COMPARE THE BIOSLike some cheese-induced dream, the Amazon Top 100 reaches pitches of surrealism that Dali could barely imagine.

The fake autobiography of a toy meerkat who sells car insurance is outselling Tony Blair, Keith Richards, Stephen Fry, Chris Evans and Jordan in the Christmas market. But Aleksandr Orlov's "memoir", A Simples Life - purportedly the work of former publisher Val Hudson - is being held off the top spot by an even more annoying, two-dimensional TV puppet with an aggravating accent. Yes, Jamie Oliver is still in pole position.


The Saltire Society has announced the shortlists for the 2010 Book of the Year and First Book of the Year. The Book of the Year pits an exceptional collection of poems (Don Paterson's Rain) against a memoir (At The Loch Of The Green Corrie by Andrew Greig), a brace of biographies (Timothy Neat's Hamish Henderson vol. 2 and Nicholas Phillipson's excellent Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life), and a quartet of novels (James Robertson's And The Land Lay Still, Alan Warner's Booker-longlisted The Stars In The Night Sky, Robert Alan Jamieson's Da Happie Land and Finlay Macleod's Gormshuil an Righ).

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The First Book is similarly disparate: a collection of short stories (Miri NicLeid's A'Ghlainne Agus Sgeulachdan Eile) against histories - Simon Hall's History of Orkney Literature and Margaret Macaulay's Prisoner of St Kilda - and three novels: Donald Paterson's Homecomings, Sue Peebles's The Death of Lomond Friel and Emily Mackie's And This Is True. If I were a betting man, I'd risk a fiver on Greig and Peebles. As for the omission of Andrew O'Hagan, Jackie Kay, Kei Miller, Stewart Conn, John Burnside, Kate Atkinson, Candia McWilliam and Maggie O'Farrell, let alone Roderick Graham's biography of Robert Adam or James McGonigal's biography of Edwin Morgan, it could either be described as evidence of stiff competition, or it might raise eyebrows.


Canongate - who have no titles at all on the Saltire list - have just released 100 of their classics as e-books; ranging from Allan Massie's The Death of Men to Blind Harry's The Wallace. I wonder if the classics market is the most inclined towards digital formats? Speaking as a confirmed old buffer, I'm far more comfortable leafing through a high-quality paper edition of Carlyle or Smollett than fiddling with some infernal gadget.