THERE were some amazing quotes in the Australian Society of Authors’ report on educational publishing in Australia. It tells how a veteran of 50 titles had the temerity to ask Pearson Education for copyright retention and royalty payment but was ‘‘ flatly turned down’’; how a part- timer was given four days to write a chapter on Year 12 chemistry; how a textbook writer calculated that the publisher was likely to gross more than $ 1 million from a book for which it was offering a flat fee of $ 9000. The ASA summed up the situation by saying: ‘‘ This is dire not only for the authors but also for the education of Australia’s youth.’’ A STARTLING typo in an article from the London Review of Books , where Tom Nairn, writing from Melbourne on Australian anxieties about identity, refers to a wellknown crime novel by Peter Temple. ‘‘ In The Broken Shore ,’’ Nairn wrote, ‘‘ the cophero repeatedly finds his inquiries sidetracked by crazed ideas about native Australians (‘ Bongs’) being responsible for most crimes and complaints.’’ THE poet- in- residence scheme run by the Queensland Government may not have become the ‘‘ celebrated fixture on the Queensland literary calendar’’ Arts Minister Rod Welford claims, but it certainly has attracted some interesting poets to Brisbane. This year, Michael Hofmann will make Queensland his base for a few months from August. He has translated everyone from his father, celebrated German novelist Gert Hofmann, to Kafka and Brecht. His recent Selected Poems, a slim volume published by Faber last month, has been welcomed with delight by reviewers who mention how rare, strange and valuable is a new Hofmann poem. RESTRAINT has become anachronistic. The great- great- grandson of Charles Dickens is preparing to defy the writer’s clear instructions that ‘‘ no monument, memorial or testimonial whatever’’ be erected after his death, but that his books should stand alone. Because 2012, the year of the Olympics in London, will be the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth, the family is endorsing busy plans to whack up a statue or two or even three. Shock and horror from those who think this is wrong may make no difference considering that, last year, a Dickens World opened in Chatham, Kent, complete with a Great Expectations boat ride through a Victorian sewer. The Dickens Fellowship wants the writer to be named the ‘‘ presiding spirit’’ of the 2012 Olympics, but surely his social feistiness would be better suited to the Paralympics? REPORTS about the sale of the 22 Borders bookshops in Australia had New Zealand book and stationery chain Papers Plus as the frontrunner following the retreat of A& R Whitcoulls. It’s been a year since the Australasian chain was put on sale, and no doubt the process has been complicated further by the financial woes of the US Borders chain, put up for sale last month. WHO’D be a kid these days? HarperCollins has announced it has world rights ( it’s not fair to limit this to US children) to a children’s picture book from blockbuster sex- and- sensation writer Danielle Steel. It’s called The Happiest Hippo in the World , and no doubt you will want to know just what makes Steel’s hippo so happy. It’s simply that he’s green, like the US dollar.
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