Jul 29, 2005

Books Alive — full of worms?

For those of you who can't get past the first two pages of a novel without nodding off, the federal government has the answer. Books Alive is an annual initiative funded by the Austr

For those of you who can’t get past the first two pages of a novel
without nodding off, the federal government has the answer. Books Alive
is an annual initiative
funded by the Australia Council promoting 50 “great read” books across
a range of genres. The 2005 program was launched this week and has
roped in the internationally best selling author
of Ice Station and
Hover Car Racer
, Matthew Reilly, to extol the virtues of reading. Reilly has even
written a free, limited edition, self proclaimed “page-burner” to mark the launch, entitled Hell
Island
. “I write big fun action-adventure
novels,” he says on the Books Alive website, “so I know that my books won’t win too many literary prizes – but
I do know this: my books get even the most stubborn non-readers
reading… reading is not only as good as TV, movies, Xbox and
PlayStation, it’s better.”

But Dr Jeremy Fisher, Executive Director of the Australian Society
of Authors (ASA) has a bone to pick with Books Alive. The Australia Council “should spend Australian taxpayers’
money promoting
Australian writers,” says Fisher. “Our beef is
why is the Australia Council funding this program when at least 25 of
the authors on the list are from overseas?” And another thing, says
Fisher, “why does the Books Alive
list mainly include books that are
already selling well? What about
the poor
authors who are struggling to survive? This program is promoting Maeve
Binchy and other best selling overseas’ authors who are already
supported by multinational companies and have sold
millions of copies.”

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