I've just read an article in The AGE (3rd of August) that had some encouraging things to say about the Australian book market. Firstly, sales increased by 7.5% in the past financial year to 1.25 billion. If the lastest installment of Harry Potter is removed then sales rose by 5.2%. Overall 63 million books were sold. According to Michael Heyward at Text 60% of books sold in Australia originate here.
Much to my surprise there were five Australian books in the top ten, but two of them were non-fiction. The three novels were Bryce Courtenay's The Persimmon Tree, Monica McInerney's (I've never heard of her, probably because she writes chick-lit) Those Faraday Girls and Mathew Riley's The Six Sacred Stones (he hasn't done badly for someone who had to self-publish his first three novels - bet there are a few publishers regretting not signing him).
The article goes on to say that 56% of Victorians in a Galaxy Research survey said they read for pleasure every day. I find this hard to believe, even if they include magazines and reading newspapers for pleasure. I wonder if the survey was taken at a writer's or book festival.
According to most forecasts, book reading should be decreasing as people spend more time on the internet and playing computer games, so what percentage of purchased books go unread?
I sometimes think that I'll finally have written something that would have had agents and publishers tripping over themselves to sign me when no one reads novels anymore.