marginalia

  1. Marks made in the margins of a book or other document. They may be scribbles, comments, glosses, critiques, doodles, or illuminations.

  2. A short article by Simon Groth that takes a few minutes to read, delivered to your email inbox every couple of weeks or so. It may be about books, movies, publishing, culture, technology, and figuring out how to tell stories in the modern world.

Yeah, I’m starting a newsletter.

why?

Between 2011 and 2016, I contributed a regular column to Writing Queensland magazine that ruminated on my work in progress and the state of technology and publishing at that time.

I was feeling the itch to write again in a similar style: something looser than a strict topic-based column, but more focused than a blog.

This is a strange and exciting time to think about how the written word fits into our lives. While the anxiety and optimism that surrounded ‘the future of the book’ has abated, the relationship between publishing and technology has only become more fascinating as the stakes have risen exponentially.

Having said that, this column is just as much about indulging my desire to write a few hundred words about all kinds of weird stuff:

  • What The Simpsons tells us about character development

  • The genius and frustration of books published with no binding

  • The question I wish I’d asked Peter Carey when I had the opportunity

  • Working collaboratively from the earliest stages of a new story

  • Why having eight copies of The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ is not at all excessive

I wanted to write about ideas big and small in a format that never takes itself too seriously. I wanted to think about things I’ve worked on in the past or things I’m working on right now. 

who?

I’m a writer and long-time observer of publishing, technology, and creative industries. I’m a contributing editor for the Writing Platform. My books include collections of rock music interviews, novels for young adults, and remixes of short stories from the nineteenth century. With if:book Australia, I also created a series of experimental publishing projects, some of which even won awards.

a newsletter?

You might rightly question why this isn’t going out as a blog. For me, it was about creating a change of reading environment.

A blog is published to the open web. As incredible as the web is, it’s kind of like putting up a sign in your window hoping people might stop by and look at it.

Email is a different kind of reading experience. It’s active. You have to sign up, effectively asking to be a reader. It’s easy. Once you’re signed up, you don’t have to do anything to read it other than open the message. It’s personal. It’s a message delivered directly to you. If you’re not ready to read it, it will wait for you.

In some ways email is closer to the reading experience you might get from a book (still the gold standard in case you were wondering).