2008: A Year of Books in Review
Elsewhere Down Under bookstores refuse to stock Andrew Morton's new Tom Cruise unauthorized biography because of legal fears. The Hollywood actor is not thrilled with the book’s scientology revelations. The book goes on to become AbeBooks’ No.1 bestseller in Australia in 2008.
Martin Amis, author of London Fields, joins the teaching ranks at Manchester University.
Edward D. Hoch, the American pulp fiction writer, dies at 77.
Miles Kington, the British journalist and writer, dies at 66.
The New York Times reveals how the Big Apple’s homeless scavenge the streets for used book treasures they can flog to The Strand bookstore.
The Wall Street Journal reveals the US publishing industry is “impatient” for another book from Dan Brown.
Canada’s oldest bookstore, The Book Room in Halifax, closes after 169 years.
AbeBooks launches Gojaba.com – a no frills, low cost online marketplace for used, rare and out-of-print books initially serving Russia and Sweden.
Phyllis A. Whitney, the American mystery writer, dies at 104.
British author Zadie Smith accuses literary awards of being “about brand consolidation for beer companies, phone companies, coffee companies and even frozen food companies.” Her novel, White Teeth, picked up a Whitbread Book Award, while her third novel, On Beauty, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction. Booker Prize organizer Ion Trewin asks, “Why has she been happy to accept money from these prizes and sponsors, who she now attacks?”
Danielle Steel, the 60-year-old author of 88 steamy romance novels, makes a surprising confession. “I wanted to be a nun when I was young. Religion is what keeps me going. I would be utterly lost without it.”
The Quills Awards are suspended after widespread criticism.
William F Buckley, the political commentator and author of more than 50 books, dies at 82.
Misha Defonseca admits her 1997 memoir Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years - translated into 18 languages and turned into a French movie - was a hoax.
Arthur C. Clarke, the British science-fiction writer and futurist, dies at 90.
Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio admits business is “fairly sound.”
Facing financial ruin, Borders borrows $42.5 million to stay afloat.
British writer and self-confessed dandy, Sebastian Horsley is denied entry into the United States. Customs official at Newark send him back to London on the grounds that his former drug addiction, use of prostitutes and activity as a male escort constitute ‘moral turpitude.’
AbeBooks launches AbeBooks.it for the Italian market.
After an endorsement by bookish TV hosts Richard and Judy, Jodi Picoult becomes Britain’s bestselling female adult author.
Salman Rushdie says his writing career is nearing its end. “You think 'How many more have I got?' And so the question of which ones ... becomes unusually important when you are no longer immortal.”
And Tango Makes Three, a children’s picture book, is named the American Library Association’s most challenged book for the second successive year. It’s a story about a baby penguin with two fathers.
The Sex and the City movie features a fictional book of collected love letters. Thousands of love-lorn women turn to the Internet in search of a book that does not exist.
Salman Rushdie is knighted by the Queen.
Tim Russert, Meet the Press moderator and author, dies at 58.
Cody's Books in Berkeley closes.
Novelist Thomas Disch dies at 68. “His friend Alice K. Turner said Mr. Disch shot himself. She and other friends told how his apartment had been devastated by a fire; then his partner of more than 30 years died; then his home in Barryville, New York, was flooded; and finally, he faced eviction after he returned to the apartment.”
Amazon signs an agreement to purchase AbeBooks
The Gargoyle by Canadian author Andrew Davidson is released. Doubleday bought the rights to the book for $1.25 million. The novel concerns a porn star badly burnt in a car crash who meets a female sculptor claiming to be more than 500 years old.
Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies at 89. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970.
Sarah Palin becomes John McCain’s Republican running mate and Kaylene Johnson’s book Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down becomes America’s most unlikely hit of the year.
American novelist David Foster Wallace commits suicide at 46.
Sarah Palin is accused of trying to ban books in Alaskan libraries.
Oprah selects The Story of Edgar Sawtelle as her next book club pick.
Horace Engdahl, a judge for the Nobel Prize for literature, blasts American writing: “You can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world. Not the United States….The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature.”
Unsurprisingly, an American does not win the Nobel Prize for literature. A virtual unknown in the US, Frenchman Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, 68, takes home the award.
Novelist Tony Hillerman, famous for his Native American thrillers, dies at 83.
Oprah endorses the Kindle as “my new favorite thing in the world.”
Costco, the big box discount retailer, reveals it carries around 200 titles at any one time and explains “it's not uncommon for Costco to purchase 20 to 25 percent of a new book’s first printing.”
Michael Crichton, author and screenplay writer, dies at 66.
Barack Obama wins the US election and sparks a surge in sales of books signed by him. A copy of Dreams From My Father sells for $5,500 on AbeBooks.
John Updike wins a lifetime achievement gong at the Bad Sex in Fiction awards. He doesn’t turn up to collect it.
Amazon completes its purchase of AbeBooks.
The book business suffers recession blues – in the UK, book distributor EUK goes bankrupt and countless publishers in North America lay off staff and freeze wages.
BookFinder.com reveals Once a Runner: A Novel by John L. Parker Jr is the most searched for out-of-print book in the US. Published in 1978, this cult classic is set to be reprinted in 2009. The most searched for out-of-print books in Canada and Australia are Waiting in the Wings by Doreen Tovey and Guide to Fresh Water Angling in Hawkes Bay by Charles Russell Barham respectively.