Happy Maytilda!







What better way to celebrate the month of May than to honour one of the best literary characters! Waterstone’s have chosen Roald Dahl’s Matilda as their children’s book of the month and are hosting events all around the UK. We can’t wait to spend the bank holiday weekend re-reading this old favourite. Who can resist these sentiments:


Happy Birthday (and death) to Shakespeare

A very happy birthday (and death) to William Shakespeare today.

In celebration of the Bard’s birthday we are indulging in a bit of Shakespearian insulting: http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/index.html?

Thou impertinent motley-minded scullian!


Happy World Book Night!

There have been so many lovely book-related events around the country today to celebrate World Book Night – how did you celebrate?


Who do you think will/should win the Women’s prize for fiction 2013?

The Women’s prize for fiction 2013 shortlist was announced today and includes some literary heavyweights.

If you missed it, please do read Rachel’s review of NW by Zadie Smith: https://publishingatloughborough.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/review-zadie-smith-n-w/

Why self-publishing should now be considered part of publishing

We’re super excited that Alison Baverstock is coming to speak to us next week about self publishing!


For those that can’t make it, please do check out Alison’s Guardian article Ten ways self-publishing has changed the books world.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

While interning at Hot Key Books last week, I was invited to write a blog post for their blog. I was inspired to write about adult themes in children’s literature after reviewing notes from the Parent Parlour, a parents conference held by Hot Key

Adult themes in children’s literature are nothing new. From allegorical tales such as those of Dr. Seuss, to historical novels such as GOODNIGHT MR.TOM by Michelle Magorian and WITCH CHILD by Ceila Rees (both of which I read and loved as a child) children’s stories that explore issues of war, politics, poverty, even genocide have always found their way on to bookstore shelves. But is this difficult genre beginning to over-saturate the children’s market, and how dark is too dark?


During my week interning with Hot Key Books, one of the tasks I undertook was typing up notes from a parents conference held by Hot Key. The message from the parents was unanimous; they were concerned about appropriateness of the reading material that was readily available to their children. These concerns have even bred the term ‘sick lit’, attributed to books whose portrayal of harrowing themes such as torture and emotional abuse might be considered explicit or gratuitous.

For myself personally, as someone whose favourite books as a young teen were about apartheid (the wonderful NOUGHTS AND CROSSES series by Malorie Blackman), and who as a late teen cut their hipster lit teeth on Chuck Palahniuk (seriously NOT suitable for kids!), I feel that relaying social commentary in children’s lit is both appropriate and effective –if, and it’s a big if – those themes are delicately handled.

A young narrator can often allow an author to approach difficult topics with innocence and a lack of bias that only exists in the young and un-jaded. Maybe there’s a sense of idealism there; if we thought like children, wouldn’t the solutions to our worldly problems seem so much simpler?

Books with adult themes have a huge cross-over audience; Hot Key’s own MAGGOT MOON by Sally Gardener has both children and adult editions, and I vividly recall my Grandma lending me her copy of THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon when I was 11 years old. I think that the ability to share the joy of books between families and across generations is something really quite special.


What I love most about children’s books that touch on adult themes is that they treat children like the intelligent and curious people that they are. Some of my favourite films are children’s movies that have the same kind of respect for their young audience; one being the beautiful adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, directed by Spike Jonze. In fact, I even gave a presentation on this film as part of my degree in Fine Art earlier this year.

In my experience working with kids in the past, I’ve often found that they have a huge capacity to cope with and understand difficult subjects, though of course, as with all things, there needs to be a line. There’s a big difference between tackling a difficult topic in an age-appropriate manner, and writing horror into children’s novels in an attempt to push the envelope.

What do you think about adult themes in kid’s books? Do you have any favourites from when you were younger, or any which you’ve read recently? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

 Originally posted 29th March 2013 at http://hotkeyblog.wordpress.com

Quentin Tarantino films as Penguin-style book covers!

Hot on the heels of our bestselling albums as books blog post, London designer Sharm Murugiah has re-imagined Quentin Tarantino’s films/screenplays as vintage Penguin-style book covers!



We’d certainly like to add these to our book collection!

Do you write in the margins?

Calling all bookworms! Do you scribble in the margins furiously while disagreeing with somebody’s opinion? Do you highlight lovely quotes to text to your beloved? Does the thought of writing in a crisp new book horrify you?

We’re two book-related academics (no seriously, we get to study books for a living – how awesome is that!?) who are super interested in marginalia and want to find out if/what people are writing in books. Would be lovely to hear what you do.

If you’re interested sharing your practices then please fill out this questionnaire. It should take about 15 minutes and will be really helpful to us. Please pass this on widely to any other book-lovers (or any weird book-haters) you know.

Link to our lovely questionnaire:


Thank you 🙂

Happy Birthday Douglas Adams!

Being a Publishing Student

The reason I chose to study Publishing depends on the person asking the question; to prospective employers I study Publishing to develop a career in the industry, to family it is because I want a job that I enjoy, to friends it’s because I couldn’t decide between English and Marketing.

The honest answer is simple, shallow and nerdy: I love to read.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not ashamed to admit it – I’m just not convinced that it is satisfactory reasoning for doing a three year degree in it and effectively having my career determined by it.

Nonetheless, here I am; a finalist student of Publishing with English at Loughborough University, because I love books… and eBooks and magazines and e-zines and newspapers and blogs and even leaflets that people hand out in the street (weird, I know).

When people ask what I study and I say Publishing, they invariably pull a puzzled face and ask what that involves. I have been on this course for three years and I still haven’t developed a concise answer to that question. What does a Publishing student do? The easiest answer is ‘we learn how books are made’; but this doesn’t even begin to cover it. We learn what is happening in the Industry, and I don’t mean just the book trade; we cover information management on a broad scale.

We learn how to market, design, produce, organise (in theory and in practice!), we learn to index, build websites, present ideas, copyedit, proof read, we learn to spot good ideas and criticise bad ones, we cover legal issues, we study human resource management, we explore historical and technological developments and we learn HTML and XML. Oh, and on top of all that, we do a Minor in English.

To anyone that has ever suggested that this course is easy because it is not maths or engineering; you are wrong. Full stop.

If you consider taking a course like this one, prepare to see mistakes everywhere; typos on posters, inconsistencies in storylines, overlapped elements on websites, paper with high lignin quantities (yes, it gets specific). The point is that errors and irregularities stand out like a muggle in the Forbidden Forest. And on that note I should point out that industry-related references become a lovable way of life.