Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Awards backlash

Kiran Millwood-Hargrave is one BAME author who some believe has been ignored

Kiran Millwood-Hargrave is one BAME author who some believe has been ignored

CILIP (the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) has found itself facing some strong criticism about a lack of diversity, with neither the institute's Carnegie or Kate Greenaway Medal longlists featuring a single BAME author.

The Carnegie medal is awarded to an "outstanding" book written in English for children and young people, and the Kate Greenaway Medal recognises "distinguished illustration" in a book for children. The longlists for both awards are 20 nominees long, and despite a clear depth of talent neither features a title by an author of Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic identity.

We gave out a "wow" when we heard, and it's news which has been met with a strong response from some quarters of the book industry. That despite CILIP stating it: "acknowledges and respects the concerns expressed", and assuring all titles were "judged on merit and on an equal playing field".

It's a sentiment refuted by Jhalak Prize co-creator Sunny Singh, who took to Twitter to make her own feelings known: 

Those sentiments were echoed by Jhalak co-creator Nikesh Shukla, who revealed his sadness about CILIP's statement. He added: "An equal playing field happens when no one has any cause or suspicion to note the lack of diversity. An equal playing field happens when more than a handful of authors from marginalised backgrounds gets published."

It's hard to argue, and it's hard to argue further still with a series of tweets Ms Singh referred to - by Sarah Shaffi (online editor of The Bookseller). Ms Shaffi, we think, offers an excellent tear-down of the elements for concern, with the first tweet in the series highlighted below. Still, we recommend clicking through to read those that follow:

Finally we just want to pick up on the idea of 'ignorance', because one of the books that was ignored was The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood-Hargrave. Ms Millwood-Hargrave's book has already been selected for the shortlists of this year's Jhalak Prize and Waterstones Children's Book Prize. It's clear then that in general terms The Girl of Ink and Stars isn't being ignored outright. That title may have been ignored by CILIP, but we wouldn't dare suggest that one book by one author should be on every shortlist. It's not completely surprising it isn't.

What we are completely surprised by - astonished really - is that of two 20-strong lists (a combined 40 nominees) there is not any book by a BAME author. That represents...well, zero representation, and it feels, looks, and even sounds odd to us; just as we're sure it will to many authors (and aspiring authors) across the UK. 
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(The full longlists can be found here).

Samuel French Theatre Bookshop to close in April...bah

French's_Theatre_Bookshop.jpg

Sad news today as the Samuel French Theatre Bookshop, sat on Fitzroy Street, London, has announced that it is to close after 187 years. The reason? A 200% rent hike making it impossible for the bookshop to keep its doors open at its current location. It's really unfortunate stuff, and the doors will be closing for good on the shop come mid-April.

For the unfamiliar, 'French's Theatre Bookshop' is owned by the theatrical licensing and publishing company Samuel French. The shop has occupied the premises on the corner of Fitzroy and Warren St since 1983, and specialises in plays and theatre books. 

The shop will continue to sell online at www.samuelfrench.co.uk, but regardless it's hard to see a central London bookstore closing as any kind of progress. We believe bookshops and libraries should live at the very heart of our towns, cities and societies. Business was growing too, so French's bidding farewell to a physical store - particularly when the decision is out of its hands - is a shame indeed.

Below is an extract of a statement about the closure (which can be read in full here).

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The lease on our current building in Fitzroy Street (where we’ve been since 1983) is coming to an end. Facing an unsustainable 200% rent increase to stay in our current location, and after exploring all options for alternative premises, we have come to the conclusion that sadly it isn’t viable to maintain our London shop. 
We remain resolutely committed to theatre bookselling, and we will continue to sell a full range of plays and theatre books (from both Samuel French and other publishers) through our well established and growing online shop. In recent years, we’ve already seen many of our customers switching to the online store - 4 out of every 5 books we sell are now bought online or through other retailers. We will offer the same selection, expertise and support online that has made our London bookshop such an invaluable resource.

Rife Magazine goes Unbound for youth-focused title

Rife Magazine Unbound

Unbound, the book crowdfunding site, is probably the most democratic of book creation tools available. If a book doesn't get enough funding it doesn't get made. If it does then there's clearly interest, and everyone's a winner. Authors get to bring their books to life, and readers get to help support and bring to life an interesting read, usually by pre-buying the title in digital or print forms. 

The site is home to a great deal of wonderful books-to-be-funded, and right now the one that has caught our eye is Rife: Twenty Stories from Britain's Youth. Bristol-based Rife magazine is for young people, by young people. And the magazine and its editorial team are behind a pitch which they hope will resonate across the UK.

To be edited by Nikesh Shukla - Rife editor and editor of The Good Immigrant (a standout Unbound success-story) - it feels like a pretty important time for the voice of youngsters to be read and heard and considered on an even level with other generations. It always is of course, and opportunities for discourse across generations is something to always encourage.

Yet we understand the timing in the drive for this particular project, and it's one which Unbound's self-powered approach to book creation (and backers) will ultimately determine the future of. If you're intrigued you can hop over to Unbound and check it out here. And, if you're 24 or under and UK-based, there's also a chance to contribute to what may prove to be a really insightful read.

Speak Up For Libraries...did just that!

Speak Up For Libraries...did just that!

If you saw our post on Monday, you'll know that yesterday the Speak Up For Libraries group lobbied parliament - both on keeping libraries open, and ensuring they grow with their communities. Such support is certainly needed, especially as some 549 libraries have closed across Britain since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

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Print vs Ebooks: confusing and irrelevant?

A confusing picture of whether 'traditional' or ebooks are winning the 'format war' is further cluttered by a report about slowing Kindle sales.The report(paywall) by the Sunday Times, revisited by theMail Online, suggests that traditional books are now on the rise as ebook sales fall. The news is backed by word of an 8.9 percent increase in paperback sales, and a fall of 7.5 percent in ebooks (in the United States).

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