Wednesday night saw me at the launch of a new children's imprint for Random House, held at their sparkling custom designed headquarters in North Sydney. There were booksellers, and people who work in chains (sorry if I sound snobby - there are some fine people in those places, but alas, mostly it doesn't matter to their owners what they actually sell...) There were authors, and illustrators, and librarians, and even illuminati like the amazing Maurice Saxby. There were certainly any number of publicists and sales managers and publishers and lots of those other workers with very esoteric titles, who usually are the glue that holds all the others together. Clutching our flutes of guava juice and champagne and happily relieving the waiters of their burdens on the paperbark lined trays (all those delightful little nibbles you would never make at home!) we were there to celebrate the launch of Woolshed Press.
Leonie Tyle, who worked for University of Queensland Press for many years before being lured to Random House, will be publishing six titles this year, and twelve titles a year thereafter. I'm pretty impressed by the calibre of the authors she has lined up, almost every one of them award-winning or award-listed Australians who are known for their strong story telling skills - James Roy, Catherine Bateson, Brian Caswell, Bill Condon, Anthony Eaton and Celeste Walters (just to begin with!) Leonie wants to celebrate quality, with an eye to commercial values (ie the kids want to read them) and educational potential (ie the teachers want the kids to read them).
And while another imprint will not mean much to the average buyer browsing in a bookshop, it is still a cause for optimism - particularly if it can be associated with children's books, and we can look forward to outstanding stories! Good luck to Leonie and her team (and thanks for the champagne!) Lindy