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

General studies

General studies

'The trade of bookselling . . . remains one of the great unknowns of research into cultural history.' So remarked a flier advertising an international conference on bookselling in France held in 1996. D.F. McKenzie and K.A. Coleridge commented similarly about New Zealand in their introduction to Printing, Bookselling and their Allied Trades in New Zealand c.1900: Extracts from the Cyclopedia of New Zealand (1980). However there is one valuable exception. In 1993, Anna and Max Rogers published Turning the Pages: The Story of Bookselling in New Zealand. The four parts deal in turn with the metropolitan centres, the regions, the chains, and with 'issues' 1920s to 1990s. The authors properly insist that to compile a 'complete history . . . would involve many years of research'. (Especial thanks are due to the authors and publisher for permitting substantial use of their work in the preparation of this essay.) Two papers offer general reflections. Harold White, 'The distribution of books in New Zealand', a paper prepared for the seminar 'The Changing Shape of Books' held at Victoria University of Wellington in 1973 discusses bookshop profitability and the myths of bookselling. In 1996 the economist Brian Easton gave a paper 'Bookshops and political shops' at the conference of Booksellers New Zealand, in which he discussed the variety of Wellington's bookshops in order to illustrate the political change to MMP.