Ooooh! Look what was just delivered to my place – a beautiful new edition of Elizabeth Macarthur.
Just quietly, I think I like this cover better.
I fear the previous one was in danger of being dismissed as ‘a woman’s book’. That’s not a joke. I took my daughter into a bookshop recently, one of a large commercial chain. In an effort to embarrass her even more than usual, I took her hunting for a copy of my book. There it was on the Biography shelf. Nice.
Then we went over to the Australian History shelf. Not there.
In fact there were no books about women there, and very few titles by women. Apparently women weren’t in any way involved in Australian history…
Maybe, I thought, they don’t put biographies on the Australian History shelf. So I looked a little closer. There were plenty of biographies on the Australian History shelf, just not any about women.
So, much to my daughter’s horror, I took my book from the Biography shelf and placed it fair, square and face out on the Australian History shelf. I encourage you to do the same.
Postscript: Yes, I did mention the situation to the bookshop in question but failed to receive a meaningful answer. And, in my experience, the problem I’ve described occurs far less often in the independent bookshops. Vive la independent bookshops!
LOOKS GOOD, A MUST READ, CHINA
Great comment on bookshop women’s history can be invisible
How can you have an Australian History shelf without Marilyn Lake? Or without an MST of course. Congratulations on the new edition.
I hear what you say about history, but although (not being in the industry) I could be wrong, I believe that biography sells better than history does, with the exception of popular WW1 history. Historian Anna Clark did her PhD about why young people are not interested in OzHist, and what she found is probably also true for older people i.e. that OzHist is boring and they’ve heard “it all” over and over. Whatever the feminist issues around it, Australian history has a marketing problem. Maybe it wouldn’t if there were more history about/by women, but book placement in a bookshop is a sales issue, where, truth be told, the bookseller with a sophisticated knowledge of what sells and why, is on your side, trying to sell the book.
(BTW I see this preference for bio at the library too: people actively browse biography for something to read while they go to the history shelves because they are already looking for something specific.)
If I am right, while logically EM belongs in both places, bio is where it will get sales – and it must be doing well if there’s a new edition – congratulations! People love biography, perhaps because it has the focus on the individual, something that our narcissistic age really likes?
So, *chuckle* maybe you should content yourself with ‘EM the bio’ being a back door way to interest people in their own history?
For sales of my own book, I don’t disagree with you Lisa. But it’s the principle of the thing that gets me cross! BTW have a look at the blurb at the bottom of the cover… I swear it was a (lovely) surprise for me too.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book. I live in Parramatta making it even more poignant. I recently attended the Spring Fair at Elizabeth Farm House, an overdue visit since primary school back in the 1970s.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, and how very kind of you to let me know. Elizabeth Farm is a beautiful venue, isn’t it? And wouldn’t Elizabeth be amazed to see Parramatta now!