Archive for the ‘The Great eBook Debate’ Category


Lost Treasures

It was like a small death – a lemming leaping over the precipice with the mob because someone thought it was a good idea.

Only to survive and wonder how you could be convinced such an act could be constructive in the short or long term.

At 21 I relinquished the loves of my young life, the booksof my childhood, for a worthy cause.

Not my worthy cause – the workplace of my future mother- in- law was a mental hospital in Melbourne’s north where she was matron.

She knew of my treasure trove, and in collusion with my mother presented a case to forsake my hoarding habits and have a good clean out of the book case. After all – I would be married in a year and travelling and my childhood stash would be an encumbrance to my parents.

But – should I have children of my own, wouldn’t this precious collection be the source of rousing imaginations of a new generation?

Some of the books from my grown up chlldren’s library.

I recall painfully sorting through my dearest companions. I still had Enid Blyton from Noddy to the Faraway Tree to the Famous Five and Secret Seven, a weighty old Blinky Bill with his stick and kerchief on a sepia cover I’d been given when I was very small, and May Gibbs’ Snugglepot and Cuddlepie which I adored.

I think these two important contributions to Australian children’s literature helped form a very early and healthy interest in … continue reading


A View of One’s Own

I am not tremendously for or against ebooks – they simply are but one more form that stories can take. Unlike newspapers, I think there will always be a market for printed books, and that print will remain the preferred form for illustrated books in particular.

Max und Moritz

At A&U they have been part of our lives for several years now. Our ebook queen Elizabeth Weiss, also our Academic publisher, felt the impact of plunging text book sales and the rise of ebooks much earlier than the rest of us and made it her business to change our systems so that we could take advantage of the digital revolution as it developed. And she was right – the sales trajectory across the whole A&U list is zooming up. Ebooks are here whether we like them or not and as publishers we have to engage or die.

But I want to segue here and not give you the publishers’ perspective – there is so much written on this topic and to be honest I am more interested in what makes a literary culture vibrant than what Richard Flanagan described in the Age on June 16 as the ‘determined, dreary excitement around digitisation’. I am not a luddite, nor a technological whiz – I am simply someone who uses a computer, has borrowed the office Kobo ereader, owns an iphone and may have an ipad by the end of this year. I also live in a house stuffed full of books … continue reading


A pernickity book worm

From the moment my mother first introduced me to the written word I have been a book worm. Always curious, always questioning and always devouring new stories and adventures – eager to dig in and become all consumed.

I love the smell of pages, the weight of the story in my hands, the dog-eared corners and scribbled margins. It was for these reasons that I was wary of the eBook phenomenon. As part of the education field, I knew all the reasons they were great. I had no problem with the concept of them. I didn’t fear their sometimes predicted obliteration of the printed book.

I just didn’t want to read a book that wasn’t a book book.

I flirted with the idea of buying an eReader for two years before I finally gave in late last year. It wasn’t through peer pressure or a curiosity about the medium, rather the frustration at lugging so many books around with me. At any one time, I would have 2-3 books on my persons – the idea of having it in one tablet was attractive.

So I bought one.

And I did nothing with it for two months. Some may argue that’s because I chose to go with a Sony Reader model instead of the much lauded iPad but really I felt unfaithful. It took a publisher sending me a review copy in digital form to change my mind. Ever attempting to read a 250+ page manuscript from a stack of papers … continue reading