January 9, 2020

Book community rises to the occasion of fighting Australian wildfires


The wildfires currently raging in Australia have burned over 18 million acres and taken a major toll on the country’s wildlife. Twenty-four people have died as a result of the months-long blaze.

Now, the book world is rallying around those working overtime to minimize the devastation.

One of the major literary support efforts is called Authors For Firey’s, a Twitter-based auction in which authors’ autographed copies, illustrations, hangouts, and workshop sessions are for sale to the highest bidder. Once a lucky winner is announced they are to donate their winning bid directly to Australian fire services, screenshotting their donation to claim their prize. The auction, in which international bidders are eligible, runs through Saturday January 11. You can learn more and get in the game here.

The industry, too, is doing its part. As Shelf Awareness reports:

Booksellers are also doing their part. In a letter to members, Australian Booksellers Association CEO Robbie Egan wrote: “The new year is upon us and we find much of our beautiful country suffering from unprecedented bushfires. I am south enough of the fires to escape danger, but today thick smoke hangs about South Gippsland like a fog. Most of us have family and friends impacted to some degree and many of us feel somewhat helpless despite the desire to help. Some members have pledged a percentage of takings. #AuthorsForFireys is a twitter auction of signed books, illustrations and writers’ services to raise funds for the CFA. The CBCA has partnered with GIVIT to raise donations for the purchase of books for fire affected families and communities. Using the ABA’s Find a Bookshop search GIVIT will make purchases from stores in these regions.

Heroically, the country’s chains and indies have specially tailored promotions—from donation matching to donating 100% of online sales—to support wildfire relief efforts.

Outside of the book world, the cause has received unprecedented support, including the largest ever Facebook fundraising campaign started by Australian comedian Celeste Barber.

Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.