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.
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.
Jenna Todd told TV3 that Time Out Books was up 7.5 percent for the year, and 12 percent over Christmas, their ‘best ever’; Unity Wellington’s Tilly Lloyd ‘broke all sales records’ for the December month, reported Lindsay Shelton at Scoop. Milford’s The Booklover was up 12 percent for Christmas and Dear Reader in Grey Lynn up 9 percent.
“Storage! It is a problem I deal with day by day at this time of year,” says Simon Grant. “This year it feels like much of the stock has all arrived in a two week period.”
But that is just one of the Christmas stock issues the Paper Plus Merivale owner is currently facing. “Every day at this time of year I look at the volume coming in and think ‘holey moley, what have I done?’ Delivery seems to have been early this year – too early for some stock I think.”