It is time for a new start, blog-wise.

The ACHUKA blog was set up in the spring of 2003 and has been added to continually since then, with the result that the database is now huge.

ACHOCKAblog was built on the Movable Type blogging platform. Over the years that platform has become less popular, and WordPress has become the blogging platform of choice.

WordPress certainly has a lot more flexibility in terms of themes and social network interactivity.

I have decided to use WordPress for the new incarnation of ACHUKA's blog.

This old blog is therefore now 'mothballed'. I feel rather bad saying that, but it conveys accurately the status it now has.

No new posts will be added to it, but none will be taken away.

It will remain online and searchable and prominently linked to from the new blog's navigation bar, but all blog links on the main ACHUKA site have been switched to the new blog.

Try Anything, Says Gaiman

from Publishers Weekly report on Digital Minds Conference address by Neil Gaiman:

In his keynote at the fifth Digital Minds Conference, bestselling author and Twitter superstar Neil Gaiman kicked off the London Book Fair by likening the digital transition to being on an unruly, but exciting new frontier. "People ask me what my predictions are for publishing and how digital is changing things and I tell them my only real prediction is that is it's all changing," Gaiman said. "Amazon, Google and all of those things probably aren't the enemy. The enemy right now is simply refusing to understand that the world is changing."

Over his 30 minute talk Gaiman entertained and challenged his audience to think creatively about the future, conceding that he himself was "perfectly willing to acknowledge the possibility that the novelist may have been a blip" in our cultural history. "The model for tomorrow, and this is the model I've been using with enormous enthusiasm since I started blogging back in 2001," Gaiman said, "is to try everything. Make mistakes. Surprise ourselves. Try anything else. Fail. Fail better. And succeed in ways we never would have imagined a year or a week ago."

Melvin Burgess - A Life In Writing

A substantial profile of Melvin Burgess (by Susanna Rustin in The Guardian) includes mention of his new novel The Hit:

His latest novel, The Hit, is a dystopian thriller set in the future, which imagines a new pill known as Death. The chemistry is hazy but the concept is clear: this drug will give you the time of your life, an unbelievable high lasting a week, and then you will die. Burgess's teenage hero Adam takes the drug. The novel is about what happens next.

Unusually, the idea for the book was offered to Burgess by someone else. Brandon Robshaw and Joe Chislett are philosophy teachers who came up with the idea of a week‑to-live drug with a group of students. They wrote a manuscript and sent it to Barry Cunningham, founder of Chicken House publishing, who bought the first Harry Potter novel for Bloomsbury before quitting to set up on his own.

Cunningham liked the idea but not the draft, so he offered Robshaw and Chislett a fee and set up a meeting with Burgess. The men got on well; Burgess made the story work on his second attempt, using many of the original elements and introducing new ones - including a beefed-up role for Adam's girlfriend Lizzie. The book is dedicated to his two "co-conspirators".

Ebook Growth Slows in 2012 to 'Only' 41%

Ebook Sales Growth Eases Off in US

from Forbes:

The AAP has been tracking ebooks since 2002. That year, ebooks represented 0.05% of all trade publishing revenues. To get to the current 23% number, the biggest gains were made in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the years immediately following the 2007 launch of the Kindle. In 2008, ebooks were 1% of publisher revenue. In 2011, they were 17%. Those were the years of triple-digit growth numbers, a trend publishers thought would continue until ebooks were at 50% of revenue or more.

But in 2012, according to these new numbers, growth in ebooks has hit an inflection point in the U.S.

Tim Waterstone In New eBook Venture

as reported by John Harris in The Guardian (worth reading in full):

[Tim Waterstone] is also about to return to bookselling as non-executive chairman of a new venture called Read Petite. This will be launched to the trade at next week's London Book Fair, and to the public in the autumn. An online outlet for short-form ebooks (fiction and non-fiction), its users will pay a monthly subscription - "a few pounds" - and have unlimited access to texts of around 9,000 words or under.

But this is no literary Spotify, offering hundreds of thousands of items with little quality control: Waterstone is insistent the service will be "curated" to ensure a high standard. Authors will have appeared in traditional print, and have been brought to Read Petite by a publisher. "The individual short story, or whatever it is, may not have been published, but the author will be an established, published writer," he says, drumming his fingers on the table to emphasis those last three words. "The whole point is to avoid a slush-pile of material. What we'll guarantee is quality writing."

Read Petite's name was inspired by Reet Petite, Jackie Wilson's 1957 rhythm and blues classic. One of its key players, former Bookseller editor Neill Denny, has come along to further explain what it is all about. The pair are particularly excited about the chance to serialise new fiction à la Charles Dickens, reintroducing readers to the long-forgotten art of the cliffhanger. They enthuse about how e-readers seem to have increased people's appetite for short-form writing. In the US, the New York Times has reported on a resurgence of the short story, benefiting new and established writers. We talk about such short-story masters as Somerset Maugham, Stephen King and Annie Proulx, and why the publishing industry has never quite managed to market the form.

"A lot of the best short fiction has never been properly exposed, because publishers don't find it commercially comfortable," says Waterstone. His bookselling business did have success with Graham Greene's short stories, but such successes were rare. "Even with a collection, how do you package it? It's difficult in print: traditionally, money was used up on production and distribution, and not enough was left for promotion. In the digital world, production costs are virtually nil, and distribution costs don't exist, so you're left with a much cleaner sheet."

IBBY Announces the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award Jury and Nominees

The International Board on Books for Young People is proud to announce the 2014 Jury and the candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards.

The Hans Christian Andersen Award is the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children's books. Given every other year by IBBY, the Hans Christian Andersen Awards recognize lifelong achievement and are given to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children's literature.

The 2014 Jury, selected by IBBY's Executive Committee from nominations made by its national sections, comprises the following ten distinguished members from across the globe. Jury President María Jesús Gil (Madrid, Spain) will lead the Jury to select the winners of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Awards.

Anastasia Arkhipova Illustrator, chair of the board of the Association of Moscow Book Illustrators and Designers, Moscow, Russia.

Fanuel Hanan Diaz Editor, author and researcher, Caracas, Venezuela.

Sabine Fuchs University lecturer in children's literature, Graz, Austria.

Sang-Wook Kim Professor in children's literature at the Chuncheon National University of Education, Seoul, Korea.

Enrique Pérez Díaz Author and publisher, Havana, Cuba.

Deborah Soria Book-seller and promoter of children's literature, Rome, Italy.

Susan M. Stan Professor of children's literature at the Central Michigan University, USA.

Sahar Tarhandeh Independent researcher in children's literature, freelance graphic designer and art director, Tehran, Iran.

Erik Titusson Publisher and former Director of the ALMA, Stockholm, Sweden.

Ayfer Gürdal Ünal Writer, critic, and lecturer at the Bhosphorous University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Former IBBY Vice President Elda Nogueira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and IBBY Executive Director Liz Page are ex officio Jury members.

The following nominees have been submitted for the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Awards by the National Sections of IBBY. For the 2014 Awards 29 authors and 31 illustrators have been nominated from 34 countries.

Argentina: author María Cristina Ramos; illustrator Isol
Australia; author Nadia Wheatley; illustrator Ron Brooks
Austria: author Renate Welsh; illustrator Linda Wolfsgruber
Azerbaijan: author Sevinj Nurugizi
Belgium: author Frank Andriat; illustrator Carll Cneut
Brazil: author Joel Rufino dos Santos; illustrator Roger Mello
Canada: author Kenneth Oppel; illustrator Philippe Béha
China: author Hongying Yang; illustrator Liang Xiong
Croatia: illustrator Svjetlan Junaković
Denmark: author Lene Kaaberbøl; illustrator Charlotte Pardi
Estonia: author Aino Pervik
Finland: author Kirsi Kunnas; illustrator Pekka Vuori
France: author Jean-Claude Mourlevat; illustrator François Place
Germany: author Mirjam Pressler; illustrator Rotraut Susanne Berner
Greece: author Sofia Madouvalou; illustrator Daniela Stamatiadi
Iran: author Houshang Moradi Kermani
Ireland: author Eoin Colfer; illustrator PJ Lynch
Italy: author Bianca Pitzorno; illustrator Fabian Negrin
Japan: author Nahoko Uehashi; illustrator Ken Katayama
Republic of Korea: author Jin-Kyung Kim; illustrator Byoung-Ho Han
Latvia: illustrator Reinis Pētersons
Netherlands: author Ted van Lieshout; illustrator Marit Törnqvist
Norway: author Bjørn Sortland; illustrator Øyvind Torseter
Portugal: author António Torrado; illustrator Teresa Lima
Russia: author Vladislav Krapivin; illustrator Igor Oleinikov
Serbia: author Ljubivoje Rsumović; illustrator Dobrosav Zivković
Slovakia: author Daniel Hevier; illustrator Peter Uchnár
Slovenia: author Polonca Kova; illustrator Alenka Sottler
Spain: illustrator Javier Zabala
Sweden: illustrator Eva Lindström
Switzerland: illustrator Albertine
Turkey: author Serpil Ural; illustrator Saadet Ceylan
UK: author Jacqueline Wilson; illustrator John Burningham
USA: author Jacqueline Woodson; illustrator Bryan Collier

The Jury President will guide the judging process and preside at the jury meeting 15-16 March 2014. The shortlist will be disseminated immediately following the Jury meeting and the winners will be announced at the IBBY Press Conference at the Bologna Children's Book Fair on Monday, 24 March 2014.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Interview

The new novel (her third) by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been sumptuously produced.
(I noticed in Waterstones yesterday that publishers are really pulling out all the stops in making their books desirable physical objects.)
The texture of the dustjacket alone on Americanah (published this week) made me pick it up and read the opening page, but not without first of all pawing and stroking it.

I haven't read any Adichie, but now I want to, and I will.

This interview is from last Sunday's Observer.

Yang Hongying Feature

A recommended feature from the South China Post, about Chinese children's author Yang Hongying, best known in the West for her Mo's Mischief series.

"Yang has a knack for entering children's inner world with her writing - she can decode childhood," says Wang Shuli, an editor at Writers' Publishing House who first brought the writer to national attention in 2000.

Now Yang's tales sell in the millions, with some translated into Korean, French and English; and although the writer shrugs off the comparison, she is often described as the J.K. Rowling of China. Last year, she was the top-selling author on Amazon's China website, nudging out fellow children's author Shen Shixi and even Nobel laureate Mo Yan.