Australian Literary and Scholarly Publishing in Its International Context

Australian publishing has always been dominated by foreign interests, but the concentration of foreign ownership has surely never been higher than today. At various times Australian owned publishers have been established, but one by one they have been acquired by larger, overseas organisations that have no particular local allegiances. Angus & Robertson and Bay Books were acquired by HarperCollins; McPhee Gribble was acquired by Penguin and F.W. Cheshire by Longman, both part of the Pearson group; Jacaranda was acquired by Wiley; Sun Books was acquired by Macmillan; D.W. Thorpe and Rigby were acquired by Reed; Craftsman House and Paper Bark were acquired by Gordon and Breach; and Kangaroo Press was acquired by Simon & Schuster. Most of the other independent publishers active in the 1970s and 1980s have now closed down, been taken over and absorbed, or effectively ceased literary publishing - ANZ books, Australasian Book Society, Alternative Publishing Co-operative, E.J. Dwyer, John Ferguson, Goldstar, Outback Press, Greenhouse, Ure Smith, Second Back Row Press, Left Book Club, Wentworth Press, Wild & Woolley, Widescope, Wren. ANU Press, LaTrobe University Press and Sydney University Press have all closed down. A handful of local operations involved in literary or scholarly publishing survives, notably University of Queensland Press, Text, Hale & Iremonger, and Hyland House. There are some with specialist programmes, like Currency Press (drama) and Spinifex and Sybylla Feminist Press (feminist and women's writing), or with strong regional connections, like Fremantle Arts Centre Press in Western Australia and Wakefield Press in South Australia. Allen & Unwin mutated into an Australian company after a management buy-out when HarperCollins acquired the parent British operation. New houses have appeared - Brandl & Schlesinger, Duffy & Snellgrove, Abbott Bentley. And there is a scattering of small presses. But the major part of Australian publishing is done by the local branches of the big transnational corporations.

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Published 1 May 1999 in Volume 19 No. 1. Subjects: Australian literature - Overseas publishing, Australian publishing - Economics, Bookselling, Publishing.

Cite as: Wilding, Michael. ‘Australian Literary and Scholarly Publishing in Its International Context.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, 1999.