By Edward Nawotka and Siobhan O’Leary
Last Wednesday, London-based International PEN elected Canadian writer John Ralston Saul as the organization’s new director, replacing Czech writer Jirí Grušá who has held the position for the last six years. In an interview with CBC Radio, Saul said that in addition to PEN’s traditional role of fighting for freedom of expression, he would try and fight for the preservation of indigenous languages. “What could be a greater loss of freedom of expression than to lose your language completely,” he told CBC Radio’s Q cultural affairs show (via CBCNews.ca). “It makes you think about it very differently, and that is happening in Canada…I’ll be talking a lot about that over the next three years.”
In Germany, Club Bertelsmann has changed its name to Zeilenreich (which means “having many lines”) and will be adapting its business model to reach out to non-members as well. According to BuchMarkt, and as reported by Publishing Perspectives in August, the club will now allow non-members to purchase its licensed editions for the same price as the original edition. The name change has been under consideration since 2001 and the first branches bearing the new name, logo, and interior design will open on November 2nd in Berlin, Aschaffenburg and Hanau.
Annelie and Wilfried Stascheit, former heads of educational publisher Verlag an der Ruhr, have started a program to provide children’s books to people who are already receiving benefits from a German government program that distributes free food to those in need. Under the motto “man can’t live on bread alone”, the pair sees it as an investment in the future generation of readers. The program will kick off in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.
US retailer Amazon.com released it third quarter results on Friday, revealing an overall 28% jump in revenue, to $5.45 billion for the quarter, and a 13.4% rise in overall media sales (books, e-books, etc…) to $1.41 billion, according to Publishers Weekly. The international segment was particularly strong, with sales up 33% to $2.61 billion, said The Bookseller. “Asked what the hurdles may be to adding foreign-language titles to the international Kindle, Amazon execs said foreign language e-books represent an opportunity for the company, but offered no specifics other than repeating that the Kindle’s long-term goal is to have all titles in all languages,” wrote PW in its report on the conference call.