Monday News: Conan Doyle estate is at it again; HC debuts Harlequin Audio; profile of Judy Blume; and UK children’s literacy rates up
Sherlock Holmes Creator’s Estate Sues Miramax Over Ian McKellen’s ‘Mr. Holmes’ – The Conan Doyle estate is definitely gaining a reputation for its aggressive pursuit of alleged intellectual property infringers, and that reputation is not a good one, given their attempt to claim rights to works that are already in the public domain. Unfortunately, their new lawsuit against Miramax’s “Mr. Holmes” (and the book from which the film has been adapted), starring Ian McKellen as an aging Holmes, may have traction, since the Conan Doyle works that have not yet passed into the public domain are those that depict Holmes as an aging character. Like the estate needs anything to further embolden its perspective on all things Holmes.
The estate notes in its lawsuit that although many of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes works are in the public domain, 10 works published between 1923 and 1927 remain under copyright. Those works develop details of Holmes’ retirement and later life, the estate claims.
Among other things, the lawsuit claims that Cullin “copied entire passages from Conan Doyle’s copyrighted story ‘The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier.’ Cullin took from that story the creative point of view of Holmes rather than Watson narrating a detective story — and the plot behind it: that Watson has remarried and moved out of Baker Street.”–Variety
Harlequin Launches Audio Imprint – Another indication that audiobooks are gaining in the market is the formation of an entire imprint of audio books from Harlequin, administered through Harper Collins. Although the imprint specifically refers to Harlequin titles, I wonder if they are contemplating original audio content, à la Audible.
For digital audiobooks, Harlequin Audio will operate in conjunction with the audio unit at HarperCollins, which acquired Harlequin in summer 2014, working with digital distributors for the retail and library markets. Harlequin Audio will distribute physical CD versions of all titles through Blackstone Audio and Midwest Tape. –Publishers Weekly
Judy Blume Knows All Your Secrets – This is a really lovely portray of Judy Blume, whose upcoming adult novel, In the Unlikely Event, is releasing next week. Are young girls still reading Blume’s books? They are so sex and pleasure positive, and yet so honest about the experience of inhabiting a teenage girl’s body: “In so many of Blume’s books, her main characters’ bodies insist on their inherent, primal messiness; they crave, they ooze, break out in rashes as strange and humiliating as desire itself. The body is reckless, but telling.” Yes, yes, yes. And it’s that honesty and openness and authentic connection with adolescence that made Blume’s books so revolutionary for so many young readers.
The following passage, too, had me thinking about Simon Pegg’s argument about societal infantalization through regressive stories, because in Blume’s case, her unselfconsciousness about her writing certainly does not translate into simplistic, immature literary fantasies. Rather, her willingness to embrace ambiguity and ambivalence, her refusal to distill everything down to simple, homespun truths, and her rebellious embrace of the chaotic realities of both adolescence and adulthood do not make for simple escapism.
Blume is verbal and warm and open, but she says that her son has called her “the least analytical person he has ever met.” She has no theories, for example, to explain why she, of all people, felt unburdened by the unspoken rules marking certain subjects off limits for children, or why, for that matter, she has that particular gift, that ability to recall the emotional experiences of adolescence, the confusion, the longing, the rivalries — the memories, in other words, that most of us try to bury as quickly and deeply as we can.
Blume does think that she turned toward children’s fiction because she was still living a relatively sheltered life. “I didn’t have any adult experience when I started to write,” she said. “So I identified more with kids.” Her own fate felt sealed, airless. “I felt, I made this decision. This is it. It’s not all open for me anymore.” To her, it was only natural that she look backward, to the age when she felt most powerful and adulthood still promised the adventures her father wanted for her. She had been a fierce and creative child; on the page, at least, she still was. Blume likes the idea that everybody has an age that defines them for life. For her, she said, that age is 12. –New York Times
Our research reveals record numbers of children enjoy reading every day – Although the gap between girls and boys in regard to how much they read and how much they enjoy it remain, there seems to be good news for children in the UK between 8 and 18 in that reading levels continue to trend upward. As the report itself notes, reading is not limited to books, either digital or print, but to all different formats, and with the exception of magazines, reading is up across the board. The data is especially encouraging, since there is some disconnect between parents and kids in terms of how much parents are actively encouraging their kids’ reading.
Findings from our fifth annual survey of 32,000 children and young people aged between eight and 18 show that enjoyment of reading and frequency of reading are both at their highest levels for nine years. . . .
- Levels of reading enjoyment continue to improve. 54.4% of children and young people enjoy reading either very much or quite a lot. 35.5% only enjoy reading a bit and 10% do not enjoy reading at all.
- Levels of daily reading also continue to increase – dramatically. Between 2013 and 2014 there was a 28.6% increase in the number of children and young people who read daily outside class, rising from 32.2% in 2013 to 41.1% in 2014. –UK National Literacy Trust
My 9yo XY reads for pleasure quite a bit, but he’d rather I read to him. On the other hand, he reads far more nonfiction. He reads to find out things he wants to know.
Much like “Primitive does not mean stupid”, neither does youthful.