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, a journalist on The Independent and writer, dies at 66.
The Wall Street Journal reveals the US publishing industry is “impatient” for another book from Dan Brown.Eckhart Tolle's book A New Earth as her latest book club selection. The self help book rockets to the top of the bestseller lists.
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.
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 organiser 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.”
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 science-fiction writer and futurist, dies at 90.
Facing financial ruin, Borders borrows £27.2 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.
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.
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 favourite thing in the world.”
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 £3,500 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 –British book distributor EUK goes bankrupt and countless publishers in North America lay off staff and freeze wages.
BookFinder.com reveals Whispering Wind: Adventures in Arnhem Land by Syd Kyle-Little is the most searched for out-of-print in the UK. It was published in 1957 and is an account of Kyle-Little's early attempts to found a trading post on the coast of the Arafura Sea in the years immediately following World War II.