Why you should buy an Aussie book for Christmas

 

Oz madeOne hundred thousand books. When I told a friend that my book had been published, that was her first guess as to how many copies had been printed. First it made me laugh. Then it made me a little sad. She thought by having a book published, I would then be able to leave my ‘day job’ as a police officer and be a full-time writer. How very wrong she was.

I have learnt that being a writer in Australia has to be treated as a hobby. It is extremely difficult to make a living out of writing, especially if you have regular bills to pay. You know,the little things – food, mortgage, internet connection.

I’m not whinging. I’m one of the lucky ones. My book is on the shelves. My story is being read. And that, actually, is what this post is about. We need to keep local books on the shelves. Writers are up against it, and with the government continuing to tighten the screws through proposed changes to copyright laws, life as an Aussie mid-list author is financially untenable.

But Australians need Australian books. We need books about places we know, characters we recognise. We need slang and shared history. We need stories by the people who know us – Australian authors. Like music and television, it is easy for suppliers to turn to the USA or Europe and start importing. But stories, along with other artistic works, help to create our unique identity.

So, for Christmas this year, consider buying an Australian book. A novel is the perfect gift. There’s one to suit everyone – all ages, all interests. A book is like a little holiday, an escape into another world. It will stay with you after you’ve closed the cover. Who can remember a favourite story they read as a kid? A great book will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Buy a book as a Christmas present for yourself. Buy one for that relative no-one ever knows what to get. Buy a book for a child – your own, someone else’s or maybe even a child you don’t know via one of those wishing trees. Every kid I know has enough bits of plastic crap. Buy a book because most of us are fortunate enough to have some disposal income. Just buy an Australian book.

When you pick up a book, you’re also holding someone’s dream in your hands. Every one of those books on the shelves has had innumerable hours put into it by countless people. First there’s the author, but then there are editors, designers, printers, publicists and that’s not even close to everyone.

We often talk about buying local so small businesses don’t disappear. That applies to books as well.

Support an author. Buy a book this Christmas.

Like reading crime? My novel, A Time To Run, was written in Queensland, edited in NSW and printed in Victoria.

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28 thoughts on “Why you should buy an Aussie book for Christmas

  1. Hear hear! I rarely buy anything other than Australian books, honestly. I love Richard Flanagan, Helen Garner, Favel Parrett, Chris Womersley, Peter Carey, Gillian Mears. I’m reading Emily Bitto’s The Strays right now, and mt favourite book this year was The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna. There is so much talent in this country. Kids books are brilliant too. Good luck with your book sales, it is so awesome that your book was published and that people are reading it.

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  2. I’ve already got some Aussie books sitting under the Christmas tree for my nephews. It helps to be a writer and in writers groups as you learn about awesome brand new Aussie books before they hit the shelves!

    I’ve also treated myself to two books by Nicki Edwards, and I’m about to get the new release by Dorothy Adamek – two awesome Aussie authors 🙂

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  3. Totally agree Jay, I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of your book, and seeing I work in a library, I convinced them to buy some copies for our collection, which they did! I’ve payed it forward somewhat 😊 I’ve discovered a lot of new Aussie authors this year, we have great talent here, it’s a pity we can’t get the word out overseas, but writing reviews on Goodreads etc helps our authors, so I urge everyone to take the time to shout out on social media or a similar platform. We want to keep our authors writing, they need readers like us 😊

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  4. I buy many Australian authored books through a variety of sources – independent bookshops, bookshop chains, department stores and occasionally overseas online. In trying to make ethical buying choices that support local authors, I have read many articles and discussions but find myself still unclear about what’s best for authors.

    For example, if I spend $32.99 on Kate Morton’s latest novel at my local independent bookseller I support Kate Morton. If I buy four Australian authored novels for $40 at Big W with their current offer (buy 2 for $10 each of the Top 100 Books), I’m supporting Kate Morton and three other Australian authors. However, I’m also supporting department store chains selling books at discount prices, which presumably means less money for the publishers to invest in new authors, although I’m guessing that the author gets the same royalties per books, or is that not true?

    On the other hand, chains like Big W presumably sell far, far more copies of Kate Morton than my local bookseller, so is that form of bulk selling an important income generator for authors/publishers? Low price = bulk sales. High price = low sales. Of course I don’t want my local independent bookshop to disappear, so I will continue to support them, but I’d like to know the trade-offs for buying at local independents vs department stores.

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    • Hi Gina, this is an interesting question. I don’t know all the details because I’m not directly involved in the sales side of the book. But I get the same money regardless if Big W or a small book store buys the book from the wholesaler. It’s my understanding that places like Big W discount books at their own cost in order to attract customers. I would also hate to see booksellers disappear, just can’t beat the personal service. Also, big selling authors like Kate Morton currently already support mid-list authors like myself. We are not particularly profitable for publishers, who are basically taking a punt that we will become successful once established. The publishers need their big selling authors in order to subsidise those of us starting out. Thanks for your comments and support 🙂

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      • Thanks for replying. It’s good to hear that you get the same royalties regardless of who sells your book and at what price. I don’t read thrillers often but A Time to Run sounds intriguing – a thriller set in the Australian bush! I’m off to hunt down a copy at my local bookstore 🙂

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  5. Yes! Agree wholeheartedly. I love reading Australian authors, and there are so many talented ones out there. As with everything, promotion, especially word of mouth, is the way to get the word out there. I’m trying to do my bit. And yes, under our tree there are some books for one of our daughters from Aussie authors. 🙂 PS Can’t wait for the sequel. 🙂

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  6. Great article.
    Try reading Kim Kelly, her last book ‘Paper Daisies” was simply a great read.. The Australia and local history is superbly researched and threaded through a fiction that certainly engages with the reader. I also loved The Blue Mile, set in Sydney early last century; the characters are wonderfully created and the feeling of the time is definitely captured….and I learnt a lot ! I just love this author.

    The problem, i think with the discount stores, is that it forces authors into very specific genre and a lot of very good authors will be lucky to get a look in and as such the public aren’t exposed to some very good storytelling….

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