Welcome to the new-look Weekly Book Newsletter! In 2020, we’re streamlining the WBN to focus more on features and analysis. We’ll still round up the week’s biggest news stories here, but for up-to-the-minute news, please consider signing up to our Daily newsletter here. To learn more about some of the other changes we’re making to Books+Publishing this year, you can read the letter we sent out to readers yesterday here. One other change to note is that we have moved to a new office in Prahran. Please send all future postal items, including advance reading copies, to PO Box 42, Prahran, VIC 3181.
We begin the year with the news that the value of the Australian book market fell 3.1% in 2019—the first notable dip after five consecutive years of marginal growth. Children’s books sales—up 3% on 2018—were a rare category highlight, with fiction (down 3.4%), nonfiction (down 6.2%), cookbooks (down 6.1%) and biographies and autobiographies (down five percent) all taking a hit.
During our Christmas hiatus, the University of Western Australia gave a temporary reprieve to UWA Publishing (UWAP), after the university announced in November it would close the press and move to an open access publishing model. A string of award-winners and shortlists, funding recipients and new hires were named over the past few weeks. These include the shortlists for the Indie Book Awards, the ACT Book of the Year and the Dorothy Hewett Award; the recipients of the latest round of funding from the Australia Council and Create NSW; and new appointments at Melbourne Writers Festival, Melbourne University Publishing and Booktopia.
Overseas, print sales were also down—albeit marginally—in the US in 2019; Pearson has sold its remaining 25% stake in Penguin Random House to Bertelsmann; and a group of major US publishers have reached an undisclosed settlement with Audible over the company’s Captions lawsuit.