Books, publishers and public debate

Jan Zwar

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstract


Purpose: The paper examines books, publishers and readerships in Australia in relation to contemporary public debate about the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Originality: The Australian publishing industry has been described as “arguably Australia’s most successful creative industry” and academic research to date has focused on the industry’s publication of high quality Australian literature. However the industry is also making an important contribution to informed civic debate, which has not been examined. Key literature/theoretical perspective: This research draws on disciplines including economics and literary studies. Key literature includes the work of David Throsby on the economics of cultural industries and theories of cultural value, and literary historians such as William St Clair, who combined economic analysis, studies of publishing runs and book circulation figures with literary studies. Design/Methodological Approach: This paper analyses the top 5000 nonfiction books from 2003-2008 using Nielsen BookScan commercial sales data. It provides an overview of narrative nonfiction readership preferences and ‘reading patterns’ by Australians in relation to the wars. The research examines whether independent publishers and multinationals made distinctive contributions. Research limitations/implications: This is the first time such Nielsen BookScan commercial sales data has been made available on this scale for academic research. It will make an important contribution to empirically-based understandings of contemporary Australian readerships, and the operation of the Australian publishing industry. Practical and Social implications: The research is relevant to future policy deliberations in relation to the Australian publishing industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92
Number of pages1
JournalExpo 2010 Higher Degree Research : book of abstracts
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventHigher Degree Research Expo (6th : 2010) - Sydney
Duration: 19 Nov 201019 Nov 2010


  • Australian publishing industry
  • globalisation
  • cultural policy


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