Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some good news in the world of books

There's been a bit in the news recently about the viability of books, publishing and book stores - mostly due to the recent bankruptcy of Borders and Angus & Robertson.

But here's some good news! Research commissioned by American journal McSweeney's shows that in the US anyway, book sales are still healthy - significantly up from 20 years ago - the book isn't dead or even on it's way out, and (my favourite stat) 68% of Americans had a library card in 2009.

Check out all the good news at

Not sure if all this applies to Australia, but hey, it's nice to hear something positive about the state of books. I was beginning to wonder if there would even be a market left if I ever did finish my manuscript.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Excuses for doing writing research

One appealing thing about being a writer is what you get to do in the name of 'research'. Particularly if your novel, like mine, is slightly historical (as opposed to slightly hysterical, although it is sometimes).

Aside from a recent writing gig where I had to 'research' pubs, cafes and bars (which was oh, so difficult!) I have bought, borrowed or borrowed indefinitely heaps of books on 19th century Australia in the name of researching my novel:

What did people do for fun in the 1800s? Maybe I should buy a book about it (Geoffrey Blainey's Black Kettle and Full Moon, for anyone who's randomly interested in the lives of 19th century Australians)

How did they speak? Hmm, better raid Mum's bookcase for stories written at the time (The Anthology of Colonial Australian Gothic Fiction is coming in handy).

How did they dress? Time to go to the museum...

Trust me, if you're a history nerd like myself, it's fascinating. And for a writer, there's the added bonus that doing 'research' is an inexhaustible source of procrastination. I may not have achieved my 700-word target for the week, but by studying up on the Indian Raj down under, I feel like I'm still working on the novel.

Does anyone else find themselves doing this? Anyone who just 'had' to do or buy anything in the name of writing research?