31 March 2004

How many Tasmanian publishers ...

Q. How many Tasmanian publishers are there?
A. 11 ... 12?
  • Bandicoot Books
  • BumbleBee Books
  • Blubberhead Press
  • Cornford Press
  • Cornhill Press
  • Esperance Press in Dover
  • Montpelier Press
  • Pardalote Press
  • Red Hill Books
  • Regal Press
  • Roaring Forties Press
  • Walleah Press
(More if one takes into account magazines such as
  • Island
  • Famous Reporter
  • 40 degrees South and if you look online,
  • The Write Stuff.

These presses all seem to me to have very different aims in life. Most are managed by writers (poets: Tim Thorne, Edith Speers, Lyn Reeves, Anne Kellas; prose writers: David Owen, the Ishams, Robert Cox, Sheila Allison). If you go back in time, there was Twelve Trees Publishing (poet Andrew Sant) -- a two-volume book on the small press publishing industry in Australia by Michael Denholm published in the early 80s (?) could shed more light on the matter than I can.

It's probably a natural development to have this flourishing if there are indeed so many creative people living here -- this island is alleged to have more writers per capita than any other Australian State or Territory. "Maybe it's the water." Mabye it's the writerly equivalent of our natural forest -- let's not take that analogy further! But the really interesting thing is definitely that it is the writers who drive these presses.

These presses are valuable to the writing community here because without them, so many writers here would not be in print. In this way, the presses provide tremendous support for our writers, often at a sacrificial cost to their writer-owners.

NB: The need for a sustainable model for distribution and electronic sales for these presses has been a hot issue which Lyn Reeves and I have discussed and worked on for a large number hours last year. We developed a plan for a shared portal for sales but our words have apparently fallen on deaf ears ... at an Arts Tasmania meeting last year (to which I was not invited) Lyn aired the work we had done, and a document describing our work on the idea was sent to Arts Tas in response to their request for attendees at that meeting to put ideas to them. There has been no response and as far as I know, it would seem our words and that document have fallen on stony ground or into a very large black hole and the weeds and tares of life have overtaken them - everyone's too busy to think, listen.

In Tasmania, that is. Elsewhere, our model has been of interest and value. Why not here?

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