Category Archives: Publishing

Something important should go in here

A senior civil servant and I are in regular contact focusing newspaper27on the many and varied methods  of wasting time and getting it wrong — but not totally.
The memo which cannot be answered for it refers to a previous memo that does not exist is neat and should be tested on a wider, international basis.
The authority on this sort of action is the author John Masters.
All his books on India are a delightful read and totally authoritative.
He loves, wallows, enjoys the Indian civil service where you get splendid reply memos such as: Returned for favour of comma after ‘and’ in the third paragraph.

There is another area which needs examination and which, here, Continue reading Something important should go in here

Copyright is really messed up

Last week a U.S. judge ruled that Warner/Chappell Music does not own a valid copyright to Happy Birtimgreshday to You so it is now in the public domain. And Warner
When the song has been used for commercial purposes, such as in films, Warner has enforced its rights, and took in an estimated $2 million in royalties each year.
Now it must pay it all back.
An advertisement on the Internet reads: ‘Register and Protect  your creative work online Continue reading Copyright is really messed up

A sort of literary publisher — sort of

9781740511384Bruce Maxwell and I used to work together and for some years he edited Discovery, the Cathay Pacific inflight magazine. He recently wrote to me:
‘I downloaded a book called Tilting at Windmills, published by the University of Adelaide, recently. It is sub-titled The literary Magazine in Australia 1968-2012.
On page 43 we encounter one Gareth Powell, the “girlie” publisher, who also it transpires first published Frank Moorhouse.’
After getting this note from Bruce I look up Tilting at Windmills: The Literary Magazine in Australia 1968-2012 by Philip Edmonds, University of Adelaide Press and find it is priced at $44. At which price I will pass. And the one review of the book that I have found suggests it is a lousy example of book editing. Still, I got a mention. Just barely. Pity it did not apparently mention Tony Morphett amongst others where I published their first book. Being a book publisher in Australia is not an easy life.
For the record, yes, I did publish Frank Moorhouse. Futility and Other Animals came out under the Gareth Powell Associates imprint in 1969. Which was a very long time ago. So I was the first publisher of Frank Moorhouse. Not an honour I take seriously.

On being a shy pornographer

MTE5NTU2MzE2MzIyMTA0ODQzBack in 1961 I was running a paperback house in Britain and Maurice Girodias was running the Olympia Press in Paris. We did a deal whereby I published the least actionable Olympia books — not a large percentage of the list — in Britain.
Earlier, but not by much,  there was the drama over Lolita.
This splendid book by Vladimir Nabokov, written in English and published by Maurice at Olympia in 1955 in Continue reading On being a shy pornographer

Lewis Carroll – innocent?

alice1Let us agree that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a wonderful book. I first read it when I was about seven and was struck with wonder. I have read it several times since and the wonder simply does not go away.
It is, for me, like a literary way of taking LSD. Now Anthony Lane in the New Yorker has written a review of The Story of Alice by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst who is a professor of English at Oxford. He lives near the college where Lewis Carroll — or more correctly the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson — taught maths and wrote Alice in Wonderland.
In July, 1862, Dodgson – Lewis Carroll –  went rowing, one afternoon, with a friend Robinson Duckworth and his three young sisters—Lorina, Alice, and Edith  Continue reading Lewis Carroll – innocent?

Best-sellers are flexible

41LDNbOgZpL._AA160_If you are a publisher you are seriously interested in sales figures. Not just your own. Those of the other publishers, the opposition, the enemy.
These figures are very difficult to get. Some, many, newspapers run best-seller lists and The Guardian, for example, puts the sales figures with each title.
Sorry to do this but, depending how they get them (in the Guardian’s case from an outside agency) they are almost certainly inflated.
How does this come about? Continue reading Best-sellers are flexible

Fanny was my darling

In 1960 Penguin published Lady Chatterley’s Lover and was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act which had come into being in 1959. That act made it possible for publishers to escape conviction if they could show that a work was of literary merit.
I attended the trial and saw a string of witnesses attest to the literary value of the book.  I thought then and think now that it is over-written, over-blown and not quite the article. Still, it sold very well.
Continue reading Fanny was my darling

We know you’re awful

When I emigrated to Australia in 1967 I was 37. My move did not go unnSue Rhodesoticed and led to a modicum of unfavourable publicity in the Australian press. It mattered not. Australians like a larrikin. I decided that I would go into publishing as soon as I got there. We had taken a house in Gladesville in Sydney and I went right to it.
I formed Gareth Powell Associates and took offices. I decided I needed to publish a slightly shocking book to get everyone’s attention. I worked out a trio of titles which I roughed out and then went in search of an author. I needed a sexy, interviewable female journalist. I got a list of female journalists and their contact numbers. The first one bombed out. The second one was Sue Rhodes. I incorrectly wrote that I went to see her in her apartment where she was living with fellow journalists Matt White and Ludmilla Hansley. (Sue has since written to me that she did not live with either Matt or Lida — which is what she calls Ludmilla. She adds: ‘By the way. Lida lived next door and Matt lived in Double Bay.My roomie was Deanne Stubbs.”
I am delighted to set the record straight.
Sue Rhodes loved the idea of the book and I could see she was perfect for the part. She roughed out an an outline which I still have somewhere. It had in it great chapter headings like: ‘Iron my underpants ma, I’m doing a hambone tonight.’ Which is how I came to find out that in Australia a hambone was a drink induced male strip tease. Sue suggested that the title should be ‘Now You’ll Think I’m Awful’ which, it was suggested, was what Australian girls said after sex. She told me that my suggested title — ‘Fucking Matilda’ would never fly. She was right.
I produced the book at the Griffin Press in Adelaide which was, and still is, perhaps the foremost printery for books in Australia. I liked the way the book came together and I had high hopes.Rory_Calhoun_-_1961
Then I visited Griffin Press and heard two pressmen discussing the book. One said to the other: ‘Is she really like that or is she all talk?’ I immediately upped the print run.
The book was published and caused a small uproar. I was attacked in radio interviews, in newspapers.
Wonderful stuff.
Sue Rhodes appeared on television. One obnoxious interviewer pushed his questioning too far and Sue hurled a glass of water in his face. I could not ask for more.
And so it became a bestseller. Not the biggest bestseller in the history of Australia up to that time. But certainly in the top ten. Perhaps in the top five. (Yes, yes, the Macquarie Press did much better but that was after Sue Rhodes.)
Sue Rhodes was back in the news again when she married Rory Calhoun, a sort of minor Western star who appeared in a lot of movies. And had, as I later found out, a strong criminal record. Now Calhoun is dead and I can find no trace of Sue Rhodes. But she and I, in the 1960’s, made a little bit of Australian publishing history.

Here we go again

I stopped writing Sorgai because I felt I was getting it wrong. I was trying to make it a compelling site to which lots of people would come. That was when I found out how far behind I had fallen in computer and Internet smarts. I had become a techno numpty. And, frankly, I have no intention of changing that.
I am not of the Twitter, Facebook, social networking push. There is a list of local networks on Wikipedia. As the Duke of Wellington is alleged to have said, this may not frighten the enemy but, by God, it frightens me.
Continue reading Here we go again