Sunday, November 9, 2008

Christmas Cards

I'm sorry, but here's one of my pet peeves coming up!

It's Christmas time, and we're already starting to see an awful phenomenon that seems to have infected the Australian publishing industry in recent years. Perhaps it's infected all industries, I don't know.

It's the announcement in the trade Newsletter that so-and-so publisher will not be sending Xmas cards this year but will instead donate the money to charity. Perhaps they'll follow up later with a Xmas email.

I can't help myself. Every time I read one of these miserable announcements I have to head for the bar fridge to quieten down.

Can't these people do both? By all means contribute to charity, which you should be doing on a regular basis anyway as a matter of company policy. But to do it INSTEAD of sending Xmas cards, a long tradition of acknowledging community and friendship, and expressing thanks to customers, authors and colleagues in a very personal way? Is business so bad that it's a question of cost, for God's sake?

It's Calvinism. As an Irish Catholic, I'm offended!

But if you're going to send Xmas cards then make it genuine. There's nothing more insulting than getting a pre-printed corporate card with absolutely no trace of a human hand anywhere on it. Or one that simply simply says 'Fred'! How lazy is that! Instead of that meaningless excercise it probably does make sense to stop doing it and send the money to charity!

I've always thought we should take time out to make some personal contact with each other at this time. Christmas cards are an ideal opportunity. They don't have to be sacrificed for some 'higher good'.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Booker winner The White Tiger

This year's Man Booker winner The White Tiger by young first-time novelist Aravind Adiga is a wonderful, enlivening read. It's a fierce denunciation of India in all its social, cultural, religious, political and economic dimensions. Apparantly the Indian authorities were not happy with it winning the prize, and no wonder.

No part of this sprawling society is spared. It is not primarily about the new, emerging and materialistic middle classes. It's a far more wholesale condemnation than that.

Adiga paints an India riddled with curruption, where murder and abject cruelty are commonplace and part and parcel of class, caste and power relations. Even India's famed democracy 'is a fucking joke'.

Adiga's art is the slow build. The central protaganist, the narrator, transitions from awakening, through mild resistance to outright fury, propelling the novel to its explosive ending.

Buy it and read it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Google Settlement (again)

Radio National's Book Show this morning featured a discussion on the Google settlement with ABP Publisher Tim Coronel and media lawyer Nic Pullen.

The problem with the dicusssion was that both guests seem to think that the giant, thieving, rip-off merchant Google had somehow muscled in and secured a satanic victory against the poor little publishers and authors!!


Google caved. Capitulated. Paid out US$125m plus in order to get the license to continue scanning (and pay for it!), and will hand over 63% of ALL revenue from any commercial exploitation of the content including advertising revenue on display pages which publishers in their wildest dreams would never have thought possible!!

Fuck! Must we always perceive ourselves as victims?