The harrowing true survival story of an early polar expedition that went terribly awry–with the ship frozen in ice and the crew trapped inside for the entire sunless, Antarctic winter–in the tradition of David Grann, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Hampton Sides

“Deserves a place beside Alfred Lansing’s immortal classic Endurance.”—Nathaniel Philbrick
“A riveting tale, splendidly told . . . Madhouse at the End of the Earth has it all.”—Stacy Schiff
“Julian Sancton has deftly rescued this forgotten saga from the deep freeze.”—Hampton Sides

In August 1897, thirty-one-year-old commandant Adrien de Gerlache set sail aboard the Belgica, fueled by a profound sense of adventure and dreams of claiming glory for his native Belgium. His destination was the uncharted end of the earth: the icy continent of Antarctica. But the commandant’s plans for a three-year expedition to reach the magnetic South Pole would be thwarted at each turn. Before the ship cleared South America, it had already broken down, run aground, and lost several key crew members, leaving behind a group with dubious experience for such an ambitious voyage.

As the ship progressed into the freezing waters, the captain had to make a choice: turn back and spare his men the potentially devastating consequences of getting stuck, or recklessly sail deeper into the ice pack to chase glory and fame. He sailed on, and the Belgica soon found itself stuck fast in the icy hold of the Antarctic continent. The ship would winter on the ice. Plagued by a mysterious, debilitating illness and besieged by the monotony of their days, the crew deteriorated as their confinement in suffocating close quarters wore on and their hope of escape dwindled daily. As winter approached the days grew shorter, until the sun set on the magnificent polar landscape one last time, condemning the ship’s occupants to months of quarantine in an endless night.

Forged in fire and carved by ice, Antarctica proved a formidable opponent for the motley crew. Among them was Frederick Cook, an American doctor–part scientist, part adventurer, part P.T. Barnum–whose unorthodox methods delivered many of the crew from the gruesome symptoms of scurvy and whose relentless optimism buoyed their spirits through the long, dark polar night. Then there was Roald Amundsen, a young Norwegian who went on to become a storied polar explorer in his own right, exceeding de Gerlache’s wildest dreams by leading the first expeditions to traverse the Northwest Passage and reach the South Pole.

Drawing on firsthand accounts of the Belgica’s voyage and exclusive access to the ship’s logbook, Sancton tells the tale of its long, isolated imprisonment on the ice–a story that NASA studies today in its research on isolation for missions to Mars. In vivid, hair-raising prose, Sancton recounts the myriad forces that drove these men right up to and over the brink of madness.





Brilliant!! I knew nothing of The Belgica but this book transports you on board to share the crew in their excited expectancy of the expedition ahead, followed by the misery, despair and fear of when it all went spectacularly wrong and they all feared for their lives.

In 1897, a crew was put together by Adrien de Gerlache to explore the Antarctica – he wanted to be first to find the magnetic South Pole. But from the beginning they were plagued with disaster and you sensed even then that maybe this expedition was cursed. But his determination to achieve the impossible kept it all on track, alongside the mix of characters he employed to join him.

And the characters we are introduced to are brilliantly profiled by the author. We get to hear of their individual stories, their childhoods, their pasts and what drives a certain kind of person to want to put themselves in a position to explore unchartered territory.

This book draws on the diaries and journals of those on board, and the levels of detail really make you think you’re on the ship with them. Even when all around them is going wrong, you get the sense that they wouldn’t be defeated, although that is partly down to the single mindedness of de Gerlache who often put them all in danger just to make his dreams come true.

From the sickness, to the madness brought on by being stranded in the ice for months with no sign of rescue or hope, this is an amazing look at the lengths humans are driven to in the pursuit of personal achievement.

What made this even more amazing for me was the use of photos, taken by the Doctor, Cook, who really helped on so many levels with the crew in keeping them from suffering too much, while keeping his own mental health in check. The isolation and months of darkness really took their toll on many of the staff and he was quick to pick up on changes needed in their food and stimulation needed to keep minds focussed.

Their desperate plans to try and free themselves from the ice made for some harrowing reading and the fact that their lives were reliant on ‘nature’ was the ultimate test of strength both mentally and physically for them and I just couldn’t believe the courage/stupidity/braveness of those on board!!

An epic read about an epic exploration that went badly wrong!!


#BookReview WINDSWEPT by ANNABEL ABBS #NonFiction #Windswept


Annabel Abbs’s Windswept: Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women is a beautifully written meditation and memoir that reflects on that most fundamental way of connecting with the outdoors: the simple act of walking. In absorbing and transporting prose, Abbs follows in the footsteps of groundbreaking women, including Georgia O’Keeffe in the empty plains of Texas and New Mexico, Nan Shepherd in the mountains of Scotland, Gwen John following the French River Garonne, Daphne du Maurier following the River Rhône, and Simone de Beauvoir—who walked as much as twenty-five miles a day in a skirt and espadrilles—in the mountains and forests of France. These trailblazing women were reclaiming what had historically been considered male domains.

The stories of these incredible women and artists are laced together by the wilderness walking in Abbs’s own life, beginning with her poet father who raised her in the Welsh countryside as an “experiment,” according to the principles of Rousseau. Windswept is an inventive retrospective and an arresting look forward to the way walking brings about a kind of clarity of thought not found in any other activity, and how it has allowed women throughout history to reimagine their lives and break free from convention. As Abbs traces the paths of these exceptional women, she realizes that she, too, is walking away from, and towards, a very different future. Windswept crosses continents and centuries in an arresting and stirring reflection on the power of walking in nature.







Just glorious!! I found this book to be inspiring, thought provoking, educational, fascinating and just wonderful!

The author uses her own life experiences, especially when she found herself in hospital unable to walk, to explore the art of walking and the fact that there was very few books around by women about walking and their adventures, when there are so many by men. With extensive research she uncovers some amazing characters – many of whom I had heard nothing about – and has brought their stories to life by challenging herself to walk the routes they did in the past, and this really just makes this book so immersive and inspiring.

The women she features are Frieda Lawrence, Gwen John, Clara Vyvyan, Nan Shepherd, Simone de Beauvoir, Georgia O’Keefe, but there is also reference to Daphne Du Maurier and Emma Gatewood.
All very different women but all sharing a deep passion for walking, exploring – and shockingly for women – walking by themselves!! The shame!! But in their adventures they enjoyed the freedom it gave them and allowed them to find their own minds, and the author shared these feelings as she uses each chapter to share her walk, alongside that of the woman she was walking in the footsteps of. There’s a look back in time to the lives of these amazing women, their trials and tribulations, the scandals, alongside her own experiences and thoughts on the changes over time as to the attitudes towards a variety of different topics.

It explores the benefits to your health of walking, the stories of the kindness of strangers met along the way, the pitfalls and reality of walking in the middle of nowhere by yourself, and the overwhelming sense of achievement and confidence these women had when they had finished a walk. And how eager they were to go on other adventures. Some weren’t afraid to go against convention, some lost their families over their actions, but most were just inspired by the solace they felt while walking, despite all of them having a real strong attachment to ‘home’ and realising just how little they needed in their lives.

I learnt so much about these women as the author relayed their stories, alongside her own walking experiences and how that time alone gave her time to think over her life choices. Reading about these women, inspired me to research a little more about them and their work and it’s been enlightening to learn more about these amazing women. The way the author connected with each woman also made this more of an experience as she wanted to feel what

It is one of those books that inspires, educates and just makes you want to walk!! To use your time wisely, and when you get the chance to grab that time for yourself and go out exploring, no matter how near or far!


#BookReview WHERE? by SIMON MORETON @LittleToller


In 2017, Simon Moreton’s father fell suddenly ill and died. His death sent the author back to his childhood home in rural Shropshire trying to process his grief by revisiting his family’s time as transplants to the countryside. In a memoir that that combines prose, illustration, photos, archival texts, and more, WHERE? weaves a gentle story that slips and slides in time and geography, creating connections across geographies, histories, families, times, and circumstance all to answer the question – ‘where are you from?’






This a personal but relatable collection of memories triggered by the loss of a father, and it’s perfectly poignant and reflective as the author returns home to the area he grew up in and is just overwhelmed with recollections of the past and the life of his father.

Told in a mixed media way, you are transported back via illustrations, prose, maps, photos, even diary entries from when he was a child and it strikes a chord with so many perceptions that you find yourself thinking about your own childhood.

It also recollects the devastation that a cancer diagnosis provokes in a family, and how they all felt when his father was initially diagnosed and how we all deal with the prognosis, followed by the devastation of death and how grief affects us all in different way.

I loved the way the author shared his thoughts and feelings and seeing how your mind works when you’re processing such bad news. Those little memories locked away in your head of a special time in your life that mean so much and how the person you’ve lost has impacted on your life in such a positive way and link you to an area for ever.

The author looks back at his childhood, how the area he lived in aided his love of nature and how his father worked the area, and included the local landmarks that were so prominent in his mind.

This is an ode to Shropshire, an ode to family and how reconnecting with an area at a time of loss can become such a comfort and spark off so many memories. I thought it was beautifully written and the illustrations were a fabulous contrast in their black and white style, that helped portray the loss felt so well.

My thanks to Little Toller for the advanced copy, in return for a fair and honest review.


#BookReview MURDER:THE BIOGRAPHY by KATE MORGAN #20BooksOfSummer21 #nonfiction

Book 3 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021

MURDER: The Biography by KATE MORGAN


Totally gripping and brilliantly told, Murder: The Biography is a gruesome and utterly captivating portrait of the legal history of murder.

The stories and the people involved in the history of murder are stranger, darker and more compulsive than any crime fiction.

There’s Richard Parker, the cannibalized cabin boy whose death at the hands of his hungry crewmates led the Victorian courts to decisively outlaw a defence of necessity to murder. Dr Percy Bateman, the incompetent GP whose violent disregard for his patient changed the law on manslaughter. Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in England in the 1950s, played a crucial role in changes to the law around provocation in murder cases. And Archibald Kinloch, the deranged Scottish aristocrat whose fratricidal frenzy paved the way for the defence of diminished responsibility. These, and many more, are the people – victims, killers, lawyers and judges, who unwittingly shaped the history of that most grisly and storied of laws.

Join lawyer and writer Kate Morgan on a dark and macabre journey as she explores the strange stories and mysterious cases that have contributed to UK murder law. The big corporate killers; the vengeful spouses; the sloppy doctors; the abused partners; the shoddy employers; each story a crime and each crime a precedent that has contributed to the law’s dark, murky and, at times, shocking standing



This was a fascinating and detailed exploration of the art of Murder! The infamous, and not so famous, cases over the years that have shaped the way we view murder and how the lines blur from case to case, showing up the gaps in law that can’t cope with the dark and disturbing acts committed by humans.

The author has done a brilliant job of looking back over time at a number of different cases over hundreds of years. How crimes have changed and how the punishments too have differed over the years. From the death penalty to the use of secure hospitals for those claiming mental instability.

Some of the cases I’d heard of so they did resonate, but I was equally fascinated by the cases that had passed me by showing the dark and disturbing and it does a brilliant job of opening topics up to debate – from the appeal system, the difference between murder and manslaughter and how we all become ‘armchair lawyers’ when a high profile case hits the media. And even goes into how crimes cross over into films and tv, and how the public fascination with these horrific crimes never seems to wane.

I learnt so much from this book – including the background to the phrase ‘sweet fanny adams’ to what used to be built on the site of Liverpool Street Station – along with a greater understanding of the process behind the scenes and how cases are dealt with and I found it to be a real eye-opening read.


#AudioBookReview ON THE MARSH by SIMON BARNES #BookReview


How the rewilding of eight acres of Norfolk marshland inspired a family and brought nature even closer to home.

When writer Simon Barnes heard a Cetti’s warbler sing out as he turned up to look at a house for sale, he knew immediately that he had found his new home. The fact that his garden backed onto an area of marshy land only increased the possibilities, but there was always the fear that it might end up in the wrong hands and be lost to development or intensive farming. His wife saw through the delicate negotiations for the purchase. Once they’d bought it, they began to manage it as a conservation area, working with the Wildlife Trust to ensure it became as appealing as possible to all species. For their son Eddie, who has Down’s syndrome, it became a place of calm and inspiration.

In Wildness and Wet, we see how nature can always bring surprises, and share in the triumphs as new animals – Chinese water deer, otters and hedgehogs – arrive, and watch as the number of species of bird tops 100 and keeps on growing. As the seasons go by, there are moments of triumph when not one but two marsh harrier families use the marsh as a hunting ground, but also disappointments as chemical run-off from neighbouring farmland creates a nettles monoculture in newly turned earth.

For anyone who enjoyed books such as Meadowland, or the writing of Stephen Moss, Roger Deakin or Adam Nicolson, this is a vivid and beautifully written account of the wonders that can sometimes be found on our doorsteps, and how nature can transform us all.



I listened to the audioversion of this book.

This was such a lovely listen. One of those books that transports you away and helps you look at the wonders of nature through the eyes of someone with a deep passion for wildlife and the conservation of his local area.

The author lives by a marsh, so when a larger plot of marsh was available to buy he jumped at the chance and this book is an ode to the natural world, and how he and his family have worked to keep this area as wild as possible for the benefit of the local wildlife, and their own enjoyment.

Their son has down’s syndrome so he also shares his experiences of how that changes his outlook and how his son thrives with the connection of the birds and animals surrounding them and it was really touching to see his compassion for the surrounding wildlife.

The author explores the local sights and sounds that he and his family are lucky to see and hear, along with comments on how many humans are seemingly hellbent on the destruction of these natural areas and the devastating consequences that these have on the wildlife.

It’s such a gentle and pleasant book, that helps to share the pleasure in spotting the little things that go on around you and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole relaxing and immersive experience of their story shared.


#BlogTour TAPESTRIES OF LIFE by ANNE SVERDRUP-THYGESON #TapestriesOfLife @annesver @HarperNonFic @RandomTTours #BookReview

Delighted to be joining you today as part of the blog tour for the wonderful TAPESTRIES OF LIFE.   My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all and sharing my thoughts!


The second book by the bestselling author of Extraordinary Insects

Trees clean air and water; hoverflies and bees pollinate our crops; the kingfisher inspired the construction of high-speed trains. In Tapestries of Life, bestselling author Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson explains how closely we are all connected with the natural world, highlighting our indelible link with nature’s finely knit system and our everyday lives.

In the heart of natural world is a life-support system like no other, a collective term that describes all the goods and services we receive – food, fresh water, medicine, pollination, pollution control, carbon sequestration, erosion prevention, recreation, spiritual health and so much more. In this utterly captivating book, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson sets out to explore these wonderful, supportive elements – taking the reader on a journey through the surprising characteristics of the natural world.





Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson is the bestselling author of Extraordinary Insects. A professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Ås, Norway, she is also a scientific advisor for The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research NINA. She has a Doctorate degree in conservation biology and lectures on nature management and forest biodiversity. 


This is one of those books that makes you go ‘wow’!  It highlights the world and all we take for granted, and until you see it written down you just forget how all this stuff around us works to help us live!  And how do we repay the natural world?! By destroying it!! Maybe if more people read this book, then there’d be more understanding  and appreciation for the wonders of this planet we live on!

We are 1 species of 10 million on the planet! That puts things into perspective doesn’t it?!  And what the author does brilliantly in this book is explore in great detail all that is around us and how every aspect of our daily life is there because of nature.  From the clothes on our back, the remedies we take and the food we eat…. we can’t survive without it!

It explores our relationship with nature and how we’re losing touch with  the simple things in life – how we’re spending less time outdoors and we’re poorer for it.  How we’re encouraged to have neat and tidy gardens – I don’t! – and how that impacts wildlife, and how the ‘simple’ aspects of water, grass, pollination all work together to create harmony.  And how we as humans have forgotten how much we have changed nature for our own convenience – and then wonder why things go wrong!

I have learnt so much from this book and just wish my brain could hold on to all the amazing facts I discovered while reading it! It’s one of those books you can dip in and out of anytime and take away a new discovery and appreciation every time you open up a chapter.

The author does a wonderful job of not being too preachy or OTT in her examinations of the different aspects of the natural world – she gets to the point and puts it in terms that’s so easy to relate to and it has definitely made me look at the world outside my window with fresh eyes and to stop taking everything for granted. 

We need the trees to clean the air, we need the insects to pollinate our plants – and this awe inspiring book allows the reader to see just how we both need each other to keep surviving!




The irresistible story of Japanese cherry blossoms, threatened by political ideology and saved by an unknown Englishman

Collingwood Ingram, known as ‘Cherry’ for his defining obsession, was born in 1880 and lived until he was a hundred, witnessing a fraught century of conflict and change.

After visiting Japan in 1902 and 1907 and discovering two magnificent cherry trees in the garden of his family home in Kent in 1919, Ingram fell in love with cherry blossoms, or sakura, and dedicated much of his life to their cultivation and preservation.

On a 1926 trip to Japan to search for new specimens, Ingram was shocked to see the loss of local cherry diversity, driven by modernisation, neglect and a dangerous and creeping ideology. A cloned cherry, the Somei-yoshino, was taking over the landscape and becoming the symbol of Japan’s expansionist ambitions.

The most striking absence from the Japanese cherry scene, for Ingram, was that of Taihaku, a brilliant ‘great white’ cherry tree. A proud example of this tree grew in his English garden and he swore to return it to its native home. Multiple attempts to send Taihaku scions back to Japan ended in failure, but Ingram persisted.

Over decades, Ingram became one of the world’s leading cherry experts and shared the joy of sakura both nationally and internationally. Every spring we enjoy his legacy. ‘Cherry’ Ingram is a portrait of this little-known Englishman, a story of Britain and Japan in the twentieth century and an exploration of the delicate blossoms whose beauty is admired around the world.





I found this to be a fascinating and intoxicating book about a man and how his passion for plants became and obsession, and shaped his life along with the landscapes of Japan and many other countries at the same time. It does help if you love gardening, I do!, to ‘get’ this book but it also contains a staggering look at the history of Japan and its’ people, and I found myself learning so much.

There’s so much to admire about Cherry Ingram. He was born in 1880 and soon became obsessed by plant hunting and gardening, with cherry blossom trees being his absolute passion. He had many trips to Japan to see and collect rare species, and over the years he saw and was shocked by the changes in Japan, to the detriment of his beloved cherry trees so he took it on himself to start sending trees from his garden that he’d collected back to Japan to begin their revival. The attention to detail shown by him towards his plants was staggering – it often seemed he cared more for his plants than his own children!

As it looks at the man in his home life, as well as his plant hunting life, it explores many avenues of the life he led, over so many years in a world that was constantly changing. Even during the war he was always willing to be involved and was part of the local community effort to protect these shores.

He led an amazing life, devoted to his wife, his trees and birdwatching too, and I just loved learning about him and how this englishman had affected the way even the Japanese viewed their trees and the impact it had on the local people. The author shares his own history too with his family, and their experiences especially during the war and it was just one of those books that was interesting from start to finish.




Swifts live in perpetual summer. They inhabit the air like nothing on the planet. They watched the continents shuffle to their present places and the mammals evolve.

They are not ours, though we like to claim them. They defy all our categories, and present no passports as they surf the winds across the worlds. They sleep in the high thin air – their wings controlled by an alert half-brain.

This is a radical new look at the Common Swift – a numerous but profoundly un-common bird – by Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast.

Foster follows the swifts throughout the world, manically, lyrically, yet scientifically. The poetry of swifts is in their facts, and this book, in Little Toller’s monograph series, draws deeply on the latest extraordinary discoveries.

PUBLISHED BY  Little Toller Books


This is an ode to swifts! And what a bird they are! You can’t help but fall in love with them after reading this book, from the stunningly beautiful cover, to the lyrical words and prose inside. This is a beautiful book that follows the travels of the swifts and looks into all aspects of their lives, alongside the thoughts and travels of the author as he watches them along the way.

Charles Foster admits he’s obssessed with swifts and that comes across loud and clear throughout this book! He goes into staggering detail as he covers the staggering miles flown by these birds each year, and he’s there to witness them at different stages of their journey as they are creatures of habit and there is still no definitive answer as to how these birds know where to go, or when! But every year they set out on the journey from Africa to Oxford (his home) and it’s the highlight of his year when he watches them return once more.

This is a book that mixes the history, geography and biology surrounding these amazing creatures and I just kept finding myself staring at the skies at regular intervals whilst reading in the hope that maybe I’d spot a swift in the sky overhead! Not spotted one yet this year but hopefully soon!

It also looks at how humans have impacted on the birds, in relation to nesting sites and the use of pesticides on the insects they feed on and you just wonder how this will impact on them in the years to come unless we stop some of our ways.

It’s a beautifully illustrated book and full of so many wonderful observations on these birds and their ways and you just can’t help but be impressed by them! I will keep looking up and hoping to share some of the authors’ joy when they’ve made their way back to UK shores for the Summer!


My thanks to the team at Little Toller Books for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BlogTour EMPIRE OF ANTS by SUZANNE FOITZIK & OLAF FRITSCHE #BookReview #EmpireOfAnts @SusanneFoitzik @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours

Delighted to be with you today as part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful EMPIRE OF ANTS by SUZANNE FOITZIK & OLAF FRITSCHE.  My thanks to the publisher, authors and Anne of  Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all!


 ‘Thrilling, compellingly readable and paradigm-shattering’ – Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast

Ants have been walking the Earth since the age of the dinosaurs. Today there are one million ants for every one of us. The closer you get to ants, the more human they look: they build megacities, grow crops, raise livestock, tend their young and infirm, and even make vaccines. They also have a darker side: they wage war, enslave rivals and rebel against their oppressors. From fearsome army ants, who stage twelve-hour hunting raids where they devour thousands, to gentle leafcutters gardening in their peaceful underground kingdoms, every ant is engineered by nature to fulfil their particular role.

 Acclaimed biologist Susanne Foitzik has travelled the globe to study these master architects of Earth. Joined by journalist Olaf Fritsche, Foitzik invites readers deep into her world – in the field and in the lab – and will inspire new respect for ants as a global superpower. Fascinating and action-packed, Empire of Ants will open your eyes to the secret societies thriving right beneath your feet






Susanne Foitzik (Author) Susanne Foitzik is an evolutionary biologist, behavioral scientist and international authority on ants. After completing her PhD in ant evolution and behavior and conducting postdoctoral work in the US, she became a professor at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Currently, she teaches at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, where she studies the behaviors of slaveholding ants and different work roles in insect colonies. Her findings have been published in over 100 scientific papers to date.

 Olaf Fritsche (Author)

Olaf Fritsche is a science journalist and biophysicist with a PhD in biology. He was previously an editor at the German-language edition of Scientific American, is the author and coauthor


As a gardener myself, I’m very aware of ants!  But I have to be honest in not really knowing much about them, other than they’re very good at crawling over you when you sit on the grass! But consider me now an ant convert! I’m seriously impressed by these little creatures after reading this book, and you will be too! Who knew something so little could be so powerful and so complex!  

For every one of us, there’s a million of them!  And within their communities there are so many similarities to humans  and the way we live our lives – they even wage wars like us!  And this book tracks the different varieties around the world, noting their differences, their similarities, their quirks and their unique traits and I was utterly captivated by these insects.
The work put in by the team behind this book is exhaustive and you really get a good glimpse into the hard work and the less than glamorous research trips they find themselves on to investigate ants a little closer.

There’s always a danger with these kind of books that it goes a little OTT with detail and feeling quite clinical with the facts, but this book does a great job of balancing out the facts with the intriguing aspects of ‘ant culture’!  The queen system is fascinating, as well as looking at how they deal with ant illnesses, their use of sound and scent, how they defend themselves, and just the sheer amount of work it takes to be part of an ant colony!  There’s even ant zombies!! How could you not want to learn more about them?!

This was a truly fascinating, extensive and informative book all about the world of ants and I found myself totally in awe of ants after reading it!


#BookReview BOOK WARS by JOHN B.THOMPSON #nonfiction


This book tells the story of the turbulent decades when the book publishing industry collided with the great technological revolution of our time. From the surge of ebooks to the self-publishing explosion and the growing popularity of audiobooks, Book Wars provides a comprehensive and fine-grained account of technological disruption in one of our most important and successful creative industries.

Like other sectors, publishing has been thrown into disarray by the digital revolution. The foundation on which this industry had been based for 500 years – the packaging and sale of words and images in the form of printed books – was called into question by a technological revolution that enabled symbolic content to be stored, manipulated and transmitted quickly and cheaply. Publishers and retailers found themselves facing a proliferation of new players who were offering new products and services and challenging some of their most deeply held principles and beliefs. The old industry was suddenly thrust into the limelight as bitter conflicts erupted between publishers and new entrants, including powerful new tech giants who saw the world in very different ways. The book wars had begun.

While ebooks were at the heart of many of these conflicts, Thompson argues that the most fundamental consequences lie elsewhere. The print-on-paper book has proven to be a remarkably resilient cultural form, but the digital revolution has transformed the industry in other ways, spawning new players which now wield unprecedented power and giving rise to an array of new publishing forms. Most important of all, it has transformed the broader information and communication environment, creating new challenges and new opportunities for publishers as they seek to redefine their role in the digital age.

This unrivalled account of the book publishing industry as it faces its greatest challenge since Gutenberg will be essential reading for anyone interested in books and their future.



Blackwell’s £21.35
Amazon £24.47
Waterstones £30


This was a fascinating look at the world of books and how the evolution of digital technology has changed the publishing world and its’ outlook over the years!
The author has left no stone unturned as he explores the rise of the e-book and how that has impacted the book world, and while digital technology had been feared by the publishers to begin with, it seems to have opened up new ideas to the ‘print’ world and seems to have rebooted the ‘book’ brand and publishing world – which is all good for us readers!

This book looks into how e-books evolved so quickly and how people like Amazon took advantage and how it changed the way people read and bought books. It was feared that with the rise of e-books the print world would suffer in the way that the music industry was, after downloads appeared on the scene, but over time it was realised that some books just worked better in print and this explores that subject in great detail and I really found it so interesting. As an old dinosaur myself, I always prefer the print edition, so it was fascinating to see the charts and graphs that displayed the figures involved in all forms of print, and what genres were enjoyed so much more in digital form.

This book explores a variety of subjects within publishing – the legal issues, marketing, the rise of self publishing, the use of crowdfunding such as Unbound (of which I am happy to have been part of!), the backlist, the use of audiobooks/audible and the role that social media plays now in all forms of publishing be it digital or print.

It brings to the fore how the numbers stack up of each book form and how the outcome of new avenues often have unpredictable results. It was a lengthy read – almost 500 pages – but there is so much to look into and the author has done a brilliant job of using the in-depth analysis to peek behind the curtain, so to speak, into a world of books that has had to change over recent times and showing there is room for both forms thanks to the digital form making the old guard of print rethink and become more creative!

A perfect read for all fans of the humble book – in whatever format you prefer!