News round-up, June 2013

Amazon licenses fan fiction ebooks
George RR Martin hates fan fiction, Anne Rice has banned it, Ursula K Le Guin calls it "an invasion". But a host of authors have signed up to a new programme from Amazon, which encourages any fan who fancies it to write fiction inspired by their worlds, and sell it to readers through the Kindle store. Amazon announced that it had secured licences for the bestselling Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, for Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars and for LJ Smith’s Vampire Diaries from Alloy Entertainment. The licences will allow fans to publish authorised stories set in the different fictional universes as ebooks for the Kindle, with royalties paid to both the original author and the fan fictioneer. Amazon said the "Kindle Worlds" project was good for writers because it is "an entirely new way to monetise their valuable franchises [and] it allows them to extend their worlds with new stories and characters and more deeply engage with existing fans".
Source: The Guardian

Julia Donaldson backs study into malnutrition in kids
A group of top kids’ authors, including Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson, says extreme hunger leaves children struggling to read and write. The former children’s laureate backs a global study that suggests children who are badly malnourished are 20% more likely to misread simple sentences. The research was carried out by the University of Oxford for the charity Save the Children and looked at 7,300 eight-year-olds in four countries – Ethiopia, India, Peru and Pakistan. Other top children’s authors backing the campaign are Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman and David Walliams. Justin Forsyth from Save the Children says: "poor nutrition is capable of seriously damaging a child’s life chances before he or she even sets foot in a classroom". The report says that even if the children have good schooling, the benefits of it get cancelled out if they’re not eating well.
Source: BBC

New cover design for  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets revealed at BEA
At Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City, Scholastic Books unveiled its new cover design for J.K Rowling’s second series installment, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets.

New Scholastic cover for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Harry Potter fans will likely recognize the scene depicted as Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley riding in Ron’s father’s flying car toward the Weasley’s Burrow home. The original cover for Chamber Of Secrets featured Harry in the snake-laden Chamber grasping onto the tail feathers of the red phoenix while wearing a cape and a sword. This is but the second reveal from Kibuishi’s re-imagining of the Harry Potter book covers, all seven of which are expected to hit shelves on Aug. 27 individually and in box set format.

First look at Evangeline Lilly’s elf warrior in ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’
When The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theatres on Dec. 13, there will be a fresh face among the residents of Middle-earth: Tauriel, an elf warrior played by Evangeline Lilly of Lost fame. “She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill,” says Lilly. She’s also not found anywhere in J.R.R. Tolkien’s original fantasy novel, or in any of Tolkien’s other writings for that matter.

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Director Peter Jackson and his co-writers on the Hobbit trilogy, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, invented the character to expand the world of the elves of Mirkwood Forest – and to bring some more female energy to the otherwise male-dominated Hobbit narrative.
Source: Entertainment Weekly

Blackman is new Children’s Laureate
The new Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman said she would use her position to be an "advocate" for public libraries and campaign against "short-sighted" closures. Blackman, the author of dozens of books including the award-winning Noughts & Crosses series for teen-agers, took over from previous laureate Julia Donaldson, who lives in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, at a ceremony in central London. The 51-year-old, who was a computer programmer before becoming a full-time writer 23 years ago, said she owed her success to her local libraries when she was growing up in Lewisham, south-east London. Blackman said: "Each laureate can bring their own passions to it, but one of my passions is the public library service and I wouldn’t have become an author and I certainly wouldn’t have been standing here now as the Children’s Laureate if it had not been for my local library service so that’s definitely something I want to be an advocate for and cherishing our libraries and speaking out against library closures. I will do everything I can to ensure our library service is maintained or improved especially when you look at other countries like South Korea, which in 2012 initiated a programme to build 180 libraries. Russia is building libraries but we seem to be closing them. I think its very short-sighted." The mother-of-one, whose novel Pig-Heart Boy was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal and made into a BBC series, said it was "a real honour" to be chosen for the role and that children’s books needed a champion.
Source: Herald Scotland

Beanstalk story collection marks charity’s 40th
National literacy charity Beanstalk is publishing a specially commissioned collection of stories as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations, with contributions from authors and illustrators including Francesca Simon, Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart. Jack and the Beanstalk and the other Beany Stories, Poems and Jokes will be published by the charity on 12th June and given, free, to every child the organisation has helped this year, as well as to the Beanstalk reading helpers and schools. It will also be available for the general public to download from the Beanstalk website, alongside additional teaching resources. The book includes ten specially commissioned works, including a play, three verse stories and some bean-themed jokes. Each is based on, or inspired by, the original Jack and the Beanstalk fable and is illustrated with original black and white drawings. They are aimed at readers of different levels and are graded. Chief executive of Beanstalk, Sue Porto, said: "We have published this book as a way of celebrating all we have achieved and to thank all the children, schools and reading helpers we have worked with in our 40th anniversary year for their amazing efforts. We hope it will bring them many hours of pleasure and help to inspire more people to support our efforts to reach more children."
Source: The Bookseller

Original Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations animated for the first time in iPad app
The original Winnie-the-Pooh children’s stories have been digitised, allowing them to be read on iPad and iPhone using an app.

How the Classic Pooh app looks on the iPad.

Classic Pooh, released by children’s publisher Egmont Press, is free for users to download and comes with one Pooh story, with another available to buy for £1.99. Users can either read the story themselves, or have it read to them by the voice of actor Rufus Jones. The iPad app makes the original stories fully interactive, animating EH Shepard’s 1920s illustrations for the first time. Tim Jones, publisher at Egmont Press, told Metro: "We’ve been working with illustrations that are 85 years old which have a place in British culture, illustrations that are greatly loved. We had to look at it very sensitively and that’s what we’ve tried to do." The app offers audio clips of the sounds of Hundred Acre Wood and the characters move around, and turn from black and white to colour. Milne’s stories have been abridged for the app.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Teaser Poster Revealed
The first teaser poster has been revealed, ahead of a trailer that is set to launch this week. The appropriately atmospheric artwork shows our heroic hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) standing before what looks like the Lonely Mountain. From within a glowing doorway, smoke escapes, suggesting the titular Smaug, a ruthless dragon played in the film via motion-capture wizardry by Khan Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug teaser poster.

And here is the trailer:

SoA warns publishers over e-book loans to libraries
The Society of Authors has warned that authors may be losing out twice over on e-book loans, with president-elect Philip Pullman calling for authors to "be paid fairly" for the digital loans. In its report and briefing paper, the Society of Authors commented that authors may be losing up to two thirds of the income they would have received on the sale and loan of a physical book, since publishers may be underpaying authors on e-book library loans, and the government is not paying authors Public Lending Right on e-book loans. The SoA stated that publishers may be mistakenly underpaying authors on library loans of e-books by treating receipts as sales rather than licences.
Although all e-book sales are technically licenses, since in order for an e-book to be lent the publisher must grant a subsidiary licence to the aggregator, the author is therefore entitled to receive a different loyalty because a subsidiary right has been exercised. This figure is typically 50% of net receipts, according to the SoA.
Source: The Bookseller

Scholastic Celebrates 15 Years of Harry Potter
Fifteen years after J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first graced U.S. bookshelves, Scholastic is touting some impressive numbers. The in-print tally for that book and the subsequent six Harry Potter novels has topped 150 million copies in the U.S. alone. Published in 200 territories in 74 languages, the series boasts worldwide sales of more than 450 million copies. To mark Harry Potter’s 15th U.S. anniversary, Scholastic is staging a contest in which 15 public libraries will win a party pack to help them host a celebration in honor of the bespectacled young wizard.  The winners will be announced on July 31 – Harry’s birthday – and the parties will be held on August 27, the U.S. pub date of new trade paperback editions of all seven books in the series, which feature new cover art by Kazu Kibuishi. Scholastic will simultaneously release a boxed set of the new paperbacks, which like previous editions will be published under the Arthur A. Levine imprint.
Source: Publisher’s Weekly

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