Book & Print in New Zealand : A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa
No comprehensive general study has yet been made of New Zealand publishing. Dennis McEldowney's essay in The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English (1991) is the closest to a general survey. Penny Griffith's preliminary bibliography, Printing and Publishing in New Zealand (1974), includes monographs published between 1890 and 1960. Blackwood Paul surveyed 'Publishing and bookselling' for A.H. McLintock's Encyclopaedia of New Zealand (1966), and Gordon Tait contributed seven pages on New Zealand to The Book Trade of the World, Volume II (1976). Ray Richards takes a practical view in 'The man in the middle' (1974). Some historical treatment is to be found in the publishing research papers by Tony Murrow and Julie McCloy in Endnotes (1995). Working Titles: Books That Shaped New Zealand, ed. Susan Bartel (1993), the catalogue of an exhibition held at the National Library of New Zealand, provides an illustrated but necessarily selective range of publications which have been influential for New Zealanders. Fergus Barrowman briefly analyses fiction production from 1979 to 1994 in his introduction to The Picador Anthology of Contemporary New Zealand Fiction (1996) and notes the contribution that publishing history has yet to make to the study of New Zealand literature.
Publishing in New Zealand was initially concerned with producing utilitarian works. As the settlers were able to move from more immediate practical concerns—taming the land, providing shelter and food—so publishing altered, from publishing as an auxiliary activity of printers, to publishing as a separate specific activity. This is virgin territory for print culture historians and it seems especially significant to more carefully distinguish when the distinction between publishers, and publishing as an offshoot of printing, became clear cut in the New Zealand context. Also essential to explore is the role of publishers based elsewhere (notably London) who were closely identified with New Zealand. Aspects of the relationship between the British and New Zealand publishing trade are noted in Luke Trainor's contribution to this chapter about colonial editions and their role in New Zealand.
McEldowney indicates another factor which needs closer examination, that of the nature of what was published and its change from works of a practical nature to an output covering a wider span. No studies have yet been made of this and the balance needs to be further explored: an analysis of imprints listed in Bagnall's retrospective national bibliography volumes is a possible starting point for the earlier periods.
Few regional studies of publishing in New Zealand exist. More are needed; they are especially important for the 19th century before the communications infrastructure was sufficiently developed for New Zealand to be considered as a single unit. K.A. Coleridge's work on early publishing and printing in Wellington is a notable exception. Her contribution in this guide on regional publishing in Wellington, and George Griffiths's on Otago, suggest what needs to be done for other regions. Each takes a different approach to this topic: Coleridge suggests what needs to be studied to develop a fuller picture, whereas Griffiths has already done some of this detailed work for the Otago region and so can present a fuller description.