Tell us what you want (what you really really want) – and win*

Hello to all of our blog-readers! If you have just started following our blog and receiving our emails and posts, a special hello to you. I love seeing your ‘likes’ and comments come in, it just proves that the connection our followers have to books and New Zealand’s literary culture is genuine and passionate.

An introduction: my name is Sarah ForsterIMG_1298[1], and I have been running this blog for just over a year now, on behalf of Booksellers NZ. My role is to run all of the direct digital communications for Booksellers NZ, as Web Editor – you can find me on twitter, on Facebook over several pages, sending our regular newsletters Words of the Day (click to register), The Read and Preview of Reviews, and on our website. Booksellers itself is a membership organisation for bookstores in NZ – with over 300 member bookstores nationwide. We help our members to run their businesses in the best possible way, and we help them, especially, to sell books.

The focus of this blog is to fill in the cracks of mainstream media review coverage. We cover the big books, sure, but not all of them, and we are just as interested in those books that are not as likely to gain column inches. The areas in which we have a particular pool of talent are Poetry, with the likes of poets Sarah Jane Barnett, Emma Barnes, and English lit student Elizabeth Morton helping us to cover almost everything that comes out in the poetic field; Non-fiction, with reviewers including Gordon Findlay and Kimaya McIntosh; Literary fiction, with reviewers Chris Howe, Elizabeth Heritage and Feby Idrus; and Children’s books with myself, teachers Rachel Moore and Marion Dreadon, Angela Oliver covering YA, and tireless grandmother Christine Frayling. We have a lot of other amazing reviewers that I haven’t mentioned, and you can check out some of their short bios here.

IMG_0562[1]We have such a breadth of reviews now that I am going to start trying to focus on one specific area of literature per day, with daily kids’ book reviews at 4pm when I have them. My initial plan for is for Monday to be Non-fiction; Tuesday to cover Poetry and/or New Zealand fiction; Wednesday to cover International fiction blockbusters of various genres; Thursday to focus on Literary fiction; and Friday to be small and self-publishers day. All of this depends on how many reviews I get in each week, but I am fairly confident we will be able to keep it going!

My own reading is very broad – I will give pretty well anything a go, and I have sometimes have a hard time letting books fly off my desk when I really want to read and review them! But with a background of six years working with kiwi authors at the New Zealand Book Council as Education Programmes Manager, and with my two children aged 2 and 4, my real passion lies in kiwi children’s and YA books. Our children’s book publishing culture is massively strong, and shows every signs of continuing to thrive, despite the doom and gloom predictions for the industry overall.

This is where I ask for your input.
Our blog popularity is rising constantly, thanks to review coverage of major festivals and the quality of our reviews – but what else would you like to see? Author interviews? Summaries of international reviews for bestselling international titles? More personal blog pieces from myself and booksellers? A bit more genre fiction? Introductions to new publishers?

Comment below before 5pm this IMG_1299[1]Monday 29 September, and be in to win a pack of books: A New Zealand Book of Beasts, by Annie Potts, Philip Armstrong and Deirdre Brown (AUP), The Son-in-Law, by Charity Norman, The Lost Pilot, by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, and Built for Caffeine, by Ben Crawford.

Thank you for reading us – Sarah.

* I sincerely apologise if you now have the Spice Girls in your head…

Winter Institute conference a welcome opportunity for Kobo scholars and industry leaders alike

The indie angle is Kobo scholar Jenna Todd’s focus as she heads off to represent New Zealand booksellers at the Wi9 conference in Seattle from 21 – 25 January 2014.
pp_jenna_toddJenna, manager of Time Out Books (above), and her fellow Kobo scholar Jared Raines, manager of Paper Plus Northland, were chosen from applications from all over New Zealand by a panel which included representatives of the Embassy of the United States, Kobo and Booksellers New Zealand.

pp_mary_sangsterMary Sangster (left), Chair of the board of Booksellers NZ, is also looking forward to going. ‘For us’, she says, ‘the conference will be about the sharing of ideas and experience on an international level.’ Lincoln Gould, CEO of Booksellers NZ, also attending, is keen to get ‘updated information on new trends and developments in bookselling, and uses of new technologies’.

The programme for the Wi9 conference, which is the American Bookstore Association’s
membership conference, is aimed at educating booksellers and enabling them cope and grow in an industry that is rapidly changing.

This conference will have a larger number of international attendees than previous ones, and there are several talks organised just for the International guests – Jenna is particularly looking forward to the bookseller panel discussion about current trends in the US market.

Jenna also comments ‘The programme is very overwhelming, there are so many things I want see. What stands out to me are the talks about independent bookstores; Ray Oldenburg at the Small & Independent Press Breakfast, and a talk called Independent retail in Seattle: Success Stories. Also, Geno Church is hosting The Passion Conversation: Understanding, Sparking, and Sustaining Word of Mouth Marketing, and Dan Heath’s talk on making decisions- which I think will be relevant to my job at Time Out.
For Mary and Lincoln (right) , the conference will be all about connections with international bookselling associations. Lincoln says: ‘We are looking forward to meeting with booksellers, ABA staff and publishers to work through key issues such as sales tax on across border retail purchases, the changing scene of publishing and the supply chain, and kobo sales and service.’

With each day beginning with yoga, the conference is certain to be stimulating for both body and mind. We look forward to seeing the new ideas that our scholars, who are carrying on after conference with a week in a local independent Seattle bookstore, are able to bring home. We will see these ideas presented in the Booksellers NZ conference on 22 and 23 June 2014.

During the Wi9, keep an eye on the Booksellers NZ twitter stream for live tweets from Lincoln, as well as the Time Out Bookshop’s twitter and facebook accounts – Jenna has promised some photos as well.

by Sarah Forster , Web Editor

If you would like to register early for the Booksellers NZ conference 2014, please contact Cherie Donovan

Announcing the 2012 winter read…

The Booksellers NZ 2012 winter read is Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life by George Eliot. If you thought last year’s Anna Karenina was long – this book is about 300 pages longer.

The reason I chose this is because my Mother-in-law suggested it (she’d also discussed it with my brother-in-law who thought it was a good idea too). And Good Reads people also seem to agree it’s a good book. After really enjoying the scenes in Anna Karenina with Kitty, Levin and the peasants I think the provincial life scenes will make for an enjoyable mid-winter companion.

Sign up to be part of the 2012 winter read.

About the winter read
The winter read begins on the shortest day (this year that’s Wednesday, 20 June) and is a very casual affair. Most readers don’t know each other and the reading is very self-directed. We published the names of people taking part on our Winter reading page and once our group is established we set up a Good Reads group for discussion. We also chat on Twitter too.

If you don’t finish the book then it doesn’t matter – lots of people signed up for Anna Karenina (last year’s read) and didn’t finish. And almost everybody who read Wuthering Heights (our summer read) disliked it.