Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Biography at the Melbourne University Bookstore

Bonnie and I are just back from three weeks in Australia and New Zealand, where we saw our daughter who is spending a semester abroad at the University of Melbourne. We took our trip to take advantage of Laura's two week spring break. While in the countries, I went into a number of bookstores, including one at the University of Melbourne. I checked out the biography section to see if I would recognize any of the subjects or the books themselves. I wondered if Australians are reading what Americans are reading, just like they seem to be listening to much of the same music.

I found a few familiar titles, but many of the books and their subjects were new to me. Of nineteen biographies or memoirs on display (on stands to show them prominently), I recognized six as titles on the American market. This included True Compass by Edward Kennedy and Horse Boy by Rupert Isaacson. I did not know Living Large: The World of Harold Mitchell or Pioneer Women of the Bush and Outback. Being in a university bookstore, most of the books that I did not recognize were about Australian historical or political figures. Later in bookstores aimed at more general readers, I noticed a similar mix with a large number of books about Australian celebrities and sports figures.

In fiction, the Australian and American markets were more similar. Every book shop had a stack of new Dan Brown books. There were also many vampire novels on display, as well as the third book in Steig Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.

I also noticed that most new books in both Australia and New Zealand are paper bound. There are few hardcovers being published, even in bestselling fiction.

I will be adding photos from our trip to my Flickr site as I organize them. You may click the link in the right column of this blog.

I'm glad to be home but I would go right back down under if offered a trip.

1 comment:

Chad Sayban said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful trip. That has to be so exciting for your daughter to spend a semester over there.