Welcome to a very special issue of eNews.
Despite a disappointing start to the year with Art Queensland’s
decision not to fund our publishing program, we still have much to
with the launch of our Autumn season of titles.
First up, the evocative Swelter,
a two author volume, another first for us, by talents from the Capricorn
region, Louise Waller and Kristin
Hannaford. For those in the southeast corner of our home state already
feeling the chill of looming winter, these collections should warm
you considerably. You can learn more about the authors in this issue’s
Next, we head for the more temperate climate of Melbourne, for the
launch of Sally Finn’s novel, Fine
Salt. Sally was the inaugural
winner of the IP Picks Award for Best Fiction by an Australian author.
The weather might be cooler down there but the reading certainly
won’t be, with this passionate
tale of interwoven relationships.
Congratulations to David Reiter who was successful with his
individual application for arts funding. He has been awarded $20,000
from Arts Queensland to develop a groundbreaking work of literary
multimedia, My Planets. Follow the link to learn more about this
exciting project and David’s new design partner Chris Davey.
IPS has proudly added two new titles to its distribution list: Michael
Sariban’s poetry collection, Luxuries; and Jill Murch’s
series, For Love of the Earth,
featuring some of the finest landscape photography
I’ve seen. Her website is
well worth a visit for a taste of these images. I understand that
the copies are being snapped up at a fast shutter speed, so please
be sure to return to our store as soon as possible to avoid missing
Finally, I can’t go without mentioning David’s editorial
for this issue which tackles the sticky subject of arts funding.
As a champion of independent presses in this country, he is certainly
entitled to speak out in the face of what he regards as unfair treatment
of IP. Again, we invite our readers to contribute their own thoughts
on this or
subjects of interest.
Sara Moss, Editor, IP eNews
the Director's Desk
I write this, I’m about to pack my bags — and IP
books! — for
the drive up to Rockhampton for the first of our Autumn Season 2003
events, the launch of Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford’s
2 May. Though we’ll
be competing with the Beef 2003 event and several other cultural
activities being held that week, I have no doubt that the real beef
will be found at the Rockhampton
Gallery and Yeppoon Library,
event! There’s more on my busy schedule in Out & About.
The publishing industry, and of course the authors, printers and
other interested parties who have input into our products, is at
a crossroad. This issue looks at some of the relevant matters in
greater depth than you may be used to in IP eNews, but I’m
sure you’ll agree that current publishing practice is a topic
well worth musing over — hence my extended review of the International
Conference on the Future of the Book, which I attended and addressed
in May up in Cairns.
Just as important is the practical matter of how our publishing activities
will be funded in the short-term. To my great disappointment, Arts
Queensland chose not to fund IP this year after three consecutive
years of rewarding us for our groundbreaking work on behalf of Australian
authors. Given that we have excelled in almost everything we have
set out to do, this decision made no sense to me, even less when
the fine print came to light. More on that in my Editorial.
It’s high time that Arts Queensland
wraps up years of ‘review’ with some clear decisions
about how publishers are to be supported in this State. It’s also
time for Government
words in support of innovative publishing with real
policy, which has publishers competing with individual writers for
project funding, does not
work to anyone’s benefit.
We need a range of channels and a diversity of editorial services
for Queensland authors, not just a one-stop shop on the way to the
mainstream publishers down South.
Dr David Reiter
Reviews of Reviews of Reviews?
There’s seldom much meat in The Courier-Mail for us these
days (there hasn’t been a single substantial review of an
IP title in our local paper since our first title, Hemingway
in Spain, was released back in 1997). But every once in a while, Books
and Arts Editor Rosemary Sorensen writes about principles and nearly
always has something important to say about the shortfalls of others.
This time she’s turned the spotlight on the policy behind
Arts Queensland’s latest questionnaire, “Building a
Bridge”, which is intended to set the stage for arts ‘businesses’ to
gain access to specialist services designed to improve their performance
in the marketplace. In theory at least this should be good news
to organisations seeking new ways to attract larger audiences to
their work, and the Government is implying that the funding for
these initiatives will not be at the expense of current grant programs.
Sorensen has yet to be convinced of that: “I wondered what
we really expect from our artists and whether perhaps it’s
the idea of funding models that needs to be addressed.”
I couldn’t agree more. Even though the last thing we want
is yet another review of policy. In the first issue of IP
eNews I applauded Arts Queensland for the review they were undertaking
into the State’s publishing industry. More than four years
later, no results have been released from that study, and the only
noticeable difference has been a proliferation of policy reviews.
Reviews of reviews of reviews. Clear and transparent decision-making
is very thin on the ground.
One benefit of unending navel-gazing for the Government is that
the politicians and bureaucrats can give the impression they are
taking positive action on cultural policy without actually doing
anything more than shuffling the deck chairs. While blaming each
other for the shortfalls in funding. It would be unkind to suggest
that this is a way to keep apolitical artists
organisations onside politically without significantly improving
their lot. Sorensen notes the case of Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous
Theatre, which ‘survives’ on funding of $80,000. Tough
The danger is that the bureaucrats may only “survey” those
organizations that will give them comfortable answers. IP’s
the second largest publisher of literary titles in this State,
so were they interested in our reaction to the Bridge survey? Nope.
As the saying goes, the first I heard about it was what I read
in the newspaper. Thanks, Rosemary!
Actually, that’s not entirely true. In March, Marg
Director-General of Arts Queensland, paid a visit to Treetop Studio.
The aim was to talk about funding for IP, which, for 2003, is nil.
More on that later. Nevertheless, we had the cucumber sandwiches
ready, very much aware, as Sorensen puts it, of the need to show
fitting in with the new guidelines, whatever those might be.
intimated that change was in the wind, and that seed funding might
be available for new arts initiatives, such as our proposed ip.audio
series. But no mention was made of new funding for that or any
other changes to the current funding model. She noted that she
and Arts Minister Matt Foley were
on their way the very next day to Treasury to seek more money.
Were they successful? The Courier-Mail hasn’t
had anything to say about it, so I guess not.
Here’s the rub. As long as the arts continue to be regarded
as a soft target for the bean-counters in Government, the funding
increases won’t be there. So this strategy
of unending reviews is just about seeking greater efficiencies
in the system: making more with less. Or worse, making less with
Shed a tear for the Director-General. Her job is a hard one. If
Queensland artists weren’t so damned innovative, prolific
and, yes, bloody numerous, it might be easier for her to find more
creative ways to dispense peanuts to the deserving. As it is, she
and her officers spend more and more time trying to explain why
the money isn’t there.
We should be demanding two things of Government now. More money
to fund some new initiatives, and a much more objective and transparent
process for dishing out the funds. Aside from making a few arts
consultants richer with an expanding menu of reviews, all the Government
has achieved is the diversion of funds into high profile awards
that are, as Sorensen notes: ‘nice for a ceremony and speech
occasion but pretty old-fashioned and lame really.’
The most recent project funding round is a case in point. The writing
industry was represented on the peer review committee by two employees
of the University of Queensland Press (UQP) that had a say in rejecting
IP’s application for the first time in four years. Some might
argue that there’s no conflict of interest in this, since
UQP is funded operationally, outside the peer review process. But
the fact remains that operational funding and project funding ultimately
the same basket,
so whatever UQP skims off leaves a smaller pool for individual
artists and businesses like IP. It’s really smoke-and-mirrors,
and not a point that would be lost on the budget tightrope walkers
Add to this yet another review, still ongoing after two and a half
years, into who should be getting operational funding, and the
conflict of interest becomes even more blatant. IP is one of 50
candidates for access to operational funding, and what better way
to discredit our application than to have us rejected for project
Why didn’t Arts Queensland head off the conflict of interest?
Because UQP seems to be, in their mind at least, synonymous with
publishing in this State. UQP has reps on every major committee
related to publishing in this State, e.g the Brisbane Writers Festival,
the Queensland Poetry Festival, the Somerset Festival, and so on.
And even stronger lobbying goes on behind the scenes.
die a slow death. You can’t
blame Arts Queensland or the Government, for wanting to shelter
UQP from competition. One could well imagine the political fallout
was to expire. The Courier-Mail, more than generous with
space on matters related to UQP, recently acknowledged the challenges
faced by a
that has lost more than $1.1 million in one year, even before losing
Peter Carey from their current list. And in spite of more than
$150,000 of public funding support each year.
UQP’s status as the only publisher receiving operational
funding currently makes them immune from competition from upstarts
like IP, even when the runs on the board indicate that we have
done more for Queensland writers over the past three years in our
niche areas of specialty. But UQP’s favoured treatment goes
well beyond this. Everyone seems to have forgotten that, three
years ago, UQP decided to axe their poetry program, citing the
usual arguments about poetry publishing not paying its way. To
the credit of their current Senior Poetry Editor, a few titles
have drizzled out since, though mostly recycled content.
Suddenly, for no apparent reason, UQP has seen the light and become
a born-again poetry publisher. A Soliciting Poetry Editor has been
appointed. On World Poetry Day, Minister Foley announced a new
Tom Shapcott Award for best unpublished poetry manuscript — to
be published by guess-who. Was it a coincidence that one of the
UQP employees on the peer review committee that rejected IP’s
application just happens to be their new Soliciting Poetry Editor?
The new Shapcott Award joins others like the Premier’s Award
for the best manuscript by an emerging author and the best manuscript
by an Aboriginal author, all of which benefit UQP because the Government
has granted them the exclusive publishing rights — and the
funds that go with it. Most Government Departments go out of their
way to ensure that there is fair and open competition for taxpayers’ money,
but Arts Queensland and the Premier’s
Department apparently see no need of that on this matter.
This is particularly grating given the fact that two years ago,
I asked the Director-General and the Minister for funding in support
of the IP Picks Competition, which has two poetry categories, one
of which is dedicated to Queensland authors. At that time, the
Director-General informed me that it was not possible
to fund award competitions run by private businesses. It is, however,
very possible to fund UQP, a private business,
to publish award winners from the Government’s
own competitions, without inviting expressions of interest from
local publishing industry. This, over and beyond the generous public
funding UQP gets every year. And while IP has had to fund IP
Picks out of its scarce reserves.
Oh, but there’s more. Arts Queensland acknowledges the high
cost of publishing niche titles like poetry, so one option they’re
considering to address this is to fund poetry titles printed via
Print-on-Demand (POD). It just happens that UQP’s associate,
the UQ Printery has recently set up a POD operation, which has
not to date been able to attract any university or Government funding.
Can we look forward to yet another surprise announcement, say,
at the Brisbane Writers Festival?
These are points I raised with the Director-General and the Minister
a month ago. The Government needs to:
• Provide funding adequate to support emerging as well as
• Review the processes of arts funding to ensure they are transparent,
equitable and fair
• Ensure that key players are fully consulted in any review of Arts
Queensland funding processes
• Enforce clear guidelines preventing conflicts of interest
• Invite expressions of interest from local publishers with regard to publishing
winners of State competitions and other relevant activities.
To date I have heard nothing back. Is it all too hard, or can we
look forward to yet another round of reviews?
Even as you read this, our Autumn Season 2003 is already
on the road. Rather than start with a big bash in Brisbane, this time
we're meeting the authors on their home turf.
In the case of Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford, authors of
Swelter, that means events up on the Capricorn Coast, beginning
with the main launch at the Rockhampton Art
Gallery on Friday,
2 May at 5:30 p.m.. We’re pleased to have Liz
Huf, Editor of Idiom
23, and Lecturer at Central Queensland University, as the launcher
of the book.
On Saturday evening from 6:30, Yeppoon Library will sponsor readings
by Louise, Kristin and David as a part of their “Poetise” event.
Before that, David will hold Meet the Publisher sessions with local
authors interesting in pitching their work to IP.
The cover art for Swelter was provided by local artist Marie
Farr from one of her original limited edition
etchings, “To Float, to Dream” — makes you think of Ophelia, eh?
Gig Ryan waxes eloquently about the talent of this duo, who are
well-known up and down the Coast as excellent performers of their
A week later, David will be down in Melbourne for the launch of
Sally Finn’s award-winning Fine
Salt at the West St Kilda RSL on
Loch Street from 6 p.m.
A novel that Robert Drewe describes as ‘raw, vital and refreshingly
unsentimental’, Fine Salt was the inaugural winner of the
IP Picks 2002 Award for Fiction by an Australian author. Finn’s
work has a poetic feel about it, and the work has all the restless
energy and unpredictability of the open sea, so we look forward
to it taking its place on the Interactive Press list.
The cover art, which provides one of IP’s most striking covers
to date, was furnished by Sarah Banch of Sarah Banch Photography.
Former IP author, Michael Sariban recently published Luxuries,
his fourth collection, this time from Indigo Press of Canberra.
Michael was a member of the latter-day Angry Penguins, whose books
were caught in the changing of the guard at Penguin Books, Australia,
when they decided to axe their poetry series, leaving Michael and
eight other Queensland poets in the lurch. IP subsequently published
his third collection, Facing the Pacific.
Salom says of the book: Michael Sariban’s new collection
delivers quite surreal epiphanies. There is real pleasure here—these
poems enjoy life but are astute to its play of meanings. They are
lively and acute with observations and unexpected metaphors which
shift the reader by a kind of happy stealth. So as lyrics the poems
just grow on you, not only in their ability to speak openly and
without strut but in their surprising textual metaphysics. If they
begin full of inquiry, they modulate into perception and even a
kind of acceptance. Sariban has made poems of subtle momentum which
read and re-read with increasing power.
IPS has a limited supply of this fine new collection, which you can
order from this site. For those of you who missed out on Facing
the Pacific, see this issue’s Your Deal for a special promotion.
[In this issue we feature the two
authors of Swelter, one of the books to be launched in
our Autumn Season 2003. We’re very pleased to be publishing
these very talented authors from the Capricorn Coast, which is
about a day’s drive north of Brisbane. Louise Waller’s
collection within Swelter is entitled Slipway; Kristin
LW: In the audience during a Queensland Poetry Festival
panel discussion a few years back, I heard another poet comment
question on the writing process, ‘that she could not remember
a time when she didn’t write poetry’. Like
many other poets, I also share that experience. Although it wasn’t
until my mid-teens, when performing in a production of Shakespeare’s
Scottish play, that poetry became a complete and lifelong experience
I enjoy reading other poets’ work and find the field
of ideas and language of much contemporary work very stimulating.
work for Slipway I was gratified also to go back and read
some poetries of the not-so recent past.
the imagination is not a state, it is the shape of human existence…’ William
Slipway is an eclectic mix of form and mode that I
first started to develop around 1995 when I was performing and writing
with Open Hand Theatre — a local group — and some of
this poetry, I have since adapted and had produced for stage. My
during this period, most recently with Kristin,
has resulted in incredible gains and insights for my own work and
One thing only I know, and that is, that I know nothing…’ Socrates
For me, inspiration usually starts as an idea waiting around for
an image to catch. Sometimes visual imagery insinuates itself or
abstract concepts re-arrange as inspiration for work, rarely do I
plan from first impressions, but I like to keep notes.
words down is almost always, the end of a longer process for me and
I have not been prolific during many periods in my life. With this
collection I have enjoyed taking risks and experimented outside agendas
and genre fashions.
This collection represents a process for me, of being ‘on pause’ —
much as a boat is when up for maintenance or repairs in the slipways
all around coastal Australia. Being made ready to sail again.
My enjoyment of the surreal and the
influence of environment, after twenty years of residence here, has
been strong and enduring in this collection and some of my current
work also reflects this. I am also developing a series of dramatic
representations, which I hope to document via new media technology
in the near future.
I hope you enjoy Swelter and my Slipway collection.
— Louise Waller
KH: I find it difficult to articulate
all the intricacies ‘the what, where, why, and who’ of
my writing. I suppose if anything it is the old ‘making
sense of the world’ adage: I find myself meditating
on the details of things which surround me.
I started writing poetry (as
many poets seem to) as a young teenager. I had a lot of support and
encouragement from my father, who genuinely seemed amazed (he still
is) that I could
be writing and starting to think very deeply about
all those teenage concerns — love, death and the universe.
Words and images, the translation of my experiences, hassle me until
I find a resolution to them in the writing. Essentially reading and
writing poetry gives me a great deal of pleasure. There is always
something unexpected about poetry — word play,
structural impact, and the unusual associations of ideas — that
makes poetry a dynamic and intensely interesting genre.
times and patterns are very spasmodic. I have young
children and also work part time, so the writing comes fast and furious
I get the chance. I’m always reading, though, and mostly
Australian poets. There is such energy emerging from
Australian poetry at the moment.
I’ve been living in Central Queensland for just over six
years. I’m still incredibly perplexed and interested by the
possibilities of writing about this incredible landscape in my poetry.
Flying foxes outside the windows at night, geckos on the walls, mosquitoes
which devour you whole, Mangroves and Pandanus — just to get
I’ve been working with Louise Waller and other regional poets
on various projects for just over three years, and the performances
and readings have always been exciting, and hopefully bring
some level of innovation to the region. I love the possibilities
of theatricised readings, with props, lighting etc. “Circus” has
been performed in a ringmaster’s suit with a juggler moving
— that was a wonderful experience. We also had some children
in the audience and they just loved it.
So breathe in — and enjoy my debut collection Inhale.
— Kristin Hannaford
[Recently I was in Stanthorpe to
read a story the library had asked me to write about wine and food
for their annual festival. After the reading, Jill Murch showed
me one of five books from her For
Love of the Earth series. Not
only is Jill a very talented photographer of the many moods and
scenes of Australia, she has a poetic gift that adds just the
right touch to her images. IPS has a very limited supply of these
hardback titles for sale at a mere $33 each. They would sit well
on the most elegant of coffee tables. Below, Jill gives us a brief
art. — DR]
My childhood was spent reading
and roaming on the family farm where I developed a love of the
later years I acquired a camera and translated this love to images.
In 1988 I was encouraged to open a gallery in Robe, South Australia.
The gallery supported me and enabled the publication of the FOR
I had always wanted to express through the written word, but I doubt
this would have happened without the photos. When a man once called
me a photographer, I said, ‘I don’t see myself as a photographer.’ In case he thought I was being unduly modest, I added, ‘If I
see myself as any ONE thing, it might prevent me being ALL things!’
spent a long time looking at the framed photos and then returned
and triumphantly said, ‘Now I know what you are — you’re
I had been a primary school teacher and later started a day nursery
for small children. Five years were spent running a Roadhouse. Then,
when I needed to support my own children, I started an Amusement
Center in a tourist town and ran it for nine years. This was in the
time of pinball machines becoming electronic.
We lived in the back
and I had a room converted to be a darkroom. From there I moved to
a small farm adjoining coastal dunes and bred carpet wool sheep.
Walking through these magnificent dunes with one of the young people
from the Fun Parlour days. I waved my camera and said, ‘Wouldn’t
it be wonderful to be an Image Gatherer and be paid for it?’
were prophetic words that led to the Photo/Poet label and to my presence
on this web site.
— Jill Murch
[One last reminder to those of you finding
your email to us bouncing back.]
If you made it to this page, you’ll note that
the URL has changed. That’s because IP now has a new domain:
Why the switch? interpr.com.au is a bit more of a mouthful (try reading
it out over the phone!) And it’s not all that easy for people
to remember. The .biz suffix identifies a site devoted to business,
and the company can be located anywhere. For companies like ours
who are constantly seeking a more global market, .biz makes a lot
In the last issue we said that the old links would work for a while.
Well, they no longer do, so please change your bookmarks
and address book entries NOW.
And for those stragglers in the pack still sending email to powerup.com.au,
please make the change ASAP!!
To amend your bookmarks, simply substitute “ipoz.biz” for
every instance of “interpr.com.au”. Too easy!
[Director David Reiter was invited
to address the International Conference on the Future of the Book
held in Cairns on 22-24 April. Seeing no reason why he should enjoy
himself for the balance of his stay I invited him to review the
highlights of the conference for you upon his return. — SM]
Genghis Khan really invent the e-book? No one at the International
Future of the Book Conference in Cairns (22-24 April 2003) went so
far as to propose that, but it was the kind of conclusion a hot-wired
imagination might have come to by the end of this stimulating conference. Actually author John
Man from the UK, in his nostalgic tribute to
Gutenberg, gave Genghis a lot of air time and did give him credit
for sewing the seeds that led to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism,
9/15 and a general preference for memory to memory transmission of
culture rather than through the print medium. The old Mongol would
have preferred a PDA to a Lonely Planet guide to Eastern Europe,
so when the market demands, business responds.
In the end there really wasn’t much of a debate about the future
of the book in printed form. No one got up to trot out the stats
on how poorly e-books are selling, and my cab driver, in spite of
missing all the sessions, was certainly in no doubt that people still
prefer hard copy. After all, e-book readers haven’t improved
much since their inception several years ago, and most of the talent
seems to be concentrating on delivering digital content via printed
books or surrogate readers that might as well be books.
Jason Epstein, credited with starting the paperback revolution, threw
down the gauntlet from the first plenary session, by suggesting that
soon authors would be able to transmit text from the top of Everest
to a machine that could print, bind and print a book in less than
three minutes at 50% of the cost of the current workflow. Big publishers
would be the big losers in this scenario, with authors working closely
with literate agents to polish manuscripts and then make them available
to the world via intelligent Print-on-Demand (POD) machines as user-friendly
to the end user as automatic tellers.
Epstein saw the main advantage of POD as ensuring the ‘accumulated
memory of the species’ would not be lost. Backlists could be
maintained indefinitely, and online versions of texts would be available
globally, even to readers disadvantaged by geography or their economic
standing. Simplifying the supply chain would mean that booksellers
and distributors would lose out, resulting in royalties of 30% to
authors and margins of up to 30% for publishers.
So what are we waiting for?
Epstein’s miracle machine is only in prototype at the moment,
and then there is the problem of getting enough of them out there
to make the new publishing system a credible alternative to the current
one. And Epstein had no doubt that big publishers and printers would
not go gentle unto that good night. Indeed he conceded that the system
would be better suited to titles that do not sell in huge quantities.
Which means that the larger bookshops would probably drag the chain
until they could be convinced the sales would follow their US$100,000
investment in Epstein’s POD machine.
Publishing is all about achieving efficiency in the process, and
Bill Cope, Director, Common Ground, sees great sense in trying to
convince authors and publishers to work in templates that would make “re-purposing” content
easier. Authors can be a feral lot when it comes to applying style
sheets—or even going beyond the basics of the word processor —to
save time for the publisher and improve someone else’s bottom
line. And again big publishers already angst-ridden about shrinking
margins are less likely to entertain new systems than independent
publishers with less to lose.
Professor Göran Ross, from the Centre for Business Performance
at Cranfield University, UK, suggested that it was high time for
the key players in the publishing process to start working more systematically
in managing their “intellectual capital”. He was critical
of those companies so obsessed with efficiency that they produce
things cheaply that nobody wants. What is needed is a greater emphasis
on providing value in the process. Here, authors become “value
shops”, with their leverage depending on their creative ability
(having a recognised name certainly helps!). Publishers form value
networks, enhancing the creative output of their authors, under brands
they hope will attract business in the marketplace.
Oliver Freeman, Managing Director, Richmond
us to embrace uncertainty in planning scenarios to meet alternative
futures. It’s an attractive suggestion to those of us still
trying to remedy the mistakes of the past in the shifting sands of
the present! The moral here seems to be that once you’ve planned
for the things you know are going to happen there’s no time
for a coffee break; we need to bring what we don’t know into
the equation, too. And that means thinking 15 years ahead. Good advice
for organizations that can afford a full-time strategic planner.
Not so hot for those that live from year to year on slim margins
and shrinking grants.
There were a myriad of shorter sessions as well, including my own: ‘Synergies
between Print and Digital Publishing: Five Years in the Life of an
Australian Independent’. Quite independently from Epstein I
had reached the same conclusion about the role of small presses in
the new publishing equation. Not only are independent publishers
better positioned to take advantage of the rapid changes in technology,
we are more likely to benefit from them by using them to make our
processes more efficient and widen our access to existing and emerging
markets. The best example of this for IP is our multimedia work under
our IP Digital imprint. Rather than taking months to debate the place
of experimental work in a larger infrastructure, smaller companies
can just do it, as Nike advises.
The danger is in becoming over-extended, and in that I agree wholeheartedly
with Göran Ross’ three-pronged advice that companies should
• what they can truly excel in
• what they can be passionate about
• what will enhance the economic engine of the business.
Just to touch on some of the more interesting points raised in the
shorter sessions, Dr Simone Murray of UQ’s School of English saw fertile ground for the book being the ‘handmaiden’ of
other media. As our screen-viewing options expand, so too will the
demand for quality content. Authors may find lucrative opportunities
in adapting their own print work, or that of others, to screen versions.
Carolyne Cohn of Blackwell’s Book Services, and other speakers
from the library sector, acknowledged increasing pressure on library
budgets that leaves less money for purchasing books. More and more
libraries depend on “suppliers” who filter available
content for them, even select and package their purchases. Good news
for larger publishers who have the muscle to have priority with the
suppliers; bad news for independent publishers who cannot afford
to pay the discounts the suppliers demand to get priority attention
with their clients.
Perhaps one session we should have had but didn’t
would have considered how libraries can restore the balance between
the homogenised outcomes recommended by their suppliers and the more
innovative titles being passed over when small presses fail to gain
access to library collection managers.
For IP, a very good case in point is our own local Brisbane City
Council Library Service. Comprising the largest number of branches
in Australia, the BCC Libraries have chosen to order through supply
channels that, for the most part, have ignored our list. This puts
us in the ridiculous position of not having titles produced in Brisbane
available in our own public libraries. When asked, we advise people
to go to the Gold Coast, Redlands, Logan, Ipswich and Pine Rivers
Regional Libraries, which do stock our titles because we meet directly
with the collection librarians. Christine McKensie,
Manager of BCC Library Services, gave a paper: “Readers and Public Libraries—Are
We Keeping Up?” The answer to her question from an IP perspective
is a resounding no!
The conference went for three days, and there were many other sessions
I would have liked to have attended but couldn’t. Common Ground
is to be applauded for bringing so many people of note together to
discuss the many themes relevant to the future of the book. The plan
is for the proceedings to be published on CD-ROM, so if you found
this survey of interest, I suggest that you check out the conference
Genghis will be there, in spirit, at least.
Congratulations to Director David Reiter
on his recent grant of $20,000 from Arts Queensland to develop his
third literary multimedia project, My Planets.
Reiter describes My Planets as a ‘fictive memoir’. It
explores his new sense of identity following his reunion with his
biological mother from whom he was separated at birth. ‘I went
from being an only child of adoptive parents now deceased,’ he
said, ‘to being the oldest of seven siblings scattered across
So what does this have to do with the planets? ‘I’ve
always been interested in astronomy,’ he says, ‘and the
germ of the idea here came from the notion of how different the universe
must look from the point of view of someone standing on Mars or Jupiter,
as opposed to Earth. I saw an analogy between this and how my own
worldview has changed as a result of the reunion with people who
were strangers for years but who are now blood relations. It’s
like stepping into different worlds, especially when the views of “reality” vary,
depending on who you talk to.’
The completed work will combine astronomy, mythology, prose and poetry
focused on the individual planets in a dynamic non-linear work. Users
will be able to navigate their own pathway through the work, which
will include links to external sites having content relevant to its
themes. One of the unifying elements will be Holst’s The
a musical suite that Reiter plans to use to set the mood for each
of his planetary locales.
The key difference between this new project and Reiter’s previous
works — The Gallery and Sharpened
Knife — will be the
collaboration with specialists in New Media. Up until now he has
had to learn a variety of software packages needed to deliver his
text and multimedia content. This has been largely for budgetary
reasons — Government agencies are reluctant to fund new artforms.
However, it’s also been by choice: ‘artists prefer to
maintain control over their work,’ Reiter notes. ‘I wanted
to learn more about these authoring packages so I would know what
is possible in the future, even if I don’t always do it myself.’
But now some of the packages he needs to use 3D motion and sophisticated
interactivity are beyond the limits of his expertise and available
time. So he plans to work with a local specialist in these areas,
‘Chris is not only fluent in the off-the-shelf
software we’ll need,’ Reiter says, ‘he’s
a keen programmer who can create a solution where none is readily
available in existing packages.’ Added to that is Chris’ own
artistic bent, which should make for an exciting collaboration
over the months it will take to develop My Planets from a concept
a finished work.
The Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, one of the foremost New
Media institutions in the world, has expressed an interest in co-producing
the work. Reiter spent a month in residence at their Leighton Studios
in 2000, working with their New Media people on the post-production
of The Gallery. While My Planets will go ahead regardless, Banff’s
involvement would give it more global credibility and a much better
chance of achieving significant sales.
If Banff accepts the proposal,
the plan is for Reiter and Davey to consult with their staff remotely
throughout the developmental stages and then go to Canada in 2004
to complete and refine the work using their state-of-the-art facilities.
With our Autumn 2003 Season about to get underway, this column
is more about things to come than events past. Still, a couple of
highlights come to mind.
There was a good turn-out at the Queensland Writers Centre
Meet the Publisher event on 6 March
at the QWC’s Metro Arts office. Director Hilary
put the panel at ease in her introduction by warning the audience
to try to offload any manuscripts on us.
Linda Funnell from HarperCollins poured
cold water on the dreams of the attendees who didn’t already
know that the ‘Evil Empire’ no longer accepts unsolicited
manuscripts; authors must go through agents.
Madonna Duffy from UQP assured them that there would be life after
Peter Carey for her company and that a healthy 50 titles were already
scheduled for 2003. In something of a surprise, UQP has decided to
resurrect their poetry program with the appointment of Bronwyn Lea
as their new Soliciting Editor.While not ruling out the possibility
of unknown authors striking gold in the slushpile, Madonna was quick
to note that the chances are against first-time authors.
Introduced by Hilary as the maverick on the panel, I emphasized how
IP is using technology to create an efficient workflow from the first
edit through completion of the final proof. There was much interest
from all concerned — including the other panel members — in
our digital publishing and promotional activities. Like the other
members, I stressed the need for prospective authors to obtain guidelines
and know something about us before making a submission.
Rowbotham and Chris
Mansell were much in evidence at the New
Wales Writers Centre Harvest Festival (8-9 March) at the Centre
in Rozelle. In a featured session, Rowbotham, a charter member
Centre, read to an appreciative audience from Poems
for America, as did Mansell
from her IP Digital audio + text CD The
Fickle Brat. Reiter held his own against the first round of
the Poetry Slam to give a demo of his latest multimedia title, Sharpened
leading an all-day workshop Get Published
Online! on Sunday. Attendees of the workshop came with thoughtful
questions, which made for a stimulating day for all concerned.
Following our Autumn Season 2003 launch
in Melbourne, David will travel to Wagga, Wagga, where the Booranga
Writers Centre at Charles Sturt University will feature him on a
bill of readings on 15 May. For further information, contact
David Gilbey at
Then on to Orange, where the Central West Writers Centre has organised
a poetry master class for David to lead on Friday the 16th and a
workshop the next day for local teachers on online composing and
the evaluation of student work. For more details, contact the Centre’s
Director, Justin Byrne.
IP has been invited to the
annual conference of the Queensland Public
Libraries Association in
Mackay in the first week of June. Specifically, David will participate
in the Conference's
Innovations Forum on 2 June at the Gordon White Library, Phillip
Street, Mount Pleasant, from 3-5 p.m.
Before the Forum begins, he will read from his latest work, along
with IP authors Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford, who will be
reading from their new book, Swelter. The event will begin at 12:45
on the lawn outside the Mackay Entertainment Centre, which is the
main venue for the Conference.
For more info, please contact Val
Hooper at Mackay Library.
We’re awaiting word from the Queensland
State Library on a proposal that would see David Reiter return to
Library to assist with the setting up of a new writers' group there.
Writers' groups sometimes fail because they lose sight of an important
aim — to improve the writing of their members. Some become
little more than social gatherings where feedback is less than helpful.
This isn't always because the members are too shy to speak out. Many
people need some guidelines on how to identify weaknesses and strengths
in a piece of writing and then how to convey that to the author constructively.
Our compliments to Di Rieger, Librarian at Stanthorpe, for her foresight
in attempting to get this project underway. If funding is approved,
the full-day workshop will be held in two sessions — one in
July, with a follow-up early in 2004. For more information, keep
in touch with Di.
On 16 August, David will move his
online composing and publishing roadshow to Dubbo, thanks to
organisational help from local author Alice Hawkins.
The workshop provides an introduction to the essentials of online
work and the adjustments that authors need to make in adapting
their work to the digital environment
or composing from scratch. David provides case studies from his
literary multimedia work, as well as advice on what software
work best. Participants are encouraged to come with questions.
organisation will be the Western College
of Adult Education,
which is already accepting enrolments. Watch this space for further
information, or contact Lindy
Allen at the College.
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