Prolific non-fiction children’s author, Anita Ganeri, profiled by the Yorkshire Post and talking about the impact of the internet on her work:
“The internet has massively shrunk our market,” she says, adding that many schools are now turning away from books and telling children to do all their research on the internet.
“As a parent and as a teacher, surely the thing you’re most concerned about is that the information your child is reading or receiving is well-researched, accurate, appropriate and interesting and the books we have produced are all those things, whereas with the stuff you get on the internet there’s no discernment or checking.”
As more schools issue iPads in favour of library books, Anita warns that the non-fiction book could soon be on the endangered list.
She is speaking at her home in Ilkley, surrounded by her family pets. An elderly cat cosies up on a seat in the kitchen while her two greyhounds and three-legged lurcher snuggle up in a room next door. Her husband Chris Oxlade, who is also a writer, works in a shed in the garden and has himself notched up around 150 children’s non-fiction books on technology and science.
It all seems pretty great, but Anita says while she has been lucky up to now, writing non-fiction is a precarious way to make a living.
“I love it and I feel very fortunate but it’s also extremely stressful, pressurised and insecure because you never know what work is coming. Work is getting scarcer and scarcer and contracts are getting shorter, so I might be phoned up tomorrow and offered a book but only if I can do it by next Wednesday. It’s getting absolutely ridiculous.”
Non-fiction is often seen as the poor relation of fiction. Information books about subjects such as puberty, birds and rivers are not seen to be as important as fiction, yet she says they are a really important reading resource, especially for boys.
“I work very quickly partly because I really love what I do and partly because it’s not massively well-paid and the quicker you do it the better. As with anything the more you do it the better you get at it.”