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News Round Up: May 12th

12th May 2013

news round up may 15th

Book covers saga rolls on: Publishers still delightedly throwing pink and glitter over furious authors

Publishing is an industry happily capable of both hacking off readers with ludicrously overpriced, under-proofed and not-yours-anyway eBooks, and at the same time hand-wringingly wheedling “sorry, girls, we’d stop plastering your front covers with glitter if people would still buy the darn things, but we just don’t want to force people into having what they don’t want, you know?”

So it’s not really surprising that the enthrallingly idiotic cover design policies of the mainstream publishing houses have again come under fire this week.

First off, Queen Dame Jacqueline Wilson complained that her publishers have been insisting on pink covers for her books in order to boost sales, apparently unaware of the fact that she is Jacqueline “bestselling already, for Christ’s sake” Wilson.

Then author Maureen Johnson had the brilliant idea of a coverflip contest:

1. Take a well-known book. (It’s up to you to define well-known.)

2. Imagine that book was written by an author of the OPPOSITE GENDER. Or a genderqueer author. Imagine all the things you think of when you think GIRL book or BOY book or GENDERLESS book (do they EXIST?). And I’m not saying that these categorizations are RIGHT—but make no mistake, they’re there.

The results made a very predictable point: take a look at the best entries. Come on, publishing world – there’s no excuse for you to carry on behaving like this.

Censorship battle in US over well-known erotica writer Anne Frank

Maybe the publishing industry does have an excuse for behaving as it does. Because it’s quite clear, sometimes, that great swathes of humankind are about as capable of having sensible thought processes as David Cameron is of giving up his fifty-a-day puppy eating habit.

A mother in Michigan has apparently taken her local schools to task over their stocking of the definitive edition of Anne Frank‘s The Diary of a Young Girl. There are passages in it which make her daughter “feel uncomfortable”.

Well yes – descriptions of hiding from the Nazis, and the explanation of what happened when they caught her – sure. Oh no, wait. It’s not the Third Reich that’s upsetting people. It’s labias.

Apparently a paragraph or two where Anne explores her own body is enough to have the book labelled as “pornographic”.

Even putting aside the fact that this Michigan mom appears to think that porn is teenagers with cricked necks looking at their vaginas, this whole situation is bewilderingly insane.

The school board have actually started to look into her complaint and anti-censorship campaigners have come together to urge them not to ban the book because it would be unconstitutional, making a statement which although laudable completely ignores the reason behind what’s going on: that the mother, and the board, seem to think teenage genitalia might be more disturbing than the Holocaust.

Let’s turn to chick lit for the lighter side of the news…

Fans of the Sex and the City franchise not still clawing at their eyes after watching the second movie were in for a treat this week: a hacker leaked the first fifty pages of Candace Bushnell’s latest novel Killing Monica as well as a string of emails between Bushnell and her publisher about what to do about the leak.

The hacker – Guccifer – presumably wanted a break from the heady political world of George Bush, the Rockefellers and Bill Clinton. He couldn’t have picked something more appropriate for a holiday read than a Bushhnell book.

The leaked pages reveal middle-age divorce, sarcastic starlets, and a body-conscious, aging writer who feels eclipsed by her own creation.

Thanks to the publicity from the leak, Killing Monica is pretty much guaranteed to be a bestseller – with or without, publishers – a glittery pink front cover.

That’s all this week. What do you think of the week that was? Did we miss any stories?

Rebecca Winson