Publishing

From Bookstall to Boom: Paperback publishing in Australia

Michael Dugan
Friday, 27 November 2020

Penguin Books, which has just celebrated its fiftieth birthday, is widely known through its paperback publishing as the great populariser of literature in the English language.

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Coming out from behind

Tom Thompson
Thursday, 22 October 2020

Publishers are like invisible ink. Their imprint is in the mysterious appearance of books on shelves. This explains their obsession with crime novels.

To some authors they appear as good fairies, to others the Brothers Grimm. Publishers can be blamed for pages that fall out (Look ma, a self-exploding paperback!), for a book’s non-appearance at a country town called Ulmere. For appearing too early or too late for review. For a book being reviewed badly, and thus its non-appearance – in shops, newspapers and prized shortlistings.

As an author, it’s good therapy to blame someone and there’s nothing more cleansing than to blame a publisher. I know, because I’ve done it myself. A literary absolution feels good the whole day through.

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Starters & Writers

Mark Rubbo
Tuesday, 25 August 2020

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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Okay, I’ll tell you what’s wrong with this country. For a start, we have this profoundly stupid and deeply irritating myth that we’re all irreverent freedom-loving larrikins and easygoing egalitarians, when it is painfully obvious that we have long been a nation of prudes and wowsers, that our collective psyche has been warped by what Patrick Mullins describes, with his characteristic lucidity, as ‘a fear of contaminating international influences’, and that we are not just an insular, conservative, and deeply conformist society, but for some unaccountable reason we take pride in our ignorance and parochialism. And let’s not neglect the fact that we are cringingly deferential and enamoured of hierarchy. Oh yes, it’s all master–slave dialectics and daddy issues around here. Why the hell else would we keep electing entitled, smirking, condescending autocrats?

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The ‘untold history’ of Faber & Faber should be a cause for celebration. For so many of us, possessing the unadorned, severe paperbacks with the lower-case ‘ff’ on the spine meant graduation to serious reading: coming of literary age by absorbing the words and thoughts of Beckett, Eliot, Larkin, Stoppard, Hughes, Plath ...

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In September 2018, NewSouth published a new edition of A Certain Style.

On a chilly evening in 1980, a stylish woman in her early seventies, wheezing slightly from a lifetime’s cigarettes, climbed a staircase just beneath the Harbour Bridge, entered a room full of book editors – young women mostly, university-educated, making their way ...

Harold Evans, the celebrated former editor of London’s The Sunday Times and ex-president of Random House USA, is angry. He fulminates against lazy journalism, against the impenetrability of government announcements, and against the pseudo-legal language of terms and conditions we ...

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This is issue no. 250, and the twenty-fifth consecutive year, of Australian Book Review. Issue No. 1 appeared in 1978, edited by John McLaren and published by the National Book Council. Since then the journal has survived and thrived, through changes of editor (though not very often) and of editorial policy (though not very much); through changes of appearance, ownership, sponsorship and affiliation.

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This is an American book and no doubt primarily aimed at those interested in how American publishing works, and specifically at those interested in gaining employment there or upgrading their skills. In Australia it will be of limited use to those with similar ambitions and interests, because the Australian ...

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James McNamara reviews 'Penguin and the Lane Brothers'

James McNamara
Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Penguin is synonymous with publishing: a firm of vast influence and market share, whose ‘Classics’ imprint essentially arbitrates the modern canon. The founding myth goes something like this: Allen Lane, eccentric genius and publisher, was standing on a railway platform after a weekend with his chum, Agatha Christie. In want of a decent, cheap read, he visited a ...

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