Monday, 13 May 2019

Eleanor Hurt worked in the Dymocks head office as the book buyer for their flagship store for a few years prior to joining UWA Publishing (UWAP) early this year.

The new Publishing Officer is now finding creative ways to reach as many audiences as possible in order to continue promoting UWAP’s high quality books.

“I got into the book industry straight out of university. I knew I wanted to work with books and took the opportunity to work with a major bookseller Dymocks. It was a great way to learn about the book market in Australia,” she says.

To fuel her desire to learn more about the publishing industry, Eleanor took the leap from Sydney to join our small university publishing house.

UWAP, she says, almost instantly appealed to her due to its edgier and diverse form of voices that were being given a platform.

Eleanor isn’t an author, but loves thinking about books and seeing books come to life.

“I’d like to leave writing books to people who can write,” she laughs.

“The process of developing relationships with authors and being immediately connected to their work is something that I find really interesting.

“The publishing industry is very much person-to-person centric – relationship building is really important.

“It’s about talking to readers, authors, buyers and a whole range of people in the book space– it’s never just about the simple reliance on sales data,” Eleanor says.

Talking to Eleanor you get the feeling it’s the work behind the scenes of book publishing that brings the thrill. What appeals most to her about UWAP is its commitment to produce works which celebrate diverse authors.

“The calibre of the books we are producing speaks for itself. I’m looking forward to promoting the quality of work we have to wider audiences – to expand our reach so that more people get to read and enjoy our books,” she says.

As for her best two book picks from forthcoming and new releases from UWAP, both of the choices, she says, relate to her travelling and wondrous spirit.

The first one comes from the UWAP poetry imprint which started off a few years ago - Walking with Camels: The Story of Bertha Strehlow by Leni Shilton.

“This is the best book I read last year. It’s a verse novel – a very underused format – which tells the story of Bertha Strehlow as she accompanies her pioneering anthropologist husband on his travels through the unforgiving desert of central Australia,” she says.

The second pick is a March new release – Requiem with Yellow Butterflies by James Halford.

“This book is at once a travel narrative, an exploration of great works of Latin American and Australian literature and a love story.  James Halford has seamlessly woven these different layers together to create a work that is not only fascinating but really enjoyable to read. The best part about it is that it’s true,” she says.

“He really did meet his now wife while travelling through Latin American trying to ‘find himself’ in his mid-twenties, and they did fall in love reading Garcia Marquez to each other. J. M. Coetzee read it and described the protagonist as ‘engagingly unheroic.’ I hope James took that as a compliment!”

While Eleanor jokes that she is often the youngest person at writers’ festivals, she is also imbued with a hopeful positivity about the future of books and readership.

“Sometimes it can be disheartening to be one of only a few young people in a writer’s festival audience.  However, I’ve gone to many events that celebrate reading and books, and the sales indicate that the consumption of books is not as bad as debate suggests,” Eleanor says.

“Young people still go to festivals and sales are increasing, not the reverse, so there’s certainly still an appetite for physical books.

“Books are here to stay.”


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