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Angus and Robertson and the Case of the 'Bombshell Salesman'

Ensor, J.D. (2011) Angus and Robertson and the Case of the 'Bombshell Salesman'. Script & Print, 35 (2). pp. 69-79.

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Overseas branches cannot forever remain independent of local politics, as Angus and Robertson's London office was to learn through the activities of its travelling salesman Bernard Robinson. As part of its post-Second World War rebuilding operations, in late February 1950 Angus and Robertson's Sydney publisher George Ferguson notified the company's London office manager, Hector MacQuarrie, that the firm's catalogue was nearing completion and the pressure increased for MacQuarrie to have salesmen ready to cover London, Scotland and the English provinces. So too for regular advertisements ('as attractive as those of, say, Faber, Chatto or Jonathan Cape') to begin appearing in The Bookseller (UK) to 'prepare the way for ... travellers.' Angus and Robertson was very enthusiastic about the cargo of books in transit from Sydney to London, producing circulars for display in the Bank of New South Wales (West End, London) and Australia House, but while the London office was 'enjoying considerable success in the London area' in generating orders it had 'little to speak of outside the metropolitan area.' There were it seemed 'frightful problem[s]' enticing travellers to manage provincial sales - no one wanted to do it - and MacQuarrie had to employ salesmen from British publisher George G. Harrap to circulate titles; MacQuarrie feared the potential ire of the Australian book trade if this was ever discovered. Already a subscription salesman for Angus and Robertson in Sydney and interested in working in England, Bernard Robinson was appointed by Ferguson to market Angus and Robertson titles to the provincial libraries and meet the 'greatly developed United Kingdom interest in Australia.' Robinson would arrive in London in April 1950 and would travel books from one province to the next on a commission of 15% per sale.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: RMIT Publishing
Copyright: © 2011 BSANZ
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