Publishing Culture : Commissioning Books in Australia, 1970-2000

Brown, Diane (2003) Publishing Culture : Commissioning Books in Australia, 1970-2000. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This study primarily examines the cultural and commercial practices of editors and publishers who commission and acquire content in independent Australian publishing houses. My research spans a 30-year transitional period in book publishing from 1970 to 2000 - a period marked by rapid and unstable shifts in publishing culture, reflecting wider social, political, economic and technological change. In a global market economy, more than ever before, the acquisition of local content is critical in fostering original ideas and works by Australian authors. A series of semi-structured interviews with editors and publishers provides a direct source of personal experience and professional industry-based knowledge. These narratives address and engage with individual and collective values, beliefs, assumptions and attitudes which reflect particular personalities and publishing styles. They also contribute to an understanding of the editors' and publishers' commissioning role, where knowledge and content are taken up and developed and publishing decisions are made. An analysis of editors' and publishers' responses further explores the diversity of commissioning and acquisitions environments in which they live and work. Publishing houses are profiled and works of fiction and non-fiction are identified and discussed in an attempt to unpack how and why they were commissioned and developed for publication, and to what social and cultural effect. The dynamics of organisational structure and publishing culture are explored by analysing general and specific publishing models. Editors and publishers discuss how publishing companies operate and offer insights into, and perceptions of, organisational structure and publishing culture and, importantly, how both impact on commissioning practice. Issues of identity, representation and institutionalisation are identified as they relate to developments and trends within publishing and public culture, as a whole, and the ways in which they intersect. This nexus of culture and power is explored through the cultural production of Australian content, and in particular, in Chapters Five and Six, with the impact of second-wave feminism on Australian publishing culture and cross-currents in the production and publication of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works.

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Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 340000 Economics
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES)
Historical > RFCD Classification > 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Keywords publishing culture; Australia; commercial practices; editors
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