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

Regional publishing: Wellington

Regional publishing: Wellington

There has been virtually no work on patterns of publishing within the Wellington region, apart from the brief survey article by Coleridge, 'Printing and publishing in Wellington, New Zealand, in the 1840s and 1850s' (1986), which is primarily statistical in nature. McEldowney (1991) touches on the localised character of a number of the publishers that he discusses, but this must be extracted from the general discussion in the text. This section examines the studies that need to be undertaken to present a fuller picture of patterns of publishing within the Wellington region.

The first need for any study of regional publishing is to identify the works and the publishers. Item by item scanning of The New Zealand National Bibliography to 1960, ed. A.G. Bagnall (1969-85), and of the annual volumes of the 'Current National Bibliography' (1961-65), and New Zealand National Bibliography (1968-83), will provide a comprehensive list which can then be sifted to identify the specifically regional publishers, as distinct from Wellington-based national publishers such as the Government Printing Office. Assistance can be found in the bibliography compiled by Hilda McDonnell, Wellington Books (1992), covering Wellington City, the Hutt Valley, Porirua City, and the Kapiti Coast. McDonnell's bibliography reveals the range of the very many specialist works with a distinctively regional or local character published by organisations such as schools, churches and local history associations. It does not, however, cover non-historical works, such as poetry or educational material, which are also published by very localised specialist publishers. Searching by place of publication in electronic databases, such as the catalogues of some New Zealand libraries, will also assist.

Publishers can be identified through business directories, such as the Universal Business Directory (1948- ) and other directories which are listed in Don Hansen's The Directory Directory (1994). This exercise will identify a number of publishers based in Wellington, but will miss many of the small part-time and one-person operations which were sometimes significant commercial publishers in specialised areas. For the earlier years, up to perhaps 1930, it will be desirable to also identify the printers in this way, since nearly all except the largest publishers were chiefly printers or booksellers, possibly acting on commission from the author.

Once publications have been identified, reviews of them may provide further information about the publishers and their activities. Reviews can be located by using the Index to New Zealand Periodicals (1940-86), Index New Zealand (1987- ), and the specifically business index Newzindex (October 1979- ). For the period before 1940 the only universally applicable method of locating relevant articles is by direct searching of the newspapers and periodicals, although some individual titles have been indexed (often selectively) in the Alexander Turnbull Library and other institutions.