Thursday, November 30, 2006

good titles through translation

The following title translations appealed to me from some not so recent international bestseller llsts:

From Sweden there was a title that translated as "Better Self-esteem!". It seemed to be that the promise of the book might have been understated in an admirably Scandinavian way.

Then in Spain there's "Sabine en came viva" which has been translated as "Sabina in Vivid Flesh".

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Melbourne Weeky's article

There's a good article in the Melbourne Weekly this week on independent publishing (in Melbourne) in which we got a small mention in the side column headed "independent success stories". Well that's rather nice. It's interesting reading with many quotable quotes and much food for thought. One thing that struck me was Text's Michael Heyward's focus on the writer's rather than the reader's end of the spectrum. He says "we won't be doing the right thing by all the talent in this country unless we have a vigorous range of publishers. The more we publish, the better it is for Australian writers." And he talks about the Canongate partnership as being for "the benefit of writers". Our emphasis tends to be at the opposite end - on the readers. The differences between the independents, in fact the differences between publishers, are a good thing. It means we're all offering something different. But I also wonder whether there is a difference because black dog is a children's publisher and in children's publishing the reader comes first. I'm sure it's not because Michael doesn't value readers and we certainly do value writers (immensely) and strive to house a writing community, but the difference in emphasis is interesting.

Kalbacher Klapperschlange

Carole Wilkinson's Dragonkeeper has won the Klabacher Klapperschlange the only German children's choice award. The children's awards don't come with a cheque for the author nor have a huge impact on sales for the publisher, but are sweeter for all that. Dragonkeeper won in the KOALA awards and was short-listed in the YABBA and Garden of the Purple Dragon won the WAYBRA but special congratulations to Carole for also reaching out and touching the hearts of German children as well. The award was given on the 11 November in Kalbach, a small village in the Rhein Main area. Here's a link to the website

And here's the German cover:

PS Klapperschlange is rattlesnake in German

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bachar Houli

According to today's Age 18-year-ol Bachar Houli is the first devout Muslim to sign up for an AFL club (Essendon). It is an interesting and hopeful sign of how Australia is changing. As a 12 year old, Houli didn't tell his parents he was playing football till he'd won three trophies, in his first season. The AFL draft camp happened during Ramadan and Houli after consulting his sheik broke his fast for a few days. Maybe one day the camp will be deliberately scheduled outside Ramadan.

I did wonder seeing the Ages careful use of the words "devout Muslim" if there were any Muslims who had played or were playing for the AFL who were not devout

Further to flying saucers

The French version of flying saucer is cigare volant, or flying cigar. Bonny Doon Vineyard in California has a red that it has named "Le Cigare Volant" in honour of a French vine growing village. Here's the story:

This particular wine is Graham Randall's tribute to Rhone Valley's Chateauneuf-du-Pape. where the winemakers, who in 1954 had an ordinance passed to prevent flying cigars from flying over or landing near their vineyards. Any flying cigars that did so would be impounded.

As I recall the story is written on the back of the label and can be read through the glass, but it is a long time since I drank the one bottle I once brought back from a visit to Bonny Doon. I can also recommend Bonny Doon's ice wine as an effective way of leaving a tasting four sheets to the wind. Randall doesn't wait for California to freeze he just puts the grapes in a big freezer.

They also have a website I lke a lot.

Malouf and Shakespeare

I liked the echo that reading Malouf's article produce from my reading Wood's biography "In Search of Shakespeare". Malouf is lucid and insightful, as always. Having been taught Shakespeare as great literature, and not enjoyed it, it is a pleasure to learn that Shakespeare didn't treat it as such. Jonosn was laughed at for publishing his plays — as "works"; Shakespeare's poetry was what he thought worth publishing. To quote Malouf: "Playgoing in the 1590s was like cinemagoing in the 1930s, cheap popular entertainment with no pretensions to being more. Hollywood in the '30s, with its studio and star system, might be as good a model as we can light on for the Shakespeare worked in. Plays rapidly produced week in, week out, to serve a regular audience; most of them got together by groups working in collaboration; most dispensable and soon lost."

The article is from David Malouf's speech to the World Shakespeare 2006 Congress and is rich reef of literary insights and it is reprinted in full in "Best Australian Essays 2006", edited by Drusilla Modjeska, Black Inc, $27.95

the Republic

in 1960 more Australians believe in flying saucers (35 per cent) than favored a republic (28 per cent).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

business plans

Henry Rosenbloom of Scribe after building up and selling a successful printing business, now eschews business plans for Scribe. We seem to be going in the opposite direction. We're doing more planning and budgeting as time goes. We feel we need to be a successful and profitable business to thrive as a publisher. The planning and budgeting is like weeding the garden. But we don't want to loose that flexibility and intuitiveness that's an independent publishers competitive advantage.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

La Mama

I'm in an old-news-cutting space. Frank, actor, author and scriptwriter, sometimes masquerading as the black dog accountant, hand me the Age 4 November this morning with an article by Alison Crogan about the threat to La Mama funding from Oz Co. La Mama;'s $170,000 funding has been put on notice. It seems absurd when multinational publishers get grants that the innovative bedrock of our culture can be threatened to be gouged in such a way. From a funding point of view it may be unfortunate that innovation has gone hand in hand with political dissent. That leaves a conservative government with little reason to invest in the arts and labor governments able to take the arts for granted.

quoting Michael Kantor

"Theatre has atrophied." While there are 3.5 million Melburnians only 25,000 of them consider themselves theatre goers. "We are not offering or selling entertainment, we are selling theatre. Getting into the cultural imagination of those people is a long process. … We have to back risk because risk is at the very heart of theatre. Your build strategies that cushion and support the main purpose, which is the artistic endeavour on the stage.

So risk defines artistic endeavour and also happens to define business.


I ripped out an article from the Australian which I've just rediscovered scrunched in the bottom of my bag. It is Christopher Pearson's "ABC's vehicle of invective" from the November 4-5. According to Pearson, ABC Books has "unfair advantages, the capacity to skew the market and perhaps to cherry-pick particular authors". But then on Pearson's figures the ABC is a very small percentage of the Australian book market at $1.58 million. So though he is going in to bat for the commercial publishers the ABC doesn't seem to be much of a threat as it comprises such a small percentage of the publishing marketplace. I would think that publishers see ABC Enterprises as another outlet through which to sell books rather than as a threat, and ABC publishing adds diversity to the market place. which is something Australian publishing can always do with.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Oz story telling on TV - the difficulties of mapping the culture

CSI cost $US4 million to make for each epidsode but only $80,000 for 9 to screen; but McLeod's Daughters costs the network $500,000 per episode. Says it all really.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

pollies language

I hadn't realised that Rumsfield was a master of the American language in the tradition of General Westmoreland and Dan Quale:

"I believe what I said yesterday; I don't know what I said, but I know what I think … and I assume that's what I said."

"I would not say that the future is less predictable than the past - I think the past was not predictable when it started."

"There will be some things that people will see. There will be some things people won't see. And life goes on."

"There are things that we know that we know. There are known unkowns … things that we now know that we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

And here's a nice link for some Qualisms

internet marketing

It failed for Snakes on Planes (the description of building the campaign sounded really good, it just didn't sell tickets). But it seems to working for Borat. Interesting.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

12 Days reveiw from The Courier Mail

I loved this review. It hit the nail on the head as to why we wanted to publish the book:

THERE is not a frosted window, a sleigh ride or a mulled wine in sight in a new release children's picture book about Christmas. What a relief.
Every Christmas season, we are presented with books about the festive time for our children featuring flannelette pyjamas, hot cocoa and songs about mistletoe and snow. When the mozzies are buzzing, the sun biting and the dinner table features crispy salad and cool drinks, these tales might be lovely, but are hardly the ticket to getting into the spirit of the season.
A book by young illustrator Heath McKenzie is a timely Australian Christmas gift. The folk song The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas is cheekily, colourfully illustrated with a deft paintbrush and a keen sense of humour.
There are several variations of the Australian Twelve Days of Christmas, but this one includes ``On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a kookaburra up a gum tree''. The kooka is joined by critters including four cuddling koalas, 11 emus kicking (AFL balls), seven possums playing (PlayStation) and eight flies a feasting (on pie and plum pud).
The result of reading this picture book to a little one is sure to be more than a single giggle.
McKenzie, who has illustrated five books published in the past nine months, has cleverly included snappy, interesting facts about the animals included in his countdown list at the back of the book, so that children are informed as well as entertained.
Jane Fynes-Clinton/Courier Mail