Monday 21 February 2011

What Remains of the Day

So we turn up at the Garrick a couple of weeks ago for a dinner with a friend and we realize we are punctual – i.e. fashionably early. The most English of all English gentlemen welcomes us in Italian and serves us a drink "on the house", then starts telling us about his life – he is a well-known journalist, we discover. He was very communicative – that is to say, fairly drunk. The following day we sent him a thank you note and a book for his warm welcome to the club, and he thanked us and asked us where he had met us. . .

The food at the Garrick was excellent – so was the company. But that was to be surpassed a few days later, when we had our Alma get-together at the Calder Bookshop. About a dozen of our authors came to the party – some of them travelling hundreds of miles – and we had such a good time until Rosie Alison, of all people, told me there was a typo on p.11 of The Very Thought of You. Now, if she had just announced that someone had burgled our flat, I would have just smiled. But that night I didn't sleep at the thought of having made the world 100,000 typos richer – and the first thing I did the following morning was to make the change on our InDesign file. I have never been so keen on a reprint in my entire publishing life. . .

And today we had the wonderful launch of our Opera Guide series at Notes, the café next door to the Coliseum. The crème de la crème of the operatic world was there, and I was a hero for a night, after being such a publishing villain to the series editor in the last couple of weeks. Anyway, all's well that ends well – and well it did end, as we swung round to the Two Brydges club, where the food is excellent, and where you can still, decently, in the heart of London, place your order in Italian.

Got a whole bunch of books during the last week – I must bring you up to date with some of them one of these days.


Tuesday 8 February 2011

Name and Shame 2

In the past few days Eleonora pointed at mere discrepancies between text and illustrations of some of the books she was reading, so I didn't think it was enough to command a blog about it.

But today she ran to me with MARVELLOUS MAGICAL STORIES, compiled by Elizabeth Holland and first published by Kingfisher in 2007 (printed in China), ISBN 9780753414972. She pointed at the following sentence of the back-cover blurb: "These ten stories will enchant and entertain newly independent readers." Then she opened the book at the contents page:

Chantelle, the Princess Who Couldn't Sing
The Magical Apple Tree
The Three Wishes
The Cletterkin
The Wonder Broom
The Hedley Kow
Baby Wizard
The Queen of the Bees
The King of the Blue Lagoon
Tom Thumb
The Enchanted Princess

"So what's wrong with that?" I said.

"There are eleven stories in the book, not ten," she replied triumphantly.

"Well," I said, "editors are only supposed to 'set commas and points exactly right'. They don't have to be able to count to eleven to do their job."

All I can add, for the benefit of Kingfisher's editors or blurb writers, is: beware of observant newly independent readers.