Cruise ships in Kaikoura are a relatively new development, but one that makes local Paper Plus owner Mark Fissenden happy. “When a cruise ship is in town we see an increase in trade between 10 and 30 percent for the day.” His only gripe: Kaikoura gets just 10 or so cruise ships a season, and more of the smaller ones with 250 rather than 1000 passengers on board.
In this whale-watching town, tourists are essential to the economy. Mark is pleased to see more campervans with young European families escaping their winter cold. “They’ve been missing for the past few years, and the major groups have been backpackers and retirees. With families coming into the store, it is not hard for them to spend $100 on fiction, tourist or guide books and colouring books and pencils for the kids.”
A newly published book on the area, Kaikoura Natureland of New Zealand (Photo Image), has this season surpassed the numbers sold by the store of that evergreen title New Zealand Landscapes by Andris Apse, which we cover later.
For all that, cruise ships only contribute a small proportion of the 100,000 tourists Kaikoura attracts over the six months of their tourist season. This reflects the overall statistics for tourism which showed 211,400 cruise visitors arriving during the 2012-13 season, just under 13 percent of the overall tourist figures of 2,699,762 for the same period.
A big-city approach
Unity Auckland also has cruise ship passengers and other, mostly back-packer, tourists shopping in their High Street store, but their clientele has different demands. Travel guides about New Zealand are the most in-demand category by individual tourists starting their Kiwi exploration from Auckland.
This year they’ve seen increased numbers of cruise ship passengers with other priorities – good international fiction and New Zealand novels! “The Luminaries has done it for New Zealand fiction,” says Unity’s Dale Vermeulen. “It has sparked interest in our writing.”
Publishing for the tourism market
New Holland is a publisher with a concentration of books aimed at the tourist market. Belinda Cooke, the company’s MD says “More than 230,000 copies and 20 years on, A Portrait of New Zealand continues to be our most successful tourist pictorial, and one of the country’s bestsellers in this category. Its success lies in its affordability – currently there is a soft cover edition at $24.99. Portrait covers every area of the country a tourist wants to keep a memory of, and we update captions and images where necessary with each reprint.”
Noting the increasing restriction on travellers’ air travel baggage allowances, New Holland has developed an attractive, compact, square pictorial series with photographer Rob Suisted – the five titles retail at $19.99 each and include Birds of New Zealand, National Parks, Wildflowers, Landmarks and Wildlife, with more in the pipeline. “While we have cut back on our regional publishing programme, Dunedin’s Top Spots appeals to the burgeoning tourist market down South, and Christchurch from the Tram was our best regional seller until the earthquakes – it’s great news that the tramline is back in operation again! We hope to have a new edition of the book in September.
“Other categories that do particularly well for us in the tourist market are natural history books and our walking guides,” Belinda notes
Movie Location Guides a tourist hit
“HarperCollins New Zealand doesn’t publish specifically for the tourist market,” says their Marketing and Communications Manager, Sandra Noakes.
But what they do have are The Lord of the Rings location guides. “The first was published in 2002, while its ‘keepsake’ extended edition, packed with colour photos, was published two years later. Sales across both titles now exceed a staggering 380,000 copies.” The Hobbit Location Guide by Ian Brodie will be published in December to coincide with the last in Peter Jackson’s film adaption trilogy.
Scenic Photography to the Fore
The South Island’s Craig Potton Publishing is another leading publisher with their finger firmly on the tourist market. “Our best selling NZ book ever is New Zealand Landscapes by Andris Apse with over 100,000 copies sold since publication,” Pauline Esposito, National Sales Manager, told The Read.
“Our pocket editions are our bestsellers, hardback with jackets, selling for $19.99, there are 8 titles to choose from.” Setting the standard for the company was the original title Images from a Limestone Landscape, by Andy Dennis and Craig Potton, now no longer available. Craig’s New Zealand: Aotearoa is now in its 11th year on the market as a hardback for $29.99 and continues to sell well, along with Craig’s large format title Craig Potton New Zealand published in 2012.
“We continually refresh our scenic range,” Pauline advises. “Last year we published New Zealand An Island Journey by Karl Johaentges and Jackie Blackwood and New Zealand’s Wild Places by Craig Potton.”
A museum gift store with plenty of books
One of the Nelson publisher’s best outlets is Te Papa Store, extremely well stocked with a wide range of books of appeal to tourists along with other museum and art related titles, jewellery, pottery and other crafts from our leading practitioners.
Alexis Hawke, the store manager, says cruise ships have a large impact on the number of visitors to Te Papa. “And tourists like the fact that every purchase in our store helps fund the museum, which has free admission. Te Papa is one of the most visited destinations for tourists.”
Te Papa Press titles are of course featured in the store, and Alexis says they stock many NZ pictorial titles, working closely with publishers to get the range right.
“Coffee table titles continue to be a considered purchase and if bought are likely to be more specific titles – Buller’s Birds of New Zealand or Native Trees of New Zealand. This is generally as a response to air travel weight restrictions,” she notes. “But people continue to buy multiple titles of small pictorials for friends back home.”
New Zealand titles with traveller appeal
“We publish books that we believe New Zealanders will enjoy and find useful… and that also work for the visitor market,” says Nicola Legat, Random House NZ’s Publishing Director.
Strong sellers for their imprint are Our New Zealand; Wild About New Zealand: A Guide to our National Parks; New Zealand Cycle Trails Te Haerenga and A Volcanic Guide to Tongariro National Park –all published in 2013. Title prices range from $40 – $55 dollars as these are larger publications than many scenic books.
Random House also has a number of successful recent back-list titles that suit the tourist market. “And there are more besides!” says Nicola, adding the best selling children’s title A is for Auckland to the list.
Cruise ships don’t ring tills in the Bay of Plenty
Tauranga’s Books a Plenty owner Warren Baskett says trade is “not massive” when there’s a cruise ship in town. “Some days can be more significant than others – maybe up to a 10 percent increase in business, but that’s not usual. Tourists usually want the New York daily paper and can’t understand why it is not available here; if they buy anything it is usually cheap remainder fiction!
McLeods Booksellers’ Fraser Newman (right) says ‘well produced, but small enough to fit in a bag’ is the necessary feature for a good selling tourist title. However, he has noticed recently that a number of tourists are looking for books that are not just pictures and captions. “People want more information on this country included,” he says.
Penguin adds culture to the tourist mix
“The tourist market is certainly an important consideration when it comes to publishing titles with a strong New Zealand focus, says Debra Millar, General Manager – Publishing.
“We’ve enjoyed quite a lot of success in the tourist market with titles such as Peninsula: Exploring the Otago Peninsula, Trail: Riding the Otago Central Rail Trail and more recently Tuhoe: Portrait of a Nation. Pounamu Treasures, a photographic tribute to historic and contemporary objects made from pounamu, has been another bestseller for us with the tourist market.
“Picture books are especially popular because they are light and easy to transport, with Bob Darroch’s Little Kiwi series and Peter Gossage’s Maori legends among the favourites.”
The flipside of Cruise trade
Small town Picton gets more and bigger cruise ships than Kaikoura does, but David and Frances Pearson at Take Note Picton (above) do not get the boost in trade their Kaikoura counterpart reports.
But the view from the inside looking out is deceptive, say the Pearsons. “It looks amazing in town when a cruise ship is in and the place is buzzing – the souvenir shops and cafes do a great trade – it creates a wonderful atmosphere,” says David.
But Take Note’s extensive collection of NZ pictorial books are ignored by those visitors, despite their prominent display.
“All they want is postcards, postage stamps, phone cards and newspapers,” says Frances. So trade is busy, but it is all small stuff! “We used to sell a lot of pictorials to those visitors, but they just don’t look at them anymore.”
“We had two very busy days after another recently,” explains Frances. “One was with a cruise ship in town and one without – and we traded more positively on the day when it was just locals and Kiwis holidaying!”
by Jillian Ewart