Yes, it’s certainly what Ita Buttrose says about life at the top of publishing, and how many kids love Old Tom.
But it’s also what’s happening in publishing, how writers are coping with the impact of ebooks, and how do we make our way through all the books and writing to find that thing that changes our lives?
With the boom in online sites, chat rooms, blogs and interactive websites, reviewing has appeared to become less important.
Everyone can have a say now, right? So why do we need “experts” telling us if a book is any good?
That’s the topic on the agenda for the Lead Pencils, a group of book reviewers who are keen to make the case for their trade.
Di Dempsey, Kathy Hunt, Clare Kennedy and Judith Armstrong are all very experienced and talented book reviewers.
Collectively, they have thousands of books behind them, all of which they have read not just for pleasure but also to understand how the writing works, and if it does what it sets out to do.
They’ll talk at their session (Sunday, August 12, 2pm at the Visual Arts Centre in View Street) about why they think reviewing is important and what makes a good review.
An example that might set you thinking about all this: I remember being contacted by the editor of Magpies, a marvelous little magazine
devoted to Australian children’s books.
She had read and reviewed for the magazine a fantasy title that had been out for a few months, without much attention being paid to it, except in book circles, where reviewers were raving. She suggested I’d enjoy it, so I took her advice, and got hold of a copy.
It had a very dour-looking cover showing a steam train coming towards us, and an odd title. Have you guessed it?
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
This was before the huge popularity took Harry Potter into the marketing stratosphere, with huge campaigns world-wide synchronising the release of each new book in the series.
I opened it, started reading, and thought, yep, this is good, the reviewers are right.
If you are interested in book reviewing, don’t miss out on the Lead Pencils in Bendigo this weekend. They just may put you on the track of the next big thing.
- Rosemary Sorensen