Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where have all the photos gone?

Spending a pleasant few hours looking back through old issues of Bookseller+Publisher magazine recently, I noted how many of you used to send me photos of your goings-on (how young and carefree we all used to look!).

For some reason the pics have dried up, which I find a bit sad given how easy it apparently is to take and send them with all the digital whatsits we have nowadays. So if you have a pic that you think should be gracing this blog or my regular page in the magazine, send it to me by email (, or become my ‘friend’ on the Facebook website, where my nephew has kindly set me up with an account.

Grumpy old men

Now here’s proof that as long as my memory might be, I don’t know everything. The British author Will Self, who can sometimes be seen on one of my favourite telly programs, Grumpy Old Men, has set his latest novel (named after a body part) partially in Australia. Here’s the bit I didn’t know, courtesy of an interview reproduced on the ABC’s Articulate website. Self says ‘I worked for the Northern Territory’s government briefly in my early 20s and I always thought “I’m going to do something with this material.” The Australian Aboriginal culture just leaves you staggering. They were the first people out of Africa 30,000 years before us and walked round the coast to Australia before we had even got out of the trees to go round the other way [he does have a colourful turn of phrase!]. They are the most political, Byzantine people imaginable. The complexity of their politics is astonishing….’ Self found out the hard way just how Byzantine: ‘I got in terrible trouble over How The Dead Live, or at least a situation I took seriously. I named one of these Aboriginal wizards in the book and ran it past a very old friend who’s lived in the Northern Territory for decades. He said no, you can’t do this, it’s got back to him. We had to pulp an edition in Australia and I had to pay compensation.’ I bet that made a few more old men than Mr Self grumpy!

It's like deja vu all over again!

All the malarkey about parallel importation, open markets and 30/90-day rules (I’m still not entirely sure I understand them) is on again! It’s all thanks to the surprise announcement hidden away in one paragraph of a lengthy COAG communiqué released in early July.

Apparently all the state and territory governments have come to a sudden consensus that our territorial copyright regulations are a ‘priority area of competition reform’ and a pressing issue on a par with ‘rationalisation of occupational licences, national transport policy and further reforms to infrastructure access.’ Not to make light of it: this is a very serious issue for all of us and we all need to be acutely aware of the potential impact it could have on our trade, but such debates do bring out some nice rhetorical flushes--a bottle of my favourite passable red to anyone who can remember who compared whom to ‘a pack of dingos’ the last time around!