Friday, March 29, 2013

Grate expectations...

So Amazon bought Goodreads. Of course that big shopping trolley should have been the clue. Kindle Content VP, Russ Grandinetti said, "Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike." Delight wasn't my first reaction. Knopf's Paul Bogaards tweeted, "That's what all you morons get for sharing your books online" - I bet that delighted readers as well. I'm wondering if his next sentence was reminding those moron's to still keep buying Knopf books? 


So what do I think? Usually I think that the delight of authors and readers aren't uppermost in the business folks minds. It's about the market and the product and the profit. These new book leviathans are somewhat like Star Trek's Borg - resistance is futile. I prefer to be like a germ or pathogen - adapting to a new environs to ensure survival and growth and hopefully when the conditions are moist and warm, going viral. Persistence is, as it has always been, an essential requirement for any author. I am the cork on the ocean - still bob, bob, bobbing along.

NZ Book Month is nearly at an end. We went to dismantle the 'What Lies Beneath' exhibits at the National Library in Parnell on Thursday and I was chuffed that the National Library decided to retain the Auckland authors' and illustrators' work for the upcoming school holiday period in April. I thought the exhibition was a great idea (thank you to author Maria Gill for this) and a real asset for not only NZ Book Month but as something that should continue throughout the year providing insight in to the creative work of NZers and hopefully promoting their work to teachers, librarians and young readers.  Our gala opening was enjoyed by a good crowd and my library event at Blockhouse Bay with students from the local Primary school also went well I think. 

Sadly I don't think NZ Book Month's reach has been as wide as we would hope. Apart from the $5 token to be used at booksellers, most mainstream media didn't seem to cover it. The emphasis wasn't on NZ authors and illustrators. National Radio did review New Zealand titles which was terrific but the air of celebration seemed to be confined to existing fans. Am I expecting too much or is New Zealand literature for young and old being generally ignored and neglected? Should we expect the general population to know who we are? What can we do about it? I'm proud to be a New Zealand Children's author but is New Zealand proud to have me as one of theirs?   

4 comments:

5inabus said...

Proud to have you as one of ours?!! Of course!!

I'm really interested in your question - is NZ literature being ignored or neglected? I certainly hope not.

For myself, particularly when it comes to picture books, I have noticed that the firm family favourites tend to be from New Zealand (and by a long margin). I wonder if that's because we can relate more easily to the illustrations (After the War by Bob Kerr comes to mind). But not only that, but the stories are stories that reflect us; reflect our childhood and the places where we grow up. In a way it also binds us as parent and child, as well. They help us cross the divide.

It's the same with NZ fiction for adults, I'm sure. My favourite authors are Fiona Kidman and Witi Ihimaera - what I appreciate about them both is their confidence that OUR stories, our New Zealand-ness, matters. I see myself in their stories, I see the things and people and places that have shaped me and my worldview. It's very reaffirming. It's like an anchor in some ways - I like to travel, but I also always want to come home.

Sometimes I just think as NZers we're a little quiet in general when it comes to appreciating our own. Or perhaps we just don't value our own stories as being relevant in the grand scheme of things? Or maybe we're just complacent, thinking it'll always be there?

Interesting questions indeed.

Melinda Szymanik said...

It's fantastic that NZ literature is so valued by you and your family but I think I would definitely class you as the already converted. I don't know that NZ Book month is bringing in new recruits and I would love to know how to change that.

Angela Soutar said...

I am hoping that the people who set NZ Book Month going (Booksellers Organisation) have some way of analysing what the impact is. no 1 I imagine is business based - how many $5 vouchers were cashed and whether sales went up - NZ or otherwise. No 2 might be how many people turned out for events in libraries and book shops which were all based around NZ authors and illustrators. I don't know how else we could tell if it made an impact.
I bought one at a book launch during the month that I wouldn't normally have bought , because I have decided not to buy any more print books unless they are a non-fiction subject I need to consult in the future or they have a strong visual appeal through design, illustration or photography or maybe that they are not available in libraries or e-retailers. I am turning into a difficult customer.

Bookbrainz

Angela Soutar said...

I am hoping that the people who set NZ Book Month going (Booksellers Organisation) have some way of analysing what the impact is. no 1 I imagine is business based - how many $5 vouchers were cashed and whether sales went up - NZ or otherwise. No 2 might be how many people turned out for events in libraries and book shops which were all based around NZ authors and illustrators. I don't know how else we could tell if it made an impact.
I bought one at a book launch during the month that I wouldn't normally have bought , because I have decided not to buy any more print books unless they are a non-fiction subject I need to consult in the future or they have a strong visual appeal through design, illustration or photography or maybe that they are not available in libraries or e-retailers. I am turning into a difficult customer.

Bookbrainz