Category Archives: publishing


May the 1st Club

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Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a need for political culture. In West End appeared the the first coffee club in Brisbane – May the 1st Club which was a regular event organised by activists from the … Continue reading

Dead books thrive

Rigid Male Ship Publishing

MUCH wailing at the wall and gnashing at the teeth follow from the recent ill fortunes of the publishing industry.
Newspapers are in the midst of a shake-up which is just beginning in book publishing
As a journalist and author, I appear to have accepted not one but two third-class seats on the Titanic.
Thankfully for books, it is not all doom and gloom.

With what some observers considered undue haste, Penguin and Random House have announced a merger.
Here is how the China Daily called it.
Penguin/Random Houseis estimated toseize 25 percentto 30 percentof the global consumer publishing market. Pearsonand Bertelsmann (respective owners) hope tocope with theebook era throughcombination of thetwo leading publishers.
The two sidesbelieve that thecombined organization willhave a stronger platform andgreater resources toinvest in newdigital publishing models andhigh-growth emerging markets.  
In other words, we will throw heaps of money at the problem and it will run away. That is not going to happen.
We in the publishing business cannot even agree what is the problem. Bitter heritage publishers will tell you the explosion of cheap poor-quality indie books has eroded industry standards and destroyed consumer confidence in the product. Amazon says pricing models of the heritage publishers are antiquated and unsustainable.
Let’s establish a few ground rules and throw in some statistics before we all decide to go to the pub to down our sorrows.
Ground rule #1
Ebooks are real. If print books disappear, except as expensive novelties over the next 10 years, it will not be the death of publishing. Uncertainly abounds in discussions on our topic. If you are reading an analysis which distinguishes between real books and ebooks, stop reading immediately; your brain will thank you for it.
Do you believe in ghosts or ebooks?
Ground rule #2
Our story has no villains. The Big Six, or Five, publishers, Amazon, indies who price at 99 cents, heritage media and universities who have downgraded literary criticism, internet spammers are all players. Demonising them is a convenient way of dismissing the best ways forward as all too hard.
Ground rule #3
The best books have never made anywhere near as much money as inferior books. Genre books, once disparaged as “pot-boilers” will always make the most money because they are literally addictive. Once hooked, the reader needs the fix of the formula. Also anyone can read “down”. It takes a level of sophistication to enjoy reading a “literary’’ novel  The contemporary literary novel is also competing against the great works of the past while newness is prized in genre fiction. The importance of this ground rule is it casts doubt on the heritage publishers’ central contention about the erosion of quality. Those publishers themselves have based their fortunes on the inferior writers in their stable. This was a benign system as the most popular authors effectively subsidised their more talented peers. The emphasis is on wise as the system has been shattered.
Pick the Nobel Prize winner
Now for the stats, only a few as they hurt some people’s heads.
Stat 1
In 2001 162m books were sold in Britain.. In 2011 229m books were sold. If there is a crisis in publishing, it has nothing to with the popularity of the product. SOURCE
Stat 2
Ebooks account for less than 25 percent, probably closer to 20  percent, of books sold. I believe this will rise above 80 percent in the next decade, but the point is, if there is a crisis now, there is a lot more at play than ebooks.
As quoted here
Stat 3
In one year in Australia, more than half the novels sold were written by either Dan Brown or J. K. Rowling. (Sorry I am unable to locate the reference, a story on how all but one university chair of Australian literature had been axed. From memory, the percentage to total sales of Brown/ Rowling was more than 75 percent so you can accept more than half). The point here is that sales of books is increasing  but the mix of books sold has become more constricted.
Finally an excellent article on modern publishing which exposes the real scenario on decreasing standards. Surprise, surprise; it has little to do with ebooks.
This is the first installment in a series on the “crisis”.  I will leave the reader to ponder what they think is the relevance of the above.
Come, walk with me down the boulevard. I’m sick of walking alone.


The Wed. 11th of July Meeting of the 17 Group on Julian Assange

The July Meeting of the 17 Group will take place on Wednesday the 11th of July at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St West End. It will be addressed by Ciaron O’Reilly on the importance of Wikileaks … Continue reading


e-Books by Bernie Dowling — a Review

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Some new release eBooks are worth having a look at. Thanks to the author, these reviews preserve the rich content that readers obtain when they use eReaders [hyperlinks, YouTube] I have turned off embedded ‘text enhance’ messages which I do … Continue reading


Assange – Don’t Shoot the Messenger

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WikiLeaks, a free press publishing and media organisation, has revealed human rights abuses, war crimes and corruption in governments across the world. Yet the US Administration wants to close WikiLeaks down and prosecute its founder Julian Assange. International financial services … Continue reading

Going off line for a month

Hello WBT Readers,

I am going off line for a month — so there will not be any new posts, articles or notices till July 2011. Feel free to make comments while I am gone on whatever you wish.

I hope to read books, go fishing and have a re-think about this website.

I’ll let you know what I come up with — unless I decide this internet thing is no longer the way to interact, sitting in a room alone for five years writing this website seems a poor substitute for organising (WBT started on 13 July 2006 when Israel started bombing Lebanon). I hope I do not come back to find Israel has decided to reject all offers for peace, as it has done for the past 60 years, and started another war with its neighbours and its citizens.

While I am gone, I hope the Marxist Education Conference comes up with something cos the Left can’t keep going the way it has.

In the meantime here is some recommended reading and viewing below. And, oh, if you need to contact me, my mob number is below.

In solidarity,
0407 687 016

Winter Reading & Viewing

Workers Bush Telegraph

See Palestine Unity & Freedom video


Review of Publishing Policy at Workers BushTelegraph

This is a request for advice from readers and contributors. Since adopting a publising policy last November, WBT has attracted a greater number and variety of comments. I am not sure why this is. Nevertheless, to create some sense of … Continue reading

Publishing Policy

Workers BushTelegraph is primarily for original articles, original news, stories you can’t read elsewhere, original verse, original pictures, videos and music.

Note from the Editor.

WBT has arrangements, albeit informal,  with writers, political activists, musicians, artists and film makers to post their work on this website.

If you wish to have something published please write to:

Ian Curr
The Editor,
Workers BushTelegraph

Mob 0407687 016

It is best to send articles in Word format checked for accuracy and grammar.

Authors will be contacted for approval before publication.

Comments Policy
Comments are published automatically and are the responsibility of the author. Please keep comments as short as possible.

A valid email address is required to make comment. Email addresses given by commentators are private and are not distributed without their knowledge and consent.

I read ALL the comments that are posted.

Occasional abusive comments aside, I thank everyone who takes the trouble to comment. Please keep commenting!

Second, I’m not going to publish all comments – i.e. I will not publish racist or anti-worker sentiments.

My primary interest with this website is to present useful information and ideas and notices that may, I hope, have practical significance.

I’m not setting up a debating forum, although experience tells me that will happen.

Sometimes people just wish to vent their anger.

I try to be tolerant but I want the comments & articles that get posted to add to the readers’ general experience and not to detract.

WBT publishes material on  notoriously sensitive topics.

These are topics that attract a fair amount of anger & silliness – along with very thoughtful input.

WBT does not seek ‘balance’ in reporting when it favours the wealthy and powerful, the bigoted or the sectarian — readers will have to go to the mass media for that.

Topics covered on WBT

  • The Master/servant relationship. The power of boss over worker. More can be found out about this at the LeftPress Website – After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet
  • The struggle of indigenous people for land rights and social justice in Australia.
  • The role of government. What enterprises should government own and run. Why and how?

Workers BushTelegraph aims are shown at Welcome

WBT may decline to publish material that contradicts its purpose.

Ian Curr, Editor, Workers BushTelegraph

[Thanks to Joseph & Syd for this policy]