It’s been a bad week for New Zealand publishing. On Tuesday, Pearson Education announced the imminent closure of its New Zealand office. The global publishing giant is restructuring to focus on ‘core’ and ‘emerging’ markets, and New Zealand is neither. And yesterday, Harper Collins joined the exit, announcing its plan to move most of its New Zealand operations, including editorial, to Australia.That’s a slight overstatement about Pearson: what they said was that they were “entering into a consultation period to determine how they run their business in New Zealand” and that this “may result in the closure of their office”. But yes, all gloomy news. Typically, though, Martin is upbeat:
Our major publishers grew by buying up successful local publishers and winning most of the top talent, so there’s only a tiny independent industry left. There’s now a chance for a renaissance, led by independent publishers — and by new ventures formed from the break-up of global publishers as they exit. Expect to see pieces sold to local management and investors, or picked over by staff to form new start-ups.How auspicious for Renée Lang of Renaissance Publishing. And as for authors:
One of the first places we need to look is our own authors, especially the top talent that sells thousands rather than hundreds of books. With few exceptions, most of them publish with the multinational imprints, leaving very lean pickings for independents. But quality authors are the cashflow lifeblood of any publishing business.
The time is right for our best authors to consider the role they can play in supporting a renaissance of local publishing. I’m not advocating a wholesale exit from multinational publishers. That would be bad for everyone, and bad for the industry. But there’s plenty of room for new titles and some digital rights to help rebuild an independent local industry.He ends with a message that could almost be intended for the NZ Society of Authors:
Finally, it’s important that New Zealand continues to be a place where global publishers will want to do business. We certainly need to work hard supporting ventures that are rooted here, even tipping the balance in their favour as we struggle to rebuild. But in doing this, we shouldn’t create an environment hostile to offshore suppliers.