A celebration of 25 years of The Women’s Bookshop

Womens BookshopThe Women’s Bookshop celebrated 25 years of business, with a big party at Ponsonby Central, on Monday evening. With their innovative events such as the Ladies Litera-tea, and plenty of Booksellers’ Industry Awards for their great service and knowledgeable staff, these guys have certainly been an important part of the book world in Auckland for the past 25 years.

If you haven’t yet been in to congratulate them, pop in between 6pm and 8pm on Thursday and Friday nights all April, and get a free glass of wine so you can help them celebrate!

Speeches at the Womens Bookshop party

Great book trade gathering for The Women’s Bookshop 25th birthday held at Ponsonby Central (photo: Anna Comrie-Thomson)

Colin Pinfold (Penguin), Rachel Cooper (Random), Marthie Markstein (Random) Michele Hyland, Carole Beu, Margaret Thompson (Penguin), Suzie Maddock (Hachette)

Colin Pinfold (Penguin), Rachel Cooper (Random), Marthie Markstein (Random) Michele Hyland, Carole Beu, Margaret Thompson (Penguin), Suzie Maddock (Hachette) (photo: Anna Comrie-Thomson)

Witi Ihimaera, Carole Beu

Witi Ihimaera and Carole Beu (photo: Anna Comrie-Thomson)


Anne Kennedy, Alexa Johnston, Carole Beu, Sue Orr, Sarah Laing

Authors Anne Kennedy, Alexa Johnston, Sue Orr, and Sarah Laing, with owner Carole Beu (Photo: Anna Comrie-Thomson)

Anne O Brien Christine O'Brien Carole Beu, Ka Meechan, Karen Ferns

Anne O’Brien (Auckland Writers Festival), Christine O’Brien (Auckland University Press), Carole Beu, Ka Meechan, Karen Ferns (Random House) (photo: Anna Comrie-Thomson)


All photos were taken by, and are copyright Anna Comrie-Thomson.

- Sarah Forster

From Mills and Boons to Metadata: Nevena Nikolic takes on new role at Nielsen

pp_nevena_nikolicAs buyer for Time Out Books in Mt Eden, Nevena Nikolic (right) has put the best of the literary world in front of customers for the past eight years. In her new role as Sales & Marketing Manager for Nielsen Book Service she is doing the same – but now the bookstores are her customers.

Nevena took over the position at Nielsen in January 2014. Going from selling products to selling services has been a change of focus, but she is looking forward to a ‘full and fun year.’. Nevena says; “I really like all the client contact and the fact that I am the ’public‘ face of the company in New Zealand. I enjoy getting out and meeting as many clients as possible, helping to identify their needs and how we can better look after them.”

Book Lover from the beginning
Nevena became part of the fabled Time Out team of booksellers (below), after a career as a Book Publicist for various publishers – beginning at Hodder & Stoughton and their successors, then as a freelancer. Asked about her love of books, Nevena says: “I come from an immigrant background (Croatian) and English was my second-language until I went to school (it still is for my parents) so my love of reading and books is essentially self-taught. I joined the book club at Primary school and that was my main source of books until I could get to bookstores myself. I remember devouring the classics, Mills & Boons and mysteries in my teen years! Now I am squarely a literary reader with the odd interesting non-fiction and crime novel thrown in.”time out team

Nevena’s role is to support booksellers to make the most of Nielsen’s offerings. Since starting in January this year, she’s been out on the road to Wellington to visit clients – a focus for the year ahead. Nevena will be at the Booksellers NZ conference on 22 June, other key events she’s attending include the Paper Plus Trade Show, and LIANZA’s Library conference in October.

Nevena enjoys working with booksellers: “I have a particular affinity for the concerns of booksellers and their role in the life of a book – and I am an ardent fan of BookData Online (front page below). It was my go-to website when making buying decisions to get more information or different information to that provided by the reps.”nielsen_page


The Nielsen Bestsellers
Nielsen Book Services has three main strands of service to the book industry in New Zealand: BookScan, BookData Online and Record Supply Service. BookScan is about sales, Bookdata Online is about sourcing titles (with 20 million records), and the Record Supply Service contains the web metadata that allows booksellers to enrich their own websites with Book Data, jacket images and details on forthcoming titles.

One of the most well-read and anticipated bestsellersimagesections of The Read each week is of course the Nielsen Bestsellers list. Courtesy of Nielsen we are also able to publish the Indie Top 20 – reflecting the bestsellers for Independent bookstores. Comparisons between the bestseller lists are often revealing and can help bookstores pick up on what’s working for their colleagues – and competitors! – around the country.

How are the bestseller lists put together?
BookScan monitors sales from a panel of book retailers – enabling detailed and accurate sales information on which books are selling, and at what price for the book trade.

When creating the bestsellers list, Nielsen will ‘exclude certain titles likes those that are heavily discounted or sold as a class set that would skew the data.’ There is an art to the construction to the charts – it relies on the specialist staff who construct the charts reading into the data intelligently, and the discount does have to be over a certain threshold. The book retailer panel whose data is collected currently includes Poppies, Paper Plus and Take Note, The Warehouse, and a group of independent bookstores. If you are not included and would like to be, give Anna Hart a call as she is happy to discuss this.

RS2398_kobo_pixie_fanning_spread_allcolours_stepping-white_EN_UK_miniE-book sales
One of the questions floating around the book industry at the moment is ‘but what about  sales?’ As The Read had a captive audience, we asked Nevena when will the sale of ebooks be reported in the best seller charts?

“I know it is the missing picture as we currently report on print sales only. Tracking ebook sales are highly complex – not least of which is due to the number bought through offshore etailers. Nielsen has acquired PubTrack Digital (which we bought from Bowker). It is the Ebook tracking model based on sales from publishers and we hope this will be the model used in NZ. I can’t give you an exact timeline but rest assured, we are working on it.”

So they are coming folks, don’t panic!

Another new tool which is on its way for New Zealand clients is TitleEditor, which several other regions already have. This will allow self-publishers and smaller publishers to add and update their own titles on the Nielsen database, for free: an asset for the expanding self publishing market – did someone say, 50 Shades of Grey?

Must-haves for booksellersnielsen_logo
The Nielsen products are very handy to have within your range of bookselling tools, particularly in the purchasing of titles. Here are four important things that booksellers get out of Nielsen:

  1. BookData Online – a comprehensive search database that includes NZ price and availability
    ”This enables booksellers, publishers and libraries to search for and source book titles quickly and accurately – key features are intuitive functionality (you can share and print search results) and NZ price and availability for more than 20 million records (where the publisher has supplied the information.
  2. Contribution to the BookData panel (you need to be able to supply EPOS information) and in return get bestseller reports & market sales data. Contact Anna Hart on (09) 360 3294 for more information.
  3. Comprehensive title information that helps you sell books:
    BookScan monitors end-user consumer sales from a panel of book retailers – enabling detailed and accurate sales information on which books are selling, and at what price for the book trade. Retailers who contribute to the panel have access to data to enable them to monitor market share, spot trends and aid in stock management. Publishers use BookScan data to aid in decision-making and assessment for strategy and category analysis, forecasting and industry trends.
  4. Enriched metadata for your websites to help you sell more books online
    Record Supply Service enables clients to enrich their websites with Book Data and jacket images (including eBooks) with descriptions and details on forthcoming, in print and out of print titles from the English-speaking world. The metadata can be supplied and tailored according to your requirements.

If you want to get in touch with Nevena to learn any more about any of their products, email her on nevena.nikolic@nielsen.com, or phone her on (09) 360 3294.

Article by Sarah Forster


New Zealand novelist longlisted for a Miles Franklin Literary Award

Fremantle Press author Tracy Farr is celebrating today aftpp_tracy_farrer her debut novel The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt was longlisted for the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Farr said making the longlist was a massive confidence boost while slogging away at the difficult early stages of writing her second novel.

‘It feels like being enveloped in a big, warm, literary and very Australian embrace,’ said Farr.

Farr who comes from Perth but has lived in Wellington for twenty years said it felt like concrete validation that her novel had a place in Australian literature.

‘It’s like being invited to join the gang, after lurking for years on the fringes as an observer,’ cv_the_lives_and_loves_of_lena_gaultshe said.

‘I wonder if my long-listing might contribute, in even a small way, to bridging the gap between the Australian and New Zealand literary scenes, or at least providing a talking point about it,’ said Farr.

This is the second consecutive year that a Fremantle Press title has made the Miles Franklin longlist and the third time since 2011.

Fremantle Press publisher Georgia Richter said it was always a thrill to have novels by new and emerging Western Australian authors receive recognition in Australia’s best-known award.

‘We believe deeply in the books we publish and in the talent of our authors. It’s lovely to see our own belief confirmed by the Miles Franklin, and to enjoy the validation it gives the recipients,’ said Richter.

The judges will announce the shortlist on 15 May. To celebrate the longlist announcement, the Miles Franklin administrators are launching a ‘You be the judge’ poll. This campaign invites readers to don a judge’s hat and select their own shortlist. The poll will be open for the six weeks between longlist and shortlist with novels extracts, synopsis and bio of authors available to help with the readers’ decisions.

For more information go to http://www.milesfranklin.com.au/news or tweet your comments @_milesfranklin

The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr is available online and from all good bookstores.

To congratulate Tracy send her a tweet @hissingswan or @FremantlePress, hashtag #milesfranklin.


Rotorua is getting a new bookstore

logo_atlantis_booksRotorua will have a brand new bookshop from the 5th of April 2014. Atlantis Books will sell both new and used titles, as well as second-hand CDs and vinyl. It will be situated in a two story building on Rotorua’s Eruera Street.

pp_fraser_newmanThe two businessmen behind the project are former McLeods manager, Fraser Newman (left), and Books Alive owner, Gregory Price. Fraser’s company purchased the Rotorua branch of Books Alive and the pair are currently going through a re-branding and relocation phase.

Greg says that, despite the sale and re-brand, customers will still retain their credits from Books Alive and that the second-hand side of the business will remain strong.

“I have a lot of experience in the used book market and Fraser has a lot of experience with new books,” says Greg. “We want to combine our skills and make a really good bookshop with a great selection of titles that don’t cost the earth. All used books will be $10 and under. New books will have their prices routinely rounded down.”

Fraser explains that one of the goals is to have almost any work of second-hand fiction delivered overnight anywhere in the North Island for $9. New books will be slightly more.

“But it is not just about having low prices,” Fraser says, “When I think of our ideal customers I am thinking about middle class professionals who are educated but don’t have a lot of money to burn. For them the focus is on quality and substance at an affordable prices. I talk a lot about contradictions. We have the clash between new and used, cheap and quality, old Victorian branding but being new and fresh as well.”

“We are going to be the largest bookshop in town with the widest range of titles,” he says.

“Our range will include both new and used books and we will fill niche markets with a strong focus on hunting and military books, as well as comics, graphic novels and Games Workshop models. We will also take an interest in children’s non-fiction and other areas the market currently does not provide for.”

The pair hope that this model will work well in regional New Zealand which in general has lower wages than the main centers.

“I am telling people three cities in three years,” Fraser explains, “We are making a note of everything we do and purposely looking at how it can be replicated. But first we have to see how it works.”

On that count though they have no doubts. The two businessmen will be joined by experienced sales consultant Fiona MacGregor, who will manage their major accounts, and former McLeods Booksellers staff member Jemma Pirrie who will join them on the shop floor and help with buying.

“I couldn’t think of a better team,” Fraser says, “Everything has really fallen into place. People have bent over backwards to help us and it is amazing how it works out. We have tried to go from conception to opening the new shop in only five weeks. It is a race against the clock.”

Not all their plans have quite worked out however.

“The original plan was to have coffee as well but that has been put on the back burner,” Fraser says, “It costs a lot to put coffee in and you really have to get it right. People have very particular tastes. We’ll make up for it though with some really comfortable bonded leather sofas and coffee tables. But watch this space. I am sure coffee won’t be far off.”

Another major draw card for the new business is the loft space on the second story. Fraser and Greg have plans to develop the loft into a workshop and events area with a stage, seating and art. The building is earthquake proofed and up to standard, which is important when wanting to hold public events.

For now though the pair are just focusing on opening the shop.

“We are looking forward to opening day,” Fraser says, “It will be exciting. More FM will be broadcasting live from the shop and there will be a sausage sizzle outside. It will be a lot of fun. There is just a lot to do between then and now.”

Any questions or comments can be directed toward Fraser Newman at fraser@atlantisbooks.co.nz or 021 172 7613.

The Margaret Mahy Medal for outstanding achievement in literature goes to David Elliott

Storylines Children’s Literarture Foundation warmly invite you to attend the presentation of pp_david_elliotthe Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for outstanding achievement in the field of children’s literature and/or literacy education on Saturday 29 March 2014 at Kings School, Remuera, Auckland.

The recipient of the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal presents a lecture which is subsequently published. The Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal is New Zealand’s highest honour awarded to an individual who has achieved in the field of children’s literature.

This year’s recipient of the Margaret Mahy Medal is David Elliot. He has published more than thirty books, illustrating both his own texts and stories by writers such as Margaret Mahy and Janet Frame, and for the acclaimed American Redwall series.

Prior to the presentation of the award, the Storylines Children’s Literature Foundation of NZ Inc. holds its annual meeting, followed by the presentation of a number of awards. All AGM paperwork can be viewed online. Members must be logged onto the website to view.

These include awards for new manuscripts: the Storylines Joy Cowley Award; the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award and the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much Loved Book, one which has been in print for many years but not received a national award. Also being launched is the Tom Fitzgibbon Award winner 2013, Juliet Jacka.

Books will be available for purchase on the day and the opportunity to win a David Elliot print.

Registrations are now open and tickets can be purchased online. Alternatively, a registration form can be downloaded and posted.


Scholastic Lucky’s Library: Helping Spread the Joy of Reading in New Zealand’s Hospitals

Press release from Scholastic NZ

This March, Scholastic is delivering 10 new Lucky’sluckys_library Libraries to children’s wards in hospitals throughout New Zealand.

Each custom-built library on wheels contains over 120 children’s books and is packed with a selection of Scholastic’s most popular titles. Lucky’s Library has something for everyone with all ages and interests covered.

This includes classic New Zealand picture books such as Grandpa’s Shed and Grandma McGarvey; beloved characters Clifford the Big Red Dog, Scooby Doo and Spiderman; as well as the most popular fiction series (Goosebumps and Baby Sitters Club), and non-fiction titles.

Scholastic is donating these libraries as part of our mission to encourage young New Zealanders to “Read every day, lead a better life”.

Scholastic Books in Homes Manager Rob Southam has been passionate about this project from its inception: “We wanted to ensure that books were available to Kiwi kids in hospital. We understand, as indeed all parents and adults looking after sick children do, that when there is stress and fear and boredom, when a child is out of his/her comfort zone and away from home and favourite toys and books, that a book provided in hospital will really help to brighten up a child’s life.”

For the past 10 years, Scholastic has been partnering with New Zealand’s two national children’s hospitals (Auckland’s Starship and KidsFirst) to provide access to books for sick children. Scholastic is thrilled to be able to extend this to hospitals throughout New Zealand with Lucky’s Libraries.

The districts receiving Lucky’s Libraries for their local hospitals are: Whangarei, Dargaville, Bay of Islands, Kaitaia, Hokianga, Tauranga, Lower Hutt and Christchurch.

Scholastic is New Zealand and the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books. We create quality products and services that educate, entertain and motivate children. We are committed to New Zealand schools, libraries and booksellers and partner to promote reading, as we believe that literacy is the foundation of Kiwi kids achieving and leading successful lives.

For more information please contact:
Rob Southam
Books in Homes Manager / Sales Manager
Scholastic New Zealand
029-968-9810 / 09-968-9810

A New Zealander writes her way to meet Agatha Christie’s grandchild in London

Media Release from HarperCollins NZ, Monday 10 March 2014

Tauranga resident Anna Killick has written her way to meeting Agatha Christie’s only grandchild, Mathew Prichard at an exclusive literary dinner in London.

Killick, who lives in Tauranga, entered the Write Your Own Christie competition hosted on the official Agatha Christie website, www.agathachristie.com. The competition is being run over nine months with writers from around the world helping to write a new detective story using the opening scenes from the great crime writer’s novel A Murder is Announced as the starting point. Beginning with an invitation to complete chapter one, each month the challenge is set to write the next chapter in the story.  Killick won chapter five of the competition and her entry was posted on the website.

The competition is being judged by Mathew Prichard who has been involved in the publishing and promotion of Christie’s books since the 1960s, David Brawn who has been Agatha Christie’s publisher at HarperCollins UK for the last 18 years, and also Daniel Mallory who works primarily with thrillers and crime fiction at HarperCollins US.

As one of the monthly winners Annie Killick’s chapter has been posted to the website and she has accepted her invitation to the literary dinner in London on date yet to be confirmed.


Five Poets and a Prize: The Lauris Edmond Memorial Award

Five Poets and a Prize: The Lauris Edmond Memorial Award, Chaired by Frances Edmond
Tuesday 11 March, 12.15pm, Hannah Playhouse

The Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for Distinguished Contribution to Poetry in New Zealand is a biennial award which is jointly administered by Lauris Edmond’s literary estate and the New Zealand Poetry Society. The award was last presented in 2012 to Riemke Ensing. Ensing, along with Michael Harlow, Vivienne Plumb, Jenny Bornholdt, and Geoff Cochrane, read at the session, which culminated in the presentation of the award.

After a brief introduction by Frances Edmond, Epp_riemke_ensingnsing (right) opened the readings with a poem by Lauris Edmond, something she’s been doing since receiving the award. Ensing’s reading was generous and affectionate, especially the poem about her partner of fifty years who passed away in 2009.

Next to the podium was Geoff Cochrane who has that enviable talent of wooing the crowd while being entirely genuine. Cochrane opened with the statement that this “poetry caper” had been pretty good to him, because at the age of 62 he’d been able to buy his first suit. He went on to read poems from the most recent issue of Sport, and gently poked at Creative New Zealand for not funding the issue (asking the audience to go out and buy a copy). Cochrane’s reading style is so wonderfully measured and deadpan that he must be one of New Zealand’s best, and the Hannah Playhouse was heavy with the silence of attention.

love_poems_pamphletAfter Cochrane was Vivienne Plumb, and her quirky reading was irresistible to the audience. Plumb started by reading poems from her self-produced pamphlet “Several love poems by Vivienne Plumb,” which she handed out to the audience after the session. Plumb went on to read from The Cheese and Onion Sandwich and other New Zealand Icons (Seraph Press), to much laughter.


The most popular was probably “luncheon sausage”:

you can eat a smiley face out of it/ or put it into the oven and
when the edges curl up break an egg into the centre/ i remember
having to eat it when i was a child/ my mother sliced it onto
school sandwiches that were spread with tomato sauce/ it was very
pink/ and never tasted like real meat/ for safety reasons the deli
staff are no longer offering a free slice of luncheon sausage to the
children/ as several elderly persons have been for a bit of a skate
on the discarded pieces/ so it is now considered a fully fledged
supermarket slip hazard
– luncheon sausage, from The Cheese and Onion Sandwich and other New Zealand Icons (Seraph Press)

Michael Harlow was up next, and pp_michael_harlowwas a poet I had not had the pleasure of seeing read. Harlow was born in the United States and moved to New Zealand in 1968. Since then he has published multiple collections of poetry, been the editor of the Caxton Press, the poetry editor of Landfall, and is a former recipient of the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship. Harlow is also a practicing Jungian psychotherapist, and read a poem drawn from his clinical practice. While Harlow only read three poems, they were intense and lyrical.

The final reader was Jenny Bornholdt, who has previously received the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award. Bornholdt read from her most recent collection Hill of Wool (VUP) with her usual gentle authority. After reading some shorter poems, Bornholdt read “Poem About a Horse,” a wonderfully funny and touching poem about memory, story telling, and our use of animals to represent and symbolise human concerns.

And who won? Laurice Gilbert, President of the New Zealand Poetry Society, made the announcement and Michael Harlow made his way to the podium to accept the award.

by Sarah Jane Barnett, on behalf of Booksellers NZ

Thank you Sarah for your fantastic work on this festival – our Writers Week coverage has been enriched with your inimitable talent on board.

Truth in theatre, with four playwrights

Based On A True Story: Dave Armstrong in conversation with Michelanne Forster, Stuart Hoar and Briar Grace-Smith (Wednesday,12 March)

It is a common enough arts festival practice to set up a panel discussion with a question (“are ebooks destroying publishing?”* etc) – it is less common to emerge from that session with a definite answer. This morning’s NZ Festival Writers Week session, Based On A True Story, featured four playwrights – Dave Armstrong, Michelanne Forster, Stuart Hoar and Briar Grace-Smith (right) –pp_briar_grace_smith addressing the question “do playwrights dealing with historical people and events have an obligation to stick to the facts?”. The answer, basically, is no. What if people connected to these events are still alive? No. What if you run the risk of offending someone? God no. What if you need to get iwi clearance? Tricky, but still no. You have to have an “inner staunchness”, according to Grace-Smith and Armstrong. Interesting.

This was a particularly intriguing end to my Writers Week 2014 experience, given that I have spent so much time in sessions where the pull between facts and story, narrative and biography, has been painstakingly pored over. It was refreshing to hear such definitive declarations of the right of artists to adhere only to their own moral compasses and inner sense of story.

They went further: Hoar declared that “history is just somebody’s opinion, it’s made up”; Armstrong said “no truth is the truth”. Forster’s repeated declaration that “each generation makes history in its own image” reminded me of historian Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch in the Silence: A Christian History session yesterday (Tuesday), when he spoke about societies telling themselves ‘good’ stories and ‘bad’ stories. (It is historians’ job, he implies, to make the ‘good’ stories available, in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.)

pp_stuart_hoarHoar (left) made the excellent point that playwrights can do as they will because audiences know it’s drama. He’s right: no one goes to the theatre expecting documentary, journalism or encyclopaedic fact-telling. The physicality of theatre as an art-form – the way we know we are watching actors play roles, our active suspension of disbelief – gives playwrights licence to tell moral or dramatic truths without being bound by the constraints of historical facts or literal truths. This also means, as Hoar says, that “all historical plays are set in the present” – that is; plays, unlike books, are bound by performances, which necessarily happen at a particular time.

Hoar also made the point that, after leaving the theatre, and if they’re interested in learning the facts of the matter, audiences are free to do their own research (“I believe in Wikipedia”). And this is exactly what I have been doing over the course of Writers Week: leaving the Embassy Theatre or Hannah Playhouse and looking up people’s websites, reading their comics, columns and books, bringing my own interpretation to bear.

Writers Week 2014 has been stimulating, fruitful and hugely entertaining. I am thrilled to have discovered so many wonderful new writers – my ‘to read’ list is looking ever more enticing. Congratulations and grateful thanks to the organisers. Can’t wait for next year!

*Hint: no.

by Elizabeth Heritage, on behalf of Booksellers NZ


Thank you Elizabeth for the wonderful work you have done over this period for us! We highly recommend Elizabeth as a writer to anybody who needs her.

Jared Raines and Jenna Todd: Kiwis’ Take on U.S. Bookselling


This article is by Alex Mutter, and reproduced from Shelf Awareness.

Jared Raines (left) and Jenna Todd (3rd in), two indie booksellers from New Zealand, attended Winter Institute 9 in Seattle, Washington, thanks to a sponsorship from Kobo and a contest run by Booksellers New Zealand (the N.Z. equivalent of the ABA). As part of the arrangement, the two booksellers also spent the week after Winter Institute working at two Seattle-area indies. Todd, manager of Time Out Bookstore in Auckland, worked at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Ravenna, Wash., while Raines, owner and manager of Paperplus Northlands in Christchurch, worked at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle.

Jared Raines    
Raines, whose own store is an approximately 2,560-sq.-ft. general-interest bookshop with a copying center, said that the most obvious differences between Paperplus Northlands and Elliott Bay were the sheer size and volume of stock of the latter.

“There is also less of a focus on sideline product in the U.S. than we have in N.Z.,” Raines added. “Most bookstores in our group have a very strong personal and commercial stationery offering.”

Raines’s store, which was opened by his family 33 years ago, has been franchised by several different brands and has traded under a number of names, the first of which was Target Books & Stationery. Raines began working in the family business in 1996, when he was 14. In 2010, he took over full management of the business. He currently employs 12 staff members; during the holidays, that increases to 15 or 16.

Another key difference between bookselling in N.Z. and the U.S., Raines said, was the lack of wholesalers in the former. N.Z. indies, he explained, really have only publishers as their main suppliers.

“This does at times cause issues, as publishers make printing decisions based on sell-in numbers,” Raines explained. Indies typically cannot afford to buy three or four months worth of stock at release, which often leads to the underprinting of N.Z. titles. And, aside from Random House and some local publishers, the majority of large publishers have consolidated their New Zealand operations with their offices in Australia. This has led to complications with shipments; a delivery within 3-5 days is considered fast. If the wholesale model were adopted in N.Z., Raines asserts, that could go a long way in solving these problems.

Jenna Todd
Todd was struck in a pp_jenna_toddsimilar way by the size of Third Place Books. Her own store occupies approximately 700 square feet of a long, narrow heritage building, with an upper floor devoted to events and community gatherings. Time Out carries around 17,000 volumes across many genres; the store’s only focus, Todd said, was on “the best of the best.” She reported that literary fiction, children’s books and coffee table books do particularly well.

The frequency of author events at American indies and the relatively low price of books compared to N.Z. also struck Todd. Author visits are rare for most N.Z. indies, although Time Out is fortunate to have author Eleanor Catton as a regular customer (the launch party for The Luminaries, Catton’s Booker Prize-winning novel, was held at the store). She attributed both differences to New Zealand “being at the bottom of the world.”

“However,” Todd added, “one thing I learned when I was visiting all of these excellent stores in Seattle is that we just slot right alongside their high caliber–Time Out is just as excellent and special!”

Todd has worked at Time Out for four years, and has been manager for two. There are 12 staff members, most of whom work part time and are involved in a range of creative endeavors (Todd, for example, is a photographer, and the store also employs a director, an actress, a writer and a musician).

What they learned
Todd said overall of the Winter Institute that “there was just immeasurable value from just talking and spending time with all of the wonderful book people who attended WI9. It was such a fantastic experience.”

Similarly, Raines said he appreciated the people at WI9. “I really was made to feel like part of the U.S. bookselling community,” he said. “The most interesting thing I learned while there is that we all have the ability to survive the changing retail climate that is hitting our industry; we must work hard to be involved in our community, and be more than just a store full of product.”

And as for what he brought to Elliott Bay, Raines reported that his American counterparts were frequently interested in his retail system and his store’s security camera system. He also provided, he added, the “terrible Kiwi accent and colloquialisms!” –Alex Mutter

This piece was originally published in Shelf Awareness for Tuesday 11 March, the American Bookselling Association’s newsletter.