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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Cape’

Britain Finally Embraces the Graphic Novel

Other countries, most notably America and France, may have embraced the graphic novel format and lauded several notable titles with praise, but as the New York Times’ Tara Mulholland reports, Britain was a little slower to catch on to the form. “On the Continent graphic novels have been as accepted as films or books for many years,” said the author Raymond Briggs in a 2005 interview with the newspaper The Observer, “but England has had a snobby attitude towards them. They’ve always been seen as something just for children.”

But the success of Briggs’ ETHEL & ERNEST, not to mention Chris Ware‘s surprise win of the Guardian First Book Award, has had publishers snapping up would-be graphic novel stars. Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Random House UK, has more than tripled its graphic novel output over the past year, publishing nine new titles since July 2006. Dan Franklin, Cape’s publishing director, said he hoped to increase this number. “When we started about nine years ago with ETHEL AND ERNEST I said that we wouldn’t do more than one a year,” he said. “And they’ve been so successful that I am now doing potentially up to 12 a year, if I can find them.”

Other publishers have hopped on the bandwagon and sales are on the rise. Michael Rowley, the graphic-novel buyer for Waterstone’s, Britain’s largest bookshop chain, said sales of the books had increased 41 percent in the last year alone. S what is behind this sudden wave of enthusiasm for a genre that has previously been sidelined in Britain, wonders Mulholland? For Paul Gravett, the author of GREAT BRITISH COMICS and one of the country’s foremost promoter of graphic novels, one of the primary reasons is simply the creation of the “graphic novel” category. “The word comics is laden with so many negative connotations, while the words ‘graphic novel’ give it a certain cachet,” he said.

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That Old Literary Experiment With an Austen Twist

I wish people would stop trying to rooker publishers into looking stupid by sending in classic or bestselling novels from an earlier age for consideration to the current market. It’s been done before (as Jerzy Kozinski found out) and it doesn’t really add much in the way of real value. But alas, someone’s done it again, the Guardian reports, and this time it’s David Lassman, the director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, who wanted to see if publishers and agents would be keen on Austen’s writing with only a few changes.

So he sent opening chapters and plot synopses to 18 of the UK’s biggest publishers and agents and was amazed when they all sent the manuscripts back with polite but firm “no-thank-you’s” and almost all failed to spot that he was ripping off one of the world’s most famous literary figures. “I was staggered,” said Lassman. “Here is one of the greatest writers that has lived, with her oeuvre securely fixed in the English canon and yet only one recipient recognized them as Austen’s work.”

That recipient? Alex Bowler, of Jonathan Cape. His reply read: “Thank-you for sending us the first two chapters of First Impressions; my first impression on reading these were ones of disbelief and mild annoyance, along, of course, with a moment’s laughter. I suggest you reach for your copy of Pride and Prejudice, which I’d guess lives in close proximity to your typewriter, and make sure that your opening pages don’t too closely mimic that book’s opening.”

Realignment for Random House UK

In Britain, The Random House Group has announced a number of changes and promotions as part of the Group’s growth strategy as it looks to the next stage in its development. First, Board Director Richard Cable, is to develop a new publishing portfolio. In this new role he will seek out “exciting and profitable new publishing enterprises” and further announcements should be expected during the year. But the big news is that the CHA arm – which include Century, Hutchinson, William Heinemann, Arrow, Random House Audio and Random House Books – will split into an entirely separate entity from the CCV line – which comprises Jonathan Cape, Chatto & Windus, Harvill Secker, Yellow Jersey Press, Vintage and Pimlico.

CHA will be led by Susan Sandon, who is newly promoted to Managing Director. In this new role, she will report to Peter Bowron, Group Managing Director, who takes on this responsibility alongside his current portfolio. CCV will be helmed by Cable with Dan Franklin acting as publisher for the whole line.