Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (3.1 MB)

Cultural value and books in public debate in Australia 2003-2008

Download (3.1 MB)
posted on 2022-03-28, 17:05 authored by Jan Zwar
"The years 2003-2008 were a time of heightened public debate in Australia. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, books which offered critiques of the Bush and Howard governments and which questioned developments in international and domestic politics found interested readerships. One publisher has recalled this as a distinct period of unusual Australian appetite for books about serious issues. Such books were amongst a range of narrative non-fiction works ... through which their authors sought to participate in civic debate. Surely, if books made a contribution to contemporary public debate, this timeframe would provide a compelling case study. This research analyses the Nielsen BookScan top 5000 non-fiction book sales from 2003-2008 in Australia, focusing on critiques and other popular narrative non-fiction 'reading patterns' identified in the data. The project examines reading patterns in relation to two major debates, namely the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australia's policies towards asylum seekers; the extent and popularity of overseas-authored and Australian books; and whether Australian independent publishers have made distinctive contributions to the public debate through the types of books they published during this period. The findings are considered in the context of the developing conceptual body of work about cultural value in economics, and theoretical work on readerships in book history" -- abstract.


Table of Contents

ch. 1 Introduction. 1.1 Background -- 1.2 Anxieties about the contemporary publishing industry -- 1.3 Australian narrative non-fiction books and Australian cultural life -- 1.4 Experiencing the debates personally -- 1.6 Research questions -- 1.7 Thesis structure -- -- ch. 2 Background/ definitions of key terms. 2.1 Introduction -- 2.2 Economic value and books -- 2.3 Cultural economics and cultural value -- 2.4 Cultural diversity and books -- 2.5 Book history / Australian literary studies -- 2.6 Definitions of book publishers -- 2.7 Defining narrative non-fiction genres -- 2.8 Conclusions -- -- ch. 3 Conceptualising books and readers. 3.1 Introduction -- 3.2 Important “book history” theoretical approaches to books, capitalism and the circulation of ideas -- 3.3 Conceptualising readers -- 3.4 Australian literary scholarship about books and public debate -- 3.5 Propositions regarding contemporary Australian readerships -- 3.6 Conclusion -- -- ch. 4 The organisation of the Australian publishing industry. 4.1 Introduction -- 4.2 Three factors changing the international English-language publishing industry -- 4.3 Background and brief history of Australian publishing -- 4.5 Conclusion -- -- ch. 5 The Australian market for trade non-fiction books. 5.1 Introduction -- 5.2 Broad trends in non-fiction books sales -- 5.3 The market for narrative non-fiction books -- 5.4 Conclusion -- -- ch. 6 Books and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 6.1 Introduction -- 6.2 Reading patterns -- 6.3 The contributions of publishers to the cultural diversity of books -- 6.4 Conclusion -- -- ch. 7 Books and the Australian government's policies towards asylum-seekers. 7.1 Introduction -- 7.2 Reading patterns -- 7.3 The contributions of publishers to the cultural diversity of books -- 7.4 Mapping out mentions of books in public debate -- 7.5 The limitations of books in the asylum-seeker debate -- 7.6 Conclusion -- -- ch. 8 Cultural value and a review of the research findings. 8.1 Introduction -- 8.2 Theory: the economic value of books -- 8.3 Theory: the cultural value of books -- 8.4 The views of humanities and literary studies scholars -- 8.5 Cultural value and the contemporary Australian publishing industry -- 8.6 Conclusion -- -- ch. 9 Implications for cultural policy and conclusion. 9.1 Introduction -- 9.2 Criteria for market intervention -- 9.3 Implications for cultural policy -- 9.4 Areas for future research -- 9.5 Conclusion -- References.


"Submitted in (partial) fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics, 5 December 2011". Bibliography: pages 238-251

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Economics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

David Throsby

Additional Supervisor 1

Jane Messer


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Jan Zwar 2012.






1 online resource (v, 251 leaves) illustrations

Former Identifiers

mq:30297 2128848