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Angus & Robertson and the British Trade in Australian Books, 1930–1970

The Getting of Bookselling Wisdom

Jason D. Ensor

Angus & Robertson and the British Trade in Australian Books, 1930–1970

A unique look into the history of Australia’s largest publisher, Angus & Robertson, and its role in the development of Australia’s export book trade.

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9780857285669
December 2012 | 268 Pages | 229 x 152mm / 9 x 6 | 20+ graphs and tables
PRICE:  £70.00  /  $115.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com

About This Book

‘Jason Ensor has written a book that will be of great interest and use, first and foremost, to historians of the book and publishing industries in both Britain and Australia. […] It also highlights the seam of nationalism, streaked with cultural cringe and imperial desire, which runs through Australia’s literary and publishing histories.’ —Kylie Mirmohamadi, ‘Australian Historical Studies’

‘[A] well-written, dense and painstakingly researched book’ —Miranda Francis, ‘Australian Library Journal’

‘A comprehensive, well-researched and finely grained study that adds significantly to our understanding of the contemporary Anglo-Australian book trade history. Much can be learned perusing its pages.’ —David Finkelstein, University of Dundee

Despite upheavals in ownership over the past three decades, the name Angus & Robertson remains to date the most recognised book-retailing brand in Australia. However, it is little known that through the incredible efforts of everyone involved in the operations of its London agency, Angus & Robertson was, for a time, also the most recognised Australian bookselling and book publishing brand in the commonwealth.

This book documents a distinctive chapter in the history of Australian book publishing as it addresses how the company dealt with the tension between aspirational literary nationalism and the requirements of turning a profit while attempting to get inside the UK literary market. As well as detailing Angus & Robertson’s complete international relations, the book argues that the company’s international business was a much larger, more successful and complicated business than has been acknowledged by previous scholars. It questions the ways in which Angus & Robertson replicated, challenged or transformed the often highly criticised commercial practices of British publishers in order to develop an export trade for Australian books in the United Kingdom.

‘Angus & Robertson and the British Trade in Australian Books, 1930–1970’ is the first of its kind; no other book in the present literary market records a substantial history of Australia’s largest publisher and its role in the development of Australia’s export book trade. Although a unique piece, this volume also complements existing studies on Angus & Robertson, Australian literature and Australian publishing.

Readership: This book will benefit book and publishing historians as well as academics and postgraduate students studying Australian studies, Australian literary and cultural history, or postcolonial studies.

Author Information

Jason D. Ensor holds a BA and MA in Australian studies and a PhD in communication studies from Murdoch University.


Table of Contents

Dramatis Personae; Preface; Acknowledgements; Chapter 1: The Company that Loved Australian Books; Chapter 2: The Overseas Books in Australian Publishing History; Chapter 3: Triangles of Publishing and Other Stories; Chapter 4: The World is Made of Paper Restrictions; Chapter 5: The First Salesman in London; Chapter 6: The Getting of Bookselling Wisdom; Chapter 7: Preparing for ‘Operation London’; Chapter 8: The Shiralee in the North; Chapter 9: A Commercial and Cultural Relationship; Chapter 10: Tomorrow, When London Publishing Ended; Chapter 11: A House is Rebuilt; Chapter 12: The Hidden Parts of Publishing Fortune; Chapter 13: Learning from a Distance; Figures and Tables; Notes; Bibliography; Index