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Official Statistics Office
Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa is New Zealand's official data agency.
Annual Book Fairs
Storylines National Festival Story Tour is held annually.
Auckland Writers Festival is a festival of literature and ideas, held in May of each year.
Going West celebrates NZ books, writing and ideas. Held from August to September each year.
Tauranga Arts Festival is a biannual event held in October.
Featherston Booktown is a festival celebrating the artefact of the book, writers and ideas. Held every second weekend in May.
NZ International Arts Festival Writers and Readers Week is held biannually in March.
VAT on Books
Fixed Book Price System
New Zealand Publishing Market Profile 2006
Book Market Statistics (August 2017)
In-depth Country Profile
An introduction to the New Zealand market for consumer and children’s books
The New Zealand book market is in the top five export countries for most UK publishers of adult and children’s consumer books. It is closely associated with that of its much larger neighbour Australia for geographical, cultural, historical and commercial reasons, and together they can make up as much as 40% of a UK company’s exports; but it nevertheless has its own distinctive qualities and a separate market identity from that of Australia. All general-book subject areas find some market, and as in Australia there is a significant sector publishing books on New Zealand subjects by New Zealand authors for a New Zealand readership. Though usually said to be one fifth of the size of the Australian book market, New Zealand’s can with certain titles and categories punch above its weight.
- New Zealand’s population is c.4.9 million in 2019, of which 75% live in the North Island
- The country’s two largest cities, Auckland (1.6m) and Wellington (400k) make up over 40% of the country’s population and are both located in the North Island.
- Most, but not all, of the country’s publishers’ and distributors’ offices are located in Auckland.
The status of the consumer book market:
- In contracts between authors, agents and publishers, New Zealand as part of the UK and Commonwealth is almost always listed as an exclusive territory for the UK publisher where there is also a US (or other English-language) edition of a book.
- This means that US publishers agree not to sell their editions directly into the New Zealand market (an undertaking that also applies to the UK market amongst others).
- However, in 1998 the NZ government removed restrictions on parallel importation across all sectors, thus turning New Zealand into an open market where any legitimate edition might be sold.
- Although parallel importation of competing editions does take place, to a significant extent the contractual territorial agreements have continued to be implemented, for practical and commercial reasons.
- As in Australia, overseas online retailers supply into the market to a significant extent, but there is no statistical consensus on that market penetration.
- Goods and Services tax (GST) of 15% is applied to books in New Zealand.
The structure of the consumer book market:
A publisher’s or distributor’s customer base is typically made up of:
- 57 Whitcoulls stores, a bookselling chain with a long history, most resembling W H Smith in the UK https://www.whitcoulls.co.nz
- 105 Paper Plus stores, a book and stationery franchise chain
- 84 The Warehouse stores, department stores selling a range of bestsellers and popular backlist https://www.thewarehouse.co.nz
- 35 key independent stores
- 3 NZ online retailers:
Mighty Ape https://www.mightyape.co.nz
The Nile https://www.thenile.co.nz
- 65 other outlets, including non-book and gift
Market shares across these channels vary widely according to book categories: potential distributor partners will indicate these.
Accessing the New Zealand market for UK publishers:
There are four main routes to market for overseas publishers:
- Distribution, sales and marketing through the Australia and New Zealand associate company of an overseas publisher. All the major companies now service the NZ market from Australia, using airfreight across the Tasman Sea, though they have sales staff located in New Zealand. Thus any Australia distribution arrangement with these companies will also include New Zealand. As noted for Australia, these companies commonly have a high potential turnover threshhold for entering into such arrangements: they will set up the logistics and communications channels only if they believe the income generated will be substantial, or will develop to a substantial level. An arrangement of this kind will be covered by a detailed distribution contract defining terms of supply and all other aspects.
- Distribution, sales and marketing through an independent ANZ or NZ publisher or distributor. These companies too will have minimum expectations on sales potential, but are likely to have lower thresholds or other criteria. Again, the arrangement will be subject to a distribution contract. Profiles of several independent publishers/distributors in New Zealand appear within this toolkit, with contact information.
If an overseas publisher’s list does not meet any local distributor’s criteria:
- Trade wholesalers in the UK, notably Gardners and Bertrams, whose business comprises a significant export element, offer a route to market.
- Offshore online retail as described above also offers discoverability and availability in overseas markets.
In the case of both these last two options, sales made to overseas markets will be invoiced to a UK customer, so that export elements will not necessarily be apparent.
The absolute pre-requisite for all these routes to market, emphasised constantly by distribution partners, is the timely availability of high-quality digital metadata, and sales material (including jackets/covers) whether in print or digital. A senior publisher in a major UK house memorably told his staff that the biggest single favour they could do their books in the modern era was to write a superb information-sheet with key-words, applying a high level of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). The intensely competitive contemporary market-place is unforgiving of those who publish a good book but fail to give it this support.