century Italy and the Borgias? Sarah Dunant covers this period in her novel Blood and Beauty.


There really should be something for everyone at the festival so if you are looking for a good way to get out of the Autumn weather then have a look at the programme.


The Peculier Life of a Lonely Postman – review

The Peculiar Life of the Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault  - is a French Canadian novel which has had good reviews,”original, subtle and touching, telling the tragic and often comic routine of one man’s life and fate”.

It tells the story of a young postman in Montreal named Bilodo. Shy and unassuming, Bilodo spends his free time practising calligraphy, playing video games, and sitting in his customary seat at the local café.

He does have a secret however: he’s fond of intercepting the personal mail he’s supposed to be delivering, carefully opening it, and reading the contents before the intended recipients actually get it.

Through these letter opening activities, he discovers Ségolène, a beautiful schoolteacher and poet who lives  in Guadeloupe. Poring over her letters, which usually consist of one carefully constructed haiku, he immediately falls in love with her.

A series of fatal events unfolds whereby Bilodo himself is able to carry on the correspondence …as he steps in to ensure the letters keep coming.