Publishing

‘Thank God I have done with him!’ – the words uttered by Dr Johnson’s publisher when he received the final proofs of the dictionary from its author – might well have been Peter Ryan’s own in 1988 when Manning Clark confessed that he had changed his mind about the character and career of Robert Menzies. No longer did Clark consider him an ‘imperialistic booby’. Melbourne University Press was about to publish the final volume of Clark’s History of Australia, and the book was printing as the author confessed that he no longer believed his own, uncomplimentary text. This, for Clark’s publisher, Peter Ryan, was ‘the last straw’ in their tumultuous publishing relationship of twenty-six years. He boycotted the launch, and five years later he let fly in the pages of Quadrant with a critical attack on the press’s most profitable author, his methodology, and his work.

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It’s not often that literature makes the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, but on 3 November 2006 the lead story was a report by David Marr about the National Library of Australia’s purchase of a collection of Patrick White’s papers, previously thought destroyed. Other media, both in Australia and internationally, picked up the story. The T ...

Since well before the global financial crash of 2008, there has been pessimism about the future of the book in an age of new paradigms: electronic transmission and gadgetry, all thus far untested, in a screen culture age. This uncertainty still hovers, like a pungent doom-cloud, despite the furious conversion of new and backlist files into multiple formats in publishing houses everywhere in readiness for the e-revolution. This is expensive and time-consuming work, done in good faith as an investment for the future. One by-product has been a chilling realisation that file archiving is poorly managed by many houses and that finding print-ready files of backlist books to convert to e-format isn’t as easy as was anticipated.

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 On 8 September 2010, in the foyer of the Robert Blackwood Hall at Monash University, beneath the beautiful ‘Alpha and Omega’ stained-glass window created by Leonard French and connoting humankind’s endless striving for achievement, Monash University ePress became Monash University Publishing. It was very appropriate that the press should be launched by B ...

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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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 ...

Geoff Dutton was a man-of-letters who for many years made (with Max Harris) Adelaide seem one of the lively centres of Australian literary culture. One thinks of him in association with the magazines Angry Penguins, Australian Letters, and the original Australian Book Review, not to mention the inauguration of an Australian publication list for Penguin Books, and then, when that soured, the setting up of Sun Books, one of the most innovative of Australian publishing ventures at that time – which was in the difficult slough period of the 1950s and 1960s and into the 1970s.

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Salt: Volume 10 edited by John Kinsella

by
September 1997, no. 194

When a poet reviews a poetry magazine, it can be like walking out over a virtual minefield. I have a few more books to write before they take me out, so let me say straight away, I come in peace. These are cynical times, so maybe nobody will be taken in by this tone. After all, Salt is published and edited by John Kinsella, a highly successful poet who has established himself in record time. Let’s face it, this is poetry as strategy. As Hilary McPhee pointed out, the literary community in this country can be particularly vicious, and if anyone tries to hose that down they are having themselves on – the response McPhee got in relation to what she actually said proves the point really. It doesn’t have to be bland and polite though. There has been a lot of talk about the careerist approach to poetry lately. Ramona Koval noted at the first National Poetry Festival in Melbourne recently that some American poets have taken on this ‘professionalisation’ of poetry even down to their ‘Brooks Brothers suits and leather satchels’. Fay Zwicky replied, ‘I think careerism in poetry is contrary to how a poem comes into existence in the first place.’

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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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Bookseller Terri-ann White surveys the publishing scene in Perth and Fremantle, for several decades now torn by a battle for funds but recently showing encouraging signs of optimistic development.

Since 1975 and the establishment of the Fremantle Arts Centre Press, the writing community of Perth has benefited enormously from the focus and support it has offered. Whether individual writers have been published by it or not, in the most isolated city in the world the possibilities have been opened up. The Press has clearly been responsible, as a developmental publisher, for encouraging and promoting creative writing, biography, and regional history writing in WA, and for opening up resources and opportunities for writers to work closely with good editors, good advice, and plenty of time to learn and hone work into a publishable form.

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