The interim ban on Into the River has ended with the majority of the Film and Literature Board of Review classifying the book as ‘unrestricted’. The majority of the Board stated that the book dealt with the subject matter in a way that was essential to the story and was not gratuitous.
The board consists of three lawyers, chair Dr Don Mathieson, Andrew Caisley and Michael Stephens, and Professor of Film and Television Studies at Auckland University Lawrence Simmons and consultant Sandy Gill.
The majority viewed the book as dealing with matters “about the potentially negative consequences that can follow from involvement in casual sex, under age drinking, drug taking, crime, violence and bullying” in a way that was likely to educate, rather than promote. The majority therefore reached the conclusion that Into the River was not “objectionable” as defined by section 3(1) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. The sole dissenting voice was that of Dr Mathieson.
The Film and Literature Board also removed its earlier age restriction on Into the River and the book now carries no age restriction. The majority decision can be viewed here. The dissenting decision can be viewed here.
Debra Millar, Publishing Director at Penguin Random House NZ, says they have sold North American rights for Into the River and Thunder Road to an independent US publisher Polis Books, as well as ANZ and UK audio rights for Into the River to Audible. But there have been no other confirmed rights sales at this point, she says.
However, the company’s Australian based rights manager is still following up on interest from other countries and discussions held at Frankfurt.
“We have seen strong orders for Into the River from New Zealand booksellers since the ban was lifted, and to date we have reprinted 1000 copies to meet demand, Debra notes. “There has also been unprecedented eBook sales globally since the review board decision to impose an interim restriction on sales in New Zealand.”