Our heroes and villains of 2008

<p>In writing this week's Leader column for <i>The Bookseller</i>, I asked colleagues to nominate the heroes and villains of 2008. This is a longer version of the column that appears in print: feel free to add to the list using the comments facility below, or vote in our poll on the <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/home.html">home page</a>.<br />
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Leading the heroes are two figures from different parts of the business but who have so far combined to prevent a crisis turning into a disaster. Michael Neil, m.d. of Betrams/THE, has not been found wanting amid the collapse of Woolworths. <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/71662-bertrams-escapes-as-woolies-fall... was quick to get the message out that Bertrams itself was not in administration and has remained a visible beacon for the business.</a> <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/72673-publishers-face-huge-hit-from-eu... the other side of the fence Ian Hudson, Publishers Association president, has worked tirelessly to prevent the fallout at Woolies&rsquo; other book supplier Entertainment UK spreading</a>. His messages of support for Bertrams have also been crucial.<br />
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He may wear the nickname &quot;Lord Byng of Hype&quot; like a badge of pride, but in 2008 Canongate&rsquo;s Jamie Byng lived up to it, taking a punt on that unknown US Democrat Barack Obama and scoring two bestsellers. <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/64133-byng-bashes-booker-judges.html">His response to one of his titles missing out on the Man Booker longlist earlier in the year may have seemed grumpy, but this is precisely the kind of up-front support authors need.</a><br />
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<a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs//67375-waterstones-back-in-the-big-ti... m.d. Gerry Johnson has led the retailer back to its bookselling roots, and the chain rightly won the top prize at our Retail Awards.</a> The latter half of the year may not have matched the first, but the opening of its biggest store for 10 years in Liverpool was a bold gesture of defiance in the face of the harsh retail climate.<br />
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Other heroes nominated were <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/50803-dedalus-fights-for-its-future.ht... Eric Lane for fighting the Arts Council's cuts</a>, and ultimately securing backing from an improbable source, the STM group Informa; <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/71717-poet-motion-takes-on-clarke.html... campaigners Tim Coates and Desmond Clarke for caring that books get back to their rightful place at the heart of libraries</a>; <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/61831-end-of-the-line-for-butler--tann... Keeble, bookseller and sometime commentator on theBookseller.com, again for caring passionately about selling books and the people who print them</a>; <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs//68264-the-jewel-of-medina-hangs-in-t... Rynja, publisher of Gibson Square, whose offices were firebombed earlier this year</a>; author <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/70546-jk-rowling-to-save-christmas.htm... K Rowling for pulling out another Harry Potter</a> (and one for 2009, too please?); and finally, <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/67771-dragon-breathing-hot-air-says-ha... Meyer for doing a good impression of Rowling with her Twilight series</a>. <br />
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Even in a year such as this the villains were harder to pin down. Number one has to be the credit crunch: pay is frozen, book sales have shuddered to a halt, jobs are already being lost, companies have collapsed. <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/70829-indies-and-high-street-see-slowd... has long been held that books were recession-proof: crunch-resistant they are not.</a><br />
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Misery memoirs&mdash;that lucrative if slightly uncomfortable genre&mdash;<a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs//71286-the-doom-mongers.html">is now in long-term decline</a>: a few more tears may be spilled before it is forgotten but mostly these will be shed by publishers that piled in too late.<br />
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Book promoters Richard and Judy have lost much of their shine as their new digital slot failed to deliver viewers. <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/news/72633-retailers-asked-to-keep-the-fait... may not be terminal but the duo and Cactus m.d. Amanda Ross have much work to do in 2009</a>.<br />
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Whoever is in charge of libraries merits a mention again this year: libraries face yet another government review and book borrowers dwindling stock. Much continues to be done in the trenches, and campaigns such as the National Year of Reading, help: <a href="http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs//71718-speak-up-for-libraries-.html">but really it is leadership the service lacks--big time</a>.</p>