by Laura Rutherford
It’s official: next month (oh, wow, is it really only that long?) I will be moving to the other side of the world, armed with only a large backpack, my Kindle and a whole lot of hoping.
This adventure has been a long time coming and has involved extensive planning (primarily on my boyfriend’s part, as he wears the Organisational Hat most often in the relationship) – Where will we live? What will we do? How long will the money we’ve managed to save last, and what on earth happens when it runs out?! We are intending to split our time between travelling, drinking in the glorious sights of New Zealand and working. The working part could involve any number of things, from picking grapes on one of the country’s myriad vineyards to helping out on farms. There are many options, and, honestly, I don’t really mind what I do; the whole point is that we’ll be adventuring, so the source of income isn’t a priority. However, as a young professional just starting out in publishing, I’ve been doing a lot of research into how things stand in the New Zealand publishing industry.
In the UK, and England in particular, publishing is generally very focused around London. Similarly, in New Zealand, the North Island city of Auckland seems to act as an industry hub, with many of the world’s publishing giants, including Penguin, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, basing their NZ divisions there. Smaller, independent publishers can also be found in Auckland and the surrounding area; family-run Mary Egan Publishing flourishes there, having published more than a thousand books both nationally and internationally. Beatnik Publishing, which this year celebrates its tenth anniversary, produces visually stunning and creative works that range from cookery books to poetry collections. Australia’s leading independent publisher, Allen & Unwin, also runs its New Zealand subsidiary from Auckland, generating around 250 books annually.
Elsewhere in the country, publishing companies abound! Wellington proudly boasts many independent businesses, several of which are award winning. A vibrant, creative city, it’s a place that is undeniably ‘cool’, attracting students, entrepreneurs and adventurers from across the globe, and we hope to be spending quite a bit of time there. It is the home of Gecko Press, which publishes ‘curiously good’ children’s books and won 2017’s prestigious NZ Book Industry Award for Publisher of the Year (they also seem like incredibly lovely people and I really want them to offer me a job because that would be great), and Bridget Williams Books, winners of the NZ Book Industry Special Award in 2016 and champions of literature written by indigenous authors.
As if Wellington doesn’t offer enough bookishness already, we’re also planning on heading to Dunedin, in the Otago Region of the South Island, which just so happens to have claimed the title of New Zealand’s ‘City of Literature’. The book scene is alive and kicking there; Otago University Press produces academic texts galore and also operates the Landfall Review, a highly-respected literary journal that showcases works of fiction and poetry produced in New Zealand, alongside art and critical essays. Rosa Mira Books focuses on digital publishing, seeking adventurous fiction and non-fiction writing to turn into outstanding ebooks.
It seems to me, then, that for someone wanting to dive into the publishing world, New Zealand offers plenty of opportunity, challenge and potential. I’m looking forward to getting to play a small part as its industry develops – unless I get too distracted by all of the gorgeous landscapes, which is definitely a possibility.