TUMBY BAY - It seems as though the latest effort in the form of a writer’s petition to get the Papua New Guinean government interested in a home grown literature has foundered on the rocks of apathy and ignorance once again.
The planning was good and there was a wave of optimism in the form of a new prime minister to finally bring the government to its senses but it wasn’t to be.
Despite the disappointment Papua New Guinean writers continue to write. They are a resilient lot and not easily dissuaded.
In the last month I’ve edited two fine new books which will be published soon and the indefatigable Baka Bina has just published his latest novel.
It’s time to consider a new approach in this ongoing campaign. Here is another idea to consider.
We don’t have any exact statistics but it seems that the PDF copies of the books currently available on PNG Attitude as free downloads continue to attract readers.
In my own case I’ve noticed that people who read the PDF versions of my PNG-based books quite often then purchase hard copies or eBook versions. There is also anecdotal evidence that this is happening with other writers.
This generous facility provided by Keith has two distinct advantages and one disadvantage for the writers concerned.
In the first instance, the availability of the books as electronic copies solves the problems of cost for PNG readers who cannot afford to buy the books and it also, to a large extent, solves the problem of the lack of distribution through bookshops in PNG.
On the downside the free electronic copies offer no economic return to the writers for their hard work.
While most of the writers who offer their books as free electronic copies realise that writing books in PNG is never going to be a profitable proposition they still continue writing because they know that having books available by local writers is of crucial importance to the nation. In this respect they are miles ahead of the politicians.
If this is all true then it may be something worth formalising and may represent the basis for a new approach to the government or, more realistically, private enterprise.
The way it might work is if a system similar to the informal one on PNG Attitude is adopted by the National Library.
Writers could make their books available to the National Library for electronic lending through a dedicated website.
That sounds pretty simple until you actually research the National Library’s electronic resources. I cannot, for instance, locate an actual website for the library.
(Isn’t that appalling and doesn’t it reflect the misguided priorities of PNG’s politicians. It’s a shameful fact if it’s true).
The scheme would, therefore, require some groundwork to set up. Given the government’s apathy maybe there’s a private donor out there who could help? It wouldn’t be hard and it wouldn’t be costly.
In fact, for the right donor, it could even provide advertising opportunities and revenue for not only the donor but the library and the writers involved.
Just imagine your book appearing in vivid colour and detail on a website alongside adverts for SP Lager, Trukai Rice, Ox & Palm Corned Beef and Wopa Biscuits (hint, hint).
This is just a rough sketch of a thought bubble at the moment. I wonder what the writers think.