Following several posts from Call My Agent, the blog of a Sydney Literary Agent (aka Agent Sydney), there’s been a lot of talk recently on the status of Australian fiction. Do Australian readers read Australian authors? Why or why not? Should we be reading more?
Agent Sydney cites a number of reasons behind the decline in Australian readership: competitive overseas pricing and international marketplace, Australia’s literary niche and genre fiction readers shifting to international authors to find books in their preferred genre. Access to news of new releases in Australian fiction also, for how can you buy a title if you do not know it exists?
As Agent Sydeny summarises in her blog:
the loop-de-loop, in short, looks like this – no genre fiction published = no genre fiction bought = no incentive to publishers to publish it = no genre fiction published.
In a vox pop on Champagne and Socks, written by Twelfth Planet Press’ Alisa Krasnostein, Alisa put one question to her readers:
When was the last time you bought and Australian novel?
In the comments that followed, several titles came up multiple times:
Reign of Beasts by Tansy Rayner Roberts (Feb 2012)
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Feb 2012)
Debris by Jo Anderton (Oct 2011)
The Last Stormlord by Glenda Lark (Sept 2011)
Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood (Aug 2011)
Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan (March 2011)
It is wonderfully refreshing to see that all of these titles are recent, some as recent as last month. Though many people were left scratching their heads as to when and how often they do buy Aussie novels.
While one poll is not going to give any steadfast ‘this is how it is’ result, it does show some signs that the Australian speculative fiction market, at least, is alive and kicking.