Chris Meade, founder of if:books UK, meets with writers in Bundaberg…
An energetic group of writers gathered at Bundaberg library for coffee, cake and heated debate. The group, many of whom are successful authors of genre fiction, took some convincing that the State really was prepared to promote and reward romance, crime and speculative fiction as well as the literary. They also showed ample evidence of the economic potential of these forms.
This group loved the idea of the geo-located stories project but suggested the addition of a ‘buy’ button, so having heard a sample, users could download the whole book – at a price. This kind of story map would also be a wonderfully unifying scheme. Here you could find Indigenous storytellers, all kinds of published poetry, literary and genre fiction, self published and ‘amateur’ writing from emerging authors, even contributions from schoolchildren.
A fear of being overlooked out here in the regions was tempered with respect for the outreach work of Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) and excitement about social media as a means to connect across country. A lot of time is spent blogging, tweeting but these were also new writerish skills that opened up new income streams as trainers and community managers.
Before setting off for Bundaberg I had looked in on Avid Reader, the West End bookshop which has frequently featured in these meetings as a vital hub for local writers – some of whom it employs – and the centre of a big community of readers. I loved the shop, its performance space, café, burgeoning stock of books and even some rather classy Kindle and iPad covers on the counter. Having watched the decline in UK highstreet bookselling, I fear for the future of their shop – but these strategic meetings make it crystal clear that the book love, knowledge and network which Avid embodies is the life blood of any strategy; let it pump through the networked veins of all Queensland. 
Meanwhile in Brisbane and Bundaberg, festivals for writers and readers were praised as one enduring means to stimulate whatever bookiness the future holds, be it borrowing, buying, downloading, writing, publishing, producing, reading, sharing, dreaming…