Booksellers are busily preparing for one of the busiest days in recent history – September 29.
It’s not the release date of a secret Harry Potter sequel, nor the much-anticipated sixth Game of Thrones instalment.
It’s Super Tuesday, super-charged by the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus outbreak has left no industry untouched, and the world of books and publishing is no different.
Delayed releases have banked up for months and now they’re ready to hit shelves.
So just how many books are we talking about?
Dymocks Sydney is expecting 15,000 units to arrive on Tuesday.
For some perspective, general manager Jon Page said the seller’s biggest day last year involved 6000 units.
It will be the biggest day in his 25 years in the industry, Mr Page told The New Daily.
Books like Trent Dalton’s All Our Shimmering Skies and Jessica Townsend’s Hollowpox could command their own major release days, Mr Page said, but they’ll be alongside 40-odd other major release titles.
The one that has everyone talking – and is Mr Page’s personal favourite – is Honeybee by Craig Silvey, the Aussie author who also wrote the acclaimed novel Jasper Jones.
Jane Palfreyman from Honeybee publisher Allen & Unwin said this year had heralded changes and challenges for the industry – but release day was still release day.
It’s a culmination of years of work for the writer and sometimes as much for the publisher, Ms Palfreyman said.
“A book hitting the shelves is the result of a massive team effort on behalf of the publishers. No stone is left unturned,” Ms Palfreyman explained.
“The strategy we’ve sweated over is rolled out; the big interviews are done, the window displays are unveiled, the advertising and the marketing clicks into gear, the bookshops are filled with piles of the book being released.
“Everything is put in motion and then we have to wait – excruciating days to see what the readers think.”
Whether you’re a life-long reader, or one of the 35 per cent of Australians who have upped their book intake during lockdown, there’s a lot going on in the literary world this week.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the hottest titles from home-grown authors arriving imminently.
Honeybee – Craig Silvey (Allen & Unwin)
“Late in the night, 14-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below.
“At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette.
“The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other.”
All Our Shimmering Skies – Trent Dalton (Harper Collins)
“Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain down, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, is looking to the skies and running for her life. Inside a duffel bag she carries a stone heart, alongside a map to lead her to Longcoat Bob, the deep-country sorcerer who she believes put a curse on her family.
“By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress, and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot. The treasure lies before them, but close behind them trails the dark. And above them, always, are the shimmering skies.”
The Living Sea of Waking Dreams – Richard Flanagan (Penguin)
“In a world of perennial fire and growing extinctions, Anna’s aged mother is dying – if her three children would just allow it. Condemned by their pity to living, she increasingly escapes through her hospital window into visions of horror and delight.
“When Anna’s finger vanishes and a few months later her knee disappears, Anna too feels the pull of the window. She begins to see that all around her others are similarly vanishing, but no one else notices. All Anna can do is keep her mother alive. But the window keeps opening wider, taking Anna and the reader ever deeper into a strangely beautiful story about hope and love and orange-bellied parrots.”