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From the Director’s Desk

Editorial: Reviews of Reviews of Reviews

A Fine and Future Book

Focus: Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford

Autumn Season 2003 Hits the Road!

Change Those Bookmarks!

My Planets in Orbit!

An Earthy Gallery

Sariban Mach 4

Out & About

Your Deal

Vol 5, No. 2— ISSN 1442-0023


Welcome to a very special issue of eNews. Despite a disappointing start to the year with Art Queensland’s decision not to fund our publishing program, we still have much to celebrate, with the launch of our Autumn season of titles.

First up, the evocative Swelter, a two author volume, another first for us, by talents from the Capricorn region, Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford. For those in the southeast corner of our home state already feeling the chill of looming winter, these collections should warm you considerably. You can learn more about the authors in this issue’s Focus.

Next, we head for the more temperate climate of Melbourne, for the launch of Sally Finn’s novel, Fine Salt. Sally was the inaugural winner of the IP Picks Award for Best Fiction by an Australian author. The weather might be cooler down there but the reading certainly won’t be, with this passionate and poetic tale of interwoven relationships.

Congratulations to David Reiter who was successful with his individual application for arts funding. He has been awarded $20,000 from Arts Queensland to develop a groundbreaking work of literary multimedia, My Planets. Follow the link to learn more about this exciting project and David’s new design partner Chris Davey.

The pace has been hectic as usual, David provides a review of The Future of the Book Conference he attended in Cairns and is Out and About the length of the East Coast.

IPS has proudly added two new titles to its distribution list: Michael Sariban’s poetry collection, Luxuries; and Jill Murch’s series, For Love of the Earth, featuring some of the finest landscape photography I’ve seen. Her website is well worth a visit for a taste of these images. I understand that the copies are being snapped up at a fast shutter speed, so please be sure to return to our store as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

Finally, I can’t go without mentioning David’s editorial for this issue which tackles the sticky subject of arts funding. As a champion of independent presses in this country, he is certainly entitled to speak out in the face of what he regards as unfair treatment of IP. Again, we invite our readers to contribute their own thoughts on this or other subjects of interest.


Sara Moss, Editor, IP eNews

From the Director's Desk

DR in ParkAs I write this, I’m about to pack my bags — and IP books! — for the drive up to Rockhampton for the first of our Autumn Season 2003 events, the launch of Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford’s Swelter on 2 May. Though we’ll be competing with the Beef 2003 event and several other cultural activities being held that week, I have no doubt that the real beef will be found at the Rockhampton Art Gallery and Yeppoon Library, generous sponsors of our event! There’s more on my busy schedule in Out & About.

The publishing industry, and of course the authors, printers and other interested parties who have input into our products, is at a crossroad. This issue looks at some of the relevant matters in greater depth than you may be used to in IP eNews, but I’m sure you’ll agree that current publishing practice is a topic well worth musing over — hence my extended review of the International Conference on the Future of the Book, which I attended and addressed in May up in Cairns.

Just as important is the practical matter of how our publishing activities will be funded in the short-term. To my great disappointment, Arts Queensland chose not to fund IP this year after three consecutive years of rewarding us for our groundbreaking work on behalf of Australian authors. Given that we have excelled in almost everything we have set out to do, this decision made no sense to me, even less when the fine print came to light. More on that in my Editorial.

It’s high time that Arts Queensland wraps up years of ‘review’ with some clear decisions about how publishers are to be supported in this State. It’s also time for Government leaders to match their words in support of innovative publishing with real dollars. The current policy, which has publishers competing with individual writers for project funding, does not work to anyone’s benefit. We need a range of channels and a diversity of editorial services for Queensland authors, not just a one-stop shop on the way to the mainstream publishers down South.

Dr David Reiter

Reviews of Reviews of Reviews?

There’s seldom much meat in The Courier-Mail for us these days (there hasn’t been a single substantial review of an IP title in our local paper since our first title, Hemingway in Spain, was released back in 1997). But every once in a while, Books and Arts Editor Rosemary Sorensen writes about principles and nearly always has something important to say about the shortfalls of others.

This time she’s turned the spotlight on the policy behind Arts Queensland’s latest questionnaire, “Building a Bridge”, which is intended to set the stage for arts ‘businesses’ to gain access to specialist services designed to improve their performance in the marketplace. In theory at least this should be good news to organisations seeking new ways to attract larger audiences to their work, and the Government is implying that the funding for these initiatives will not be at the expense of current grant programs.

Sorensen has yet to be convinced of that: “I wondered what we really expect from our artists and whether perhaps it’s the idea of funding models that needs to be addressed.”

I couldn’t agree more. Even though the last thing we want is yet another review of policy. In the first issue of IP eNews I applauded Arts Queensland for the review they were undertaking into the State’s publishing industry. More than four years later, no results have been released from that study, and the only noticeable difference has been a proliferation of policy reviews. Reviews of reviews of reviews. Clear and transparent decision-making is very thin on the ground.

One benefit of unending navel-gazing for the Government is that the politicians and bureaucrats can give the impression they are taking positive action on cultural policy without actually doing anything more than shuffling the deck chairs. While blaming each other for the shortfalls in funding. It would be unkind to suggest that this is a way to keep apolitical artists and arts organisations onside politically without significantly improving their lot. Sorensen notes the case of Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Theatre, which ‘survives’ on funding of $80,000. Tough beans, eh?

The danger is that the bureaucrats may only “survey” those organizations that will give them comfortable answers. IP’s the second largest publisher of literary titles in this State, so were they interested in our reaction to the Bridge survey? Nope. As the saying goes, the first I heard about it was what I read in the newspaper. Thanks, Rosemary!

Actually, that’s not entirely true. In March, Marg O’Donnell, Director-General of Arts Queensland, paid a visit to Treetop Studio. The aim was to talk about funding for IP, which, for 2003, is nil. More on that later. Nevertheless, we had the cucumber sandwiches ready, very much aware, as Sorensen puts it, of the need to show we’re fitting in with the new guidelines, whatever those might be.

O’Donnell intimated that change was in the wind, and that seed funding might be available for new arts initiatives, such as our proposed series. But no mention was made of new funding for that or any other changes to the current funding model. She noted that she and Arts Minister Matt Foley were on their way the very next day to Treasury to seek more money. Were they successful? The Courier-Mail hasnt had anything to say about it, so I guess not.

Here’s the rub. As long as the arts continue to be regarded as a soft target for the bean-counters in Government, the funding increases won’t be there. So this strategy of unending reviews is just about seeking greater efficiencies in the system: making more with less. Or worse, making less with even less.

Shed a tear for the Director-General. Her job is a hard one. If Queensland artists weren’t so damned innovative, prolific and, yes, bloody numerous, it might be easier for her to find more creative ways to dispense peanuts to the deserving. As it is, she and her officers spend more and more time trying to explain why the money isnt there.

We should be demanding two things of Government now. More money to fund some new initiatives, and a much more objective and transparent process for dishing out the funds. Aside from making a few arts consultants richer with an expanding menu of reviews, all the Government has achieved is the diversion of funds into high profile awards that are, as Sorensen notes: ‘nice for a ceremony and speech occasion but pretty old-fashioned and lame really.’

The most recent project funding round is a case in point. The writing industry was represented on the peer review committee by two employees of the University of Queensland Press (UQP) that had a say in rejecting IP’s application for the first time in four years. Some might argue that there’s no conflict of interest in this, since UQP is funded operationally, outside the peer review process. But the fact remains that operational funding and project funding ultimately come out of the same basket, so whatever UQP skims off leaves a smaller pool for individual artists and businesses like IP. It’s really smoke-and-mirrors, and not a point that would be lost on the budget tightrope walkers at UQP.

Add to this yet another review, still ongoing after two and a half years, into who should be getting operational funding, and the conflict of interest becomes even more blatant. IP is one of 50 candidates for access to operational funding, and what better way to discredit our application than to have us rejected for project funding?

Why didn’t Arts Queensland head off the conflict of interest? Because UQP seems to be, in their mind at least, synonymous with publishing in this State. UQP has reps on every major committee related to publishing in this State, e.g the Brisbane Writers Festival, the Queensland Poetry Festival, the Somerset Festival, and so on. And even stronger lobbying goes on behind the scenes.

Old biases die a slow death. You can’t blame Arts Queensland or the Government, for wanting to shelter UQP from competition. One could well imagine the political fallout if UQP was to expire. The Courier-Mail, more than generous with space on matters related to UQP, recently acknowledged the challenges faced by a publisher that has lost more than $1.1 million in one year, even before losing Peter Carey from their current list. And in spite of more than $150,000 of public funding support each year.

UQP’s status as the only publisher receiving operational funding currently makes them immune from competition from upstarts like IP, even when the runs on the board indicate that we have done more for Queensland writers over the past three years in our niche areas of specialty. But UQP’s favoured treatment goes well beyond this. Everyone seems to have forgotten that, three years ago, UQP decided to axe their poetry program, citing the usual arguments about poetry publishing not paying its way. To the credit of their current Senior Poetry Editor, a few titles have drizzled out since, though mostly recycled content.

Suddenly, for no apparent reason, UQP has seen the light and become a born-again poetry publisher. A Soliciting Poetry Editor has been appointed. On World Poetry Day, Minister Foley announced a new Tom Shapcott Award for best unpublished poetry manuscript — to be published by guess-who. Was it a coincidence that one of the UQP employees on the peer review committee that rejected IP’s application just happens to be their new Soliciting Poetry Editor?

The new Shapcott Award joins others like the Premier’s Award for the best manuscript by an emerging author and the best manuscript by an Aboriginal author, all of which benefit UQP because the Government has granted them the exclusive publishing rights — and the funds that go with it. Most Government Departments go out of their way to ensure that there is fair and open competition for taxpayers money, but Arts Queensland and the Premiers Department apparently see no need of that on this matter.

This is particularly grating given the fact that two years ago, I asked the Director-General and the Minister for funding in support of the IP Picks Competition, which has two poetry categories, one of which is dedicated to Queensland authors. At that time, the Director-General informed me that it was not possible to fund award competitions run by private businesses. It is, however, very possible to fund UQP, a private business, to publish award winners from the Governments own competitions, without inviting expressions of interest from the local publishing industry. This, over and beyond the generous public funding UQP gets every year. And while IP has had to fund IP Picks out of its scarce reserves.

Oh, but there’s more. Arts Queensland acknowledges the high cost of publishing niche titles like poetry, so one option they’re considering to address this is to fund poetry titles printed via Print-on-Demand (POD). It just happens that UQP’s associate, the UQ Printery has recently set up a POD operation, which has not to date been able to attract any university or Government funding. Can we look forward to yet another surprise announcement, say, at the Brisbane Writers Festival?

These are points I raised with the Director-General and the Minister a month ago. The Government needs to:
• Provide funding adequate to support emerging as well as existing programs
• Review the processes of arts funding to ensure they are transparent, equitable and fair
• Ensure that key players are fully consulted in any review of Arts Queensland funding processes
• Enforce clear guidelines preventing conflicts of interest
• Invite expressions of interest from local publishers with regard to publishing the winners of State competitions and other relevant activities.

To date I have heard nothing back. Is it all too hard, or can we look forward to yet another round of reviews?


<title>IP eNews</title>

Even as you read this, our Autumn Season 2003 is already on the road. Rather than start with a big bash in Brisbane, this time we're meeting the authors on their home turf.

SwelterIn the case of Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford, authors of Swelter, that means events up on the Capricorn Coast, beginning with the main launch at the Rockhampton Art Gallery on Friday, 2 May at 5:30 p.m.. We’re pleased to have Liz Huf, Editor of Idiom 23, and Lecturer at Central Queensland University, as the launcher of the book.

On Saturday evening from 6:30, Yeppoon Library will sponsor readings by Louise, Kristin and David as a part of their “Poetise” event. Before that, David will hold Meet the Publisher sessions with local authors interesting in pitching their work to IP.

The cover art for Swelter was provided by local artist Marie Farr from one of her original limited edition etchings, “To Float, to Dream” — makes you think of Ophelia, eh?

Gig Ryan waxes eloquently about the talent of this duo, who are well-known up and down the Coast as excellent performers of their work.

A week later, David will be down in Melbourne for the launch of Sally Finn’s award-winning Fine Salt at the West St Kilda RSL on Loch Street from 6 p.m.

There’s more on both authors in Focus.

A novel that Robert Drewe describes as ‘raw, vital and Fine Saltrefreshingly unsentimental’, Fine Salt was the inaugural winner of the IP Picks 2002 Award for Fiction by an Australian author. Finn’s work has a poetic feel about it, and the work has all the restless energy and unpredictability of the open sea, so we look forward to it taking its place on the Interactive Press list.

The cover art, which provides one of IP’s most striking covers to date, was furnished by Sarah Banch of Sarah Banch Photography.

Former IP author, Michael Sariban recently published Luxuries, his fourth collection, this time from Indigo Press of Canberra.

Michael was a member of the latter-day Angry Penguins, whose books were caught in the changing of the guard at Penguin Books, Australia, when they decided to axe their poetry series, leaving Michael and eight other Queensland poets in the lurch. IP subsequently published his third collection, Facing the Pacific.

LuxuriesPhilip Salom says of the book: Michael Sariban’s new collection delivers quite surreal epiphanies. There is real pleasure here—these poems enjoy life but are astute to its play of meanings. They are lively and acute with observations and unexpected metaphors which shift the reader by a kind of happy stealth. So as lyrics the poems just grow on you, not only in their ability to speak openly and without strut but in their surprising textual metaphysics. If they begin full of inquiry, they modulate into perception and even a kind of acceptance. Sariban has made poems of subtle momentum which read and re-read with increasing power.

IPS has a limited supply of this fine new collection, which you can order from this site. For those of you who missed out on Facing the Pacific, see this issue’s Your Deal for a special promotion.

<title>IP eNews </title>

[In this issue we feature the two authors of Swelter, one of the books to be launched in our Autumn Season 2003. We’re very pleased to be publishing these very talented authors from the Capricorn Coast, which is about a day’s drive north of Brisbane. Louise Waller’s collection within Swelter is entitled Slipway; Kristin Hannaford’s is Inhale.]

LW: In the audience during a Queensland Poetry Festival panel discussion a few years back, I heard another poet comment in response to a question on the writing process, ‘that she could not remember a time when she didn’t write poetry’. Like many other poets, I also share that experience. Although it wasn’t until my mid-teens, when performing in a production of Shakespeare’s Scottish play, that poetry became a complete and lifelong experience for me.

I enjoy reading other poets work and find the field of ideas and language of much contemporary work very stimulating. When researching work for Slipway I was gratified also to go back and read some poetries of the not-so recent past.

‘… the imagination is not a state, it is the shape of human existence…’ William Blake

Slipway is an eclectic mix of form and mode that I first started to develop around 1995 when I was performing and writing with Open Hand Theatre — a local group — and some of this poetry, I have since adapted and had produced for stage. My collaboration with poets and performers during this period, most recently with Kristin, has resulted in incredible gains and insights for my own work and writing process.

‘… One thing only I know, and that is, that I know nothing…’ Socrates

For me, inspiration usually starts as an idea waiting around for an image to catch. Sometimes visual imagery insinuates itself or abstract concepts re-arrange as inspiration for work, rarely do I plan from first impressions, but I like to keep notes.

LouiseWWriting the words down is almost always, the end of a longer process for me and I have not been prolific during many periods in my life. With this collection I have enjoyed taking risks and experimented outside agendas and genre fashions.

This collection represents a process for me, of being ‘on pause’ — much as a boat is when up for maintenance or repairs in the slipways all around coastal Australia. Being made ready to sail again.

My enjoyment of the surreal and the influence of environment, after twenty years of residence here, has been strong and enduring in this collection and some of my current work also reflects this. I am also developing a series of dramatic representations, which I hope to document via new media technology in the near future.

I hope you enjoy Swelter and my Slipway collection.

— Louise Waller

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KH: I find it difficult to articulate all the intricacies ‘the what, where, why, and who’ of my writing. I suppose if anything it is the old ‘making sense of the world’ adage: I find myself meditating on the details of things which surround me.

I started writing poetry (as many poets seem to) as a young teenager. I had a lot of support and encouragement from my father, who genuinely seemed amazed (he still is) that I could be writing and starting to think very deeply about all those teenage concerns — love, death and the universe.

Words and images, the translation of my experiences, hassle me until I find a resolution to them in the writing. Essentially reading and writing poetry gives me a great deal of pleasure. There is always something unexpected about poetry — word play, structural impact, and the unusual associations of ideas — that makes poetry a dynamic and intensely interesting genre.

My writing times and patterns are very spasmodic. I haveKristinH young children and also work part time, so the writing comes fast and furious when I get the chance. I’m always reading, though, and mostly Australian poets. There is such energy emerging from Australian poetry at the moment.

I’ve been living in Central Queensland for just over six years. I’m still incredibly perplexed and interested by the possibilities of writing about this incredible landscape in my poetry. Flying foxes outside the windows at night, geckos on the walls, mosquitoes which devour you whole, Mangroves and Pandanus — just to get started.

I’ve been working with Louise Waller and other regional poets on various projects for just over three years, and the performances and readings have always been exciting, and hopefully bring some level of innovation to the region. I love the possibilities of theatricised readings, with props, lighting etc. “Circus” has been performed in a ringmaster’s suit with a juggler moving throughout — that was a wonderful experience. We also had some children in the audience and they just loved it.

So breathe in — and enjoy my debut collection Inhale.

— Kristin Hannaford

<title>IP eNews </title>

[Recently I was in Stanthorpe to read a story the library had asked me to write about wine and food for their annual festival. After the reading, Jill Murch showed me one of five books from her For Love of the Earth series. Not only is Jill a very talented photographer of the many moods and scenes of Australia, she has a poetic gift that adds just the right touch to her images. IPS has a very limited supply of these hardback titles for sale at a mere $33 each. They would sit well on the most elegant of coffee tables. Below, Jill gives us a brief insight into her art. — DR]

My childhood was spent reading and roaming on the family farm where I developed a love of the environment. In later years I acquired a camera and translated this love to images. In 1988 I was encouraged to open a gallery in Robe, South Australia. The gallery supported me and enabled the publication of the FOR LOVE OF THE EARTH books.

I had always wanted to express through the written word, but I doubt this would have happened without the photos. When a man once called me a photographer, I said, ‘I don’t see myself as a photographer.’ In case he thought I was being unduly modest, I added, ‘If I see myself as any ONE thing, it might prevent me being ALL things!’

He spent a long time looking at the framed photos and then returned and triumphantly said, ‘Now I know what you are — you’re a Photo/Poet!’

I had been a primary school teacher and later started a day nursery for small children. Five years were spent running a Roadhouse. Then, when I needed to support my own children, I started an Amusement Center in a tourist town and ran it for nine years. This was in the time of pinball machines becoming electronic.

We lived in the back and I had a room converted to be a darkroom. From there I moved to a small farm adjoining coastal dunes and bred carpet wool sheep.

Walking through these magnificent dunes with one of the young people from the Fun Parlour days. I waved my camera and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be an Image Gatherer and be paid for it?’

These were prophetic words that led to the Photo/Poet label and to my presence on this web site.

— Jill Murch


[One last reminder to those of you finding your email to us bouncing back.]

If you made it to this page, you’ll note that the URL has changed. That’s because IP now has a new domain:

Why the switch? is a bit more of a mouthful (try reading it out over the phone!) And it’s not all that easy for people to remember. The .biz suffix identifies a site devoted to business, and the company can be located anywhere. For companies like ours who are constantly seeking a more global market, .biz makes a lot of sense.

In the last issue we said that the old links would work for a while. Well, they no longer do, so please change your bookmarks and address book entries NOW.

And for those stragglers in the pack still sending email to, please make the change ASAP!!

To amend your bookmarks, simply substitute “” for every instance of “”. Too easy!


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[Director David Reiter was invited to address the International Conference on the Future of the Book held in Cairns on 22-24 April. Seeing no reason why he should enjoy himself for the balance of his stay I invited him to review the highlights of the conference for you upon his return. — SM]

Did Genghis Khan really invent the e-book? No one at the International Future of the Book Conference in Cairns (22-24 April 2003) went so far as to propose that, but it was the kind of conclusion a hot-wired imagination might have come to by the end of this stimulating conference. Actually author John Man from the UK, in his nostalgic tribute to Gutenberg, gave Genghis a lot of air time and did give him credit for sewing the seeds that led to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, 9/15 and a general preference for memory to memory transmission of culture rather than through the print medium. The old Mongol would have preferred a PDA to a Lonely Planet guide to Eastern Europe, so when the market demands, business responds.

In the end there really wasn’t much of a debate about the future of the book in printed form. No one got up to trot out the stats on how poorly e-books are selling, and my cab driver, in spite of missing all the sessions, was certainly in no doubt that people still prefer hard copy. After all, e-book readers haven’t improved much since their inception several years ago, and most of the talent seems to be concentrating on delivering digital content via printed books or surrogate readers that might as well be books.

Jason Epstein, credited with starting the paperback revolution, threw down the gauntlet from the first plenary session, by suggesting that soon authors would be able to transmit text from the top of Everest to a machine that could print, bind and print a book in less than three minutes at 50% of the cost of the current workflow. Big publishers would be the big losers in this scenario, with authors working closely with literate agents to polish manuscripts and then make them available to the world via intelligent Print-on-Demand (POD) machines as user-friendly to the end user as automatic tellers.

Epstein saw the main advantage of POD as ensuring the ‘accumulated memory of the species’ would not be lost. Backlists could be maintained indefinitely, and online versions of texts would be available globally, even to readers disadvantaged by geography or their economic standing. Simplifying the supply chain would mean that booksellers and distributors would lose out, resulting in royalties of 30% to authors and margins of up to 30% for publishers.

So what are we waiting for?

Epstein’s miracle machine is only in prototype at the moment, and then there is the problem of getting enough of them out there to make the new publishing system a credible alternative to the current one. And Epstein had no doubt that big publishers and printers would not go gentle unto that good night. Indeed he conceded that the system would be better suited to titles that do not sell in huge quantities. Which means that the larger bookshops would probably drag the chain until they could be convinced the sales would follow their US$100,000 investment in Epstein’s POD machine.

Publishing is all about achieving efficiency in the process, and Bill Cope, Director, Common Ground, sees great sense in trying to convince authors and publishers to work in templates that would make “re-purposing” content easier. Authors can be a feral lot when it comes to applying style sheets—or even going beyond the basics of the word processor —to save time for the publisher and improve someone else’s bottom line. And again big publishers already angst-ridden about shrinking margins are less likely to entertain new systems than independent publishers with less to lose.

Professor Göran Ross, from the Centre for Business Performance at Cranfield University, UK, suggested that it was high time for the key players in the publishing process to start working more systematically in managing their “intellectual capital”. He was critical of those companies so obsessed with efficiency that they produce things cheaply that nobody wants. What is needed is a greater emphasis on providing value in the process. Here, authors become “value shops”, with their leverage depending on their creative ability (having a recognised name certainly helps!). Publishers form value networks, enhancing the creative output of their authors, under brands they hope will attract business in the marketplace.

Oliver Freeman, Managing Director, Richmond Ventures, encouraged us to embrace uncertainty in planning scenarios to meet alternative futures. It’s an attractive suggestion to those of us still trying to remedy the mistakes of the past in the shifting sands of the present! The moral here seems to be that once you’ve planned for the things you know are going to happen there’s no time for a coffee break; we need to bring what we don’t know into the equation, too. And that means thinking 15 years ahead. Good advice for organizations that can afford a full-time strategic planner. Not so hot for those that live from year to year on slim margins and shrinking grants.

There were a myriad of shorter sessions as well, including my own: ‘Synergies between Print and Digital Publishing: Five Years in the Life of an Australian Independent’. Quite independently from Epstein I had reached the same conclusion about the role of small presses in the new publishing equation. Not only are independent publishers better positioned to take advantage of the rapid changes in technology, we are more likely to benefit from them by using them to make our processes more efficient and widen our access to existing and emerging markets. The best example of this for IP is our multimedia work under our IP Digital imprint. Rather than taking months to debate the place of experimental work in a larger infrastructure, smaller companies can just do it, as Nike advises.

The danger is in becoming over-extended, and in that I agree wholeheartedly with Göran Ross’ three-pronged advice that companies should only do:
• what they can truly excel in
• what they can be passionate about
• what will enhance the economic engine of the business.

Just to touch on some of the more interesting points raised in the shorter sessions, Dr Simone Murray of UQ’s School of English saw fertile ground for the book being the ‘handmaiden’ of other media. As our screen-viewing options expand, so too will the demand for quality content. Authors may find lucrative opportunities in adapting their own print work, or that of others, to screen versions.

Carolyne Cohn of Blackwell’s Book Services, and other speakers from the library sector, acknowledged increasing pressure on library budgets that leaves less money for purchasing books. More and more libraries depend on “suppliers” who filter available content for them, even select and package their purchases. Good news for larger publishers who have the muscle to have priority with the suppliers; bad news for independent publishers who cannot afford to pay the discounts the suppliers demand to get priority attention with their clients.

Perhaps one session we should have had but didn’t would have considered how libraries can restore the balance between the homogenised outcomes recommended by their suppliers and the more innovative titles being passed over when small presses fail to gain access to library collection managers.

For IP, a very good case in point is our own local Brisbane City Council Library Service. Comprising the largest number of branches in Australia, the BCC Libraries have chosen to order through supply channels that, for the most part, have ignored our list. This puts us in the ridiculous position of not having titles produced in Brisbane available in our own public libraries. When asked, we advise people to go to the Gold Coast, Redlands, Logan, Ipswich and Pine Rivers Regional Libraries, which do stock our titles because we meet directly with the collection librarians. Christine McKensie, Manager of BCC Library Services, gave a paper: “Readers and Public Libraries—Are We Keeping Up?” The answer to her question from an IP perspective is a resounding no!

The conference went for three days, and there were many other sessions I would have liked to have attended but couldn’t. Common Ground is to be applauded for bringing so many people of note together to discuss the many themes relevant to the future of the book. The plan is for the proceedings to be published on CD-ROM, so if you found this survey of interest, I suggest that you check out the conference site:

Genghis will be there, in spirit, at least.

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Congratulations to Director David Reiter on his recent grant of $20,000 from Arts Queensland to develop his third literary multimedia project, My Planets.

Reiter describes My Planets as a ‘fictive memoir’. It explores his new sense of identity following his reunion with his biological mother from whom he was separated at birth. ‘I went from being an only child of adoptive parents now deceased,’ he said, ‘to being the oldest of seven siblings scattered across America.’

So what does this have to do with the planets? ‘I’ve always been interested in astronomy,’ he says, ‘and the germ of the idea here came from the notion of how different the universe must look from the point of view of someone standing on Mars or Jupiter, as opposed to Earth. I saw an analogy between this and how my own worldview has changed as a result of the reunion with people who were strangers for years but who are now blood relations. It’s like stepping into different worlds, especially when the views of “reality” vary, depending on who you talk to.’

gallaxyThe completed work will combine astronomy, mythology, prose and poetry focused on the individual planets in a dynamic non-linear work. Users will be able to navigate their own pathway through the work, which will include links to external sites having content relevant to its themes. One of the unifying elements will be Holst’s The Planets, a musical suite that Reiter plans to use to set the mood for each of his planetary locales.

The key difference between this new project and Reiter’s previous works — The Gallery and Sharpened Knife — will be the collaboration with specialists in New Media. Up until now he has had to learn a variety of software packages needed to deliver his text and multimedia content. This has been largely for budgetary reasons — Government agencies are reluctant to fund new artforms. However, it’s also been by choice: ‘artists prefer to maintain control over their work,’ Reiter notes. ‘I wanted to learn more about these authoring packages so I would know what is possible in the future, even if I don’t always do it myself.’

But now some of the packages he needs to use 3D motion and sophisticated interactivity are beyond the limits of his expertise and available time. So he plans to work with a local specialist in these areas, Chris Davey.

‘Chris is not only fluent in the off-the-shelf software we’ll need,’ Reiter says, ‘he’s a keen programmer who can create a solution where none is readily available in existing packages.’ Added to that is Chris’ own artistic bent, which should make for an exciting collaboration over the months it will take to develop My Planets from a concept into a finished work.

The Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, one of the foremost New Media institutions in the world, has expressed an interest in co-producing the work. Reiter spent a month in residence at their Leighton Studios in 2000, working with their New Media people on the post-production of The Gallery. While My Planets will go ahead regardless, Banff’s involvement would give it more global credibility and a much better chance of achieving significant sales.

If Banff accepts the proposal, the plan is for Reiter and Davey to consult with their staff remotely throughout the developmental stages and then go to Canada in 2004 to complete and refine the work using their state-of-the-art facilities. Fingers crossed!

With our Autumn 2003 Season about to get underway, this column is more about things to come than events past. Still, a couple of highlights come to mind.

There was a good turn-out at the Queensland Writers Centre Meet the Publisher event on 6 March at the QWC’s Metro Arts office. Director Hilary Beaton graciously put the panel at ease in her introduction by warning the audience not to try to offload any manuscripts on us.

Linda Funnell from HarperCollins poured cold water on the dreams of the attendees who didn’t already know that the ‘Evil Empire’ no longer accepts unsolicited manuscripts; authors must go through agents.

Madonna Duffy from UQP assured them that there would be life after Peter Carey for her company and that a healthy 50 titles were already scheduled for 2003. In something of a surprise, UQP has decided to resurrect their poetry program with the appointment of Bronwyn Lea as their new Soliciting Editor.While not ruling out the possibility of unknown authors striking gold in the slushpile, Madonna was quick to note that the chances are against first-time authors.

Introduced by Hilary as the maverick on the panel, I emphasized how IP is using technology to create an efficient workflow from the first edit through completion of the final proof. There was much interest from all concerned — including the other panel members — in our digital publishing and promotional activities. Like the other members, I stressed the need for prospective authors to obtain guidelines and know something about us before making a submission.

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David Reiter, David Rowbotham
and Chris Mansell were much in evidence at the ChrisMNew South Wales Writers Centre Harvest Festival (8-9 March) at the Centre in Rozelle. In a featured session, Rowbotham, a charter member of the Centre, read to an appreciative audience from Poems for America, as did Mansell from her IP Digital audio + text CD The Fickle Brat. Reiter held his own against the first round of the Poetry Slam to give a demo of his latest multimedia title, Sharpened Knife, before leading an all-day workshop Get Published Online! on Sunday. Attendees of the workshop came with thoughtful questions, which made for a stimulating day for all concerned.

For further info, contact the NSWWC.

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Following our Autumn Season 2003 launch in Melbourne, David will travel to Wagga, Wagga, where the Booranga Writers Centre at Charles Sturt University will feature him on a bill of readings on 15 May. For further information, contact David Gilbey at CSU.

Then on to Orange, where the Central West Writers Centre has organised a poetry master class for David to lead on Friday the 16th and a workshop the next day for local teachers on online composing and the evaluation of student work. For more details, contact the Centres Director, Justin Byrne.

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IP has been invited to the annual conference of the Queensland Public Libraries Association in Mackay in the first week of June. Specifically, David will participate in the Conference's Innovations Forum on 2 June at the Gordon White Library, Phillip Street, Mount Pleasant, from 3-5 p.m.

He will demo our recent digital titles, including The Gallery, Sharpened Knife and The Fickle Brat and talk about IP's plans for the immediate future.

Before the Forum begins, he will read from his latest work, along with IP authors Louise Waller and Kristin Hannaford, who will be reading from their new book, Swelter. The event will begin at 12:45 on the lawn outside the Mackay Entertainment Centre, which is the main venue for the Conference.

For more info, please contact Val Hooper at Mackay Library.

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We’re awaiting word from the Queensland State Library on a proposal that would see David Reiter return to Stanthorpe Library to assist with the setting up of a new writers' group there. Writers' groups sometimes fail because they lose sight of an important aim — to improve the writing of their members. Some become little more than social gatherings where feedback is less than helpful. This isn't always because the members are too shy to speak out. Many people need some guidelines on how to identify weaknesses and strengths in a piece of writing and then how to convey that to the author constructively.

Our compliments to Di Rieger, Librarian at Stanthorpe, for her foresight in attempting to get this project underway. If funding is approved, the full-day workshop will be held in two sessions — one in July, with a follow-up early in 2004. For more information, keep in touch with Di.

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On 16 August, David will move his online composing and publishing roadshow to Dubbo, thanks to organisational help from local author Alice Hawkins.

The workshop provides an introduction to the essentials of online work and the adjustments that authors need to make in adapting their work to the digital environment or composing from scratch. David provides case studies from his literary multimedia work, as well as advice on what software packages work best. Participants are encouraged to come with questions.

The sponsoring organisation will be the Western College of Adult Education, which is already accepting enrolments. Watch this space for further information, or contact Lindy Allen at the College.

Deal 1: A Sariban two-, or even three-pack

Like what you see about Michael Sariban’s
Luxuries? Our first deal offers you Luxuries plus Facing the Pacific for $33 (GST-inclusive) when you order directly from our site. Add a copy of Michael’s previous collection, A Formula for Glass, for $11 more (RRP $20), and we’ll pay the postage!

Deal 2: Something old, something more recent...

To further relieve the pressure on our precious warehouse space, we
’d like to entice you to buy something from our quality backlist as well as something from our latest vintage.

Order any book or CD referred to in this issue and add one of the following titles for only $7.70.

A Deep Fear of Trains
carnal knowledge
Facing the Pacific
Last Journey
Old Time Religion

Order more than one new release and add another from the backlist for $7.70 — you get the idea.

For postage and handling add a flat $5, no matter how many titles you order.

FIPC members get a further 10% discount off the cost of the full price IP title plus free postage. Sign up now and get the benefits of Club membership today.

You can buy from our Orders page or email us, but you must mention the following code when you place your order: YD18.

Offers available only to individuals. One order per household, please.