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Featured Member: Neil Hyndman from Hyndman Publishing

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How many New Zealand publishers you know can tell you their best-selling book has clocked up sales of 277,000 – and their second best seller is not far behind at 259,000 currently?

Neil Hyndman is one very focussed publisher and much of that focus comes from his 19 years as a bookseller. He is the third generation of Hyndman Booksellers, begun in Invercargill, shifted to Dunedin in 1906 and somewhat shockingly, sold by Neil when the business was 97 years old.

He had already dipped his toes successfully in local publishing, and that gave him the courage to move on and become a publisher. Original location was Dunedin, but for the last five years it has been a 17 acre property in the Waipara Valley, some 10 minutes north of Amberley.

Life began at forty, the way Neil tells it. Sold the shop, took up running – he’s done the exhausting 60k Kepler Challenge Mountain Run four times. He’s adamant his bookstore experience was an important contributor to his success as a publisher, reckoning time behind the counter paid off in identifying topics “you know there is an interest in”, and above all, “you should price it well.” Also standing him in good stead is the commerce degree he did between school and joining the family business.

So what is the Hyndman publishing focus? Cookbooks, gardening, home and leisure, sport and regional publishing, calendars, diaries and gift stationery. There are 30 cookbooks authored by Alison Holst, Simon Holst or both jointly. None are priced at more than $24.99 (apart from one “double” book at $34.99), and the other price points are $9.99, $12 99, $16.99 and $19.99 – and most have colour photos of every recipe.

Cookbooks are perhaps the most important category, and the ways Neil manages this is indicative of his policy over and above price. All titles are kept in print, and stock is never allowed to run out. Titles are not withdrawn until they really come to the end of their life. (Only oneHolst title has been left out of print over their long association with Hyndman’s.)

The Holsts have been very loyal authors for Hyndman Publishing. It is Alison’s Marvellous Muffins which is the all time top seller, but it is likely to be overtaken shortly by runner up best seller, the more recent 100 Great Ways to use Slow Cookers and Crockpots, jointly authored by Alison and son Simon Holst.

There are currently seven home and gardening titles in the Hyndman list with Dennis Greville’s Growing Vegetables Year Round the best-selling. There have also been home decorating and DIY titles with Dave Cull – now Dunedin’s mayor. The threeregional titles are all tourist related for the Dunedin area, and sport is also three titles on various types of fishing.

The gift stationery offer consists of four diaries, one calendar, two journals and boxed sets of cards. Watercolour artist, Nancy Tichborne has greatly contributed to the success of this stationery range.

Additions to the Hyndman list are carefully considered through discussions with authors and a watchful eye on the market place.

All layout and book design for Hyndman is done by Wellington designer Rob DiLeva. Rob is a wonderful designer, says Neil, who has worked with him since he started publishing.

The first print run for books is usually done in New Zealand, and Hyndman’s Christchurch printer dispatches all initial orders. After that, dispatch is from his Waipara property and office, courtesy of the rural postie.

Over recent years Neil has grown the Australian market for Hyndman books, and another offer is fund raisers for churches, schools and community efforts. Neil develops an order form personalised for a charity and then collects and dispatches orders, giving the charity a share of the profits.

But Neil is determined not to be stuck in the ink and paper era. “We are commencing work on an iPod, iPad app – early days yet, likely to be large initial costs and an uncertain income stream but an exciting project!”

Neil and Gillian Hyndman love their Waipara Valley property – ‘Dry Paddocks’, and have joined the accommodation industry by adding a self-catering guest cottage www.drypaddocks.co.nz. Neil confesses to a new talent – expert bed maker. They’ve had minorearthquake damage to their property, but Neil’s been personally involved in the effects of the February Christchurch quake.

His mother’s retirement village is now unliveable, and he hopes to hear soon whether there is suitable accommodation elsewhere in Christchurch. There have been a number of difficult issues arising from the earthquake Neil says, but also many instances of people going out of their way to be kind and helpful.

Featured Member: Richard Allan from Biozone

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When Richard Allan was a biology teacher at Hamilton’s Hillcrest High, he was one of a few teachers* who not only thought the existing textbooks were less than adequate, but actually got around to trying to devise their own learning resources.

Investing in an Apple computer – a stunning $12k at the time, and a printer that was nearly as expensive, Tutor Courseware got underway in 1988. “It was an environment at the time conducive to accepting new ways of learning, and we were very much in the vanguard,” Richard recalls.

After a couple of years balancing a teaching schedule with the demands of text book writing and designing computer resources for teachers, something had to give for Richard and that was teaching. The impetus for change was when his biology simulation software was sold to more than 200 schools throughout New Zealand, providing much needed cash flow for expanding the publishing venture.

The start-up was like many owner generated businesses: baby on the hip, packing books in the garage, cash flow hiccups. It was also work-from-home. But in 1998, the company acquired the former Hillcrest branch of the Hamilton library, a converted house that came with plus factors like open plan spaces and metres of shelving!

As the company grew, the Tutor Courseware name was confusing and less relevant. It became BIOZONE International in 1998.

Note that, because this is an educational publishing company that truly specializes. They produce biology texts and teacher resources, principally for the last two secondary school years. There are three product groups: Course Workbooks, high quality books with 300 – 400 pages; smaller 200 page Modular Workbooks on selected biology topics, and for teachers, editable power point presentations provided on CD-ROM for the classroom. Also in the spectrum is that other resource for all parties: Model answers for student workbook!

Where many school text publishers diversify their ranges by covering other curriculum subjects, BIOZONE International took a different path. If they were doing it right for New Zealand, surely they could sell in Australia? Check, even if different states had different curriculum requirements. The UK? Check, even if there were different syllabuses for each of the three examination boards for A-Level school leavers

BIOZONE has also been in the US since 2001. “It wasn’t planned, we were pulled into the market by a good show of interest from teachers.” They also market this resource as an international one, as it also covers the requirements for International Baccalaureate. The company was making inroads in the vast American educational market, and were even planning to open a sales office there until the recession put those plans on hold; currently the US is supplied out of New Zealand.

Richard Allan has also taken BIOZONE to China, albeit in a different way. In 2007, BIOZONE concluded a licensing deal with Peoples Educational Press, the major educational publisher there. Richard is following progress with interest. “Our style of product is not mainstream for them – Asians learn by rote and repetition. Critical thinking which our texts encourage is not the way in China as yet, but they are keen to develop those new skills.” Richard says it won’t be a big money spinner for BIOZONE, but will be good for the brand.

BIOZONE International has also won Waikato business awards and in 1997 was awarded New Zealand’s Educational Exporter of the Year .

Richard has been 20 years out of the classroom, so how does BIOZONE stay in touch with today’s learning needs? “We have very good relationships with the teachers who are our customers, and we rely on them for insights and constructive feedback on what is working for students.”

You get a better feeling for the depth of the company when you realise BIOZONE has three full time writers on staff, and between two and three graphic designers. Whereas most education publishers contract out text authorship, Richard says it is his in-house team who give them the ability to make changes and give the company control in real time. Important when all the texts and courseware have to be altered for the markets within markets – the three UK education qualifications, the varying requirements of Australian states and so forth. The writing team too have more recent experience of teaching and are up to date with current pedagogy and curriculum demands.

BIOZONE now has sales offices in both Australia and the UK. In time honoured Kiwi fashion, BIOZONE in Australia was opened in 1993 by Richard’s sister, Liz Hayde, who lives on the Gold Coast. She still heads the Australian operation. The UK Sales office began with a niece in Glasgow, but is now north of Birmingham in Burton-on-Trent with a staff of two full timers and a part timer.

Richard now spends several weeks of the year on the road internationally, with several trips to Australia and at least three trips to the US, UK and Europe. Apart from the constant travel, there are other challenges in going international for this publisher. One is managing international exchange rates. “A lot of good work can be undone by unfavourable exchange rates,” says Richard.

Printing is now done in India. “It was a cost issue; prices kept going up in New Zealand even though print quality was good. We halved our print cost by going to India and this is important in the viability of the business.”

Is there ever a time when all resources for all markets are up to date and BIOZONE International can cruise for a time? Not likely. “There used to be fairly constant reviews of the biology curriculum every five to six years; now significant reviews are is more likely every three years. BIOZONE’S course workbooks are revised and upgraded every one to two years.”

About to be released is Environmental Science (modular student workbook) second edition. “This is an important upgrade to an already great product with an additional 100 pages added on such topics as the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill and even a reference to the current Fukushima Nuclear disaster. It is cutting edge and will be in 2-colour… our first product to do so.”

And the driving principle behind concentrating on one educational area and taking it to multiple markets? Richard Allan says “Biology is biology wherever you teach it.” Which leaves BIOZONE International with a continent or two – Europe, South America, Africa – for further expansion.

*Hillcrest High’s staff room in the late eighties and early nineties must have been a hothouse of publishing ideas as both Graeme Abbott’s ABA Books and the NuLake maths texts co-authored by Carl Nugent had their beginnings at Hillcrest at the time.

Featured Member: Belinda Cooke from New Holland Publishers

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alt100% Pure Non Fiction at New Holland

Belinda Cooke is explaining that you can sell really good numbers of many books in New Zealand without relying on overseas sales, when a wonderful cross cultural confusion is revealed. New Holland’s best selling title beach bach boat barbecue and its sequel have sold over 50,000 copies, and only a few not in New Zealand. As Belinda explains, the London office of New Holland took some of the first title – against her advice. “It turns out that they thought it was beach, (JS) Bach, boat and barbecue…”

New Holland’s New Zealand company turns out to be a bit like an iceberg: you might think you know everything it does, but look closely and there’s a lot more under the surface. They are an autonomous but linked part of the South African based company, which also has publishing arms and sales offices in Australia and the United Kingdom, a mapping division and a foreign rights team based in London. Most divisional heads meet in annually for a strategy conference in South Africa immediately after Frankfurt. “We talk, and we are able to make informed decisions,” says Belinda. “But we are pretty much left to run our own show.” They have been in New Zealand for exactly 13 years this month.

In 2011 they will publish about 30 books, and reprint about as many – backlist is important for the company. The figure is up from last year’s 25, says Belinda, and some years they publish more than 30. New Holland’s concentration on illustrated books of New Zealand, travel, natural history, self sufficiency and eco lifestyles plus great cookbooks and gardening guides are areas that often go into many reprints – the Photographic Guide to Birds of New Zealand is on its tenth reprint this year, and a twelfth title, Rocks and Minerals of New Zealand, has just been added to this successful series.

All this is run by a ‘lean machine’, a staff of seven with only two in the publishing department, boosted at present by an intern from the Whitireia course. Editing and design are mostly contracted out, a flexibility allowing for the right teams for different projects.

Belinda handles major sales accounts herself with the assistance of Sales Administration Manager Toni Hayman, and Murray Brown’s team at Books R Us all other bookshop sales. Random NZ distributes New Holland books.

New Holland gave itself a good start in the New Zealand market by buying the lists of Kowhai Publishing (pictorial and travel) and CJ Publishing (lifestyle and cookery). Evidence of these lists still exists, in particularA Portrait of New Zealand, which has sold over 225,000 copies since it was first published in 1988 and is still going strong, with a smart new flexicover edition released recently. And the CJ acquisition brought a number of high profile food writers into the New Holland fold, relationships which continue to this day with Alison Holst, Julie Biuso and Annabelle White.

Early on they also bought the rights to AW Reed’s Maori Myths and Legendary Tales – now on its ninth printing. It is a title Belinda hopes will receive Creative NZ funding for a digital version. Reed’s Maori Tales of Long Ago was brought back into print last year, complete with original AS Paterson illustrations, thanks to Ray Richards’ negotiations and New Holland’s belief in the title as it stood. A belief that has paid off – the reprint button has just been pushed.

New Holland moved into the children’s market three years back, naturally without a picture book or YA novel to be seen! (Though Belinda does admit to New Holland breaking its own rules, with its first picture book to publish in May, Gypsy Day on the Farm from award-winning children’s author Jennifer Beck. “But while it is fiction, it does have a very strong link to real New Zealand events, in this case one of the most important days in our rural calendar.”)

Dave Gunson’s pictorial All About New Zealand series for 6 – 9 year olds covers birds, insects, plants, wild life of the past and the sea shore. For a slightly younger age group there is I am a Penguin/Whale/Seal/ Dolphin. The popularity of the two series of books is such that the children’s category has quickly become almost ten per cent of the New Holland list.

The niche areas of eco living and self sufficiency are other subject areas New Holland pays attention to: Living Green has a fresh updated edition and Mastering the Art of Self Sufficiency in NZ had to be reprinted within a month of publication!

And it wouldn’t be a New Holland list without a strong cook book component. It is no surprise to learn that Belinda is a self-declared passionate foodie! The joy of this area is that it also produces most of the company’s overseas sales. Julie Biuso’s Never-ending Summer has been sold for Dutch, German and Polish translation as well as in English speaking markets.

Divine Cupcakesby Tamara Jane has had considerable export success, and is in its fifth printing. Belinda expects the author’s new title Celebration Cupcakes to do equally well, with over half the print run going offshore. But she emphasizes her determination to do the best books that appeal to the New Zealand market first and foremost. “If they sell on the overseas market, that is just the cream…”

Part of the below-the-water New Holland iceberg is the overseas agencies they represent here, including Taschen, Kyle Cathie, Lion Hudson and titles from New Holland’s other companies. Belinda also buys NZ rights for some lines – the “500’s” series of eye catching cookbooks (cupcakes, cookies, cocktails  casseroles and more) has sold “tens of thousands” here.

Another surprise comes in the revelation that they are making some very nice revenue from a new stationery list launched recently by their Australian company, under the slightly cheeky name of Spank. “We’ve just come back from exhibiting the range to a very good reception at the Gift Fair,” says Belinda.

So after success in New Zealand, does Belinda aspire to climb the company ladder elsewhere? No way, she says. “I’ve finally just picked up my New Zealand passport and I’m very proud of it!”

Featured Member: Craig Potton Publishing

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altSay Craig Potton Publishing and the immediate mental image is of a mountain range or sunset on a beach, strikingly composed and wonderfully lit by nature…

But in this century, stunning Kiwi scenery is not all you’ll find on their list. Take two of 2010’s releases: Truth: The Rise and Fall of the People’s Paper by Redmer Yska, and Ian Mune’s autobiography Mune, both of which achieved their expected sales numbers. True to the company’s roots, one of their best selling title last year was a new Craig Potton classic: Mountain Biking South: 41 Great Rides in New Zealand’s South Island.

Robbie Burton, publisher and co-owner of the Nelson-based company, explains he and managing director Jane Connor relish ‘the luxury of being independent’, which is what a smaller publishing house can offer. “Good nonfiction remains our core but our list has got increasingly diverse. If a subject interests us, we publish it – within commercial constraints of course.”

For instance, they’ve published only one children’s book, Herbert, The Brave Sea Dog. “I’ve been surprised how easy it has been to step to outside of what people expect. We were lucky with Herbert, it continues to sell really well and we’ve sold the overseas rights to Walker Books.”

However, plans for expanding into children’s publishing, mainly nonfiction, have been slowed by the economic situation. “I’ve got young kids and Jane’s got grandchildren and we remain very interested in developing that area, but it is taking longer than we hoped.”

But back to Craig Potton Publishing’s photographic foundations. The company was built on Craig Potton’s photography skills, and calendar publishing, begun 25 years ago, is still a valuable asset to the business, contributing slightly less than a third of core publishing revenue. “The original timing was right,” says Robbie, “and we remain the only substantially sized NZ-owned calendar publisher, though it is a tough field today, with huge pressure on margins.”

Robbie joined the company in 1990, and has overseen its growth since then. Interestingly, CPP is a vertically integrated company, with most of the production in-house. The principals are very hands on – Robbie came from checking calendar proofs on the light box to the phone for this interview. Sales, marketing and publicity are all in-house, and CPP has a team of commission reps on the road.

Printing is shared between New Zealand and China, with books coming back into CPP’s warehouse to be dispatched out of Nelson. “We find no disadvantage with working out of Nelson, as almost all bookshops in New Zealand receive orders the following day.

“Controlling our own sales and distribution is a huge advantage. In the last 12 months we have decided to focus more on distribution, and picking up the agency for Lonely Planet has been a great boost and increased the diversity of our business.

“Being smaller gives us flexibility. It is easy to change direction – and if necessary, we can turn on a dime to respond when needed.”

As with all publishers, backlist, says Robbie, ‘is fundamental’. “When I started in publishing I was given a crucial bit of advice, and that was to build a backlist. At CPP we’ve knocked ourselves out to have backlist titles that will endure – it is a real driver when choosing titles to print.”

CPP’s 2011 list will remain about the same size as last year, but it does have a major new landmark book being published in October. New Zealand’s Native Trees, by Rob Lucas and John Dawson is a comprehensive illustrated encyclopedia for the over 250 species of trees in New Zealand. “We see it as a successor to John Salmon’s The Native Trees of New Zealand which has been around for over 30 years. So Jane has given the book the attention we think the subject deserves.”

Other titles on the list are a history of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan hospitals by Mike Gill, a new book on bone carving from Brian Flintoff, poet Sam Hunt’s latest collection, a further book on Wearable Art, leading international mountaineer Pat Deavoll’s account of her climbs in the Himalayas and the Karakorum, two titles for parents, Growing Tiny Minds and Feeding Little Tummies, and Sally Blundell’s history of Trade Aid and fair trade in NZ.

In line with Robbie’s pragmatic assertion that “There is little kudos in publishing scenic photographic books, but we are a solvent company because of that,” CPP happily continues to publish photographic books aimed at the visitor market, including this year a big book from leading landscape photographer, Rob Brown.

“In these tough times we are looking very closely at what we publish and the size of print runs. Books we would previously have looked at, we can’t currently consider.

“How much of this is caused by the recession and how much by a change in book culture it is too early to tell. Meanwhile, we are focused on running a very lean and mean operation, and making sure that we are still here publishing for the next twenty years!”

Featured Member: David Glover of Learning Media

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alt

“We’re a 103 year old company trying to think like a start up. We take nothing for granted and want to make sure everything we do is built on innovative, high quality thinking,” says Learning Media’s chief executive David Glover.

Learning Media is one of the smaller State-Owned Enterprises (its shareholders are the education and finance ministers), but is New Zealand’s largest educational publisher and services company. Coming from a rich heritage beginning in 1907 with the first School Journal, the company now earns around $24 million in annual revenues from its publishing and professional development services.

Learning Media employs over 100 in-house project managers, editors,designers and other staff, and contracts authors and illustrators from a contributor pool that’s a thousand strong. It is also a successful exporter to the US and 35 other countries, earning New Zealand between $3 –5 million in annual overseas sales in recent years.

So what are the company’s products? In New Zealand Learning Mediaoffers a range of titles under its three Literacy ranges, which encompass resources from kindergarten right through to year 10. The Skyrider ranges amount to 348 titles in total. New products include the edgy Highwire Magazine series designed to motivate older reluctant readers, and Strategy Zone, innovative software for interactive whiteboards which enables teachers to focus on teaching one comprehension strategy at a time in a whole class or small group setting.

Similar products, customised to local markets, sell under other names internationally.

Learning Media is also a busy contract publisher, producing publications to order for its clients. A recent project was preparing part of a large multi-grade reading resource for publication by McGraw Hill in the United States. The Ministry of Education is the company’s major domestic client, and it also manages the production and publishing of all the Ministry of Health’s education and information resources, and specific projects for other public sector and corporate clients.

In the 2009-10 year, Learning Media printed more than 2 million individual education items; these included the well-known School Journal and Ready to Read, as well as maths, science and other curriculum resources. Learning Media is also New Zealand’s largest publisher of te reo Māori and Pasifika education

“We print most of the Ministry of Education resources in New Zealand, with the exception of some reprints. Most resources for the US market are printed there, but resources for Standard English markets tend to be printed here and shipped,” says Learning Media marketing and communications manager Margaret Styles.

Learning Media also increasingly develops websites and other digital materials – their own website is good looking and user-friendly.

David Glover is quick to point out that educational publishing requirements today are a far cry from what today’s middle-aged would have received in their school year. “For a long time educational publishers didn’t know how people actually learned. A nice illustrated reading book was a good as it got!

“Now we know a lot more about learning styles, concepts like neuroplasticity and how the brain works, and that we must make learning culturally relevant. And the finished effort still has to look great! The science behind things pedagogical, and how to incorporate it into learning is a rare, rare talent – and Learning Media has some fabulous expertise in this area. We consult all over the world.”

Kudos for Learning Media came recently when David Glover was elected the first non-US member on the board of the Association of Educational Publishers, which covers all suppliers to the US educational publishing industry.

He values Learning Media’s experience in the American market. “We’ve been there for 15 years, which gives us an unparalleled insight into the world’s most competitive marketplace. It’s becoming highly technical and advances are coming through at the rate of knots.”

Glover’s own training expertise was gained in adult education – he was a principal and owner of David Forman – providers of sales, leadership and management training – following his earlier career in advertising and marketing. Skills that have clearly crossed over to the education area.

 “Learning Media’s aim is world class educational solutions. I jotted our achievements down the other day and I listed 12 things before realising we’ve got lots. But there is still further to go in professional development and digital education.”

And as for those School Journals on which Leaning Media was founded – they’ve got every one of them ever printed, and so has the National Library.

Featured Member: Renee Stead from Stead & Daughters

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renee steadIn the six months that I have been here, the most common question I receive is “Why Abu Dhabi?” And believe me, it is something I have asked myself with equal frequency.

My curiosity with the region began after my time on the 2009 Frankfurt Fellowship. As timing would have it, I sold a large shipment of books to a friend in the UAE at the same time as one of my fellows was convincing me to come and explore the 2010 Abu Dhabi Book Fair. Geographically challenged, I actually had to google Abu Dhabi, and I’m sure the book freighters did too.

Abu Dhabi is everything and nothing you expect: it is immediately evident that the city is abundant in wealth and is on a path of rapid growth. But it struggles to bridge the chasm between chaotic growing pains and a vision of prosperity which appeals to the rest of the world.

The Abu Dhabi book Fair 2010 was only my second book fair after Frankfurt, and to me it epitomized all that the Abu Dhabi market is: opportunity, confusion, boundaries, hope, promise… and a sense of Arabic business that I have come to love. There were times at the fair I wasn’t sure anyone knew what was going on: the Sheikh was late to open the fair, some stalls hadn’t received their books and as a trade visitor I walked around in circles before I found the right room to hand over a bundle of dirhams and receive my trade badge. People said “Insh’Allah” a lot. My phrasebook was as mystified as me.

I spent two weeks in Abu Dhabi in March 2010– partaking of the fair and then exploring the area and investigating opportunities. And it seemed to suit me… I met some influential people, I learned about the underdeveloped publishing market and the changing educational market, I even enjoyed the chaos of the city that is growing too fast for itself.

I was offered the opportunity to return and set up an office for our company here. The rest – except with far too many tales to tell – is history.

The second most common question that people ask me is “why isn’t the market saturated with publishers fulfilling the demand?” Particularly educational publishers. And it’s a question I can only answer now that I have been here for six months. Firstly, the bureaucracy is beyond belief. I’ll probably get in trouble for saying that, or blocked from numerous internet sites. (Yes, certain terms and sites are blocked – including Skype).

Think about how easy it is to establish a company in NZ: an accountant, a little internet time on the Government Companies website and the next day you’re trading! Now think of the opposite extreme. Welcome to my current world.

Also, the lifestyle isn’t suited to everyone – or sometimes even anyone. Summer is 50 Celsius + with humidity like you wouldn’t believe. Plus that is the time that Ramadan kicks in and you cannot eat or drink – water and chewing gum included – for 13 hours a day. Break it publicly and imprisonment ensues. Of course most westerners sneak into the toilet to steal a sandwich and a swig, but I seem to have landed myself with an affinity towards Islam that saw me sticking to Ramadan – and resultantly almost bailing on my expedition here a plethora of times throughout summer. I have a whole new found respect on a myriad of levels.

So there’s bureaucracy, there is heat and I am sure I don’t need to mention the language barrier, never aided by our twangy kiwi accent. And although the UAE may be considered a less conservative Islam nation, it is all comparative. Abu Dhabi is less conservative than Saudi Arabia, but more conservative than Dubai and Egypt. There are times I can wear a short sleeved shirt and long shorts – and there are times I wouldn’t wisely enter a meeting room without being covered shoulder to toe. I am becoming more au-fait with when to wear a head scarf – the mosque, meeting with people from certain countries, or generally when I just want to feel like I fit in. There actually are Image Police patrolling the streets.

Possibly the greatest challenge – and maybe deterrent – for businesses wanting to establish in this market is the notion of permanence. Dealing in big contracts; the proprietors want to see you are here to stay and really trying to become a part of the culture. Branding is important. I am about to spend a fortune redecorating my new office with my company logo plastered exorbitantly over my office walls. It shows the local decision makers that our company is serious about staying put here. All you read about cultural diversity in business? It matters. To the Arabic culture they need to see a face. They need to know if they want to discuss a contract you can call by for a coffee at 10 pm (another thing – I’m naturally an early bird and I have had to drastically adjust my body clock and caffeine tolerance). They want to know you’ll stay around for a good amount of time and drink their diabolically strong coffee. They want to know you’ll invoice them on local terms from a local PO Box. (We don’t have physical addresses.) They want relationships, not email.

To me, the way of business here seems to sum up the dichotomy I referred to at the beginning. The Arabic market has a plethora of opportunities, in which they want the world market involved. But they also want to hold tight to their business behavior and cultural comportment. In order to make some semblance of success here, you have to play both cards in a fine-tuned balance. It is one I work on continuously – through days of despair and delight – but I am here to stay and try to perfect it.

My acquaintance with this market thus far has taught me much. It has also introduced to me the potential for New Zealand resources in a region underdeveloped in published sources. Initially I set up a company here to publish resources specifically for the MENA region but I have come to realize that there is also a role for a distributor and translator of quality Australasian resources.

I’ve also learnt to say “Insh’Allah” a lot and to expect things to occur in what is pleasantly referred to as Arab time.It has also introduced to me the potential for New Zealand resources in a region underdeveloped in published sources. Initially I set up a company here to publish resources specifically for the MENA region but I have come to realize that there is also a role for a distributor and translator of quality Australasian resources.

We’re approaching the International Abu Dhabi Book Fair in March, and any publishers from our corner of the world who would like representation – please get in touch and we can have a chat about it. I’ll exhibit New Zealand with pride. Twangy accent and all.

Featured Member: Peter Dowling Oratia Media

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Peter DowlingAddressing industry peers from around the world was a highlight of the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair for independent publisher Oratia Media. The Waitakere-based company’s Managing Director Peter Dowling took the stage in an Australasian panel discussion that helped profile New Zealand books to the global flock at this year’s essential book event.

But there were other milestones, including breaking through to get invited to the Italian Publishers Association cocktail. “We’ve been working all year to get on the radar of Italian publishers so the networking at Frankfurt was unbelievably valuable – even if the New Zealand stand put on a much better party!”

Connecting New Zealand with the world is a key part of the vision for Libro International, the books imprint launched in 2009.

Libro means ‘book’ in Italian, while the international reflects the business profile of Oratia Media, the publishing services business that Peter and his Italian wife Alessandra Zecchini established in 2000. “From the start much of our work was for clients overseas, so the logical extension was to continue that in our own publishing.”

The Libro story begins with the end of Reed Publishing (NZ) at Christmas 2007. Until then publishing manager of the Birkenhead-based Reed, Peter felt that opportunities beckoned for a niche publisher to take up some of what the original Reed firm did so well – history and culture, Maoritanga and children’s books, education and business in English and Maori.

Libro International launched its publishing in May 2009 with a reissue of junior novel Kura Toa, by Tim Tipene, followed by the Outrageous Fortune Family Album, published in collaboration with South Pacific Pictures. Eight more books have followed.

In April this year Oratia Media began an associate relationship with New York-based Blooming Twig Books for North American distribution. Then in May this year Dowling was at the Turin International Book Fair (the only representative for Oceania), making valuable contacts with Italian and other publishers.

“We’re committed to publishing New Zealand authors who we can keep in print and take to the world,” Dowling says. “We’ll also publish as much as we can in languages other than English, principally Maori – there’s such a dearth of new books in te Reo.”

The Oratia Media website is in Italian as well as English, and a te Reo version is in the works. In July Libro released its first Maori language publication, children’s book Te Pā Kaha kei tō Tātou Iāri, by Malcolm Paterson.

“As the book business develops, we hope to bring more Italian and then other Latin language authors in to Australasia,” Dowling foresees. Turin-based Paola Della Valle, whose history of Maori writing From Silence to Voice released in late October, is Libro’s first Italian author.

Getting close to market, Dowling and creative director Zecchini spent several months based this year north-east of Milan, developing contacts and presence in this market of 60 million people. “It augurs well – Italians are eager to engage more with New Zealand culture, beyond a passion for rugby and The Lord of the Rings,” Dowling says.

“It’s been a matter of getting to know the market in Italy and other parts of Europe, and now we’re taking up the opportunities.”

Industry Profile: Paula Browning, CEO, Copyright Licensing Ltd

By Featured Members Archive

I was born in a small village in the Cotswolds in England. My family moved to NZ before I started school and I have livedPaula Browning of CLL in Auckland for most of our time here, other than for a short period spent in Horowhenua. I have two gorgeous daughters – one studying a B Com in Valuation and Property Management at Lincoln University and the other doing arts at Mt Albert Grammar School. We all love to bake and cook and spend a lot of fun time together in the kitchen.

After a few weeks as CEO of Copyright Licensing Ltd (CLL) I can honestly say that writing, reading and pleasure in the written word is alive and well in New Zealand! I have come to CLL from roles in sport and education. In terms of the passion people bring to their work, the sport and creative sectors have a lot in common. As a small country New Zealand boxes well above its weight in both sport and our ability to cultivate creativity. I look forward to the day when we celebrate our writers in the same way that we celebrate our sportsmen and sportswomen.

The CLL Board has been actively crystal-ball gazing to see what the future holds in the digital publishing space. The challenge in being the first to enter a new business arena is to try to answer all probable questions and address the likely issues while having nothing to compare or critique your ideas against. I can only commend the Board and Martin Taylor of Digital Strategies for their vision and I look forward to working with them as we develop the vision into reality. From CLL’s perspective, the opportunity to be able to invest in a platform for writers and publishers that enables them to enter into the unknown world of e-books and e-publishing in partnership with an established organisation like CLL is an exciting one.

CLL’s current historical core business has been to protect the creativity of New Zealanders, whilst providing licences allowing users to legally copy from a growing inventory of publications. We will continue to do this, but will also look for more and better ways to advocate for content providers and rights holders. We could try to do this ourselves, however our involvement with the Copyright Council provides access to a wider group of organisations and their stakeholders and the traction we are seeking to achieve will be greater through the collective than on our own.

It seems to me, as someone new to the creative sector, that there’s not enough positive media about the talented writers we have in this country. In 2010, CLL will have involvement in three different awards – the CLL Writers Awards for non-fiction, the CLL Educational Publishing Awards (in association with PANZ) and the Research Grants (in association NZSA and the Stout Research Centre). We will look to maximise media coverage for both the recipients of these awards and the wider sector.

Copyright as a topic is not sexy. It conjures up images of court cases taken for breaches and a draconian watchdog imposing license fees for supposed little return to the licensee. We need to turn this around – to create a better understanding in the general population on what copyright is and does and the value that the licensing system brings to the New Zealand economy and to individuals.

The next few years are going to be exciting times for CLL, authors and publishers. I can’t wait!
 

Featured Member: Anna Rogers, Freelance editor

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I thought I would be a teacher, but by the time I had completed an English degree at Canterbury University, my journalist father had become a publisher and I knew that was the business for me. I had grown up surrounded by books; I was read to and read voraciously. As a child, I loved pens and paper, I was great at spelling and I hated to get the answers wrong in school quizzes. I was an editor waiting to happen.

Even with a father in the business and some experience at manuscript assessment, I had to wait for an editing job. After plenty of bookselling, writing advertising copy, a short and disastrous period as a book rep and some book promotions work, a junior editor job came up at Associated Book Publishers in Wellington. ABP included a number of imprints; the one that counted for me was Methuen New Zealand. In those days, there were three or four in­house editors lined up along one wall of the Wakefield Street office and I learned on the job, which was invaluable. My first task was to proofread something, which I did with alarming thoroughness, even circling smudges left by the photocopier. But real editing of real books followed, and I knew I had found the right job.

After ABP, I worked as an editor for Collins in Auckland and then for my father at Whitcoulls in Christchurch, before returning to Wellington and going freelance at the end of 1983. Looking back, it Juggling the deadlines can be challenging but I relish the freedom and flexibility of freelancing, and the close contact with authors.seems a remarkably rash move. I did, however, have quite a few contacts in the trade by then, and I steadily built a reputation. I am still working happily as a freelance editor, now in Christchurch, more than twenty-five years later.

Editing is, of course, about much more than getting the grammar and the spelling right, or even grappling with major restructuring. At its best, this unique author–editor relationship generates mutual respect, trust, good humour, sometimes robust discussion and, in many cases, lifelong friendships. I have been fortunate enough to work with some wonderful fiction and non-fiction writers. Manuscript assessment and book reviewing are also part of my portfolio, and I have written seven non-fiction books, mostly in the area of New Zealand social history. In Wellington I also spent two happy years as a part-time subeditor at the Listener. Juggling the deadlines can be challenging but I relish the freedom and flexibility of freelancing, and the close contact with authors.

Editing is not a job for those who like their name in lights. It is unseen, meticulous and time-consuming. It requires patience, diplomacy, a good memory and a sense of humour. But it can also be enormously creative and satisfying, for both writer and editor. As Lauris Edmond once wrote to me, ‘Good editors aren’t disciplinarians . . . Their shaping proposals are never a violation; their understanding is all the sweeter for being hard and fairly won.’

Featured Member: Catherine O’Loughlin, Editor, Penguin (NZ)

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Like so many other late Gen-Xers working in publishing in New Zealand, my first step into the industry was to enrol for the Whitireia publishing programme. I had the required ‘relevant tertiary qualification’ (the BA with English Literature major came in handy after all), the ‘oral and written communication skills’, the ‘computer competency’ and so on, but without any relevant industry experience to prove my ‘commitment to working in publishing’, all I wanted was the chance. I filled out the forms, attended an interview and was accepted into the 2004 intake.

That year flew by in a blur of group projects, assessments, book-swapping and late nights either in front of the computer or at the pub with a collection of like-minded course mates. And, luckily for me, at the end of 2004 the BPANZ (now PANZ) and Creative New Zealand publishing intern programme came into being. I applied and was offered a six-month contract at Random House, starting in January 2005. There was a slight hitch – as a fully paid-up Wellingtonian with a large and supportive family close by, I’d need to relocate myself and my five-year-old son to Auckland’s North Shore. After a day or so of thinking myself around in circles, I decided I’d prefer to live without miserable thoughts of ‘what if’ and went for it.

From January to July 2005 I had a brilliant time working at Random House as an assistant editor and became a dab hand at project managing anthologies, doing final proofreads, tracking down elusive copyright holders, and explaining to overseas publishers that their reproduction fees were quite steep when converted to New Zealand dollars. At the end of the internship I was kept on as an editor (goodbye for good, Wellington) and managed the production of various non-fiction, fiction and children’s titles, gaining experience in editing, proofreading and indexing along with commissioning photographs, illustrations and design work, and learnt a great deal from the generous and encouraging people in that company.

In August 2007, I took on my present role at Penguin. I now work as a project editor on a ‘lifestyle’ list, which encompasses everything from cooking to gardening, self-help, illustrative books and celebrity biographies, and some children’s and young adult titles. Once a book is commissioned I’m responsible for moving it through editing and production stages, liaising with the author, publisher, designer and freelance editors and maintaining the book’s schedule and budget. 

Theoretically we editors work on about twenty titles per year but the reality of publishing in a large company, in which each book needs to hold its own and be commercially viable, is often that the books all flood in at the same time and your feet hardly touch the ground for months, and all of a sudden they’re off to print and there’s a bit of time to catch your breath, recycle some paper and come up with a new colour-coded spreadsheet that you hope will keep you on top of it all in the next rush.

It’s impossible to choose one thing that’s ‘best’ about working in publishing. I enjoy the constant variety; the fact that every book is different, presenting unique challenges. The people I work with are dedicated to and passionate about what they do and always ready to give support and a second opinion. I’ve had the privilege of working with long-established authors, and also a number of first-time authors fished out of the ‘slush pile’, not to mention so many gifted (and patient) designers, illustrators, photographers and pre-press wizards. Being the point of contact between so many wonderful people definitely keeps you humble.