Subscriberthon 2012: Louise Swinn on discoveries made possible by little journals

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.

Louise Swinn

Louise Swinn is a writer, editor, publisher and reviewer. Her work appears regularly in the Age, the Australian, and the Sydney Morning Herald. Louise was one of the founders of Sleepers Publishing, the Small Press Network, and the Stella Prize.

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