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New website to promote Australian literature

The Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) has announced it will soon launch a new website to promote Australian literature.

Plans for the Reading Australia project were unveiled last week at the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) conference in Wellington, New Zealand. The website will promote 200 Australian literary works, and will provide a range of material, including articles, biographies, and photographs, relating to the works.

The Reading Australia project is being managed by a committee made up of representatives from ASAL, CAL, the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), the University of New England (UNE) and Aust Lit. 

Committee member Anne Pender told Bookseller+Publisher that organisers hoped to have material for the first three texts ready by October this year. These will be Anna Funder’s Stasiland (Text), Tara June Winch’s Swallow the Air (UQP) and Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career. A full list of the 200 titles, which include novels, short story collections, nonfiction, drama and children’s books, is available on the ASA website here.

‘The main purpose of the project is to provide critical resources (essays) that explore Australian texts, not to provide the actual texts,’ she said. ‘The resources we are creating are designed to help teachers, students, scholars and general readers in understanding a range of Australian texts.’

The website is sponsored by CAL, which allocated $100,000 from its Cultural Fund to the project two years ago.

‘This money has been used for a variety of activities linked to the project,’ CAL cultural fund manager Zoe Rodriguez told Bookseller+Publisher. Rodriguez said these activities included engaging the ASA Council to select the list of the first 200 titles to be featured; providing UNE with funding to run a round-table to discuss the parameters of the project; funding for UNE to commission authors to write 2000- to 3000-word pieces on titles selected from the list of 200 books; and design and web interface for the website.

Rodriguez said that Text Publishing had also been funded to commission authors to write introductions for some of the titles in its recent Australian Classics series. ‘Text applied for funding late last year, and our funding is going towards introductions for some of the works that are both on Text’s list and ours,’ she said. ‘These will be commercialised for a period and then available for free access … from the Reading Australia web resource.’

Rodriquez said that Reading Australia may make some titles available from the website by digitising them. ‘Where titles are not in print: if they are in copyright we’ll contact the copyright owners [or their estates] and seek permission to digitise and make them available online as POD,’ she said. ‘If they are out of copyright we will digitise them and make them available from Reading Australia.’

She added that for works that are in print ‘we will link to websites from which they can be purchased … local booksellers and/or the publishers, where they sell direct to consumers’.

President of ASAL and member of the Reading Australia committee Bernadette Brennan told Bookseller+Publisher that ‘the Reading Australia project came about because Brian Johns at the Copyright Agency wanted to make resources easily available for the appreciation and study of Australian literature’.



Category: Local news