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Podcast spotlight: The Readings Podcast

Established in 2016, the Readings Podcast is ‘a celebration of books, reading and pop culture’. Episodes range in format, from author interviews to event recordings to booksellers talking about recommendations or industry insights. ‘At the moment we’re sticking to our fortnightly schedule, but we’d love to start dropping mini-sodes in between, or even, move to weekly! We’re keen to do more experimenting with making episodes outside of the recording studio, too,’ said Readings events manager and podcast co-producer, Chris Gordon (pictured with Readings digital content coordinator Bronte Coates). She spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘podcast spotlight’ series.

For new or uninitiated listeners, describe your podcast in under 50 words.

We aim to entertain and enthuse, and to shine a spotlight on terrific authors.

What makes your podcast unique?

As booksellers, we offer a unique perspective. We’re here to rave about the books we love and to dig into the nitty-gritty of the writing process with the authors who create them, but we’re also here to gossip about what happens behind the scenes and have real conversations about the ever-changing state of the books and publishing industry.

When and how did you get started in podcasting?

The very first episode of the Readings Podcast was published two years ago. At first, we were only uploading new episodes sporadically but last year we took a more formal approach and moved to a regular schedule. We decided to start podcasting as so many of our staff were avid podcast fans themselves, and we were lucky enough to be given access to the excellent recording studio at the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre.

Where and how is your podcast recorded (and how big is your team)?

As mentioned above, we’re fortunate to have use of the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre for recording purposes, and equally fortunate to have technical support from the ever-brilliant Atticus Bastow, a sound artist and musician.

I program our podcasts with help from my colleague Bronte Coates, but ultimately we draw from the expertise of all our fabulous staff in approaching and recording different episodes. For example, the music at the start of our podcast was created by none other than the manager of our State Library shop, Tom Hoskins!

What kind of listeners does your podcast reach?

The Readings Podcast is for book lovers of all shapes and sizes. Most of our listeners are Australian but we’ve been noticing more internationals pop up in our stats. A central part of Readings’ ethos is promoting local literature, so seeing people from across the ocean listening to our interviews with emerging Melbourne writers is heartening. We also have episodes that are more focused for people with an interest in Australian publishing, including a special series which sees our managing director, Mark Rubbo, chat to leading thinkers from the industry.

What have been your most popular guests or most memorable episodes?

We’ve enjoyed some extraordinary guests—George Saunders, A S Patrić, Robert Manne, Alain de Botton, Tony Birch, Lindy West, Hanya Yanagihara—but like all good parents, we don’t have a favourite.

Listen to George Saunders discuss the fundamental job of a writer with Readings staff member Sean O’Beirne, on the Readings Podcast

What recent trends have you noticed in podcasting? (Do you have any predictions for this format in the future?)

We think that listeners are demonstrating their preference for a ‘commutable’ length, around 30 minutes to an hour, and we like to imagine the Readings Podcast taking listeners from their front door to their place of work in the mornings. Other trends we’ve noticed are the insatiable thirst for true crime stories (as well as parodies of them) and good interviews.

Why do you think people are drawn to this format?

We all want to get lost in other people’s lives; it makes us feel less alone. The best podcasts help us do this. Plus, they are so easily adapted to a modern lifestyle. The bite-sized lengths of episodes make them more appealing than an audiobook, and you can listen while cooking, walking, cleaning, painting your toenails, painting the walls. And they’re so accessible too.

What plans do you have for your podcast going forward?

Look out for a forthcoming interview with Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, which was recorded live while they were signing books at the launch of Obsidio—the thrilling conclusion to the Illuminae Files.

What other bookish podcasts should we be listening to, Australian or otherwise?

I’m a huge fan of the ABC podcasts. They are completely and wonderfully eccentric and reliable. For example, there’s Behind the Belt—a deep dive into the world of professional wrestling with our talented sound artist Atticus Bastow and his sister Clem Bastow, featuring expert commentary from legendary Australian wrestler KrackerJak, The Mad Bastard. Go on, you know you want to know more …

Some of our favourite Australian bookish podcasts include The Garret, Unladylike and Kill Your Darlings for immersive author interviews, The ReReaders and Chat 10 Looks 3 for smart commentary on pop culture with a literary bent, Bookish Friends for all things YA, One More Page for all things kids lit, and so many more.

One final recommendation from Bronte is Witch, Please—an absolute must for Harry Potter fans.

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Category: Features