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

Publishers' organisations

Publishers' organisations

Publishers have always worked together to a certain degree, to protect their common interests and those of other branches of the book trade, and to ensure their survival to compete against each other. The earliest formal publishers' organisation to be established in New Zealand was the British Book Publishers Representatives Association (BPRA), formed in the 1950s. In 1962 the New Zealand Book Publishers Association was created at a meeting in Wellington attended by 15 representatives of the commercial and university publishing houses, and a delegate from the Māori Purposes Fund Board. Albion Wright of the Pegasus Press, Christchurch, was elected first president. A small council employed a Wellington accountant part-time as secretary.

The BPRA and the NZBPA combined in 1977 to become the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand (BPANZ). The organisation moved to Auckland and Ray Richards, who had recently left Reeds, became its secretary. Gerard Reid was appointed the full-time director of the expanding association from 1979. However, in the later 1980s the economic downturn caused publishers to re-examine their expenditure on Association membership, for some members a hefty sum, as subscription levels rose with turn-over.

For a number of years booksellers' and publishers' organisations had worked closely together, and by the mid-1980s were holding conferences at the same time, although separately. The preference of a number of publishers for the booksellers' organisation as a marketing body, rather than the BPANZ, was one of the factors, along with a reduction in membership charges, which led to the latter's retrenchment and the closure of its office in 1990. The BPANZ now operates from the office of Copyright Licensing Ltd (jointly owned by the BPANZ and the New Zealand Society of Authors). Combined book trade conferences have been held since the 1980s and Booksellers New Zealand, the flourishing booksellers' trade organisation, began to include publisher members in 1991.

Other organisations include the New Zealand Book Trade Organisation, set up in 1968 by representatives of the NZBPA and the Booksellers' Association to promote their general interests, and now defunct. It issued The Booksell Report, a marketing, sales and promotions newsletter, from 1983 to 1986. The New Zealand Book Council was established in 1972 with a more general membership of those who have an interest in books. Brief notes on the trade organisations are to be found in Gordon Tait's summary of the New Zealand industry in The Book Trade of the World (1976) and in Scotts (1987).

A brief history of the BPANZ appears in its newsletter The Publisher (no.12, 1995). The draft objects of the original NZBPA and the minutes of its first meeting are held at the Alexander Turnbull Library, and notes on its formation appear in Double (1969). The Association publishes a newsletter, entitled The Publisher since March 1994, formerly New Zealand Publishing News (1977-93). A useful discussion of the issues relating to booksellers' and publishers' organisations is in Part 4 of Anna and Max Rogers's Turning the Pages (1993).

Three groups of the BPANZ's records, covering the years from 1970 to 1991, are held in the Turnbull Library's manuscripts collections. Current records are held by the Association. Data on the history of publishing, its economics and the issues it faces are to be found there. The records include minutes of council meetings, market research (especially of the educational market), statistical surveys of the industry, turnover information, annual conference records, material on major issues such as discounting, copyright, GST, censorship, and labour relations, as well as membership lists, and information on the size of the industry, personnel, and sales. They are a vital—and almost untapped—source for any serious study of the recent history of the New Zealand publishing industry. Lists of members (currently numbering about 70) appear from time to time in The Publisher.