According to Mark Davis’s essay in Making Books: Contemporary Australian Publishing, the ‘decline of the literary paradigm’ – fewer works of literary fiction being published, and reduced public intellectual influence of literary authors –
can be understood in terms of broader social and governmental shifts related to globalisation, such as the decline of the postwar consensus (‘welfare state’) politics and their supplanting by a new consensus based around free-market notions of deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation, and the rise of the global information economy.
He does get a little more specific (an earlier version of his chapter can be downloaded here) pointing to allowing parallel importing – ie, letting booksellers import books that publishers fail to release promptly in the Australian market – and abolition of subsidies for printing Australian books, which he suggests disproportionately affected literary fiction, since most illustrated titles were already printed overseas.
But it seems very unlikely that policy changes have greatly affected the state of Australian literary fiction. Continue reading “The welcome demise of literary protectionism”