The N00bz: New Adventures in Literature (if:book Australia, Editia)
In 2013, if:book Australia challenged 14 Australian writers to try a new professional experience, to become a beginner (or Noob) again, and then to write about the experience for futureofthebook.org.au. The best of the resulting essays—Simon Groth on using a typewriter, Carmel Bird on trying to publish an ebook, Caroline Baum on spruiking for Booktopia and Emily Stewart on giving away her favourite books—demonstrate both an excitement from the authors at thinking differently about what they do, and some conclusions. The weaker essays are more tentative preludes (Romy Ash) or in-progress reports, but even the essays about failed experiments (Ronnie Scott, Benjamin Law) make for interesting reading. If my first reaction was to wonder why anyone would shell out for a collection that was freely available on the web, it soon became apparent that reading offline was a significantly different activity to reading online. Although many of the original posts contain links, the inability to click (or perhaps, the ability not to click) encouraged me to engage with them in a more sustained and pleasurable way. From life after bookselling (Greg Field) to the politics of writing (Jeff Sparrow) to running a small press (Charlotte Harper), there is much food for thought for writers contemplating stepping outside their own comfort zone.
Lachlan Jobbins is an editor and writer