Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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2015 Stella Count revealed; judges for 2016 prize announced

The 2015 Stella Count, which compiles statistics showing how many books by women and men were reviewed in Australian publications and the gender of reviewers, has been revealed.

Overall, 59% of reviews were for books by male authors and 41% of reviews were for books by female authors. Last year’s survey found 58% of reviews were for books written by men.

Twelve of the thirteen publications analysed reviewed more books by male authors than books by female authors. Again, the Australian Financial Review magazine had the largest disparity, with 83% (up from 77% last year) of its book reviews on male-authored books and 17% on books by women.

Other publications that increased its proportion of reviews of books written by male authors included the Courier-Mail (70% male, up from 56%), the Australian Book Review (66%, up from 62%), the Monthly (65%, up from 62%), the Saturday Paper (64%, up from 63%) and the West Australian (58% male, up from 56%).

Books+Publishing was the only publication to review more books by women authors (65%) than books by male authors (35%).

For the second year in a row the count also analysed the gender of reviewers. Prize manager Veronica Sullivan wrote that ‘in most publications, reviews by men of female-authored books constituted between 4-15% of the total review coverage, even when the number of reviews written by male reviewers outnumbered those by female reviewers’. ‘Whether by accident or design, a cause or an effect of reviewing processes, these tendencies among review publications perpetuate cultural biases that suggest that writing by men as universal, and writing by women as for women only,’ Sullivan said.

A ‘similar prioritisation of books by male authors’ was also seen in the size of reviews, with publications that publish reviews in a range of different lengths assigning longer reviews to books by men.

A detailed breakdown of the statistics and its analysis can be found here.

As previously reported by Books+Publishing, this year the Stella Prize is examining diversity in reviews as part of the Stella Count. A survey with four questions about gender identity, sexuality, race and disability has been distributed to female-identifying authors reviewed in the publications surveyed in the count. Results will be made public in August. For more about the rationale and resources behind this, click here.

The Stella Prize has also announced its 2017 judging panel. Joining the chair of the panel, author and academic Brenda Walker, are author and literary critic Delia Falconer, Collins booksellers national buyer and Hill of Content co-owner Diana Johnston, editor and chair of the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Inc. Sandra Phillips, and author Benjamin Law. The longlist will be released in February, followed by the shortlist in March and the winner in April.



Category: Local news