Mark Rubbo

Lloyd O'Neil, long-time publisher of popular Australian non-fiction, has announced that he has sold his company to Penguin. O'Neil is credited with initiating the growth of the indigenous publishing industry in the postwar period. His decision to print his books overseas in 1963 changed the whole nature of the business: ‘For the first time we could produce Australian books at a standard and price that was comparable with overseas,’ he said.

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Originally published in German, Albrecht Dümling’s The Vanished Musicians: Jewish refugees in Australia (Peter Lang), a fascinating compendium of Jewish musicians who found refuge in Australia in the 1930s and 1940s, is now available in Australian Diana K. Weekes’s excellent translation ...

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The Australian Bookseller & Publisher serves as the trade magazine for the Australian publishing and bookselling industry. It derives a substantial amount of its revenue from the advertisements that publishers place in it.

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As managing direction of the English publishing house, Chatto & Windus, expatriate Australian Carmen Callil has been described as the bête noire of Australian publishing. She had been invited to Australia for Writers Week at the Adelaide Festival. She left slightly annoyed and hurt that she had been cast in a predatory role when her interest in Australian writing stemmed from her own sense of Australianness.

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Many Australian publishers question the ability of overseas publishers to market and distribute a London published book by an Australian writer in Australia. The emotional and commercial commitment to a book by a distributor, they argue, is not the same as that of a publisher. An Australian publisher also has a better perception of the market and the quantities required. In the case of the market being underestimated, reprints of sufficient quantity can be supplied relatively quickly. In general my experience as a bookseller would confirm these comments.

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At a seminar on the arts and the economy held recently in Melbourne, Laurie Muller, general manager of the University of Queensland Press, attacked what he described as the myth of the Australian publishing industry. According to Muller, the market size for serious Australian books is so small (one to three thousand) that publishers can barely recoup their development costs, let alone make any profits to service capital and finance further books and expansion.

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I had thought, and still do, that the phenomenon of publishing a book in paperback only was a good thing, especially for fiction. As a bookseller, I observed the paperback achieve sales three and four times what they would have been if the book was hardback. It should be good for the author too, I thought. The lower royalty payment per book would have been more than compensated for by the higher sales and the larger audience. When I suggested this to a writer recently, he was quite adamant that paperback only editions meant that writers got a much smaller return because they missed out on PLR. ... (read more)