Monday, December 15, 2014

What Book Would You Give Away?


Kelly Ansara (Blogger, Sales Representative at Jonathan Ball)
Book: She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

As the silly season kicks in and Christmas fever settles, as trees go up, fighting through lines in shopping malls - or if you're anything like me, you start bulking up on reading material, wine and beer. Tis the Season to be Jolly

So as my last post for the year (and what a year it's been - but we'll get to that later). I was inspired by a post on BuzzFeed (Find the article here), the sinkhole for my insomnia, where Authors and Readers took part in a 'Giveaway Book' extravaganza.  Completely inspired and excited, I called in a few favors from my fellow book-lovers.

The premise of this exercise was to pick a book that shaped/changed/evoked/shook your world so dramatically that you would give the copy away (and in some cases not your actual edition, hehehe) to another person so they to can have that life-changing experience. 

Talita van Graan (Events Co-ordinator at Exclusive Books)
Book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

S.A Partridge (Author)
Book: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Tammy February (Books, Community & Bride editor at Women 24)
Book: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Stefania Beninca (Make-Up Artist/Shop Manager at Kryolan SA)
Book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K Rowling


Tarryn Talbot-Da Costa (Publicist at Pan Macmillan SA)
Book: Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen


Rene Brophy (Marketing Manager at Exclusive Books)
Book: The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

And while some just couldn't decide...


Varsha Lalla (Sales Assistant at Jonathan Ball)
Books: Harry Potter by J.K Rowling | The Discworld Series by Terry Prachett | Peter Pan by J.M Barrie

Samantha Jacobs (Sales Assistant at Jonathan Ball)
Books: The Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Houseini | Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Lizaan Kotze (Sales Assistant at Jonathan Ball)
Books: The Girl who Played Go by Shan Sa | Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels


If you want to be a part of this list, give a shout on twitter, facebook or even via email (contact details are in the contact tab). I want to thank my readers, the publishers, booksellers and fellow bloggers for this amazing book-filled year. I hope next year is as jam-packed. 

Have a glorious and safe festive season!



Friday, November 21, 2014

Books You Need for a Career in Publishing



When I first started in publishing I didn't know my head from my elbow. It's amazing how often I turn to books to help me figure out the world around me. Recently, I bought a new bookshelf and while packing some old books, and some new books; and if you are anything like me, you don't just pack the books, you arrange, rearrange, alphabetise, and figure out a 'section' area by genre or by collection (i.e. signed hardbacks, or languages, or books worked on). It's complicated to say the least, but while packing, I realised I had an entire shelf on 'Books for Publishing' - granted theses were collected over the years some from my career, some from my publishing honors degree. So why not share them with you, dear reader? These don't have to be used for a career in publishing, but if you love books, and want to explore how they are made, sold, and financed this list will help...


Mathematics of Bookselling: A Monograph by Leonard Shatzkin

The Mathematics of Bookselling is a definitive resource for book retailers looking to maximize margins and profits through the proven pricing and inventory management practices developed by Leonard Shatzkin, one of 20th century book publishing’s most innovative executives.

Because bookselling involves dealing with so many different products from so many different suppliers with so many different prices and margins, it is perhaps the most complex retailing challenge there is. The Mathematics of Bookselling, a monograph by Leonard Shatzkin, explores a variety of the real-life challenges booksellers face -- what and when to buy, how margin (the amount made on a sale) and turn (the speed at which inventory brought in gets sold) affect profitability, whether to add or subtract titles from the mix -- and lays out the logic and calculations by which the "right" answers can be found.




Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"I'm a panda," he says at the door. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
"Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

So, punctuation really does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death.

Now, we all know the basics of punctuation. Or do we? A look at most neighbourhood signage tells a different story. Through sloppy usage and low standards on the internet, in e-mail, and now text messages, we have made proper punctuation an endangered species.

In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Truss dares to say, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. This is a book for people who love punctuation and get upset when it is mishandled. From the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, this lively history makes a powerful case for the preservation of a system of printing conventions that is much too subtle to be mucked about with.



How to Market Books by Alison Baverstock


Over four editions, Alison Baverstock's How to Market Books has established itself as the industry standard text on marketing for the publishing industry, and the go-to reference guide for professionals and students alike. With the publishing world changing like never before, and the marketing and selling of content venturing into uncharted technological territory, this much needed new edition seeks to highlight the role of the marketer in this rapidly changing landscape. 

The new edition is thoroughly updated and offers a radical reworking and reorganisation of the previous edition, suffusing the book with references to online/digital marketing. The book maintains the accessible and supportive style of previous editions but also now offers: a number of new case studies detailed coverage of individual market segments checklists and summaries of key points several new chapters a foreword by Michael J Baker, Professor Emeritus of Marketing, Strathclyde University.



Get your Book Published in 30 (relatively) Easy Steps by Basil van Rooyen

Writing a book? Need answers to your questions? What are my chances of getting my book published? Where can I find information about which publishers handle which books? What exactly is involved in publishing a book and how long does it take? Who pays for what? How do I protect my copyright? These and scores of other questions can frustrate the first-time author - and often haunt published authors too. 

Part 1 traces the entire publishing process, from the moment the author conceives of the idea to the moment the finished book arrives in the bookshop, and beyond, by breaking it down into 30 easy-to-digest steps. 

Part 2 is an overview of the inner workings of the international book trade as well as the South African book industry. This edition of this authoritative aid for authors brings prospective authors up to date with new developments in the book world such as e-books and now focuses exclusively on general trade books (fiction and non-fiction).



Walking on Eggshells by G.E de Villiers

Walking on Eggshells is a practical, down-to-earth – and entertaining! - guide to some aspects of English usage. It is aimed at the reader with an interest in the subject, whether on a professional or personal level. Additionally, it should also be of use to those who wish to improve their knowledge of language and how it works.











Book Commissioning & Acquisition by Gill Davies

Since its first publication, this essential guide to book commissioning has established itself as the one and only 'must-read' for any successful editor, and the core training text used both within publishing houses and on publishing courses worldwide.

In this new edition, Davies concentrates on the essential skills of commissioning, as well as other editorial challenges such as handling new lists following mergers and takeovers, and the demands of digital technology. New case-studies have been added which illustrate the commercial and practical problems that editors must address in today's complex and demanding marketplace.

This book remains the one text that editors must have by their side throughout their careers.



On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.










If you have any suggestions to add to my list, please send them through - comment below or pop me an email.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kelly gets a LAMY




Some people buy cars, houses or even shoes - for me, it's notebooks and pens. So imagine when the new LAMY Safari Neon Coral Pink pen arrived in such fashion at my office. It's packaging elegant, branded as if I was about to take a red Ferrari out on the town.

I first saw the elegant LAMY pen brand when it made it's way into Exclusive Books alongside those beautiful Moleskin notebooks that I covet so much.

Designed by Wolfgang Fabian, a qualified Goldsmith before studying Industrial Design, is an award-winning designer and heads up the Fabian Industrie-Design. He is responsible for designing the LAMY Agenda, Al-star, Logo, Pickup, Safari, Spirit, Swift, and the Tipo.

This gorgeous pen hosts a sturdy and smooth coral pink outer casing, with a steel nib, and uses the LAMY T 10 blue ink cartridge. You can find the specs of the LAMY Safari Neon (Coral Pink) here.

The entire LAMY range can be found at your nearest stationery store.





Sunday, November 16, 2014

Exclusive Books gets Wrapped Up this Festive Season




There seems to be no shame in sending out the Festive Season elves early; so before I left on two weeks leave, I was lucky enough to sit down with media heavy weights at the picturesque and hidden Burnside Cafe off Jan Smuts Avenue in bustling Johannesburg – while the rest of the world around us grafted to get the weekend to arrive quicker than usual we got the full insider scoop to Exclusive Books new festive season promotion which hit stores as our drinks were served.

It’s a big catalogue; one that is sure to intimidate the soft hearted but if you’re like me and spend hours pouring over promotion catalogues this could possibly be the best thing Exclusive Books could give me. Very different from their past Christmas Promotions, which sported a few of the publishers big heavy weights due to be published between October and December – while this catalogue hosts titles that could easily be relevant up until mid 2015; you have backlist classics, elegant French stationery and originally designed literary wrapping paper that is sure to get your knees weak.


The ‘Get Wrapped Up’ promotion leaves no book page unturned it seems forcing every Exclusive Books store to host a variety of backlist, frontlist and almost shouts the new branding which MD, Benjamin Trisk, says: “... is a call to the imagination which also trumpets our joy in books, our pleasure in service and the one extraordinary dimension that we offer our customers: the knowledge.”

The format and outlay is beautiful – intimidating, but beautiful. With the addition of coloured circles that allow this catalogue to become a one-stop interactive book lovers wishlist it hold eight book covers per page, a short bio, a catagorised image boasting its ‘new’, ‘bestseller’, or even ‘award-winner’ status, all filed under 19 genres from Afrikaans Fiction to Travel -  this is a book on its own – I really did need my glasses to find the ISBN though, but that’s because I work in publishing.  There are selections that could prove more extensive such as children’s and possibly business, but with the beautiful cloth bound classics section – it’s difficult to showcase every single book without losing the essence of what this means.

I am scared of this catalogue - I am scared for my wallet, that perhaps I may miss a gem, or even my mind trying to decide what I want for Christmas. But perhaps it’s time for Exclusive Books to show why they are a bookstore – to stomp and boast, because why not?


We hope that it may become a reference so that our customers will browse through it physically, or page through it online in six months’ time, and find something to read.” – Benjamin Trisk.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman



“To love someone is like moving into a house,” Sonja used to say. “At first you fall in love in everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one's own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant to would live so fine. But as the years go by, the facade worn, the wood cracks here and there, and you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect in that for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside? Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak? That's it, all the little secrets that make it your home.” 


Books have a way of finding you. You might be suffering from insomnia and it’s the first thing you grab to distract you, or a recommendation thrust into your hand with an eager ‘Here, read this’, or that magical moment of finding a book under piles of sale books. 

Books sneak in and steal your heart – just as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, The Collected Works of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, The World According to Garp by John Irving, and let me not forget the The Ten Things I Learnt about Love by Sarah Butler. All these books truly change the way you love books, making it deeper and more profound.

So let me introduce Ove, a curmudgeon, retired, grumpy, widower, and what his neighbours call: the bitter neighbor from hell. This truly isn’t the best setting for a ‘great fiction novel’. It’s a November morning that changes everything, when a couple and their two daughters move in next door and accidently flatten Ove’s mailbox that unleashes the fictional journey of a lifetime – filled to the brim with comedy, cats, a homeless teen, an estranged friend and the art of reversing. The story is puzzled together with misty recounts of the past of Grumpy-Ole-Ove.

It’s pretty cookie-cutter, one incident sets of a ripple of change in Ove’s life. Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me. I know we have read books like this – there are a few out there. I enjoyed this one, for the ease of Frederick Backman’s writing, for the frustration towards Ove, and the slightly (I refuse to admit it) tear-stained pages of this novel. It truly is a glorious read; I’ll even forgive the melodramatic scenes. 

Read this for its discovery of life (grief, love, family, friendship and heartache all in one) and it’s endearing, infuriating and lovable character named Ove.



A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman features on this month’s Exclusive Books Recommends for September.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver


I am always worried books from the WW2 period will desensitize us as readers. That out of the blue one book wont punch my gut with grief and horror, leaving me to shrug it off with a ‘I guess it was scary’. 

No! I hope not. Just as Afghan-fiction shakes the very ground I walk on, so should these period piece novels set in one of history’s most horrific human right devaluation. I suppose having a Jewish grandfather, a lineage, and stories, I seem to insist that books such as this one stand out, almost tack themselves visually, emotionally and literary to this very period in time.

The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver is narrated by Mika, who slowly recounts his childhood during the 1944 Jewish Ghetto is uprising. Mika’s grandfather has a famous coat, sewn by a master tailor, is riddled with hidden pockets, secret fabric coverings to smuggle belongings during Nazi invasions and surprise relocation's. When Mika’s grandfather is killed in the streets, Mika saves the coat and finds a treasure beneath its hidden pockets – puppets. 

This is where the story catches its pace, telling the holocaust from a vastly different view than this novel’s counterparts. As young Mika survives the ghetto, telling stories to the children – that is until Max, a German soldier, takes Mika hostage and forces him to entertain German soldiers with his puppets.

Eva Weaver certainly captures the atmosphere, the horror, and suspense with her eloquent prose and sleight of hand when it comes to her characters. With this said, I didn’t find this to be the best novel I have ever read. 

The dialogue lacked, the writing became vastly emotive and contrite, almost too sweet to taste. It’s a quick read and nothing I regret reading – I just wish it was better. There is no doubt an audience for this novel; it’s edible, but guilty of promising too much. Try this one for the ease of reading, and its individuality.


The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver features on this month’s Exclusive Books Recommends for August.


Review: The Pearl That Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi




In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters. 
But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

This is the blurb that engrosses the reader, and me for that fact. I picture Publishers and Reviewers calling this debut novel by Nadia Hashimi: ‘... An evocative tale of smells, sights and sounds’ and ‘when fate intervenes’. It sounds incredibly cynical of me but this is exactly what the book is – a story of two women in extreme circumstances – the blurb even says so. 

Nadia Hashimi, born and bred in New York, whose family left Afghanistan in 1970, I mean her grandmother was a famous Afghan poet – so she certainly has the credentials to pull off a novel as The Pearl That Broke its Shell, and gives it a stark presentation against the many, and I mean many, titles among its genre: Afghan Fiction; with heavy weights of Khaled Housseni and Arundhati Roy.

Books such as this one are incredibly important, they deliver social messages that we westerners don’t fully grasp in terms of the violence and rights presented to women across our borders. While this title can happily sit next to the likes of I Am Malala and The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, it certainly does fall short with its stilted dialogue, seemingly bad sentence structure and confusing scene changes. I was hesitant with this one, rolling my eyes, I thought ‘Here we go, another copy-cat Afghan tragedy’ and I was proved right.




How I wanted these protagonists to prove me wrong, because their situation is haunting and incredibly harsh, but it fell extremely short. I wanted so to be bowled over by this novel, the setting, and the promise of some amazing women who didn’t get the choice to be who they wanted to be, but rose above it anyway. I suppose that was the message, and it grasped desperately like a drowning victim, except this time there were no Baywatch lifeguards to save it drowning.


The Pearl That Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi features on this month’s Exclusive Books Recommends for July.


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