Australia’s interesting publishing history

When, how, and where

Books arrived in Australia in January 1788 with Governor Philip’s First Fleet, along with paper, ink, type and a printing press.

Webby (sourced from lecture content)

That books have been in Australia for so long is incredible.

But, in the big picture, we have obviously had books for a much shorter time than other countries. Namely the country who introduced books to us.

It therefore follows that Australia soon became the largest single market for British book exports for 73 years from 1880 to 1953.

Australia was a single-minded market fueled by British book exports. Photo source.

Australia was a single-minded market fueled by British book exports. Photo source.

But this introduces the possibility for single-mindedness, which is counterproductive to individuality in a creative sense… and in every other sense, like political opinion and the like.

However, this position did theoretically give Britain more control over the minds of Australian people.


Who shops at Angus & Robertson?

All book lovers have at least once.

I can hardly help walking past ANY book store without venturing inside, so of course I have.

So it’s interesting to note that Angus & Robertson came to Australia in 1882.


According to the Australian Publishers Association, Australia’s book publishing industry was worth almost $2 billion in 2008.

Australian consumption of Australian industry. Information source.

Australian consumption of Australian industry. Information source.

The above graphic exemplifies how rich Australia’s book publishing industry is.

64% of all books sold in Australia originate and are published here

Australian Publishers Association

This is compared to Australia’s music recordings accounting for 16% of domestic sales and our films receiving 16% of Australian box office receipts.


And now the question of why Australian book publishing does so well in comparison to our other creative publishing industries.

Films provide aural, visual, and emotional stimulation.

Music provides aural and emotional stimulation.

Books provide emotional stimulation and… well, another level entirely.

Books are an immersive world into which you can disappear.

Books allow you to experience what others experience, feel what others feel, and think what others think.

Books connect us, books divide us, books are powerful.

Other than my philosophical musings (or deep research into psychology), I cannot provide you with a solid answer as to why humans respond so well to the written wor(l)d.


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