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Book & Print in New Zealand : A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa



This brief survey of bookselling in New Zealand attempts to show particular features that have shaped this aspect of our print culture. The energy, enterprise and sometimes vision of individuals have contributed most to the place of bookselling. Frequently there is found a passion for books, an emotion which, when well directed, allows the burning of the midnight oil, the labouring for love and the acceptance of an often modest return. Sometimes, however, the same passion encourages the myth that a love of books and an apparently easy way of life will make a good-looking balance sheet appear automatically. That those with intelligent dedication outnumber the dreamers is evidenced by so many quietly successful businesses continuing to exist in such a small population. The abiding pressure on bookselling as one form of cultural expression has been the presence of censorship, especially that imposed by law. While guidelines are no doubt necessary from time to time, many would argue that a kind of censorship by way of a bookseller's selection of stock based on likely public interest should be a sufficient self-regulator. However, there is nothing to suggest that by virtue of the continuing tension between enterprise and regulation, the place of bookselling in New Zealand's print culture will change significantly in the foreseeable future.