THE PUBLISHERS EXTENDED ME THE PRIVILEGE OF SENDING ME PAGE PROOFS SO I COULD READ IT IN ADVANCE.
YOU CAN HOWEVER, OF COURSE, ORDER IT NOW FROM YOUR BOOKSELLER OR PUT YOUR NAME DOWN FOR IT AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY.
THE RRP IS $60 AND BELIEVE ME IT IS WELL WORTH EVERY CENT!
When I first met Gavin McLean he was a young graduate working in the book publishing arm of the Government Printing Office, a significant New Zealand book publisher with an illustrious history, later destroyed by Graeme Hart when he bought the company at a hugely undervalued price as part of the Labour Government’s state-owned assets sell-off in the 80’s.
It seems most appropriate then that McLean, now Senior Historian for the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, and a much published author with a raft of splendid books to his credit, including one on the writing of local history, should have been given the task of writing the history of the House of Reed.
And what a splendid job he has made of his task. With the assistance of many former Reed staffers, including David Elworthy, Dale Williams, Ray Richards, Graham Stewart and many many others besides, all named in the acknowledgements, and with the total freedom granted to him by Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd. as well as their full assistance he has delivered a full and frank and entertaining history. For someone like me who has been in and around the book trade now for nigh on 40 years it was riveting.
I was bookselling in Napier in the 60’s and 70’s, they were golden days for the House of Reed, with authors like Barry Crump, Mona Anderson, T.P.McLean, and Jim Henderson all delivering best-seller after best-seller. Then there were the many pictorial books aimed at the tourist market which we sold by the hundred.
Russell Pitt was the sales representative from Reeds who called on us and each month he would carry out a stocktake of the Reed titles and replace all those sold the previous month. They were our largest supplier and we had a wonderful relationship with them.
During the time Dale Williams was with them Reeds published quite a few books by Hawkes Bay authors or with Hawkes Bay subjects and we co-hosted many enjoyable book launches.
The history is not one though of success stories only. Reeds have had many ups and downs over the years, (a huge understatement), and those problems and disputes and difficulties are dealt with too. Even the recent turmoil with massive staff changes at the most senior level are covered in a fair and unemotional manner by McLean.
The book is profusely illustrated in black and white and colour, it has two indices – one for publications and the other a general index – a bibliography, and very extensive notes providing the most detailed documentation.
It is a work of significant scholarship and if I were in charge at Reeds I would be delighted with it- fascinating, accessible and for me, unputdownable. Everyone who has ever worked in book publishing or bookselling in New Zealand or who has a general interest in books and/or social history must read it. It is a gem.