Yay for Chuck McKenzie who, after four years running a Dymocks shop, has gone it alone with Notions Unlimited spec fic book store at Melbourne’s bayside Chelsea. Ensconced between a coffee shop and a liquour outlet and with a sushi store right outside the door, he must be occupying some prime real estate. Add in an amazingly wide range of genre reading — a dedicated small press section, graphic novels, and all the F, SF and H you can point a stick at, whether big guns or more oscure or up-and-coming writers — and a seriously luxurious looking set of sofas, and he might be needed a bouncer to kick the customers out at closing time. It’s a tough time for bricks and mortar enterprises, but a niche store with a knowledgeable and welcoming owner is in with a chance. There’s nothing quite like that human element when it comes to, ‘if you bought this, you might also like…’
Both invite writers across a variety of genres within fiction and non-fiction to submit a synopsis and first chapter, and both promise quick replies, so if you haven’t heard within a month (Pan Mac) or a fortnight (A&U), you know you can hunt elsewhere.
Ever so slowly, it seems, the threat facing Australia’s writers, and publishing industry, is creeping into the public domain eg Emily Rodda’s warning about the Americanisation of Australian English AND content. If only this was an issue involving sport! There’d be headlines for sure. But no, it’s just writers, those slackers and elitists who contribute so little to the economy and national character… right?
Best I can figure, the Australian Government is considering a change to our copyright laws that currently offer a degree of protection ot the domestic publishing industry by requiring local content to be published here. A more accurate appraisal of the issue can be accessed through this Queensland Writers Centre blogpost.
The upshot of the changes is, that instead of Australian stories being published in Australia, for Australians, they’ll be published overseas, altered for overseas readers, and dumped into our market place at cheap prices thanks to overseas economies of scale. This goes deeper than having your pal’s mom bake you some cookies, as opposed to having your mate’s mum bake you some Anzac bikkies. It means, worst case scenario, fledgling writers such as myself will have even less chance of getting a break in our own home market.
The Australian Association of Authors has more information, as well as links to have your say, should you so be inclined.