Tom Keneally at Napoleon's house St Helena

Today Tom Keneally attained a rather different honour: his latest novel Napoleon’s Last Island became the first ebook to be collected by the National Library of Australia.

The historical novel, which tells the story of Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile on the island of St Helena through the eyes of 13-year-old Betsy Balcombe, made its own history when it was received as the first ebook collected under Australia’s new legal deposit legislation.

The new amendments to the Copyright Act allow the NLA to collect everything from ebooks to blogs, websites to social media. Under the new provisions, Australia will protect the digital record in the same way as it always has for print.

Keneally, who won the Man Booker Prize in 1982 for Schindler’s Ark, said he was proud that his ebook paved the way for this new era of digital collecting—a significant moment for Australian authors, publishers and readers.

‘This is a wonderful symbol that writing and stories old and new still belong in the digital age,’ Keneally said.

‘A digital book is a book doubled, tripled or quadrupled and a book given to the future.’

At the same time as Napolean’s Last Island was embarking on its new electronic journey, the NLA’s web crawler headed out to capture the public Australian web domain.

Publishers and authors can now upload electronic books, journals, magazines and newsletters through the NLA’s website.

Visitors to the National Library in Canberra will be able to access the collection of digital publications later this year. 

High-res images available here

Contact details

Sally Hopman—Media Liaison Manager
02 6262 1704
0401 226 697