Fairfax book value

full disclosureWhat a particular coy tagline at the foot of the Opinion piece in today’s SMH by Jennifer Dougherty, who sings the praises of “young adult fiction” and the authors whose books variously explore “privilege and gender”, the joys of bisexuality for amorously ambidextrous adolescents and “coming out” as gay for those who kick only with one foot. Poor old Biggles, one gathers, might reclaim some bookstore shelf space if, and only if, he were to address his concern about weight problems by forging a deep and loving relationship with his tail gunner.

Which titles get added to school reading lists and why is not, however, the intriguing aspect of Dougherty’s gush about the books teenagers are encouraged to absorb. Far more intriguing is that tag line, which describes the column’s author only as “a book editor with a major independent publishing house.”

Indeed she is, the major publishing house being Allen & Unwin, where Dougherty is the “children’s and YA editor.”

And golly gosh, what a coincidence that is! Of the seven titles hailed as masterworks, she just happens to publish five of them.

Good for Dougherty and good for Allen & Unwin, who get the sort of publicity and promotion that money just can’t buy.

But pity Fairfax shareholders (even more than usual) , who have foregone the revenue they might have received from a paid ad.

And pity, too, the unfortunate Fairfax functionary who must now square the circle of the tag line’s curious lack of candour with the SMH Code of Ethics, especially the last bit about disclosing “all relevant circumstances under which a story has been written or edited or any other conflicts.”

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