To be a successful Ambleside Online user in Australia necessitates a passion for books that is outside the realms of what may be defined as normal well adjusted human behaviour.
Bibliophilism may not yet have its own DSM-IV listing, but it surely must come close to an illness in the lives of a true Australian AOer. The AOer must enter every bookshop she sees. She must organise her travel itinerary around second-hand bookstores and enter every-single-one. She must allow at least an hour - preferably more. The Aussie AOer must be on a first name basis with Abe, and be well acquainted with Amazon and The Book Depository, whilst holding a special affection for her very own Independent Bookseller. She must mourn the closure of Borders as Australia's foremost stockist of American AO type books, and celebrate the glorious rising from the ashes of Reader's Feast. She must allocate a significant portion of the household budget to the ongoing accumulation of books whilst foregoing other less important frivolities, like clothes and food. (Chocolate is a necessity, not a frivolity.)
The Australian AOer must recognise the exciting possibilities offered to her by the advent of the Kindle and the iPad and the whole phenomenon of ebooks realising that finally she may be able to splurge a little on new underwear and shoes for herself and her family; whilst still harbouring an affection for the smell, feel and sound of the printed page and continuing to maintain and add to her large and highly varied paper based collection of children's literature, Australian natural history books, reference tomes, Scripture study guides, pedagogological treatises and Charlotte Mason ephemera. She will recognise that the Australian environment - its humidity and bright sunlight - is toxic to books whilst being highly desirable for children, so if there is room in the home for only one of the two, then it is the children who should sleep outside with the family pet and not the books.
Whilst acknowledging the need to Buy Australia Made, the Antipodean AOer must realise that obtaining the books of the AO booklist in any way, shape or form is her primary objective, and if that means that she must purchase online from an American megastore, or even upload an electronic copy onto her ereader, then well, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
The Aussie AOer will recognise instinctively that the advent of the ebook does not spell the end of literacy as we know it; that reading print off the static screen of a Kindle or iPad is still reading, with the added capacity of being able to increase font size for her developing or emerging young reader. She will understand the distinction between ebooks that you read and book apps that you play with. She will embrace technology, excited about the possibilities of accessibility to out of print books immediately and cheaply, and the portability that the ereader allows. Imagine - all of those deliciously lovely AO books in your handbag when you're waiting at the doctors, or on a trip away.
The Aussie AOer will be forever thankful for sites like Project Gutenberg Australia with their wonderful collection of free ebooks on topics like Australian history and geography, as well as primary sources and Australian Classics. She will look forward to the day that many more Australian books will be available online, but in the meantime will be grateful for the lists at Aussie Book Threads, From Wonder...to Wisdom, and CMandFriends.
Above all, to be a successful Aussie AOer, one must show one's undying appreciation for those intrepid homeschoolers that have gone before - for the AO Advisory, for parents at AmblesideOnline, the lovely community at Aussiehomeschool - and for those wonderful Aussie CM bloggers that share what goes on behind the doors to their homes. Without these lovely people, all those difficult to find AO books would be just a disease - bibliomania, perhaps, instead of a rich, liberal curriculum of the highest literary standards where the whole child is taught to be the best that he can be using great books and great ideas.
Thank you all for helping me to be a successful Australian AOer. I couldn't do it alone.
I'd still have a passion for books though.