As our research has shown, publishing contracts (almost always) last for the entire term of copyright, and cover a broad range of rights and uses – commonly all territories worldwide, and all languages.  But publishers don’t always actually exploit all the rights they take for any given title, and in most cases they stop meaningfully investing in the ones they have used – by allowing the book to go out of print, for example.

This is the case even for winners of Australia’s most glittering literary prize, the Miles Franklin. With Robin Gardner and Louise Ellis from the Academic Research Service at the Melbourne Law School, the Author’s Interest Project investigated the availability of these prize winners (1957-2019) in Australia in different formats. We searched Books in Print, TROVE and library catalogues to establish publisher information and then verifying availability from the publishers’ individual sites. Here are the headline findings:

1. 23 of the 62 winners were NOT available as ebooks

2. 40 of the 62 winners were NOT available as audiobooks

3. 10 winners were NOT available in Australia in any form whatsoever – ie no print, no e, no audio, no print-on-demand.

That there are such black holes in availability and investment for these titles hints at how much of Australia’s literary heritage is languishing, unexploited. This is one reason why reversion rights are so important. By enabling copyrights to be reclaimed  – for example over formats, languages or territories that have been assigned but never exploited, or books that have gone out of print – they can open up new revenue streams for authors, investment opportunities for publishers, and access opportunities for the public.

Here’s the full list of missing titles:

  1. 1959      Vance Palmer, The Big Fellow
  2. 1960      Elizabeth O’Conner, The Irishman
  3. 1962      George Turner, The Cupboard Under the Stairs
  4. 1962      Thea Astley, The Well Dressed Explorer
  5. 1970      Dal Stivens, A Horse of Air
  6. 1972      Thea Astley, The Acolyte
  7. 1974      Ronald McKie, The Mango Tree
  8. 1982      Rodney Hall, Just Relations
  9. 1990      Tom Flood, Oceana Fine
  10. 1994      Rodney Hall, The Grisly Wife

And here’s the list of a past Miles Franklin winners that are available as audiobooks – because we’re going to need plenty of those to get us through the apocalypse!

  1. 1977    Ruth Park, Swords and Crowns and Rings
  2. 1980    Jessica Anderson, The Impersonators
  3. 1981    Peter Carey, Bliss
  4. 1984    Tim Winton, Shallows
  5. 1986    Elizabeth Jolley, The Well
  6. 1989    Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda
  7. 1991    David Malouf, The Great World
  8. 1992    Tim Winton, Cloudstreet
  9. 1996    Christopher Koch, Highways to a War
  10. 1999    Murray Bail, Eucalyptus
  11. 2000    Kim Scott, Benang: From the Heart
  12. 2002    Tim Winton, Dirt Music
  13. 2007    Alexis Wright, Carpentaria
  14. 2009    Tim Winton, Breath
  15. 2010    Peter Temple, Truth
  16. 2011    Kim Scott, That Deadman Dance
  17. 2013    Michelle de Kretser, Questions of Travel
  18. 2014    Evie Wyld, All the Birds, Singing
  19. 2015    Sofie Laguna, The Eye of the Sheep
  20. 2016    A.S. Patrić, Black Rock White City
  21. 2018    Michelle de Kretser, The Life to Come
  22. 2019      Melissa Lucashenko, Too Much Lip

 

Please let us know if you think we’ve missed anything!

One thought on “The availability of Miles Franklin winners as ebooks, audiobooks and in print

  1. Some of those early Miles Franklin winners really are impossible to find, even secondhand. I also have not been able to track down some of the audiobooks that are listed here – The Impersonators, Highways to a War, The Well, and Benang are not available anywhere that I have looked. Too Much Lip is coming out on audiobook in November.

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