A Love in Luxor - German edition of The Mistress of Nothing

8 October 2010 in The Mistress of Nothing | Comments (0)

Bloomsbury Berlin have just brought out their translation of ‘The Mistress of Nothing’, ‘Eine Liebe in Luxor’, and it is a very handsome book indeed.

The Germans have changed the title of the novel.  I wasn’t consulted on this, but I don’t have a problem with it, as I’m sure they needed to get a title that they felt worked well in German.  I really struggled to find the right title for this book, in English, let alone other languages.  I went through a number of different titles, from ‘The Beautiful House’ (which is what the ancient Egyptians called the building where they mummified bodies) to ‘The Nile at Night’.  ‘The Beautiful House’ was too interiors magazine sounding, while ‘The Nile at Night’ was too bland.  A writer friend of mine had stated categorically at lunch one day that the title had to make it clear to the reader that the book is set in Egypt, because books about Egypt are so popular.  So I tortured myself trying to figure that one out over the years, though of course ‘Death on the Nile’ was already taken and any variation on that - ‘Love on the Nile’, ‘Sally and Lucie on the Nile’ - just sounded silly. 

It wasn’t until I wrote the line in the novel that includes the phrase ‘while I am the mistress of nothing’ - very late on in the process - that the title finally arrived.  I’m fond of the title, though it gives me a little pang every time I think about how it doesn’t include any words that remind the reader of Egypt. 

I put the title into a translation service online just now, and it came out as ‘A Dear in Luxor’.  Maybe I should write a sequel to the novel, ‘A Deer in Luxor’, about a pet deer that Sally keeps in her old age.  I put the title through the service once again, and it came out as ‘A Love in Luxor’, which I’m sure is closer to what Bloomsbury Berlin intended.  Perhaps the word ‘mistress’ does not have the dual meaning in German that it does in English.

Will You Please Manage My Metadata:  TOC Frankfurt - Tuesday 5 October 2010

7 October 2010 in Future of Publishing | Comments (0)

TOC (O’Reilly’s Tools of Change) Frankfurt was demanding, brain-filling day - lots of great speakers, and great projects showcased.  The focus was on publishing and the digital - ways forward for the book industry.  On the whole, it was an optimistic day

For me the most interesting speaker was Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks US, a medium-sized independent publisher.  Dominique has moved swiftly and firmly into the digital realm, and is excited about the possibilities for the future, while remaining frank about the economic reality of publishing digitally in the present day.  Her talk was a model of transparency - she discussed various multimedia projects she’s been behind and their success (‘We Interupt This Broadcast’ being an early best-selling example), and failure (several of her more recent multimedia endeavours).  She is also frank about the real cost of digital publishing - the whole business of managing what Dominique calls ‘the ugly stuff’ - metadata.  This was the thing I came away with from TOC Frankfurt - that the role of publishers in the future will not be publishing books, but will be all about managing metadata.  In a world with multiple digital formats and multiple digital reading devices all with their own specifications and multiple digital retailers all with their own demands, it will be down to publishers to make sure all this metadata is managed correctly.  Gone are the days when publishing was about acquiring manuscripts, editing, copyediting, lay-out, print, and distribution:  now it is all about managing metadata.

Jeff Jarvis finished the day with a complex keynote about his idea that publishing is ‘a tool of publicness’ - his new book is about the notion of The Public.  Frankly, I was a little too brain-dead to take on what he had to say,  However, he did say the following:  publishers need to think carefully about what their value is, and in a digital age, that “value is not distribution, control and ownership, but in curating people, content, editing, teaching and promoting.”

There’s an interesting report on Raccah’s talk over at The Bookseller .

iTeach Inanimate Alice booming

1 October 2010 in Inanimate Alice | Comments (0)

For a long time now the international pedagogical community around ‘Inanimate Alice’ has been growing, but recent days have seen a fresh outburst of activity.

Julie Call, a middle school reading specialist from Minneapolis USA, recently published a case study based on using ‘Inanimate Alice’ with teenagers. 

And Mr Woods, a teacher in New Zealand, has just published a wiki that tracks the progress of his class through reading ‘Inanimate Alice’ and creating their own version of episode 5.  You will find this episode at the end of the wiki resource. 

As well as this, John Warren of the Rand thinktank recently hosted a TeacherTalk webinar for iNACOL - the International Association for K-12 Online Learning ; you have to be a member of iNACOL to view the archive of this discussion. 

A few months ago here in the UK Gavin Stewart published a paper in the academic journal ‘Convergence’, ‘The Paratexts of Inanimate Alice: Thresholds, Genre Expectation, and Status’.

So, once again, Alice is appealing to educators and academics throughout the primary, secondary, and higher education sectors.

The Facebook group for ‘Inanimate Alice’ is also seeing a far amount of activity at the moment, and ‘Inanimate Alice’ is mentioned with steady frequency on Twitter - follow @InanimateAlice.

The readership for ‘Inanimate Alice’ is enormous now.  Here’s hoping the producer can find a way to finance more episodes.