Millions of readers will feel sadness at the passing of Australia's biggest-selling author, Bryce Courtenay, at 79, but those who called themselves more "literary" writers owed a great debt of gratitude to Courtenay too, key publishing figures have said.

Author Thomas Keneally said the title of Courtenay's best-known book, The Power of One, had entered the language as a phrase for good reason: he was a good narrative plotter who knew how to market his books "when other writers were stumbling around".
Keneally said writers such as Courtenay and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling have allowed "thousands of flowers to bloom", their bestsellers financing "the publication of of books that might sell more humbly".
He said it took "guts" that Courtenay - who succumbed to stomach cancer in Canberra late on Thursday with his wife Christine, his family pets, Tim, the dog, and Cardamon, the Burmese cat by his side - had finished his book when he was so ill.
"There's no doubting readers will feel sadness and I hope they will raise their glasses for a toast to Bryce as they unwrap their presents of his latest book on Christmas Day," said Keneally.
Keneally acknowledged many so-called "literary" writers were dismissive of Courtenay's work. "I'm not so certain we authors can afford to be so sniffy about each other, because who says any of our works will survive long after our deaths?"
Bestselling author Di Morrissey said: "What I loved about Bryce was his passion - for everything! But he was most passionate about writing and reading.
"He was such an advocate for popular fiction, puncturing the puffed-up pretensions of the literary establishment.
"He always told me that being a storyteller was a great and noble profession. And that it is a gift and how lucky he felt that he could entertain people, enthuse non readers to read and that becoming a writer had changed his life.
"He approached every book - as indeed he embraced life - with enthusiasm, excitement and exuberance.
"He encouraged so many people to read, to tell their own stories, and he helped countless people in so many ways. He was generous, outrageous, loveable and there's a huge hole left in the Australian publishing industry but his legacy will live on. But I'll miss him."
Author Matthew Reilly said: "I think we've lost one of Australia's greatest storytellers. He single-handedly paved the way for mass market authors like me and I thank him for that."
Australian fantasy author Fiona McIntosh said she was inspired to become a writer at one of Courtenay’s masterclasses, held in Hobart 12 years ago.
"In five days it changed the course of my life. An epiphany occurred and everything made sense to me to me," she said. "I wrote a book and sold it within weeks to Harper Collins."