Thursday, December 28, 2006

Vegemite says no

We're doing an Aussie A-Z with the fabulous Heath McKenzie, following on from the mighty The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas.Our A-Z is due out in May. It is one of those childrens books that adults will adore as well

Under "V" we wanted to display Vegemite. Kraft said no! We thought it would have been excellent product placement - so we were surprised, very surprised when the firm "no" came back. Vegemite is now American owned. Would we have got a more sympathetic hearing if it was Australian owned? And Vegemite is also now happens to be a banned import into the US.

An entirely good season (list)

My sister-in-law Janine (former opera singer, now real estate agent) says you can't expect a completely good season of anything, theatre or opera. It's an unreasonable expectation to expect a creative performance group to sustain it across a season. I'm hoping the next season of the Malthouse will prove her wrong. And I'm wondering whether a season is the theatrical equivalent of a publisher's list. What strike rate do you need to have a successful year as a publisher?

2006 has certainly been Michael Heyward and Text's year. Two Booker shortlists. The Weathermakers. Peter Temple, now a best-seller in the UK. The list goes on. Clever strategic quality publishing across the entire list - I saw in Borders the other night that text have republished the much praised "The Dig Tree" by Sarah Murgatroyd. Nice publishing and a perfect fit with Text.

the myth of Melbourne weather

Melbourne gets half the rainfall of Sydney, fewer rainy days than Sydney or Brisbane and more days over 30° than Sydney. Sydney gets twice as many thunderstorms.

measures of change

As a mark of how rapidly our culture changes, there are now 23,000 Sudanese Australian but a decade ago there were only 2600.

Jindabyne - movie


Like in "My Father's Den", it is a very local story (despite its Carver origins) in the way Lawrence has created it but very much a story anybody could relate to.

I've read the short story, listened to the song, and now I've seen the movie. And I found it a fascination transformation of a story line and I really liked listening to the echoes of the song and short story in the film and the way the film has to fill in the gaps.

One question was: why Gabriel Byrne and Laua Linney? Both of whom I thought were superb. Do we lack the depth of acting talent?

Another question was the girl being Aboriginal. In Shadows in the Mirror we went in the opposite direction. But I felt, although it wavered at moments, Lawrence carried off the waves set off by the aboriginality of the girl.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


It is interesting in watching and recording how a fast changing culture like ours develops. The gradual seeping into our children's lives of Halloween is a recent change. Halloween was once a ghastly Americanism. Now we keep sweets in the cupboard. I like the American talent of celebrating traditions. I nailed a Christmas wreath to the door this December. A wreath was rarely seen when I was growing up and has really come courtesy of Hollywood.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Long Tail - the start

I've started to read The Long Tail.( I've just finished Malcolm Gladwell's Blink and I like to have one business book on the go (a slow go) at a time.). Fascinating. And as a fascinating side-note I was interested in how the book idea evolved on Chris Anderson's blog: "I worked through many of the trickier conceptual and articulation issues in public, on my blog at The usual process would go like this: I'd post a half-baked effort at explaining how the 80/20 Rule is changing, for instance, and then dozens of smart readers would write comments, emails, or their own blog posts to suggest ways to improve it. Somehow this wonky public brainstorming managed to attract an average of more than 5,000 readers a day." Fascinating as it is showing how the publishing of information is changing and that there is still room for the gravitas of the book.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

more accidental spam poetry

it may be turned,
and however puzzling it may be to answer it,
found one print from a famous design of Carlo Maratti,
who died about entertained by the majority of the company.
This foolish, and often of a gentleman's dancing.
But the greatest advantage of dancing well is,
knowledge, to answer me point by point.
I have seen a book, entitled picture, drawn by yourself, at different sittings
for though, as it is young men who if they have wit themselves, are pleased with it,
and if
and respected,
is not meant by the words GOOD COMPANY


Australia is an interesting landscape to be publishing in as it is fluid and changing. There was a comment in a recent Fin Review from Harry Triguboff criticizing the English language test for migrants:

"We need workers here. These are people who do the work we don't want to do. If we start making them do tests, we will bring the same sort of people as ourselves. That worries me."

My great grandfather in the early 1930s was involved in using the dictation test to prevent Egon Kisch landing In Melbourne. Australia is a very different place now. Many countries expend effort to make themselves more like themselves. I like Triguboff's idea of optimistically look for change.

I'm also interested in the way the Spanish (having lost the battle) are winning the war in North America as the average American would rather not do without a gardner or a hotel maid.

accidental spam poetry

I'm enjoying the Ern O'Malley poetic quality of the words put into spam to get through the filters. Here is a sample:

too various and extensive
to be much attended to:
and may not am neither of
a melancholy nor a cynical disposition,
and am as willing expect that I should laugh at their pleasantries
and by saying WELL,
AND opinion of one's own
whereas it is only the decent and genteel manner

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ahmet Ertegun (founder of Atlantic Records) story from the NY Times

David Geffen once asked Mr. Ertegun how to make money in the music business. Ertegun got up from his chair, hunched over and shuffled slowly across the room. Mr. Geffen didn’t understand, so Ertegun did it twice more. Finally he explained: “ ‘If you’re lucky, you bump into a genius, and a genius will make you rich in the music business,’ ”

Geffen recalled. “Ahmet bumped into an awful lot of geniuses."

Friday, December 15, 2006

cork dork

I came across this phrase in a Michael Harden column as in " a wine list with little to dazzle the cork dork".

is careful generosity an oxymoron?

In the WBN report on Christmas sales Peter Blake offered a very measured generosity to the broader publishing community:

"Penguin sales director Peter Blake is happy not just for Penguin, and for the other publishers distributed by United Book Distributors"

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Jaws the first blockbuster

Rather than being opened in only a few theatres and then more and more as it succeeded, Jaws was opened in many theatres at once. And it was the first film to be supported by extensive advertising. And it worked. And it was the first Blockbuster. And it is interesting to ponder (like Pooh) on how the blockbuster style has influenced publishing (though no where near to the extent it's influenced Hollywood). It's getting to be a case of sell big or don't sell at all. People are reading more of fewer books. Though curiously publishing output hasn't shrunk. And of course out goes the successful mid-list author for the big publishers, which gives the independents opportunities.

Tom Shones's Blockbuster is worth a read by anybody in publishing I reckon. And it comes with a neat subtitle: How Hollywood learned to stop worrying and love the summer.

MUP breaks away from bookshop!

Always interesting reading in the Oz (last Saturday not this)

Apparently, MUP "broke away from the university bookshop" in 2003, foregoing the funding contribution that came from the profits of the bookshop and instead, in a bold move, embraced generous funding direct from the university and made its own accounting more transparent - even the losses. Kind of a reverse strategy to that of Milo Minderbinder, who was condemned for taking a contract out on bombing his own aerodrome - until he threw open his books and showed that he was making a profit.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Oz lit

We now have only one professor of Australian literature according to the Oz on Saturday, and students aren't interested in doing honours in Oz Lit. As mentioned, in passing, many of the students who would have been doing honours in Oz Lit are now in the creative writing courses. It's better to do than to comment but I do think the cultural cringe is back. Too often, too much of the time, we're looking over our shoulder to see what's happening over there.


I am a fan of graffiti. I like the idea of the city as a canvas, with someone offering something for the creative enjoyment of others without expectations of fame or pay. I like the quirky oddness of it, the unexpectedness:

Fitzroy is fortunately rich in street art.