When a small bookshop in Cuba Street became available in 1988, accountant Robert Burch “took the plunge”, and launched his new career He changed the name to Arty Bee’s Bookshop and six months later purchased a second shop in Cambridge Terrace. Both shops have relocated several times over the last 22 years, in each case to larger or better locations.
Self-funded publishing is no longer a DIY challenge, thanks to the wide range of options available now, both on- and off-shore. The quality of self-published books is also consistently rising, thanks to the professional agencies that have been set up to support writers who wish to be published under their own steam.
Distribution – do you think of giant Australian distribution warehouses like Penguin Random House’s United Book Distributors? Or the other extreme, author and publisher Paul Little dispatching his recent titles from the basement of his wife’s suburban Auckland store?
They are the two ends of the spectrum of book distribution serving this country.
United Book Distributors is definitely in the heavyweight corner of the boxing ring. It distributes titles for Penguin Random House, Allen & Unwin, Hardie Grant, Simon & Schuster, Phaidon, Pearson Education, Text, Scribe – and Kiwi nonfiction publisher Awa Press.
Good news, booksellers – noted New Zealand children’s educational publishers Global Education Systems have devised completely new programs and products for early reading for the retail market. Recently launched, the new concept is for both local and major international markets.
The Bude-e system is both low-tech – colourful, brief books – and cutting-edge tech with animated apps that include both storytelling and interactive aspects. The range goes from a large selection of books retailing at $6.99 through to the extensive app with captivating poetry, song, reading and teaching sequences.
Booksellers know the big hitters of the publishing world, the major international players based in London, New York and other world capitals. But spare a thought for the small guys, the Kiwis who are successful publishing exporters or who believe enough in their books to take major commercial risk.
The Read talks to Gecko Press, Potton & Burton, David Ling, Makaro Press and Bridget Williams Books, just some of our local publishers succeeding with their different ventures despite the odds.
Publishers and booksellers talk to each other a lot, and that’s good. Last week The Read had the chance to join the Publishers Association of NZ International Summit in Auckland and hear the recent achievements and future plans of Australian company Scribe Publishing’s Henry Rosenbloom and the UK’s Will Atkinson of Atlantic Books.
Currently, both are relatively small publishers, but both men are entrepreneurial and determined on international growth. Rosenbloom has even ‘taken the coal to Newcastle’ by opening an office for Scribe in London!
Kiwi booksellers will have noted bestselling author James Patterson’s initiatives in giving grants to US and UK bookshops with children and young adult sections, to support their bookselling activities in that area. Perhaps you wondered why not us?
After Unity Books Wellington’s unfortunate flood earlier this month, booksellers will now be taking extra care when their insurance comes up for renewal in March. So put yourself in their place, think ‘what if it happened to my store’ and carefully review your cover.
Floods, fire and theft are not the only issues book businesses might have to face. Would your business be more profitable if it changed premises for a smaller or larger space? If you negotiated a better lease deal? Or took on the expense of another location? These are not easy decisions, but ones that might have to be taken to ensure the continued success of your store.