Books+Publishing turns 100

Books+Publishing turns 100

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Australian publishing industry title Books+Publishing has turned 100, with owners Gary and Vanessa Pengelly reflecting on the history and resilience of the title. 

Books+Publishing provides news about the book industry via a digital magazine, digital platform, and collection of targeted e-newsletters.

Australian Stationery and Fancy Goods journal.

A history driven by a clear vision 

The trade publication was first published as the Australian Stationery and Fancy Goods Journal on 10 June 1921 at a time when there were few Australian retailers solely focused on the sale of books. The magazine has been continuously published ever since. 

In a post to readers, owners Gary and Vanessa Pengelly and former Managing Editor Michael Webster explained that the publication’s founder Daniel Wrixon Thorpe worked for the early pioneers of Australia’s publishing industry before establishing his own company to report on the industry as it developed its own culture and dynamics.

“From its creation, the journal evolved steadily until 1971 when it split into two publications — the introduction of the newsagency-focused Australian Newsagent & Stationer allowed (sic) Australian Bookseller and Publisher to focus on a maturing publishing scene with an emphasis on book publishing. 

“There followed several changes in masthead to reflect an expanding geographic focus along with the need to embrace broadening channels to market.

Wrixon Thorpe worked alone on the journal for its first 15 years. His daughter, Joyce, succeeded him as Managing Director until the appointment of Michael Webster as Managing Director/Partner in 1981.

In 1992, the D W Thorpe company was sold to Reed Reference Publishing, then sold to R R Bowker (later becoming Thorpe-Bowker). R R Bowker was then acquired by Cambridge Information Group (later becoming ProQuest).   

In July 2018, ProQuest sold Books+Publishing to the newly created Australian company Books and Publishing Pty Ltd, owned by Thorpe-Bowker General Manager Gary Pengelly.

At the time of the purchase, Pengelly said “The opportunity to be custodian of an iconic Australian publishing industry brand was irresistible and I must thank ProQuest for recognising the importance of B+P to our local industry and helping to facilitate the transfer back to local ownership.”

Looking to the future 

The Pengellys and Webster said that the 100-year milestone “ is about acknowledging the vision of Daniel and the fact this business was presided over by him and his daughter Joyce for 66 of its first 100 years. Of course, 100 years of publishing to schedule is a testament to the passion and commitment of the people who have contributed over the years. We continue to be inspired by today’s extraordinary editorial team, which delivers your daily news.” 

They attribute the resilience of Books+Publishing to the vision and passion of Daniel and Joyce, the contribution of the publication’s many employees and contributors over the years, and “the publishers, authors, booksellers, librarians and service providers who have always supported their trade journal with advertising, subscriptions, news and other contributions”. 

“To be in the position to guide B+P to its 100-year anniversary is a great privilege, and with that privilege comes the challenge and responsibility of positioning B+P for the next 100 years: meeting the evolving needs of our industry as we address a global marketplace, more competition than ever for the hearts and minds of readers, the impacts and opportunities of social media and new technologies, the effects of pandemics, and the responsibility of our industry to reflect Australia’s diversity — as well as all those issues and events that are yet to appear.”

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