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. Not only did the new technique revolutionise trade publishing, but it also had a huge effect on Australian education. For the first time, it was feasible to produce textbooks written by Australian educationists, for Australian students.
O'Neil is essentially a conservative publisher. His skill, according to a former partner, John Currey, was that he took old ideas and did them better. O'Neil concentrated his efforts on publishing popular non-fiction, for a market he claims doesn’t change much: ‘For every successful book you can name, published in the last few years, I can tell you an equivalent of thirty years ago.’