Australian publishing has become ever more diverse and features a mix of players that includes big home-grown companies, branches of multinationals, longtime family operations, several veteran publishers and editors who have gone out on their own, and specialists in many and various niches. Most every significant publisher in the land down under is publishing an increasing number of titles by and for Australians—as well as importing and exporting in greater quantities. Herewith profiles of key players in the Australian book world.
THE BIG BOYS
It’s been a cheerful if exhausting year already for Allen & Unwin, which calls itself "Australia’s leading independent book publisher." Consider these honors and accomplishments: the house was named APA Publisher of the Year for the third year in a row and the fifth time since 1992. Journey to the Stone Country by Alex Miller won the 2003 Miles Franklin Award, the country’s most prestigious literary award (and one that boosts sales). And, of course, in June the house published Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Australia and New Zealand, an event that went off without a hitch (in contrast to the U.S. and U.K.). Not bad for a company that has been in business in its present form only since 1990, when its managers bought it from the U.K. parent company, which itself had just been bought by HarperCollins.
The detailed planning for delivery of Harry Potter V’s first printing of 750,000 (an extraordinary number in a nation of 19 million) and the maintenance of the embargo occupied much of the attention of the house for the first part of the year. Amazingly for the Potter push, the company added only a "little part-time" help and one full-time person whose sole task was to match bookseller "embargo contracts" with orders before books would be shipped. Otherwise, the regular staff of about 70 handled the book, and some had a "very heavy Harry load," as managing and publishing director Patrick Gallagher puts it.
The rest of Allen & Unwin’s load is substantial. The company is publishing about 220 titles this year that range from adult fiction and nonfiction and children’s books to college and university and professional publishing. "There’s not a lot we don’t publish," says Paul Donovan, sales and marketing director. (In fact, primary and secondary level text publishing is the only major gap in the company’s program.) Gallagher adds, "Like all multinationals, we’re of such a size that we have to publish across the spectrum to maintain our place. We’re now among the top four trade publishers in Australia and have to pedal fast."
The company publishes some 25—30 original Australian fiction titles a year. Miles Franklin winner Alex Miller is "the fiction star at the moment," Gallagher says. Disordered Minds by Minette Walters will be a "big trade paperback" title. In addition, in October, Allen & Unwin is publishing The Alphabet of Light and Dark by Danielle Wood, winner of this year’s Australian/Vogel Award, which was begun in 1980 and is given to the best manuscript by a writer under the age of 35. A cosponsor of the prize, Allen & Unwin publishes the winner and some of the short-listed titles; among the authors who have won in the past are Tim Winton, Kate Grenville, Gillian Mears, Brian Castro, Mandy Sayer and Andrew McGahan. The prize "gives us a line into young fiction writers," Gallagher adds.
The company’s general nonfiction list has a variety of niches, including popular science, military history, business and health and fitness. Like other Australian publishers, Allen & Unwin does well with true crime. Members of the gang of successful titles: The Brotherhoods by Art Veno, about Australian outlaw motorcycle clubs, and Blood Stain by Peter Lalor, about Katherine Knight, an Australian woman serving a life sentence for killing and, um, cooking a man.
Several current strong nonfiction titles are Girlosophy: A Soul Survival Kitand Girlosophy 2: The Love Survival Kit by Anthea Paul, which are aimed at older teenagers and women. The company publishes some 25—30 books from the U.S. Noam Chomsky, Gallagher says, is one of the most successful of these imports.
Allen & Unwin is the Australian agent for Bloomsbury (hence Harry Potter), Orion Publishing, Granta and others. The strong children’s list of 30—40 a year sells well abroad and "in the U.S. in particular," Donovan notes. In the U.S., Allen & Unwin’s trade list is represented by Independent Publishers Group and the academic list by Paul & Co. Gallagher says that IPG, the company’s U.S. rep for 10 years, does especially well with backlist, which in Australia is a "smaller and smaller part of turnover"—for the most part, a function of the country’s comparably low population.
IPG president Mark Suchomel notes that Allen & Unwin publishes "tremendous-looking books that are in some ways ahead of the curve compared to many U.S. publishers. Wesell a lot of their stuff." He also observes that when making marketing decisions, A&U keeps an eye on international sales, particularly in using appropriate jacket copy.
Random House Australia distributes many titles from Random House U.K. and buys licenses for Australia, but the Australian side of the publishing program has grown substantially in the past five years. The company publishes in two adult divisions: Random House, Knopf and Vintage; and Bantam & Doubleday. Its other major components are the illustrated division and Random children’s publishing.
"The U.S. is such a big market for us, both in co-editions and rights," managing director Margaret Seale says. The company sells such books as Botanica and Geographica: The Complete Illustrated Atlas of the World and their pocket editions to the U.S. and directly to such accounts as AMS, B&N and Borders. Still, sales of "rights are increasingly important, particularly in the categories of children’s, travel memoir, literary and mind, body and spirit," Seale says. "As these titles work, people come back to you."
One such deal earlier this year involved three titles by James Valentine, who lives in Sydney and hosts a daily radio show and weekly TV program and writes children’s books. (In October, Jumpman Rule Two, the second book in his Jumpman series, appears.) Ian Bone, whose Vidz 1: A Dangerous Secret appears this month, is another current Random House Australia author who has "traveled": Random House in the U.S. is publishing some of his titles.
Like many multinationals, Random House Australia "always shows titles to family first," as Seale puts it. "We work closely on all kinds of things, even if we can’t force them to buy books."
A strong category in Australia right now is travel memoir. As Seale explains, "Australians like reading about people’s physical and metaphysical journeys." Among strong titles in this category: Almost French: A New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull, a 2002 title that has sold some 140,000 copies; Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald, which sold 50,000 copies; The Handsomest Man in Cuba by Lynette Chiang; Antarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson; and Our Woman in Kabul by Irris Makler.
As at Allen & Unwin, another hot category is true crime, both stories about international and local crimes and criminals. The major current Aussie tale of this sort: When the Bough Breaks by Matthew Benns, about Kathleen Folbigg, who killed her four children over 10 years. "The market is very interested in reading a story," Seale says. "Nonfiction is riding high right now."
Among other bestsellers: in children’s, the Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant has sold 500,000 copies in 18 months, and in the gift category, the Blue Day Book by local author Bradley Trevor Greive has sold some 700,000 copies in Australia. Important general titles this season include a novel by Peter Carey, My Life as a Fake; and another Greive title, Tomorrow: Ad ventures in an Uncertain World.
Random won the APA Distributor of the Year in June. (The company has also won Publisher of the Year four times in the past 10 years.) Seale attributes the popularity of the company’s warehouse to its emphasis on "incremental change" rather than coming up with a completely new system all at once, which, of course, often leads to disaster for up to a year when companies change over. Moreover, she continues, the customer service team does "brilliant" work: "orders that are in by three, go out the next day." Things are going so well that, like its cousin in Westminster, Md., the company is looking to add distribution clients. (Currently it handles BBC Books and, of course, imports many Random House titles from the U.S. and U.K.)
Congratulations! September 1 is the first official day as managing director of Penguin Australia for Gabrielle Coyne, whose promotion from marketing director was announced earlier this year. While the company’s distribution business is important, Coyne says she will focus at the beginning on what she calls the core business, the "sales, marketing and publishing company." (Penguin claims some 10% of the Australian market.) Many of the com pany’s titles come from Penguin Group U.K. "We don’t get that much Penguin U.S.," Coyne says.
Penguin puts out some 120 adult and children’s titles a year, a program she calls "robust." As with other publishers, children’s titles export well, including Sonya Hartnett’s Of a Boy, which has been published abroad as What the Birds See, as well as titles by Paul Jennings, Morris Gleitzman and Graeme Base.
The biggest book of the Christmas sea son for Penguin, Coyne says, will be the autobiography of Cathy Freeman, the Olympic gold medal runner and a national hero for Australia (the 2000 Sydney Games were a high point) who announced her retirement in July. Michael Moore’s Dude, Where’s My Country will appear in November.
Food is a major Penguin category, and important authors include Stephanie Alexander, the restaurateur whose The Cook’s Companion is "the Australian cooking Bible," as Coyne puts it; it has sold more than 200,000 copies since 1996.
One of Penguin’s "strongest backlist authors" is Kaz Cooke, a writer, humorist and cartoonist who has done well with The Modern Girl’s Guide to Everything and The Modern Girl’s Guide to Safe Sex. Late this year she offers a sequel to Up the Duff, her book about pregnancy, called Kid-wrangling: Caring for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers.
And, of course, Penguin boasts Bryce Courtenay, who Coyne calls "Australia’s most popular author." His most recent book is Four Fires. Penguin is one of Australia’s major distributors, too, handling Little, Brown U.S., Time Warner U.K., Faber & Faber, Virgin and Canongate, among others. Its Australian client publishers include Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Text Publishing and the University of Queensland Press.
Pan Macmillan is arguably the most diverse publishing operation in Australia. The Holtzbrinck company, which reports to London, consists of Macmillan trade publishing, the general and children’s book division that includes the Pan Macmillan and Picador imprints; Macmillan Education, which focuses on primary and secondary educational markets; Pal grave Macmillan, the academic trade, text and reference and online reference division; and Macmillan Publishing Services and Macmillan Distribution Services, which handle distribution and wholesaling for many publishers.
In the past year, the company has recorded "strong growth" in all of its businesses, says Ross Gibb, group managing director. In the school market, the company exports a "huge amount" of primary school material to the U.S. Despite Holtzbrinck’s large corporate presence in the U.S. via Holt, St. Martin’s and FSG, Macmillan Australia "goes it alone" in the U.S. be cause its cousins there do not have a strong school operation. It has partnered with McGraw-Hill’s Wright Group.
The company also has strong sales of some half dozen dictionaries in China and sells primary school literacy programs in South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Gibb calls Asia "one of the great challenges for Australian publishing. We’re on the steps of Asia but have not made great inroads."
Several years ago, Macmillan put its own academic publishing "on hold," and has built its business by representing such publishers as Perseus and Verso. The company is now considering re-entering academic publishing. Pan Macmillan is doing "well," Gibb says. It puts out some 120 titles a year, with a little more than half Australian titles and the rest coming from Pan Macmillan U.K., St. Martin’s/Tor and "anyone we might rep resent." Because of mergers, rights have "dried up," Gibb says, so "we chip away here and there."
In the trade area, one of the company’s greatest successes in the past year was Gallipoli by Les Carlyon, which it released in hardcover in August 2001 and issued in paperback on Anzac Day (April 25). "It was not widely supported," Gibb notes. "People said, ‘Who needs anotherGallipoli book?" Still, the title has sold almost 150,000 copies and in June won the APA Readers’ Choice Award, selected by the readers of the Australian Women’s Weekly.
Some 15 years ago, less than 10% of the company’s trade titles were "Australian-grown," Gibb says. Encouraged by its owners to be "significant Australian publishers," the company is "still strong in both commercial and literary fiction, although nonfiction and children’s are growing." Some strong commercial authors include Di Morrissey and Matthew Reilly, whom Gibb calls the "second bestselling fiction writer in the country." The Picador list features some of the best literary writers in Australia, Gibb adds, including Richard Flanagan, Kate Grenville and Tim Win ton. The children’s list is "massively successful" despite having "only a few authors." Among them are John Marsden and Andy Griffiths.
HarperCollins Australia CEO Brian Murray says that of the company’s "full" list of 200 titles a month, 60% are from Harper-Collins U.K., 10% from the U.S. and 30% local, the last of which continues to have great potential. "There are big gaps in local needs," Murray comments. "Australians want to read more about themselves."
Not long ago, the company distributed a range of publishers, including Golden Books before Random House bought it. Now it distributes just a few publishers "to complement our list," Murray says. These include Pavilion Books, Paper Tiger and Collins & Brown.
Among major authors are the familiar names of Jeffrey Archer, Geraldine Brooks, Tracy Chevalier, Jack Higgins, Frank McCourt, Ann Patchett, Jane Smiley, Lemony Snicket, R.L. Stine, Amy Tan and Michael Crichton. Murray is particularly proud of HarperCollins’ work with Crichton’s last book. By publishing him in trade paper back (his previous Australian publisher preferred hardcover), Harper was able to triple sales "at a time big fiction is down," Murray emphasizes.
The company usually puts out one "big" fiction title in hardcover a month; the rest is paperback, as befits Australian readers’ taste these days. Although News Corp., of course, owns HarperCollins, HarperCollins Australia has little connection with News Ltd., the Murdoch business that in Australia mostly involves newspapers. As a result, HarperCollins Australia’s only connection with News is distributing Fox videos and DVDs.
Like many publishers with parents overseas, Hodder Headline started as a "distribution-centric company that did publishing as an afterthought," says Lisa Highton, publishing director. "Now there’s a commitment to being a proper publisher."
The company, whose ultimate parent is W.H. Smith and was created 10 years ago by the merger of Hodder & Stoughton and Headline, has a list of about 80 titles, half of which are children’s. While nearly half of the titles are Australia-oriented, much of the list is what Highton calls a "hybrid between the U.K. and the U.S.," with ever more titles from the U.S. "We often buy books seen as unsellable in the U.K.," High ton explains. One example: House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus, which had been turned down "by all the major U.K. publishers and we did it in trade paperback in a modest quantity," Highton says. "Then Oprah did her anointing work, and we sold 10 times the quantity we had." Similarly the company jumped on Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom 18 months before it was bought in the U.K.
Among Australian titles: The Man Who Saw Too Much: David Brill, War Photography by John Little, a biography of the Australian cameraman; Mailman of the Birdsville Track: The Story of Tom Kruse by Kristen Weidenbach, about a well-known postman who delivered mail in the out back; Black Chicks Talking by Leah Purcell, "conversations" with nine young Aboriginal women; and The Promoters: The Inside Story of the Australian Rock Industry by Stuart Coupe.
"International" Hodder Headline authors include Jean Auel, Nora Roberts, Lee Smith, Rosie O’Donnell, James McBride, the Dalai Lama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. (The healthy sales of Living History in Australia did not "astonish us," Highton says. "It’s a women’s book. It worked here, too.")
At the same time the company is importing many titles, it’s also selling plenty of rights around the world—even if they aren’t the "precious literary novels" people think of in this regard. "They forget the less-sexy titles that make a fortune," High ton says. One of Hodder Headline’s less-sexy titles that has made a sweet fortune is The Glucose Revolution, which has sold 1.5 million copies worldwide and was followed last year by The New Glucose Revolution by Jennie Brand-Miller, Kaye Foster-Powell and Stephen Colagiuri.
The company’s children’s line includes the Otori Trilogy by Lian Hearn, which Riverhead published in the U.S. The first title in the series, Across the Nightingale Floor, won the APA Marketing Campaign of the Year Award in June. The second title, Grass for His Pillow, appears in October. (It was published in the U.S. in August.)
Despite its name and role as a distributor of titles from its English-language cousins in the Northern Hemisphere, Simon & Schuster Australia publishes about 30 titles a year that have as themes "family and home by Australians and for Australians," as managing director and publisher Jon Attenborough puts it. "It may sound corny, but it’s our publishing philosophy."
S&S Australia’s publishing program, which uses the S&S Australia and Kangaroo Press imprints, includes "a little fiction" and some nonfiction, including military history and titles done with Nickelodeon. The company sometimes acquires the "odd" book from other publishers, but deals extensively with S&S in the U.S. and the U.K., Attenborough says.
Certain types of books S&S Australia publishes do not travel well to the U.S., including mind/body/spirit and crafts since there are so many American titles dealing with the former subject and specialized companies sell crafts books into crafts stores, Attenborough says. But some titles have benefited from being included as "international titles" in the quarterly catalogues put out by S&S in New York. "We select four titles per catalogue, 12 a year," Attenborough says. Inclusion in the catalogues leads to rights interest from around the world, he notes. S&S Australia titles featured in S&S’s summer 2003 catalogue have a decidedly practical and self-help tone: It’s So Natural: A to Z of Health Tips by Alan Hayes, Quilling Desert Flowers by Jean Woolston-Hamey, True North: Finding Your Life’s Purpose by Paul Fenton-Smith and Sleep Solutions: For Babies and Toddlers by Sally Hall.
S&S distribution clients include Ten Speed Press, National Geographic, Gaia Books and Australian Women’s Weekly. Like its U.S. parent company, John Wiley & Sons Australia continues to expand its trade list—and its Australian publishing activities.
Shawn Casey, general manager of the professional/trade division, dates the com pany’s Australian trade division to its purchase of Houghton Mifflin Australia. (Wiley Australia distributes Houghton Mifflin U.S. titles, mainly in the college area, as well as Norton.) "We had a local program before, but it’s expanded big time recently," she comments, adding that the company would like to be on par with Allen & Unwin. "We try for quality, upmarket titles," Casey says. "We have very timely books."
Recent bestsellers include HIH: The Inside Story of Australia’s Biggest Corporate Collapse by Mark Westfield, about the 2001 crash of the huge Australian insurance company, HIH and Gallipoli: Our Last Man Standing: The Extraordinary Life of Alec Campbell by Jonathan King. (Like many such titles in Australia, Gallipoli was launched on Anzac Day—April 25—which this year fell during the debate of the war against Iraq. Casey notes that former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke helped introduce the book, asking, "Haven’t we learned enough?")
The company is just starting to sell some trade books abroad. One title that both Wiley U.S. and Wiley U.K. are buying: Rugby Union for Dummies, which appears this month. (The rugby World Cup begins in Australia in October.) Some of the 10—14 Dummies titles are adaptations, some are originals. Another original is the Wine for Dummies edition that focuses on Australia and New Zealand.
Other than the titles from Wiley cousins abroad, the company prefers to publish itself rather than buy rights. Like wise, when it sells abroad, "the last course of action is to sell outside Wiley." Wiley Australia obtains world rights for every book it signs. The approach stems largely from Wiley’s global strategy, which has been to promote the brand and keep most books in-house. Casey says that this avoids confusion in the marketplace that is commonplace with other publishers. "We are able to say to booksellers, ‘If it’s Wiley, it’sours.’"
To bolster the business list, in 2001 the company bought Wrightbooks, which specializes in books for investors. Titles this year include Top Stocks 2003 by Martin Roth and The Australian Investors’ Dictionary edited by Richard Harrison. The school division is still the largest part of the company, representing 40% of overall turnover, while college and trade each make up 30% of business. Not surprisingly, many of Wiley’s titles and brands are familiar to Americans, including the Dummies guides and Frommer titles. The local publishing program features 65 business titles and 40 trade. The company imports many titles and sells an "inordinately high number" of U.S. and U.K. titles. Casey says, "If it’s an A-grade Wiley book, whatever the subject area, it doesn’t matter if it’s American or not."
Bookstores are very important for the professional/trade division, which has less of a reliance on direct mail and special sales than in the U.S. Like other companies, Wiley Australia cultivates certain independent bookstores as outlets for certain professional areas. For example, Readings in Melbourne, one of Australia’s best book sellers, has a psychology specialty with Wiley, meaning that Readings carries all relevant Wiley titles and markets to professional groups and meetings. Wiley produces brochures for Readings and inserts for professional journals.
Wiley’s schools and college divisions have also take a new direction in the past 10 years. Wiley’s acquisitions include Jacaranda, the longtime Australian publisher whose Jacaranda Atlas, now in its fifth edition, is a mainstay. The company also puts out the Macquarie Dictionary Project.
Thames & Hudson has had offices in Australia for 33 years, and for much of that time imported its list from its London headquarters. (The U.S. cousin is distributed by Norton.) It also distributes in Australia for a range of publishers worldwide, including Abrams, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Rizzoli U.S., Stewart, Tabori & Chang and Universe Publishing in the U.S. The 3,000 titles it offers cover art, architecture, design, photography, and more.
Nearly two years ago, the company began developing what managing director Peter Shaw calls "an Australian focus." A key element of this new approach was the purchase of the stock and selected assets of Craftsman House, which focuses on visual arts, architecture and photography. Craftsman has 32 current titles and a backlist of nearly 100, which Shaw calls "a good working base." One of its first big books under Thames & Hudson ownership is Two Centuries of Australian Art, an October title from the National Gallery of Art. New Australian Style 2, which follows up on a 1999 bestseller, appears this month. The company is also making plans to repeat an experiment involving 10 painters that became both an exhibition and popular book. The artists—"some of Australia’s best"—went into the desert and "painted what they saw," Shaw says; their work and documentary material was published as William Creek and Beyond.
The company is also involved in children’s publishing. One key title: Awesome! Australian Art for Contemporary Kids by Laura Murray-Cree, which explains art to children.
Conceived as an "independent print media company" with book, magazine and news paper ventures, Text Publishing was a Reed joint venture that became independent in 1993. Its book division publishes some 40 titles a year. Early on, the company emphasized nonfiction and publishes many titles in philosophy, history, sports and memoirs—with a tendency toward narrative. "We feel there are many huge and great Australian stories waiting to be told," publisher Michael Heyward explains, adding that "it was easier to shape the list with nonfiction and create a brand."
One of the publisher’s best-known authors is Tim Flannery, the Australian scientist who in The Future Eaters: An Eco logical History of the Australasian Lands and People posited that that humans Down Under have shown "no notion of sustain able ecology," as Heyward describes it. Heyward says he loved that book, which was published by another house, and contacted the author. The rest, as one might say, is natural history. Flannery has written and edited a variety of books for Text, including 1788, by a lieutenant on the First Fleet (the first British convoy sent to colonize Australia), which was wildly successful. His own titles include The Birth of Sydney and The Birth of Melbourne, as well as this year’s The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples.
The fiction list is divided between literary fiction and genre fiction. Literary fiction titles include Eucalyptus by Murray Bail, a wonderful novel that has sold more than 100,000 copies in Australia. In the last 18 months, the company has been taking the "next big step" in this area, Heyward says. "We’ve always bought rights for a few titles, but now we’re seriously buying"—to the point that half the books might be foreign. Several important recent fiction imports include I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti and A Kiss from Maddalena by Christopher Castellani, an American.
Compared to other publishers, Text’s genre fiction is "up a notch or two and maybe breaks the rules," Heyward says. "We’re building a crime list as we think right." One important recent title: Some thing Fishy by Shane Maloney, the fifth "thriller" set in Melbourne featuring the wise-cracking Murray Whelan.
Text also publishes several reprints a year. "There are a lot of significant Australian books that are out of print," Heyward explains. "We’re not the first to reprint, but it has become our signature." Some 20% of revenue comes from rights sales. Heyward says, "We get the book right for this market, then meet the standards for all other markets.
There are places independent publishers can go where multinationals can’t." Text aims for the highest standards, Heyward says. The company wants people to recognize the brand for its quality. To ward that end, all editing is done in-house because, as Heyward puts it, freelance editing "interrupts the chain of enthusiasm." Two of the seven staff members handle publicity and marketing, which is also "very important" for the company. Penguin handles Australian distribution.
Founded in 1888, Lothian Books is Australia’s oldest independent publisher and has evolved from representing overseas publishers and distributing some Australian and New Zealand houses to publishing a list of some 110 titles and representing only two overseas publishers. (The company has gone so far as to outsource distribution, which is handled by Macmillan Distribution Services.) Still family-owned, the press is headed by managing director Peter Lothian, who says that decision to outsource came so that "we can focus even more on Australian publishing. We want to focus on contemporary subjects that will appeal to Australian book buyers and sell as many bloody books as we can."
About half of the company’s output is adult nonfiction; the other half is a range of children’s books. The "best exports" are children’s titles, Lothian says. Lothian Books has sold rights for several titles by Shaun Tan to Simply Read Books in Canada, which is publishing for North America..
Lothian Books’ adult categories range from contemporary issues, sport and military history to food, house and garden and Buddhism. Among the publisher’s recent contemporary issues titles are Asylum: Voices from Behind the Razor Wire by Heather Tyler, about the politically charged issue of asylum-seekers in Australia, and Massood’s War: Saving Afghanistan by Will Davies with Abdullah Shariat. Shariat was the "right-hand war lord" of Massood, the Northern Alliance leader who was assassinated days before the September 11 attacks.
General-interest sport titles focus on Australians, as for example, the autobiography of swimming coach Don Talbot. In connection with the movie about Ned Kelly, the legendary Australian criminal, the press came out with several Kelly titles, including a new edition of Ian Jones’s biography, which has sold 50,000 copies, and The Ned KellyEncyclopedia by Justin Corfield.
A big October book is Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: The Best of Australian Food, compiled by the Food Media Club, show casing the work of many important Australian chefs. The house’s Buddhist list has grown in large part because one of Lothian’s five commissioning editors practices what Lothian calls "Australia’s fastest-growing religion." A major title is Lighting the Path: The Dalai Lama Teaches on Wisdom and Compassion, a title appearing this month edited by Dr. Thupten Jinpa and based on teachings made by the Dalai Lama during a major tour in Australia and New Zealand last year. "I hope the book has worldwide appeal," Lothian says. "It’s the only Dalai Lama book with local focus and interest." The press used to buy more from abroad but does so rarely now. "We want local authors," Lothian explains. "We want a local face." Two recent exceptions to the rule: Tibetan Prayer Flags by Diane Barker and Are YouPsychic? by Julie Soskin.
Despite its recent problems, Lonely Planet is probably the Australian publishing success story best known in the U.S. Founded nearly 30 years ago, the travel book publisher has offices in the U.S., the U.K. and France, and publishes hundreds of titles a year in a variety of series and for mats.
Of course, it’s been a rough several years for travel publishers. Lonely Planet co-founder and director Tony Wheeler ticks off the causes: "September 11, the economic downturn, Bali, SARS." In addition, the rise in value of the Australian dollar during the past year has added to the com pany’s problems. "A lot of our costs are in Australian dollars, which is going up," Wheeler explains, "But a lot of our revenues are in U.S. dollars and British pounds, which are going down." He notes that while many people are traveling locally—in Australia this has resulted in the company selling more state guides—"people don’t buy as many guides for travel down the road."
The company has gone through several painful layoffs in the last year, and Wheeler predicts a shakeout in the travel book business. "There’s no denying this is a tough time," he continues, "but people will travel again." Already he’s looking at areas of opportunity. For example, until 10 years ago, South Koreans traveled rarely; the desire to travel became so pent up that they are proving to be "keen travelers"—and an attractive market for Lonely Planet. (The company just launched operations in Korean and Japanese, partnering with Ahn Graphics in South Korea and Media Factory in Japan.)
Besides books, the company operates in several media. Lonely Planet Images, which employs some 200 people, licenses digital images. Lonely Planet Television just released its first TV series, Lonely Planet Six Degrees, which will be broadcast on Voyage in France and on Discovery’s Travel Channel in most of the world (except the U.S.). But LP Publications, with its 22 series (and about 500 titles) and online operations, remains Lonely Planet’s core. Titles are published in 17 languages, some via co-publishing arrangements, and include travel guides, phrase books, maps, road atlases, travel literature, travel journals, picture books and more. Next January the company plans a major book relaunch, which includes new templates for its travel, city and shoestring guides. The new focus will include, for ex ample, listing more activities in the city guides that are appropriate for people who are not overly concerned about costs. Also, the shoestring series will be more targeted to travelers aged 18 to 27. The Condensed guides will be renamed "the Best of."
New Lonely Planet CEO Judy Slatyer, who worked for Australian telephone company Telstra and most recently advised ArrayComm on the launch of its broadband wireless service in Australia, added that the company will have "historians writing historical pieces and environmentalists writing environmental pieces. We want their opinions." She calls the relaunch "terrific and inspiring."
Despite its name, Murdoch Books, which concentrates on food publishing but may soon expand, has no strict business connection to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Rather, it is owned by a nephew of Murdoch and is a part of Murdoch Magazines. Murdoch Books publishes "leisure lifestyle books with high production values," as CEO Juliet Rogers puts it. "They’re not cheap, but they’re a value." The com pany’s origins lie in Bay Books, which specialized in selling staple-bound books into supermarkets. (The company uses both Murdoch and Bay Books as imprints.)
Murdoch Books made a name for itself with four Marie Claire books by Donna Hay and has "stuck to formula"—for the time being. "Internationally, we’re recognized as a leading food publisher," says Rogers, who estimates that a quarter of company sales are in Australia, a quarter in the U.K. and the rest in the U.S. and Europe. "Without exception, every book is sold around the world. There has to be an international market. We can’t do Australia only."
Murdoch Books has its own company in the U.K. and does all its own sales and distribution in Australia. While it doesn’t have the same corporate presence in the U.S., "we take the U.S. very seriously," Rogers says. The company sells in various ways to the U.S., sometimes doing co-editions with a variety of publishers and selling direct to retailers. "We want to develop more publisher-to-publisher relations," Rogers says. "We’ve probably only scratched the surface."
Murdoch Books comes up with the ideas for most of its books and commissions editors and writers. The company also has an extensive picture library. Its Chunky series, including the titles Sweet Food, Cool Food, Fast Food, Bowl Food and Small Food, won the APA Publishing Project of the Year award in June and has sold 800,000 copies around the world. Murdoch also has a small children’s list, but at the moment sells it only in Australia.
The company publishes some 60 titles a year. "We’re trying not to clutter the list," Rogers says. "We’re very careful about getting growth from what we do well." Still, the press is considering expanding into gardening. "We want to do with gardening what we do with cooking: offer quality information but beautifully presented and accessible," Rogers says. Like some other smaller Australian publishers, Murdoch Books "deliberately positions" it self in relation to the multinational companies, Rogers says. "We know what they’re really good at and don’t go head on. We develop what they can’t do well."
Fremantle Arts Centre Press, which uses the motto "Australia’s finest small publisher," publishes some 30 books a year with an emphasis on nonfiction, biography, autobiography, indigenous Australians and social issues, especially relating to the western part of Australia, where the press is located. (While the press was once connected with the Fremantle Arts Centre, it now shares only "a name and history," general manager Clive Newman says.) The two biggest press successes since its founding in 1976 are My Place by Sally Morgan, the autobiography of an aboriginal woman, which has sold more than 600,000 copies since it was published 16 years ago. Like wise A.B. Facey’s autobiographical novel, A Fortunate Life, described by Newman as the "quintessential pioneer story," has sold more than 600,000 copies over 20 years. Newman said that the two titles have "al lowed us to take risks."
More recently the press has published indigenous novelist Kim Scott, who won the prestigious Miles Franklin award in 2000 for Benang, as well as Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems by John Kinsella, selected and introduced by Harold Bloom.
In 1991, under the Sandcastle Books imprint, the press delved into children’s books, which, like other children’s titles published in Australia, have found a market abroad. "We’ve licensed several titles to the U.S.," Newman adds, including some by Elizabeth Jolley. Fremantle Arts Centre Press is distributed in Australia by Penguin and in the U.S. by ISBS. The arrangement with Penguin, without which "we would not be able to survive," Newman said, "allows us to be the type of publishers we are, to stand out as an individual publisher," Newman said. "We are sitting on the West Coast doing what we want."
In the last few years, ISBS has "rejuvenated" and is selling more press titles than ever. While the press is still "a tiny player," the Australian dollar’s recent rise in value has helped cover air costs for the sales, which is "cream on the cake and good for authors too," Newman said. In a new venture that Newman called a "very happy collaboration," the press has set up an imprint with the Curtin University of Technology, which is located near Perth. Called Curtin University Books, the imprint will publish "innovative books that engage readers in creative, social and historical ideas that stretch the imagination, challenge points of view and contribute significantly to the existing intellectual and public debate in areas relevant to Australia." Its first title appears in November.
Magabala Books, in the far northwest of Australia, focuses on aboriginal publishing and calls itself the country’s only independent indigenous publishing house. Founded in the mid-1980s as the publishing arm of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Center, the press is incorporated as an aboriginal corporation. Magabala’s first book came out in 1987, and it now has some 70 titles in print. The focus, says manager Suzie Haslehurst, is both "developmental" as well as publishing, since many of the press’s authors are not so much writers as people who have a story to tell. Thus, most are first- or one-time authors, and sometimes the editing process can take years. For example, Out of the Desert: Stories from the Walmajarri Exodus, edited by Eirlys Richards, Joyce Hudson and Pat Lowe, which was shortlisted for the Western Australia premier’s awards, took 10 years of work on Magabala Books’ part.
Proposals and manuscripts come from across Australia, and the press has never commissioned a book. "If it’s not written by an aboriginal, it must have major aboriginal input," Haslehurst comments. For children’s books, the illustrators must be aboriginal. Some of the titles are culturally significant, such as bilingual titles that help preserve an aboriginal language and make non-aboriginal people more aware of the many languages of Australia. The press usually prints 2,000—4,000 copies of a title, but some sell many more.
Jirrbal by Maisie (Yarrcali) Barlow, illustrated by Michael (Boiyool) Anning, a collection of indigenous moral fables published at the end of 2001, has sold more than 20,000 copies. The press has a strong children’s list, with a big following in schools. In the U.S., titles are sold through ISBS. Sales have picked up there this year.
Magabala Books is distributed through the Australian Book Group, a cooperative of independent publishers. It also uses JB Books to sell into museums, galleries and gift and tourist shops. In Western Australia, Fremantle Arts Centre Press does most distribution, while Magabala Books handles its home territory in northern Western Australia.
Magabala Books works with two other indigenous publishers—IAD Press in Alice Springs, part of the Institute of Aboriginal Development, and Aboriginal Studies Press in Canberra, part of the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Studies. Together, the three presses produced a joint catalogue for the international market called the ABCs of Indigenous Australian Publishing. Some of the university presses also do indigenous publishing.
Sandy Grant, chief executive of Hardie Grant Publishing, left Reed Australia in 1997 and the following year started the first of his publishing companies, which now comprise Hardie Grant Books, the general nonfiction trade publisher; Hardie Grant Magazines, which does custom magazine publishing, mainly for corporations; Hardie Grant Egmont, a joint venture with children’s book publisher Egmont in the U.K.; and Explore Australia Publishing (for more on this travel and map publisher, see below). The companies share resources, including finance and accounting, as well as space in a Melbourne office building. Peter Hyde of Explore Australia Publishing says the arrangement "frees us up to be innovative."
Every year Hardie Grant Books offers some 40 "locally derived" titles with an "in formational component," as Grant puts it. Besides general nonfiction, including biography and popular culture, the list has specialties in food and wine, interiors and architecture, sports and business and finance. Many of the titles are annuals and guides, including Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack Australia, ABC Australian Sports Almanac, The Australian Political Almanac and the Food and Wine Lover’s Guide series. The company also represents Work man and Chronicle, among other publishers.
Hardie Grant Books also has joint ventures with several major media companies, particularly Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd., and SBS, one of the country’s main TV networks. The News titles have included a book on the 2000 Sydney Games that appeared a week after the Olympics concluded, as well as restaurant and wine guides. With SBS, Hardie Grant has published The SBS World Guide, an annual, The SBS Australian Almanac and several soccer books. For the time being, the company is publishing "enough," Grant says.
"The plan is to be manageable," he continues. "The dilemma is between running a good business and not getting sucked into the corporate fray." Begun in January, the joint venture with Egmont includes "lots of classics," including Winnie the Pooh, Tin Tin and Thomas the Tank Engine. "It gives us a nice foothold," Grant comments. For now, the company aims "to fulfill our obligation to the make the Egmont list work here before we spend money elsewhere in this area." But the company is buying some licenses and plans to begin a homegrown publishing program.
An important part of the Hardie Grant empire is Explore Australia Publishing. Managing director Peter Hyde traces the company back to the legendary Lloyd O’Neil, whom he calls "the first Australian publisher," a man who recognized in the 1970s that "Australians wanted books about Australia." In 1987, Penguin bought O’Neil’s list (bringing Hyde with it) and created the Viking O’Neil imprint, which developed an illustrated popular reference list that complemented Penguin’s traditional list. Hyde called this list a "strange" fit at Penguin. Grant and other backers bought the list in 2002 and named the new company Explore Australia, based on one of its most popular series.
During the Penguin years, the com pany’s information—mostly maps and information about travel and tourism—was digitized, but was "not fully exploited," Hyde says. "We have information that can take many forms, whether licensed, electronics or in books. We are a company that uses maps to provide travel information." For example, the company has spun off a series of state guides from Explore Australia, which has been revised annually for 20 years, sells 50,000 copies a year and is what Hyde calls variously "the bible of travel in Australia" and the company’s "jewel in the crown."
Other bestsellers include The Australian Road Atlas, The Australian Touring Atlas, Fish Australia, The Small Guide to a Big Country, The Camping Guide and a new edition of Bush Tuckerman. "We are focusing on Australian uniqueness," he adds. "We use mapping to tell stories." The company has commissioned Explore Australia Coast Line and The Explore Australia Outback. Perhaps its most unusual project is a book on exploring Australia by four wheel drive. Following a model used with the bestselling Explore Australia by Caravan, the company commissioned a couple to drive 80,000 kilometers (about 48,000 miles) around the country for more than a year. Along the way, they indicate their location via GPS signals and send in text electronically. As the authors travel, the staff builds an electronic form for the book that features en coded symbols so that a user can click on various places on a map for more detailed information.
In the U.S., Independent Publishers Group sells Explore Australia guidebooks while Maplink handles map and atlas sales. Macmillan Distribution Services handles all distribution in Australia. Many of the company’s most important customers are not in the book world. "We have sizable niche markets," Hyde comments. As a result, while Hyde calls it "pointless" to spend much money on the Australian Book Fair, "we take a stand at the caravan show." (Caravans are what Americans call campers.) Sales representation has improved since the company left Penguin; "their reps wouldn’t touch all the places we could sell," such as map or travel stores, Hyde notes.
Michelle Anderson is another person with a longtime career in publishing who recently put out her shingle: last year she opened Michelle Anderson Publishing, which specializes in health, grief, babies and motherhood, children’s, inspirational and recreation titles. A long-time publisher at Hill of Content Publishing, which was connected with Collins Booksellers, she bought out the interest of the chairman of Collins. Thereafter she moved out of the scenic offices above the Hill of Content bookshop in downtown Melbourne, re-named the company and is putting out some 12—15 new titles annually, plus many reprints. "It was scary at first, but now it’s fantastic," Anderson says.
Among the company’s important cur rent titles: The Home Health Guide to a Cancer-Free Family by Gabriel Kune; Eternity and Me by Dr. Allan Kellehear; Early Menopause: Why Me? by Dr. Sheralyn McGuinness; and Broken Beaks by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, a children’s book about the friendship between a small sparrow and homeless man.
Anderson also publishes with several organizations such as the Gawler Foundation, a cancer-support foundation. Many of Anderson’s books sell in hospital book stores, through cancer support groups and, in the case of grief books, in funeral parlors. Many of Anderson’s authors are doctors and professors who go to conferences to which they take and sell their own books. "It’s a great part of the business," she says.
The company has a series of 12 bush walking titles that sell in camping and map stores, among other places. "Overseas sales are very big and have been increasing over the last couple years," Anderson adds. "I now have a niche. I’m known for general, not technical books and am getting all kinds of manuscripts as a result."
After a review by the university council, Melbourne University Publishing last year split off from the university bookstore, chopped staff and hired Louise Adler to be its new CEO and publisher. She was, she says, given the task of "commercializing academic intellectual property on the cam pus and across the country." In other words, "We’re looking for the next Simon Schama and Daniel Goldhagen."
The press has a tradition of publishing important work out of academia, and its two biggest titles are The Australian Dictionary of Biography, a national project that is up to 16 volumes, and The History of Australia by Manning Clark, a six-volume landmark, if controversial project. Adler points to one book that fits her ideal of titles she wants to publish: The History Wars by Stuart Macintyre and Anna Clark, which examines various interpretations of Australian history that have polarized the country. Adler proudly notes that she commissioned the book in February and it appeared in August. "This is revolutionary for academic presses," Adler comments.
When the press is up to speed, Adler aims to publish some 30—40 trade titles a year, most derived from the press’s "university connections."
Besides Melbourne University Publishing, the press has an imprint called the Miegunyah Press, established in 1967 with a special endowment to publish timeless, high-quality Australian history, maritime history, natural history and biography. An August title is The Global Reach of Empire: Britain’s Maritime Expansion in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, 1764—1814 by Alan Frost, which "will probably travel to the U.K.," Adler says. In addition, she hopes Lionel Lindsay in Spain by Colin Holden, about the print-maker and watercolorist’s work in the ’20s and ’30s, will have an audience internationally. Another recent, important title is H.M. Bark Endeavour by Ray Parkin, a "lavish" book about Captain Cook’s ship and its voyage along the east coast of Australia in 1770.
Although it dates back to 1935, the University of Western Australia Press was named in 1954 and celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. Because it is one of only three major publishers in Western Australia, "what we do is extremely important in the region," Dr. Jenny Gregory, director of UWA Press, says. As a result, the press’s 25—30 titles a year focus on regional natural history, literary studies, biography, contemporary issues (a relatively new series is dedicated to this subject) and children’s.
Two upcoming revised natural history titles have a typical regional focus: Plants of the Kimberley Region of Western Australia by John Petheram and B. Kok and Coastal Plants: Perth and the South West Region by Elizabeth Rippey and Barbara Rowland. But a title published this month has world wide potential and has attracted "considerable interest," according to Gregory: In Pursuit of Plants: Experiences of Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Plant Collectors by Philip Short is a collection of excerpts from botany explorers around the world.
Gregory speaks passionately about UWA’s contemporary issues program, which the press started two years ago. "Particularly in the humanities and social sciences, it’s no good to have academics just communicating with each other," Gregory says. "They have to communicate with the outside world and contribute to the national debate." Titles appearing in the pro gram include The Salinity Crisis: Landscape, Communities and Politics by Quentin Beresford, Hugo Bekle, Harry Phillips and Jane Mulcock, a look at one of Australia’s biggest environmental problems; Left Directions: Is There a Third Way? edited by Paul Nursey-Bray and Carol Bacchi, which looks at leftist politics on both a global and Australian level; More Than Refuge: Changing Responses to Domestic Violence by Suellen Murray, which uses a women’s refuge center in Western Australia as a case study to examine how attitudes about domestic violence have changed; and an August book, Reform and Resistance in Aboriginal Education: The Australian Experience, edited by Quentin Beresford and Gary Partington, which ex amines the many problems in aboriginal education.
Somewhat unusually for a university press, UWA also has a children’s line, called Cygnet Books, which has the motto "because kids like quality too." One of its outstanding titles, The Deliverance of Dancing Bears by Elizabeth Stanley, is a fable about a dancing bear whose dreams of freedom keep her spirit alive.
UWA sells to the U.S. via ISBS and is the representative in Western Australia for such publishers the Brookings Institution Press and University of Washington Press in the U.S., McGill-Queen’s University Press in Canada and Australia’s Melbourne University Publishing.
The University of New South Wales Press operates both as a press and distributor, representing some 20 publishers. "We decided to have our own sales force, then melded with other university presses," marketing manager Brett Haydon explains. The majority of sales go to library suppliers and big independents. (In the U.S., it’s rep resented by the University of Washington Press.) Like many university presses in the U.S. and Australia, UNSW Press is trying to position itself more as a trade publisher while retaining its academic base and taking on some projects it knows won’t make money. Its list of 40—45 titles a year is diverse, ranging from horticulture and natural history to biography, current affairs and scholarly monographs.
The press’s biggest title this year is Bob Carr by Marilyn Dodkin, a biography of the premier of New South Wales. Other important publications are Flora of New South Wales, which it did with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Prehistoric Mammals of Australia and New Guinea; and the Re portage series, which offers "shorter, cheaper" books whose bestseller is Border line by Peter Mares, about Australia’s attitude toward refugees and asylum seekers.
Cambridge University Press Australia has its pick of what its U.K. parent publishes, according to director Sandra McComb. This amounts to 2,000 titles a year and a backlist of 20,000. At one time, the press stocked just two copies of each title. Now it air freights many on an as-needed basis. "Our air freight bills have gone up dramatically," McComb says, "but it’s much more efficient and serves the customer better."
The press wants to increase its textbook business, which are mainly in the humanities. It also is starting to publish texts for Asian markets, where many students use English-language materials. As is the case for many other Australian publishers, the export market is important to Cambridge, representing half of the house’s academic business, McComb says. Sales of 5,000 in Australia are "big for us."
Cambridge University Press publishes some 30—40 trade titles a year; its "local" publishing program started only in the 1990s. Typical home-grown titles include Don Bradman by Brett Hutchins, a 2002 biography of "the best cricketer ever" that "sold very well"; Elders: Wisdom from Australia’s Indigenous Leaders by Peter McConchie; Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class by Judith Brett; and a revised edition of The Italians in Australia by Gianfranco Cresciani. The list is what McComb calls "a nice mix of exports and local."
About half of the press’s business is to schools (mostly titles published in Australia), a third is English-language teaching (all of which is imported) and the rest is academic and trade. "Even though we’re an academic press, it’s the smallest part of our business," McComb notes.
The company has its own sales force and a large warehouse, prompting McComb to note that the press would like to distribute other companies whose lists match the press’s customer base, particularly campus bookstores, booksellers to schools and libraries.
Australian publishers have found North America fertile ground for reading (or as they call them, literacy) titles. Stephen Wilson, general manager of Horwitz Education, speculates that "Australian publishing may be a little fresher. American teachers are looking for something to make reading grander." He notes, too, that there is "a bit of commonality between the U.S., Australia and New Zealand."
Horwitz Education is another rare publisher: family-owned and family-run, with roots in the 1920s, when the founders, Israel and Ruth Horwitz, started a sporting magazine. The company now publishes some 20 magazines; in addition, with the purchase of Martin Education and in-house growth, particularly in the past decade, the company has become one of the "top five primary-level publishers in the country and market leaders in math and handwriting texts," according to general manager Stephen Wilson. The company also has a strong series of some 700 literacy (or reading) texts. These sell in Australia and abroad and are the main Horwitz product that travels well outside of the country.
In the U.K., the company has a joint venture with Gardner called Horwitz Gardner. In North America, it sells mainly to Richard C. Owen Publishers, Sundance Publishing and Scholastic Canada. Barney Rivers, who has acted as a consultant to the company, is responsible for export.
Horwitz Education produces all text-books in-house and farms out its literacy titles. The company works in part with Eleanor Curtain Publishing (see below), which, for example, handles the important AlphaWorld and AlphaKids series—these are geared for early readers and are popular in the U.S. The company uses packagers for "middle" and "later" primary students. Horwitz sells directly into schools and through bookshops. (There are some 10,000 schools in Australia; 7,500 of them are primary schools.) Booksellers tend to sell texts, while Horwitz generally handles the literacy series, in part because the latter includes many components. The majority of Horwitz salespeople are former school teachers. Their target: teachers, since many schools allow the staff to decide what to buy. Like other academic publishers, Horwitz uses some bookstores as "specialists."
Little Hare Books started at the end of 2000, with just three people: Rod Hare, Mary Hare and publisher David Francis. Specializing in children’s titles, Little Hare has hopped quickly to a pace of 26 titles this year and aims to do 36 by next year, all with a staff of four. Francis does say he believes this is about the optimum level. He intends to keep them in print "as long as possible." The house does early childhood picture books as well as junior fiction, of a quality "that parents like, too," as Francis puts it. Most of the titles are homegrown, but Little Hare has been successful pairing up writers and illustrators "from around the world."
"We’re choosing special projects that are a little different from the big houses," Francis says, particularly "putting together writers and artists no one has thought about putting together." Francis is aided in this because, he says, he knows many writers and illustrators personally. Many times they get typecast, and "I’ll encourage them to do something different."
One example is the team of David Bed ford and Keith Brumpton, who first collaborated on The Football Machine (which, of course, is about soccer). "They’re both English," Francis says. "But we consider the book Australian because we commissioned it, and it was designed, edited and published here." Other important works are Where in the World by Simon French and the Double Delight series, which includes Colours, Shapes and Opposites and Alphabet and Numbers by Mary Novick and Sybel Harlin, and have sold 800,000 copies, mostly outside Australia. Francis notes that in children’s books, "simple con tents" work best.
In the U.K., Little Hare is distributed by Bounce! Sales and Marketing, the distribution company set up earlier this year by Robert Snuggs of Southwood Books to take over some clients of Macmillan Distribution, which decided to stop its third-party sales efforts. Old Tom’s Holiday by Leigh Hobbs, about "a rough-and-tumble character," is finding a "fantastic" reception in the U.K.
Francis calls the U.S. the "strongest and exciting market." Little Hare deals with various companies in the U.S. and has "good relations" with several, including S&S, which has done Kiss, Kiss! by Margaret Wild and Bridget Strevens-Marzo, and Mindway, which handles some of the company’s puzzle books. It also sells directly sometimes to B&N, Borders and others.
Little Hare does many co-editions (often three or four editions on any given press run), which, of course, help make the books for domestic distribution more economical. It also does each project in two or three languages, an amount it wants to in crease.
Of course, Rod Hare has another time-consuming venture that predates Little Hare Books. Hare, who previously worked at DK in London (his wife worked at DK in New York), started Australian Licensing Corp. (ALC) to represent Australian pub lishers’ foreign rights. "A lot of books weren’t getting exposure," he says. ALC does mostly children’s books, including Australian Broadcasting Corp. and University of Queensland Press children’s books.
Hare estimates ALC has sold 1.5 million copies of Australian titles into the U.S.—many are sold directly to B&N, Borders, book clubs and Books R Fun—and to other markets. "We look for lists rather than individual titles. We try to have 50 new titles a year so we have a range of titles to present."
ALC receives a little assistance from the Australian Council for the Arts, which helps for sales efforts that are "new and different," Hare says, such as selling in Japan, "where we haven’t done much." Eleanor Curtain is managing director of Eleanor Curtain Publishing, which specializes in books for teachers, many of which focus on literacy (or reading) and literacy books for children age 5—7. The majority of her sales are in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. In essence, she is a packager, developing concepts. "I take a risk," she comments. She licenses to Horwitz in Australia; in the U.S. and Canada, Sundance and Scholastic, respectively, take many books. Sundance buys files and publishes the books itself while most other buyers take finished copies. "We work closely with publishers in the U.S.," and when putting the books together, she says, the press avoids items that might seem too Australian, for example, depictions of kangaroos or koalas.
Thompson Learning Australia distributes and publishes a range of material for primary, secondary and what the Australians call tertiary education, or college publishing. For the k—6 market, the company develops literacy titles to "meet the needs of the market locally," says Nicki Unsworth, general manager of school education. "Then we take it to the international arena."
Because Thompson in the U.S. doesn’t have a primary schools business, the company sells through non-Thompson companies and has formed strong partnerships with Harcourt Supplemental, which owns Rigby. "It’s not necessary exclusive, but traditionally we’ve put the bulk of our core programs with them," Unsworth says.
The division’s flagship series is the PM Library, which has 800 titles and CD-ROMs. (The series are sold in English and Spanish in the U.S.) In its 10 years of existence, it has sold "millions of total units," which have been built in a modular way that has "capitalized on the brand," Unsworth says. Among the reasons for the series’ success, Unsworth says: they are finely graded, have a clear story structure, match text closely to illustrations and have just three authors who work with the company as a "tight team."
The company’s acquisition in May of Nightingale Press, which specializes in math and reading programs for the k—3 market, "gives our product base great depth and now enables us to enter into the text -book/workbook market space where we previously have not been," says managing director John Mehan.
As is the case with other publishers, the company’s secondary school program doesn’t sell abroad. The company has met the market’s demand for more Australian texts (the system traditionally has been based on that in the U.K.). The market is complicated because there is no national curriculum. In recent years, the quality of materials has improved and competition is fierce, Unsworth says.
The market at the college level is also highly competitive, according to Darren Reynolds, general manager of the higher education division. Some 60% of the college and university text material the company sells in Australia comes from the U.S., with a little from Thomson in the U.K. The rest is homegrown.
The trend toward indigenous materials continues to grow. Only 10 years ago, Australian materials accounted for 10%—15% of the company’s sales. In such areas as accounting and finance, the company has al ways needed Australian textbooks to con form with national and state edicts. But more and more, demand has rise for local material, particularly for introductory level courses.
Not surprisingly, Reynolds says, "indigenous publishing is where we see the biggest growth." The company currently releases 15—20 core titles a year. It brings in "hundreds of titles" from the U.S., which "cover the spectrum." The U.S. and Australian market models at the college and university levels are "very close," Reynolds notes. Reps contact professors and work through stores. Some 10%—15% of texts are used. Books are relatively cheaper in Australia, but are nearing the $100 barrier (about US$65). He predicts further consolidation among higher education publishers. At lower levels, there can be "a lot of independents," but at the highest levels the many players are Pearson, Macmillan, Thompson and Wiley.