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Michele Field

American authors and publishers like to choose sides. The adversaries are seldom strictly Authors v Publishers – some best-selling novelists often join the publishers’ team, and publishers of new fiction like Farrar, Straus & Giroux line up on the authors’ side. Last May the battleground was drawn again in the national Book Awards (that’s not the old capital-N National Book Awards, or the NEA, but the new capital-T The American Book Awards, or TABA). 

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‘Go, little book,’ or the book as emissary, is not the simple matter that it once was.

Australian books and their authors now go to most European and Asian countries on diplomatic duties.

The purpose is neither to broaden the writers’ lives nor to sell books abroad, but to supplement the Government’s other diplomatic initiatives.

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The greatest area of growth in the writing profession is among the group that used to be scurrilously called ‘hobby writers’.

A recent study of British authors reveals that fifty-nine per cent will write only one book in their writing careers.

Using this figure and extrapolating from the 3500 applicants for Public Lending Right here, there are at least 2100, maybe 3000, people in Australia who have written one book and either have run out of the spirit to write another, or maybe have encountered such frustrations with contracts, editors, and distributors that it is not worth it to write another.

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Nowadays if anyone is lucky enough to be robbed of his good name, he is likely to be rich indeed. But the rules of the game have changed since Iago was inciting Othello to search out a slander where there was none. The libel plaintiff is no longer likely to be another literary character but a real person wearing Othello’s mask of mistaken injury. ... (read more)