Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Although the earlier Random House pres release did not make this clear I now gather that Micheal will be relocating to India sometime in the first half of 2008.

He will thus presumably be stepping down from his host of trade roles - President BPANZ, Chair Auckland Writers & Readers Festival, Chair NZ Book week etc etc . He is going to be a significant loss to the literary community in New Zealand.

Michael - for all that you have done in and for the NZ book world I extend warm thanks, wish you hearty congratulations on your new responsibilities, travel well.

1 comment:

John McIntyre said...

Michael's contribution to the NZ book trade has been massive,not least because he stared down the accountant-run culture that inflicted many of his publishing house counterparts, and impacted negatively across the industry. Random thrived under his leadership because he chose good people in key roles and then gave them the resources to excel.By allowing them the freedom to operate without having to justify every expense and by spreading a similar largesse to the wider industry Random earned and deserved every award they won.
I have been at many award dinners, and not just in Auckland, where he has included both senior and non-management staff at the Random table at not inconsiderable cost.
Attendace at Random Roadshows throughout the country ( 12 centres +)was mandatory such was the quaility of the presentation and the generosity of the catering.
The expense must have been eye-watering but the godwill it created for Random House, and Karen and Michael personally, was clearly the pay-off. Few if any other senior management of our larger publishers would have had similar contact with as many booksellers as they had.It gave them a deeper and closer understanding of the concerns of the retailers of their books, which meant they were much better able to react to issues as they arose.
That is why year after year they cleaned up at industry awards.
Their customer service and delivery set very high standards and drove other companies to lift their game, their sales support and publicity teams were innovative and generous,their sales reps constantly excellent and the liberal attitude of their credit controller to terms of trade was often responsible for allowing this retailer in particular to survive regular blips in cash flow.

It was my pleasure to work with Michael on the Board of Booksellers NZ. In one particular moment of weakness I even allowed myself to be his deputy chair. It was a nightmare scenario for someone who lacks his diplomatic skills and and I dreaded having to fulfill his role, even briefly. Fortunately I was able to pass it on after a few months.
This was at a time when the investments of Booksellers NZ were under huge pressure and the organisation on a fairly insecure footing.
Under his stewardship, and the superb management of Booksellers CEO Linda Henderson we survived, but some of those budget sessions were long and painful.
But this was a board that developed NZ Book Month, based on the success of the Australian model and then passed it onto the current trust, and that came up with numerous other initiatives.
Throughout Michaels huge number of contacts and easy accesss to key people smoothed many paths.
I have witnessed many occasions where personally, or through Random House NZ, have made unsung contributions to the industry.
We certainly didn't always agree on everything, but the tensions were always fun.I still owe him a dinner, but it may have to be in Dehli.
In the word of Ali G, Respect.

John McIntyre