Audiobooks New Zealand
Minnie is keen to see how many more versions her book ‘Blindingly Obvious’ can be turned into; she foresees an avatar signing, a pictorial version, even live performance. All notions that have accessibility, inclusivity and collaboration prioritised front and centre.
A sudden health crisis propelled her to begin writing the book, a process that is quite different for someone who is unable to see a page or computer screen properly. She luckily learnt to touch type from a young age as soon as her vision diagnosis was made, and was assisted by an adaptive software called Jaws that enables you to hear your text back, as well as Zoom Text which magnifies what's written.
Minnie is not unaccustomed to figuring out her own way to succeed. She started a food truck, worked in broadcasting, and is now a CEO of a social enterprise. When asked where her tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit comes from, she replies “there was always a sense of trying to make my own fortune. When something shuts off to me, I've gotten good at scanning the horizon line to find some other way to achieve whatever the goal has been in my mind. Not being confined to seeing one way of doing things. How much is conditioning or in my DNA, I'm not sure.”
There's some frustration in the book at how limited advancement has been in the area of access, and justifiably so. “The disability sector is the most innovative in the world, and yet we're undervalued in employment and opportunities.” Disability employment rates have hardly changed since Minnie was 20, and this promotes anxiety about what roles one can fill. 25% of the population lives with a disability.
Minnie developed the WITH concept as a means of connecting others who were consistently pushing at the edges like she was. She liked the idea of designing something with a community rather than to, or for a community. The word stems from midwifery and childbirth; the action of supporting safe birth and passage from one place to another. Minnie advocates being conscious, conscientious and intentional about wanting change to happen, and through her work as an access warrior in NZ and internationally, “I'm trying to only work with others who are with me.”
We're certainly with you Minnie, congratulations on your book launch and we look forward to keeping up with your endeavours in the future.
According to Theo, it has been an interesting, slow and strange year for audiobook production, for many reasons. A huge factor that is undeniable is the promotion of artificially manufactured voices to authors looking to get their books made into audio and up for sale on Amazon, Audible, Spotify etc. Artists and actors have notoriously been vulnerable minorities who seem easily disposable anyway, so we’re no strangers to having to fight for our place in society. This is just another classic way people can cut a corner (or the role of the artist,) in the attempt to save money, but given that the average person doesn’t know how much is involved in making an audiobook, how much are they actually saving by opting for AI? The answer is, not much.
A bottom line argument from our end, is that you’re compromising the quality of your product for an audience of listeners you are assuming are ok to listen to synthetic storytelling, when most lovers of audio content would wholeheartedly agree, it’s hardly satisfying. 13 hours of Moby Dick narrated by something that sounds like Siri does not a quality listening experience make. It’s like gathering around a heat pump instead of a fire. It’s a photocopier for the voice, a cloning tool and something that responds to what it’s fed, not something that can deliver with empathy, pace and breath the sort of performance a quality story deserves.
From a technical point of view, it also means that your operator or audio engineer - who is meant to be responsible for compiling the audio files and chapters into compatible formats for most listening platforms - becomes the pseudo narrator or storyteller themselves; choosing an AI voice to go with, piecing together sentences and paragraphs into some semblance of story, and editing pauses and inflection in order to convincingly make a bot sound, well, human.
This is a very real threat to actors and voice artists worldwide, it’s a big part of the actors’ strike in the US, and something we need to bring to the attention of the general public, aka our audiences, so they’re aware of the situation enough to speak out against its use when it comes to organic storytelling. It’s not just actors or those in entertainment who are impacted. We, as digital consumers, need to think more closely about how we hand over our data and how it’s used. If Apple can load your voice into Siri so you can tell yourself how to get home, who owns that then? Where is that going? How can you be sure someone isn’t putting your voice to a porn novel without your knowledge? Short answer, you can’t.
Theo and I believe we should never replace people in this medium, but I guess we would, it being our industry and livelihoods. The narrators working for AudiobooksNZ and Blind + Low Vision NZ generally make their income from voice work, something that is scarce in our wee country as it is. This is just the beginning of a bigger conversation around representation, body sovereignty, ownership of bodily IP, and respect for the integrity of the artist's function and role in our society. We’re keen to continue the conversation to remain mindful and wary, to broaden it as the issue updates and as AI proceeds rapidly through its own technological advancement, regardless of our thoughts or feelings about its existence.
It was made very clear, after meeting with Rahul, that doing what makes your heart sing is what life is all about. Managing to find time for himself around managing hotels, dealing with the horrific outcomes of being involved in a personal and professional sense in the Christchurch earthquakes, as well as a massive health scare, it was proven to Rahul that time is of the essence. It is a resource, and saving the things that give us contentment for later is not an option.
It took the power to become vulnerable and honest for him to pen this recent publication, also the awareness that resilience is a huge asset we can work with as people. How many promises are made when we, or a loved one, is in the throes of their fragile mortality, to live more presently, more acutely attuned to what we love, and what drives us? And how often are those promises abandoned when we need to re-enter the rat race of life and pay a mortgage?
Attaining a contentment mindset is what Rahul is all about, and what his book is all about. This entails being at peace with where you are, and the decisions and circumstances you have experienced in the past that brought you to where you are. He dictates that being part of something bigger than ourselves is a huge contributor to why we behave and exist in the way we do.
By shifting the order of your priorities when it comes to achieving your dreams, as well as your career outcomes, and using the length of life you have wisely to be able to have both, we learn through this ‘why to’ book that you shouldn’t delay anything that is vitally important to you.
He shares strategies around how you can maximise your contentment sustainably. Passions and purpose are as important as each other, but passion needs perspective and sometimes needs to be postponed. Economic cycles follow us in life, and we live in a world that responds to that, so our passions need to be monetised to be fulfilling and we need sustainability to achieve anything. ‘Repurpose snippets’ are things you can do while you’re doing life, in small snippets throughout time, not just during your holiday.
The first half is about perspective, wake up calls, don’t sweat the small stuff, pivoting to make sure you can get the best of both worlds. The second half is about how to get involved in philanthropy - “giving back makes you feel good, being part of something bigger than yourself is what gives you fulfillment, giving is a function of one’s mindset not bank balance. There should be no delay with giving.” Rahul does this through mentoring small business owners, and creating thankyouhealthcare.co.nz throughout the dreaded pandemic - a website where businesses post their best deals for healthcare options/products/services for the general consumer.
Rahul loved narrating his own audiobook. Getting his own voice and tone in the words enables him to get the message across warmly. Rahul enjoys travel audiobooks, narrators such as Michael Pallen, cycling audiobooks and their stories/challenges and how they overcome those obstacles.
This, and his other works; ‘Buy and Hold for All That Gold,’ ‘Living an Abundant Life,’ ‘Buy and Hold: Simple Steps to Successful Real Estate Investment in NZ’ are available by Googling Rahul Rai books, on Amazon, Xlibris or of course audiobooks.nz. Rahul is also available on LinkedIn.
Karen has written since the ripe age of 10, so it’s no surprise that it came so easily to her to begin a series of children’s fiction at the request of her 10 year old stepdaughter, Milla. While she admits she never saw herself becoming a children’s author, the persistent nagging prevailed, and Milla - along with her trusty sound-board dad - has been involved in the creation of the tales ever since.
Before delving into the fantastical ‘Elastic Island’ world, we begin with Karen’s earlier titles and the life experiences that led to her publishing her story, among many others. Her first book, ‘Unbreakable Spirit’ released in 2003 sees the go-to-girl for cancer patients chronicling their perspectives and providing the catharsis that so often comes by simply sharing one’s truth.
Fast forward a few years and this self-confessed, story stockpiling daydreamer was raring to go with a cast of children derived from aspects of her own personality, and her observations of youth in our contemporary world. The books are set in New Zealand, and centre around 4 kids from Browns Bay in Auckland. It is from there that they are able to be transported to the imaginary realm of Elastic Island, mapped off of our very own neighbours in the South Pacific. During their travels, Karen and her husband have picked up fascinating furry friends who have inevitably become supporting characters along the way. Think a soft toy Quokka, the endangered Bilby bird and an adopted tabby cat, Blong, from Vanuatu.
Karen loves the immediacy of the feedback she gets with an audience of children, and has allowed many of them to shape and inform the stories as they progress. She likes to put ordinary kids into ordinary situations in fantastical settings, developing a world where the emphasis is on fun, adventure and literacy. With reader numbers growing exponentially, it appears she’s onto a winning formula.
Producing the first audiobook has been a whole new arena of fun for Karen, and with Suzy Cato’s warmth and charisma bringing the story to life, it’s no wonder the books are set for further production on our screens in future. She recalls her first audiobook experience beside an old vinyl record player, thumbing through the pages of the hardcopy book in front of you. I recall the same thing, albeit with cassette tapes. It really was the best and quickest way to learn.
Speaking of, her advice to emerging authors is to READ. If you’re interested in writing for a certain genre, read it extensively. Not a few books a year, 50 a year. It makes all the difference. She also advocates complete freedom of creativity by writing it all out without thinking of your edits as you go - ‘that’s what editors are for.’ ;)
To connect with Karen and access her work, as well as monthly competitions run through her website, visit www.karenm.co.nz
I learnt a LOT during my chat with Rosy, who was Zooming in from her home in the Wairarapa Wine region of Martinborough. Having traveled extensively, she prefers life in the town where everyone knows your dog, and the pace accommodates for someone seeking to change a hectic medical profession into a writing career.
She credits her medical background with her easy transition into the world of literature, with that knowledge proving valuable for the protagonist in her most recent novel, ‘Cold Wallet.’ Having researched cryptocurrency since its introduction to our soils, Fenwicke has us following a young, naive doctor Jess as she navigates the process of accessing assets left to her by her newly deceased husband.
God help me if I was in that position… I can do words, but numbers/technological jargon evades me. So bear with me upwardly mobile listeners, here’s what I learned. A hot wallet is where people can stash their currency once they’ve bought it, but that information is visible online. The wallet becomes cold when you want to secure those assets offline where it’s inaccessible by anyone other than the owner who has it bound by numerous passwords. So, unless Dr Jess is able to find or figure out each password her genius husband allocated to the wallet, no one will ever have access to the goods - of which there are millions. There is a bunch of other intel about block chains and miners etc, but I’m clinging to the basics.
Consulting with accountants and those who work in all areas of the crypto industry, she wasn’t afraid to ask the ‘dumbest questions in the world’ in order to understand the way it all works. Following the press around the investigation into Christchurch’s Cryptopia hacking and liquidation also proved invaluable. Rosy isn’t afraid of delving into the knowledge that the world is becoming increasingly automated, crypto’d and digitised. She even has ideas around how we can capitalise on the progress we’re making in those areas to further advance information storing for the medical sector, with block chain technology being the blueprint to enable people to hold and file their entire medical histories.
Between medicine and traveling, both of which inform her storytelling, she is interested in narratives that see strong women rise above their adversities, as well as women who have the ability to inject a bit of magic into the mundane, (highlighted brilliantly in the slogan to her Euphemia Sage Chronicles; ‘Superpowers are Wasted on the Young.’)
No stranger to having to juggle multiple roles to ensure her writing came to fruition, Rosy is also an advocate for doing the hard graft, and we had a good chat about the business of following your dreams versus educating for practicality. We both agreed it requires a combination of great ideas and focussed action to be successful in any realm of the arts, and that participation on either end - creator or audience member - is a luxury, not a necessity. Humbling stuff indeed.
The Euphemia Sage Chronicles are still being added to, with the 4th book ‘No Retreat’ set to release in July. Rosy is also beginning another thriller this year.
To contact Rosy or to access any of her work, you can find her on social media @rosyfenwickeauthor
Linn Lorkin is one of our most notoriously successful musical treasures; singer, songwriter, actor and linguist, with residencies in Copenhagen, Naples and New York, she’s been accused of being ‘good at too many things,’ but most notably, fans appreciate her writing.
Linn was taught to play the piano by her mother, and claims ‘if you train when you’re young, you never forget it.’ Hearing Nina Simone and feeling starved for artistic company or creative peers, she knew she had to get offshore. A scholarship from the French Government allowed her to do just that, albeit to explore the world of linguistic academia.
Destined to be an artist, she made her way to London in the swinging 60’s and began making up for lost time, meeting and partying with the greatest of characters. Music followed her wherever she went and she performed extensively. By fluke, she got her first job in Copenhagen after asking to sing with the resident band. They offered her 20 crona for 8 songs a night.
These weren’t originals however, and it wasn’t until an evening in New York, listening to Joan Armitrading while feeling a bit down on life, that she took pen to paper. She wrote 12 songs in a fortnight, established her prolific stance as a singer-songwriter within her communities and the rest, as they say, is history. For someone who was seen as a ‘junkie or a lesbian’ for wielding an electric keyboard at her performances - arguably one of the only women at the time doing so - this must have felt in some way vindicating.
Linn still loves to stand out in a crowd, and has always paired her flaming red locks with beautiful vintage garments that appear as a running motif throughout her memoir. As is her music; hand-picked from her extensive repertoire of original compositions that have seen their way into her shows all over the world, and lovingly reproduced as stings to begin most chapters, indicating the style or tone of the next part of the story.
From the front page of the NZ Herald, to a 6 month stint in an Italian prison, lovesick mishaps and rowdy celebrity riddled parties, Linn’s experiences and travels really do appear to rival that of Gulliver. And this is only the first installment of her story, with a second in the pipeline documenting her return to the NZ music scene in the 80s.
She is consummate in her vocation as a musician and performer, and continues to be a stalwart for music and performance where she currently resides in Tāmaki. You can catch Linn at Epolito’s Italian Restaurant on Richmond Rd on the last Tuesday of every month from 6pm-8pm, or at the Pt Chevalier RSA with her band the K’Rd Quartet for the Auckland Jazz and Blues club on Tuesdays, and often at Botticelli’s restaurant in Takapuna.
Check out her Facebook pages for more information about upcoming gigs and events
https://www.facebook.com/HeyPianoBarLady and https://www.facebook.com/linn.lorkin
First ep of the year - woohoo!
I was chuffed to finally speak with David Whittet - the author of recently released Gang Girl, who also happens to be a filmmaker and a family doctor to boot. When David came to Audiobooks NZ to have Gang Girl produced, I was lucky enough to be the narrator for his protagonist Alicia’s side of the story. It’s as good a listen as it is a read! Check it out on davidwhittet.com or AudiobooksNZ.co.nz
Storytelling has been prevalent in David’s family since childhood, with fond memories of TV serials, and a particularly impactful trip to the local cinema to see Lawrence of Arabia. Recognising that stories like Oliver Twist had the power to change the poor law in the UK, or The Citadel inspiring the National Health Service, he was convinced he wanted to be part of creating equally moving and powerful stories.
Having worked in rural communities here and in India, David has a rich tapestry of experience to draw from when creating his characters, and choosing which of their stories to tell.
Meeting patients and their families in these environments has generated somewhat of an artistic activist, with one of his earlier films ‘Hikoi’ being made in response to a Hone Harawera interview about the importance of awareness around child poverty. David wanted to comment on this and the lack of support for social workers within the context of the hikoi to parliament in 2015.
Set in NZ’s West Coast, Gang Girl has been a number of years in the making and centres around an immigrant family who have commandeered the charming wee town of Roaring Creek Falls. The main big guy brothers don’t get along, there’s a trillion layers and family secrets riddled throughout, and the kids (as we meet them at the beginning of the book) just want to get the hell away from it all. Named after the Crane twins from London, the rivalry wreaks violent havoc on most of their lives - and those of the neighbouring civilians. Inspired by a story told to David by a notorious local gang leader, and the attempts of his daughter to get away, Alicia’s world was born, and is extended in 2 sequels ‘Blood Cousins’ and ‘Gang Blood’...watch this space.
Other titles in the pipeline are ‘The Road to Madhapur’ about a Kiwi doctor disillusioned with life and his travels to Madhapur, inspired by David’s time spent doing rescue work in India, and ‘Threepence on the Carpet’ about an unsuccessful musician in the 60s returning from London to a bizarre inheritance. Needless to say, with these all on the go and his work as a general practitioner, David is one busy Oamaruvian. He actively supports local projects and content, so if you’re in the South get in touch with him via the contact form on his website.
When we started, we said: We’re not going to give up. Publish it with us, and we’ll show your book to the world.”
Guest number 10 for ya's!
An independent publisher since 2008, Peter Dowling has been an editor for book and magazine publishers in Japan and the UK, he’s been a contract editor and writer with specialisation in Asia, Latin America and Oceania too. (Helped by the fact that he is IMPRESSIVELY multi-lingual, speaking English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Māori.) A Christchurch man, Peter has MA (Hons) and MBA (Distinction) degrees. He also does charitable work as executive director of Te Potiki National Trust, and was previously president of the Publishers Association of New Zealand and Publishing Manager of Reed Publishing (NZ.) That’s all in the past though! Currently, Peter is the Founder and Publisher for Oratia! Woohoo!!
Oratia is a publisher of books based outside Auckland, with distribution across New Zealand and representation in many parts of the world. The team is equally as impressive, with decades of experience in all aspects of publishing and a commitment to quality values in editorial, design, print and production. They also offer their publishing and communications skills to organisations and authors wanting to publish privately. I love me a proudly independent company, and these guys have been publishing 15 new titles a year since their inception - mainly prioritising good solid NZ stories in the form of picture books, histories, fiction, Te Ao Maori and illustrated works.
The company operates under the staunch leadership of 4 core staff and a myriad of contractors, meaning their capacity to be personable and actually work WITH their authors is unparalleled. Peter advocates for authors being able to have a key creative part in the formation of their publications - provided the content is worth it.
Graduating in the late 80s, Peter had a curiosity about cultures and language - with hardly any opportunity to grow in that area in his own country at the time. Naturally, he went abroad in search of better opportunities. That led him to work in Surrey with a large UK agency, with hard-nosed New York types managing the leak of journalism that dominated front pages to hone his style and talents. Being forced to learn on the job meant he gained broad skills to be able to implement here, (for example, the ‘Rights Department’ may exist for a large publishing company, whereas here, the ‘Rights Dept’ may be the same person who is also doing accounts - as Peter does himself.) But the blessing of ‘small,’ means they can focus their time and energy on the relationship with the author, meaning they get as much collaborative time to build towards the end product as possible.
Peter is an author himself, and alongside his own publications and linguistic interests, he is the editor of the NZ Book of Maori Place Names (which is, for real, a favourite book of mine...etymology? Yes.) He’s worked tirelessly to make sure that the NZ titles he’s had printed over the past year can make it home in time for stocking filling, and thank goodness he’s achieved it.
He believes that plugging away at things makes things stick, especially when it comes to putting books on the map. He’s currently managing the success of Tim Tipene’s novel ‘Patu,’ and propelling Dawn McMillan and her ‘Bum’ series into new stratospheres regarding global reach and interest. It is worth noting that Peter, who attends many book fairs all around the world, doesn’t see many of his local compadres walking the walk too. It’s not seen as a priority by a lot of publishing houses to bother getting Kiwi stories overseas, which is a total shame because there is the audience for it.
Oratia won the BOP Bologna prize for Best Children’s Publisher of the Year 2021, Oceania at the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy - taking the title over 4 other prominent Australian publishers. The award is for the ‘creative nature of the editorial choices they have made in the previous year,’ and is awarded to only 6 regions globally. Oratia was cited as ‘an eclectic publishing house from New Zealand with a strong focus on high quality editing, design and printing.’
Peter’s first exposure to audiobooks was back when they were still on cassette tapes, then the good old compact disc. The first he remembers were Tom Sawyer, and hearing Flick the Little Fire Engine and Sparky the Talking Train recited by Dave Wier over the radio. Currently, he’s listening to CC Pyle’s ‘Amazing Foot Race,’ being a keen runner on top of everything else. Love it.
2022 sees the 4th of the new ‘Bum’ series, released here and in the States and UK, and the author is being asked for more to come, with an expansion into China. Other projects include an ANZAC title coming up in collaboration with a Turkish illustrator, and the story and artwork of Hundertwasser in NZ by Andreas Hersch.
His advice to young writers, and those wanting to ‘break in’ to the industry is;
If you’re keen to get an audience with Peter, he prides himself on being accessible to ‘Westie’ writers, and locals who have a unique story to tell. Head to the website: www.oratia.co.nz or if there’s a book you’re keen to find, contact the team through the same means.
Peter urges us all to support our local booksellers when and how you can, (cos we need them!) so if you have the chance to purchase a title through your local bookstore, please do - with thanks.
This week I’m stoked to have my long-time dear and close friend Ghazaleh Golbakhsh chiming into the show remotely - gosh darn Covid levels aye.
Ghaz is: a kick arse writer, screenwriter, director/filmmaker, academic/Fulbright scholar, and she completed her PhD by creative practice in Media, Film and Television at University of Auckland, researching the topic ‘Monsters, Slackers, Lovers: Exploring cultural identity in Iranian diasporic cinema from 2007-2017.’ Oh, she is also a current director and actor in New Zealand’s longest running soap ‘Shortland Street.’ (Had to get that in there babes.)
She moved here at 6 years old, and her lack of understanding of the English language led her to read everything she could get her hands on. She believes it was this, coupled with her animated family and cinephile father, that developed her love for storytelling - in all of its genres and forms. Though she would write stories for friends and do extra literary work in high school, she became obsessed with becoming an actor. When she really gave it a good go in her 20s, she realised how few roles there were for women, least of all decent roles, least of all for women of colour. This drove her desire to change that and write roles into stories that reflected the sort of New Zealand she saw and experienced, and to direct these stories successfully as a feminist challenge to our male dominated industry.
She has travelled and worked extensively all over the world, gaining the life experience she believes is vital for the depth of any artist's work. Ghaz is of the mind that stories are about the world around us, not just our life experience living in a vacuum. Her time spent at Fulbright University in LA, as well as her many work placements, taught her much about this. As well as how much longer and fuller an experience it is, being afforded the luxury of diving into academia with like minded people. We both have strong political opinions, and aren’t ignorant of the fact that our privilege gained us these experiences. Through Ghaz’s work she is able to be active in expressing those viewpoints, whether feminist, racial or political, that may not be what the usual Kiwi audience is used to.
Publishing was an eye-opener and fast paced learning process for Ghaz, being accepted by Allen and Unwin and the whole planet of literary business that goes along with that, including extensive publicity tours, talks and festivals. (One could almost say she’s living the actors dream..?) She is very complimentary of our publishing industry, and applauds how many of our houses take unsolicited works. I remember when the recent memoir, ‘The Girl from Revolution Road’ published after lockdown last year, was just an idea around the outdoor table as we sipped pinot noir. Now, it’s in circulation and due to be up for sale on Amazon by the end of the year.
Her first audiobook experience was live, around the tables of their family home where her aunties and other family members would tell animated tales of their lives, perhaps this is what feeds her visual style of writing. Either way, she doesn’t necessarily believe in ‘inspiration’ for stories, more in the natural ability to generate ideas. Her biggest trick for this is to do the work of surrounding yourself with similar works, then, actually do the work. Writing her memoir, she was influenced by other essayists such as Rose Lu and Ashleigh Young, and she wrote a series of shorter essays for the Villainesse blog before committing to the longer form she’s completed now. Simply put, ‘you can’t write a good screenplay if you’ve never read a good screenplay.’
We’ve worked on a few things together over the years, including her Melbourne Women’s Film Festival short, ‘Waiting Room,’ (photo happens to be the ep image...lol) and we spent a few years typing up some epic treatments and storylining docs for a TV show idea of our own that we had..stumbling home one night after seeing a particularly appalling play.. Ideas can come from anywhere, and her advice to emerging writers is to have them, and make them into content. More than that, have content you believe in so you can be persistent with it. People are savvy and will see through drivel. The more you put yourself into it the more authentic and interesting the voice becomes.
She also advocates doing the actual work. Putting the time that it takes into getting it out there, research how to get it out there. There is a lot of content around, people won’t come to you so you have to make them see you. To that end; APPLY FOR EVERYTHING YOU CAN.
Two last things; it takes time, and it’s ok to change your mind.
To get a copy of Ghaz’s memoir ‘Girl from Revolutionary Road’ Allen and Unwin 2020, and to get in touch with her, visit her website www.ghazalehgolbakhsh.com
This week we’re lucky to be joined by Craig Gamble of PANZ and Victoria University Press. (And yes, it was another Zoom so sorry for the screen snap..and showing off your room Craig.)
PANZ, otherwise known as The Publishers Association of New Zealand Te Rau o Taakupu,
represent 80 trade, educational and digital publishers, and suppliers and consultants to our literary industry. The members range from local independents to large international publishers, educational and trade publishers, publishers for adults and for children. Collectively they create more than 2600 new, locally produced titles a year.
Craig is the Vice President of PANZ and holds their communications portfolio, which really means he’s the guy who deals most with the way they’re perceived, and how they’re doing at achieving their goals. Chris has always loved books and is an avid reader and writer himself. His favourite audio-read is Penguin’s ‘Travels with Charley: In Search of America’ by John Steinbeck, narrated by Gary Sinise.
Representing the publishing world in government, he is actively working to make a more diverse and sustainable literary industry. He and his colleagues advocate for a range of voices and authors to have their voices heard, and strategise ways in which we can be more responsible for our carbon footprint - when it comes to what we print, and how it gets distributed. He works in the nitty gritty space of where we’re actually at, and looks for patterns and trends in people’s reading preferences to inform the decisions about what should be in print through annual Market Sizing Reports.
He mentions the plateau in eBook sales, how everyone imagined them to take over the world of reading. Well, they did, till they didn’t. Educational and trade and ecommerce material embraces digital, but there need to be better ways to digitise all of our other literary resources if we’re to be able to sustainably continue to print books for future generations. It’s areas like this, as well as Copyright Law that he and his partners (Booksellers NZ, NZ Society of Authors, Read NZ, Copyright Licensing NZ to name a few,) work in advocacy for, to support the sector’s economic wellbeing, and the wellbeing of our authors.
The Covid pandemic impacted most publishers, authors and book shops from the first lock down. While there was a big pick up once stores reopened and people were allowed to emerge from their living rooms, Craig predicts most entities would have been operating at less than 30% based on their previous years. With scientific evidence telling us that reading is good for our physical and emotional wellbeing, it’s something he believes links us all in a societal way. He is even working to get books deemed as essential items/services that need to retain production despite changing Covid conditions. Pretty timely given we’re now in the midst of weeks at alert level 4 thanks to Aunty Rona inviting Aunty Delta to cross the ditch for a visit. And, a pretty epic boss in my opinion.
Craig treats every new relationship as a creative exercise, because the process of publishing is. The editorial relationship you have with the author is special, and you’re working very closely on all aspects like book design, font choice, artwork, review quotations. It’s as creative as the writing of the story itself. He recommends for anyone keen to get involved in the publishing world to look at Whitireia as a course option to hit the ground running, (check out this link for more info: https://bit.ly/2VxEidL)
Otherwise PANZ love being dropped a line, head to their website publishers.org.nz or visit this link: https://publishers.org.nz/contact/
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