We all – all of us in independent publishing – talk about why it’s good to support small presses and sometimes we forget the specifics of why, or it feels like – when there’s Harry Potter on the shelves, or you just feel like a bit of Fifty Shades of Whathaveyou – that it’s like eating your greens, supporting small press. But the main reason I’m in this bag is that small press is the place where a lot of my favourite, those-I-love-to read writers had their start. Karen Hitchcock signed a book deal with Picador but it wasn’t out of nowhere: Karen had had stories published in places like Overland and our Sleepers Almanac. Look at the lists of names getting notice now: Jessica Au, Pierz Newton-John, Laurie Steed, Paddy O’Reilly, Jon Bauer, Daniel Ducrou, Meg Mundell, Leanne Hall, Ryan O’Neill, Ruby Murray, Tony Birch, and on and on and on – people who I first read and loved in books from small publishers, especially journals. The same goes for the now-iconic Aussie writers: there’s nothing like picking up a forty or fifty-year-old copy of Meanjin or Overland to be amazed at the names you’ll recognise.
Sneaking long gawks at old copies was one of the highlights of work-experiencing at Meanjin. When people say it’s cheap to subscribe, I always think – it’s all relative, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone should be guilted into anything – just buy them when you can, and know when you set aside the time to read that you might be sitting down to something that could blow your tiny mind.